Read the room, baseball, and get a deal done

Yahoo Sports
No baseball for now, but for how long? (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
No baseball for now, but for how long? (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)

[This is an excerpt from Yahoo Sports’ free morning newsletter. Tap here to get the best sports news in your inbox every morning.]

Morning, friends. Hope this finds you well after yet another tough weekend.

It’s impossible to ignore what’s happening in most of America’s major cities right now, and I mean that both in terms of the sheer volume of the news and in the obligation we all share as Americans. I wrote on the civil unrest in Atlanta this weekend, and I hope you’ll also check out all the ongoing coverage over at Yahoo News.

Here, though, we know you don’t come to us for news topics, so let’s go with the very, very little that’s happening in sports right now.

Sunday evening, baseball’s players delivered to owners their proposal for the 2020 season. The pitch includes:

  • A 114-game season that would end on Oct. 31;

  • The right for all players to opt out of the season if they wish;

  • Possible salary deferrals if the 2020 postseason were cancelled.

The players’ association pitch also would include two years of an expanded postseason, which would be an instant windfall for owners.

The issues at play here are threefold: 1. Will the owners agree to any version of this plan? 2. Are both sides willing to scuttle the entire season if they can’t reach an agreement?

And, most importantly, 3. Do either the players or the owners think anyone really gives a flying [expletive] about their nibble-and-peck bargaining right now?

Yes, sports is a business, and business must go on. But at a time when a pandemic is ravaging the country, a quarter of the nation’s workforce is unemployed, and there are riots in the streets, ballplayers and owners quibbling over how to divide fat checks is as misguided as it gets.

Let’s be clear, though: this isn’t just a case of the players being greedy. The owners bear a huge share of the responsibility for this impasse as well, trying to institute further pay cuts on top of already prorated salaries while keeping their own books tightly shut. Plus, either side can take a step toward the middle if it chooses to do so.

Baseball has an astounding knack for chopping its own legs out from under itself, again and again. Yes, part of that is because baseball’s union is the strongest in sports, and that gives baseball players leverage their counterparts in football and basketball don’t have. But there’s also a mindset at play that brings the game to the brink of shutdown time and time again, fans be damned. That’s frustrating in normal times. Now, it’s beyond tone-deaf.

Read the room, baseball. Find the midpoint between the owners’ and players’ proposals. Get a deal done, or just come back when you get your act together in 2021. We’ll be fine either way.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him with tips and story ideas at jay.busbee@yahoo.com.

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