Max Scherzer will not be beginning spring training exercises Wednesday at the Mets camp in Port St. Lucie in Florida. Marcus Stroman will not be battling rust among the cactus at Mesa’s Cubs complex.
There was no cracking of bats, or popping of balls into your hands.
There are no free agents who put on uniforms for the first-time.
After months of separation, there are no veterans who hugged their coworkers.
There are no children waiting to sign autographs on chain-link fences.
There is no sign that anyone is getting ready to open for an opening day, which may not occur on March 31.
Nici măcar a session de negocieres.
This week, neither side made a public statement to admit the obvious. Spring training has failed to begin on schedule since 1995. It is the result of a lockout that continues into Wednesday. Players and managers are arguing over how to allocate an industry with $10 Billion in annual revenue.
Instead of arguing about RBIs and ERAs Major League Baseball is now focusing on disputing CBTs or AAVs.
The MLB won’t announce any disruptions to spring training beyond the Feb. 26 exhibition openers. However, catchers and pitchers will not be reporting to camp as planned.
If negotiations continue into March, all indications suggest they will – season openers will likely be pushed back.
Rob Manfred, baseball commissioner, stated that he is optimistic and believes we will reach an agreement in time for us to play our regular schedule. “I see missing games being a disaster for this industry and we’re committed towards making an agreement to avoid that.”
These were Manfred’s first comments to media after Dec. 2, when baseball’s ninth and final work stoppage began. It was also the first time since 1995.
The pace of bargaining was slower than the pace of games.
Since the lockout began, there have been five sessions of negotiating on core economics: a Zoom meeting on January 13, followed by meetings in person on Jan. 24-25, February 1 and 12. Andrew Miller, the relief player, was the only one to be present in person. Dick Montfort, the Rockies CEO, was the only owner.
Players demanded major changes, angered by the fact that payrolls fell 4.6% from the record high of just below $4.25 Billion in 2017, the year before the expiring labor contract.
The union requested that salary arbitration eligibility be extended to two years of major-league service. This is the level it had from 1974 to 1986. It also proposed a decrease of revenue sharing. It also wants new methods for top young player to be credited for additional service time. This would help address allegations of service time manipulation.
Management stated that it will not consider expanding arbitration or cutting revenue sharing. There are differences between the sides on minimum salaries, how much of a bonus pool is proposed for young stars and luxury tax rates and thresholds.
Tony Clark, union head, stated that the league wasn’t required to declare a lockout on Dec. 2, in his first comments to media since the lockout began. It is considered unnecessary and provocative by players. The lockout will not force or intimate players to agree to a deal they don’t believe fair.
Manfred claimed the lockout was defensive, citing the union’s decision late in 1994 to strike. This led to a 7 1/2 month stoppage and the first canceled World Series since 1990.
He stated that “if you don’t have an agreement you are vulnerable to strike at any time.” “What happened in 1994 was that the MLBPA chose August. This was when we were the most vulnerable due to the close proximity of large revenue dollars associated the postseason. We wanted to remove that option and force parties to resolve the issues and reach an agreement. This is what we believe is best for fans.
Both sides believe that the other side won’t make any significant moves until opening day is threatened. Manfred suggested last week that four weeks of training might be required, along with extra time for ratifications and players to travel between camps.
In 1990, players were locked out. Both sides agreed that at least three weeks of training was required before the April 2 openers. MLB announced that it would not announce any agreement after March 12, which was void. The owners made a new proposal March 16 which led to weekend negotiations that culminated in the announcement at 1:08 a.m. ET on March 19.
Training camps were opened on March 20. Exhibition games started March 26. The opening day was moved one week to April 9. The sides announced on the night of the agreement that they were considering a 158-game schedule. They then reached a deal to extend the end date of the regular season by three more days and each team will play 162 games.
These negotiations seem to be a game between chickens.
Clark stated that “the issues that the players are interested to engage on has been the exact same leading up and throughout bargaining” on the first day of the lockout. “A fair contract that preserves the market system and addresses competitive integrity issues we’ve been highlighting for some time.”