Now, more than two months on from the self-imposed lockdown, we’ll find out how serious the opening day of Major League Baseball is. It is scheduled for March 31, but that is up to the owners and players to reach a collective bargaining agreement during the rush of spring training.
How hurry? Four weeks instead of the usual six, and that includes a flurry of deals, free agency deals, arbitration hearings and other business that would have happened without the lockdown. account.
In other words, there’s a lot of work to do for the MLB and the union, and not a lot of time. To avoid missing out on the regular season’s games – a result that Commissioner Rob Manfred said would be “disastrous” at last week’s owners’ meeting – the federation believes it must reach an agreement. before February 28.
Ultimately, is this an urgency or simply fulfilling a legal obligation to bargain in good faith? The league and union are planning to intensify negotiations starting early next week in New York, with more owners and players coming to town for more bargaining sessions. It was a good change to these negotiations, which were already moving at the pace of Zack Greinke’s eephus.
In an open letter to fans on December 2, shortly after the lockdown was imposed, Manfred said the reason was for negotiations “to begin”. The federation then waited 43 days to come up with a new proposal.
Manfred is very sensitive to criticism about that; he told reporters last week that the phone works both ways. But the lockdown is the owner’s decision – to avoid giving players a chance to make a strike during the off-season – so they have to make the next move. They have no idea, or are simply strategizing for another failed win in collective bargaining. Either way, that failure to do so unnecessarily stalled the process.
Update MLB Off-Season
So here we are, mired in the first baseball shutdown since the 1994 Worlds abort strike. The owners made their most recent proposal on the 12th. February. The players don’t like that. The players made a countermeasure on Thursday. The owners don’t like it. And so it went down the cliff.
Baseball finally announced the obvious on Friday: At least some spring training games will be canceled. The union said no exhibitions would be held before March 5, adding that the owners would meet the union on Monday and prepare to meet throughout the week.
In a nutshell, the issues: monetization for younger players, luxury tax rates and penalties, a lottery draft to limit incentives for teams to rise – and much more. The union said it could not adjust revenue sharing or expand eligibility for wage arbitration, two areas the union hopes to change. There will be an increase to the minimum wage and both sides have agreed on the concept – but not the specifics – of a pool of bonuses to be split among the best players who are not yet qualified as referees.
The new operating rules will clearly have important long-term effects on the game. But the most immediately obvious change, aside from the popular designated hitter, will be an expanded knockouts field. That is what the owners want most, but they need the consent of the players.
Players are still not short of wages; they are only paid during the regular season. But they are feeding frustration for years and eagerly looking for opportunities to change a system that savvy front offices have so easily manipulated. Wages increased while sales increased.
So unless those first missed checks really break the union’s resolve, we can wait a while. Either way, the owners made relatively little revenue from their tickets in April, and their post-season lucrative dollars are still far away.
We’ve seen a preview of this in 2020. With no fans in the regular season because of the pandemic, the owners have agreed to just 60 full pay matches for the players. It was a quick dressing session for a super team after the season, with an extra round of field expansion for 16 teams as a year-long cash back. After holding the 2021 season in the old format, the owners are eager to win the right to the knockout stage once again.
“It’s good for the players and for the clubs,” Manfred insisted last week. “It’s also good for our fans, the majority of whom love playoff baseball. We think this format will encourage more clubs to compete and give more players the opportunity to participate in the post-season.”
Sure, the fans love playoff baseball. But it’s like Reggie Jackson famously said of Nolan Ryan: “Every hitter likes a quick ball, just like everyone likes ice cream. But you don’t like it when someone shoves it on you. “
Get ready with the teams entering the knockout round: 14 of all, represent nearly half of the 30-team tournament. As suggested by the owners, the top seeded team in each tournament would be bid bye in the first round, while the other two division’s winners and the top wild card team would choose their opponents in number three lower wild cards.
A series of three best games will follow, with the higher-seeded team hosting all the games. That would lead to a split series, a league championship series and a World Series. The players have also agreed to extend the knockout round, although they are calling for 12 teams instead of 14.
Did anyone notice last fall? Teams have been so careful with pitcher workload that starters aren’t likely to pitch deep into post-season play. Atlanta and Houston needed 26 pitchers to complete six games of the 2021 World Series – and only one of those pitchers, Max Fried, worked a total of more than six and a third. But, hey, that might just be an extraneous factor related to the pandemic. Let’s have one more playoff round and see how those arms hold up.
Baseball tends to be so random that the sport has been fair in its distribution of championships, with 15 different World Series champions since 2001 – and that’s not including Milwaukee, Tampa Bay and some other well-run franchises often come close. If a team can’t win one of 10 playoff spots over the course of 162 games, that team doesn’t deserve a chance at the World Series.
However, there is money to be made, so baseball has to take it. That’s why you’re bombarded with ads – on the lawn in stinky territory, on the paddock on the back slope of the mound, on every inch of wall space enclosing the field. And starting in 2022, teams will incorporate promotional patches into their jerseys.
Many people may not care about that; Basketball, football and NASCAR fans don’t seem to mind. But from here it looks like a handful of hard money, symbolizing a mindset in which you can lower your standards – in terms of competitive integrity, in image glamor – as long as it make you richer.
There will eventually be some compromise on core economic issues – let’s retract that phrase after these negotiations, because there always is. What is missing is a true spirit of cooperation for the good of the game, which means future crises will do more harm than necessary. The sport and its fans deserve better.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/18/sports/baseball/mlb-lockout-manfred.html A Question of Brinkmanship Like MLB The Deadline Has Been