The Return of MLB is Going to Come Down to Money and The Players are Right This Time
Don't let the taken out of context quotes fool you my friends, everything about the return of Major League Baseball hinges on who is willing to lose the most money.
If you are asking: What the heck is Phil talking about? Well, sit back and read as I explain.
When the COVID-19 Pandemic hit and Professional Sports went on hiatus, many Sports came up with at least tentative plans to adjust to whatever might follow. For Major League Baseball, one of several things the owners and the league's Players Association agreed on was the players forgoing their "Full Season" salary and take a "Pro-Rated" paycheck based on games played in 2020.
Nothing wrong with that--to me, that's a fair compromise. Yes, it means some players will still make much more than others--but such a range of pay is already in place. No big deal.
Well, this week as Major League Baseball's "Plan" to reopen the game began to leak out, one glaring detail came out with it. Mind you, Commissioner Rob Manfred hasn't discussed it and neither has anyone else "On the Record".
Said detail: Instead of a "Pro-Rated" salary, owners want the players to take a 50-50 revenue split. Needless to say, the players and their Union were not keen on the idea.
Before you sit there and say "We've all had to Sacrifice" in the current situation....there's much more to this. Sure, there are millions upon millions who are not with jobs now and some took pay cuts, some were furloughed.
The players already gave in. If the season ends up 82 games, they only get half of what they'd normally be paid. Yes, I believe the definition of that would be a sacrifice as they did not by law have to agree to the stipulation.
The league's owners want to blow that up and say "Split the Revenue" with us. Which there are several problems with: 1- Without fans, team revenue is going to drop. A lot. 2- The TV deal is only going to pay 50% of what it normally would. Again, less revenue. 3-No concessions or souvenir sales. Less revenue.
The bottom line: Team owners are asking the players to take a HUGE pay cut. Now--mind you, I am aware most of the "New" proposals ask for more players on each roster. Those "extra" players though will be mostly high level minor leaguers or free agents who weren't able to find a home this past offseason. Cost impact: Minimal...
Does it mean that teams are going to lose money in 2020? Yup, they sure are. Does it mean a team is going to go out of business or declare bankruptcy due to revenue losses? Nope. Not a chance in hell....
Does it mean the players--who are taking the physical risk by gathering as a group and traveling are being asked to take even less money by doing that? Absolutely.
The quote drawing attention this week comes courtesy of Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell. Snell said on his Twitch page: "Y'all gotta understand, man, for me to go--for me to take a pay cut is not happening because the risk is through the roof". He went on for a bit essentially saying the same thing.
Snell's quote is probably not the best way to espouse the position of a player, but he's not wrong. Players have already taken a pay cut, why should they take a bigger one after agreeing to the original deal?
At the end of the day, this is going to be yet another in a long line of PR Battles between Players and Owners when it comes to money. In almost every case--even if the players are right, they lose. Is it because of their inflated salaries that most can't relate to for playing a game? Yes, it sure the heck is.
Look at it like this---Most MLB Owners are billionaires, they likely became members of that club by trying to hold down labor costs while padding their pockets and avoiding spending excess money. No, in this instance, they would not be spending "Excess" money, this has nothing to do with controlling costs.
This has EVERYTHING to do with minimizing losses and if you are going to take the side of a baseball BILLIONAIRE over a millionaire, I can't really stop you. A billionaire can easily write off losses from the 2020 season, they'll barely notice. Most baseball players--even with their inflated salaries will very much notice getting 1/3 of their normal check just to make sure the owners ledger sheet looks closer to being balanced.
Do I think the two parties can come to an agreement and play baseball in 2020? Yes, I sure the heck do. This battle is a minor one in the grand scheme of things. It's easily resolved. Or at least it should be.
The window for baseball resuming play is slowly drawing closed, with the current opening likely being the last available one. If they can host the teams, staff, stadium workers and broadcast crews safely and lower the risk of passing around the virus--then yeah, let's see 'em play.
It would really suck for things to get this far, only to have it all shot down due to an effort by the super-immensely rich to cut the pay of their moderately rich employees....
Let's hope it doesn't come to that.