Tony Clark: ‘A system that restricts player pay based on revenues is a salary cap, period.’

Tony Clark
Alejandra Villa Loarca/Newsday via Getty Images
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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich report that the Major League Baseball Players Association doesn’t view revenue-sharing — expected to be proposed by the owners to the union tomorrow — as a viable option to get a 2020 season underway. The split is expected to be 50/50.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said, “A system that restricts player pay based on revenues is a salary cap, period. This is not the first salary cap proposal our union has received. It probably won’t be the last.” He added, “That the league is trying to take advantage of a global health crisis to get what they’ve failed to achieve in the past — and to anonymously negotiate through the media for the last several days — suggests they know exactly how this will be received. None of this is beneficial to the process of finding a way for us to safely get back on the field and resume the 2020 season — which continues to be our sole focus.”

The league insists that revenue-sharing wouldn’t be an effective salary cap. An anonymous league official said, “We’re not trying to regulate payrolls, we’re not trying to set a precedent, none of the above.”

While the pandemic is uncharted waters for everybody involved with MLB, these negotiations cannot be viewed in a vacuum. Concessions made by the players now would weaken their leverage going forward, especially with the current collective bargaining agreement set to expire on December 1, 2021. As we have seen in negotiations between other unions and business owners, as well as with legislation that aimed to temporarily suspend certain civil liberties, “temporarily” very easily becomes “permanently.” The union is not only fighting for the present-day protections of its players, but for future protections and leverage as well.

The league, on behalf of the owners, will be aggressive in waging a P.R. battle that makes the players look lazy and selfish, allowing fans to pin any further delay to the 2020 season — or the absence of the season entirely — on them. Remember: the two sides came to an agreement on player pay back in March, which included the players agreeing to significant salary reductions. This is the owners trying to renege on that deal and come up with one that’s more favorable to their pockets, all while putting players and auxiliary personnel at risk.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.