The Major League Baseball Players Association has rejected a recent proposal from Major League Baseball to delay the season, meaning the regular season will likely begin as currently scheduled, but USA Today baseball columnist Bob Nightengale says this rejection could be a bad omen for the future.
Regarding the declined agreement, Nightengale noted that both sides clearly seem to lack trust for the other. Both sides have been negotiating the details for the upcoming season for months now, but there seems to be no room to meet in the middle.
“Whatever the owners propose, the union is not going to go with it,” Nightengale said on Glenn Clark Radio Feb. 1. “There’s almost a [feeling from the players] that we’re not going to try to help you guys out.”
MLB’s recent proposal called for players to be paid their full salaries for a 154-game schedule to begin in late April. Spring training would start in late March. The offer included the installment of the universal DH and expanded postseason, the latter of which did not interest the players.
Nightengale said this particular rejection stemmed from the fact that the proposal’s language would give MLB commissioner Rob Manfred the unilateral ability to shut down the season for COVID-related reasons.
Because the offer was rejected without a counterproposal, Nightengale believes the season will go on as planned. He also doubted that Manfred would stop the season at any juncture, citing that it would be the catalyst for a sizeable labor war. However, he predicted that there will be COVID outbreaks during spring training.
“You can’t expect the players not to go out at night; not to go out to the great restaurants in Scottsdale, Arizona,” Nightengale said.”You’re not going to leave the complex and go straight to your condo from 4 [p.m.] on. It’s not going to happen. The COVID rate in Arizona is the highest in the country.”
Nightengale reiterated that the owners still very much want the season to be pushed back because that would allow more vaccines to be distributed, creating a greater likelihood for fans to be present at some juncture of the season.
“The negotiations have been nasty,” Nightengale said. “There’s so much distrust between the two sides. So, there could be a work stoppage in December.”
A potential work stoppage in December relates to the fact that the current collective bargaining agreement ends Dec. 1. Based on the mutual disdain both parties have for the other, things do not portend well for negotiations leading up to December.
Seemingly, any proposal that is sent from either party will be shot down leading up to the expiration of the CBA.
“There’s very little room for optimism on either side,” Nightengale said.
As far as the 2021 season, there are many quandaries that remain to be worked out. Will the universal DH be in place? Will seven-inning doubleheaders remain an answer for COVID cancellations? Will extra innings begin with a runner on second?
At this point, there is no progress being made on either side, and based off the apprehension by both sides to give some ground, it does not seem likely that there will be any agreement made before Opening Day, and there is significant ambiguity about the baseball landscape following this season. The sides do not seem willing to budge.
“I think if MLB proposed that we do not want expanded playoffs,” Nightengale said, “the union would turn around and say, ‘No, no, we want expanded playoffs.'”
For more from Nightengale, listen to the full interview here:
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