David Cone knows first-hand how the clock can strike 12 in a baseball season and strike it out.
The YES Network analyst and former Yankee and Met was an MLBPA representative during the hardball negotiations who couldn’t avoid canceling the 1994 World Series.
“What comes to mind is that there is a deadline,” said Cone. “The similarities here, the great common denominator here is that there is a deadline, that if you don’t make a decision or come to some kind of agreement by a certain date, then it’s too late.” And then it cannot be revived.
“That’s what happened when the World Series was canceled at that time, a date came too late to revive something, and the players were out too long and there was no way you could resume the season.”
“That is the only thing I would look at now, is that you have to start, you have to reach some kind of agreement because the longer it lasts, the more it is endangered this season.”
The intractable impasse was the last nail in the coffin of ’94, and precipitated a 232-day work stoppage that ended on April 2, 1995.
“There was simply a lack of meetings, a lack of dialogue, to where both sides were entrenched, and there really was nothing to talk about at the time,” Cone recalled. “There was no way to even call a meeting to try to revive something that had a framework for an agreement.”
And so MLB has been warned.
Cone, acknowledging that he’s unaware of the financial details from afar, launches a compromise plan when pressed: teams must meet in the middle in an 82-game season with an expanded 14-team playoff for the ball to work. . agreement.
“I would say a fair number would be somewhere in the 82-game region,” Cone said.
“If I were the commissioner, that’s where I would try to start the conversation.”
Baseball will be badly damaged if it cannot give fans who cannot attend games but starve to death amid a pandemic and social and racial unrest.
“This one is different,” Cone said. “There are so many difficulties around the world, much less in our country, particularly in New York. There is no patience for these kinds of things that are happening right now; There is no sympathy on either side.
“Obviously I will always be partial with the players, I think they have the right to defend themselves and not be exploited, but obviously these are unprecedented times.
“Calmer heads and a sense of commitment are required on both sides.”
Cone understands why the union proposed a 114-game season, with prorated wages, which was rejected by the owners.
“Players want to play as many games as they can, it’s in their best interest to play as many games as possible and try to squeeze as many games as possible,” he said.
It wouldn’t be without risk after a hasty spring training.
“Because there are security issues, not only with COVID-19, but also to squeeze so many games in a short period of time, there will be injuries,” Cone said. “You certainly want to give players a chance to bounce back and not be hit on the ground, so to speak, with a heavy schedule. There has to be a balance. “
The owners proposed an 82-game season on May 11, and players were supposed to make the most money by taking the biggest salary cut, but they’ve recently introduced a 50-game season in full pro rata that would allow them to complete a full postseason before A potential shock from the second wave of coronavirus.
“From the owners’ point of view, you certainly understand that there is no income coming in,” Cone said. “We have always understood that a full postseason is very important from an income point of view for the owners side.
“Even going back to the 1994 strike, that was our leverage back then knowing there was a lot of money tied up in the postseason. That has not changed “.
The public dispute between billionaire owners and millionaire players is a detour for fans at a time when the NBA and NHL are dribbling and skating forward. Cone remains optimistic.
“As long as they find a way to reach some kind of agreement, then we won’t have to worry about all the other baseball kicking conversations again,” Cone said.
Reach an agreement. Or hit three, you’re out.