As if the pending resumption of the 2020 Major League Baseball season didn’t have enough hurdles to clear, we can probably brace for a pending fight between the league and the players association over pay if games are to be played with no fans.
MLB and the players reached an agreement on March 27 that guaranteed players a total of $170 million if there is no 2020 season, and accounted for pro-rated pay and service time in the event of an abbreviated season. Just about every plan that the league is considering to restart the season includes at least the start of the season with limited or no fans.
“You could either have a situation where you get the group of players, put them in a few cities and you test them, to make sure they don’t infect each other, and you have baseball, as much as its tough to say, in a spectator-less environment,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview on YES Network Monday. “The revenues are not going to the same as when you have a packed stadium. But I think having them play on television is better than no baseball at all.
“Another version of that is to limit the amount of people in the stadium, and make sure you seat them where they are really quite separated, and maybe even wearing facial covers.”
If there are games played with no fans, the league wants to pay players less, while the union thinks the matter was already settled with that March 27 agreement. From Ronald Blum at the Associated Press:
“Players recently reached an agreement with Major League Baseball that outlines economic terms for resumption of play, which included significant salary adjustments and a number of other compromises. That negotiation is over,” union head Tony Clark said in a statement Monday.
The league sees it differently. Again from AP:
“In the agreement reached earlier this spring, the commissioner’s office and the MLBPA agreed that the season would not commence until normal operations — including fans in our home stadiums — were possible,” deputy commissioner Dan Halem said in a statement, going on to cite the provision for future talks. “If circumstances require, we will, consistent with our agreement with the union, negotiate in good faith over a framework to resume play without fans that is economically feasible for the sport.”
The agreement at the end of March was reportedly a 17-page document, per Ken Rosenthal and Even Drellich at The Athletic. So we can add strict vs. narrow constructionism to the pile of several things that need to be resolved before a baseball season can begin, like health and safety for all involved, where the games will be played, and more.
- Major League Baseball, all 30 teams StubHub, and Ticketmaster were sued in federal court over failure to provide ticket refunds, per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.
- MLB.com has shifted to shortstop in selecting the all-time player for each franchise. Ken Gurnick has a poll in which fans can choose between Pee Wee Reese, Maury Wills, Bill Russell, and Corey Seager for the Dodgers.
- Dan Szymborski at FanGraphs analyzes how a truncated season would affect strength of schedule for various teams.
- Craig Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus somehow used a moment from Top Chef to explain how baseball organizations operate.