News leaked over the weekend that today, Monday, would feature a conference call between MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and the owners of the 30 MLB franchises, the purpose of which was to finalize a proposal for how a 2020 MLB season would take shape. That call happened, team owners gave virtual high-fives to one another, and the proposal was agreed upon - thus relayeth Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic minutes ago.
MLB owners have approved a proposal for the 2020 season to present to the players’ union, source tells The Athletic. Meeting expected between union and league tomorrow.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 11, 2020
That’s the good news, I suppose. MLB owners only represent the yin to the yang of the MLB Players Association, however, who will have to sign off on any proposal before the 2020 season can begin, as Rosenthal notes in that tweet, and there is certainly going to be some consternation among the union when they get to some of the fine print of the proposal. Namely, there’s going to be a hullabaloo about the money, as well there should be.
As FanGraphs’ Craig Edwards eloquently broke down earlier today, the ‘historic revenue sharing’ model the owners are asking the MLBPA to agree to is a bit of a sham, one that seems shortsighted at best and outright disingenuous at worst. In effect, in a year where the owners don’t look like they’ll be rolling in billions - the first such year they’ve faced after literally printing money for a half-decade - they’re now asking the players to move to a revenue sharing model, something that they were wholly unwilling to do when the revenues were sky-high. It’s a cost-saving measure, to be sure, but is one where they’re asking the players to help subsidize any losses this year while having frozen them out from benefitting from the gains of previous years, and there’s certainly scuttlebutt that the players are pretty pissed off at such a proposal.
(Not to mention that it will be the players taking the risks of playing in close quarters with others during this pandemic, not the owners.)
So, tomorrow will be quite interesting to watch. Ownership will inevitably fall back on the idea that their proposal is something of a good-faith effort to get some form, any form of baseball back in these trying times, an olive branch with placating the sports masses as their only goal. The players, meanwhile, will get stuck with the tough choice of fighting the power to rightfully get their fair share for their efforts at the risk of ending up looking like the bad guys to the laymen, and that’s rather unfortunate.
Put it all with the backdrop of the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations looming this time next year, and it’s certainly a decision that will impact not just 2020, but potentially the next era of American baseball as we know it.
From a purely ‘will we watch baseball this year’ perspective, I suppose this is a step forward. That said, there’s enough friction created by the nature of the proposal that it wouldn’t surprise me to see it end up a step backwards, either, should enough of the MLBPA end up thoroughly annoyed by its structure.
Either way, there will be fireworks tomorrow - perhaps celebratory, perhaps aimed.