On Tuesday, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred announced that the current MLB lockout will now delay Opening Day for the 2022 regular season. After multiple delays of spring training due to failed negotiations of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between players and owners, fans will now miss out on a minimum of the season’s first two series. However, could the most recent delay lead to a full 2022 season cancellation?
Fans across the nation are already fed up with Manfred and MLB owners for not getting a deal done. The former CBA expired on Dec. 1, but owners and the Players Association have yet to come to terms on a new agreement. Therefore Manfred and the league have at a minimum removed six games from every organization’s schedule. At most, clubs will now play 156 games compared to their normal 162-game schedule.
According to Manfred’s press conference on Tuesday, the league and union are at an impasse. The two sides are at a deadlock as Manfred admitted there are no plans for future negotiations at this time. Additionally, players will not be paid for games missed after the MLBPA rejected owners’ “best and final” CBA offer.
“My deepest hope is we get an agreement quickly,” Manfred said while speaking to reporters yesterday. “I’m really disappointed we didn’t make an agreement.”
The owners and the MLBPA met in Jupiter, Florida on Monday to try to get a new deal done at the last minute. However, even after a 16-hour session, the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement. Manfred may have shared his disappointment, but fans and players alike aren’t buying it as they place the blame squarely at the feet of the league and its owners for the most recent MLB lockout.
MLBPA and Union Chief React to MLB Lockout, Canceled Games
Unless there’s a last-minute reversal, the current MLB lockout will impact at least the beginning of the 2022 regular season. After Manfred’s announcement, the MLBPA and its union chief Tony Clark shared their side of the story following the failed negotiations.
The MLBPA rejected a proposal from ownership that didn’t meet their requests, including ownership barely adjusting the competitive balance tax threshold – one of the key agendas for players and the new CBA. Owners have used the tax threshold as a virtual salary cap for years in a league that has no hard salary cap. The league did not budge on their previous threshold offer.
Further, the owners offered to increase pre-arbitration bonus pools each year from $25 million to $30 million. Instead, the MLBPA wants that figure to begin at $85 million and then increase by $5 million each season. Owners also offered to improve minimum salaries slightly from $675,000 to $700,000 with yearly increases of $10,000 per new season. Needless to say, the two sides are nowhere close to an agreement.
In a statement posted on social media, the MLBPA called out Manfred and team owners for the unfair proposal. The union also accused them of attempting to disband the players union.
On Tuesday night, MLBPA chief Tony Clark mirrored his union’s statement during a press conference. He said the players “remain committed to the bargaining process and getting back on the field as soon as possible.”
“Players want to play; everyone knows that,” Clark said. “But the reason we are not playing is simple: A lockout is the ultimate economic weapon. In a $10 billion industry, the owners have made a conscious decision to use this weapon against the greatest asset they have: the players. But the group won’t be intimidated. I’ve seen more unity over the last few years than at any time in our recent history.”
MLB Stars React to the Delay of Opening Day
Several players spoke out about the MLB lockout on Twitter following the news. Mike Trout, Marcus Stroman, Anthony Rizzo, Clint Frazier, Jonathan India, Dustin Garneau, Jack Flaherty, Travis Shaw, and many more aired their grievances against both Manfred and ownership.
“This is just sad @MLBPA @MLB,” India said on Twitter after the announcement.
“This was SOOOOOO easily avoidable, so easy…..That’s what makes this even more frustrating. Sad day for the sport,” Shaw tweeted.
“Manfred gotta go,” Stroman wrote as he condemned the commissioner.
Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout, one of the biggest stars in the entire league and a three-time MVP award winner, addressed the MLB lockout on Twitter as well. He too blamed the league and its commissioner while saying the players union is fighting for the “next generation” of players.
“I want to play, I love our game, but I know we need to get this CBA right. Instead of bargaining in good faith – MLB locked us out. Instead of negotiating a fair deal – Rob [Manfred] canceled games,” Trout tweeted on Wednesday afternoon. “Players stand together. For our game, for our fans, and for every player that comes after us. We owe it to the next generation.”
The players are unified in their stance and pointing their fingers directly at the owners and commissioner Rob Manfred. As seen in the posts, some players are even calling for Manfred to be fired. Considering we’re looking at the first missed games in 27 years, the criticism is understandable.
Will MLB Owners Learn From the Past, Or Will They Make the Same Mistakes?
This is the ninth work stoppage in MLB history with the most recent strikes occurring in the ’90s. In 1990, an MLB lockout delayed Opening Day, but the league still played a 162-game schedule. In 1994, a work stoppage began in August in the middle of the season. The league would go on to cancel the rest of the season along with the postseason and the World Series. It was the first time since 1904 that there was no championship series.
The strike lasted from August 1994 to April 1995 before the two sides came to an agreement after 232 days. It would go on to be the longest stoppage in MLB history, and the longest in any major professional sport at that time. Following the stoppage, it took years for the league to recover as fans held grudges against the MLB for canceling baseball. In fact, it took four seasons and a historic home run race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire in 1998 to garner interest and win fans over once again after the lockout.
Now, after positive strides made by baseball in recent years, the league and its owners are once again playing with fire. If ownership doesn’t work with the MLBPA to get a deal done soon, they could miss out on a significant portion of the season. As a worst case scenario, fans could also miss out on an entire year of baseball, which would be devastating to everyone involved. Hopefully the league and ownership learns from the past, but so far, it doesn’t look like they’re looking much further than their bank accounts.