Sony/MLB/MLBPA

MLB players to compete in a streaming MLB The Show league

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We can’t watch baseball — well, current baseball — but we will soon be able to watch baseball players competing against one another in fake baseball. Fresh off the press release machine:

Major League Baseball (MLB), the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) and Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) announced today the creation of the MLB The Show Players League, the first-ever competitive MLB The Show league solely featuring Major League players. Thirty players have agreed to represent their Major League Clubs and play each other in this inaugural online event to engage fans around the world and raise funds for Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada.

League play begins tonight at 9PM when Blake Snell of the Rays — who made the news the last we saw playing video games — plays Amir Garrett of the Reds. The stream will be available here. There will be multiple platforms, actually, from that one on Twitch to YouTube and, I suspect, MLB.com or some other places. To keep up to date with where and when games are being played, follow the Twitter accounts for @MLB, @MLB_PLAYERS, @MLBTheShow and the competing players.

As for those competing players:

MLB Network host and, according to the press release, “avid gamer” Robert Flores will provide commentary, recaps, analysis and conduct player interviews throughout the course of the season via MLB, MLB Network and PlayStation’s social media platforms. Fans can engage with the players on the Official MLB YouTube page, Sony San Diego’s Twitch page or any of the individual players’ feeds.

Major League Baseball, the MLBPA and SIE will donate $5,000 on behalf of each participating player to a Boys & Girls Club affiliate in their team’s community. The stakes for the competition are enhanced with the championship player earning an additional $25,000 donation to the Boys & Girls Club in his community.

Better than nothin’ right?

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: