This morning saw Major League Baseball continue its negotiating policy of “If We Offer Up The Same Shit But In A Different Box, Do You Think They’ll Notice?”
The league’s owners made a proposal for a 76-game season at 75% of the prorated pay the owners already agreed to pay the players for a shortened season. This follows the 82-game proposal with a sliding scale of reductions for players salaries based on what they make. And fits in between the owners’ threat to simply impose a 48-game schedule on the players at the full prorated salary, that again, the owners have already agreed to pay.
In case you’re wondering how all that shakes out, here ya go.
So essentially, the owners have decided this is what we’re willing to pay, but we’ll dress it up in a couple different forms to make it look like we’re really trying even though we aren’t. It’s all just pledge without the turn or the prestige.
And the kicker is that the last 25 percent of these proposed salaries is contingent on the playoffs being played. If they aren’t, the players won’t get that money. So the players would end up with just about 25 percent of their original salaries for a full season, even if they play half of a full season and the playoffs get canned the day before they’re supposed to start or something similar. Tony Clark’s and the MLBPA’s union’s collective middle fingers must be in serious danger of exhaustion.
As Jeff Passan pointed out over the weekend, the difference for owners paying the full prorated salaries for an 82-game season and the 48-game one they seem hellbent on enforcing simply because they can (and might be the only way these aged men can get their withered dicks to show life outside of medicine) is $10.8M per team. That’s a lot of money to you and me. It’s a glorified handkerchief to these fuckwits.
Oh, and this is on top of the fact that MLB’s supposed “thorough safety and health plan” hasn’t actually developed into anything more than a theory at this point.
All this proposal does is lay out how the entire season, including the playoffs, can be finished by the end of October, which seems to be a hill the owners are willing to die on. The fear of a second wave of COVID-19 is a real one, and the last thing the owners or players would want is to have to stop the season again, either right on the precipice of the playoffs or during them. Any pause there probably wipes out the season entirely, or would cause some serious, neutral-site logistics to finish in January or beyond.
But one has to ask what meaning these hallowed playoffs have for fans and players after a season that doesn’t approach even half of a normal one. A 48- or 50-game season is a sham, and you have to believe a legion of fans would think the same. Some baseball fans will take any fix they can get, but that’s a dwindling population and that dwindle might be accelerated after these pathetic tactics by Rob Manfred and the owners.
If the playoffs are robbed of their value, how many people will still watch? If ESPN and FOX and TBS are getting shit ratings for playoff games at the end of a tinker-toy regular season, there will be more bills to come due. The TV contracts are locked in for now, but are up after the 2021 season. If the ratings reside in Toilet-ville thanks to all these shenanigans, you better believe any network MLB negotiates with on the next contract will want either or both make-goods and protections. Maybe that’s why the owners are trying to gobble up all the postseason dollars now, fearing they may have humped this well dry as well.
As we’ve already pointed out, it’s not like baseball is going to get the stage for itself. While some baseball writers are decrying MLB’s failure to get the carny ride up and running on July 4th, that would have only given baseball a couple weeks of independence on the sporting scene before the NBA and NHL go right into the ends of their seasons and playoffs. Puking up a flimsy excuse for a regular season isn’t going to avert many, if any, eyeballs away from basketball and hockey, who have at least come up with decent finishes of their competitions (assuming they get to and aren’t shut down again). The difference between those and MLB’s half-hearted wave at a season will be noticeable to all. Playing half of a season would at least have been something fans could squint and stretch and claim it was representative. Forty-eight games most certainly doesn’t do that.
As of now, we don’t know what the owners’ endgame is by not playing at all. Though previous suspicions would suggest that missing a whole season and the money that would come with it would give them excellent justification to bone the players in free agency again this winter and in the upcoming CBA negotiations.
Because that’s always their endgame.