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MLB commissioner changes tune, says he's 'not confident' there will be 2020 season – CBC.ca

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Commissioner Rob Manfred says there might be no major baseball league season after a breakdown in talks between teams and the union on how to split up money in a season delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. The league also said several players have tested positive for COVID-19.

Two days after union head Tony Clark declared additional negotiations futile, Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem sent a seven-page letter to players’ association chief negotiator Bruce Meyer asking the union whether it will waive the threat of legal action and tell MLB to announce a spring training report date and a regular season schedule.

These were just the latest escalating volleys in a sport viewing disagreements over starting the season as a preliminary battle ahead of bargaining to replace the labour contract that expires on Dec. 1, 2021.

“It’s just a disaster for our game, absolutely no question about it,” Manfred said during an appearance on ESPN that included the heads of the other major U.S. professional leagues. “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.”

Spring training was stopped because of the pandemic on March 12, two weeks before opening day, and the sides reached an agreement on March 26 on how to revise their labour deal to account for the virus.

Increasing hostility

Since then, the hostility has escalated to 1990s levels as the sides exchanged offers. MLB claims teams can’t afford to play without fans and pay the prorated salaries called for in the March deal, which included a provision for “good-faith” negotiations over the possibility of games in empty ballparks or neutral sites.

“The proliferation of COVID-19 outbreaks around the country over the last week, and the fact that we already know of several 40-man roster players and staff who have tested positive, has increased the risks associated with commencing spring training in the next few weeks,” Halem wrote in his letter to Meyer, which was obtained by the Associated Press.

Halem sent Meyer a letter with a sarcastic tone Friday accompanying MLB’s latest offer, and Meyer responded with a hostile tone Saturday as the sides memorialized positions ahead of a possible grievance before the panel chaired by independent arbitrator Mark Irvings. Halem’s letter Monday asked the union for many clarifications of its positions.

“I note that both the NBA and NHL, two leagues which you repeatedly reference in your letter, do not intend to resume play until about Aug. 1, and both intend to resume play at a limited number of sites with a quarantine approach,” Halem wrote. “Please let us know the association’s views on quarantining players in league-approved hotels [like the NBA’s Disney World model] when they are not at the ballpark if conditions worsen over the next few weeks.”

Clark had issued a statement Saturday that told MLB: “It’s time to get back to work. Tell us when and where.” The union then said it might file a grievance seeking additional economic documents and money damages that could total $1 billion US or more.

“Players are disgusted that after Rob Manfred unequivocally told players and fans that there would ‘100 per cent’ be a 2020 season, he has decided to go back on his word and is now threatening to cancel the entire season,” Clark said in a statement Monday.

“This latest threat is just one more indication that Major League Baseball has been negotiating in bad faith since the beginning,” Clark added. “This has always been about extracting additional pay cuts from players and this is just another day and another bad faith tactic in their ongoing campaign.”

Manfred said ahead of last week’s amateur draft that the chance of a season was “100 per cent.”

‘There’s real risk’

He reversed his position Monday.

“I’m not confident. I think there’s real risk; and as long as there’s no dialogue, that real risk is going to continue,” Manfred said on ESPN. “The owners are 100 per cent committed to getting baseball back on the field. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that I’m 100 per cent certain that’s going to happen.”

Halem asked the union for permission to go ahead with the season.

MLB has made three economic offers, the last offering to guarantee players 70 per cent of their salaries as part a 72-game schedule beginning July 14 and increasing the total to 80 per cent if the post-season is completed.

Players previously offered two proposals, holding their position that no additional pay cuts were acceptable beyond the prorated salaries for 2020 that they had agreed to in March. That deal called for $170 million US in salary advances and a guarantee of service time credit if no games are played this year.

Manfred had threatened a shorter schedule, perhaps of about 50 games. The union could respond by filing a grievance, arguing players should be paid for the season of 119 games they initially proposed. The union’s first plan would result in salaries of nearly $3 billion US.

Players are angry following five years of flat salaries, a lost grievance claiming the Chicago Cubs manipulated the service time of star third baseman Kris Bryant in violation of the labour contract and allegations several teams did not properly use revenue sharing proceeds, which the union called “tanking.”

Players hope to see documents detailing regional sports networks’ agreements with teams, financial interests of MLB owners in RSNs and real estate ventures adjacent to ballparks, plus MLB affiliated companies such as the MLB Network, MLB Advanced Media and BAM Tech. During a grievance, they would ask Irvings to order document production.

In their March agreement, the sides vowed to “work in good faith to as soon as is practicable commence, play, and complete the fullest 2020 championship season and post-season that is economically feasible, consistent with” a series of provisions.

Absent Manfred’s consent, the agreement said, the season would not begin unless there were no travel restrictions in the U.S. and Canada impacting play, no restrictions on mass gatherings at all 30 regular-season ballparks and no health or safety risks in playing in front of fans at the regular stadiums. But it also provided that the sides “will discuss in good faith the economic feasibility of playing games in the absence of spectators or at appropriate substitute neutral sites.”

MLB told the union it would lose an additional $640,000 US for each regular season game played with no gate revenue and does not want to extend the regular season past Sept. 27 because it fears a second wave of the coronavirus could endanger the post-season, when $787 million US of broadcast revenue is earned.

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Toronto Blue Jays player accused of skipping on rent pays up – CBC.ca

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The ongoing dispute between Toronto Blue Jays player Ryan “Rowdy” Tellez, and his Toronto landlord has been resolved.

CBC News has learned with the Jays back in Toronto and practicing at the Rogers Centre, Tellez paid his landlord $16,400 to cover his rent payments through the end of September, when the lease on a two-bedroom downtown Toronto condo is set to expire.

“I’m very pleased Mr. Tellez has paid his lease agreement in full through till the end of September,” landlord Linda Pinizzotto told CBC News.

“We were able to finalize his payment through his legal representative in a friendly manner.”

Pinizzotto, who first told CBC Toronto about the issue in June, declined to comment further.

Tellez returned to Toronto on Sunday but has yet to step foot in the condo or pick up the keys, despite signing a lease back in January. During the time he was refusing to pay, Tellez argued through his Florida-based lawyer that because COVID-19 had suspended the baseball season and he was stuck living in the U.S., he shouldn’t have to pay rent in Toronto.  

WATCH | Blue Jays players in Toronto preparing for upcoming shortened MLB season:

Major League Baseball training camps are now open. Toronto Blue Jays players have arrived in Toronto for team workouts that could be held as early as Monday at Rogers Centre. The shortened season is set to resume but without any fans in the stands. 8:14

Currently, the Jays players who had been training in Florida are isolating at the Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel, which is attached to the Rogers Centre, where they’ve been cleared to practice.

At least one Jays player is still in Florida after testing positive for COVID-19, although the team won’t say who that is.

The Blue Jays were granted special permission to return to Canada by local, provincial and federal officials to conduct pre-season training.

The Blue Jays are still awaiting clearance to play home games in Toronto. A shortened Major League Baseball season is set to begin on July 23, and manager Charlie Montoyo says the team is hungry to play.

Coach still not paying his rent

Tellez wasn’t the only Blue Jay accused of not paying rent.

First base coach Mark Budzinski is still locked in a dispute with his landlord, Derrick Thomas.

Budzinski signed a six-month lease with Thomas earlier this year, but after making three payments, he stopped paying his $3,100 a month rent for a condo a block from Rogers Centre.

Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr., right, stands beside first base coach Mark Budzinski. (Fred Thornhill/Canadian Press )

Budzinski is currently taking Thomas to Ontario’s Landlord and Tenant Board, which handles rental disputes.

He wants the $9,300 he’s paid in rent so far returned, and the remainder of the six-month lease terminated.

Budzinski has argued he was unable to use the condo due to border restrictions and the fact the baseball season was on hold.

A date has yet to be set for the hearing. His legal representative has told CBC News, the coach will respect any decision the board makes.

It’s unclear if Budzinski is in Toronto or if he remains in Florida.

The Blue Jays did not respond to prior questions about the rent situations.

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Tiger Woods announces return to PGA Tour after 5 months – CBC.ca

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Tiger Woods announced on Thursday that he will compete at next week’s Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, the 15-time major champion’s first PGA Tour event in five months.

“I’m looking forward to playing in the @MemorialGolf next week,” Woods said on his Twitter account. “I’ve missed going out and competing with the guys and can’t wait to get back out there.”

Woods last competed on the PGA Tour in mid-February when he labored through a final-round 77 at the Genesis Invitational where he finished last among players who made the cut.

The 44-year-old reigning Masters champion then skipped a number of events with back issues prior to the PGA Tour’s three-month COVID-19 hiatus that began in mid-March and opted to sit out the circuit’s first five events since the break.

Woods, who is one win shy of a record-breaking 83 PGA Tour victories, did play a May 24 charity match with Phil Mickelson and Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village is one of the most high-profile, non-major events on the PGA Tour and Woods has triumphed there a record five times, most recently in 2012.

Woods will be part of a loaded field that also includes world number one Rory McIlroy, five-times major champion Phil Mickelson, 2018 Memorial champion Bryson DeChambeau and major winners Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia.

The July 16-19 tournament was originally supposed to have a limited number of spectators but earlier this week the PGA Tour scrapped plans to let fans attend due to COVID-19.

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Agent Scott Boras: Blue Jays are in ‘excellent’ position with young core – Sportsnet.ca

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When the Toronto Blue Jays drafted Austin Martin fifth overall last month, they got a rare skillset that his agent Scott Boras calls “dirt power.”

“Austin is a player that, in past drafts, could’ve likely been the No. 1 pick in the draft. He’s a unique player because he, like Kris Bryant, is so versatile because he can play infield and outfield positions and do it with great comfort,” Boras said during an appearance on Writers Bloc on Thursday. “Plus, his bat has that kind of power that you would expect more from a larger player — more of a corner outfielder — and yet he’s got infield size. We call it ‘dirt power,’ and it’s pretty rare for a player to have dirt power. I think the Blue Jays got themselves something pretty special here.”

Writers Bloc

Scott Boras on client Austin Martin signing with the Blue Jays

July 09 2020

Boras just successfully negotiated Martin’s first pro baseball contract — a deal worth just over $7 million — and will now see his client jump right into the Blue Jays’ 60-man player pool to join the club in Toronto as they train for a shortened 2020 season.

Looking at the Blue Jays’ young core right now, Boras likes what he sees.

“Mark [Shapiro] and Ross [Atkins] have done a really good job of building a foundational core where they literally have a middle of the lineup that includes players who can play the infield. When you see that in a club, where you’re going to get middle-lineup potential with players who can really fulfill infield spots, that is something that most clubs in baseball don’t have. It also opens the door for you to get slugging players, corner-outfielders, that are often more available in free agency than infielders.”

Boras, who has been critical of the Blue Jays’ dealings in recent years, said their current situation with a young roster now opens the door for management to hunt for free agent pitching and spend money on some bigger, win-now free agents because of the steady, affordable foundation built through drafting and development.

“I would say right now the Blue Jays are really in an excellent position going forward here for the next five, six years,” he said.

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