The first week of MLB’s regular season has already been canceled and more games could soon vanish from the schedule as the league’s lockout drags on.
Asked on Monday on the YES Network about the possibility of losing the entire season, Yankees team president Randy Levine said, “I don’t even want to think about that. That’s a mind-boggling, horrid thought. Shame on all of us if it gets to that.”
But it’s gotten beyond where many thought it would already, and league owners and the MLBPA still remain far apart on some significant areas, with animosity coming from both sides.
Levine said the situation left him “very afraid” it might have a long-term impact on whether fans remain invested in the sport.
“Very afraid,” Levine said on “The Michael Kay Show.” “I hope not, but if we continue with where we are, it could. That’s what scares me. It keeps me up at night.”
Levine spoke with baseball in the midst of its first work stoppage in over two decades and the owners and Players Association showing no signs of backing down, despite the loss of games.
“It’s embarrassing to be where we are,” Levine said.
Both sides took shots at the other following the most recent meeting on Sunday and the competitive balance tax remains at the center of the dispute.
“Forget blaming people or yelling at people or being mad at people,” Levine said. “We need to get this done.”
On Monday, Levine — who has been involved in previous collective bargaining agreement negotiations, but is not at the table this time around — insisted there were limits to what owners could give players.
“There’s not endless money out there,” Levine said. “Any perception that there’s endless money, especially after COVID, is just not true.”
And that’s left a rift between the two sides regarding the CBT, which was at $210 million last season.
In the most recent proposals, MLB offered $220 million for the first tier of the CBT for the upcoming season and the MLBPA is at $238 million, with the gap widening through the length of the CBA.
“This is nothing to shut down the season over on both sides,” Levine said. “This is something that can be compromised on.”
But if the players stick to their belief that younger players should be paid more, there will be an impact on veteran players.
“If you give money from the pot to the younger players, there may be less money for older players,” Levine said. “From the union side, they have to measure all of the various constituencies and do what is practical.”
And he insisted the clubs are sticking together.
“The owners are pretty united,” Levine said. “There is no divide right now. There are disagreements. Everyone on our side needs to understand they have to compromise in order to negotiate. Nobody said with the thresholds that there’s not gonna be any movement.”