That 114-game season that the players’ union wanted?
Yeah, that’s not happening.
According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Major League Baseball rejected the union’s proposal for a 114-game schedule during which they would receive the full prorated salaries they agreed to in March.
Rosenthal also reported that the league does not plan to make a counter proposal, potentially lining things up for the 50-game season that was reported on earlier this week.
MLB rejected the union’s proposal for a 114-game season and said it would not send a counter, sources tell The Athletic. The league said it has started talks with owners about playing a shorter season without fans, and that it is ready to discuss additional ideas with the union.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 3, 2020
That same March agreement gave the league the authority to set a schedule for the 2020 season, a route the league could take if it cannot come to an agreement with the players.
And so the options for a shortened 2020 season, as presented by the owners, seem to be down to two, according to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman: an approximately 50-game season in which players receive their full prorated salaries, or an 82-game season in which players take another big pay cut, one the league has proposed will most dramatically impact its highest paid stars.
MLB has rejected the union’s 114-game regular season proposal. They plan no counter. They are sititng on essentially implementing a 48-54-game season for full prorated salaries or 82-ish at less than prorated, sources tell The Post— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) June 3, 2020
There might also be a third option, though it's not one any baseball fan wants to hear about.
I have heard greater pessismism today from folks on both sides about MLB launching a season than at any point. People who previously thought the sides would find a way, now expressing at least greater doubt (often more than that).— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) June 3, 2020
Team owners claim that the more games that are played without paying customers in the stands, the more money they lose, making it more difficult to pay the players the salaries they agreed to.
The players argue they haven’t seen sufficient reason to take another big pay cut and insist the owners, by refusing to open their books, have not shared enough proof of the losses they are forecasting.
It’s obvious that a season played without ticket sales and all the other sales that come from filling up stadiums with tens of thousands of people every day for six months would see a dramatic decline in revenue. But lucrative TV contracts would still mean revenue — and perhaps a lot of it, even if it pales in comparison to the record $10.7 billion Forbes reported the league took in last year.
The owners don't seem to think it would be anywhere close to enough to pay the players their full prorated salaries, though. They seem to have settled on the message that there is a certain amount of money they're capable of paying the players, and that if the players want it as part of full prorated salaries, they'll get it in only about 50 games, but if they want it over the course of 82 games, then it won't be a part of full prorated salaries.
While there are some health-related benefits to scattering 50 games over the course of three months, both pertaining to regular baseball stuff and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a 50-game schedule would rob fans of an awful lot of baseball. It could be argued that setting a playoff field — expected to expand from 10 teams to 14 — based off 50 games is an illegitimate way to crown a champion. It could be argued that the sprint of a shortened season would be a fascinating change of pace from baseball's typical marathon, which earns criticism for being, at times, glacially paced.
But the loss of roughly 110 games would be nothing compared to the loss of an entire season.
Any understanding over a season impeded by the coronavirus — not an impossibility, considering just one day after beginning exhibition play in Japan, two players tested positive — would be severely contrasted by the lack of sympathy stemming from a failed money fight.
So is it a league-mandated 50 games? A different, negotiated number of games? Or zero games?
Time will tell. But time is also of the essence if baseball wants to wrap up the postseason by the fall.