Remember, five days ago, when Rob Manfred said he was confident that there would be a 2020 MLB season?
No, not confident. "100 percent" confident? Or when he said that there would "unequivocally" -- that means "in a way that leaves no doubt," just as a point of reference -- be a Major League Baseball season this year?
I'm glad I didn't buy into it too much, which seemed to be the consensus among frustrated baseball fans. Today, our fears were confirmed.
As part of ESPN's "The Return of Sports" special, which features discussions with several of the major American sports leagues' commissioners, Manfred told Mike Greenberg that he's "not confident" there will be a 2020 season and that he thinks "there's real risk" so long as the negotiations between the MLB and the union continue to fail to bring about any positive change.
Manfred additionally called the talks between the two parties a "disaster for our game" -- listen to WFAN's Marc Malusis in the video above for a properly passionate rant on the topic -- and that something like this "shouldn't be happening."
The MLBPA released a statement criticizing Manfred for going “back on his word and now threatening to cancel the entire season.”
“Any implication that the Players Association has somehow delayed progress on health and safety protocols is completely false, as Rob has recently acknowledged the parties are ‘very, very close,’” the statement read. “This latest threat is just one more indication that Major League Baseball has been negotiating in bad faith since the beginning. This has always been about extracting additional pay cuts from Players and this is just another day and another rbad faith tactic in their ongoing campaign.”
Recently, the league offered a 72-game season with 80% of prorated salaries, to which the players emphatically said no and opted not to send a proposal back to the league, instead defiantly telling the league to set a schedule and to let them get back to work.
MLB executive director Tony Clark said that the players' continual requests to be treated fairly and be given what they rightfully deserve "have fallen upon deaf ears" and that "further dialogue with the league would be futile." Doesn't sound like progress to me.
To make matters worse, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reported that the league would not hold a 2020 season unless grievances filed against the league were waived.
Though Manfred says the owners are "a hundred percent committed" to a return to action, he says that the union deployed a "bad-faith tactic" in a reported plan to file a grievance claiming that they were entitled to $1 billion as soon as the MLB released the season schedule that Clark asked for.
The full special, featuring this interview with Manfred and many more with other commissioners, will air in full on Monday night at 9:00 ET on ESPN.