Major League Baseball owners have scheduled a conference call Monday to decide their next course of action in the labor dispute, a person with knowledge of the owners’ plans told USA TODAY. That person requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
But it’s quite clear after 10 weeks of futile negotiations the owners have no choice but to agree with the players union.
The negotiations are over.
It’s time to let MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred unilaterally implement the 2020 season, beginning in mid-July, ending on Sept. 27, and lasting 50 to 60 games.
The players will be paid their full pro-rata salary.
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The owners will get a shortened regular season and all of the postseason money, with the playoff format remaining the same at 10 teams, with no expansion. And perhaps plenty of players may simply decide to sit out the season amid the coronavirus pandemic and rejoin their teams for spring training next season.
The words, “Play Ball!’’ will never feel so hollow.
“It’s a shame it came to this, but it’s over,” the person told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s time to move on. What are you going to do?”
The Major League Baseball Players Association informed MLB Saturday night that it is done negotiating and wants an answer by Monday on how many games the players will play and when to show up for work. The owners are expected to reiterate the same message.
“We were supposed to negotiate in good faith after giving the players a full year of service time, which is worth hundreds of millions of dollars,” Chicago White Sox executive Dennis Gilbert said. “But they started off at 100% pro-rata salaries. Here we are, nearly two months later, and they’re still at 100% full pro-rata salaries. Where is the good faith in that?’’
In a letter lead union attorney Bruce Meyer sent to deputy commissioner Dan Halem, he reiterated that the players will not take any pay cut from their prorated salaries, particularly in light of a news report that MLB has agreed to a lucrative contract extension with Turner Sports, increasing the annual fees from $325 million to nearly $470 million. The deal has yet to be finalized and will not be in effect until 2022 once the owners approve it, two high-ranking officials with direct knowledge of the negotiations said. It will have no impact on this year’s economic losses.
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The union believes that baseball should be played into November, despite MLB’s insistence that doctors and medical experts have warned them of a second wave of the virus, which potentially would cancel the postseason and $900 million in revenue.
Hello, impasse, it’s Major League Baseball again, which will avert the ninth work stoppage in the sport’s history only because Manfred has the power in the March 26 agreement to order the two sides to play.
So there will be baseball, but the joy of a 2020 season has vanished in a sea of emails and Zoom that culminates in open hostility, resentment, rage and distrust.
Like it or not.
Follow Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale.