MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred held a curious news conference in Jupiter, Florida late Tuesday afternoon after the failure of owners and the MLB Players Association to reach a labor deal. Manfred said that regular season games would be cancelled:
“So what’s next? The calendar dictates that we’re not going to be able to play the first two series of the regular season, and those games are officially canceled.” — Rob Manfred— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 1, 2022
Given that, we’ll have to assume that for now that Spring Training is also cancelled, although if there are to be regular season games, players will have to have some sort of training period.
Manfred said MLB is willing to continue negotiations, but with the MLBPA returning to its New York office, no deal could be possible before Thursday, so that no meaningful Spring Training could be held before the scheduled Opening Day. Manfred added that owners say they want to continue bargaining and are still willing to go back to the table and make an agreement. No talks are scheduled right now.
Asked by one reporter why MLB didn’t bargain for the last three months after the lockout was instituted December 1, Manfred deflected, not answering directly. He only referred to the discussions over “the last 10 days.”
During the news conference, Manfred detailed the MLB offer, citing various numbers, of course not mentioning the fact that their proposal was far from what players wanted, and even had owners accepted the players’ last offer, it would have been a big “win” for owners. The Commissioner claimed that ownership’s “last, best and final offer” was never specifically stated. He says he won’t use the legal term “impasse” at this time. He further claimed that the MLB offer gave many benefits to players “and fans,” though I don’t see where the latter is true. He added that “concern for fans” is at the top of their list, as well as other people whose livelihoods are concerned. This seemed like a canned statement and not sincere.
This should tell you all you need to know:
Rob Manfred: "The last five years were difficult from a revenue perspective."— Jason Mastrodonato (@JMastrodonato) March 1, 2022
In 2019, the last season before the pandemic, MLB revenues jumped for a 17th straight year to a record $10.7 billion, per Forbes.
BCB’s Sara Sanchez said to me, while taking in Manfred’s statement: “The reason they are still far apart is because the side with orders of magnitude more money moved much less than the side with less money.” That’s really the summary of everything that’s happened during the 90 days of MLB’s lockout.
This has been a momentous day in MLB history. When I find out exactly how much baseball is being cancelled by the Commissioner’s office, I’ll post about that as well, though that might not be until tomorrow. I think we all need a breather.
Not even going to use the usual sign-off here because, well, there likely won’t be any developments for a while.