On April 9, 1865 General Robert E. Lee famously admitted, “there is nothing left me to do but to go see General Grant, and I would rather die a thousand deaths.” In Appomattox Court House that afternoon Lee met with Grant and agreed upon surrender, with certain concessions for his men; they would be fully pardoned, they would be allowed to return home with their personal property, especially their horses so that they could plant crops later that Spring and the officers could keep their sidearms. They would also be provided with Union rations for their journeys. Even in defeat they were allowed to retain some sense of dignity. The victors of the compromise did not gloat, as they knew they had bested their foe.
In a less dramatic and consequential set of circumstances, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark are set to meet, along with other representatives from each side, on Tuesday May 27th with the goal of hashing out a plan for the return of Major League Baseball for some semblance of a 2020 season. The last two plus months have been a battle, as documented in my previous article on the subject Baseball’s Civil War , but now is the chance for all of this to come to an end and for America’s Favorite Pastime to return. If an pact is reached, just don’t expect it to be without hard feelings and with joyous celebrations from the winners of the agreement; much like Grant as he quieted the band that began to play upon the surrender of the Confederacy. Neither side is going to be without losses and in the end the landscape of baseball may never be the same again.
Prior to this meeting the MLB and the MLBPA have been on opposite ends of the spectrum concerning some issues, with both sides appearing to hold firm in their beliefs that other is clearly wrong and unjustified in their requests. How can the owners expect players to accept a 50-50 revenue share as this a salary cap? How can baseball players not be willing to play a game for pennies on the dollar as many would be willing to do it for free and who cares if there was already some sort of agreement reached? If owners realistically thought games could be played, why would they propose such ludicrous and nearly unattainable health and safety protocols? If players are tested before the game starts why can’t they play baseball the way it was intended, without trying to ruin the sport? It’s a virtual staring contest, with each side waiting for the other to show weakness and blink; to realize they have much more to lose than could ever possibly be gained.
Ultimately if, but more hopefully when an deal is reached there will be a winner and a loser declared in the media and the court of public opinion. One side will more than likely be described as caving into the demands of the other and giving too much ground for future negotiations; and either Commissioner Manfred or Executive Director Clark will be given the responsibility of deciding whether or not the relinquished will be allowed to walk away with their dignity, their sidearms and most importantly their horses , for we must remember another battle is on the horizon at the end of the season.