MLB Lockout cuts in the first two series of the season

JUPITER, Fla. — Major League Baseball on Tuesday canceled the first two series of the 2022 regular season after the league and players’ union failed to reach a new collective bargaining agreement.

After nearly a year of negotiations, including nine consecutive days of talks between the league and the union in Florida beginning Feb. 21, the parties were unable to reach a new pact by the self-imposed deadline of the MLB from 5 p.m. Tuesday in order to start the 162-game season on March 31 as scheduled.

Rob Manfred, the MLB commissioner, announced the cancellations at a press conference Tuesday at Roger Dean Stadium, where the Cardinals and Marlins would typically attend spring training, but instead hosted the talks.

“I had hoped against hope that I wouldn’t have to hold this press conference where I’m going to cancel some regular season games,” Manfred said, adding, “I want to assure our fans that our failure to achieve to an agreement was not due to a lack of effort on the part of either party.

It is the first games canceled or postponed due to a work stoppage since the players’ strike of 1994-95, which resulted in the loss of more than 900 games, including the 1994 World Series. It remains the longest work stoppage in baseball history, followed by this one.

“As a former player, as a fan, for our game, today is a sad day,” union leader Tony Clark said at a news conference at a Jupiter hotel. in Florida, later Tuesday. Nearly a dozen players were also present.

Clark later added, “The game continued to be damaged, and is damaged again today following a league-initiated lockout, following a league-set deadline and in a climate that has been a challenge for us as baseball fans.

Since the last working agreement was reached in 2016, players have spoken out about the issues they have seen in the game and its economic structure. While the owners of MLB’s 30 clubs believe players have a fair system with no strict salary caps, players have sought a range of changes, from improving competition to injecting more proportional spending to increasing club revenue to pay younger players more earlier in their careers.

Feeling the urgency to start the season on time, the teams came to Florida to negotiate. But while little progress was made last week, the league’s bargaining team told the union that if there was no agreement by Monday, MLB would begin canceling games. MLB has estimated that a minimum of four weeks of spring training — two weeks less than normal — is needed before the regular season opener to avoid an increase in player injuries.

Although the union disagreed with MLB’s deadline — there was no obligation to cancel games and it believed games could have been rescheduled — it was willing to explore all ways to conclude an agreement in which a full season could be played. The two parties therefore met and spoke again on Monday. When modest progress was made during 16½ hours of talks, MLB extended its deadline until the following evening.

But Tuesday’s talks were not fruitful. In fact, they became more controversial, and the union rejected MLB’s supposedly best and final offer in the final hour after consulting with players. And at a press conference shortly after 5 p.m., Manfred announced he was following through on the ultimatum.

Asked to explain the league’s stance of canceling games rather than rescheduling them, Manfred cited the logistical difficulties of interleague play throughout the season. Regarding the negotiation of salary and missed service time for these games, Manfred said, “Our position is that games that players don’t play will not be paid.”

What is already a complicated labor dispute could become more difficult. Player paychecks start at the time of the season.

Bruce Meyer, the union’s chief negotiator, said players will demand full pay and time on duty for those missed games, or have the missed games rescheduled. “If the league unilaterally decided to cancel games, then to get an agreement players would have to be compensated for those games,” he said.

MLB crippled the sport Dec. 2 by excluding players the day after the previous five-year labor agreement expired. Manfred then said he was doing it as a defensive move to protect the 2022 season.

Negotiations dragged on in early February and Manfred, who is employed by the owners but tasked with being the game’s steward, said at the time that losing regular season games would be “disastrous” for the industry.

On Tuesday, Manfred, who had previously helped negotiate the previous four working deals without missing a game, listed the items the owners had offered to improve the deal for the players. He credited the hard work of the players at talks in Florida in trying to hammer out a deal and come up with compromises. But later he suggested it was beyond his powers to bridge the gap.

“If it was solely within my ability or the ability of the clubs to get a deal, we would have a deal,” he said. “The most difficult part of this process is that both parties have to come to an agreement. I’m really disappointed that we haven’t reached an agreement and I’m really determined to do everything possible to get one.

The ongoing collective bargaining was not to be easy. The last two collective agreements were seen as having tipped the balance of power and the economy even further in favor of the landlords. Realizing that significant changes to the system would be tense and fraught with precariousness, the union spent years building a rainy day fund for this very fight against MLB owners, who ran an $11 billion-a-year business. before the coronavirus pandemic.

When asked how long they were willing to miss games for a deal they thought was fair, Andrew Miller, a veteran pitcher who is a top union rep, said Tuesday: “We’re ready. “

He later added, “We saw it coming one way. It’s a shame, but it’s nothing new for us. It’s not shocking. Our communication, our willingness to see each other’s points of view, find solutions and fight for what’s right is nothing like what I’ve seen before.

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