MLB’s owners played Nightengale, fans on Monday night

Let Monday night, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale began tweeting out reports that there was movement on the CBA and it was getting close. Jon Heyman eventually began to add more information that it looked like the owners were moving a bit on the CBT. Meanwhile, Jeff Passan, Ken Rosenthall, and Evan Drellich were silent in the back ground; baseball fans should have taken that as a warning.

A day removed from the league officially cancelling the first two series (at least), it’s pretty clear that the league was looking to flip the PR narrative that had surrounded the talks for the last two weeks by making the players look like they changed some of their negotiating strategies at the last moment.

And that’s not true at all.

“It got to be like 12:30 and the fine print of their CBT proposal was stuff we had never seen before,” Stripling said. “They were trying to sneak things through us, it was like they think we’re dumb baseball players and we get sleepy after midnight or something. It’s like that stupid football quote, they are who we thought they were. They did exactly what we thought they would do. They pushed us to a deadline that they imposed, and then tried to sneak some shit past us at that deadline and we were ready or it. We’ve been ready for five years. And then they tried to flip it on us in PR, saying that we changed our tone and tried to make it look like it was our fault. That never happened.

Ross Stribling in an interview with Shi Davidi and Ben Nicholson-Smith of

By using Heyman and Nightengale, the owners took a risk that baseball fans would be willing to accept any crumb of positive good news about negotiations. It turns out, that they were correct on that front. But it must remain clear that the owners are the ones to blame for us ending up in this situation. There is no requirement for a lockout after a CBA expires, yet the owners enacted one anyway; there was no real support for a player’s strike — prior to the last week that is, and after how the league has behaved during the last 10 days I wouldn’t blame them if they did.

The league’s throughout this lockout have shown that they are not serious about resolving this in a way that benefits anyone but themselves. I took a lot of flack in some M’s related Facebook groups for pointing out that the league didn’t have to implement a lockout and the only reason they were doing it was for a power play; and here we are, four months later with commissioner Rob Manfred at his press conference where he announced he had to cancel the first week of the season and he laughed.

It’s easy to hate on Manfred because he is cluelessly tone def (remember when he called the World Series trophy a hunk of metal?). But you have to keep in mind the fact that the commissioner (of any sport, not just baseball) is hired to protect and promote the interest of the owners. All those horrifically bad changes to the game he’s floated are likely the thoughts of a significant chunk of the 30 men who own the league’s respective franchise.


MLB’s owners have the best gig in all of pro sports. They get 81 home dates to sell all the concessions, and merchandise they want; they also have the biggest regional TV contracts which helps them make money hand over fist. On top of that, the MLBPA does not get a slice of the media rights pie — unlike the NBAPA, NHLPA, or NFLPA — which is why the players do not want a salary cap.

Yet the owners tried to effectively turn the CBT into a salary cap without adding the salary floor or tying both into the league’s annual revenue reports. And the league is clearly opposed to tying the CBT to its revenue because then it would have to open its books to the union.

And that’s before you get into any of the other issues in which ownership takes advantage of the minor league players in its system and the players in their first three years of service time. Just on the issues alone, it’s clear that the owners are trying to suck as much money out of the game as possible before they perceive it’s popularity will completely collapse. Since they’ve postponed the start of the second season in the last three years — yes I know Covid wasn’t there fault, but the way they handled negotiations with the union over the start date IS — it seems likely that MLB will continue to suffer and see a decline in fan interest.

Feeling angry, or hurt is completely natural and understandable. But to try to both sides this situation when MLB took 43 days from when it implemented the lockout to offer it’s first proposal to the union and then had the audacity to set an artificial deadline and then set a breakneck pace of negotiating schedules right before said deadline…I just don’t see how you can look at this and go, yeah; both sides are at fault here.

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