The past couple of weeks have been nothing short of grueling for Major League Baseball. Team owners and the Players Association remained at odds over an economic plan for the 2020 regular season, trading public barbs along the way.
MLB insisted that players take further pay cuts due to the likelihood of fans not being allowed to attend games this year. The union, meanwhile, maintained they would not accept anything less than the full prorated salaries promised to players in a March 26 agreement.
To justify their stance, some team owners have claimed the sport isn’t as profitable as others may be inclined to believe. However, the comments preceded a report that MLB was closing in on a lucrative postseason TV rights deal with Turner Sports.
Prominent agent Scott Boras believes the reported TV rights deal further demonstrated to MLB fans that the sport is still thriving financially despite what team owners have been publicly suggesting, via Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated:
“The TBS contract was the rectal thermometer,” Boras said. “It illustrated the truth to all the fans, and that is the content of this game has such value even in the heart of a pandemic that you get a record contract for your rights. When I say rectal thermometer, I say it as the truest form of the temperature of the game.”
Turner Sports reportedly will pay MLB an average of around $470 million per year to continue broadcasting Wild Card, Division Series and League Championship Series games on TBS through 2028. The deal coincides with an extension Fox Sports signed in November 2018.
With this information now available to the public, it is easy to see why players have been reluctant to accept further pay reductions.
Despite all of the animosity, Manfred met with MLBPA executive director Tony Clark last week in an attempt to foster negotiations. It was viewed as a positive development but has since only led to further disagreement.
The owners believed a 60-game schedule was locked in, but the union instead proposed a season for 70 games. Clark maintained that he informed Manfred 60 games was not going to be acceptable for the union.
With the MLBPA executive committee voting against MLB’s proposal, the next step is Manfred to impose a season if players agree to a July 1 start date for Spring Training 2.0, and health and safety protocols are finalized.
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