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The 2020 MLB Season is in Jeopardy

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

“Expect nothing and you will never be disappointed.”

A single phrase that has carried me through the last three months of MLB news. Day in and day out, my phone buzzes with updates and my heart feels nothing. True nihilism.

My phone buzzes again. The MLB and Players Association are close to a deal?

“Bullshit,” says I.

Two hours later, “MLBPA will not counter MLB’s offer.”

“Called it,” I mutter to my dog. She gets it.

In a previous article, we discussed how the MLB and team owners had agreed upon an 82-game season that was slated to begin sometime in July. While the plan did seem promising initially, it was soon shot down by the MLB Players Association as they could not come to an agreement on prorated salaries.

But no big deal, right? That was only one of several proposals being discussed and of course all parties involved want to see this season happen, right?

Well, it appears that all parties involved managed to shit the bed.

Last week, when asked about the likelihood of a 2020 season, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said “We’re going to play baseball in 2020. One hundred percent…If it has to be under the March 26 agreement, if we get to that point in the calendar, so be it. But one way or the other, we’re playing Major League Baseball.”

When asked the same question this week, Manfred stated, quite simply, “I’m not confident.”

 

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, Photo Credit: John Raoux - AP
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, Photo Credit: John Raoux – AP

 

Since proposals for a restructured season began back in March, the MLB, team owners, and the MLBPA have been going back and forth on the various details. Every proposal that the Commissioner and owners have sent to the Players Association has included the amount of games that will be played, where they will be played, and how the players and staff will be protected from coronavirus. The one detail that has derailed every potential plan thus far is, of course, player salaries.

Players were set to earn approximately $4 billion in collective salary during the 2020 season. Now they may not make a cent.

When discussions about a reduced season began, some players were concerned about their salaries and the inherent risk of playing during a pandemic. 2018 Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, who was set to make at least $7 million in 2020, took to Twitch to discuss his unwillingness to play on a prorated salary, arguing that he and other players are risking their lives to play and they deserve to be paid in full.

Hall of Fame third baseman Chipper Jones was quick to call out Snell on his less than tactful statements. In an interview with The Athletic, Jones stated, “The 30 million people in America that are out of work right now…don’t want to hear about millionaire baseball players bitching because they’re only going to get 25 or 30 percent of their salary this year. They don’t want to hear that.”

While Blake certainly forgot to read the room on that one, players chasing their own contracts are far less guilty than the team owners themselves. While the vast majority of players just care about playing this year, the owners prefer to put financial gain before their love of the game. Manfred has continued to do the bidding of the owners, proposing plans that undercut player contracts and refusing to open up their books.

Adding to the list of cardinal sins, it has even been reported that at least six team owners are in favor of cancelling the 2020 season all together rather than give players 100% of their contracted salaries. Other sources state that some owners support a proposal to allow advertisements on uniforms.

Players, rightfully annoyed by the unceasing deliberations, took to social media to express their frustrations. Echoing a statement from MLBPA Director Tony Clark, players and fans alike began using #WhenandWhere to urge the Commissioner, the Players Association, and the owners to come to an agreement that will get the players on the field as soon as possible.

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https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Lest we forget the sacrifices that have already been made. Since March 13th, hundreds of Minor League Baseball players have been released from their contracts and sent home. Unlike major leaguers, players in the minors, most of whom are between the ages of 18-25, don’t have nearly as much negotiating power, and have few to no options once released.

Numerous MiLB teams themselves are in financial turmoil as well. The Pensacola Blue Wahoos, a Double-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, even put their stadium up on Airbnb for $1,583 a night. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was announced that 42 MiLB teams, roughly 25% of the league, would lose affiliation with Major League teams in 2021. Under the present circumstances, and with a lack of support and attention from the MLB and team affiliates, there is a more than likely chance that more teams will be forced to fold before the 2021 season.

And if, somehow, Hell freezes over, I find my car keys, and this MLB season actually happens, it’s going to suck. Whether they play 50 or 60 or 70 games, there won’t be anyone in the stands. No booing, no cheering, no peanuts, and no crackerjacks.

If you’re a Mets fan, no boardwalk shopping cart beers.

If you’re a Red Sox fan, no Sweet Caroline.

If you’re a Phillies fan, no vomiting on your step-dad’s Aerostar in the parking lot.

This was going to be a year of payback for so many teams. The Houston Astros were slated to play 20 of the 30 teams based on the full season schedule. They were going to learn how hard it is to hit the ball when it’s coming straight at your face.

Mike Trout was going to hit his 300th career home run. Jacob deGrom was going to win his third straight Cy Young Award. Aroldis Chapman was going to beam Jose Altuve with a 110 mph four-seamer to the dome.

Even if some abridged season does come to fruition, is it even worth it? Whoever wins the 2020 World Series will forever have an asterisk next to their title even bigger than the 2017 Astros. I pity any team that is forced to wear that asterisk.

Let us know what you think about the ongoing MLB debacle in the poll below.

  • Question of

    Do you think there will be a 2020 season?

    • Yes
    • No
    • I don’t even care anymore
  • Question of

    Who is most at fault for the delays?

    • The MLB (Rob Manfred)
    • The Owners
    • The MLBPA
  • Question of

    Should the 2020 World Series Champs be considered legitimate winners?

    • Yes
    • No
    • Lol, no
  • Question of

    What beer did the Phillies fan vomit on his step-dad’s van?

    • Warm Bud Light
    • Warm Miller Lite
    • Four Loko
    • Goddammit Ronnie, not on the wood paneling!

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Written by Matt Sullivan

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