Manfred Says ‘This Needs to Be Over,’ Denounces 70-Game Season as ‘Simply Impossible’

Things were looking good after MLB commissioner Rob Manfred flew to Phoenix for a “productive” face-to-face meeting with MLBPA chief Tony Clark. It’s only after they started talking to other people that their communication once again devolved into the issuance of public statements decrying one another’s inability to understand the nature of their agreed-upon framework.

Manfred and the owners apparently believed they’d reached a handshake agreement on a 60-game schedule while Clark and the players believed their counterparts had simply taken another step toward the middle.

“In my discussions with Rob in Arizona we explored a potential pro rata framework, but I made it clear repeatedly in the meeting and after it that there were a number of significant issues with what he proposed, in particular the number of games,” read a statement from Clark. It is unequivocally false to suggest any tentative agreement or other agreement was reached in that meeting.

“In fact, in conversations within the last 24 hours, Rob invited a counterproposal for more games that he would take back to the owners. We submitted that counterproposal today.”

Wait, so Manfred actually invited a counter? And then when it was submitted, the owners balked and called it a step backward? Even for someone like me who finds a morbid fascination with this whole topic, this continued bluster from the owners has grown incredibly tiresome. Like, it always has been, just now it feels like some sort of stupid schtick that’s gone out of style faster than Pauly Shore’s brand of humor.

It’s clear that the league wants to be the side making the proposal that is finally accepted, so okaying something the union submits simply isn’t in the cards. They’re intentionally dragging their feet to ensure a shorter season and because they don’t want to be seen as desperate to get anything started. Hence Manfred expressing both urgency and a lack thereof in the space of consecutive sentences.

“This needs to be over,” the impotent commissioner said Thursday. “Until I speak to owners I can’t give you a deadline…We’re committed to doing whatever’s necessary to play, hopefully by agreement.”

Whether he admits it or not, the de facto deadline for a counter and subsequent acceptance is probably Monday. That would give teams a week to set report dates and prep for a second spring training, which would effectively be summer training by then, and allow for three weeks of ramp-up time. That’s if July 19 or thereabouts is still the target to start the season, but that date can be pushed by by another week or so if a shorter season is necessitated.

The really wild thing about all this is that the numbers have been getting closer and the gap is down to just 10 games between the two sides’ proposals. Why in the blue hell can’t the owners just call it 65 games and be done. Again, I think it’s mainly a matter of them having to feign disgust with the union’s temerity in order to come off looking like the magnanimous stewards of baseball they fancy themselves.

Manfred’s right when he says this needs to be over, that much has been clear for weeks at this point. But what really needs to be over are these bullshit bargaining tactics in which everyone says something different in public from what they say privately. Seems like everything would have been done if people could just stop tripping over their own egos and get something done.

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