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OC Register: Scathing letter accompanies MLB counterproposal as impasse with players continues


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Negotiations between MLB and the players’ union to start the 2020 season have heated up — but not in a good way.

Along with their counterproposal sent to the union Friday, MLB’s deputy commissioner and chief legal officer Dan Halem included a biting letter addressed to the union’s lead negotiator, Bruce Meyer. The letter (a copy of which was obtained by the Orange County Register) makes clear the ownership’s position regarding the March agreement between the two sides and shows disdain for the players’ stance — that they were guaranteed full pro-rated salaries for any games played should baseball resume this year.

The letter’s tone makes it seem more likely that any baseball played this season will only come after MLB commissioner Rob Manfred mandates an abbreviated regular season (around 50 games) and an expanded postseason (played on time in October) that would bring the TV revenue MLB craves.

“While we recognize that this essentially has been a negotiation with ourselves because the (Players) Association has offered little beyond what we already have the right to do under the March Agreement, we will make another attempt to reach an agreement that is a win-win for both sides,” Halem said in the letter before outlining the latest proposal — a 72-game regular season beginning around July 14 and ending September 27 with an expanded postseason.

That proposal has been characterized as dead on arrival by many players posting on social media.

“It expired as soon as they hit send,” Pirates pitcher Trevor Williams posted on Twitter, referring to MLB’s demand for a response this weekend.

In obvious reference to the counterproposal, Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen simply posted, “lol.” When asked to be more specific, he responded, “Laugh Out Loud.”

Players have made it clear they believe they are the ones negotiating “with ourselves.” Each of ownership’s three proposals have allotted roughly the same amount of money to salaries — 70 to 80 percent of pro-rated salary tied to only slightly increased numbers of games to be played.

The players’ union has remained steadfast in its interpretation of the March agreement — that it guarantees any pay for 2020 will be fully pro-rated based on the number of games to be played. Halem again asserted MLB’s belief that the agreement (which included a $170 million non-refundable salary advance to the players) gave it the right to negotiate player compensation based on economic realities — such as the loss of revenue from games staged without fans in attendance.

During negotiations in March, Halem said in the letter, ownership made it “crystal clear” that playing without fans in attendance “was not economically feasible.”

“We provided you with financial information showing the amount of revenue from gate/in-park (approximately 50% of local revenue),” Halem said Friday. “The Commissionerhimself said during the negotiations, according to our bargaining notes, ‘We’re not playing empty, it just doesn’t work for us.’ The Association acknowledged as much, which resulted in Section I of the March Agreement, providing the Office of the Commissioner with the unilateral right to resume the season only when (among otherconditions) there were no restrictions on regular fan access in all 30 Major League ballparks.

“And the Association, for giving up essentially nothing because players had no right under their contracts to be paid during the national emergency, received hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of benefits, including a full year of service for a shortenedseason … a full year of service if there was no season, and salary advances totaling $170 million (which were non-refundable if there was no season).”

Halem dismisses player suggestions that MLB has an “obligation to play as many games as possible.” That is “flatly contradicted” by the March agreement, he said in the letter, which places “no obligation” on teams “to play any games, let alone any particular number of games.”

“We negotiated that provision precisely to protect the Clubs from being leveraged into the economically infeasible alternative of playing in empty stadiums without a corresponding reduction in salaries,” Halem said.

According to Halem’s letter, “everyone involved in the (March) negotiations understood that if we could not resume play with regular fan access, the parties would have a subsequent negotiation over reductions to player compensation to account for the loss of billions of dollars of gate/in-park revenue.”

It is clear the two sides’ different interpretations of the March agreement “has been a stumbling block to negotiating a resolution” — something which has been apparent for weeks now. But Halem adds a further swipe at the union’s stance.

“You suggest in your letter that the Association’s 89-game proposal at full daily salaries ‘is made in the interests of settlement,’” he wrote. “However, the parties are not engaged in settlement discussions, and it is unclear what exactly you are trying to ‘settle.’”

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Every single offer the owners have made has been virtually identical in terms of money. They change the game total being offered, but then adjust the percentage they’re offering the players to make it equal the same total in dollar value. And then they have the gall to say the players are the ones who aren’t negotiating?

Such a joke. The owners have conceded jack all. 

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3 minutes ago, ScottT said:

The players have moved less than the owners. The players .... the few that are talking... should shut the fuck up. Its not helping 

Fact check: False.

Unless you haven’t done the math on all the proposals made by the owners. Spoiler alert: They’re all the exact same offer. The only difference is how many games the players are playing to earn an identical amount of money. So at this point it’s in the players’ best interests to go with whatever the number is at 100% pro rata, because anything more and they’re basically playing for free.

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7 hours ago, ScottT said:

The players have moved less than the owners. The players .... the few that are talking... should shut the fuck up. Its not helping 

You're looking at the numbers going up but not doing the math...  That being said, you're right.  The players have been unwilling to go backwards which is what those numbers the owners keep throwing at them actually represent.   More is less with these offers because it's all contingent on playoffs that ownership refuses to guarantee will happen.   Meanwhile they are guaranteeing their end...

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Of course, left out of these negotiations are "the fans".  

With no baseball, fans are learning to do without, to find other things to do with their time and money.  And many of them won't be back.  

I think most of us "get" safety and financial issues - but this is probably the time we need things like baseball the most.

While some musicians stream on-line concerts, and museums and universities stream programs - for free - we're treated to rich owners and rich players giving nothing back,  spitefully arguing about money.   

Those with long contracts don't care - but every day that goes by, they're losing fans and potential fans.

I'd be shocked if - even with an effective vaccine - attendance and tv ratings don't drop at least 25% next season.

(And Arte really didn't do himself any favors by the furloughs and cutting players - the PR equivalent of, instead of cutting, having doubled the price of beer.)

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4 minutes ago, Stradling said:

Ok so you’re a carpenter and your boss says build 72 boxes and I’ll pay you $500.   If you and your entire crew of 1000 people don’t get hurt you’ll get $550.  Oh and if you don’t like that deal you can wait a week or two and you can build 48 boxes and we will still pay you $500.   

That's not exactly the same thing. The had already agreed to pay a fixed amount per box (per your scenario) for a total of 81 boxes. Now due to circumstances decide to change their order to 50 boxes, or 76 boxes at 70% of already agreed price per box.

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10 minutes ago, Ace-Of-Diamonds said:

That's not exactly the same thing. The had already agreed to pay a fixed amount per box (per your scenario) for a total of 81 boxes. Now due to circumstances decide to change their order to 50 boxes, or 76 boxes at 70% of already agreed price per box.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/mlb-owners-say-they-could-lose-4-billion-even-if-games-are-played-does-that-math-add-up/  

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1 hour ago, Slegnaac said:

The MLBPA will have to move off of the 100% prorated salary position if there is going to be a season.

If each game played results in a net loss for the Owners, I don't see where playing fewer games is going be an agreeable solution. A loss is still a loss.

Manfred can mandate a 50 game season if negotiations fail.

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1 hour ago, Slegnaac said:

The MLBPA will have to move off of the 100% prorated salary position if there is going to be a season.

If each game played results in a net loss for the Owners, I don't see where playing fewer games is going be an agreeable solution. A loss is still a loss.

https://twitter.com/RGrich15/status/1271593970947158016?s=20

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1 hour ago, Lou said:

Like anyone gives a crap what he has to say. The average fan doesn't even know who the hell he is.

And it's not as if the players aren't wasting time trying to get what they want, too.

What a fucking idiot. I hate him. 

Not sure if you're trolling or just being a tool.

Wait...

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the simple solution here is this: figure out what each player is paid per game for a 162 game season. make that the amount they will earn per game this season. the players will still make the same amount per game they made last year. the owners will have to suck it up and take whatever losses come this year.

there it is. boom. we should still be able to start the season on July 4.

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2 hours ago, Tank said:

the simple solution here is this: figure out what each player is paid per game for a 162 game season. make that the amount they will earn per game this season. the players will still make the same amount per game they made last year. the owners will have to suck it up and take whatever losses come this year.

there it is. boom. we should still be able to start the season on July 4.

This is literally what the players have been asking for from day one.

It's the owners who can't deal with the pay structure of the CBA they agreed to and want players to take a significant loss so that the owners can make money off the season at the expense of the players.

When things are good, they have no issue reaping the complete financial benefits (reasonable, since they're taking the risk financially), but when things are bad (i.e. this year), they want to continue making the same money they always have.

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56 minutes ago, AngelsLakersFan said:

Since times are tough for the owners maybe the players would allow them to make payments on what they owe... I mean if I'm struggling to pay my bills some times I can make payments. I guess billionaires are used to simply having their debt be forgiven in this country.

I've been saying this for some time, but apparently that's a non starter for owners.

 

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