The logistics of a shortened MLB season have been an internal logjam for many MLB personnel since it was announced two months ago that Opening Day would be indefinitely postponed. The crux of the issues remains financial, as the players and owners do not seem to agree regarding the distribution of revenue between the two parties.
On the one hand, the owners are staunch in their stance that this season’s revenue should be divided right down the middle — a pure 50/50 split. However, the players are becoming increasingly unwilling to cave to the owners’ frisky demands, as an agreement was reportedly in place weeks ago that would pay players on a pro-rata basis.
This stalemate will only further deteriorate whatever semblance of a relationship the two sides previously shared, and whether or not a compromise can be acknowledged remains to be seen as we slowly approach a pivotal few weeks regarding the future of American professional sports.
The MLBPA will have its work cut out during these unprecedented times due to the indecisive framework and execution of a shortened season. As we dive deeper into these negotiations, it is important to recognize the current financial model of Major League Baseball.
MLB has never followed the congruent structure of other American sports leagues with regards to a traditional salary cap. Ipso facto, it is more than reasonable to understand where the Players Association is coming from.
Tony Clark, the executive director for the MLBPA, mentioned the inconsistent and unparalleled nature of a 50/50 revenue split between the two parties. “A system that restricts player pay based on revenues is a salary cap, period,” Clark said.
“The league is trying to take advantage of a global health crisis to get what they’ve failed to achieve in the past. To anonymously negotiate through the media for the last several days suggests they know exactly how this will be received. None of this is beneficial to the process of finding a way for us to safely get back on the field and resume the 2020 season, which continues to be our sole focus.”
Long-time MLB agent, Scott Boras, also expressed his discontentment with the erratic and unprofessional actions from the owners as it pertains to this dubious financial predicament. He mentioned he was “disappointed” that the owners would “alter the foundation” originally put in place back in March.
MLB Players Frustrated
Many players have taken to social media to voice their frustrations and bitterness towards the proposal — most notably Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell. An emerging superstar for a small market team, Snell recently inked a five-year, $50 million contract extension with the Rays.
Snell highlighted the potential risk of returning to action this season, both to himself and his family, as he bluntly exclaimed, “It’s just not worth it.”
Many pundits and MLB executives were taken aback that a player would use his platform to downplay the importance of playing a shortened season to relieve the emotional void many sports fans are feeling. Moreover, he was profusely mocked throughout social media for his unprofessional and “spoiled” approach to his remarks.
Although criticism is understandable in today’s post-pandemic world, Snell was simply reiterating what many Americans are worried about themselves: When push comes to shove, is it truly worth the risk?
A question that has alluded millions globally, it will be fascinating to monitor the continued re-opening of our great nation as businesses across the country slowly get back to work. It will also be watched whether players and owners in professional sports will be able to put aside their differences to re-discover a feeling that many Americans are so desperately craving: Hope.