MLB spring training was supposed to start this week. What's going on with baseball's lockout?

On the day spring training workouts for pitchers and catchers were to begin, baseball stayed underground.

Certainly, the crack of the bat and the snap of the catcher's mitt were audible, somewhere. Just not in the 30 gleaming facilities that host Major League Baseball's franchises for their annual spring ritual and run-up to the regular season.

Instead, it was merely Day 77 of the owners' lockout of players as both sides continue negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement after the previous one expired Dec. 1.

A look at where things stand – and which key dates are in peril – as the impasse continues:

Is MLB spring training canceled?

Um, not totally. And there's still been no official announcement of its delay; the padlocked gates and silence speak enough volumes, apparently.

Yet instead of bullpen sessions and their subsequent bro hugs witnessed by a smattering of baseball-thirsty fans, players are left to get their work in sprinkled throughout private workout facilities in Arizona and Florida and wherever else they may typically train before report date. The holding pattern remains.

You can forget about first full-squad workouts, as well; those were largely set to occur beginning Feb. 21. And spring-training games?

Well, that's only a matter of time. The Cactus and Grapefruit league slates were set to begin Feb. 25, but a trickle, and eventually a flood, of cancellations is now inevitable. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a press briefing last week that once a CBA is ratified, it would take several days, though perhaps less than a week, to fling open facility doors to players.

While they'd presumably arrive in optimal shape, it would still take several days for pitchers and catchers and position players to ramp into game-ready condition, even for the fake baseball contested in spring.

And with no new bargaining sessions slated until perhaps the end of this week, you can easily project that no exhibition baseball will be played until March - if at all.

A view of Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., spring training home of the Dodgers and White Sox.
A view of Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., spring training home of the Dodgers and White Sox.

Why is the lockout taking so long?

Good question. When MLB imposed the lockout, Manfred claimed it'd be a key mechanism to jump-start the collective bargaining process. The sides then proceeded to not meet in person for the next seven weeks.

And they've only met five times, total, the most recent coming on Saturday when players walked away unimpressed with the owners' modest revisions to previous proposals.

The only progress, in a sense, is that players dropped one of a handful of nuclear options and agreed not to seek free agency after five years of service time instead of six. Owners agreed to a universal DH and to eliminate draft-pick compensation attached to top free agents.

While that reduced the chances of a massive gulf between the sides, with one hoping for a significant alteration to the landscape, the issues have remained nettlesome enough to keep them apart.

Ultimately, the luxury-tax ceiling and dispersal of salary to high-achieving young players represent the widest rivers to cross. Currently, owners are sitting on an offer of a $214 million ceiling, rising to $222 million by 2026, with teams not penalized a draft pick until they exceed $234 million.

Players are aiming for a $245 million ceiling, a mark that wouldn't likely be exceeded by more than two or three teams, and would enable upper middle class clubs more maneuverability when they're inclined to contend.

Meanwhile, a proposed system of creating a pool for top young players who, as it stands, are confined to minimum-wage level salaries for the first three years of their career is even wider. Owners are proposing $15 million; players are seeking $100 million.

Still, the waters are navigable.

Is the regular season in jeopardy?

Sure is! While Manfred repeatedly cites the calendar as a way to produce a "breakthrough" between sides and greatly clear the path to an agreement, less than two weeks remain before a projected Feb. 28 deadline to strike a deal and get players in camp long enough to ramp them up for the March 31 Opening Day.

Both sides are well aware of the terrible fallout that would result if regular-season games are canceled, which hasn't happened since the disastrous 1994-95 strike/lockout. If an agreement is reached in an ambiguous zone to get games going on time - say, between Feb. 28 and March 4 - you'd assume the league and players would pull any available levers to ensure Opening Day comes March 31. Significantly expanded rosters? Pitch limits? Hey, whatever it takes to ensure the bunting is hanging from the upper deck before April Fools' Day.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLB lockout delays spring training: What we know about 2022 season