BOSTON (CBS) — America is eager for baseball to return during this coronavirus pandemic. Whether or not Major League Baseball and its players are willing to make it happen remains a question.
As the owners and the players try to come together to start the 2020 season in early July, a major disagreement over the details of that plan is brewing. And according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s no minor issue.
“This week is going to be ugly,” Passan wrote. “There’s no getting around that. Every negotiation starts at opposite ends of a spectrum, and the chasm between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association is wide enough that as they navigate a return-to-play agreement to set the stage for the return of professional team sports in America, a fight is almost guaranteed.”
The crux of the players’ issue is twofold. For one, the union has always rejected the implementation of any type of salary cap, and the latest proposal for a 50-50 revenue split between owners and players. The union is arguing that such a proposal goes against the agreement from several weeks ago, in which players agreed to received a prorated portion of their salaries.
The other issue is something that affects all industries during the pandemic: health and safety. That part of the equation cannot be guaranteed, of course. Likewise, the details of where players can be, whether they’d be able to opt out of playing out of fear of the virus, and any other specific situation will require some ironing out.
Passan said the league and the players have about two-and-a-half weeks to come to a resolution if they want to ensure that a 2020 season happens.
While a battle of millionaires vs. billionaires will turn off many fans at any point in time, one taking place during a global pandemic when unemployment is skyrocketing in the country would certainly generate some negative feelings toward all involved parties. It’s possible that the league can limit the negotiations through the media and hammer out a deal that works for both sides.
“There are many more conversations to be had, ideas to be shared, bargains to reach,” Passan wrote. “Any potential deal will go through iteration after iteration. A lot can get accomplished in two-and-a-half weeks.”