Commissioner Rob Manfred says he is “not confident” there will be a 2020 MLB season, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports. This runs counter to Manfred’s declaration last week that “we’re going to play baseball in 2020, 100%.”
Manfred blamed the MLBPA for cutting off negotiations over the weekend. Union head Tony Clark said, “It’s time to get back to work. Tell us when and where.” Manfred said that “as long as there’s no dialogue” the risk of no season “is going to continue.”
The commissioner described the lack of cohesion between the owners and the union as “a disaster for our game.” He added, “It shouldn’t be happening, and it’s important that we find a way to get past it and get the game back on the field for the benefit of our fans.”
Manfred claimed the owners are “100% committed to getting baseball back on the field.” Which is, well, not true since the owners submitted several proposals that were more or less identical to each other, barely making any concessions towards the players after the players agreed to pay cuts back in March. The owners have also used the pandemic to shrink the minor leagues, to shorten the draft, to limit bonuses given to undrafted free agents, and to push back the the international signing period.
Additionally, Manfred continued to accuse the union of “bad faith,” saying that the MLBPA intends to file a greivance “claiming that they were entitled to an additional billion dollars.”
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that the league sent the union a letter today in which it said there will be no 2020 season unless the players waive their right to legal claims against the league. During a pandemic.
The fact that there is still no plan for a 2020 season and that there may not be a 2020 season at all will be entirely the owners’ fault, not the players. The players have conceded, initially in March. They then scaled back from their original proposal with each subsequent proposal. The owners offered several permutations of essentially the same offer, and also want the players to waive their right to legal recourse while putting their lives at risk due to COVID-19. Manfred, on behalf of the owners, overplayed his hand and the union has successfully called the league out on its bluff. Unfortunately, it is not only Manfred and the owners that will have egg on their face. The sport as a whole will.