MLB players blast owners after league cancels regular season games amid lockout

·Writer
·7 min read

For the first time in nearly three decades, MLB games have been canceled due to a labor stoppage.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced Tuesday that the first two regular season series for each team will be canceled, as well as spring training.

The move comes after MLB and the MLB Players Association went one day past the owners' self-imposed Feb. 28 deadline to arrive at a new collective bargaining agreement. The two sides had been negotiating in person at Jupiter, Florida, since Feb. 21, but no deal was reached even after a 16-hour session Monday led MLB to push its deadline to Tuesday.

Barring a last-gasp reversal, MLB will lose games via labor stoppage for the first time since the 1994 player strike that canceled the World Series (not counting the de facto labor stoppage in 2020). If this year's canceled games aren't made up, it will be the first time in MLB history any games that count have been canceled due to a lockout (a 1990 lockout delayed opening day, but a 162-game season was still played).

As you can imagine, the players are not happy after a negotiation process that ultimately ended with them rejecting a proposal from ownership that barely budged on the competitive balance tax threshold, which owners have used as a virtual salary cap for years.

In a statement, the MLBPA characterized the lockout as an attempt by Manfred and the owners to break the union.

Plenty more players, including Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout, aired out their frustrations on Twitter.

Plenty of reporters and observers placed the blame at the feet of the owners, who instituted the lockout in the first place, waited weeks to approach the bargaining table and self-imposed the deadline to cancel games. Others were simply unhappy that baseball seems to be once again be eating its future to fill its owners' pockets in the present.

Some of the largest concerns, though, were for the team employees caught in the conflict between the owners and players. Spring training and regular season games being canceled means a loss of revenue for countless people, people who don't have millions of dollars squirreled away to wait out a labor stoppage.

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)
The 2022 MLB season will not start on time after players and owners failed to negotiate a CBA to end the lockout. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

How did MLB and the MLBPA get here?

MLB owners initiated the lockout back on Dec. 2, a move commissioner Rob Manfred publicly claimed was meant to "jumpstart" negotiations. The league proceeded to wait more than six weeks to submit its first CBA proposal, which the players promptly rejected.

The two sides have been in a protracted back-and-forth ever since. The battle over the next CBA features many fronts, including arbitration eligibility for younger players, competitive balance tax dynamics and expanding the postseason. At one point, the owners requested a federal mediator to help resolve the standoff, but the MLBPA declined, noting the league hadn't even countered its first official proposal.

MLB started canceling spring training games on Feb. 18, adding urgency to the Jupiter talks that began last week, especially after Manfred reiterated on the Feb. 28 deadline. The two sides appeared to make some headway, but that all went out the window when a Saturday meeting turned hostile. They kept meeting on Sunday and Monday, pushing the deadline to Tuesday at 5 p.m. After the union rejected what MLB called its "best" offer, Manfred promptly announced the canceled games.

So here we are.