We’re now going on three full months of this wonderful MLB lockout. Thankfully, talks have ramped up this week with the league and union representatives meeting everyday for the past three days and Thursday figures to be no different. As it sits, sides have began inching closer before an MLB-imposed deadline of February 28 rears its ugly head and potentially postpones games, shortening the season in the process.
From ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, in an attempt at playing hardball, the league has somewhat cleverly pointed out that yes, games will be postponed if a deal is not struck by Monday. No, they will not be made up in any fashion and, no, players will not be compensated for lost games. “Somewhat cleverly”, because be that as it may, it’s not like a verbal threat is going to help the two sides get along any easier at this point. If fact, the last thing anybody should want to do is say something slick to further height the tension between the two sides, regardless of how true the statement of not getting paid at all is true.
More importantly to this point, there are key issues that both sides are both well off on in agreement. Frankly, it’s not surprising that these things do tend to happen in the 11th hour and 59th minute when it comes to actually striking a deal as the two sides are seldom seen agreeing on much. Why wouldn’t it while both sides still have time to get as much in their favor on a deal as possible? What’s interesting the most is what will comes of the negotiating particularly pertaining to the CBT and pre-arbitration bonus pool.
So, here we have the understanding as Jeff Passan points out, the sides are still essentially light years apart on the most important parts of the deal. It simply is not as easy as “meeting in the middle” because neither side wants to budge even a little. As stated above, players are in somewhat of an ultimatum here because they are fighting to get paid more, yet if they don’t submit they won’t be paid at all until they do. At that point, the question begs: Will the union really shoot themselves in the foot? If so, isn’t that the absolute worst possible outcome for all parties involved? Unfortunately, the league is forgetting who the heartbeat of baseball is in the first place: the fans.
Personally, glancing over the cliff notes regarding the pre-arb bonus pool, the league recently upped it’s offer to $20.0M which still leaves a crazy-high gap (around $80 million) between both sides’ respective positions. Understandably, the players more than likely acknowledge their ask to be unrealistic, as most asks are when you start negotiating. It will be interesting to see what the union counters with after the league raised their offer this week.
As Jesse Rogers points out in a recent article, this would be the first time the league is actually being bold enough to say, “No, these games will not be made up, period.” as they were in 1990s lockout that extended into March. Essentially, the union will try to continue to get as much to go their way before the Feb. 28 deadline, but knowing they will lose out on all monies for games not played has to light a fire at least in the slightest to get the ball rolling a bit quicker here.
With four days to do until the deadline, all fans can hope is that the too sides aren’t stubborn enough to take away the game we love. It has been butchered enough in the past and the league must also in itself realize that any postponements or even worse, loss of a full season, may damage the sport beyond repair.