MLB 2020: We're Playing, but We Can't Agree on Anything

Humphrey

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These guys are playing with fire. This is not 1995, the average American probably can't pick 15 Major League Baseball players out of a lineup right now.
From a Red Sox vantage point, I do find it to be like the mid 90s. The Sox were just finishing up the Butch Hobson reign of error and both management and the players completely tanked it the month or so before the strike. There was little good will going into 1995 and, after 2019 and trading Betts; there is little now.
 

SirPsychoSquints

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From reports, the March agreement contains the following parameters for the return.


The conditions are not yet open, so it can fairly be said that reopening at this point is more a nod to pushing forward to "normalcy" of having baseball played, than that each of these conditions is satisfied.

WIth the players apparently refusing to compromise anything less than 100% pro rata, then the owners who would bear the loss, are under no compunction to push the envelope on the above conditions.
Except the owners have already proposed schedules and start dates. Which means safety is no longer a barrier to them to playing 100+ games. Like I said, until we see the actual contract, we don't know what good faith the Commissioner is supposed to be operating under.
 

geoflin

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For the first time ever, our family had a serious conversation about giving up the season tickets. Just hard to write a check like that for a business that so obviously cares so little about its customers, to say nothing of its employees.
I'm having the same thought.
 

axx

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How is that relevant, except to owners' egos? Grievances are always an option.
Never crossed the owners mind that the players would file a grievance over not playing as many games as theoretically possible if they started on July 10th.
 

SirPsychoSquints

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Never crossed the owners mind that the players would file a grievance over not playing as many games as theoretically possible if they started on July 10th.
I still don't understand your point. I'm saying the fact that owners have offered to play is evidence that they believe the season can be played safely. And then if they still don't start the season until later and make it a 54 game season, that's potentially evidence they didn't set the season length in good faith.

What are you saying?
 

SemperFidelisSox

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Those owners probably own teams with no chance at the postseason. Manfred has the almost impossible task of convincing owners of the Orioles and Pirates why there should be a season.
 

Steve Dillard

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Except the owners have already proposed schedules and start dates. Which means safety is no longer a barrier to them to playing 100+ games. Like I said, until we see the actual contract, we don't know what good faith the Commissioner is supposed to be operating under.
I suggest that while the parties can dig in their heels on evidentiary points about external evidence to interpret the language, and pay big firms many millions to try and exclude such evidence, the common sense idea that players do not get 100% if there are no fans seems to have been discussed and agreed upon. Convincing me that the agreement actually says the opposite, and that this would be fair, is further than I will go.

 

axx

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Those owners probably own teams with no chance at the postseason. Manfred has the almost impossible task of convincing owners of the Orioles and Pirates why there should be a season.
You would think it would be the teams that depend on the Gate the most would be the ones complaining. Especially if they also had a bloated payroll...
 

SirPsychoSquints

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I suggest that while the parties can dig in their heels on evidentiary points about external evidence to interpret the language, and pay big firms many millions to try and exclude such evidence, the common sense idea that players do not get 100% if there are no fans seems to have been discussed and agreed upon. Convincing me that the agreement actually says the opposite, and that this would be fair, is further than I will go.

That's a propaganda leak from MLB. As opposed to what they told the players:

View: https://twitter.com/EugeneFreedman/status/1272698007151087616

Eugene Freedman, Union Lawyer who formerly worked for the MLBPA:
Pat Houlihan, MLB legal counsel, who acknowledged in his May 22 letter to the Players Association. "We agree with the Association that, under the Agreement, players are not required to accept less than their full prorated salary.’’ No duty to bargain-no bad faith ULP.
Until the players agree to bargain on salary per game, they're not required to bargain on salary per game.

Edit: And the players aren't getting 100%. They're getting a pro-rata for every game they play. If not for the March agreement, they would get 100% of their contracts if ANY games were played.
 

LogansDad

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Wow, those are likely the most scathing and angry words I've ever read from Pos in regards to a sport.

I tend to be on the same side as you. The owners have long term investments that will even themselves out over time, and don't really sacrifice anything besides money by getting the product back on the field. The players have sacrificed their bodies for years just to get the point that they can get paid (sure, Snell comes across as kind of a dick, but I absolutely get where he is coming from), and their entire return on that investment comes over the course of just a few years.

Over 20 years of leading people in the military, I found that when you treat the people who work with you with dignity and respect, and let them know that they are worth something to you, they put much more effort forth to be the best they can at their job.

The owners had a chance to do that this year. They could have taken a hit for one year to develop a ton of good will among the players and (maybe more importantly) the fans, and instead they decided they were just going to burn it all down. I honestly think that if they don't play a game this year, the sport will be dead. It won't be in a year or two, likely, but MLB as we know it will certainly not be the juggernaut that it has been by the end of my lifetime, and as someone who still loves the sport, warts and all, that makes me incredibly sad.

I do agree that the players share some responsibility, but I really think the owners have handled this in the worst possible way they could have.
 

EvilEmpire

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I do agree that the players share some responsibility, but I really think the owners have handled this in the worst possible way they could have.
I agree with this. Very poorly handled.

I really think there is broad disparity between ownership groups with some teams being very profitable and some teams not, and those less profitable teams driving the train on what Manfred can offer. I've said this before, but I think a solution has to include broader sharing of revenue/losses between the teams for this season and less effort going after the player's part of the pie. Share the pain better between ownership groups. But I also don't think it is ethically wrong or anything for ownership to try to get additional concessions from the players either. The inability to have fans for so many games for all these teams is a huge financial hit. But yeah, the owners seem very unwise in how they are going about it.

Of course for owners to share revenue/losses for this season might mean that they need to open up their books to each other and the league more than they do, and maybe that is a nonstarter as much as it is to share that information with the MLBPA. I can only imagine what kind of financial shenanigans are going on with teams. I wonder what the Mets look like from the inside.
 

SirPsychoSquints

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Without an agreement, Manfred almost certainly would have invoked the national emergency clause in players' contracts and suspended those contracts.
My read of that clause is that if the season is cancelled (due to national emergency), the players get no salary or service time. If, however, a single game is played then you have a "championship season" and the players get 100% of their salary and service time. So yes, the players made a deal to guarantee their service time and a portion of their salary. What's your point?
 

The Gray Eagle

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I wonder if they pay taxes to the US and/or Florida.
From now on, the team should only be referred to as the Britain Marlins, Virgin Island Marlins, or BVI Marlins in all media reports and fan talk.

Here is one thing about the owner's position that I don't get-- don't they get local TV money based on the amount of games played? So that if they played 80 games they would get significantly more local TV money than if they only play 50? Seems like that would offset some of the revenue losses they claim they would have from playing games with no fans.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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That's a propaganda leak from MLB. As opposed to what they told the players:

View: https://twitter.com/EugeneFreedman/status/1272698007151087616

Eugene Freedman, Union Lawyer who formerly worked for the MLBPA:


Until the players agree to bargain on salary per game, they're not required to bargain on salary per game.

Edit: And the players aren't getting 100%. They're getting a pro-rata for every game they play. If not for the March agreement, they would get 100% of their contracts if ANY games were played.
Again, this is stupid. The March agreement says that the parties agree to bargain in good faith if there are no fans.

Well there are no fans. The owners submitted a baseline proposal; the players submitted theirs; but unlike most negotiations, there was very little movement towards the other side.
 

SirPsychoSquints

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Again, this is stupid. The March agreement says that the parties agree to bargain in good faith if there are no fans.

Well there are no fans. The owners submitted a baseline proposal; the players submitted theirs; but unlike most negotiations, there was very little movement towards the other side.
The owners said the March agreement says the parties agree to bargain in good faith if there are no fans. That doesn't make it true. See the May 22 letter - MLB has admitted the players are not required to negotiate the per game salary.
 

Steve Dillard

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That's a propaganda leak from MLB. As opposed to what they told the players:
If they quoted the memo correctly then its not propoganda.


Until the players agree to bargain on salary per game, they're not required to bargain on salary per game.
The agreement sets three conditions to restarting.

1. There are no federal, state, city, or local restrictions on mass gatherings or other restrictions that would materially limit the Clubs’ ability to play games in front of spectators, with regular fan access, in each of the 30 Clubs’ home ballparks; provided, however, that the Commissioner will consider the use of appropriate substitute neutral sites where economically feasible.

2. There shall be no relevant restrictions on traveling throughout the United States and Canada.

3. The Commissioner determines, after consultation with recognized medical experts and the Players Association, that it does not pose an unreasonable health and safety risk to players, staff, or spectators to stage games in front of fans in each of the 30 Clubs’ home ballparks; provided that, the Office of the Commissioner and Players Association will discuss in good faith the economic feasibility of playing games in the absence of spectators or at appropriate substitute neutral sites.


Given that, two things can be true at once. One, it can be true that the players have no obligation to agree to a pay cut if the normal season doesn't return. Two, owners have no duty to "waive" the 3 stipulated conditions for reopening. Since the internal notes of the March agreement seems to contemplate that something less than full reopening might occur -- and that is where we are now at with no fans -- then a new deal must be struck. So, it an be true that players have no duty to negotiate a new deal, but it seems equally clear (and more important, logical) that the current "can't 're-open as contemplated in our agreement, but can play some games under modified conditions" limbo was expected to be negotated.

If no deal, then no season
 

SirPsychoSquints

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If they quoted the memo correctly then its not propoganda.




The agreement sets three conditions to restarting.

1. There are no federal, state, city, or local restrictions on mass gatherings or other restrictions that would materially limit the Clubs’ ability to play games in front of spectators, with regular fan access, in each of the 30 Clubs’ home ballparks; provided, however, that the Commissioner will consider the use of appropriate substitute neutral sites where economically feasible.

2. There shall be no relevant restrictions on traveling throughout the United States and Canada.

3. The Commissioner determines, after consultation with recognized medical experts and the Players Association, that it does not pose an unreasonable health and safety risk to players, staff, or spectators to stage games in front of fans in each of the 30 Clubs’ home ballparks; provided that, the Office of the Commissioner and Players Association will discuss in good faith the economic feasibility of playing games in the absence of spectators or at appropriate substitute neutral sites.


Given that, two things can be true at once. One, it can be true that the players have no obligation to agree to a pay cut if the normal season doesn't return. Two, owners have no duty to "waive" the 3 stipulated conditions for reopening. Since the internal notes of the March agreement seems to contemplate that something less than full reopening might occur -- and that is where we are now at with no fans -- then a new deal must be struck. So, it an be true that players have no duty to negotiate a new deal, but it seems equally clear (and more important, logical) that the current "can't 're-open as contemplated in our agreement, but can play some games under modified conditions" limbo was expected to be negotated.

If no deal, then no season
Internal notes are completely irrelevant. There's a signed agreement. You are assuming a whole lot that "will discuss in good faith the economic feasibility" means the players will negotiate the compensation that's already agreed to - something MLB lawyers have agreed is not true. It's also the section of the agreement the owners keep publicizing. Let's read the agreement - it sounds like Eugene Freedman has a copy and will produce an article.
 

scottyno

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From a Red Sox vantage point, I do find it to be like the mid 90s. The Sox were just finishing up the Butch Hobson reign of error and both management and the players completely tanked it the month or so before the strike. There was little good will going into 1995 and, after 2019 and trading Betts; there is little now.
The 2020 Sox are 2 years removed from maybe the best team in team history, and then a mediocre season. The mid 90s sox didn't even win a single playoff game and were consistently pretty bad.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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The owners said the March agreement says the parties agree to bargain in good faith if there are no fans. That doesn't make it true. See the May 22 letter - MLB has admitted the players are not required to negotiate the per game salary.
I guess I'll just point to this article - https://www.vivaelbirdos.com/2020/5/21/21264963/march-agreement-clarifies-current-mlb-mlbpa-disagreement - because it says it best: from all indications, the intent of the agreement was that the parties agreed "to the potential need to negotiate terms if games are played without fans" but this agreement "is not the same as agreeing to accept the owner’s terms."

No one is saying that the players have to take whatever proposals the owners made but it seems clear that they were supposed to negotiate, and generally that has to be done in good faith. (Note: I have not offered any opinion as to whether either or both sides did or did not negotiate in good faith.)

But when someone says that the players don't have to negotiate - without seeing the agreement I can't know for sure but that seems incorrect from all we know.

And even if it's not incorrect, it's pretty dumb because we have a good idea at least some owners are going to lose money if they play before an empty stadium and if there are sufficient number of owners that are going to lose $, they are going to impose a minimum level of games (if at all) and deny the players a chance at playoff money (if the playoffs are played without fans).

Note that I'm not saying this because I'm pro-owner or pro-player. I said that both sides have not come off their initial offers and that is bad bargaining.

I still think, as I've said before, there it seems like there should be a deal in the $1.5 to $1.8B range and if there was going to be a deal, (i) the players would have to accept less than 100% for all games; (ii) the playoffs would have to be expanded; (iii) the owners would have to guarantee more than $1.03B in salaries; and (iv) the players would have to decide whether they wanted more guaranteed salary $ or a chance at some of the increased playoff revenue. I also suggested many posts ago that it would be a tremendous show of good will if some of the economic divide were solved by donations to charity - i.e., both owners and players contribue 9 figures to some charity (COVID related would probably work better). So yes, both sides have to give and both sides have to take a bit of the pain.

That's just the economic part. The health and safety part is also huge but Steve Dillard outlined that above.
 

LostinNJ

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I can't help thinking that the owners are so worried about losing money in 2020 that they are setting themselves up to lose vastly more in ensuing years by undermining the appeal of their product. If they teach us that we can get through a year without baseball, some of us are going to remember that lesson forever.
 
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SirPsychoSquints

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And even if it's not incorrect, it's pretty dumb because we have a good idea at least some owners are going to lose money if they play before an empty stadium and if there are sufficient number of owners that are going to lose $, they are going to impose a minimum level of games (if at all) and deny the players a chance at playoff money (if the playoffs are played without fans).
I don’t care if some owners lose some money. Neither do the players, and nor should they. The owners are not owed profitable operations at all times. They have an anti trust exemption and contracts. They have a responsibility to put the season on even if they lose some money.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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I don’t care if some owners lose some money. Neither do the players, and nor should they. The owners are not owed profitable operations at all times. They have an anti trust exemption and contracts. They have a responsibility to put the season on even if they lose some money.
I'm not going to argue with you about this; that's certainly a reasonable way of looking at this. I will only point out that at least six owners don't agree that they have a responsibility to put on a season and if that goes to eight, there will likely be no baseball.

Is that short-sighted of the owners? Sure. People like you could get super-mad about baseball and stop watching/buying tickets/buying merchandise.

However, is it also short-sighted of the players? IMO yes for two reasons. 48 games and regular playoffs is going to cause revenues to shrink this year and probably next year, and if that's true, players' salaries are going to shrink. From a longer term aspect, it's going to hurt the game and if the sides can't figure out something, the next CBA negotiation is going to be worse, which would really jeopardize revenues and thus their salaries.

I think it's the responsibility of both parties to put on a season but YMMV.
 

SirPsychoSquints

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I'm not going to argue with you about this; that's certainly a reasonable way of looking at this. I will only point out that at least six owners don't agree that they have a responsibility to put on a season and if that goes to eight, there will likely be no baseball.

Is that short-sighted of the owners? Sure. People like you could get super-mad about baseball and stop watching/buying tickets/buying merchandise.

However, is it also short-sighted of the players? IMO yes for two reasons. 48 games and regular playoffs is going to cause revenues to shrink this year and probably next year, and if that's true, players' salaries are going to shrink. From a longer term aspect, it's going to hurt the game and if the sides can't figure out something, the next CBA negotiation is going to be worse, which would really jeopardize revenues and thus their salaries.

I think it's the responsibility of both parties to put on a season but YMMV.
Players have a shorter time horizon than the owners, and revenues have an indirect relationship to contract values.
 

nvalvo

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I can't help thinking that the owners are so worried about losing money in 2020 that they are setting themselves up to lose vastly more in ensuing years by undermining the appeal of their product. If they teach us that we can get through a year without baseball, some of us are going to remember that lesson forever.
There is also an opportunity to be the only major sport on television for a few months while people are spending more time indoors than in a typical summer and most other entertainment products have had interruptions in production.

People are always talking about how the future of the game depends on getting young people interested. The owners had a golden opportunity to address that, and they chose to worry about near-term profitability instead.
 

Zososoxfan

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Major League Baseball is not like every other industry. As Posnanski points out, they enjoy antitrust exemption status, publicly financed stadiums, etc. So if they want to behave like every other industry, they can be treated like every other industry.

At such a painful time for our society, that the owners would claim that the clubs are "just a business" and not the pillar of our culture that is so important that we played through WORLD WARS is disgusting.
Except of course for the part where they receive an antitrust exemption and taxpayer-supported stadia because the game of baseball is seen as a service to the community. The owners have a moral obligation to operate whenever possible given how much they are supported by the community. If the owners want to treat baseball like any other business, then the public needs to treat baseball as any other business -- get rid of the antitrust exemption, pass legislation banning the use of taxpayer funds to build stadia, etc.
QFT and exactly how I feel. Fuck owners who look at their balance sheet and don't recognize the goodwill of fans as an asset now, but will absolutely crank up that entry when it comes time to sell their franchise.
 

The Gray Eagle

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There is also an opportunity to be the only major sport on television for a few months while people are spending more time indoors than in a typical summer and most other entertainment products have had interruptions in production.

People are always talking about how the future of the game depends on getting young people interested. The owners had a golden opportunity to address that, and they chose to worry about near-term profitability instead.
This is really well said and an important point that needs to be pointed out again and again.

This is just one of many reasons that I feel like Manfred is just as incompetent and awful as Tony Clark: he should be making this point to the owners and rallying them to give a little to make the season happen in order to increase their revenues over the next few years. He doesn't have to be their errand boy, he could be their leader if he had that ability, that vision and that desire, but he clearly doesn't.

The owners will make less money in the long run because of Manfred's incompetence. They should be concerned with that, but instead they only care about taking from the players, not growing the pie.

That pie is going to really shrink if there is no season this year. Clark and Manfred are incompetent idiots who are going to take this unique opportunity for baseball and find a way to lose-lose it.
 

BigSoxFan

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This is really well said and an important point that needs to be pointed out again and again.

This is just one of many reasons that I feel like Manfred is just as incompetent and awful as Tony Clark: he should be making this point to the owners and rallying them to give a little to make the season happen in order to increase their revenues over the next few years. He doesn't have to be their errand boy, he could be their leader if he had that ability, that vision and that desire, but he clearly doesn't.

The owners will make less money in the long run because of Manfred's incompetence. They should be concerned with that, but instead they only care about taking from the players, not growing the pie.

That pie is going to really shrink if there is no season this year. Clark and Manfred are incompetent idiots who are going to take this unique opportunity for baseball and find a way to lose-lose it.
And you know the MLB office has a smart group of quant guys modeling out the potential scenarios for these owners and Manfred. And they STILL have decided to screw it up beyond belief.
 

JimD

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I believe that there is a high likelihood that the bloc of less-lucrative (i.e, less well-run) franchises are using their veto power here. I have to imagine that the Sox, Yankees, Dodgers and others can weather this and would want to come back, and it is probable that they will have to subsidize those other teams short-term losses to get any deal done.
 

axx

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I believe that there is a high likelihood that the bloc of less-lucrative (i.e, less well-run) franchises are using their veto power here. I have to imagine that the Sox, Yankees, Dodgers and others can weather this and would want to come back, and it is probable that they will have to subsidize those other teams short-term losses to get any deal done.
More like they will wait another two weeks, and then try to impose the 50 game season. Or cancel it.
 

JimD

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More like they will wait another two weeks, and then try to impose the 50 game season. Or cancel it.
If they do this and try to impose a 50-game season, I would expect to see many star players opt-out. It will look little better than games with replacement players and will be disastrous.
 

geoflin

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I have to imagine that the Sox, Yankees, Dodgers and others can weather this and would want to come back, and it is probable that they will have to subsidize those other teams short-term losses to get any deal done.
This is exactly one of the proposals the owners made to the players - the richer, higher paid players would take more of a salary cut and subsidize the lower paid players. Yet the owners are unwilling to do the same themselves.
 

SirPsychoSquints

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If they do this and try to impose a 50-game season, I would expect to see many star players opt-out. It will look little better than games with replacement players and will be disastrous.
Yes, the fewer games there are the more players are going to assert (completely reasonable) rights under ADA, FMLA (family member with a serious health condition, including pregnancy, like Mike Trout), Expanded FMLA under the CARES Act if their children do not have normal child care or school due to COVID. ADA or FMLA would be unpaid, Expanded-FMLA would be partially paid. FMLA or Expanded-FMLA would receive service time, ADA would not.
 

axx

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Yes, the fewer games there are the more players are going to assert (completely reasonable) rights under ADA, FMLA (family member with a serious health condition, including pregnancy, like Mike Trout), Expanded FMLA under the CARES Act if their children do not have normal child care or school due to COVID. ADA or FMLA would be unpaid, Expanded-FMLA would be partially paid. FMLA or Expanded-FMLA would receive service time, ADA would not.
The owners agreed to let a player sit out the season for any reason. They don't get paid or get service time though.
 

SirPsychoSquints

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The owners agreed to let a player sit out the season for any reason. They don't get paid or get service time though.
Under FMLA, they get their service time. If they sit out without asserting a specific right that protects them, they don't get service time. Under the CARES act, they get paid a portion of their salary for Covid-related FMLA.
 

BaseballJones

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Maybe I missed this part, but do the players get paid if there's no season? If they can't come to an agreement, and there's no baseball, do the players get paid anyway?

If not....wouldn't you rather get paid *something* for playing 50 games then get paid nothing for not playing at all? I get that if you're Mike Trout, you don't really need the money. But if you're a marginal player or even a guy "only" making like $3 million a year, wouldn't you rather get paid *something* and play 50 games than sit out the entire year?
 

SirPsychoSquints

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Maybe I missed this part, but do the players get paid if there's no season? If they can't come to an agreement, and there's no baseball, do the players get paid anyway?

If not....wouldn't you rather get paid *something* for playing 50 games then get paid nothing for not playing at all? I get that if you're Mike Trout, you don't really need the money. But if you're a marginal player or even a guy "only" making like $3 million a year, wouldn't you rather get paid *something* and play 50 games than sit out the entire year?
In the March agreement, the players received a lump sum of money as, essentially, a non-refundable deposit on any future games they end up playing. If they play zero games, that's all they get.

Yes, I'm speculating that higher-end players would be the ones sitting out, especially pitchers.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Maybe I missed this part, but do the players get paid if there's no season? If they can't come to an agreement, and there's no baseball, do the players get paid anyway?

If not....wouldn't you rather get paid *something* for playing 50 games then get paid nothing for not playing at all? I get that if you're Mike Trout, you don't really need the money. But if you're a marginal player or even a guy "only" making like $3 million a year, wouldn't you rather get paid *something* and play 50 games than sit out the entire year?
If the players got paid no matter what, they'd be in training camps by now and the season would be set to start by July 4. The largest sticking point has been player compensation. The owners want to reduce it as much as they can, the players want as much of it as they can get.
 

BaseballJones

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Ok so they got their lump sum that's theirs. No moving forward, players can play zero games and get zero more dollars. Or they can play some games and get paid something, even if it's not as much as they'd like.

Can someone tell me why getting zero dollars for zero games is preferable to players than getting some money for some games? Especially for players who aren't making huge dollars?
 

CarolinaBeerGuy

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Ok so they got their lump sum that's theirs. No moving forward, players can play zero games and get zero more dollars. Or they can play some games and get paid something, even if it's not as much as they'd like.

Can someone tell me why getting zero dollars for zero games is preferable to players than getting some money for some games? Especially for players who aren't making huge dollars?
I assume it’s because they’re taking on the same health risks (or more) and are being compensated at a significantly reduced rate of pay. The risk clearly isn’t worth the reward in their view.
 

Patek's 3 Dingers

Luddite
Silver Supporter
Jul 5, 2018
430
If the players got paid no matter what, they'd be in training camps by now and the season would be set to start by July 4. The largest sticking point has been player compensation. The owners want to reduce it as much as they can, the players want as much of it as they can get.
That is exactly correct, but many SOSHers seem to believe the owners should be willing, because they're really rich, to absorb 100% of any downside.