Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about the possible progress of a new collective bargaining agreement, saying that a potential lockout could clear an important hurdle. MLB owners and players have been trying to work out a deal for nearly two decades – but negotiations have become increasingly difficult with no end in sight.
The “mlb lockout 2022” is a statement from Commissioner Rob Manfred, who says that the lockout could move discussions forward.
4:00 p.m. ET
ESPN’s Jeff Passan
- MLB insider on ESPN
- Author of “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of Sports’ Most Valuable Commodity,” “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of Sports’ Most Valuable Commodity”
CHICAGO (WLS) — Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday that MLB owners have not yet decided whether to lock out players if there is no new labor agreement after the current one expires on December 1st, but he cited the folly of not doing so in 1994, which resulted in a crippling strike, and added that “an offseason lockout that moves the process forward is different than a labor dispute that costs games.”
As the quarterly owners meetings came to a close, Manfred told reporters, “I don’t believe ’94 worked out very well for anyone.” “Other sports, I believe, should be considered. The practice has been to attempt to regulate the timing of the labor conflict in order to reduce the likelihood of a season-ending interruption. It’s all about that. It’s about not jeopardizing the season.”
Owners, club presidents, and league officials gathered fewer than two weeks before the current contract expires, with little progress made toward a new agreement. While the league and the MLB Players Association have met on a regular basis — Manfred said they had a negotiation session on Wednesday and are slated to meet again on Friday — they remain far apart and have made very modest progress on basic economic problems.
“We realize, and I understand,” Manfred continued, “that time is becoming a problem.” “That is a difficult task. We’ve faced obstacles in the past when it came to negotiating labor agreements, and we’ve had a strong track record of succeeding. From the standpoint of the clubs, I can assure you that we are dedicated to continue to make recommendations and suggestions in order to reach an agreement before December 1.”
After a tumultuous five-year period during which players chafed at the average compensation in the sport plummeting while pre-COVID-19 income climbed, MLB’s 26-year record of labor peace — which came on the heels of the ’94 strike that culminated in a canceled World Series — is in risk.
The union has advocated for a variety of measures, including raising the competitive-balance tax level, paying younger players more, and punishing clubs that gain from losing with high draft selections. The league, which is seeking extended playoffs and other on-field reforms, presented the union with a basic economics plan in August that was roundly rejected as unsatisfactory.
The parties’ divide was exposed in public during talks on how to design the 2020 season, which had been postponed for months at the start of the epidemic. Manfred, as was his authority under the March agreement between the parties, enforced a 60-game season after repeated suggestions both directions and late-stage efforts to reach an agreement.
“I believe the concentration on 2020 has been overdone,” Manfred stated. “In our business, I’ve been in control of labor since 1998. I’ve always found a way, and we’ve always found a way, to come to an agreement and keep the game on the field. I simply don’t place that much weight on some type of mid-term settlement in the thick of a pandemic catastrophe. As I already said, we’ve faced some really tough circumstances in the past. We’ve made it to the other side. We’ve got some fantastic folks on our team. I believe we’ll be able to get through this one as well.
“We never allow people or what has occurred in the past deter us from pursuing our most basic purpose,” he continued. “That is to say, to come to an agreement. When it comes to being a labor negotiator, I believe it is an important component of professionalism. I really believe that. And I know that applies to all of the individuals participating in the process — at least from our perspective.”
Manfred refuses to discuss the conversations in detail, claiming that it would be “unhelpful to the process right now.” He did say, however: “”I left a pretty good job with a pretty good future to try to get this industry to the point where we can make deals without labor disputes,” he said, adding, “I left a pretty good job with a pretty good future to try to get this industry to the point where we can make deals without labor disputes.” Nobody knows better than I do that from the standpoint of the fans, they don’t want a labor conflict, and that’s why reaching an agreement is our top priority.”
The following are some of the other topics discussed during the owners meetings:
• After a presentation by the league’s competition committee emphasized how it trimmed more than 20 minutes off games while enhancing offense, the implementation of a pitch clock in major league games seemed more imminent.
“The owners are still extremely interested in the pitch-timer experiment in the Cal League because of its success,” Manfred said, “and honestly, we’ve seen some of the similar results in the Arizona Fall League.”
• Concerns about regional sports networks’ financial woes filtering down to clubs that depend largely on local broadcast revenue have increased dramatically inside the sport, and it was a topic of discussion among owners during the meetings.
“What’s going on with the RSNs is an issue that has to be rectified, but it’s also an opportunity that needs to be taken,” Manfred remarked. “And clubs are really supportive of aggressive action to ensure that we reach our supporters in the most efficient manner possible.”
• The Tampa Bay Rays proposed a split-city plan to the league’s powerful executive committee, with the team spending half of the season in Tampa-St. Petersburg and the other half in Montreal. According to Manfred, the council did not make a judgment on its feasibility “as a result of other business’s press It’s a difficult subject.”
• The Oakland Athletics are continuing to explore at relocating to Las Vegas while also exploring a plan to remain in Oakland and build a new ballpark.
“If the industry could speak, I believe the industry is happy with the work that’s being put forward both locations,” Manfred added.
• After the league started enforcing foreign-substance laws in the middle of the 2021 season, Manfred was open to utilizing a pre-tacked baseball as soon as the next season.
“I believe we’ll be far enough ahead that, maybe, live-game testing will be possible in spring training,” he added. “Next year, we may be able to utilize a new ball. Maybe it’ll be ’23 instead, but we’re still working on the project and have made significant progress. The trick is a little tackier than Spider Tack, but not too much so.”
• Following the discussion on diversity, equality, and inclusion, Manfred said that he wanted to empower Michael Hill and Tony Reagins, two former general managers who are now working for the league, to promote initiatives in a league dominated by white males in ownership and managerial positions. “There’s a small credibility gap sometimes,” Manfred said, having never managed a club. “I’ve got two excellent individuals who I believe can be incredibly helpful on that matter.”
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