John Raoux/Associated Press
New York Yankees president Randy Levine believes MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is “absolutely committed to playing baseball this year,” despite Manfred’s comments Monday that he was no longer confident a 2020 season would take place.
Jon Heyman of the MLB Network shared Levine’s full comments:
Jon Heyman @JonHeyman
Levine con’t “The March agreement states that the parties would negotiate all of these issues. The commissioner has assured me he’s ready to meet and negotiate, The players should get in the room with the commissioner and resolve these issues and then we can play baseball.” end
Last week, Manfred said “unequivocally, we are going to play Major League Baseball this year.”
But on Monday, he walked back those remarks after ESPN’s Mike Greenberg asked him about the possibility of a 2020 season.
“I’m not confident. I think there’s real risk, and as long as there’s no dialogue, that real risk is going to continue,” he said.
MLB owners and its players remain at an impasse over finances.
On Saturday, the league proposed a 72-game season that would guarantee 70 percent of players’ prorated salaries and could go up to as much as 83 percent. The players, who had already agreed to a pay cut in the form of prorated salaries based on the number of games played, rejected the offer and said they were done negotiating since the original agreement said Manfred had the right to resume the season at any point with those prorated salaries.
That divide widened on Monday, when “the commissioner’s office told the players’ association that it will not proceed with a schedule unless the union waives its right to claim that management violated a March agreement between the feuding sides,” per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
MLBPA executive director Tony Clark responded:
“Players are disgusted that after Rob Manfred unequivocally told Players and fans that there would ‘100 percent’ be a 2020 season, he has decided to go back on his word and is now threatening to cancel the entire season. Any implication that the Players Association has somehow delayed progress on health and safety protocols is completely false, as Rob has recently acknowledged the parties are ‘very, very close.’
“This latest threat is just one more indication that Major League Baseball has been negotiating in bad faith since the beginning. This has always been about extracting additional pay cuts from Players and this is just another day and another bad faith tactic in their ongoing campaign.”
Joe Posnanski @JPosnanski
It seems to come down to this: The baseball owners, who have made billions and been given sweetheart leases and absurd tax breaks and the legal freedom to run a monopoly, are unwilling to give back even a little to their communities and support the very game that they represent.
Owners have claimed that they are facing major financial losses if the season resumes due to fans not being in attendance amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Players have countered that owners reap the rewards of excess revenue in good years and thus shouldn’t expect players to bear the brunt of financial burden in a lean year.
And fans are rightly infuriated that the 2020 season appears to be in serious jeopardy.