At the beginning of December, when MLB owners locked out the players and sent the league into a work stoppage, it felt as though there was confidence that Spring Training and regular season games would not be missed. Following the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, losing more game revenue would be seen as a disaster.
Yet, over a month into the lockout, there has been what feels like zero progress towards a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. While some negotiations on non-core economic issues have taken place, the odds of a completed deal prior to Spring Training seems increasingly unlikely.
The NBA knows better than most leagues how quickly a lockout can lead to missed games. Their last two work stoppages — 1998 and 2011 — led to shortened regular seasons. So perhaps MLB can take a page out of their book to find out what not to do in 2022.
But a source within the NBA believes that the mindsets surrounding both the league and the Players Association is what ultimately will lead to missed games, according to Evan Drellich of The Athletic:
“Nothing happens until the very last minute,” said a person involved in NBA labor negotiations. “It’s a very primitive mentality that people feel the other side is not going to give its best offer until they are looking down the barrel of what’s ahead.
“The point of (a lockout) generally is to impose economic pressure. And it’s not going to happen in the beginning, because people aren’t feeling it. They’re not getting paid. The season hasn’t started. So if the point of it is to impose the economic pressure, then yeah, in theory, it’s not going to really be effective until you get to the end.”
If MLB fans were looking for something to provide hope that the 2022 regular season will start on time, looking towards the NBA definitely doesn’t inspire confidence. According to this source, we may not see any movement at all until very close to when the season starts. By that point, it would already be too late.
Hopefully, something changes soon. According to Drellich, MLB is working to prepare economic proposals that will be delivered to the MLBPA sometime in January. While those proposals could just lead to longer standstills, it could also provide a springboard for quality negotiations to begin.
Rob Manfred interested in regulating defensive shifts
One thing that may be discussed in the non-core economic section of the CBA is rules surrounding defensive shifts. Commissioner Rob Manfred is intrigued by the idea of requiring two defenders on each side of second base, which would put an end to some of the more drastic shifts we’ve seen over the past few seasons.