MLB lockout: Blue Jays pitcher says owners tried to ‘sneak things’ into fine print of proposal before deadline

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Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred canceled the first two series of the regular season on Tuesday after the owners and the MLB Players Association failed to reach a new collective bargaining agreement by a league-imposed deadline. MLB’s owner-installed lockout will now enter a third month, with no apparent end in sight.

CBS Sports chronicled three reasons why the two sides failed to reach a deal before the regular season was compromised, including the unnecessary nature of the lockout; the use of time for leverage purposes; and the owners’ refusal to budge on hot-button issues. Here’s another, according to Toronto Blue Jays player union rep Ross Stripling: the owners attempted to “sneak things” into their offers during Monday’s overnight negotiation session.

Here’s what Stripling told Shi Davidi and Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet:

“It got to be like 12:30 and the fine print of their CBT proposal was stuff we had never seen before,” Stripling said. “They were trying to sneak things through us, it was like they think we’re dumb baseball players and we get sleepy after midnight or something. It’s like that stupid football quote, they are who we thought they were. They did exactly what we thought they would do. They pushed us to a deadline that they imposed, and then they tried to sneak some shit past us at that deadline and we were ready for it. We’ve been ready for five years. And then they tried to flip it on us today in PR, saying that we’ve changed our tone and tried to make it look like it was our fault. That never happened.”

Stripling didn’t elaborate on what exactly the owners tried to sneak through, but it would reason that he’s referencing late-surfacing items like the international draft and MLB’s request to be able to implement rule changes just 45 days after submitting them to the union (the current standard is a year). Neither had been reported as being included in previous proposals, or as something the two sides had discussed.

As for Stripling’s points about the “PR” aspect, his former teammate and San Francisco Giants left-hander Alex Wood explained that dynamic on Twitter on Tuesday. “MLB has pumped to the media last night & today that there’s momentum toward a deal. Now saying the players’ tone has changed. So if a deal isn’t done today it’s our fault,” he tweeted prior to Manfred’s announcement. “This isn’t a coincidence. We’ve had the same tone all along. We just want a fair deal/to play ball.”

It’s unclear when the two sides will negotiate next, or if the league will in time make good on its rumored threat to cancel all of April’s games. One gets the sense from Stripling and Wood’s comments that, even if they do come to an agreement in the next week or two, the players will maintain a deep distrust of the owners and Manfred.