Rob Manfred 60 game season
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The owners are stalling


Yesterday there was a load of activity surrounding the MLBPA’s counteroffer of a 70-game season to Major League Baseball’s offer on Wednesday of a 60-game season. Some reports had the owners allegedly “livid” at the counter. Rob Manfred himself claimed confusion that he was receiving a counteroffer to begin with, claiming that in his mind he and Tony Clark had an actual deal or something close to it on Wednesday.

It’s hard to take the owners’ claim of anger and outrage seriously. There’s a ten-game difference between the proposals. It’s not miles and miles. When someone is that close to you in a negotiation you may feign anger for a moment, but you know you’re near a deal and you split the difference. Or third the difference. The point being, you’re in the home stretch.

It’s even harder to take Rob Manfred’s claim that he thought he had a deal on Wednesday seriously. If for no other reason than (a) the players said Wednesday afternoon that there was no deal; and (b) Manfred’s own statement on Wednesday acknowledged as much.

Yet the performative outrage is continuing. Check this out from Jon Heyman last night:

First off, I’d be pretty skeptical about that “$300 million more,” both on its own terms and in terms of its significance even if true. The players’ offer, after all, contains a proposal for expanded playoffs for two years and waives grievance rights. The owners get neither of those things if no deal is reached and they simply impose a season. As for the significance, $300 million is $10 million per team, which you’d knock down to $5 million a team if the sides were to split the difference at 65 games. That’s the cost of a relief pitcher. One would think that’d be a fair price to pay to actually play a season and to realize many, many times that back again in postseason money. Even if you disagree with that, one has to acknowledge that the sides are not that far apart.

So why all of the drama? I suspect it’s about running out the clock.

The longer the sides go without reaching a deal the less time there is, practically, to fit in a certain number of games. The owners, it is becoming apparent, would love to fit in as few games as possible but would like to do it in such a way to avoid the players filing a grievance for bad faith negotiating. All of this stomping of feet and renting of garments, then, strikes me as a stalling tactic.

Does that seem like good faith to you? Does that make it seem like the owners even want a season?


Baseball seeking a second lab for MLB COVID-19 tests

MLB COVID-19 tests
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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported last night that Major League Baseball is “actively pursuing an additional medical lab site to increase the speed and efficiency” of MLB COVID-19 tests.

The current setup — as planned by MLB and approved by the MLBPA as a part of the plan to play the 2020 season — is for all MLB COVID-19 tests to be sent to and processed by MLB’s PED testing lab in Salt Lake City, Utah. As you likely heard, there have been delays in the administration of COVID-19 tests and in the shipping of tests to Utah, but to date no one has reported that the lab itself has not been able to handle the tests once they’ve arrived there. If MLB is looking for a second lab site a week into this process, it suggests that their plans for the Utah lab might not be working the way they had anticipated.

The issues with testing have created unease around the game in recent days, with some players and team executives speaking out against Major League Baseball’s handling of the plan in the early going. Commissioner Rob Manfred, meanwhile, has responded defensively to the criticism.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported this morning that, months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States still lacks testing capacity. From the report:

Lines for coronavirus tests have stretched around city blocks and tests ran out altogether in at least one site on Monday, new evidence that the country is still struggling to create a sufficient testing system months into its battle with Covid-19 . . .“It’s terrifying, and clearly an evidence of a failure of the system,” said Dr. Morgan Katz, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins Hospital . . . in recent weeks, as cases have surged in many states, the demand for testing has soared, surpassing capacity and creating a new testing crisis.

It’s less than obvious, to say the least, how Major League Baseball plans to expand capacity for MLB COVID-19 tests while America as a whole is experiencing “a new testing crisis” and a “failure of the system.” At the very least it’s less than obvious how, even if Major League Baseball can do so, it can do so ethically.