Player-Salary Issue Remains Critical Hurdle For MLB's Return
Agreeing on new safety protocols will be "difficult enough, but the more contentious challenge" for MLB and the MLBPA "might be resolving player salaries for a shortened 2020 season," according to Rosenthal & Drellich of THE ATHLETIC. It "seems almost unfathomable that an economic dispute might prevent a season from occurring, but the parties currently are entrenched in their positions," as the union "believes a resolution already is in place, while the league has yet to offer an alternative." The league says that the union "needs to drop its stance that the salary matter is closed before it makes a new proposal." But the union "does not think it should discuss sacrificing additional pay until the league demonstrates its financial distress with hard evidence." Rosenthal & Drellich noted the deadline to reach a new agreement, "if the season is to begin in early July, probably is around June 1." If owners do not want to pay the full pro-rated salaries, as they initially agreed to in March, "nothing forces players to take an additional pay cut." However, conversely, if players do not agree to renegotiate, "nothing forces the owners to start the season." The "worst-case scenario is that no games are played, one or both sides files a grievance and an arbitrator is left to decide potentially a half season’s worth of salaries, a process that could take years to complete and would cripple the sport" (THEATHLETIC.com, 5/18).
WORK LEFT TO DO: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jared Diamond writes baseball "might be played this summer -- but for everyone involved, it won’t be much fun." As "careful and thorough" as MLB’s new safety protocols look, they serve as a "stark reminder of the enormity of the undertaking at hand." Even the league "seems to recognize the challenge ahead" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/19). SPORTSNET.ca's Shi Davidi wrote MLB's proposed health-and-safety protocols serve as both a "starting point toward a potential return to play and an acceptance that with the coronavirus in our midst, the old normal is gone, and many unthinkable accommodations must be made." But for baseball and other sports to resume, for "life to really begin again, acceptance is the only path forward" (SPORTSNET.ca, 5/18). ESPN's Jeff Passan said the timetable is getting tight, as the parties have “a couple of weeks” to get Spring Training started by mid-June. Passan: "There's so much logistically that needs to get done" ("Get Up," ESPN, 5/19).
NOT A GOOD LOOK: In Detroit, John Niyo writes under the header, "Money Matters Could Cook Up A Bad Look For MLB." The virus will have the "final word on all this, but it’s not taking sides in a labor fight." The fans "might, though, and they tend to side with the owners in these matters." Both sides must "realize some things are more important than the bottom line." Niyo: "Turning a pandemic into a proxy war for the next labor fight isn't just bad business. It’s insulting" (DETROIT NEWS, 5/19).