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MLB owners, players appear entrenched in their positions

Tastes great! Less filling! The debate rages on

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Philadelphia Phillies v. New York Mets Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB via Getty Images

We’re still in the negotiating stage between major league owners and players for a potential 2020 season, or maybe it’s the posturing stage. Given MLB’s latest response to the players, pessimism seems to reign.

Owners rejected the players’ proposal of a 114-game season, and told the players it would not even send another proposal, per Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic:

The league, according to sources, also informed the MLBPA it has started talks with its owners about playing a shorter season without fans, and that it is ready to discuss additional ideas with the union on that subject.

The impasse over player pay, however, shows no signs of abating.

The two sides appear entrenched in their positions, specifically wielding the hammers they negotiated in late March. The players are sticking to their guns that they will not take less than the pro-rated salaries they agreed to in March, and have challenged ownership claims of substantial losses. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts went full absurdist in an interview with Jesse Rogers of ESPN, saying, “The scale of losses across the league is biblical.”

The owners as a whole, meanwhile, are standing firm, saying that March agreement gives them the right to arrange the schedule they see fit.

In other words, the players can have their pro-rated pay, but only a much smaller total amount given owners are threatening to hold a season less than a third of the norm. Agent Smith asking Mr. Anderson, “What good is a phone call if you’re unable to speak?”

While you try to wash that image out of your head, you might think this is just part of negotiating, that there are reasons to believe both sides can figure out a middle ground and forge a deal. After all, the alternative of no season seems like the most unnecessary nuclear option that would irreparably damage the sport, especially with the collective bargaining agreement expiring after 2021.

But given how stubborn both sides are at this point in time, it’s hard to be optimistic.

From Jeff Passan at ESPN, “Earlier this week, multiple players told ESPN that they would not abide a shorter schedule, with one saying, ‘We want to play more games, and they want to play less. We want more baseball.’”

From Ronald Blum at the Associated Press, deputy MLB commissioner Dan Halem wrote a letter to union negotiator Bruce Meyer saying, “We do not have any reason to believe that a negotiated solution for an 82-game season is possible.”

Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted Wednesday, “I have heard greater pessimism today from folks on both sides about MLB launching a season than at any point.”

That’s where we’re at now. Maybe owners and players can reach a deal, maybe they can’t. But it doesn’t seem like things are in a good place right now.