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MLB Nuclear Option: Commish Can Make Decision?

Written by:
Don Shapiro
Published on:
Jun/05/2020

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred appeared confident the season could restart with a mutual agreement between the players and owners.  That plan seems to be unraveling. 

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BetOnline had the chances of the season happening at 75%, down from 83.3%. 

Will there be an MLB regular season?
Yes -300
No +200

Major League Baseball players on Thursday "resoundingly rejected" the league's plan to begin the season with a drastically reduced schedule. This comes after the league rejected a proposal from the players to play 114 games with full prorated salaries. 

"Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless players negotiate salary concessions," said union executive director Tony Clark. "The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon."

ESPN notes that the league believes language in the March agreement might allow commissioner Rob Manfred to unilaterally decide how many games are played this year, though players have to sign off on an expanded postseason. An approximate 50-game season isn't of interest to many players.

"Play about 25% of the season for 25% pay? That's not worth the risk, and I just don't mean COVID-19," one player said earlier this week. "One hamstring pull or any shoulder soreness and players will shut down."

Steven A. Smith of ESPN warned that Major League Baseball may not be able to recover should the season not get underway.

In the end, it all comes down to financials.  The league stands to lose money by not having fans, albeit it's hard to imagine a point where stadiums would not welcome capacity restrictions at some point during the season.  Indeed, local jurisdictions like Texas may have the option to decide on fan attendance.

The owners claim they would lose $640,000 per game in a 2020 season without fans. The union has asked the owners to verify that claim, according Chris Cwik of Yahoo Sports.

- Don Shapiro, Gambling911.com

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