At 12:01 a.m. EST on Dec. 2, Major League Baseball owners unanimously voted for a lockout of the players, starting the ninth work stoppage in league history, the first in 26 years.
This happened just two minutes after the expiration of the most recent collective bargaining agreement between the league and players’ union that was signed on Dec. 1, 2016.
As previously mentioned, the last work stoppage happened 26 years ago, lasting from August 12, 1994 – April 2, 1995. Nearly 950 games and the entire 1994 postseason, including the 1994 World Series, were cancelled as a result.
Major League Baseball became the first major professional US sports league to lose an entire postseason as a result of a labor dispute from the 1994-95 players’ strike, but this is a completely different beast.
This time around, it was the owners who locked out the players from work as they and the players’ union look to find a common ground on a new collective bargaining agreement.
The main reason for the current work stoppage is economics. Baseball, unlike other professions, is one with a limited time of employment, usually a maximum of two decades as a player.
Players want to make as much money as possible in the short time they’re playing baseball, so getting paid more early on in their careers and having the ability to enter free agency at a younger age is what they hope to accomplish.
Alongside that, the players are looking to increase team salaries in order to prevent things like tanking so they can get paid what they believe they’re worth every season instead of cost-cutting measures often taken by owners.
On the other side, owners want to have the ability to control players for longer, including things like manipulating service time, to not have to pay as much over time.
This is a money-making business as much as it is a game and owners are looking to make the most return back on their investment, so however they can do that, they will.
As previously mentioned above, tanking is a hot button topic as it’s not only been something of note in MLB, but in other major professional sports leagues as well.
The hope is that in the future, with measures like a draft lottery or salary floor/salary cap, MLB will be able to maintain league-wide competitive balance. A salary cap is something the players vehemently are opposing, instead favoring a a luxury tax threshold increase to give them the opportunity to make more.
Expanded playoffs, universal DH, pitch clocks and additional rule changes are among the other things that will be under discussion during the lockout.
That includes questions about the baseball itself after the foreign substance issue escalated to a climax during the 2021 season and now after the season when it came out that MLB used different baseballs for more notable primetime games as opposed to others.
As part of the lockout, trades may not be made, free agents may not be signed, players have no access to MLB facilities and no contact between team employees and players is allowed during this period.
Something else of note is that MLB.com has removed all current player photos and articles, only including articles/photos of retired or active players not playing in MLB.
This has caused some weird instances, like articles about this season’s college football bowl games taking place in MLB stadiums. You’ll find more current information about teams like NC State or SMU than you will about active MLB players.
We don’t know how long this lockout will last and whether or not it will affect the 2022 MLB season, but the hope is that something will be reached so that games aren’t cancelled as a result.
Stay tuned for more news on the lockout over the offseason. We’ll be sure to report as new reports come out.