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The Sports Report: Baseball is making a big mistake

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred
(Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell and let’s take a look at how baseball seems in a rush to self-destruct.

Bill Plaschke, on the horrible baseball negotiations: “Baseball could have announced its return Monday, the players throwing the owners a fastball down the middle by agreeing to come back to work immediately.

The owners took the pitch.

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The owners stood feebly with the bat on their shoulders and shrugged.

The owners’ toothless leader then steered them away from the plate and back to the dugout with a threat to leave the ballpark entirely.

Four days ago, Commissioner Rob Manfred said, “We’re going to play baseball in 2020. 100%.”

On Monday, he told ESPN, “I can’t tell you I’m 100% certain that’s going to happen.”

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What a fool. What a farce. What a joke that the owners have made of their sport, tearing baseball apart by its 108 double stitches during a time the nation desperately needs its favorite teams to hold it together.

The NBA, NHL, MLS and WNBA get it. If the novel coronavirus pandemic allows, all will be playing games in mere weeks.

Baseball doesn’t get it. Baseball doesn’t have a clue. The national pastime has become a national fraud by allowing selfishness to silence its game when its fans crave it most.

The players should be in training right now. Greed said no. The owners should be planning for a 70-plus game season right now. Greed said no.

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Read all of Plaschke’s column by clicking here.

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MORE BASEBALL

Bill Shaikin writes..... Five days after Commissioner Rob Manfred guaranteed there would be a 2020 season, Major League Baseball suggested it might cancel the season entirely.

In a letter to the players’ union, MLB said it would not honor the players’ demand to announce a schedule unless the union waives legal claims against the league. In particular, the league asked the players to sign away the right to a potential grievance hearing in which the union believes it could pursue perhaps a billion dollars in damages and instead return to a bargaining process the union has abandoned as “futile.”

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At the end of a turbulent day, in which union chief Tony Clark said players were “disgusted,” Manfred and Clark traded accusations of “bad faith,” and some of the game’s stars lit up social media with their anger, a league that has enjoyed 25 years of labor peace crept ever closer to the specter of labor disaster: a 2020 season canceled because owners and players could not agree on money; a 2021 season with revenues reduced because of coronavirus-related restrictions on ballpark attendance; and a 2022 season that could be delayed or wiped out because of a lockout or strike.

The developments come at a time several baseball executives are growing increasingly concerned with the league’s negotiating strategies, fearing that the owners are alienating players at a time the game cannot grow without both sides working together, according to a management official speaking on condition of anonymity.

WNBA

The WNBA has announced plans to play a reduced season, with a 22-game schedule that would begin in late July without fans in attendance.

The league is still finalizing a partnership with IMG Academy in Florida to play all the games at the facility in Bradenton or other nearby locations. Players and team officials for the league’s 12 teams would be housed at IMG and hold training camps there.

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“There’s a lot to do between now and the tip of the season, now that we’ve selected IMG Academy” as the location to play, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert told the Associated Press. “My hope is the July 24 date will stick. We have scenarios and plans to lift and shift the tip of the season. It could slip to a couple of days later. We want to have the appropriate number of days for training camp.”

Engelbert, who said she had a site visit at IMG, hopes to have teams in Florida by the first week of July to start training camps. The season had been postponed indefinitely in April because of the coronavirus outbreak.

SURFING

The Vans U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach has been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, event organizers announced in a statement Monday.

“The Vans US Open of Surfing has always been about bringing people together in a healthy, fun and interactive environment, and given the size and scale of the event, we can’t see a way to do that this year without sacrificing the very thing that makes it so special,” said Jennifer Lau, Vice President of Action Sports at IMG, which owns the event.

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The weeklong showcase of action sports, which was also supposed to include skate and BMX competition during its original Aug. 1-9 schedule, is planned to return in 2021 to Huntington Beach.

NFL

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he supports and encourages teams to sign quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

In an interview on ESPN’s “The Return of Sports” special, Goodell said it would be up to a team to sign Kaepernick.

“Well, listen, if he wants to resume his career in the NFL, then obviously it’s gonna take a team to make that decision,” Goodell said. “But I welcome that, support a club making that decision, and encourage them to do that.”

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He also welcomed the thought of having Kaepernick’s voice to guide the league in making better decisions concerning what could be done in communities.

“If his efforts are not on the field but continuing to work in this space, we welcome him to that table and to help us, guide us, help us make better decisions about the kinds of things that need to be done in the communities. We have invited him in before, and we want to make sure that everybody’s welcome at that table, and trying to help us deal with some very complex, difficult issues, that have been around for a long time.

“But I hope we’re at a point now where everybody’s committed to making long-term, sustainable change.”

BORN ON THIS DAY

1821: Golfer Old Tom Morris (d. 1908)

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1948: Baseball player Ron LeFlore

1951: Boxer Roberto Duran

1955: Basketball player Tree Rollins

1962: Former Angel Wally Joyner

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1970: Golfer Phil Mickelson

1971: Soccer player Cobi Jones

1977: Baseball player Kerry Wood

1977: Former USC football player Petros Papadakis

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2000: Tennis player Bianca Andreescu

DIED ON THIS DAY

1970: Football player Brian Piccolo, 26

1996: Sportscaster Mel Allen, 83

2014: Baseball player Tony Gwynn, 54

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AND FINALLY

Tony Gwynn hits his first postseason home run in Game 1 of the 1998 World Series. Watch it here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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