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Jessica Mendoza resigns from Mets, stays with ESPN but is off Sunday Night Baseball

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Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports that Jessica Mendoza has resigned as an advisor to the New York Mets and will no longer be on Sunday Night Baseball for ESPN. He reports that Mendoza will remain on ESPN, doing weekday games, “among other things.”

Just after Marchand’s reports, ESPN released a statement saying that they have given Mendoza a contract extension, and casts this not as her being removed from Sunday Night Baseball but as her being the “First Woman to Serve as Solo Analyst for National Package of MLB Game Telecasts,” which is what she will be working on Monday or Wednesday or whatever since ESPN uses two-person booths for those games. It’s certainly not an untrue statement, but that’s an odd way to cast what is, without question, a demotion.

The Mets are likewise casting this in a unique way:

Mendoza recently made headlines for criticizing pitcher Mike Fiers, a former Astro who provided details to The Athletic about the Astros’ sign-stealing scheme. This raised eyebrows given that Mendoza also serves as an advisor for the Mets, who were tangentially caught up in the sign-stealing scandal until firing manager Carlos Beltrán. Mendoza drew additional criticism last season due to a potential conflict of interest given her new role with the Mets and her role as a national baseball analyst. The Dodgers, for example, limited Mendoza’s access while covering the team last year for that reason. Marchand’s report last month stressed, however, that ESPN had been considering removing Mendoza from her Sunday Night Baseball role long before any of that.

Either way, the future of Sunday Night Baseball — the game’s signature weekly broadcast, for better or for worse — is in question. Alex Rodriguez is still around, obviously, but there have been rumors that ESPN might replace current play-by-play guy Matt Vasgersian. I suppose we’ll know what happens soon enough.

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

Rob Manfred and Tony Clark
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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: