Thank heavens for Sunday’s Baseball Hall of Fame announcement, because without that we’d be completely bereft of baseball news.
The 2021 Winter Meetings were supposed to begin Sunday, but the Major League portion of the meetings were cancelled. The minor league portion — which is primarily a big job fair where folks who want to work in baseball can connect with minor league clubs — is ongoing, and the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft will go on as scheduled later this week. The MLB portion of the Rule 5 draft won’t happen this week — it was supposed to take place Thursday morning — and it’s an open question as to whether it will happen when the lockout ends, or simply be cancelled entirely.
Oh, yes. “The lockout ends” — those words in the last paragraph — when’s that going to happen?
It’s December 6. We’re less that three weeks from ramp-up to Christmas and New Year’s, a holiday period when MLB team offices, and likely the Commissioner’s office, would be closed even if we weren’t in a lockout situation. There’s been no news at all about meetings between players and owners since their last-ditch effort to avoid a lockout last week, and reading between the lines I don’t think ownership had any intention of NOT having a lockout. It seemed preordained months ago. (Just look at the planning that went into re-doing MLB.com for a clue to that.)
So in my view, we’re probably going into radio silence until early January. At that point there will still be about six weeks until pitcher and catcher report dates, which would be plenty of time to get the 2022 season started on time.
Negotiations like this often go to crunch time before anything happens. I’ve noted here previously that I am a member of the Directors Guild of America. When I was working in TV our contract came up for renewal every three years. Back in 1987 we were told to be ready to hit the picket lines on the day after the deal expired, but an agreement was reached only hours before that would have happened. I’m glad to say that in the 30 years I worked in TV, we never had a dispute that resulted in a strike or lockout (and the DGA hasn’t since, either).
Baseball, obviously, is different. Owners and players both, over the previous eight MLB work stoppages, have not hesitated to lose games to make a point. Commissioner Rob Manfred claims a lockout now will help move the process along. I don’t see any of that, though it’s been just five days.
If I had to guess now? We won’t hear much about negotiations until at least January, and maybe mid-January. They’ll miss deadlines for players to report, we’ll have a truncated spring training and the season might start a bit late, but they’ll try to get 162 games in anyway.
That’s how I see it now, anyway, on the morning of December 6, 2021. “As always, we await developments.”