ESPN’s Olney, Passan weigh in on ‘terrible’ time for MLB in negotiations

Jun 3, 2020, 8:05 PM
FILE - In this Nov. 21, 2019, file photo, baseball commissioner Rob Manfred speaks to the media at ...

FILE - In this Nov. 21, 2019, file photo, baseball commissioner Rob Manfred speaks to the media at the owners meeting in Arlington, Texas (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

(AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

Everyone wants baseball back, and the short-term focus is certainly on Major League Baseball getting its 2020 season underway.

But as those negotiations continue to trend in a negative direction, concern has mounted about the league’s future in the long term, especially with the collective bargaining agreement expiring at the end of the 2021 season.

“It’s the worst that it’s been since the [1994-95] strike,” ESPN’s Buster Olney said to Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta Wednesday. “It’s a terrible development for baseball.”

That’s even in a world where the league returns this season.

“There might be baseball this year, but big picture, this whole thing and the way this has played out is going to be terrible for baseball,” Olney said.

Olney noted that between the league and the players association, there has been a severe lack of engagement between the two sides in the last five years.

And when they have come together during these talks, they aren’t making progress.

“It feels like there’s two cars that are going right toward each other at 80 miles per hour right now,” ESPN’s Jeff Passan told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo Wednesday. “At some point either we’re gonna crash and not have a season and that would be horrible … or they’re going to come to some kind of agreement and figure this out.”

“They’re not really moving towards the middle at all and that does not bode well for baseball moving forward,” Olney said.

Passan addressed that there is a fundamental issue they can’t get past.

“The problem here is more that there’s a complete lack of trust between the sides on what the actual numbers are,” Passan said. “The owners are sticking to this financial model that they have and that they say and the players just simply don’t believe it. And it’s that lack of trust that has been fostered through generations, and continues to be the case now, that is hindering any sort of agreement from coming into play.”

So, one side has to budge at some point, right? But who? Even after all this time, Passan doesn’t have a clear-cut answer.

“I don’t know at this point,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like either side. I think the expectation is that the players will but I think the players recognize that that is the expectation and they don’t want to be the ones to do that.”

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ESPN’s Olney, Passan weigh in on ‘terrible’ time for MLB in negotiations