Commissioner Rob Manfred says baseball season is under threat
NEW YORK – Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has said there may not be any major league games this year after talks between the teams and the players’ union broke down on how to allocate the money during a season delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The league also revealed that several players on MLB rosters have tested positive for COVID-19.
Two days after Union leader Tony Clark said further negotiations were in vain, Manfred reversed his position last week when he said he was “100%” certain that the 2020 season would begin.
Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem sent a seven-page letter to the players’ association’s chief negotiator, Bruce Meyer, asking the union if it would drop the threat of legal action and telling MLB to announce a date of Spring training report and a regular season schedule.
These were just the latest growing volleys in a sport seeing disagreements over the start of the season as a preliminary battle ahead of negotiations to replace the employment contract which expires on December 1, 2021.
“It’s just a disaster for our game, absolutely no doubt about it,” Manfred said during an appearance on ESPN. “That shouldn’t happen, and it’s important that we find a way to get past him and get the game back on the pitch for the benefit of our fans.”
Spring training was halted due to the pandemic on March 12, two weeks before opening day, and the parties reached an agreement on March 26 on how to revise their labor agreement to take the virus into account. .
Since then, hostility has reached 90s levels as the parties exchanged offers. MLB says teams can’t afford to play without fans and pay prorated wages demanded in the March deal, which included a provision for “good faith” negotiations over the possibility of games at parks of empty balls or neutral sites.
“The proliferation of COVID-19 outbreaks in the country over the past week, and the fact that we already know several players and staff of 40 players who have tested positive, has increased the risks associated with the start of the season. ‘Spring training in the next few weeks,’ Halem wrote in his letter to Meyer, which was obtained by the AP.
Halem sent Meyer a sarcastic letter on Friday accompanying the MLB’s latest offer, and Meyer responded with a hostile stamp on Saturday as the parties commemorated their positions ahead of a possible grievance before the panel chaired by independent arbitrator Mark Irvings. Halem’s letter on Monday asked the union for many clarifications on its positions.
“I note that both NBA and NHL, two leagues that you refer to repeatedly in your letter, do not intend to resume play until approximately August 1, and both intend to resume play at a limited number of sites with a quarantine approaching, “Halem wrote.” Please let us know the association’s opinion on quarantining players in league-approved hotels (like the Disney World model of the NBA) when they are not. are not at the stage if conditions worsen over the next few weeks. “
Clark had issued a statement on Saturday who told MLB, “It’s time to get back to work. Tell us when and where.” The union then said it could file a grievance for additional economic documents and damages of up to $ 1 billion or more.
“Players are disgusted that after Rob Manfred unequivocally told players and fans that there would be ‘100%’ a 2020 season, he decided to go back on his word and is now threatening to cancel the entire season “Clark said in a statement. published Monday.
“This latest threat is just one more indication that Major League Baseball has been negotiating in bad faith from the start,” added Clark. “It has always been about getting additional pay cuts from the players and this is just another day and another bad faith tactic in their ongoing campaign.”
Manfred spoke on ESPN on Monday about the likelihood of playing baseball this year.
“I’m not confident. I think there is a real risk; and as long as there is no dialogue, that real risk will continue,” he said. “The owners are 100% committed to getting baseball back on the field. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that I’m 100% sure it will happen.”
Players believe Manfred is slow to shorten the schedule – and their pay.
“So, Rob, explain to us how you can be 100% sure there will be baseball but not sure there will be baseball at the same time?” Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer tweeted. “The tactic is to bluff again with ‘no season’ and delay another 2-3 weeks.”
Halem has asked the union for written permission to continue the season.
“Rob Manfred and the owners are going back on their word … AGAIN,” Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer tweeted, member of the union’s executive sub-committee, composed of eight people. “The fans don’t deserve this. So I’ll say it again, tell us when and where.”
MLB made three economy offers, the most recent offering to guarantee players 70% of their salary as part of a 72-game schedule starting July 14 and increasing the total to 80% if the playoffs are over.
Players have previously come up with two proposals, supporting their position that no further pay cut was acceptable beyond the pro-rata salaries for 2020 to which they had agreed in March. The deal provided for $ 170 million in payday advances and a service time credit guarantee if no games were played this year.
Manfred had threatened a shorter schedule, perhaps around 50 games. The union could respond by filing a grievance, arguing that the players should be paid for the 119-game season they originally offered. The union’s first plan would result in salaries of nearly $ 3 billion.
Players are angry after five years of fixed wages, lost grievance claiming Chicago Cubs manipulated service time of star third baseman Kris Bryant in violation of employment contract and allegations multiple teams did misuse of the proceeds of revenue sharing, which the union called “tanking.”
Players hope to see documents detailing regional sports network agreements with the teams, the financial interests of MLB owners in these networks and real estate businesses adjacent to the stadiums, as well as MLB affiliates such as MLB Network, MLB Advanced Media and BAM Tech. In a grievance, they asked Irvings to order production of documents.
In their March agreement, the parties pledged to “work in good faith to start, play and end as soon as possible the most economically complete 2020 championship season and post-season, in accordance with” a series of provisions.
In the absence of Manfred’s consent, according to the deal, the season would only begin if there were no travel restrictions in the United States and Canada affecting the game, no restrictions on mass gatherings in the 30 regular season stadiums and no health or safety risk from playing in front of supporters in regular stadiums. But it also expected that the parties “will discuss in good faith the economic feasibility of playing games in the absence of spectators or on suitable alternative neutral sites.”
MLB told the union they would lose an additional $ 640,000 for every regular season game played without gate revenue and doesn’t want to extend the regular season beyond September 27 because he fears a second wave of coronavirus could endanger the playoffs, when $ 787 million in revenue broadcast are earned.