May 28, 2020 4 min read

Players to owners: Show your hand

Good morning, frents …

I’m getting the feeling we’ll have to treat the new Big Mac and Sammy documentary the same way we did “The Last Dance?” Anyone got a number for Eric Plunk?

The hour is getting late

Of course it was Max Scherzer who was picked to blow one by the owners.

The Nationals ace and union rep tweeted the above message late Wednesday night, a smartphone screencap that underlined the players’ unity and called the owners’ bluff over the depths of their claimed financial hardship for the 2020 season.

The bottom line: Unless the league opens their books, the players sees no need to discuss either of the salary reductions the owners have proposed since talks started between the two sides more than two weeks ago.

As The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler put it, everyone knows how much Scherzer and his fellow players make, but the same can’t be said for the owners who pay them. Wednesday’s move places a more public burden of proof on the owners and maybe wins them some temporary high ground in the court of public opinion.

Of course, most of the owners would rather stand in the box against Scherzer than ever show their financials. And there’s going to be plenty of blame to go around on both sides if the season never starts, so …

Where do we go from here?

  • ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the players will send their own economic proposal to the owners by the end of the week and that it will not involve any salary concessions past the prorations that were agreed upon in March.
  • The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich further report the players will ask for a season longer than the 82-game slate currently proposed. The players’ plan could include concessions like playing 110 games for the 82-game prorated salary or deferred salaries, though nothing’s been confirmed.

Who’s going to blink first?

Sure seems like it’ll have to be the owners. I know some people pushed back at me when I made fun of the Twitter honks who constantly ride to the rescue for players already represented by a powerful union, but this front shows the union can handle itself just fine when the owners come out for blood. Countless generations of players have been schooled on the labor sacrifices of the players that came before them and I don’t doubt this one isn’t willing to do the same. The owners proposed their sliding-scale cuts earlier this week and not a hair was out of place from the players’ side.

The owners, meanwhile, are not just looking at the loss of any revenue in 2020 but the long-term damage sitting this season out over money could do to their franchise values. All that should be left for them is to figure out a more reasonable plan to win back some PR points and finally get this season started so we can start writing and reading about something infinitely more interesting than baseball’s labor wars.

The time NFL Films put a wire on the Bears mascot

From 1952 to 1984, the role of the Bears mascot was played by George Motyka, a window washer at O’Hare who paid for the costume and its dry cleaning himself. (That George Halas didn’t have to spend money on either is probably what allowed Motyka to keep the gig for so long.)

Anyway, NFL Films stuck a microphone inside his costume for the first game of the 1970 season — which was played at Dyche Stadium — and the results were about what you’d expect.

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• I spent part of Wednesday afternoon making a fun guest turn with Mike Oz on Productive Outs' Old School Player of the Week show on YouTube. If you haven’t seen the show yet, the premise is simple: Four panelists show up to a Zoom meeting with two old baseball cards to discuss. My picks were on-brand: The 1954 Topps Ernie Banks RC— undoubtedly one of the prettiest cards ever — and the 1983 Fleer card where LaMarr Hoyt looks like Jim James’ older brother.

One is listed for $80,000 on eBay, the other is valued at 35 cents.

I’ll let you figure out which is which.

Mass layoffs hit the CBS 2 newsroom on Wednesday, including sports anchor Megan Mawicke. Megan has always been great at what she does and I hope she and the rest of her co-workers land on their feet quickly. (Feder)

The Chicago Red Stars and the NWSL are coming back with a 25-match, month-long tournament that will be held in Utah. (Hot Time in Old Town)

Adam Hoge on how MLB is dipping into the NFL playbook with their proposal — and why it probably won’t work. (NBC Sports Chicago)

• The governor has given the green light for racing to resume, but Arlington Park is staying closed through at least July 4. (Thoroughbred Daily News)

Mark Lazerus with a good point: No one puts an asterisk on the Stanley Cup the Hawks won after a 48-game regular season in 2013. (The Athletic)

Joel Quenneville’s home in Hinsdale can be yours for $2.6 million. Taxes will only set you back $41K per year. (Tribune)

•The Illini don’t beat my Badgers last fall without the magic of the beard on the other sideline. That said, if I end up looking that good at 62, I’m probably not covering it up with a huge white beard either.

That’s it for today. Have a great Thursday. As always, thank you for being a #frentofthenewsletter.

Kevin Kaduk
Kevin Kaduk
Kevin is the founder of Midway Minute.

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