As the calendar flips from 2021 to 2022, baseball fans were hopeful that there would finally be some progress on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. MLB and the Players Associations had come to a relative stalemate throughout December, but all reports were that January would bring with it a renewed optimism.
Now, as we sit just over a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, it feels as though talks are as quiet as ever. There has been minimal progress and the lockout continues without a definitive end in sight.
Things have gotten so bad on this front, that it appears the two sides do not even have scheduled meetings to discuss core economics like originally planned. Reportedly, just two meetings have taken place in total between the league and the players, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today:
The first week of 2022 is resembling the last month of 2021: There are no negotiating sessions currently scheduled between MLB and the players association. They have met twice in the last month since the lockout, but strictly on non-core economic issues.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 3, 2022
This is certainly not the outcome many were hoping for to start 2022. While March 31’s Opening Day still feels like an eternity away, that date is going to approach very quickly, putting pressure on both sides to get a deal done.
The reported financial losses from the COVID-stricken 2020 season puts just another cloud of necessity over the heads of MLB. It would be a disastrous outcome for games to be lost — even Spring Training games — because of a refusal to negotiate.
Hopefully, some progress can be made over the next few weeks, with the first step being to schedule a negotiation between the two sides. Until that very preliminary step is accomplished, it will likely remain next to silent when it comes to rumors and news regarding this work stoppage.
Expanded playoffs among topics
One of the non-core economic issues being discussed is the idea of an expanded playoff, similar to what we saw during the 2020 season. Of course — as with all issues — there is some disagreement between MLB and the players over what that might look like.
Players want a 12-team system similar to what the NFL did until 2020, and the league — and owners — want the current NFL 14-team system.