The country needs baseball. Baseball needs to get over itself.
There you have it.
A lot of blame and vitriol has been thrown the way of those immersed in deciding how Major League Baseball might return this season. In the last 24 hours -- since it became clear the players have little interest in revisiting their late-March financial settlement and agree to some sort of revenue-sharing -- most of the anger has been directed at the union. "How dare they threaten to not return to the fields when presented the opportunity because the paychecks might be altered."
OK. But ...
This is billionaires against millionaires, with both sides are digging in against a counterpart which they don't trust. That is the reality.
The players aren't convinced the owners are truly being genuine in portraying the kind of financial hardships that might await, while the owners are telling those in uniform it is simply not viable to conduct a season with no fans and the current rate of pay. And when you have a history like these two, common ground on such matters will lead ugly back-and-forths, and that's something pandemic-induced unemployment rates haven't seemed to change.
For many of the chief decision-makers and policy-brokers in this situation, this is more about the past and the future than it is the present, which is sad.
It would seem simple for the players to take the pay cut and introduce the revenue-sharing idea for a few months, even if it is an alteration of the original blueprint agreed upon two weeks into this season-less chaos. It a half a season. It is what is good for so many who need some good right now. It is also better than nothing, which would be a path unbelievably detrimental for many members of the union, added service time or not.
But because the term "revenue-sharing" has been bubbled up, the players are wary. It is just like when the media was kicked out of the clubhouse in those final days of spring training. The thought was this would be a long-term path to the players getting what they were hoping for all along -- limited media access. As it turned out, we shouldn't have worried about that for two seconds.
This was about what best in the here and now. We can figure the other stuff out later. The same should hold true when it comes to the union's distrust of the owners.
The owners, meanwhile, are yelling from their gold-plated mountaintops that we all knew adjustments would need to be made and so this shouldn't come as any surprise. But when you are coming off a stretch of seasons that had far too many organizations seemingly fail to allocate their substantial resources when it came to the on-field product, the benefit of the doubt is a hard thing to hand over.
It is understandable people are hating what they are hearing. They should. While it is understandable the roles of people like Rob Manfred, Tony Clark and Scott Boras are to protect their own while fending off the public slings and arrows, this is different ... in case you didn't realize that by now.
Here is what we should be hearing from the chief decision-makers from here on in:
- Safety of the players, their families and all workers involved in a return to the field is the absolute No. 1 priority. Start and stop.
- Some sort of assurance has to made that no semblance of the altered financial structure will carry on beyond 2020.
- Owners offer some evidence that their financial hit will be what they are saying it is.
Perhaps all of this is exactly what they are doing. If so, good for them. But as we sit here the problem is that baseball remains the one sport that is offering up the perception that something other than really, really wanting to find a safe way to squeeze out some sort of season isn't the be-all, end-all. And, as our days in quarantine have reminded us on a daily basis, perception can be a powerful thing.