MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred discusses upcoming potential work stoppage: 'Time is becoming an issue'

·3 min read
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred blue treated
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred blue treated

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke at the owners meetings in Chicago on Thursday, and while he touched on a number of topics, the most pressing issue was the league’s potential upcoming work stoppage.

With the current Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players and owners set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 1, Manfred spoke at length about the stoppage that seems imminent.

“I can’t believe there’s a single fan in the world who doesn’t understand that an offseason lockout that moves the process forward is different than a labor dispute that costs games,” Manfred said.

“We understand, I understand, that time is becoming an issue. That's a challenge. We've had challenges with respect to making labor agreements before, and we got a pretty good track record of overcoming those challenges. I can tell you from the clubs' perspective, we're committed to continuing to offer proposals and suggestions in an effort to get to an agreement before December 1."

Manfred also said that the league’s “No. 1 priority is to make a deal,” hoping to avoid what happened in 1994, when the season ended on August 11 as the players went on strike.

In that case, the owners didn’t lock the players out, and instead tried to keep negotiations ongoing during the season, only to see the season come to a screeching halt.

“We’ve been down this path,” Manfred said. “We locked out in ’89-’90. We decided to go down the path (of continuing to negotiate) in 1994. I don’t think ’94 worked out too great for anybody. I think when you look at other sports, the pattern has become to control the timing of the labor dispute and try to minimize the prospect of actual disruption of the season. That’s what it’s about: it’s avoiding doing damage to the season.”

As of now, the owners have not yet decided on whether or not to lock out the players when the CBA expires, per Manfred.

“We’re focused on making an agreement prior to Dec. 1,” he said.

“The way I think about my job is that I try to come to work every day and do the very best job for the owners, the clubs and our fans. Whatever my quote-unquote legacy turns out to be, it’s going to turn out to be, all I can do is do the very best I can each individual day in this circumstance. I think the best thing for the clubs and the fans is to do everything humanly possible to make an agreement.”

On developing a new baseball for 2022 season

"I think we will be far enough along that there will actually be, I'm hoping, live-game testing in spring training. We could be in a position to use a new ball next year. Maybe it's going to be '23 instead, but we're continuing to work on that project and had made real progress. The trick is tackier but not so tacky that it's Spider Tack."

On implementing a pitch clock

"The pitch-timer experiment in the Cal League was one that the owners remain very interested in because of the success, and frankly, we've seen some of the same outcomes in the Arizona Fall League."