By Joe Pantorno
Things are going from bad to worse for Major League Baseball.
In an interview with ESPN’s Mike Greenberg on Monday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred disclosed that he is “not confident” that there will be a 2020 baseball season after ineffective negotiations between the league and the players’ union.
“I think there’s real risk; and as long as there’s no dialogue, that real risk is gonna continue,” Manfred said. “It’s just a disaster for our game, absolutely no question about it. It shouldn’t be happening, and it’s important that we find a way to get past it and get the game back on the field for the benefit of our fans.”
His bleak outlook comes roughly one week after he all but guaranteed there would be baseball in 2020, despite the owners and players not budging from their collective perches.
The owners don’t want to pay the players their full prorated salaries for games with no fans in attendance while the players want their proper compensation.
On Saturday, after the league proposed a 72-game schedule with players getting 70% of their prorated salaries — which would max out at 83% if an expanded postseason was carried out — the players’ union ended negotiations with lead negotiator Bruce Meyer demanding the MLBPA be told the return-to-play parameters by Monday.
That obviously did not come before Manfred’s comments and casts further doubt on there being baseball this season.
MLB and the owners initially agreed on an 82-game return plan over a month ago, but their continued desire to give the players a sliver of their normal salaries — citing losses incurred by the coronavirus pandemic — has seen zero progress made.
Manfred looks to be siding with the owners.
“The owners are 100% committed to getting baseball back on the field,” Manfred said, calling a potential grievance filed by the players’ union once a plan was put in place a move of “bad faith.”
“Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that I’m 100% certain that’s gonna happen.”
Major League Baseball is now facing the possibility of losing an entire season for the first time ever. The World Series has not been played only twice since 1903 — once in 1904 when New York Giants John McGraw refused to play the American League, and in 1994 because of the players’ strike that ended the season in August.