CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 28: MLB commissioner Rob Manfred speaks to the media before Game Three of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.
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Another disagreement between the league and players shows increasing friction between the two sides. 

On Sunday, Yahoo!’s Tim Brown reported that Major League Baseball delivered a proposal for the 2021 regular season that would cut the number of games from 162 to 154 and push Opening Day back almost a month.

Other outlets, including Joel Sherman of the New York Post, followed that report with word that the MLBPA held a conference call on Saturday to discuss the proposal.

According to Brown, players would receive their full salaries for the 154-game season. The proposal also reportedly includes a universal designated hitter and expanded postseason.

ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the proposed start date for spring training would be March 22 with Opening Day moving from April 1 to April 28. The expanded postseason would carry into November.

As ESPN’s Jeff Passan noted later, there is a standing CBA in place between the players and owners; if nothing is changed, the season will still begin on April 1.

The MLBPA has previously rejected proposals that included expanding the playoffs. Indications are that the Players Association will reject this proposal on Monday.

Why not?

In a Twitter thread, Sherman made a number of strong points outlining why the players wouldn’t accept this proposal.

Unfortunately, this is the latest appearance of a notable disconnect between Major League Baseball and the players. Negotiations between the two sides to establish how the 2020 regular season would play out were heated and ultimately came to the minimum — what the owners wanted.

One other note to consider: the postseason-revenue sharing favors the owners significantly. The owners split postseason television revenues; the players get a piece of the ticket money.

After almost 30 years of labor peace, there is only one year remaining on the current CBA and it feels more and more like things are headed in the wrong direction.

Where’s the money?

One other issue for players is another winter with owners not spending nearly as much as many thought. The luxury tax has regularly become a crutch for owners to back away from the negotiating table.

Last winter, the Boston Red Sox — a big market team with an ownership group that has never lacked capital — traded Mookie Betts to the Dodgers. They cited the need for increased payroll flexibility.

Betts, of course, was a big reason the Dodgers won the World Series.

Now the Colorado Rockies are trading their best player, Nolan Arenado, to the St. Louis Cardinals in a deal that is another cost-cutting effort.

The Chicago Cubs are cutting payroll and the Atlanta Braves have had a relatively quiet offseason.

When the bigger market teams are backing away from the table, it’s a bad sign.

Obviously, this conversation cannot happen without recognizing the impact the pandemic has had on all professional sports. And specific teams have their own internal issues; the Cubs, for example, launched their own television network last year and have poured millions of dollars into developing the area immediately surrounding Wrigley Field in recent years.

But there are other teams — the Padres and Blue Jays, specifically — that have stepped up and taken advantage of a down market to aggressively address their rosters via trade and free agency.

Why can’t we be friends?

We aren’t just referencing a song by War. Why can’t MLB and the players get together and figure these things out?

A strong case can be made that the young group of players currently at the major league level is one of the best generations to ever come into the game. There are superstars all over the game in big and small markets alike.

Unfortunately, the pandemic was a catalyst that accelerated already uneasy times between the players and owners.

News late last week that Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. would be joining the Commissioner’s Office to work on developing the future of the game was a huge win for the league. Junior made baseball cool and was marketed well.

Now, the game needs to start marketing players like Ronald Acuna Jr., Francisco Lindor, and Juan Soto — players with personalities and abilities like Griffey had back in the day.

Hopefully the two sides can come to the table and find some common ground so the 2021 season can be a successful one on the field.

Tab has written about MLB, the NHL and the NFL for more than a decade for publications including The Fourth Period, Bleacher Report and La Vida Baseball. He is the author of two books about the Chicago Blackhawks and has been credentialed for the MLB All-Star Game and postseason and multiple Stanley Cup Finals. He is the co-host of the Line Drive Radio podcast.