By: Jack Sabin
Baseball is America’s National Pastime, dating back to its creation in Cincinnati, Ohio 1869. It is a sport that has survived 2 World Wars, multiple player strikes, and played through the craziest moments in our nation's history. But, in 2020, we entered unchartered territory with the emergence of an international pandemic that sent shockwaves across the planet. With this pandemic, MLB faces the dark possibility of having to cancel the entire season unless the players and owners can agree on a deal that works for both parties. It is time to review the negotiations between owners and players over the past few months and try to figure out the future of this great sport.
The first effects of COVID 19 on MLB were seen on March 12, when the season was postponed for two weeks. However, after the NBA season and March Madness were canceled, along with multiple minor league players becoming infected, it became very clear that 2 weeks was not going to be enough. Just 4 days later, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that the baseball season would be pushed back until at least mid-May. Now, with a start date in mind, compensation became the next question with players wondering how they would be paid amongst a national pandemic with a shortened season. This agreement was found on March 27 when the players and owners agreed on a prorated salary in which players would get paid for playing 82 games as opposed to playing a 162 game season.
Now, this deal seemed to be a home run for everyone with the players getting paid for the number of games they play and the owners still making money off of tickets and TV deals. But the big problem with this deal was that it was made under the assumption that fans would be in attendance and that owners would still be receiving the additional revenue. Shortly after the deal was announced, the MLB was told it could not have fans in the stadium which meant huge losses for the owners who estimated that they would lose around $640,000 per game.
With the recent news being announced, negotiations began on May 11 with the owners proposing a deal that included an 82 game season with an expanded roster and postseason that would include 14 total teams. However, this deal involved the players and owners splitting the revenue 50/50. This came as a surprise to many people in the baseball world as this idea of revenue sharing had never been proposed by the owners. This deal was met with large amounts of criticism from the players with Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell saying its “just not worth it” to play for such a reduced salary with the possibility of getting injured or even contracting COVID 19. Snell’s comments were praised by many players including Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper who said, “He's speaking the truth and somebody’s gotta say it.” Players were upset with this proposed deal as they didn't think they were going to be fairly compensated. Additionally, many players were fearful for their health during this pandemic.
Time went on and deals were proposed by owners and declined by players with each deal seeming to get worse and worse with tensions beginning to rise between players and owners. It started to become a cycle where the owners create a bogus deal that isn't plausible which only makes the players and fans frustrated at ownership who are clearly just trying to create a plan that will make them the most money possible without much regard to the players or fans. But the tipping point of this anger and frustration came on March 26th in which the owners came up with probably their worst plan yet. This plan involved a pay slide scale in which players making 35 million a year would instead make 7.8 million and players making 30 million will make 6.9 million and so on. This deal was met with wide disappointment amongst the MLB players Union as every player would be seeing a drastic decrease in pay with the best players with the best contracts getting hit the hardest.
Many other fans and I understand that these are trying times and that the MLB season won't be able to go off like usual, players also understand that they won't be receiving their entire paycheck for the 2020 season as they won't be playing all 162 games, but despite all this, the deals proposed have still been terrible with players across the entire league in disappointment with the owner's inability to bring forward a fair and plausible deal. Fans share this disappointment as they have waited for months in hopes of a deal being made and the beloved sport of baseball finally coming back. But truthfully it doesn't seem like a deal will be made anytime soon as owners don't seem content with playing through a season in which they lose the amount of money they are predicted to lose.
As a fan of baseball, I hope a deal is made that is fair and soon, as the road the players and owners are going down is a dangerous one that in the past has led to seasons being canceled and strikes/lockouts. Tensions between players and owners are at an all-time high and if something isn't done soon there's no telling what the repercussions could be. This pandemic has created difficult times for people and businesses all around the world but MLB seems to be dealing with it worse than many others and could create a problem that could extend far greater than this pandemic for America’s Greatest Pastime.
State of Baseball
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred
Tampa Bay Rays Pitcher Blake Snell
Jack Sabin, Senior at Olympian High School, will attend the University of Reno, Nevada in the fall. He will major in Sports Journalism as he loves talking about and playing all types of sports-- whether it be baseball, basketball, or football. When he is not writing or talking about sports, you can find him playing on his PS4 or working out with his brothers so they stay in shape. If you are looking to talk sports, hit up his twitter @jack_sabin8. Or, if you just want to chat and chill, hit up his Instagram @jaack_saabin or his Snapchat @jack_sabin67.