If you are a guy who has attempted to sew something, you know Job One is threading the needle. You simply can’t get anything done otherwise. And if you are as inept as I am at sewing, then you know this simple truth — threading a needle doesn’t always get easier each time you make the attempt.
It seems the two sides of baseball’s battle for the bucks — MLB and the MLBPA — are having an amazingly difficult time trying to thread the needle. Apparently, both sides are in agreement on the universal DH, the three sectional leagues in 2020 and most of the protocols involved with attempting to keep players safe.
However, the two sides are about as far apart as you can be on the length of the schedule and about how the players’ compensation will ultimately be tabulated. A couple weeks back, I accurately predicted the players would go simple — hey, we want to make more money, so we’ll just ask to play more games. That’s when MLB came out with its first substantive proposal to play 82 games.
Apparently, the MLBPA had a hard time understanding that the owners wanted fewer games with empty seats, not more, because owners would lose more money the more empty-seat games that they’d put on. So the players countered by asking for a schedule of 114 games.
In normal times of negotiations, the next counter move would be somewhere in between 82 and 114 games, so what did the owners do? Well, without making an official counter-proposal they leaked that they would really like to play between 50 and 60 games.
The owners simply turned down the players’ proposal for the higher number of games and a $100 million advance that would be paid up front or early during a second spring training. The owners have already paid the players $170 million for April and May, which was stipulated in the late March agreement between MLB and the MLBPA.
But with both sides fiddling and the 2020 clock ticking, we have to question who among all the high-powered lawyers on both sides chose to leave an all-important issue vague? I am speaking of how MLB believes it included clear-cut language that further reductions to players’ compensation was its right if it came down to a reality of playing games with no fans.
At the same time MLB feels it made clear that it could seek a second shave on player compensation, the MLBPA feels the language was very clear and that the players have already made an accord by agreeing to prorated salaries based on games played.
It’s just pretty damn insane that both sides didn’t make this clearer or even nail that concept down when they could. While I am not totally pessimistic — it looks like these two sides are guys trying to do a quick fix on their clothes by sewing something.
While baseball tries to figure out whether it can play a season and the NBA and NHL try to figure out when they can resume the last part of their 2019-20 seasons, the NFL is talking tough about starting the season on time and playing their full 17-week regular season in full and on time.
And it’s been interesting to watch from afar how one man — that Lamar Jackson guy — is chomping at the bit to get ready. Reports surfaced that Jackson has gotten together with seven or eight of his offensive mates for some informal workouts in South Florida several weeks in front of Ravens training camp.
If you are counting, that makes two consecutive years that Jackson has held offseason workouts with teammates from his side of the ball. It’s clear Jackson works really hard at getting himself better and synchronizing with his offensive players. You can really understand that this work not only makes the offense better but it also gains him more respect in the building.
Look, this isn’t a cheap shot at Jackson’s predecessor, Joe Flacco, but in 11 seasons as a Raven, Flacco did this two times. In his first two offseasons as the starter, Jackson has opted to make his side of the ball better prepared for training camp.
We all know the problems Flacco had in Baltimore after the Super Bowl season in 2012. He had very little continuity with his offensive coordinators, which often meant that Flacco had to relearn an entirely new offense each and every season. It’s also true that once Flacco earned his big contract after the Super Bowl win against the San Francisco 49ers, the club had a significant cap crunch, making it a bit more difficult to surround him with playmakers.
But Jackson will benefit early in his career with more continuity at offensive coordinator than Flacco had late in his Ravens career; Jackson is about to embark on a second straight season with Greg Roman in charge of the offense. And unless Roman gets serious looks as a head coach somewhere else, chances are Jackson and Roman could have a great run in the land of the Ravens.
But let’s also simply give some credit to Jackson for setting such a shining example for his teammates.
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