Baseball says no-go for Opening Day as lockout continues

The ongoing Major League Baseball lockout continued Tuesday after an extended negotiating session collapsed without a deal with the Players Union. Commissioner Rob Manfred subsequently canceled the first two series of the regular season.

By

Sports

March 2, 2022 - 10:01 AM

Major League Baseball stadiums will remain shuttered on what would have been Opening Day March 31. Photo by Pixabay.com

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Major League Baseball’s financial fight cost regular-season games for the first time in 27 years when often acrimonious talks to end a management lockout collapsed Tuesday and Commissioner Rob Manfred scrapped March 31 openers.

With owners and players unable to agree on a contract to replace the collective bargaining agreement that expired Dec. 1, Manfred canceled the first two series for each of the 30 teams, cutting each club’s schedule from 162 games to likely 156 at most. A total of 91 games were erased.

“We exhausted every possibility of reaching an agreement before the cancellation of games,” Manfred said during a news conference in the left-field corner of Roger Dean Stadium as fans outside the spring training home of the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals chanted: “We want baseball!”

Five miles away and 90 minutes later, the players’ association held its own news conference at a hotel, with union head Tony Clark and chief negotiator Bruce Meyer flanked by pitchers Max Scherzer and Andrew Miller — both members of the union’s eight-man executive subcommittee — and Noah Syndergaard seated among about a dozen players in the audience.

“This has been making in the years, seeing things that have happened over the course specifically of this last CBA,” Scherzer said, “things that have happened to different players in certain situations, that we absolutely have to have corrections.”

Manfred vowed players will not receive salary or major league service for games missed, exacerbating already visceral anger of the roughly 1,200 players locked into a contest of will against 30 controlling owners. Manfred maintained daily interleague play made rescheduling impossible.

“To say they won’t reschedule games if games are canceled or they won’t pay players for those games that are canceled is solely their position,” Meyer said. “We would have a different position.”

Talks that began last April went nowhere, and MLB locked out players Dec. 2 in the sport’s first work stoppage since 1995. There were just six economic negotiating sessions over the next 2½ months in New York, but more intensive talks began Feb. 21 in Florida.

After 13 negotiating sessions over 16½ hours Monday, the sides recessed at 2:30 a.m. having made progress but still far apart on key economic issues.

Tone changed with the daylight, and the league sent the players what it termed a “best offer” on the ninth straight day of talks. The union held a Zoom call of 30-40 players and reacted angrily with a rejection. Both sides said they were leaving town, and there was no date scheduled for bargaining to resume.

At 5:07 p.m. of the lockout’s 90th day, Manfred declared the opposite of play ball!

“Against that backdrop of growing revenues and record profits for owners of the league,” Clark said, “players seek and deserve nothing more than fundamental fairness.”

Baseball’s ninth work stoppage will be the fourth causing regular-season games to be canceled, leaving ballparks quiet from Fenway Park to Dodger Stadium.

Caught in the crossfire of the money fight, players said they would only discuss — but not commit to — possible on-field changes that Manfred says are needed, such as pitch clocks and the elimination of defensive shifts. An expanded postseason was another casualty — for now.

“Manfred gotta go,” tweeted Chicago Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman.

The bulk of fan ire on social media was aimed at Manfred, who was spotted practicing his golf swing between bargaining sessions by an Associated Press photographer Tuesday. Others were upset that Manfred was laughing and jovial with reporters at his news conference announcing the cancellation.

“Have no clue how he has the ability to laugh about anything right now,” Los Angeles Angels pitcher Michael Lorenzen tweeted. “Mind is blown.”

Related
March 10, 2022
March 3, 2022
February 10, 2022
November 30, 2021