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MLB Lockout drags on as owners hold 2022 season hostage

Derek Montilla Avatar
February 7, 2022

When baseball’s existing Collective Bargaining Agreement expired on Dec. 1 and the owners proceeded to lock out the Players Association, we were led to believe that a negotiation for a new CBA would take place. Unfortunately, that’s not what is happening. Instead, we’re seeing a very rigid MLB standing firm on any requests by the union while time slips away.

In short, the owners are running out the clock while holding the 2022 MLB season hostage, and it’s working.

The latest meeting between MLB and the union one week ago was described as “heated” with little progress being made. Players further conceded on issues they’ve been fighting for in the new CBA. Their biggest priority has been compensating younger players in pre-arbitration years. The PA has also focused on stopping teams from manipulating service time of minor league players and putting an end to teams tanking. The owners declined the offer without a counterproposal. The meeting lasted 90 minutes.

Per various sources, owners stated they would offer a counterproposal after Tuesday’s meeting. Instead they opted to request federal mediation involvement with the CBA negotiations on Thursday. The union declined the request.

In their official statement, MLBPA responded with their reason for declining mediation.

Executive committee member for the union and former D-back Max Scherzer responded to the mediation request on Friday.

He followed that statement up with a clear assessment of what the union is seeking in this CBA:

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweeted on Sunday the owners will meet in Orlando this week to discuss a counterproposal. Pitchers and catchers were scheduled to report next week, but they can’t report without a new deal in place. The final grains of sand are slipping through the hourglass of this negotiation not affecting the 2022 season.

This all seems to be what the owners wanted this entire time. Both sides could have negotiated without a lockout being in place. But then the Players Association might have been able to get what they wanted. The owners are effectively using the threat of delaying the 2022 season to cause concessions on the union’s requests.

The ripples caused by this inevitable delay are wide-spreading. From the local economy  being effected by spring training being shortened or flat-out cancelled to the potential for catastrophic injures to players if they don’t have enough time to prepare as we saw with the pandemic delay, this entire situation could blow up in the owners’ faces.

MLB’s response to the union’s rejection of mediation, per a league spokesperson, was as predicted. Owners stated their “goal is to have players on the field and have fans in the ballpark for Spring Training and Opening Day.

“It is clear the most productive path forward would be the involvement of an impartial third party to help bridge gaps and facilitate an agreement. It is hard to understand why a party that wants to make an agreement would reject mediation from the federal agency specifically tasked with resolving these disputes, including many successes in professional sports. MLB remains committed to offering solutions at the table and reaching a fair agreement for both sides.”

The mediation request is a win-win for MLB. If approved, they receive the assistance of federal mediation that would most likely favor their side. Upon rejection, they get to look like they are trying to settle this lockout that they initiated more than the PA.

However, from this mediation request to one-sided articles on MLB.com blasting the union, the owners are putting more effort toward discrediting the Players Association than they are putting toward negotiating.

The closer we get to spring training and the season being jeopardized, the more pressure is applied to the players. After all, the players are the front of the house for baseball, not the owners. Fans don’t purchase owners’ jerseys or show up to meet-and-greets to get an owner’s autograph. Let’s also not forget how many owners have the luxury of their team not being their primary source of income. Meanwhile, the Players Association have already had to dip into their “work stoppage nest egg,” as reported by The Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes.

In 19 days, the Arizona Diamondbacks have a spring training game scheduled against the Colorado Rockies. It remains to be seen if this game will take place, but as of now, things are not looking good. It appears creating this sense of urgency was all part of the owners’ plan.

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