To our Fans:
It’s me again. I’ve heard the criticisms of my last letter – that it was tone-deaf, presented misleading claims, or didn’t address the actual issues of our labor negotiations. That it was a cynical PR move to paint our players in an unfavorable light. Well, I accept those criticisms, and I want to reassure you that there is nothing more important to me than you, our Fans.
Our game that we cherish has played a tremendous role in each of our lives over the past year. Challenging as this pandemic has been, it has been baseball (two of them, actually) that has continued to unite us. It was an exhilarating 2021 season. Who can forget the historic performances of players such as [REDACTED, for legal purposes– we are unable to use player names or likenesses until this is resolved, you see]. Or how about the World Series in which we saw the [REDACTED] triumphant over the [REDACTED] with great performances from our employees, such as [REDACTED], [REDACTED], and [REDACTED].
The season’s excitement was obviously more than just the World Series, as you know. We were proud to bring baseball back for a full 162 games this season, as fans all over the country got to enjoy their favorite teams (fans with cable, at least. Or, in the case of our loyal fans in Arizona, Michigan, Florida, Ohio, Missouri, Minnesota, California, Georgia, Texas, and Wisconsin – with a very specific cable operator. Oh, and except Iowa).
The point is, we welcomed baseball back into our lives with open arms, and it breaks my heart to tell you that we have no other choice but to institute a lockout. Having tried to explain our reasons, and knowing those didn’t go over well, I am now prepared to offer the following proposals to bring an end to this lockout that we all (me most of all) hate so much.
First and foremost, we understand this is mainly about money for the players. Not us, mind you. We just love the game. But, for the players, this is about money and we understand we’re going to have to make some concessions. That’s why I’m happy to announce we are providing more earning opportunities for our players. They will be able to earn up to $7.25 an hour (more in some states), simply by providing some services between batting practice and the start of games. Helping our fans find their seats, direct traffic for parking in our lots, or simply sweeping concourses, these players will interact with you, the fans, like never before and will be compensated for doing so. Other players may choose to opt in for college credit in lieu of pay in this unique and fan-friendly program.
As I said in my initial letter, competition is the most important thing to us at MLB, to ensure all teams have a chance of raising that beautiful hunk of metal at the end of the season.
That’s why our latest proposal to the players will be to expand the playoffs to 30 teams beginning in 2022. It’s the most equal chance any major sports league in North America gives to its teams to win a championship. Truly, every team has a chance to win, and that (and only that) is our primary objective in bargaining with the players association. I invite them to re-join the bargaining table to consider our serious proposal.
Finally, there has been much criticism levied at myself and our unfairly maligned, baseball-loving owners for lining our pockets and showing more interest in the adjacent revenue that the clubs provide rather than investing in players and our product. Those critics complain without transparency into our books, there is no way to tell if our offers of revenue sharing, payroll minimums, or salary caps are in any way fair. Those critics should prepare to eat their words.
We will release our full books. MLB owners are committed to transparency in this area as a matter of good-faith negotiations with our players. To begin, we will release all revenue data up to 1930, releasing a new year each subsequent year over the length of our contract.
For example, did you know that the $1.7 billion allocated to free agents in just November of this year is more than the entire combined salaries of every major leaguer in the year 1926? And that included Babe Ruth. Babe Ruth. Wow!
How does that crow taste, critics?
Hard to imagine that players today are arguing that they are worth more than the great Babe Ruth, but here we are.
I hope these proposals have shown to you the lengths to which I and the ownership groups of Major League Baseball are willing to go in service of our players and fans.
I am literally waiting at the negotiating table as we speak for the players to join me. They are unable to enter without a key, but I will provide that key as soon as they agree to our proposal. I urge them to do so as soon as possible.
Rob D. Manfred, Jr
Commissioner of Baseball
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)