Do you know how badly you have to suck at your job to make Mike Trout publicly angry?
Rob Manfred found out Wednesday, as the famously reticent superstar blasted the gigglin’ and golfin’ commish and derisively called him “Rob.”
Trout has largely been quiet amid the owners’ lockout but he spoke out after Manfred’s owners extended their lockout into the regular season, canceling at least two series worth of games
“I want to play, I love our game, but I know we need to get this CBA right,” Trout wrote on social media. “Instead of bargaining in good faith – MLB locked us out.”
The lockout is a voluntary decision by the owners, one that MLBPA head Tony Clark called the “ultimate economic weapon.” Games could be played under the old CBA while a new one is negotiated, something that the owners dragged their feet on doing in the first place, waiting 43 days after initiating the lockout to submit an offer to the players.
“Instead of negotiating a fair deal – Rob canceled games,” Trout continued. “Players stand together. For our game, for our fans, and for every player who comes after us. We owe it to the next generation.”
The owners are determined to test just how strongly the players stand together, exerting their first true leverage as paychecks are missed for early-season games. It’s clear that the players would miss out more than the owners, at least early on. Teams do not have to pay back TV networks for missed games until “about 25″ games are canceled, according to a report from The Athletic, which pointed out that April is a “low attendance and revenue” month for most teams anyway.
That brings starkly in to view the owners’ attempt to delay the start of the 2021 season, which they falsely claimed was about COVID safety, and their total lack of urgency to start the 2020 season.
Veteran Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward said as much on Instagram on Wednesday.
“They continued to make offers they know were in the players best interest to refuse.. Hoping both sides could continue to ‘disagree..’ and that they would get their end GOAL… their GOAL of delaying the 2022 MLB season,” Heyward wrote. “Bottom line.. they know the amount of games we need to play in order for them to profit.. they view the first month of the season as debt.”
Manfred’s jolly tone irked players. “Starts a lockout, waits 43 days, negotiates in bad faith, sets deadlines, cancels games. Never seen someone so happy about all of it,” said Mariners pitcher Marco Gonzalez.
Players have steadfastly accused the owners of being more interested in playing PR games than actually negotiating. Giants pitcher Alex Wood said that the flicker of hope from Monday night’s marathon talks was just the owners using favorable reporters as state organs.
“MLB has pumped to the media last night & today that there’s momentum toward a deal. Now saying the players tone has changed,” Wood tweeted Tuesday. “So if a deal isn’t done today it’s our fault. This isn’t a coincidence. We’ve had the same tone all along. We just want a fair deal/to play ball.”
The Competitive Balance Tax remains the biggest gap between the sides, with owners trying to keep it roughly the same while players ask for modest increases as the game’s revenues explode. “It got to be like 12:30 and the fine print of their CBT proposal was stuff we had never seen before,” Blue Jays pitcher Ross Stripling said of Monday night’s negotiations.
But worst of all might be that the owners have treated the players like they’re stupid.
“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,” Stripling said. “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 they tried to sneak some shit past us at that deadline and we were ready for it. We’ve been ready for five years.”