clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

MLB says games will be cancelled if there’s no labor deal by Monday

Thus, a gauntlet has been thrown.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The first three days of negotiations this week between MLB owners and the MLB Players Association were a slow walk to nowhere. Proposals were exchanged between the two sides, but neither moved very far, and nothing at all was said about the competitive balance (“luxury”) tax, which is the key issue separating the parties. This Jeff Passan thread explains that issue quite well — read the entire thread:

Prior to this week’s negotiations beginning, MLB owners had set next Monday, February 28 as a deadline for reaching agreement on a deal or the start of the 2022 regular season might be delayed. After Wednesday’s negotiating session, they made that a hard deadline:

Gauntlet, thrown. Our SB Nation friends at Lookout Landing have helpfully translated that MLB statement:

And if you don’t believe them, maybe you’ll believe San Francisco Giants pitcher Alex Wood, who said essentially the same thing:

So let’s make no mistake here. This is a move by owners to try to force a deal that’s not going to be good for players. Jeff Passan’s thread on the CBT makes it clear that owners are going to continue to try to hold salaries down and give players an ever-shrinking piece of the overall revenue from the sport. It is true that over the last 20 years or so of collective bargaining agreements between the parties, and especially in the last two agreements in 2011 and 2016, players gave up quite a bit. They’d like to recoup some of those givebacks. Owners would like status quo. That’s the simplest explanation of what’s happening here.

A couple more points. To reiterate:

This has the possibility of being blatantly unfair to some teams if, say, the season were to begin at the beginning of May as currently scheduled. Not only would some teams have tougher or easier schedules depending on who they’re scheduled to play in April, but a scheme like this would undoubtedly result in teams playing an unequal number of games.

That happened in 1972 and might have cost the Boston Red Sox a chance to win the AL East. In ‘72 (standings here), most teams played 154 or 155 games. But some — including the Detroit Tigers — played 156, and the Tigers’ 86-70 record gave them the AL East title by half a game over the 85-70 Red Sox. Can you imagine the Twitter outrage if that happened in 2022? It would be a real possibility given MLB’s statement Wednesday.

And a reminder from last week:

Well. MLB specifically stated Wednesday that if games are missed, players won’t be paid for a full season. Given that, owners won’t get their expanded playoffs, which is where the really big money is — per Evan Drellich of The Athletic, “at least $100 million annually.”

Both sides in this dispute said they’d work through the weekend to try to put a deal together. Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports:

The players have spoken to the owners directly. A person familiar with the union’s thinking said he believes the owners are listening. The owners and MLB representatives have spoken to the players directly, and a person familiar with MLB’s thinking said he believes the players are listening.

They will meet again Thursday, and both sides know the pace of play must improve.

It’s surely possible that this slow pace will pick up over the weekend and some point will be found on which MLB owners and players can agree and the 2022 season can begin. I have to say that I am not optimistic at this time, given the statements made by MLB late Wednesday. There is a very real chance that the 2022 season won’t happen at all. I hope I’m wrong.

As always, we await developments.

Poll

The 2022 MLB regular season...

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    ... will start on time and have its full 162 games
    (18 votes)
  • 42%
    ... will have between 120 and 161 games
    (127 votes)
  • 23%
    ... will have between 81 and 119 games
    (69 votes)
  • 8%
    ... will have fewer than 81 games
    (24 votes)
  • 19%
    ... will be cancelled in its entirety
    (58 votes)
296 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who is to blame for the current owners/players dispute?

This poll is closed

  • 73%
    Owners
    (208 votes)
  • 2%
    Players
    (8 votes)
  • 23%
    Owners and players equally
    (68 votes)
284 votes total Vote Now