MLB lockout: Rob Manfred has no reason to rush negotiations

ORLANDO, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 10: Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred answers questions during an MLB owner's meeting at the Waldorf Astoria on February 10, 2022 in Orlando, Florida. Manfred addressed the ongoing lockout of players, which owners put in place after the league's collective bargaining agreement ended on December 1, 2021. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 10: Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred answers questions during an MLB owner's meeting at the Waldorf Astoria on February 10, 2022 in Orlando, Florida. Manfred addressed the ongoing lockout of players, which owners put in place after the league's collective bargaining agreement ended on December 1, 2021. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /
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We are now a few days from when pitchers and catchers were scheduled to report for spring training, which means that what to some of us is the most glorious day on the calendar will be meaningless. At the beginning of the MLB lockout, it was surmised that the season could still begin on time if spring training began by March 1. Based on current negotiating stances, that seems like a long shot.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred recently said it would be “catastrophic” if regular season games were missed due to the MLB lockout.

If he really feels that way, the glacial pace of offers and counteroffers makes no sense at all. Except for this: maintaining the status quo would constitute a win for the owners. You can’t get a substantial change from the status quo without serious negotiations.

The closer we get to missing real games, the more pressure will rise to get an agreement, any agreement. Public opinion won’t fixate on the nuances of luxury taxes and revenue sharing; fans will just be mad that there are no games. Add that to the fact that both sides will start losing money come April, and bargaining points that seemed set in stone over the winter will be re-examined.

At some point, players will have to ask themselves whether an extra year of arbitration that will not benefit players who are already past that stage is worth missing paychecks, or if boosting the luxury tax that only impacts a handful of teams is a battle worth fighting. There are other issues, and each one that the players decide not to fight for will tilt the balance of power back toward the owners, which is the point of this entire farce.

The downside of this tactic is that some of the issues being discussed (or not) are important. It matters whether there is a DH in both leagues next year, but they are treating issues like that the way a car dealer throws in rustproofing to clinch a sale. It matters how many teams make the playoffs, but the players will likely cave on that to keep from giving up something else. It really matters that tanking be disincentivized, and that teams that identify and develop talent are rewarded more than teams that simply write bigger checks.

Next. A simple solution to what ails the sport of baseball. dark

But now I’m just being silly.