4:34pm: Manfred evidently acknowledges that, as Clark had stated, he invited a new union counterproposal. (Via Jon Heyman of MLB Network, on Twitter.) But Manfred says he advised Clark that seventy games would be an “impossible” figure to fit in without extending play.
The league is continuing to cite concerns with extending play into November — a legitimate concern, to be sure, given the expectations of public health officials that the coronavirus threat could ramp up yet more this fall and winter. Curiously, though, Manfred indicates that doubleheaders are also deemed specifically problematic by MLB’s health advisors. Heyman explains that the concern is with “players spending too much time together,” though it’s not entirely clear why two games in one day would be different than a string of games on separate days.
“This needs to be over,” said Manfred. That statement refers, presumably, to the all-too-public spat between the league and player’s union regarding the terms by which the 2020 season will occur.
Beyond the obvious harm to the reputations of all involved, the protracted turmoil is running headlong into the realities of the calendar. If there’s any hope of launching a season of the length under discussion — the league proposed sixty, the union seventy — then a deal must be sewn up soon.
Clark insisted in his most recent statement that he did not reach an agreement with Manfred during their recent sit-down. Manfred offered his own take, though he did so in a rather circumspect manner.
Per Manfred: “I don’t know what Tony and I were doing there for several hours going back and forth and making trades if we weren’t reaching an agreement.”
It’s yet another bizarre dispute between bargaining parties that obviously have a strained relationship but no alternative partner. They are still arguing over the interpretation of the last deal they formally agreed to.
In this case, nobody claims that pen went to paper. Manfred himself stated just yesterday that the meetings had resulted in a “framework” that “could form the basis of an agreement.” But the sides evidently now disagree as to whether and to what extent they reached a handshake deal during their in-person talks.
Ultimately, says Manfred, both sides “want to play” and “want to reach an agreement.” In a statement that both contains a rather clear threat and undermines any claim that there’s already a binding deal in place, Manfred concluded: “We’re doing everything necessary to find a way to play, hopefully by agreement.”