March 4, 2022 | SPORTS | By Max Giles | Photo by Anil Jergens
Tensions continue to rise in Major League Baseball due to a lockout that will respectively cost the two opposing sides millions of dollars. For the first time since 1994, the MLB season will be delayed due to an inability of the owners and the players to find common ground on the issues that separate them.
The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) is standing strong against the league’s threat of postponing games without pay. The Association is requesting that owners reconsider how they delegate profits and how they treat players, especially bottom tier ones.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan blames the owners for the inability to reach a compromise, saying the “short-sightedness and stubbornness from a class of owners who run the teams [have] designs on running the game into the ground.”
Despite continually increasing profits across the league, players are making less money than in years past. Furthermore, Passan continues to emphasize the fact that this lockout is not the players’ fault, as they have made multiple concessions and have not been impossible to work with.
MLB owners want the players to accept the terms of their proposal, citing a loss of pay as reason for doing so. The players, on the other hand, think that a few lost games or even a lost season will not equal the damage that a bad deal could cause.
“This is [Commissioner] Rob Manfred’s disaster, the league’s disaster, the owners’ disaster, and it’s been a long time coming,” Passan said.
How long will it take for games to be played again? Nobody knows. On March 1, the MLB announced that the season would not start as scheduled. The two sides were unable to reach a common consensus on a new proposal, and thus the MLB cancelled the first six games of the regular season.
This decision caused star players like Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies to post on social media asking the Yomiuri Giants of the Nippon Professional Baseball League – Japan’s top baseball league – if they were interested in signing him. “Got some time to kill,” he said in the post.
Despite all the attempts the MLB claims to have made to compromise with the players, the MLBPA doesn’t feel like the owners’ offers meet their long-term needs or those of the sport.
The owners do not want to concede to the players because they, presumably, feel like their deals are fair. In other words, they seem to be waiting for the players to give up on their demands. The question is, who will hold out longer? Right now, it seems as though both sides are confident in their needs for the new agreement and will not budge any further.
Baseball, perhaps more than any other major sport, will take a major setback from this lockout that results in an altered season. The sport is already viewed as “slow and boring”, as Passan notes, especially in comparison to other major North American sports. A setback, such as this one, will only further enforce that narrative.
The future of the MLB revolves around the sports’ ability to revamp certain aspects of the game to make it more appealing to young people. A lockout will not help in this effort, and audiences may view the MLB as a declining sports league dominated by greedy owners and stubborn players.
For the love of baseball, MLB owners need to concede some financial benefits to the players. If not, they will compound this already disastrous situation.