This was not the return of ghosts of labour disputes past. Not yet. But it was a mighty impressive sight: Josh Donaldson and Curtis Granderson by side, flanked themselves by John Axford and Kevin Pillar. Steve Pearce hanging around off to the side. A show of veteran force and big voices after a meeting with Major League Baseball Players Association president Tony Clark.

A show of force with four years left in a collective bargaining agreement that has come to be viewed by many former players and some of us in the chattering classes as a Trojan horse, or in the least a short-sided mis-step that has started a slide down a slippery slope.

It was put to this group of Toronto Blue Jays players that perhaps their union took its eye off core economic issues in the last round of bargaining in favour of "lifestyle" issues or quality of life stuff. The answer? Quality of life stuff is a core economic concern.

Clark himself was asked the same question less than half an hour earlier, when he pursed his lips and answered in measured tones:

"It’s been an interesting piece of the rhetoric that is out there," Clark said Saturday. "Rest assured from start to finish the attention was paid to core economics. The other ‘stuff’ was just stuff… even to the extent that a lot of that stuff was discussed, it wasn’t even discussed in the main room it was discussed in even smaller groups away from the main table because the focus was on the economics. So it’s interesting how that rhetoric got thrown out there but I’m suggesting to you that the core economics are always the most important piece of the proverbial puzzle."

Clark emphasized the word stuff with sarcasm as he answered the question, knowing full well it was in a very direct way a criticism of himself; that it fed into the narrative that the first former player to lead the MLBPA had been, well, snookered in negotiations with ownership and commissioner Rob Manfred.