ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. got the internet buzzing on Tuesday after an appearance on 5 On Your Side sports director Frank Cusumano's radio show on 590 the Fan.
DeWitt called into Cusumano's show, The Press Box, on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing back and forth standoff between MLB owners and players on a return after the season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He also commented on any role the team may have when it comes to supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and the ongoing fight against racial injustice across the country.
You can listen to the entire interview by clicking here.
As far as getting back to play, DeWitt believes it's going to happen, but the road map appears tough to navigate right now.
"I would hope the union would give a response that would reflect the fact that we made a nice move in the bargaining process," DeWitt said. "If they just rejected out of hand and have nothing to say, that's their prerogative. But at some point we do have the right to implement a season, pay full salaries and the only way it makes sense is with a shorter season and I think that's the way it'll turn out."
At last report, the owners had offered players a 75% prorated salary for a 76 game season with the regular season ending in late September. There would also likely be an expanded playoffs.
It doesn't look like the players will be all that receptive to that new offer, either.
The players want more games, to earn more of their contracts they originally signed.
DeWitt talked about the finances of the situation as well, and that's the part that really has the internet talking.
"The industry isn't very profitable to be quite honest. And I think they (the players) understand that," DeWitt said. "But they think the owners are hiding profits and this and that and there's been a little bit of a distrust there."
"They have audited financial statements for each of the teams, so I don't know what they mean by opening the books? They point to things, I mean I've heard rhetoric like, 'Well maybe the teams don't make that much money or lose a little money but what about things like Ballpark Village or other entities like that?' And that in my view is a real reach. Ballpark Village we don't view as a great profit opportunity. We think it's great long-term for the franchise and downtown St. Louis. And what's good for St. Louis is good for the Cardinals. There's been talk by one of the agents that teams build new stadiums so they can generate more revenue that will help them when they sell the team. The fact is that it generates more revenue, but the more revenue the more the players get, too," DeWitt said.
It does seem like having a season in 2020 is going to be all about the number of games, which owners have seemed to want to keep down, with no fans likely to be permitted and a loss coming for them on that end.
"Whenever baseball does come back, which I firmly believe will be this year, with at the very least a shorter schedule, with approximately 50 games. It's not a full season, but it's a lot of games. And with a good postseason following it, I think there will be a lot of interest in it. I'm counting on the fact and believe that we will have baseball this year. Hopefully we can maintain that continuity," DeWitt said.
"It's an unfortunate situation. I think we've made two good offers on return to play. They responded after the first one with playing into December, which doesn't make any sense from a lot of standpoints. But first and foremost our health experts say there's a very good chance of a second wave coming in the fall, so why do we want to take the risk of that occurring during the baseball season?"
DeWitt also commented on how he sees his organization's role as being amidst the recent unrest around the country in the fight to end racial injustice.
"I think as a local institution in St. Louis we've made clear we support the Black Lives Matter movement. We try to be as diverse as we can and support diversity in our organization and provide that culture throughout," DeWitt said. "Hopefully we can set an example in St. Louis to make sure other institutions and companies do the same. So we'll do everything we can to do our part."