Players complaining about their salaries and a commissioner who wants to see those players do everything but play baseball. These two developments have been the MLB return to play negotiations in a nutshell.
At least there was the MLB Draft on Wednesday. The Detroit Tigers selected Arizona State’s Spencer Torkelson with the first overall pick, and I did not watch a single second of the draft.
Last summer, I went to 17 Colorado Rockies games. I did this as part of an independent study at the University of Colorado Boulder. During this study, I analyzed dynamic ticket pricing and certain aspects of the fan’s game day experience at Rockies games. I was hoping to go to just as many if not more Rockies games this summer also. However, that plan obviously was changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
My plans to go to Rockies games this summer changed into plans of washing my hands 20 times a day. Still, I was hoping I could at least watch baseball this season. That is looking more and more like a distant dream at this point. The MLB and MLBPA have been unable to come to an agreement about how many games they want to play once they return.
MLB Wants To Play Fewer Games with Prorated Salaries
The MLB, as an organization, has butchered their plans to return to play thus far. It is crazy that the league seems to be doing the complete opposite of what is the trend in other major sports leagues like the NFL. The NFL just added a 17th game into the CBA so the owners could get more money. Contrarily, the MLB wants to play fewer games than the MLB Player’s Association does.
The MLB is arguably the closest sports league to the European Soccer Model in the United States. Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, many minor leagues across the world will struggle to stay afloat. However, the four major European Soccer Leagues (English Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, and Serie A) have all either started play again or are starting this week. They found the way, and it took cooperation from both sides.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred certainly has not gained any fans either. Many believe that he was not harsh enough against the Houston Astros in their punishment as a result of the sign-stealing scandal. Now, he looks like the one commissioner out of the four major United States sports that are least willing to negotiate with players. However, the players are not completely innocent either.
MLB Players’ Association Wants More Games, More Money
In times like these where unemployment numbers have risen as a result of the pandemic, it would not be crazy to think the MLB may be losing fans because of what could be perceived as player greed. Players want a fair share of their prorated salary. Another thing to think about is that it is the players who want to play more. They could get more money because of this, but it may be tough to play a lot of games if the season is unable to resume by August.
While the players should be respected in this situation by both the league and the fans, it is tough to think that the season may not happen because players would not be getting their full salaries. Some of the top players would be giving up a ton of money, but would still make millions of dollars if they played this season. It is role players that should be worried about the most, however. They may not get a fair salary from owners who have to play other players top dollar.
Other Leagues’ Success In Return-to-Play Plans Makes MLB Look Worse
The NBA was able to work with their players to return to play. In the NHL, both the league and the Players’ Association have been able to communicate and have a set plan in place to return to play. Although the NFL is in its regular offseason, it seems like the league has plans in place if the season has to be altered.
Major League Baseball looks like a complete mess. Their collective bargaining agreement ends after the 2021 season, and the league and players could lose a lot if they do not play this season. The league is going to lose even more fans if they do not return to play this season. Thus, it will take some concessions from both sides for players to play, owners to make money, and fans to be able to at least watch their favorite teams in action. My dream for 2020 MLB baseball is that I wash my hands before I sit down and watch a Rockies game this season.