There are times when it feels like an issue will take the equivalent of a book to explain. This is not one of those times. This is as cut and dry of an issue as there is in baseball today.
Both Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association know how simple the issue in front of them is. Those reading this article know that the issue of MLB players being paid a prorated rate for the 2020 season isn’t complicated.
The basic facts stand as such: COVID-19 has shut down MLB so far this season. MLB owners really want there to be a season in any form so that they can make money. The players negotiated a prorated pay system with the owners about one month ago. Now, the owners have changed their minds and want MLB to open up sometime in July but for the players to take a pay cut beyond their mutually-agreed upon prorated rate. That’s the gist of the issue and one can see why there’s not much to dispute with regards to the facts.
To get it out of the way, the owners are crazy to ask the players to take a pay cut. They know that it is wrong of them to ask the players to take a pay cut. The owners all agreed to the prorated pay scale already. They did so to make sure they could shorten the amateur draft to save the payroll equivalent of a few drops in the bucket. Now that they have that concession they want to renege on their agreement with the players and save/make even more money.
There are two issues that should kill the owners’ wishes dead in the water. First and foremost is the reality that at no point has the pendulum swung in the other direction. For the past 20 years, the owners have brought in more profits than was expected year after year. At no point did the owners go to the players and say, “Hey, we made way more money than we thought we were going to this year. Here’s some extra money for you all since you helped us to make these record profits.” Nope, the owners kept all their profits and continued to try and squeeze every dime from the players that they could. Now the owners want the players to help them out, but business is a two-way street, and based on the owners’ past profit-driven actions the players should emphatically look the owners in the face and tell them ‘no’.
The second issue confronting the owners is the agreement already in place. MLB owners are used to ruling the roost but there’s no way the players should agree to the alteration of a contract that was agreed to a month ago. The owners agreed to pay the players a certain rate and they aren’t allowed to choose to ignore that when it is convenient for them to do as such. I’m not a lawyer, but ignoring a legally binding contract in the way that the owners are planning on seems to be really, really dumb.
Now, the truth of all this is that the owners are hoping that labor strife will act as a smokescreen to the fact that they want to make money so badly that they are willing to sacrifice everyone else’s health. If they can get fans to focus on the players arguing over money then maybe those same fans won’t pay attention to the lack of skin that the owners have in the resumption of a season. If the players say no to a new season for both health and financial reasons the owners will fall hard on the financial side of the holdup. The finances and prorated pay are a sleight of hand to remove any responsibility the owners could possibly have to shoulder for wanting baseball to be taking place when the players would still be at risk of contracting Coronavirus.
That’s it, those are all the facts anyone needs to know about why there will be a work stoppage and why you should support the players when the stoppage begins. The players can say ‘no’ as loudly as they have ever uttered the word. Everyone and their mother should side with the players because the facts of the case at hand are crystal clear. The owners want to make money and they want to put lives at risk while doing so. Hopefully, the players refuse to let the owners have their way.