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SI Insider: Payment Negotiations Between the League and the Players for the Abbreviated Season Will Be Formative for the Future of Baseball

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SI senior writer Tom Verducci explains why the ongoing payment negotiations currently happening between the players, owners, and the league will have an impact on the future of the MLB. 

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Major League Baseball has testing protocols and an 82 game schedule in place. We could see Major League Baseball games as early as the first week in July, but there's one big hurdle and that's money. Owners contend that players should take 50 percent of the revenues as their salaries. They anticipate revenues being down 40 percent based on playing in front of empty ballparks. The players say, wait a second. That sounds like a salary cap. And they abhor salary caps. And players say they should be paid on a prorated basis based on how many games are played. And they believe an agreement is already in place on that issue. 

Now, there is a soft deadline here toward an agreement. That's because in order to get the players in training shape for a July 1st opening, camps need to open up soon. And that means there's a two week window to get to an agreement. Now, think about the stakes here. They are enormous. 

Let's play out a scenario where there is no agreement. The players lose $2.3 billion in salary. Owners lose about $4 billion in revenue. And the fans, they will have two strong reactions. Number one, they will get out of the habit of following baseball. And number two, they will resent baseball. Think about it. If other sports, football, basketball, golf, soccer, tennis, NASCAR, find a way to resume in the age of coronavirus and baseball chooses to continue to bicker over money rather than restart. Fans will have no room in their hearts for baseball going forward. Now, listen, baseball already is facing challenging times. Attendance has declined for seven straight years. And every business in this country is looking at probably the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression. So the stakes are enormous. It is not hyperbole to say that the future of baseball is on the line in these next two weeks.