Play ball.

So, where are we and how did we get here?

On Saturday, the players’ union said, enough is enough, we demand you set the schedule by Monday, tell us when we are to report and let’s get this thing going.

It wasn’t a happy day. Yes, there will be baseball. But, there won’t be much baseball this year, probably next year, and most assuredly in 2022.

It’s ugly. Very ugly.

Here is basically what happened. But the Cliffs Notes version is, neither side was willing to play ball. So now, we they will reluctantly, and barely, play ball.

In March, both sides agreed on a plan to bring back baseball after the pandemic had shut it down. To tide players over, and in a good faith effort (the last one to be sure), ownership fronted $140 million to the players to divide among its membership. 

Then both sides turned stubborn. They had an agreement but they couldn’t agree what they agreed upon. Players would be paid a pro-rated amount of their salaries, which made sense. If the season would be 100-games, they would be paid for 100 rather than the 162 they contracted for. But owners said this was only if there were fans allowed to show up. Players said that wasn’t part of the deal.

So, for three months they have been trading the exact same proposals, neither budging.

Every deal the owners gave them was for a different amount of games and a different split of the revenue, but the final number was the exact every time. 

“I will give you eight slices of pizza.”

“No, we want twelve slices.”

“Okay, then I will cut up your pizza into twelve slices. No, we want twelve slices the same size. No, how about if we cut up this pizza into fifteen slices? No, okay, we will cut it into eight.”

It was the same pizza just cut up differently. And so it went, on an on. Neither side budging.

Finally, players said, “It’s time to get back to work.” Tell us when and where.

By all accounts, it will be a short fifty-game season. MLB said it will simply lose too much money playing games without fans and wants to contain their losses.

So, fifty or so games it will be. And they have said they want the season over by September 27 so the postseason can begin and they can try to end the season before the Coronavirus comes back with a vengeance in the fall. 

The most devastating thing would be if the playoffs aren’t allowed to be played, because that revenue is the owners’ money.

As part of all the back-and-forth the past six weeks between the sides, much of MLB’s offer hinged upon sharing increased revenue generated from expanding the playoff from ten teams to sixteen for this season and next season. Basically, more than half the teams would have made the playoffs.

But now everything has gone to hell. For MLB to expand the playoffs, they will need the union’s approval. Man will walk on Jupiter before the union agrees to help out owners again.

Both sides couldn’t loathe the other more. The players will do the bare minimum required, nothing more.

So, baseball will return for a few innings this year and probably an abbreviated schedule next year, assuming the Coronavirus comes back with a vengeance in the fall and winter and mass gatherings will still be outlawed. And, seeing as how there are more cases now than ever before since states just don’t care anymore, chances are really good there will be no fans next year, not until a vaccine is developed.

Then, at the end of 2021, the Collective Bargaining Agreement expires and it will be months and months and months of two sides who cannot even agree on what they agreed on in March trying to carve out a new contract. Good luck with that. So, expect there to be very little baseball in 2022 as well.

Labor peace is over. Baseball is in for years of chaos and missed games, maybe even missed seasons. It is not being overdramatic to say there might not be a full baseball season until 2023.

That brand spanking new Ballpark in Arlington might not see its first fans for a long, long time.