Testing Frequency A Key Part Of MLBPA's Response To League
The MLBPA made its response to the league's new safety protocols on Thursday, and the players' focus was increasingly on the frequency of testing. Some believe that rapid-response testing, with samples sent to MLB's centralized lab in Utah, should be administered more than multiple times per week and likely daily. A source said that the MLBPA's response was "wide ranging" and also included notes on the following issues: protocols for positive tests; in-stadium medical personnel; protections for high-risk players and family; access to pre- and postgame therapies and sanitization protocols. With MLB expected to make a formal player compensation proposal to the union in the coming days, do not be surprised to see the variable of timing of payments begin to emerge in conversations between the two sides (Eric Prisbell, SBJ Unpacks).
FIRST THINGS FIRST: In N.Y., Joel Sherman writes the health and safety protocols are "more vital to tackle first and completely" than compensation issues "because as the saying goes, you have nothing without your health." This is "not about minimizing the import of the financial element; it is about prioritizing health/safety." If the sides "can reach agreement on health/safety, it will exert mutual (and staggering) pressure on both sides to find common ground on the much more contentious issue of pay." Reaching an agreement on health/safety "should provide momentum and motivation to solve the financial chasm" (N.Y. POST, 5/22).
NEED TO COME TOGETHER: On Long Island, David Lennon writes dialogue is "always a good thing in these situations," but "lobbing PR grenades at each other is not." Despite the "previous acrimony, there's really no leverage to be gained anymore by fighting over the language of the March 26 pact" (NEWSDAY, 5/22). In Newark, Bob Klapisch writes if talks between the two sides "collapse because of money, it'll be the Michael Corleone kiss of death to the game's legitimacy." It took MLB "more than a decade to restore its attendance levels" after the '94 strike, and "even that required help" from the steroid era (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 5/22).
POINT-COUNTERPOINT: In Pittsburgh, Dejan Kovacevic writes under the header, "If Baseball Bails, Blame The Players." There is "no agreement" between MLB and the MLBPA, and there "never was one." Kovacevic: "Not a completed one, anyway." If this union, representing these players, "can't recognize right now that they'd be blamed for shutting down baseball ... then they're obtuse beyond hope" (DKPITTSBURGHSPORTS.com, 5/22). But the Chicago Sun-Times’ Jason Lieser said he does not blame any of the players “if they don't feel like this is worth the risk” to play. The MLBPA is the “last union that’s ever going to take a pay cut” (“SportsTalk Live,” NBC Sports Chicago, 5/21).