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A few thoughts about MLB’s lockout, the first baseball shutdown in 27 years

If you think this is going to end quickly, just wait till you see some of the pettiness already in evidence on MLB’s part.

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t often post two articles on this site at precisely the same time. (In fact, if that’s happened in the past, it’s a mistake by me in scheduling said articles, I generally like to space them out by a couple of hours.)

Today, though, I thought that was the right thing to do, given the big news about Marcus Stroman and the Cubs that broke Wednesday evening, and the news later Wednesday night about the owners’ lockout, so those topics are broken into separate articles instead of my original plan to put them in one — particularly after this remarkably petty move by MLB on its flagship MLB.com app and website:

Yes, it’s like that on the Cubs website, too:

This sums things up regarding the above:

Another good summary here:

As you know, I’ve been beating the “Manfred doesn’t really like baseball” drum for quite some time. This would appear to be more proof of my position.

MLB owners, as expected, locked out the players when the collective-bargaining agreement between the parties expired at 10:59 p.m. CT Wednesday night. Both sides issued statements. Manfred sent out a letter to fans late Wednesday. I post it here in its entirety so you can read it:

Here is the statement from the Players Association:

Commissioner Rob Manfred seems to think a lockout is just fine now because there aren’t games going on. While it is true that three previous lockouts did not result in lost games, that nearly did happen in 1990 — and one of Manfred’s proposals (he was then a MLB lawyer) was at the forefront of the issues of the time. A similar proposal has been made now, and I can tell you right now that won’t go anywhere with players.

If it’s not obvious, I am firmly on the side of the players here. And this further makes things clear:

A number of the proposals currently on the table can be found at this article in The Athletic by Evan Drellich, and Drellich sums up thusly on a couple of the key issues:

The players don’t think they can fully end service-time manipulation, believing that in a system where days are counted, there’s always a way to game the system. But they want to introduce alternative ways for pre-arbitration players to earn service time, such that if a player is held down in the minors an extra week, but goes on to become, say, an All-Star, or an MVP, the player can earn a full year of credit.

The most recent proposals were not made in a vacuum. Proposals are often made in package deals, so an element that either side offers in one package might be modified or removed in another

A lockout would halt free agency and player transactions. But conversations between the sides to reach a deal can still continue, and are expected to — if not in the immediate aftermath of a lockout’s announcement, then shortly thereafter.

Owners might have outsmarted themselves with the flurry of signings and trades over the last few days in advance of a lockout. If they counter the players’ requests for more money and free agency at younger years by saying they can’t afford them — players need simply point at the nearly billion dollars’ worth of salaries doled out this week and say, “What are you talking about?” This part of Manfred’s letter:

This defensive lockout was necessary because the Players Association’s vision for Major League Baseball would threaten the ability of most teams to be competitive. It’s simply not a viable option.

... would appear to be nonsense given the money thrown at players over the last few days.

I’d just say “as always, we await developments” here but that’s too cliché even for me. There’s no real need or urgency for the parties to the CBA to hammer out a deal now, because as Rob Manfred said:

That’s an eye-roller if ever I saw one. Sure, it costs no games now. It is an attempt by ownership to gain the upper hand, as players would have (and have in the past) by striking. Again, given the “you get a contract, and you get a contract, and you and you and you” Oprah-style signings this week, I don’t see how owners didn’t just undermine their own argument. Thus Manfred’s statement in the letter posted above:

This defensive lockout was necessary because the Players Association’s vision for Major League Baseball would threaten the ability of most teams to be competitive. It’s simply not a viable option.

... is patent nonsense, not after the spending spree that just happened.

We will just have to see what happens. This... I can’t even...

A news conference by MLB before an NFL game? What on Earth are they thinking?

Much more to come, of course.

Poll

Who is to blame for the MLB lockout?

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    Owners
    (316 votes)
  • 3%
    Players
    (16 votes)
  • 28%
    Owners and players equally
    (139 votes)
  • 1%
    Something else or not sure (leave in comments)
    (9 votes)
480 votes total Vote Now