The winter of 2021-22 has been a cold one, not just from the weather. MLB players and the league have been in a lockout since December, and now Opening Day seems to be off the calendar as union officials and MLB owners have yet to agree on terms between players and owners. Baseball fans that usually would be watching Spring Training games are now looking at the March Madness bracket that sportscasters have been putting out for sports fans to look at.
MLB has decided that they are willing to play hardball with players, threatening to nix up to one month of the starting schedule. In a game of Russian Roulette that the league is playing with players and fans, there will be no winners in the end. With February 28th set as a “cutoff date” by MLB with negotiations as to whether Opening Day will happen on March 31st, that date has come and gone with nothing fruitful coming from the meetings.
MLB Owners Get Heated with Player’s Union During Negotiations
Owners showed no mercy during the February 28th meeting, as they have taken a threatening stance against the players and the players union. It seems like MLB owners are willing to hurt the players by their stance of missing an entire month of the regular season, which would cut into players’ paychecks. While the meeting was a proclaimed deadline by MLB to save Opening Day, the reality is that they can end this whole fight if they wanted to today.
However, players and team owners have yet to come to an agreement on minimum player salaries, the competitive balance tax, Super 2 expansion, revenue sharing, or expanding the postseason and pre-arbitration bonus pool.
With both sides being far apart in terms and MLB team owners willing to dig in their heels and stand their ground, the 2022 season of baseball looks to be in dire straits. While owners think they have the upper hand currently, things could turn around when the money doesn’t come in for either side when Opening Day comes and goes without a deal reached.
Will a Deal Be Done By April
With owners locked into their willingness to cut an entire month from the baseball season to get their way, you have to wonder if the players union will cave in or if the lockout will be drawn out. Owners think they have the upper hand when it comes to games not being played, as teams would withhold the players’ salaries due to the canceled games. But the player’s union knows this plan by owners and simply will not agree to whatever MLB wants if it comes down to this.
With all of these things before fans, it’s starting to look more like a deal won’t be reached anytime soon. What looked like a promising return for baseball just a week ago has now dissolved into what looks like a barroom fight. Owners are brushing aside some of the player’s union demands. This past week, the talks have been heated to a point where the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) was about to walk away from the negotiation table with owners completely.
March 31st will be the test for both sides because if there are no Opening Day games played, neither side will be making any money that day. While players will have their salaries withheld for every missed game, team owners will also be losing out on revenue from ticket sales, televised game revenue, and merchandise sales, just to name a few things. When the team owners start feeling the pinch in their pocketbooks, they might be more willing to agree on terms with the MLBPA.
Will Baseball Fans Come Back
The longer the lockout continues, the higher the chances MLB will lose their fan base. While both sides are arguing over money, they don’t see the big picture of how their current actions can impact the money they will make going forward.
Without a loyal fan base to watch games and spend money on MLB games and merchandise, MLB teams and owners will suffer from a lack of revenue. While both sides think they have the power in the lockout negotiations, the real power is with MLB fans, who can cut off the money flow that team owners and players currently enjoy.