What started as negotiations over the format of a 2020 season has grown into an ugly back-and-forth affair between MLB and its players union. Both sides have used the press and social media to take public shots at one another while introducing proposals nowhere near the middle ground.
Nationals starter Max Scherzer, a member of the union’s eight-player executive subcommittee, is among the players who’s taken to Twitter to voice his frustrations with MLB’s approach to negotiations.
Some owners have mentioned that owning a team isn’t very NET profitable.. You know what other company isn’t very NET profitable? Amazon— Max Scherzer (@Max_Scherzer) June 11, 2020
Scherzer isn’t alone in making public comments about the ongoing discussions, either. Tampa Bay Rays starter Blake Snell talked on Twitch about why he’s among the players to adamantly oppose taking further pay cuts when they’re the ones accepting most of the risk. Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper backed up the former AL Cy Young Winner as well, saying, “somebody’s gotta say it.”
On the league’s side, St. Louis Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. made headlines last week for saying the baseball industry “isn’t very profitable” while pointing to the players’ distrust of their word. Commissioner Rob Manfred went on MLB Network on Wednesday and gave fans a “100 percent” guarantee that baseball will be played in 2020 while telling the union to “get off” the idea that they shouldn’t take additional salary cuts.
On Friday’s episode of the Nationals Talk podcast, ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney joined NBC Sports Washington’s Todd Dybas and Chase Hughes to discuss the turmoil that has eroded into the public eye.
“A lot of what Max has tweeted out, all of what Max has tweeted out, there’s truth in it,” Olney said. “There’s truth in what Blake Snell said. There might be some elements of truth to what various owners have said. Nobody wants to hear it in the current context and it’s been shocking but not shocking that the two sides just haven’t kept all of the discussions behind closed doors.
“Max is one of my favorites, he’s a legitimate perspective,” Olney said. “I just don’t think it’s helped either side to spill out into the public forum.”
The players union effectively ended talks Saturday, declining to submit another proposal and instead challenging MLB to follow through with its threat of mandating a 50-game season with full pro rata salary for players.
“It unfortunately appears that further dialogue with the league would be futile,” union chief Tony Clark said in a statement. “It’s time to get back to work. Tell us when and where.”
Just a few hours later, MLB responded with a statement of its own.
“The MLBPA’s position that players are entitled to virtually all the revenue from a 2020 season played without fans is not fair to the thousands of other baseball employees that Clubs and our office are supporting financially during this very difficult 2020 season. We will evaluate the Union’s refusal to adhere to the terms of the March Agreement, and after consulting with ownership, determine the best course to bring baseball back to our fans.”
In the end, the biggest losers of the extended battle between the two sides will not be the owners or the players, but the fans. Even if a season is played this summer, the damage caused by the continued lack of progress toward reaching an agreement may end up being unrepairable.
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