By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Baseball might not happen, and it’s all the fault of baseball players. That’s what MLB commissioner Rob Manfred wants to say, anyway.READ MORE: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
The commissioner spoke to ESPN’s Mike Greenberg on Monday, after a weekend of passive-aggressive shots being taken and absorbed by both the league and the MLB Players’ Association. And despite being 100 percent confident on June 10 that baseball will “unequivocally” be played in 2020, Manfred now has quite a bit of doubt.
“I’m not confident. I think there’s real risk [of no 2020 MLB season],” Manfred said. “And as long as there’s no dialogue, that real risk is gonna continue.”
Manfred also said this, which is distressing to anybody who’s followed the “negotiations” closely: “The owners are a hundred percent committed to getting baseball back on the field. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that I’m a hundred percent certain that’s gonna happen.”
Is that an out-and-out lie by Manfred? It’s hard to say with 100 percent certainty, but it certainly strays off the path of being particularly forthright.
Put simply, if owners were committed to “getting baseball back on the field,” then baseball would be back. A Fourth of July opening weekend bonanza would be scheduled. There’d be little issue.
What Manfred left out of his statement was the reality that owners don’t really want to pay players. They don’t want to bring baseball back if it means losing a dollar. So in turn, they’re asking players to take less money, which seems a touch hypocritical if you really lay things out fairly.
Of course, it was just last Wednesday when Manfred happily told ESPN, “I think at the end of the day the most important thing … is that we play Major League Baseball in 2020. And I can tell you unequivocally we are gonna play Major League Baseball this year. … We’re going to play baseball in 2020. One hundred percent. … One way or the other, we’re playing Major League Baseball.”
The only thing that’s changed since the commissioner made that statement was that the owners made a proposal that would give the players the same play for 72 games that they would/will be getting for a commissioner-imposed 50-game season. The players quickly sniffed out this deal for what it was …
Just so y’all know, 70% of prorated salaries at 72 games is the exact same as…wait for it…full prorated salary at 48. Nothing to see here. Same exact offer in different clothing. Just a reallocation of risk.READ MORE: 2 Hanover Street Banks Robbed Within 10-Minute Timeframe
— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) June 12, 2020
… and flatly rejected it. The union’s stance was essentially, “Go ahead and impose the 50-game season, and we’ll show up to work.”
That “bad-faith” negotiating was enough to crush the spirits of Manfred, who apparently had 100 percent certainty that players would quietly bow down and do as they were told by the group of billionaire owners who were crying poor while also finalizing billion-dollar TV deals.
The verbatim quote from Clark on behalf of the players was this: “It’s time to get back to work. Tell us when and where.”
Manfred has responded by saying he’s not confident baseball will be played, and that owners are 100 percent committed to make it happen.
Suffice it to say, Manfred isn’t the only person to have lost a lot of confidence in MLB’s ability to hold a season in 2020.
Clearly, the situation is a mess, and the lack of leadership at the top has created it. Now even Manfred himself has finally realized that to be the case.MORE NEWS: Fourth Stimulus Check: Will You See Another Relief Payment Soon?