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On bad faith, a ‘losing hand,’ and embarrassment for MLB

Reaction to Rob Manfred’s comments on Monday

2020 Major League Baseball Draft Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

As expected, commissioner Rob Manfred saying on ESPN he was not confident a 2020 MLB season would happen elicited a ton of responses.

The players union forced the owners’ hands on Saturday by telling Manfred to simply impose the schedule, which turned out to be illuminating. Owners, rather than imposing a shortened schedule that would surely lead to a grievance, instead told the players, per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, there will be no 2020 season unless the players agree to waive their right to a grievance.

“This latest threat is just one more indication that Major League Baseball has been negotiating in bad faith since the beginning,” Tony Clark said Monday. “This has always been about extracting additional pay cuts from Players and this is just another day and another bad faith tactic in their ongoing campaign.”

Thing are as ugly as they’ve ever been throughout this negotiation.

Several major league players reacted Monday. Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer had a long tweet thread saying this latest ploy by the owners is a stall tactic, telling Manfred, “You’re holding a losing hand. Unfortunately, it’s a losing hand for everyone involved, not just you.”

Max Scherzer, who rarely tweets, chimed in:

This, from Cubs outfielder Steve Souza Jr., is dark but accurate:

Joe Hudson, a catcher with 13 plate appearances in the majors who is a non-roster invitee in Mariners camp this season, had my favorite response on Monday:

As for the owners lamenting the profitability from the sport, here’s an agent chiming in:


  • Russell Carleton at Baseball Prospectus examined in great detail the potential cost of a lost 2020 season, noting specifically that it took MLB 12 years to get back to pre-strike attendance levels after the 1994 labor stoppage.
  • Even before Manfred’s comments on Monday, Marc Normandin at Baseball Prospectus wrote, “Good-faith negotiations are not possible with an entity such as MLB. The league has spent the pandemic attempting to rally the media and public against the players, knowing full well that the players were legally in the right the entire time.”
  • MLB has pushed back the start date of the 2020-21 international signing period — one of their rights earned in the infamous March 26 agreement with players — to January 15, 2021, instead of the normal July 2, per J.J. Cooper at Baseball America.
  • If canceling the season over monetary concerns wasn’t bad enough, a letter from MLB says “several players and staff have tested positive for coronavirus”, per the Associated Press. What convenient timing for such a leak!