On Monday night, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred told ESPN's Mike Greenberg he is "not confident" there will be a baseball season in 2020.
Greenberg interviewed Manfred on Monday for the television special ironically named "The Return of Sports." Manfred is one of six sports commissioners to participate in the special.
"I'm not confident. I think there's real risk; and as long as there's no dialogue, that real risk is gonna continue," Manfred said when asked if he was confident there would be a season.
This comes only five days after Manfred told ESPN'S Karl Ravech he's "100 percent" sure there will be a baseball season. He doubled down in the same conversation, saying "unequivocally we are going to play Major League Baseball this year."
The chances that a baseball season would be played decreased substantially on Monday. According to the Los Angeles Times, the league sent a letter to the Players Association stating it would not implement a schedule unless the union "waives legal claims against the league" that they violated a March agreement between the two sides. The fear from the league is the players union would file a grievance that owners "did not negotiate in good faith about the length of the season."
MLB offered their fourth proposal to the Players Association last Friday, but was quickly shot down. The proposal again called for further pay cuts on top of the full prorated salaries on which the players have remained unified and steadfast.
On Saturday, The New York Post reported MLB and Turner Sports had agreed to a new billion-dollar broadcast deal, which was ill-timed at best and caused a wider rift between the two sides. The Players Association responded to MLB swiftly, drawing a line in the sand.
MLB came back with a statement of their own, stating they were "disappointed that the MLBPA has chosen not to negotiate in good faith over resumption of play after MLB has made three successive proposals that would provide players, Clubs and our fans with an amicable resolution to a very difficult situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic."
Even so, many expected the end of this bitter labor war to be nearing its end this week. The Players Association had clearly had enough of the back and forth and were willing to earn less money in 2020 and play a drastically shortened season.
Manfred's comments certainly lit a fire, in which many players called out his words as a "bluff" or "stall tactic" so MLB could have reasonable cause to mandate a 48-game season. Manfred has the right to implement a season of his choosing per the March 26 agreement between the league and the players. The players would earn their full prorated salaries in whatever season the commissioner mandates.
The Players Association posted a strong and harsh statement in response to Manfred's threat to cancel the MLB season.
Believe it or not, the labor war between the league and the players is growing worse by the day. It's difficult to see what route the league or the players take from here. One thing is certain: the MLB season is hanging on by a thread.
"It's just a disaster for our game, absolutely no question about it. It shouldn't be happening, and it's important that we find a way to get past it and get the game back on the field for the benefit of our fans," Manfred told Greenberg.
"The owners are 100 percent committed to getting baseball back on the field. ...Unfortunately, I can't tell you that I'm 100 percent certain that's gonna happen."