Columnists: MLB, Union Need To Hash Out Differences To Save Season
MLB has sent its return proposal to the players' union, but it will be a "darn shame" if baseball is on the verge of returning but the plan "ultimately strikes out because owners and players want too much cash for themselves," according to Brian Smith of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Hope "peeked through the gloom again" yesterday, but MLB's return will only take place "if the billionaires and millionaires are able to do what our contemporary political leaders far too often fail to: compromise." Smith: "Think 1994. But more painful, infuriating and depressing. We need sports back. We need baseball back" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/12). In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy writes the pandemic has "reminded folks how much they miss sports." MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and the MLBPA "need to work this out nicely without their customary sabre-rattling." The compensation conflict between players and owners "has the potential to make all of America hate baseball at a time when the sport is already teetering on relevancy in today's society" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/12). In St. Louis, Ben Frederickson writes to both the league and union, "Read the room. Better yet, read the news." That puts the "common man's tolerance for bickering between billionaire owners and millionaire players at ... somewhere around zero percent." If something has to stop baseball's return, "let it be the virus and not the vitriol between players and owners. Let it be health. Not wealth" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/12).
SHORTSIGHTED: In N.Y., Ken Davidoff writes the two sides "owe it to each other to engage in bona fide bargaining," and the players "owe it to themselves to be especially diligent as they weigh the pro of their compensation against the con of potential health consequences" (N.Y. POST, 5/12). In Tampa, John Romano writes the mood in baseball the past few days has "looked less like an industry pulling together in challenging times and more like a tone-deaf game of rich man's tug-of-war." While the "pot of gold is large, and the dispute is genuine," the idea that America's Pastime "could be held hostage during a pandemic because of contracts and profits is unseemly. And selfish. And shortsighted" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 5/12). ESPN's Jeff Passan said, “We’re in the middle of a pandemic right now, and if millionaires and billionaires can’t get together and figure out how to be a little bit less rich, there's a really big problem with this sport that’s going to chase it around for years and years to come." Passan: "If you screw this thing up, it is going to haunt your sport for a long, long time" ("Get Up," ESPN, 5/12).
ON THE SPOT: SPORTSNET.ca's Shi Davidi writes by leaking the proposal before its formal presentation to the union, "guaranteeing that the players will look like greedy bad guys if they push back amid alarming unemployment figures, the owners don’t really seem to be asking." It "looks like they’re trying to use the pandemic as a pretext to implement the salary cap that has so long eluded them." The owners have "put the players on quite the tightrope" (SPORTSNET.ca, 5/12).ESPN Radio's Mike Golic Jr. said, "This playing out in the court of public opinion ultimately ends up benefiting no one. … When I first saw that this plan was put out there, I went, ‘I can’t believe Major League Baseball would put this plan out because it’s going to put the players in the spot where if they push back at all they appear greedy’” (“Golic & Wingo,” ESPN Radio, 5/12).The Wall Street Journal’s Jared Diamond said, “The alternative of coming to an agreement is not playing and having the American public knowing you're not playing because the billionaires and the millionaires couldn't agree on how to split it” (“Today,” NBC, 5/12).
BOGGED DOWN? YAHOO SPORTS' Tim Brown wrote watching the two sides argue about money is "how we'll spend the run-up to baseball in the summer, if there is to be baseball in the summer." Brown: "Who loses the least. Who wins the most. Who threatens loudest. Who avoids the blame. Who got over on whom. Who believes they have suffered more" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/11). In San Diego, Bryce Miller writes this is the "moment of truth and conscience for a sport that loves marketing itself as a clip from 'Field of Dreams' while too often circling boardrooms like sharks away from the limelight." What the country needs is a "coming together of equally unprecedented scope." What the country "should not suffer is making this another fight over money" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 5/12). In Detroit, Bob Wojnowski writes owners approving the proposal yesterday is "a start," but today the players receive it to debate it, which is the "difficult part, reaching agreement on a spate of safety and financial issues." Then comes the "sobering part: Nothing happens unless the virus approves it" (DETROIT PRESS, 5/12).