Tell Us When and Where: Players Vote to Let League Set 2020 Season
In the interest of full disclosure, I just fell over on my bike and landed chest-first on the end of my handlebars so it feels like a mule just kicked me in the sternum. As such, this may be even more disjointed a post than you’re used to seeing from me.
Anyhow, the players did exactly what everyone expected they’d do since discovering Friday evening that the owners would not budge on their offer of a 60-game season. Which is to say they voted to reject the offer, though the choice was not unanimous. Jesse Rogers of ESPN reported that the motion carried by a vote of 33-5, with the Cubs representing one of the handful of dissenting opinions.
Sources tell @JeffPassan and I players have voted against the league's latest proposal to play 60 games. The vote was 33-5 against.
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) June 22, 2020
“The MLBPA Executive Board met multiple times in recent days to assess the status of our efforts to resume the 2020 season,” read a statement released following the vote.
“Earlier this evening, the full Board reaffirmed the players’ eagerness to return to work as soon and as safely as possible. To that end we anticipate finalizing a comprehensive set of health and safety protocols with Major League Baseball in the coming days, and we await word from the league on the resumption of spring training camps and a proposed 2020 schedule.
“While we had hoped to reach a revised back to work agreement with the league, the Players remain fully committed to proceeding under our current agreement and getting back on the field for the fans, for the game, and for each other.”
Though some believe otherwise, this actually means the players have made good on their challenge to the league to tell them when and where to start the season. It also means that season is closer than ever, since it now falls to Rob Manfred to determine the start date and the number of games played. In all likelihood, we’re still looking at an Opening Day in late July with a schedule comprised of 54-60 games.
If you’re wondering why the players chose to take this route rather than simply agreeing to the owners’ terms, well, it’s because they’re going to be paid about the same amount either way. What’s more, an agreement would have indemnified the league against potential grievances and would open up revenue streams to owners — jersey ads, expanded playoffs — that would undoutedly remove leverage from the players in negotiations for the next CBA.
So don’t get it twisted, this is not about the players’ lack of desire to return to the field. It’s actually the opposite, as put forth in the statement. However, they knew further negotiations were not going to work in their favor and would only benefit the owners’ bottom lines next season and chose to step back. And if you’re wondering why the union didn’t consider making an agreement as an act of good faith in advance of the CBA, consider how owners have exploited every possible point of leverage in the past.
The health and safety guidelines are now all that stand in the way of establishing a season, though COVID-19 isn’t going away and may yet have more to say on the matter. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to ice my chest in order to prevent this third moob from swelling any further.