We all knew this was coming and yet it still stings. At 11:59 pm on December 1st the collective bargaining agreement between the MLB and its players union expired. This was bound to happen as the players and owners stopped talking months ago. With the lockout approaching teams made 11th hour moves as the clock winded down in anticipation of a long period where moves simply can’t be made.
The lockout freezes all and now the owners and players stand in a staring contest as they wait to see who will blink first. Neither side want to back down with a laundry list of disagreements. Ever since the last CBA was signed in 2016 it seemed a lockout would be inevitable. In an era where the MLB lags behind other leagues, with losses accelerated by a world-wide pandemic, money was always going to be an issue.
Money is exactly where it falls. Players want more and owners do to. In a time where Corey Seager is getting $325 million dollars to play shortstop, people are going to be mad. While Seager is a great player, he isn’t worth $32.5 million a year. While Seager and other players get paid handsomely, minor league players can’t even afford rent. In an age of analytics more and more tier two and three players are getting phased out before they can get a pay raise. Teams continue to abuse outdated rules as owners line their pockets.
Baseballs wonky rules continue to hold the sport back. Clubs continue to abuse an outdated service time model, keeping young stars in the minors longer in order to keep them under team control for an extra year. It takes six years before a player hits free agency and by then some players may never play again. Without a salary cap or floor teams can spend what they want when they want. Some teams spend too much, some spend too little. Teams stay at the top forever while others scrape the bottom of the barrel for years always saying, “next year is our year.”
Teams struggle to fill even 25% of their stadiums as people don’t want to watch a three-hour game between two teams whose owners simply don’t care. While Rob Manfred toys around with ideas that don’t do anything to make the game better, leagues across America pass by the MLB. Owners want an expanded playoff, players don’t. The league wants a draft lottery, the players don’t. The players want some leverage, the owners don’t want to give them that.
Both parties are at fault here. We had months to figure something out, but negotiations were unproductive and here we are. While the MLB benefits from the fact that a game wasn’t scheduled to be played until March, which gives the league and players time to hammer out a deal. That’s great, but we sit here with the two sides not even interested in talking.
Losing games is a real possibility. We have seen it before; we lost the World Series in 1994. I hope we won’t lose another. Rob Manfred can sit there and blame the players all he wants. In a prepared statement he said a lockout was the best way to save the 2022 season. I think it would be best if he resigned. Manfred has had misstep after misstep and this yet another bad look on his record. Everyday this goes on it looks worse for him.
Ending the lockout won’t solve baseballs biggest problems. I’ve been a baseball fan as long as I can remember, going to games at Shea Stadium with my dad. While I may be a fan, I don’t know a lot of 20-year-olds who are fans. Baseball is getting passed by every other league as they dig in their heels and refuse to adapt to change, on both sides of the aisle. A salary cap, salary floor, expanded playoffs and a sped-up game are needed but baseball will just ignore that. As time moves on it seems America’s past time is getting left behind and a lockout is certainly not helping.