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All This Time

by Ed Botti

January 13, 2022


February 17, 2021 was the date Pitchers and Catchers reported to spring training in Tampa last spring.

If that date held in 2022, we are just over a month away from the first workouts.

The holidays are behind us, and most people in the world are back at work or school. We are all firmly planning our 2022 fiscal years, closing all loops on 2021 work, and preparing for the next 12 months of our businesses, careers, education, and lives.

In other words, if you have your act together, you are two plus weeks into your 2022 goals and plans. If I had a big project due on February 17, 2022 and I started on December 1, 2021, I would be far along, or done. All that would remain is editing, cross checking amounts, and putting the final touches on the project and documents.

That is not the case with MLB, and we do not know why.

What we do know is that precious time is slipping by.

This lockout started on December 1, 2021, 43 days ago. What have these two sides been doing? Until two days ago, I haven’t seen or read a word about it from Commissioner Manfred or any of his minions at MLB. Ditto for Tony Clark and the MLBPA.

The dead silence between the MLBPA and MLB is deafening.

Sadly, essentially no reported contact between the two sides is a foreboding sign.

The only thing I saw happening was two sides waiting for the other side to make a move. A complete waste of time. It seems that no one was being proactive, no one was trying to resolve this matter. No one is leading.

Now we finally see a little movement.

Someone finally blinked. Who? We do not know.

It was reported Tuesday night that industry sources confirmed MLB and the MLBPA have made plans for a meeting today, January 13, 2022.

Incredibly, this will be the very first such session since December 1, 2021.

Why the long wait? I have no idea.

Mid-January or so is usually the time of the year when baseball fans start craving baseball. It’s actually a great sports time for fans. The NFL Playoffs are getting ready to kick off, we have mid-season NHL hockey and NBA basketball, NCAA Football has crowned a Champion, and of course March Madness is not that far off.

Photo AP

We are living in freezing cold dark days and early sunsets, the thought of baseball is a refreshing reminder to us all that better days are on the horizon.

For me, I always looked to the Super Bowl as the date of demarcation. Once the game is over, it’s just looking at the calendar and counting days until pitchers and catchers.

Once I see a photo from pitchers and catchers in Tampa stretching, running and doing crunches, I know the summer days are on their way. I know the great sound of ball hitting bat is just around the corner. I know longer days are on the way. And, I know that we Yankee fans will be filled with our normal February hope and optimism.

Saturday February 26 is opening day in the Grapefruit League. Yankees vs Phillies at 1:05 PM. Does anyone think that the game will be played?

Between now and then, so much needs to be done. The 2022 Yankees need a centerfielder, shortstop, catcher, a leadoff hitter and a #2 starter. The bench also needs a few pieces. The bullpen needs more depth. Questions need to be answered, moves need to be made.

For crying out loud, we don’t even know if there is a DH in the National League.

Looking in from the outside, it almost seems that the person in charge of baseball doesn’t even like the game. Some of his statements and actions are mind boggling. Does anyone remember that a year ago or so he referred to the World Series trophy as “a piece of metal”?

It’s ridiculous.

I can’t figure out why but it appears as if Manfred is totally fine letting this lockout drag on and on. Is he even working these days?

A leader would have engaged the other side and got busy a weeks ago.

Manfred is no leader. He is a follower.

The industry is paralyzed until Rob Manfred and Tony Clark start acting like leaders and businessmen and get a deal done.

Guys, set up a series of meetings, roll up your sleeves and do your job!

Meet somewhere warm, lock the door, order some food and loudly proclaim, “no one goes home until we figure this out”.

Instead, they have one videoconference call set for today.

Its mid-January, no one knows what’s going on, and it seems the only people that actually care, are the fans. And as we all know, neither side gives a damn about the fans.

Someone step up! Someone lead!

Finally today, we have a meeting. I guess it’s better late than never. We’ll see if they can agree to anything of any real materiality.

MLBPA wants modifications made in key financial matters such as free agency, salary arbitration, revenue sharing and the competitive balance (tanking). The owners so far are not willing to bend on most of these matters. It is speculated that they are open to taking a closer look at the arbitration process and finding ways to improving incentives for teams to try and be competitive (as opposed to tanking for draft position).

Back in December each side made pitches to settle, but none were seriously considered.

It is now six weeks later, and we have a meeting. Let’s hope the ground work can be put in place for baseball to be played again!

The clock is ticking and time is not on their side. A deal needs to be made soon, or the season will be in jeopardy.


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