While there have been at least half a dozen “plans” for whatever the 2020 MLB season might look like, the first one to formally be voted upon by players and owners has officially come together over the last few days. You can read about it in greater detail in articles from The Athletic and ESPN, or check out ESPN’s Jeff Passan talking about it with Mina Kimes earlier this week.
Today on ESPN Daily, @JeffPassan joined the show to discuss MLB’s latest plan to bring baseball back—and how the players might respond…
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) May 12, 2020
Current and former players haven’t been shy to share their opinions on the matter, and it appears very obvious this is going to be a heated issue over the coming weeks. Of course, it’s not only players, owners and all those directly associated with MLB clubs that have opinions on the matter. Our Rangers staff got together to share their thoughts on a few questions we have after going through the details.
Do you find yourself siding more with the players or the owners on the money issues?
Garrett Jones: It’s really hard to pick a side here, because I understand the arguments of both. The players are valuable assets with a limited amount of time to make a living due to injury and the volatility of roster turnover. However, with a league minimum salary of $545k for any player on a Major League Baseball 40-man roster, and many players making much more than that, they wouldn’t be suffering if they are forced to take a 50 percent pay cut. On the other hand, an automatic qualifier to own an MLB team is a status as a multi-millionaire, if not billionaire. I’m on the side of whoever is willing to budge first to give the Americans going through a rough time the simple joy of baseball back.
Dylan Duell: Like Garrett, I can understand the feelings of both sides of the table. At the end of the day, it’s people who make far more money than I do arguing over much more money they should get than the average U.S. citizen who helps pay their salary. The more I think about it, I probably lean a bit more siding with the owners. Sharing the greatly decreased revenue 50/50 with the owners as a temporary measure doesn’t seem ridiculous to me. Hopefully, things could eventually get back to normal for a 2021 or 2022 season with fans in the stands and the revenues getting back to where they previously were, but there just isn’t going to be as much money flying around, so people need to be flexible.
Do you think there is enough of a baseline in the plan laid out to possibly lead to an eventual agreement?
Garrett: Put simply, no. Everything we learned yesterday from the players’ union made one thing clear: anything resembling a 50-50 revenue split like the one laid out in the proposal to play is perceived as a salary cap in the eyes of the players. In 1994, MLB tried to implement a cap and lost the season over it. In my eyes, if we get a season in 2020, it will come as a result of the owners being willing to forgo a significant portion of revenue. It will be a titanic effort of pride being set aside among some of America’s most powerful and rich individuals. They didn’t get there by conceding, which is very unfortunate for the outlook of the baseball season this year.
Dylan: Yes, because every negotiation has to start somewhere. Obviously there are a ton of imperfections with the ideas proposed, but at least there’s a starting point for the players to try to improve upon in their eventual rebuttal to the proposal. I would really, really hope that the most successful players like Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw and Bryce Harper realize that they are representing the much less established players in the league who are living paycheck to paycheck. I hope the owners prioritize doing whatever it takes to keep employing the thousands of employees across 30 franchises even if it makes their pockets a little less fat.
How do you think the potential 2020 season plan would benefit/hurt the Rangers?
Garrett: There’s one clear benefit if the plan is upheld: Texas, in my eye, is a playoff team if it goes forth. In the proposal, seven teams would go to the 2020 Playoffs instead of the normal five, with the addition of two new Wild Cards. I had the Rangers as an 82-80 team coming out of Spring Training in March, at least competing for a second wild card spot in the American League. With seven teams, I believe they’d be a shoo-in. It’d be interesting to see how the expanded wild card system shakes out, but I do believe Texas has solid enough pitching and a competent-enough offense to get the team in one of those four wild card spots.
The proposal mostly hurts the Rangers in terms of its new stadium, Globe Life Field. Sure, the vague hope in the plan is to get fans in the stands “as soon as possible,” but it seems increasingly clear: there won’t be fans in the stands for the first ever game played at MLB’s newest park. Who could’ve known that the Rangers could’ve picked the most consequential possible time to open a new park? From a financial standpoint, the team is losing incomprehensible amounts of revenue that would’ve been gained over a month and a half of games. They need this to finish paying for the stadium and to clean up the team’s financial status. Moreover, stadium openings offer a team a chance in the national spotlight, which will be drastically different and definitely strange if and when Texas gets their moment on national TV without bodies in the stands.
Dylan: I agree with Garrett that I think the increased number of teams in the postseason would definitely help the Rangers case for a return to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. While obviously under incredibly different circumstances, Texas went 46-36 through 82 games in 2019. They fell off a bit of a cliff in the second half thanks to their luck with the back half of their rotation running out and they certainly addressed that issue this winter.
I think the proposal would hurt Rangers fans a ton. Personally, night games on the West Coast are honestly a bit of a guaranteed miss for me. With work coming the next morning, I basically never even attempt to make it past the third inning if it’s a 9:05 first pitch in Oakland, Seattle or Anaheim. With Texas slated to only play AL and NL West teams under this proposal, that would be a ton of 9:05 first pitches if the schedule makers still plan to start games at the same times they normally would. Maybe they would schedule them earlier if they don’t have to account for giving people time to get to the stadium after getting off work at 5? Who knows. Also, it seems like games in Southern California are going to be a no-go for at least three more months. This wouldn’t change anything because I’m sure the solution would be to play those games at Spring Training facilities in Arizona, also in the Pacific time zone.
There is still a mountain to climb in order to get Major League Baseball played in 2020. While money seems to be the biggest talking point right now, there is still the more important issue of safety. Fans will continue to hold out hope for baseball in 2020. Who knows if we’ll get it…
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