MLB Suffers Ongoing Work Stoppage

Mary-Stella Mangina, Sports Editor

Up until two months ago, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, or MLB and the MLBPA, respectively, had not suffered a work stoppage due to organizational turmoil in 27 years.

From 1994 to 1995, 948 games were canceled on account of ballplayers striking in response to fiscal disagreements. Because the players, with previous MLBPA head Don Fehr at the helm, were unable to have their demands met by the league’s owners, an impasse was eventually declared, and the owners introduced replacement athletes into their teams’ spring workout rotations.

Opposing sides bargained intermittently, first meeting on August 12 and then getting down to business on September 7. The 1994 postseason ended up being canceled the next week. This was unprecedented at the time, for no American professional sports league was forced to cancel the entirety of their playoffs as a result of union unrest.

In late March 1995, Judge Sonia  Sotomayor ended the strike by passing an injunction that prevented MLB
owners from using stand-ins as a means of monetary retaliation. Shortly after she announced her decision, the owners and their corresponding teams had no choice but to come to an agreement. For nearly three decades to come, all was quiet on the baseball association’s labor front. This year, that peace was disrupted.

When the formerly agreed-upon terms that guided MLB seasons from 2017 to 2021 expired on December 2, owners and players found themselves incapable of forming a consensus on salaries yet again. This time, though, rather than the players going on strike, the owners have enacted a lockout against them, keeping them from participating in spring workout sessions and calling into question the fact tha they are guaranteed to play in the looming 2022 division.

In this scenario, a lockout is a method used as a method for major league sports team owners to combat players’ opposition to salary ceilings.
Big-name employers are prohibiting their workers from interacting on a professional level with their fans. They are also withholding their ability to enter into any new binding agreements.

Instead of waiting until the end of this year’s season to discuss the topic of payment caps, titleholders strategically opted to go ahead and hinder their team members from working. In structuring their blockade so tactfully, they have seen to it that said members will have no postseason revenue to instantly fall back on. Considering the recent state of legal incapacitation faced by professional baseball players, it is uncertain whether or not the upcoming season will be realizable at all.

Baseball, the national pastime, can not be watched without its MLB players, but those players can not take part in it if their franchises’ fiscal superiors are not in accordance with them. An outcome in which games cease is objectively beneficial to none of the groups who are implicated in the issue on the table.

If no ball is played, MLB higher-ups see no business, and players make no money. Not to mention, fans of the sport would miss out, and as a result, they would likely become disillusioned with the impaired organization. Its managers are aware of this precariousness; at present, they are navigating their way through the throes of arbitration and negotiation with their athletic employees.

Both sides of the dispute are cooperating with one another for the purpose of mediation. No agreement has been reached. On January 13, following more than a month of no communication on either part, initiators of the lockout issued a properly-formatted offer to their unionizing players.

The details of their proposal are largely unknown. It was anonymously disclosed to the Associated Press that it provided financial conciliation for affected parties, given they had between three and six years of experience in the major leagues. Through making such a suggestion, MLB executives had sought to mend the past animosity brought forth from their allowing “super-twos”, or contenders with anywhere from two to three seasons under their belts, to spend supplemental money based on their competitive performances. Athletes of this nature accounted for only 22% of league members.

The problems that the proposed conditions failed to delve into had to do with luxury tax rates, minimum salaries, the former having been $210 million last year and the latter unknown outside the network of popular baseball. Seasonal MLB revenue allotment was another point of contention left unmentioned. Union constituents promptly rejected the mediators’ motion.

Ultimately, says baseball columnist Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the MLB and their legal adversaries agree completely on only three subjects: the necessary universality of whoever is the designated hitter, the injustice of draft pick compensation and the amount of
teams rotated on the playoff field. The players’ union has voiced their desire for an increase in the number of teams involved in the postseason, and negotiators have settled for one of 10 to 14.

The majority of players, specifically pitchers and catchers, are slated to visit Florida and Arizona for exhibition games in less than a month. So as to remain on schedule, a conclusion must be decisively realized by the vying coalitions. In accordance with CBS Sports’s reporter Mike Axisa, if a decision is not made the first week of this month, it would not seem unusual for the entire exhibition season to be rendered inoperable.

As for the regular season, granted that the MLBPA’s qualms are not addressed to their liking prior to early March, it has the potential to be either delayed or canceled altogether. Rob Manfred, the current MLB commissioner, holds that total nullification is an improbable outcome under the circumstances at-present. However, prominent sports writers with firsthand intel, such as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith and The Athletic’s Evan Drellich, are dubious as to the efficacy of a full-blown baseball season playing out in 2022 at all.

At this time, baseball in America is a multi-billion-dollar industry. Owners and players alike dread the idea of having to sit out on a period during which they would otherwise be collecting paychecks. Providing fans of the sport are lucky, the standstill will break under pressure from MLB and the MLBPA’s inevitably intertwined self-interests.