“Millionaires fighting billionaires for dollars.” That’s how MLB Network Radio’s Jim Duquette described the squabbling that was going on about the current, unfortunate work stoppage happening in baseball.
It’s not because of a strike or lockout, which is the root of all past work stoppages. But it came down to money just the same.
The players wanted to get paid for the season, even if it wasn’t going to get played. It wasn’t their fault games were cancelled, they reasoned. And, if there is no season, what about free agents who were supposed to be free agents at the end of 2020? They should still be. It wasn’t their fault games were cancelled, they reasoned. And what about service time? If there are games, how do they determine service time so owners don’t screw them out of a year of qualifying for free agency? It wasn’t their fault games were cancelled, the reasoned.
Fear not, everyone who is looking losing a job because their company shut down or because this virus shot a Titanic sized hole in the economy. You may have lost everything. But your favorite players will get paid.
Players will get paid a pro-rated share of how many games they are able to play this year. Whereas just a few years ago players were adamant that they needed more days off, now who needs off days? They want their money. Depending on when they come back, players are willing to play frequent double headers and play seven days a week if they can get a full 162-game schedule in. They don’t want to lose a dollar. They are also willing to play into November and December. Christmas Day World Series, anyone?
Owners are also putting aside a collective fund of $145 million that players are going to split amongst themselves to tide them over until the season starts. Players only get paid during the season. They get their first check on opening day and their last check on the final game of the season. Since nobody knows when opening day is, players have no idea when they are going to be paid. All cynicism aside, this is a very real concern for a large majority of players who don’t have multi-year mega contracts. In a show of good faith, owners are doing what they can to help out.
Also, they have agreed to play games with no fans if that gets the season started earlier. According to MLB Network Radio, thirty percent of a team’s revenue is generated by attendance, the other seventy percent by television. While losing thirty percent is not ideal, it’s better than losing one hundred percent. Seventy is better than thirty. And, frankly, numbers aside, baseball is better than no baseball.
It’s comforting to know Major League Baseball is back. The negotiating part. Now, if they can just get the actual game playing part back.