Major League Baseball’s lockout is still in full swing. With a lack of progress between the players and owners, baseball fans are surely wondering whether or not the season will start on time.
Looking at recent MLB work stoppages, the short answer is No.
Work stoppages, MLB history:
1972: 13-day strike
1973: spring lockout
1976: spring lockout
1980: spring strike
1981: 53-day strike
1985: 2-day strike
1990: spring lockout, opening day pushed back a week
1994-95: 232-day strike, '94 WS cancelled
2022: 85-day lockout… & counting
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) February 24, 2022
Why Won’t the Season Start On Time?
The 2022 MLB lockout began on December 2nd, 2021 after the collective bargaining agreement expired. Although both parties had ample opportunities to compromise and come to an agreement before the expiration, nobody was willing to budge.
It has been nearly three full months since the lockout began, and there has been very little progress. MLB expert analysts like Jeff Passan have urged fans to remain optimistic that a deal before March is possible, but don’t bet on it actually happening by then.
What Does Each Side Want?
Both the players and the owners came to the negotiating table with very different offers. Let’s dig into what the most recent proposals have been over the last week.
Here’s a rundown of what the owners proposed earlier this week versus what the players association is asking for:
- Add $10,000 to their previous minimum salary proposal. MLB is now offering $640,000 in 2022 with $10,000 raises each year. The MLBPA is seeking $775,000 in 2022 with $30,000 raises each year. The minimum salary was $570,500 in 2021.
- Raise the bonus pool for pre-arbitration players (a new concept) to $20 million. MLB previously offered $15 million for the top 30 players. The MLBPA is now seeking a $115 million bonus pool to split among the top 150 players.
- Draft lottery for the top four picks. MLB previously offered a lottery for the top three picks only. The players union previously wanted the top eight picks to be decided by a lottery, then reduced it to the top seven picks.
- MLB rescinded their request to reduce the number of minor-league roster spots, as well as their offer to limit optional assignments to the minor leagues to five per season, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
In addition, the players union has indicated they will not agree to an expanded postseason format for 2022 if they do not play a 162-game season and are not given the opportunity to earn their full salaries. The expanded postseason is said to be worth $100 million or so in additional revenue to MLB. The MLBPA proposed a 12-team postseason earlier this offseason. MLB is seeking a 14-team format.
What Happens if a Deal Doesn’t Get Done?
If an agreement isn’t reached by February 28th, 2022, Major League Baseball has vowed to cancel games and delay the start of the season. If games are cancelled, they will not be rescheduled. As a result, players will miss out on the opportunity to be paid for those games.
Many baseball experts believe that it’d be much more effective for the owners to lift the lockout and continue negotiating while the season gets started. The National Labor Relations Act would require the two sides to operate under the terms of the previous collective bargaining agreement while continuing good faith negotiations. However, many believe that is not a viable option in the eyes of the owners.
If games get cancelled, it is less likely that the MLBPA would be willing to compromise since they’ve already lost money. The owners know this, but they’re trying to assert what they believe to be “dominance” over a player’s union that is more outspoken than ever.
The Lockout’s Repercussions on Baseball
A lot of the focus throughout the MLB lockout has been about who will blink first. Will the owners continue to have an imbalanced control over salaries and service time? Or will the players put on enough pressure to ensure they’re all paid equal to their value? While it is an interesting “battle” to watch, it also has some dangerous repercussions on the game of baseball. There is one repercussion that stands out above all else…
The game is losing popularity.
Long before the lockout, baseball has been struggling with gaining popularity amongst younger generations of fans. Major League Baseball has tried creative ideas like Players Weekend and loosening restrictions on the color of players’ cleats. However, these efforts are fairly meaningless in the grand scheme of things.
There isn’t a “wow” factor in baseball anymore. Any attempt at making the game more fun with celebrations has been immediately shut down by “unwritten rules” of baseball. While it is true that baseball is a game of tradition, it needs to evolve to survive in an era dominated by the NFL and NBA.
Both parties need to come to an agreement by February 28th if they want what is best for the game of baseball. Compromise is hard, but it is necessary for successful negotiations. Fans want the baseball season to start on time, and if the players and owners want to make money, they need the season to start soon.
For More Great Content
Follow me on Twitter at @BJarumbo and follow @WiSportsHeroics as well for more great Wisconsin sports content! To keep up to date on the latest in Wisconsin Sports, click here! For some awesome Wisconsin Sports Heroics gear, check out our merch store!