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#pounditFriday, September 29, 2023

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred accuses MLBPA of ‘confrontation’

Rob Manfred

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred accused the MLBPA of taking an attitude of “confrontation” with the league regarding Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations.

As of midnight on Thursday, Dec. 2, the league’s owners locked out the players when the previous CBA expired. This marked the first labor stoppage in MLB since the strike that last from 1994-1995.

The two sides are at odds over numerous issues. Manfred addressed a letter to baseball fans that was published after the lockout was imposed. He said in the letter that locking out the players now is necessary to communicate the urgency to the players to strike a deal by early March so that no games are missed in 2022.

There was one part of the letter that was problematic, and it involved Manfred accusing the players of taking an extreme and confrontational approach.

“Regrettably, it appears the Players Association came to the bargaining table with a strategy of confrontation over compromise,” Manfred wrote. “They never wavered from collectively the most extreme set of proposals in their history, including significant cuts to the revenue-sharing system, a weakening of the competitive balance tax, and shortening the period of time that players play for their teams. All of these changes would make our game less competitive, not more.”

The players are hoping for less revenue sharing; the ability for players to begin salary arbitration and free agency sooner; and younger players to make more earlier in their careers. They want their concerns about tanking and service time manipulation to be addressed.

The owners seem intent on an expanded postseason. They also are resistant to measures that would allow players to leave teams sooner, because they believe that would hurt competition.

The worst thing that could happen is for the sides to let the lockout continue past March and affect the season. It took years for MLB to rebuild after the 1994-1995 strike. The league’s popularity has decreased over time and they can’t afford to go backwards.

The average fan doesn’t care about this sort of thing. Whether a player is making $750,000 or $1,000,000 in his first year, or whether the luxury tax is at $215 million or $230 million matters little to them. They just want to see games played and to watch their favorite team.

The more business-like the league becomes, the less appealing it is for fans. MLB and MLB players need to be careful to protect the long term health of the game. Neither side being too greedy is key.

Photo: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports


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