The Rundown: Players Refuse to Back Down, Profiling Cubs Draft Possibilities, 1985 First Year Player Draft League’s Best Ever

MLB players have said publicly that they want to play and are ready to get going, but they won’t take another pay cut just to start the 2020 season. Union leader Tony Clark issued a statement Thursday evening to announce that the players “resoundingly rejected” the league’s demand for any further concessions.

“In this time of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, players want nothing more than to get back to work and provide baseball with the game we all love,” Clark said. “But we cannot do this alone.”

That friction will likely spill over into negotiations between the two sides when they work out a new CBA when the current agreement expires at the conclusion of the 2021 season. Though baseball will resume before that benchmark date, it almost feels like the two sides are so far apart that it may not. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you, there’s too much at stake to go baseball-less for any extended period of time, and that includes this season. Neither side really wants to call it all off, despite posturing that indicates neither will give in.

Still, many fans side with ownership and are blaming players for an attempted coup designed to ruin the game.  It’s hard to think of players who earn millions of dollars as the “have-nots” in a war between social classes, but that’s the foundation of the discord between both sides. Don’t forget, not every player earns Gerrit Cole or Mike Trout money.

If you’ve been watching the Cubs Insider video podcast The Rant, our Managing Partner and budding TV analyst Jon Strong has determined that baseball is fixated on allowing no more than $1.4 billion in league-wide salary this year, no matter how many games are played. Naturally, owners want that to be as few as possible, partly to cut down on the expenses of opening stadiums in a scenario where fans may not be allowed to attend.

But here’s the rub: you can bet your ass that once an agreement is reached, teams will turn to local and state governments to figure out how to allow fans to attend the games. Maybe it scales in capacity starting at something like 25% before health requirements relax, possibly allowing full attendance before summer ends. If allowed, how do you think that will sit with the players now before playing out in 2021 negotiations?

“Important work remains to be done in order to safely resume the season,” Clark said. “We stand ready to complete that work and look forward to getting back on the field.”

That’s the union leader saying the two sides are nowhere close to reaching a deal right now.

Cubs News & Notes

Find Your Inner Hero

I’m still confounded that anybody would want to see the Cubs trade Jason Heyward.

Apropos of Nothing

It’s time like these that I could really use a weekend of the Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead, a few ice cold beers, and some genuine hippie flower power. Sometimes I wish I could just leave the country for a few months, or, you know, permanently.

Odds & Sods

Paul Sullivan satirically notes that the obvious conclusion to the disagreement between the league and the players should be a 14-game season played only by the Yankees and Red Sox, followed by a 9-game World Series between the two clubs, all made-for-TV. Come to think of it, that might make a helluva reality show. Season two could be the Dodgers and Astros, followed by the Cubs and Cardinals.

MLB News & Notes

Rob Manfred has the power to unilaterally create a 50-game schedule if he pleases, but it’s hard to imagine the players agreeing to a 50-game season if the commissioner implements one.

Neither side is willing to budge right now and the deadline to start a season that begins the first week of July is getting perilously close.

The 1989 first year player draft produced four Hall of Fame players, including Frank Thomas and Jim Thome, but the 1985 draft, which produced Randy Johnson, Barry Bonds, Barry Larkin, John Smoltz, Will Clark, Rafael Palmeiro, and Mark Grace may have been the greatest draft of all time. Additionally, Sammy Sosa signed with the Rangers for $3,500 as a 16-year-old free agent in ’85.

You’ll need a subscription to The Athletic to read this gem, but in 1995 MLB players nearly started a nationwide barnstorming tour that was canceled just as the league and the union agreed to end its work stoppage.

Ex-Rays, Red Sox and Dodgers star Carl Crawford was arrested and charged with domestic violence yesterday.

Extra Innings

Hope exists.

Sliding into Home

It’s Friday and if you made it through the week unscathed emotionally and/or physically, that’s quite the accomplishment these days. It’s a poor reflection of society that I have to say that, but hang tough through the weekend, and see you all Monday.

They Said It

“The overwhelming consensus of the board is that players are ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions that could affect the health and safety of not just themselves, but their families as well. The league’s demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected.” – Tony Clark

Friday Walk Up Song

I Won’t Back Down by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Ballplayers…united we stand.

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