MLB’s Owners Put Their Finger on the Nuclear Button


By Lenn Robbins

06/09/08 mets charity event at richards greenwhich ct fred wilpon left and jeff wilpon right Neil Miller/The New York Extra/ copyright 2020

Bob Manfred, reportedly in the voice of God, said there shall be baseball this year!

If the owners and players, who look more greedy and stubborn with every reported case of Covid-19, can’t agree on a deal to restart the season, Manfred has the power to enact a 48-50 game, uh, season.

And you thought there was bad blood between Leah Remini and the Church of Scientology.

Just wait until after the 2020-21 season when baseball’s collective bargaining agreement is up for renewal. I wouldn’t set foot in that negotiating room without Jimmy McGill and Dirty Harry’s law firm of Smith & Wesson.

The owners latest offer, delivered Friday afternoon according to published reports, calls for a 72-game season with 70-percent of prorated salaries. Players would max out at 80-percent of their prorated salaries if the postseason is completed.

“Just so y’all know, 70% of prorated salaries at 72 games is the exact same as … wait for it … full prorated at 48 games,’’ Cincinnati pitcher Trevor Bauer Tweeted. “Nothing to see here. Same exact offer in different clothing. Just a reallocation of risk.”

The players had offered an 89-game season with full prorated salaries earlier this week.  Manfred had said on ESPN that the owner’s next offer will be a “significant move in the players’ direction” but “if we have to we’ll exercise that right” to set a 48-game season. Sounds like threatening divorce before the marriage.

The owners offer includes a Sunday night deadline. Then they can use their nuclear option –  the 48-50 game season.

Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Trevor Williams said on Twitter the button had been pushed

“It expired as soon as they hit send.”

What’s so enraging about this is that both sides seem to be operating as if they’re in a bubble, that could burst Sunday night.

It seems pretty clear that whatever decision is reached in the next few days will raw wounds that will barely have even begun to heal when next negotiation begins. Worst case:

We could be looking at one 48-game season, one full season and no season in 2021.

Here’s what makes this so disheartening. So many sports fans would be willing to part with their lucky jersey to watch a live sporting event that doesn’t take place in an octagon. You know one played on grass and leaves pristine white pants looking as if they got dragged through a monster pull.

I’m itching to see an upper deck home run, a pitching gem, a manager being ejected, a 10-year-old fan snagging a foul ball. I can’t wait for the day I can jump the No.7 train to Citi Field. Or the No.4 to Yankee Stadium, which could be sponsored by the pharmaceutical company that discovers the vaccine for the coronavirus and returns us to some semblance of normalcy.

It could take years before the virus of 2020 is completely under control. But it could take forever for baseball to convince fans the virus of greed and stubbornness doesn’t beat in the heart of the sport.

JUST VOTE — Kudos to Hofstra University for its announcement that all varsity teams will not have any mandatory team activities on Tuesday, Nov. 3rd, aka Election Day, so athletes can vote. “We think it is incredibly important for our student-athletes to have their voices heard and their votes count,’’ athletic director Rick Cole, Jr. said in a statement.

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