Since Major League Baseball imposed a lockout on its players, there was one truth that felt universally agreed upon. It was that losing games due to CBA negotiations would represent a failure for both sides. Especially after the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, it felt as though baseball couldn’t survive a second shortened season in three years.
MLB is already struggling to keep up with the popularity of the NBA and the powerhouse NFL. The NFL added games this season — going to 17 instead of 16 and adding two extra playoff teams — while the NBA has resumed to their full-length 82-game schedule.
So it was disheartening when MLB Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem reportedly said that the league would be willing to miss games if need be, according to Evan Drellich of The Athletic:
In a meeting with the Players Association on Monday, Major League Baseball deputy commissioner Dan Halem said that MLB is willing to lose games over some of the outstanding issues the sides have, people with knowledge of the talks said.
This reported statement, of course, did not sit well with the players, who would also be hurt by missed games and are the only ones currently being hurt by a lockout.
Some on the players’ side indeed thought it was notable that Halem would verbalize the possibility of missing games, that it did amount to a threat, while the commissioner’s office disagreed.
From an outside perspective, one could absolutely view this as a threat. Halem appears to be saying that if the players don’t concede on a number of issues, the league has absolutely no issue taking this past Spring Training and into the regular season.
Now that it has been said out loud, the likelihood of lost games takes a significant leap. Over the last few weeks, with minimal progress being made in actual CBA talks, this was starting to feel like a legitimate possibility. Today, it feels more likely than not.
In a silver lining, Halem’s statement was said at one of the first productive CBA meetings of the entire lockout. For the first time, it actually felt as though progress had occurred, albeit nothing too immense. So while missed games are still probable, perhaps a deal can get done sooner than expected.
Former proposals weren’t improving players’ financial situations
One issue that the MLBPA was having with early offers from the league was about finances. The Players Association is looking for a significant upgrade in the financial situations afforded to them by MLB. They felt they weren’t getting that, and will continue to fight for ways to do so.