Jackie Robinson statue
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Dodgers debut commemorative Jackie Robinson statue on Jackie Robinson Day

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The Dodgers honored the legacy of Jackie Robinson on Saturday, debuting an eight-foot, 800-pound bronze sculpture of the Hall of Famer in a special ceremony preceding their game against the Diamondbacks. According to MLB.com’s Richard Justice, the statue was commissioned by sculptor Branly Cadet and will permanently reside in the left field plaza that serves as the most popular portal to the ballpark. Robinson’s widow, Rachel Robinson, and children Sharon and David attended the ceremony alongside notable figures including former Dodgers Don Newcombe, Tommy Lasorda, Orel Hershiser and Sandy Koufax, former MLB manager Frank Robinson, former major league pitcher Fernando Valenzuela, former broadcaster Vin Scully, broadcaster Jaime Jarrin, Los Angeles Lakers’ owner Magic Johnson, Dodgers’ president Stan Kasten and manager Dave Roberts, among others.

It’s the first such sculpture the club has commissioned for Dodger Stadium and a fitting tribute to one of the game’s greatest players, particularly on the annual remembrance of Robinson breaking the color barrier as the first African-American player in Major League Baseball. The statue depicts Robinson sliding into home plate during his rookie season.

Cadet worked closely with Robinson’s family as he prepared the homage and consulted with Rachel Robinson in order to find the perfect image. Via Justice:

I thought it captured Jackie Robinson’s significance in American history,” Cadet said. “It takes courage and focus and timing to steal home. Similarly, those qualities were required of anyone breaking the color line. My title was ‘Stealing home and the point of no return.’

“He was a first. We wanted to represent him in an earlier part of his career when the color line was broken. Historically, that’s what was most important. The day he stepped on that baseball field was an important day, not just in baseball, but in American history. We wanted to honor that.

April 15, 2017 marks the 70th anniversary of Jackie’s historic debut in the major leagues. His contributions to the sport, as well as his work in the civil rights movement, were honored in various ways around the league on Saturday, from the customary donning of No. 42 by all major league starters to the commemorative cleats, shirts and hats players wore to the video tributes highlighting his superlative style of play in the 1940s and ’50s. More apt still were the comments that Yankees’ right-hander CC Sabathia made to Newsday’s Brian Heyman, pointing out that while Robinson paved the way for many African-American players to enter the league, the dwindling numbers of African-American players on today’s major league rosters are proof that MLB still has further to go.

MLBPA: MLB’s ‘demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected’

Rob Manfred and Tony Clark
LG Patterson/MLB via Getty Images
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On Thursday evening, the Major League Baseball Players Association released a statement regarding ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. The two sides continue to hash out details concerning a 2020 season. The owners want a shorter season, around 50 games. The union recently proposed a 114-game season that also offered the possibility of salary deferrals.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said that the union held a conference call that included the Executive Board and MLBPA player leaders. They “resoundingly rejected” the league’s “demand for additional concessions.”

The full statement:

In this time of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, Players want nothing more than to get back to work and provide baseball fans with the game we all love. But we cannot do this alone.

Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless Players negotiate salary concessions. The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in Player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon.

This threat came in response to an Association proposal aimed at charting a path forward. Among other things, Players proposed more games, two years of expanded playoffs, salary deferrals in the event of a 2020 playoff cancellation, and the exploration of additional jewel events and broadcast enhancements aimed at creatively bringing our Players to the fans while simultaneously increasing the value of our product. Rather than engage, the league replied it will shorten the season unless Players agree to further salary reductions.

Earlier today we held a conference call of the Association’s Executive Board and several other MLBPA Player leaders. The overwhelming consensus of the Board is that Players are ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions that could affect the health and safety of not just themselves, but their families as well. The league’s demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected.

Important work remains to be done in order to safely resume the season. We stand ready to complete that work and look forward to getting back on the field.

As per the current agreement signed in March, if there is a 2020 season, players will be paid on a prorated basis. Thus, fewer games means the players get paid less and the owners save more. MLB has threatened to unilaterally set a 2020 season in motion if the two sides cannot come to terms. It should come as no surprise that the union has responded strongly on both fronts.

There have been varying reports in recent days over the confidence in a 2020 season happening. The MLBPA’s statement tonight doesn’t move the needle any; it simply affirms that the union remains steadfast in its goal to avoid a second significant cut in salaries.

As I see it, the ball is in the owners’ court. The owners can strongarm the players into a short season, saving money but significantly increasing the odds of a big fight in upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Or the owners can eat more of a financial loss, agreeing to a longer season than they feel is comfortable. The latter would have the double benefit of not damaging overall perception of the sport and would not disrupt labor peace going forward.

The MLBPA statement included a declaration that the players are “ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions.” If there is no 2020 season, we will have only the owners to blame, not the players.

Update: Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, who has been quite vocal on social media about these negotiations, chimed in: