AP sources: MLB play­ers may have Kessler lead griev­ance case

Antelope Valley Press - - SPORTS - By RON­ALD BLUM

NEW YORK — The base­ball play­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tion has dis­cussed hir­ing noted sports lawyer Jef­frey Kessler to lit­i­gate a con­tem­plated griev­ance against clubs ac­cus­ing Com­mis­sioner Rob Man­fred and man­age­ment of fail­ing to act in good faith to com­plete the long­est sea­son eco­nom­i­cally fea­si­ble.

Talks to hire Kessler were dis­closed to The As­so­ci­ated Press by sev­eral peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the con­ver­sa­tions who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause no an­nounce­ment had been made. A griev­ance has not yet been filed and an agree­ment with Kessler has not been fi­nal­ized, the peo­ple said.

In di­vi­sive talks rem­i­nis­cent of base­ball’s eight work stop­pages from 1972-95, the sides failed to reach an eco­nomic agree­ment last month.

Man­age­ment ini­tially pro­posed 82 games and a slid­ing scale of salaries, while the union coun­tered at 114 games and full pro­rated pay un­der the for­mula of the ini­tial March 26 agree­ment that dealt with the pan­demic. MLB’s fi­nal pro­posal of 60 games at pro­rated pay was re­jected by play­ers, who had wanted 70 games and in­stead pre­ferred leav­ing open the pos­si­bil­ity of a griev­ance be­fore ar­bi­tra­tor Mark Irv­ings.

Play­ers dared Man­fred to set the sched­ule uni­lat­er­ally, and MLB called for 60 games over 67 days start­ing July 23 in ball­parks with­out spec­ta­tors.

While the union main­tains a longer sea­son was eco­nom­i­cally fea­si­ble con­sis­tent with the March deal, MLB says it feared a sec­ond wave of the virus that could cause can­cel­la­tion of the post­sea­son, when $787 mil­lion in broad­cast rev­enue is earned. Man­fred also has cited pro­vi­sions in the agree­ment that said MLB had no obli­ga­tion to start the sea­son while there were le­gal lim­its on play­ing in front of fans.

Union of­fi­cials have asked for a broad dis­clo­sure by teams of fi­nan­cial re­la­tion­ships with re­gional sports net­works and real es­tate ven­tures ad­ja­cent to ball­parks and could ask Irv­ings to or­der doc­u­ment pro­duc­tion.

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