bookmark_borderMLB players and owners have a right to advocate for their interests

The past few weeks, there has been one article after another blasting Major League Baseball and its Players Association for failing to come to an agreement on a plan to re-start the season.

For example, Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy called the owners “odious,” the players “repugnant,” and their disagreement “the most tone-deaf, callous, self-centered, stupid, and clueless behavior these eyes have seen in 45 years of covering professional sports.” 

Columnist Tara Sullivan wrote: “The ongoing, odious, selfish, tone-deaf, return-to-play negotiations are almost beyond description, and they are most definitely beyond comprehension.” She also argued that baseball missed a chance to be “a force for optimism and hope” and that the failure to come to an agreement shows “disdain” for fans.

Honestly… I don’t get the outrage. Neither the owners nor the players are doing anything wrong. The owners have a right to make as much money from the game of baseball as they can. And the players’ union has a right to advocate for the most money possible for its members.

Because the season will be shorter than the standard 162 games regardless of what schedule is agreed to, the players have agreed to receive only a percentage of their regular salaries, based on how many games are played. The owners argue that they will lose money for each regular-season game played and are demanding that the players absorb further salary cuts. The players do not want their pay cut further on top of what they already agreed to. “For me to take a pay cut is not happening, because the risk is through the roof,” Rays pitcher Blake Snell said. “No, I gotta get my money. I’m not playing unless I get mine.”

In my opinion, both positions are understandable. The owners should not be expected to put on a season if they are going to lose money on each game, and the players should not be expected to accept less money than what they agreed to in the contracts they signed. Would you continue happily showing up for work if your boss cut your pay by 50% or more?

If the sides can’t agree and there is no season, so be it. Personally, I think the break from sports is a good thing. Why not take a year off from baseball and have a normal season next year, instead of trying to squeeze some semblance of a season, without fans, into a shorter window of time and messing up the schedule for next season?

I don’t understand how any aspect of the negotiations is tone-deaf, callous, stupid, or clueless. Yes, the nation is in the midst of a pandemic, an economic recession, racial unrest, and protests that have resulted in businesses being looted and burned down. There are certainly people out there who are suffering worse than anyone involved in professional baseball. But I don’t see what that has to do with anything. A compromise agreement between the players and owners would not solve any of these problems, and the lack of an agreement does not make any of these problems worse. As for the accusations of being selfish and self-centered, I don’t see what’s wrong with that. Just like any other business, MLB exists to make money. It does not exist to provide viewing material for the American people, and neither the owners nor the players are obligated to provide games as a public service when doing so does not make economic sense. The owners and players are advocating for their own interests, as they have every right to do. There’s nothing repugnant about that.