When something that involves our national pastime is being discussed, one would think that both sides of the issue could come together and resolve their differences, especially at a time when the country is facing one crisis after another. Instead, both sides refuse to find some middle ground, and baseball will probably return with around 50 games and a post-season for 2020.
The past weekend’s communication was very contentious
In negotiations 101, one learns that successful contract negotiation means that both sides look for positives that benefit both parties in every area while still achieving a fair and equitable deal. A signed contract that benefits both parties will provide a firm foundation to build a long-lasting relationship.
While that has not been the case between the players and the owners for some time, it was the hope that during these difficult times that something could happen that work for both sides, and give the fans, the people that actually provide revenue directly or indirectly, something to look forward to.
This past weekend was further example of this. Upon sending the latest proposal to the players, deputy commissioner Dan Halem addresses top union negotiator Bruce Meyer in a biting tone that reflects the continuing ill will between the parties, according to a letter that was obtained by the Athletic.
Here’s Major League Baseball’s statement.
With that phrase accusing the union of failing to bargain in good faith, it’s practically written to present to an arbitration panel the moment a grievance is filed. pic.twitter.com/u5vtriPsVT
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) June 14, 2020
In this letter, Halem takes exception to what he calls, “the Association’s rhetoric that players ‘remain opposed to any further pay cuts,’” saying the players were never entitled to be paid in the first place because Manfred had the authority to suspend all contracts once President Trump declared a national emergency on March 13.
Both sides have used their friends in the media and social media in order to persuade public opinion. Numerous proposals have been leaked out almost immediately if not before they have been presented. Responses were handled the same.
Of course, the MLBPA responded quite quickly. The offer, which the union rightfully claims is just another spin on earlier proposals, was roundly rejected and was followed with this statement: “Mr. Halem’s self-serving letter is filled with inaccuracies and incomplete facts. We will respond to that and the league’s latest proposal in short order. It should not be forgotten however that even MLB admits that our March Agreement does not require players to agree to further pay cuts.”
Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark today released the following statement: pic.twitter.com/d1p3Oj4K70
— MLBPA Communications (@MLBPA_News) June 13, 2020
Basically, the union has told the owners, tell us when to show up and we will. Negotiations over.
“If it is your intention to unilaterally impose a season, we again request that you inform us and our members of how many games you intend to play and when and where players should report. It is unfair to leave players and the fans hanging at this point, and further delay risks compromising health and safety. We demand that you inform us of your plans by close of business on Monday, June 15.”
In an equally bitter return response to the owners, Meyer made reference to the league’s “underhanded tactics to circumvent the union.” In seven paragraphs of bullet points, he accused the league of delays, leaks to the news media, a lack of transparency on finances, threats to play as few games as possible, and requests for “massive” salary concessions.
More than likely, we will see a 54 games season, as that would allow each team to play a home-and-away three-game series against each of the teams in what will probably be 10 team regional alignments.
So as we go back to the concept that both sides must work together in order for negotiations to be successful, both sides have forgotten some key concepts about the business of baseball:
The owners act like they own Baseball. They do not. The fans are what makes and drives the game.
The players think that fans only come to games to watch them play. They forget that watching a baseball game is a comprehensive experience.
What both sides fail to realize about baseball can best be summed up in James Earl Jones’ quote on baseball, as character Terrance Mann in the movie Field of Dreams:
“The one constant thing through the years, Ray, is baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game—it’s part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again.”
- AL West: Can the Astros Put the Cheating Scandal Behind Them? - July 15, 2020
- NL West: It’s the Dodgers to Lose - July 13, 2020
- MLB releases 60 Game Schedule for 2020 - July 6, 2020