While his own history on the job includes some less-than-friendly interactions with labor, Yankees president Randy Levine believes ownership and the players can and should reach an amicable resolution of their present standoff regarding a resumption of the 2020 season. He tells David Lennon of Newsday that a deal “can get done,” calling players “the heart and soul of the game” and saying he believes both sides still have the will to get play underway.
So, what’s the path? As Lennon explains, it seems Levine — and perhaps the upper reaches of the league office — are accepting that players will stand on their demand for pro rata pay. Working from that premise, says Levine, removes “the contentious issues” and creates space for the sides to “get in a room and negotiate.”
The MLBPA’s “when and where” bargaining tactic — and associated public relations blitz — seems at least to have succeeded in gaining some level of clarity. Per Levine: “The commissioner now has the right, as long as the players get to 100% pro rata [salaries], to put a schedule together. So I don’t think that the money and the schedule — the number of games — is the issue anymore.”
While there are still important points to be negotiated regarding the way a 2020 season would function, Levine says he thinks they all can be managed in talks. And what of the suggestion we’ve seen floated that some substantial number of owners will balk at playing a season at all? Levine says he hasn’t heard that message in his talks with other clubs.
It’s far from clear that Levine’s general optimism and outlook are shared in the upper reaches of other organizations. Certainly, the league’s most prominent and valuable franchise may have a different outlook than other organizations. But the Yankees hold quite a lot of sway, both within and without league circles, so it seems rather a notable development that Levine — who says he’s in communication daily with commissioner Rob Manfred — holds these views and is willing to communicate them publicly.