At one point during the weekend, the vast majority of fans around the world were near certain they would see at least some Major League Baseball action this year.
However, that optimistic perception changed drastically by Monday afternoon.
As Andy reported in her column on Saturday, the players’ union was disgusted with the progress of salary negotiations, when its members seemingly gave in and said, “Tell us when and where.”
At that precise juncture, it appeared that the impasse was over, even though an official agreement had not been reached. Besides, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred had the executive power to set the length of a prospective season by himself if and when the two sides were unable to find a resolution.
Furthermore, Manfred promised publicly last week that “unequivocally, we are going to play Major League Baseball this year.” During the conversation, he set the odds of baseball happening at “100 percent.”
Nevertheless, on Monday, in response to the latest stance of the MLBPA, the league sent the union a letter saying there won’t be a season unless the players waive any legal claims against ownership in violation of the pact that both sides agreed to in March.
This letter apparently stemmed from a rumor that a lawyer representing the union leaked the intentions of the players of filing a grievance that supposedly entitled the players an additional billion dollars in salary.
When the smoke cleared on the letter after it was received by the union, Manfred lost all confidence in the prospects of a 2020 season.
“The owners are a hundred percent committed to getting baseball back on the field,” he said. “Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that I’m a hundred percent certain that’s gonna happen.”
Manfred added, “I’m not confident. I think there’s real risk, and as long as there’s no dialogue, that real risk is gonna continue.”
Early Monday evening, Union president Tony Clark issued a response to Manfred’s remarks.
“Players are disgusted that after Rob Manfred unequivocally told Players and fans that there would 100% be a 2020 season, he has decided to go back on his word and is now threatening to cancel the entire season. Any implication that the Players Association has somehow delayed progress on health and safety protocols is completely false, as Rob has recently acknowledged the parties are very, very close. This latest threat is just one more indication that Major League Baseball has been negotiating in bad faith since the beginning. This has always been about extracting additional pay cuts from Players and this is just another day and another bad faith tactic in their ongoing campaign.”
As it stands, some pundits seem to feel that there will not be a 2020 season unless the players would waive the aforementioned prospective legal claims against the owners.
To make matters worse, later on Monday evening Bob Nightengale of USA Today indicated that several more players and staff members have reportedly tested positive for coronavirus, elevating a potential health and safety agreement between the union and the owners to an entirely new level, especially when considering the possibility of a second wave of the virus in the fall.