Labor negotiations over several consecutive days; Upcoming HOF results

One way to know a work situation is controversial: good news sounds like bad news.

Monday’s meeting between Major League Baseball and the Players Association, in which the MLBPA responded to the league’s proposal with one of their own, failed to garner rave reviews on its own. The most important news is that it leads to further discussions in person today.

Players attempted to move conversations forward by dropping some objects they hoped to reach: age-based free agency and reduced revenue sharing with smaller teams. There’s probably a LIFO item on the MLBPA’s wishlist, in that the first cut items were the ones they least expected to hit, but the reduction in the agenda marks the start of a real movement towards a resolution.

Whether the league has an interest in doing the same remains to be seen. Evan Drellich relayed aggressive rhetoric from the league camp:

In a meeting with the Players Association on Monday, major league baseball Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem said MLB is prepared to lose games because of some of the parties’ outstanding issues, people familiar with the talks said.

Drellich says it sounded like an ultimatum or a simple account of the potential consequences of a lockout is in the ear of the beholder. This was the main thread of Drellich’s story, but I found the second paragraph of the story much more intriguing:

Some on the gaming side were also angered by rockies Owner Dick Monfort, Chairman of Commissioner Rob Manfred’s Committee of Seven Owners on Labor Policy. Monfort, people familiar with the meeting said, complained about the difficulty at least some owners have affording teams, and ancillary costs of ownership such as security and COVID-19 measures.

And this was backed up by another reporter in Toronto:

In previous CBA negotiations, we’ve seen the league succeed in resolving corner issues through the MLBPA – first with PED testing, then with the international draft. This time around, the players’ approach seems to have solidified around getting paid sooner, and a distraction from their main economic goals has yet to emerge.

Meanwhile, while the owners possess unfathomable wealth, this cannot be assumed to result in a healthy bottom line without games. There’s the debt servicing that some ownership groups have taken on when buying teams, and there’s also the deflated bubble of regional sports networks that may not respond well to a lack of live programming.

The White Sox enjoy a relatively stable footing on all fronts, and while the withdrawn demand for age-based free agency means players still remain committed to their current team through their first six years in the league, their won roster construction plans are not disrupted.

In addition to new labor negotiations, Today also marks the announcement of the rest of the Hall of Fame Class of 2022. MLB Network will reveal if any players earned the election at 5 p.m. tonight.

A look at Ryan Thibodaux’s Hall of Fame tracker shows that David Ortiz (84.4%) is the only player likely to cross the 75% threshold. Barry Bonds (78.1) and Roger Clemens (77.1) are currently in the green, but they’ve taken a big hit from voters who don’t release their ballots every year, and I don’t wouldn’t expect their senior year to be any different. Ortiz’s vague PED links and heavy DH resume will probably hurt him a bit, but I guess he has enough cushion to get into Cooperstown.

On the other side, Mark Buehrle is voting 5.2%, giving him the slimmest margin to advance to a third ballot. He fared better among private voters than among public voters so while I wouldn’t assume it’s clear cut I’d say we’ll be talking about him around this time in 2023 if I were to place a bet on that .

And finally, While the White Sox have yet to formalize Oscar Colás and their other international signings, we have the next best thing: the pen-to-paper photo.

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