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Why MLB players are against the 50-50 revenue split

Email sent: May 19, 2020 8:47am

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Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Good morning to you my friend! I come to you today with a question: If you had to pick one meal to define your quarantine, what would it be? Have you been crushing pasta? Frozen pizzas? Maybe breakfast for dinner? Relentless takeout?
For me, it's three hot dogs and a Miller High Life. Yes, I know it's horrible for me and I might as well be eating scraps out of the garbage like I'm Oscar on "Sesame Street," but I really don't care. In fact, it's pretty far down the list of unhealthy things I've been doing over the past few months and I'm not going to pretend like I'm above it. Judge me as you may.
Anyway, today's a Tuesday, which means it's mailbag eve. Got a question for me? Send it on over via Twitter or email (pete.blackburn@cbsinteractive.com). It can be about sports, pop culture, video games, Harry Potter, my gross diet, or whatever else you want. Just don't ask me when I'm going to get my life together. I'm working on it.
Now, let's get to our daily sports chat, shall we?
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πŸ“° What you need to know
1. Reasons MLB players are objecting to 50-50 split ⚾️
Here we are... another day and still waiting for MLB and the MLBPA to figure out something to end this standoff over revenue sharing. The two sides are still at an impasse and, as a result, the potential of a 2020 season hangs in the balance.
If you need a refresher: MLB owners officially submitted a return to play proposal but players have balked at the revenue-splitting scheme that would divide all revenue 50-50 between the owners and players. It may seem like a fair deal on the surface without context, but there are a handful of reasons why it's understandable that the players would object to the idea.
Unsurprisingly, many anxious and frustrated fans have started pointing fingers at players, calling them greedy and saying they should be willing to take less money in order to ensure a season and entertain us folks stuck at home. But it's important to recognize that this is a complex situation and that the players have their reasons -- many of which go far beyond greed. Our Dayn Perry did a great job of breaking down the reasons why many players aren't cool with the 50-50 split:
  • The players already agreed to reduced salaries: This is an important place to start. Back in March, the two sides negotiated plans for a shortened season and agreed that players would get paid prorated salaries based on the number of games played. With an 82-game regular season, the players would receive a little over half of their 2020 salaries. Now the owners want them to give up more money in order to make up for lost ticket revenue with no fans attending games
  • Players, owners have never used revenue splitting: A revenue split would be unprecedented for MLB. And while owners say they want it just for this year, it would possibly be a concession that came back to haunt players down the line. Owners have long coveted a salary cap, and players giving up leverage and establishing precedent for a revenue-based compensation system in future labor negotiations...well, that's probably bad for business
  • Determining revenues is complicated: MLB has its hands in a lot of different cookie jars and they don't want to share every revenue stream with players. There are ways they can essentially "hide" revenue (such as partnerships that involve equity) and find other ways to bring in money that isn't exactly tied to "game day" revenue. Players wouldn't see that money
  • You can't trust MLB's claims: Just like MLB can "hide" revenue, its teams are very capable of fudging numbers for their own benefit. Most MLB teams are not publicly traded entities, which means they're under no obligation to truthfully disclose revenues, profits, losses, etc. They can be deceptive, and they have already been accused of such after claiming that teams will lose $640K per game without fans this season
  • The players are taking the risk: At the end of the day, the players are the ones going out there (alongside umpires, coaches, managers, essential staff, etc) and putting themselves at risk to contract COVID-19, so why shouldn't they receive compensation for additional occupational hazard? Owners aren't going to be putting their health on the line once the season starts
It's important to keep all of this in mind before blaming the players for pushing back against the initial proposal. Sure, players like Blake Snell might come off a teeny bit dramatic when talking about the standoff but they've got their reasons for not jumping at the first deal presented to them.
We're still fairly early on in the process and there's time for more negotiating, so maybe there's progress coming. But if things don't move, I'm hoping the owners get as much criticism for not presenting a terribly serious offer as the players have gotten for being "greedy."
2. Ranking the NFL's contenders in tiers 🏈
The beautiful thing about the offseason is that every team has the exact same record and place in the standings, which means every team has hope for what's ahead. Sure, some teams might have brighter outlooks than others based on roster construction and/or track record of recent success, but everyone's got at least a sliver of a hope with a clean slate.
With that in mind, our Jason La Canfora has taken a look at all 32 franchises across the NFL and sorted them into tiers of promise heading into the 2020 season -- assuming there is one. Which teams are undeniable contenders? Which are stuck in the middle? Which are probably rebuilding? JLC brings his wealth of knowledge to help us prepare to manage expectations at a time when everyone is 0-0.
Tier 1: Lombardi contenders
  • Chiefs
  • 49ers
  • Ravens
  • Saints
  • Buccaneers
  • Steelers
  • Seahawks
  • Eagles
Tier 2: Best of the rest
  • Cowboys
  • Bills
  • Packers
  • Titans
  • Vikings
  • Colts
  • Broncos
  • Chargers
  • Cardinals
Tier 3: Rebuilding and rebounding
  • Browns
  • Dolphins
  • Panthers
  • Raiders
Tier 4: Stuck in the middle
  • Patriots
  • Lions
  • Falcons
  • Texans
  • Rams
  • Bengals
Tier 5: Rock bottom?
  • Bears
  • Giants
  • Jets
  • Redskins
  • Jaguars
You can check out JLC's explanations for his rankings here, and perhaps you'll need them if you're surprised about where your favorite team landed. But before you go and yell at my guy Jason, take a deep breath and remember that it's still the offseason, when anything is possible. Teams can always exceed expectations, while those expected to do great things can always fall flat on their face. (Looking at you, Buffalo!)
As for my own rooting interest, well, it's weird to see the Patriots stuck with the middling crowd but I can't say it's wrong given the uncertainty this offseason has thrust upon New England. We are living in truly strange times.
3. Jerry Krause refused to reconcile with Phil Jackson? πŸ€
"The Last Dance" has officially wrapped but that doesn't mean that we're done learning about the '90s Bulls dynasty or the integral people involved in making it happen. One of those integral pieces was Jerry Krause, who, as general manager of the team, was largely responsible for the six championships that Michael Jordan & Co. brought to Chicago.
But while Krause was one of the instrumental facilitators of the dynasty, he was also the man most responsible for dismantling it in 1998. Krause was arguably the biggest loser of the documentary given the light in which he was painted. He was portrayed as an egomaniac desperate to receive credit for the Bulls' success, which is why he was so willing to drive Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson away and blow up the most successful team of the era.
Unfortunately for Krause, he didn't get to tell his side of the story for "The Last Dance" because he died in 2017. It seems that he likely would have been able to bring some interesting perspective and, apparently, some surviving bitterness about the way things went down.
  • According to Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, Krause harbored resentment towards Jackson long after driving the coach out of Chicago
  • Krause refused to reconcile with Jackson, even after the coach reached out and extended an offer to bury the hatchet
  • Reinsdorf believes Krause rejected the offer as an act of pride. He also believes Krause blamed Jackson for not stepping in as an intermediary when Jordan and Scottie Pippen frequently teased, disrespected and criticized Krause
  • Reinsdorf: "Years later, when Phil was coaching the Lakers and they were coming to Phoenix, I'd have lunch with him... At one of those lunches, he said, 'I'd really like to bury the hatchet with Jerry,' and he asked me to be the middleman"
  • Reinsdorf, cont.: "I would tell Jerry, 'Get over it, get over it already.' But Jerry was a lover scorned. He was so proud of the fact that he had found Phil [in the Continental Basketball Association] and he turned out to be a brilliant coach. Then when he felt that Phil turned on him, he was not going to like Phil again."
All the drama surrounding Krause was one of the most interesting parts of "The Last Dance." It seemed he had very fragile and turbulent relationships with a lot of the key organizational pieces and a lot of them seemed to view him as a villain.
But it's also worth recognizing that Jordan had final say on what was shown in "The Last Dance," meaning he largely controlled the narrative. And if Jordan disliked Krause as much as he seemed to -- and he seemed to dislike him a lot -- then it's probably fair to assume he didn't do him any favors in the production process.
Krause clearly still had strong feelings about how he was treated and received during the Bulls' incredible run. His presence and perspective in the storytelling on the "The Last Dance" probably would have made one of the juiciest parts of the doc even juicier. That being said, there is something sort of perfectly ironic about Krause not getting the respect and credit he deserves... even when it comes to a documentary about the '90s Bulls.
4. Aaron Rodgers says lockdown is like 'house arrest' 🏈
Much like you and I, Aaron Rodgers appears to be getting pretty damn sick of quarantining/isolating/whatever you wanna call it during this pandemic shutdown. The Packers quarterback was in Peru when COVID-19 started picking up steam in the United States, and he barely made it back home before the international travel bans were put into place.
Now, he seems ready to go anywhere but home.
Rodgers spoke about the coronavirus outbreak to Green Bay media this week and he compared the pandemic restrictions to being on house arrest:
  • Rodgers: "For many of us -- and I've seen a lot of comments on this and obviously my story coming back from Peru before the country kind of went into a lockdown -- I think we all were buying into the idea of quarantine to flatten the curve and I think there are a lot of questions now that it's more of a house arrest to find a cure with people wondering exactly what that means as far as the future of the country and the freedoms we're allowed to have at this point"
I mean, in a sense, Rodgers isn't wrong. I'm sure all of us have gone a little stir crazy and gotten the feeling like we've been locked up in our homes far too long. I feel that, for sure. And he's right that we all have a lot of questions about what life is going to look like for us all in the months ahead.
But it does seem like he's very cautiously mirroring the thoughts of people who want the country to re-open and end stay-at-home orders, no? He's not necessarily aligning himself with protesters, but he's pushing for discourse on where the line is between being cautious and being unfairly strict.
That seemed to also be the case when he was asked about the chances of having a football season in 2020. Rodgers recognized that there are priorities that come before football, and he also seemed to push the argument that the fear surrounding the pandemic is threatening to cripple the country.
  • Rodgers: "I'm very hopeful that we can have a [football] season. I think the important think to think about, though, which is more important than that, is the state of the country and the fact that we have 36-plus million people on unemployment right now, we have rising poverty levels to go along with the unemployment, you have suicide hotline is up 8,000 percent. There's really a lot of problems going on in the country right now associated with the fear around this pandemic and I hope that we can use some common sense moving forward and make decisions that are going to be in the best interest of all people moving forward, and I hope that sports is a part of that at some point."
One way or another, this is a pretty emotionally charged discussion for a lot of people around the country right now. Some continue to be extremely worried that they or a loved one will catch the virus and potentially join the tens of thousands who have died from it. Others remain incredibly restless and concerned over not being able to come out of the pandemic with the same standing or lifestyle that they had before. Both are very reasonable worries, and it's easy to see where both sides are coming from. It's a really unsettling time for pretty much everyone.
I'll be honest, it's been pretty exhausting and emotionally draining watching people fight and bicker and tear each other apart while debating the reopening issues. I don't have the energy to get into that and I'm sure you're not dying to hear my thoughts anyway, so I'll just say this: Regardless of where you fall, it seems important to remain cognizant of what's going on, take precautions where we can and realize that not everyone is facing the same set of circumstances in this bizarre time.
Oh, and also...Aaron Rodgers, if you're looking for a change of scenery, I'm more than willing to swap my "house arrest" for yours. Also willing to swap bank accounts and job securities if you're interested.
Okay, maybe not job security. There's no Jordan Love lined up for this newsletter... yet.
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