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Totally Not Fake News: Time for “The Show”

Training time is over. The games are about to be played for real…and for keeps.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark answers questions about Astros sign stealing scandal Photo by Alejandra Villa Loarca/Newsday via Getty Images

New York, NY - There is a sense of anticipation and excitement in the league offices. A new year, a new season, and a new CBA to be had. “Ain’t seen this kinda excitement around here since 2016. That was a good year, when we pulled together and elevated our game to high levels of success. Major win for us. A bit of a struggle, but we came through in the end. Of course, you are only as good as your last win. Gotta build on that success,” observed one veteran league official.

Yet, while many in the MLB offices are still celebrating the fruits of victory from 2016, there is always the quest to improve, to hold off the opposition, and continue the desire for success. “Hey, we had a great legal team back in 2016, and we couldn’t have done it without them. Yet, you have to think of the future. You can’t just stand pat. You are either improving or you are falling behind. Given the determination of our main rivals, we can’t afford to surrender any advantage” observed MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.

“Our team was great then, but some of them aged out, or just had to move on to other things. Hate to see them go, based on all the great work they did for us, but that is the game. Got some great new prospects though. They were just in training, completing the basics and learning how to navigate the CBA process. That ain’t easy for anyone to come in and just do. It is a tough process, one that takes time to learn. Still, all the raw skills they brought with them from Harvard Law, Yale…we feel pretty good about the team we’re putting together.” Noted the same league executive.

“Indeed, I think we have a couple of future Federal Circuit Court Judges in this crop of rookies. At least 3 have 5-tool abilities, showing they could really master the art of cross-examination, written legal briefs, timed oral presentations, pre-hearing preparation and media affairs.”

Meanwhile, on the opposing side, the mood is quite different. The MLBPA, having come off what most see as a bad loss in 2016, is presenting a grim, determined face with the upcoming series ahead. “We should’ve won that last one” lamented Tony Clark. “We thought we had a great squad, and we had a certain plan. In some respects, we followed that plan, but didn’t make the adjustments necessary. The other side just got the better of us in the series. Can’t lose like that again.”

The prospects have been worked hard in the off-season. Extensive legal drills, media coverage skills, amicus briefs…the MLBPA is taking no chances. “Yes, we got some young kids. Maybe not the talent from Harvard and Yale, those developmental leagues like the Ivy that produce some real gems. Still, we feel pretty good with some of our prospects, even if they are from leagues like University of Texas and/or UCLA. Ultimately it doesn’t matter where you come from, it’s what you do when you get to ‘The Show.’”

While there is some small chance that the league and the players might come to a solution before December 1st, the odds are very, very low of that happening. With that in mind, both sides are gearing up for what promises to be an intense series. Hard fighting, hard playing, and probably some harsh language at times. The veterans will continue to work, but the burden will be on the young guys. They will need to mature quickly and grow fast. This is an unforgiving game, one that doesn’t forgive mistakes lightly.

We did get a preview of this upcoming series back in 2020. The pandemic-induced stoppage offered both sides (MLBPA and MLB) the chance to try out their strategies and legal posturing. Unfortunately, the match-up ended in a pre-season tie, as both sides could point to wins and losses during that encounter. “If nothing else, 2020 gave our players a chance to work out some kinks and test out some of their new legal skills and negotiating prowess” noted an unnamed player rep.

Now, the upcoming series match-up looks to be a real slugfest. While the MLB is slightly favored in this matchup, big series can come down to the smallest of details and actions. The well-timed written statement, the timing of critical injections, the possibility of a brutal financial shortfall deep into the matchup…it can turn on something that small. The MLBPA has learned much from 2016, and the resolve shown in 2020 could portent a side ready to fight against the grain.