As expected, MLB’s apparent final bid to play a season with a deal is not happening.
As first reported by Jeff Passan and Jesse Rogers of ESPN, 30 player representatives and eight members of the MLBPA executive voted on the league’s proposal to play 60 games with pro-rated salaries. The vote failed by a margin of 33-5, suggesting that there’s little room or appetite for compromise between the two sides.
This is not a surprise, and at no point did the proposal ever appear likely to pass. Essentially, players believed their right to file a grievance and give the owners expanded playoffs for two years were collectively worth more than taking 60 games with prorated pay.
The responsibility now falls to commissioner Rob Manfred to either implement a schedule unilaterally or simply cancel the season. The first option is seen as the most likely, and some owners are reportedly already pushing Manfred to implement a season Monday night.
Even if Manfred does this, there is no guarantee that every player shows up to play. A grievance from the players remains on the table as well.
Monday appears to be a key day in MLB’s efforts to stage a season with a deal in place from players.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the league and the players’ union are engaged in last-minute negotiations to try to forge a deal ahead of a scheduled 5 p.m. vote by the MLBPA. If no agreement is reached, the vote on the original MLB proposal is set to fail, and commissioner Rob Manfred will likely mandate a schedule.
The union had been disappointed by the length of the 60 game proposal, while owners saw it not as a proposal but as a conclusion to negotiations. Subsequently, players have essentially been told by the league that the 70-game schedule they seek is simply not feasible.
Whatever the case, it seems clarity is finally coming on baseball season after weeks of contentious and acrimonious back and forth. That should be a relief for all involved.
When Major League Baseball is mentioned these days, it’s usually not in a positive light. The very public and very acrimonious battle between players and owners on when to start the season, how long it should be, and how much everyone involved should be paid has been a major black eye for the sport, regardless of who’s right and who’s not.
Things have not gotten any better in the last week. Rumors of a deal led to another breakdown in talks, and the general public saw two sides haggling over what seemed like an insignificant ten-game difference in proposed schedules. The most likely outcome now appears to be a situation in which no deal is made and commissioner Rob Manfred mandates a schedule of somewhere between 50 and 60 games. That will lead to lingering acrimony between both sides, and perhaps worst of all, fan antipathy over a season that barely even seems long enough to be legitimate.
There is some good news, though it may not come to pass. Players and owners have seemed willing to discuss some significant changes to the rules and structure of the sport. Some of them, like the proposal to put an automatic runner on base during extra innings, make sense for a shortened 2020 but should be left in the past once the sport returns to a full season. Other changes, though, should be warmly embraced by players, executives, and fans.
The expansion of the MLB playoffs is one of those things, and there are several reasons to do it now. An expanded playoff format is on the table for the shortened season, and it should be something that both players and owners should eagerly agree to. There’s a perception that its inclusion in any deal would favor the owners, to the point that Manfred has offered to take it off the table if the 2020 season is not played. There are benefits for players, too: more of them could have the chance to compete for a World Series.
This will be especially pertinent in 2020. As noted previously, baseball fans are not happy right now, and casual viewers are probably less interested in the sport than they have been in a long time. Expanding the playoffs for 2020 could bring extra teams — and their fans — back into the fold. In a season with as few as 60 regular season games, it would also make the postseason a bit tougher, and perhaps make the eventual champion a bit more legitimate in the eyes of fans due to the added competition.
It’s not just for 2020. There are plenty of reasons expanding the playoff field should stick even once 162 game seasons have returned. Baseball has had a major tanking problem in recent years, with seemingly more teams trying to lose than win at any given moment. Granting extra playoff spots could inspire a few more middling teams to perhaps make a greater effort at making it into October, and reduce the amount of tanking in the game.
This could also allow MLB to do more to spice up the playoff format. Recent floated permanent proposals included adding four teams for a total of 14 clubs in the playoffs. That opens the door to some fun seeding possibilities. If MLB wanted to be a bit bolder, they could even eliminate the American and National League altogether and simply seed every playoff team from 1 to 14. The NBA has considered something similar, but MLB would find it easier to do; unlike in basketball, MLB’s two leagues aren’t geographically based, so travel isn’t as big an imposition.
To be clear, any new format should make sense. Adding things like choosing one’s playoff opponent is a bridge too far and feels too gimmicky. Concerns over making it too easy to make the playoffs, however, are overstated; over half the league would still be left out in any given season.
Instead, more fanbases would be treated to October baseball, and even more would experience a pennant race every year. More teams may have incentive to try to win instead of languishing at the bottom of the league. And baseball badly needs something different right now — something to make everyone remember the product on the field, not the arguing and bad blood off it.
Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are still trying to salvage the 2020 season, and the league appears to have extended an olive branch to the union on Sunday.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred sent a letter to the MLBPA on Sunday offering to nix the expanded playoff field and universal DH for next season if a full season cannot be played in 2020. Players had been set to vote on Sunday on whether to accept a 60-game season, so the offer may be an attempt to sweeten the pot.
Part of the latest proposal from MLB was for two years of expanded playoffs. Another stipulation was that players agree that they will not file a grievance against the league. Early indications have been that MLBPA leaders will shoot that down, as they believe the two years of expanded playoffs and grievance stipulation are worth more than a 60-game season with pro-rated salaries.
A number of changes could be in order for the shortened season in 2020. While neither side has shown a willingness to blink, MLB’s updated proposal on Sunday could be a step in the right direction.
Progress on sorting out the MLB season continues to be delayed, this time by circumstances out of the union’s control.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the MLBPA has elected to delay a vote on the latest owner proposal. The reason is so the union can go over new safety protocols after all 30 camps were shut down due to concerns over COVID-19.
This is understandable, especially after three camps were initially closed Friday due to concerns about the virus. Knowing the new MLB protocols is vital for the union, as they’ll want to know what is expected of them going forward.
Whenever the vote happens, it’s likely to fail, pushing commissioner Rob Manfred to set a schedule of his choosing. Time is running out to get players into camps to play a season long enough to be even somewhat meaningful.
Major League Baseball’s 60-game proposal to play out a season looks to be a non-starter with the MLBPA.
According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the players union’s executive subcommittee is expected to vote against the proposal, and may do so unanimously. Of the eight player representatives, only Daniel Murphy is believed to be considering a yes vote. The larger population of MLB players is also believed to oppose the deal.
Heyman adds that players simply believe the major stipulations that owners are asking of them — two years of expanded playoffs and no grievance against the league — are simply worth more than 60 pro-rated games.
What happens next? According to Heyman, the expectation within the game is that commissioner Rob Manfred will simply set a schedule under the terms of the agreement the two sides made in March. That schedule is likely to be brief.
Ultimately, the resolution looks likely to be a very brief regular season mandated by the league with no deal in place. This is not the scenario Manfred wanted, but it appears to be what he’ll have to deal with.
When Major League Baseball opens up spring training, it won’t be in Florida and Arizona like usual.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, all 30 MLB teams have elected to hold their belated spring training camps in their home cities, leaving their usual sites in Florida or Arizona due to growing concerns about COVID-19 in both states.
Friday’s events across multiple spring camps likely influenced these teams and their decisions. The Phillies, Blue Jays, and Giants all shut down camps due to confirmed or potential COVID-19 cases. That led MLB to close all team facilities for deep cleaning.
MLB is still trying to sort out when and how it will start its season. One has to wonder if an event like this will lead to even more of an added push for some sort of bubble plan.
We already know that Major League Baseball will look very different in 2020, but another temporary rule change could really alter things.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the league and the MLBPA have already agreed to change extra innings rules for the 2020 season, and may even agree to allow games to end in ties.
For the 2020 season, MLB will adopt minor league rules where each team will start with a runner on second base in each half inning starting with the 10th. In addition, the two sides will consider the possibility of ties, though it’s not clear under what circumstances that would take place.
The players’ union is also interested in allowing players who have been removed from a game to re-enter during extra innings, though the league has not yet agreed to this.
For now, the rule changes are only for the 2020 season, though it’s not hard to envision the league pursuing them permanently if it ends up liking what it sees. It already appears likely that the universal DH will be a permanent thing going forward, so it would be wrong to discount the possibility of these rule changes sticking as well.
MLB and the MLB players association seem to be closer to reaching an agreement for a shortened 2020 season.
The league recently proposed a 60-game season for full prorated pay, while the union countered with a 70-game season. Some might figure the sides would meet in the middle, but the whole point is that the owners say they can only afford to pay the players so much in a season with decimated revenues due to the lack of fans.
But, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale believes the owners might be willing to go as high as 62 games of full prorated pay in order to get a deal done.
MLB said on Friday they will not respond to the union’s 70-game proposal. That means the union can either provide a new offer, accept the owners’ 60-game proposal, or let Manfred mandate a season.
Each day that passes with the sides arguing is another day they look worse to the public for having an argument between millionaires and billionaires during a time when so many people have lost their jobs and are struggling. Not only that, but each day that passes without an agreement is another day that the league forfeits the possibility for headlines about its actual sport at a time when they could be the only major sport playing.
A series of coronavirus-related camp closures on Friday has Major League Baseball reconsidering its current standards for players who wish to use those facilities.
According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, MLB is considering closing all 30 camps for deep cleansing after three different facilities shut down Friday. While shut down, MLB would establish a firm system for testing players, and establish regular protocol for usage of the facilities.
If MLB does move toward a season, which is still the expected outcome, those protocols are going to have to be in place as soon as possible. The Phillies had eight players and staff test positive Friday, while the Blue Jays and Giants also closed camps after individuals at each facility reported COVID-19 symptoms. That has clearly raised alarm at the highest levels of the sport.
Friday’s events definitely seem to have had an impact on the league beyond this, as other plans for starting the season have reportedly been put back on the table as well.