I put it off all day. I’m so exhausted – sad, angry and helpless – that I don’t even want to deal with my own emotions about the closure of MLB. Every time I try to crystallize my thoughts in a really comprehensive way, I just shake my head and think how upset I am. How much damage this will do in the long run and how EASY it is for everyone to see except the owners.
Despite the grief that Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has received about the lockout, the state of the game as a whole and his own management, he offered the shortest and most insightful look at what is happening now.
“I see the omission of the games as a disastrous result for this industry,” Manfred said three weeks ago when asked what it would mean to miss regular season games as a result of failing to reach a new collective agreement.
This is one of those words that we can use carelessly enough because there is such a simple definition: “Inflicting great damage.”
And Manfred was so precise in his choice of words. Major League Baseball, through its blocking and delaying and stingy offers to players, and now its unilateral cancellation of games, is indeed causing great damage to the industry. I’m not even sure I’m shaking my head anymore. He can just shake on his own, damaged will.
I have a number of other things that I think are important to share here, so I’ll just post them below …
⇒ So, what’s next for the calls? Well, MLB pointed out that Thursday is the earliest time to start negotiations again and both sides are obliged to continue to do so (from a legal point of view). I think we’ll probably see some sessions over the weekend, because I estimate more games will be canceled if there’s no deal by Sunday night. But also, according to my calculations, I don’t think the owners will be terribly worried about canceling the next part of the games. It may not be another two weeks before they start seriously considering a reasonable offer.
⇒ MLB is indeed likely to take the position that it is up to the players to make another counter-offer, as MLB’s “best” offer came before Monday’s deadline:
Manfred says “without exception” the owners have made a final proposal on each individual topic in the CBA, so “you draw your own conclusions” about who should go next.
– Scott Miller (@ScottMillerBbl) March 1, 2022
⇒ Based on the conditions we saw, I could imagine how players are declining slightly in terms of pre-arbitration bonus fund and minimum wage demands, but the balance sheet tax is probably the real battle. It always was. And it just doesn’t seem like it’s the players’ turn to make a big move on this.
CBT’s “best and latest” growth rates proposed by MLB (key tax thresholds)
2022: 4.76% ($ 220 million)
2023: 0.00% ($ 220 million)
2022: 0.00% ($ 220 million)
2024: 1.82% ($ 224 million)
2025: 2.68% ($ 230 million)
From 2011-19, the CBT base grew by 2% per year, MLB revenues grew by an average of 8% per year. https://t.co/uvWp58rYzD
– Travis Savchik (@Travis_Sawchik) March 1, 2022
⇒ I guess that means $ 225 million for the first level of CBT:
I was told that the MLBPA was strongly opposed to 14 teams after the season and that the owners would take CBT up to $ 25 million if that led to a deal.
– Peter Gammons (@pgammo) March 2, 2022
⇒ This is between the last known offers from owners ($ 220 million) and players ($ 238 million), but not the midpoint. The bigger questions might be: where are the second and third levels placed? What are the related sanctions outside the tax itself? What is the lifelong escalation of the deal? More than the first issue of the first year, all these things were also a major problem. In the five years of the deal, for example, the owners ‘offer escalated the first level to just $ 230 million (unlike players’ last year, it was up to $ 263 million).
⇒ This version of events is sad:
Blue Stays’ union representative Ross Stripling “knew we were far away” from the deal, but wanted to be optimistic, calling a broker for spring rental and upgrading the hen to live BP. “Now I feel stupid for doing that.” https://t.co/3HrAIsZVbv
– Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) March 2, 2022
“It must be around 12:30[AM, after midnight on Monday] and the fine print of their CBT proposal was something we’ve never seen before, “Stripling said. “They were trying to get things through us, like they thought we were dumb baseball players and we were sleeping after midnight or something. It’s like that stupid football quote, they’re what we thought they were. They did exactly what we thought they would do. They brought us to the deadline they imposed, and then they tried to sneak some nonsense past us within that deadline, and we were ready for that. We have been ready for five years. And then they tried to turn it over to us [Tuesday] in PR, saying that we changed our tone and tried to do it as if it was our fault. That has never happened. “
⇒ In other words, it seems that the plan for MLB was either to make a favorite deal in the wee hours, or to try to make the public think that the players suddenly changed their minds in the morning. In fact, the deal was never close. Everything was still in the service of the (probably) broader plan: either take a monstrous profit from the CBA, or happily cancel the games.
FWIW MLB told the media last night and today that there is momentum to the deal. Now they say the tone of the players has changed. So if the deal is not made today, we are to blame. This is not a coincidence. We had the same tone all the time. We just want a fair deal / to play ball.
– Alex Wood (@ Awood45) March 1, 2022
⇒ The PR game didn’t seem to work, however, as players spoke around today – from Jason Hayward and Wilson Contreras – to Mike Trout. I mean, if you make Mike Trout angry in public, you’ve really done something:
Mike Trout about the CBA talks through his Facebook page pic.twitter.com/ZWTPy2WsOE
– Taylor Blake Ward (@TaylorBlakeWard) March 2, 2022
⇒ Three exclusive articles in The Athletic about what happened:
Opening day has been canceled. Owners may not spoil the union. But they will break something.
– Andy McCullough (@ByMcCullough) March 2, 2022
The owners of the big league had all the advantages, but that was not enough. Column: https://t.co/Zyt2aSW8MU
– Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 2, 2022
New column: Rob Manfred said the cancellation of the games would be a “catastrophic result” for his sport.
Well, here we are. So, has the disaster officially arrived? Or is there still time before something gets worse – much worse? https://t.co/SRx7zKH9MZ
– Jason Stark (@jaysonst) March 2, 2022
⇒ Last part of the sadness in all this: MLB’s decision not only hurts fans, players and themselves, but also hurts so many others who are part of the larger baseball ecosystem. The stadium workers who are now losing matches and paying. Providers who lose limited opportunities to make money. The bars and restaurants around the stadiums are losing customers. Small businesses working on baseball. The service staff. The hotels. The media. And all the other employees who might see opportunities or salaries are shrinking. Who can be fired or fired. The cobweb stretches out. The side damage is real. We saw it in 2020, when a global pandemic DID similar things. This year it was just a choice. What a disastrous outcome for this industry.