With the other major American sports leagues finalizing plans to restart their respected seasons, Major League Baseball is sluggishly behind. With little to no hope on a return in 2020, here’s how this standoff impacts more than this season.
With the MLBPA and the owners in another standoff, it seems rather unlikely that any Major League Baseball will be played this season. As the MLB just recently rejected the players’ proposal of a 114-game regular season with no additional pay cuts. There are currently no plans to submit a counteroffer at this time. It is a gut-wrenching blow to not only its fans from around the world but to the players themselves. This comes at a time where the CBA is about to expire.
The current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire on December 1, 2021. The more that tensions rise, the harder it then becomes to negotiate. During the 2016 negotiations, both sides were within hours of a lockout, with both sides barely finalizing a deal within hours of the deadline.
This winter’s free agency class is elite, with players such as Mookie Betts, J.T Realmuto, George Springer, and Trevor Bauer just to name a few. If this season is compromised due to the aftermath of COVID-19, owners will likely be reluctant to splurge on big, long-term contracts as they had in the past. This could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
In an interview with USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez said “We’re all together. We all understand it. There’s a thought that the association is weaker than its ever been because of all of the younger players, but I think a lot of young players are beginning to understand. We’re all united.” The numerous issues the players have taken notice to over the last couple of seasons allude to the fact that the owners’ tactics will not work past this CBA. The players want equality in MLB.
If a strike appears imminent, this kills the trust from its many fans. After the strike from midseason 1994 into 1995 that canceled the 1994 World Series, it took a few years for fans to become truly invested in MLB again. This would put the entire league in a huge economic downturn as ballparks will not sell out when fans are allowed to return to full volume. Even by delaying the start to 2021 due to money issues put the owners at a huge disadvantage, as they are causing themselves to lose out on money, the very thing that they are trying to take away from the players. While fans will adjust to life without the MLB, the owners need to realize that they don’t have the upper hand, they are only hurting themselves.