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The Tuesday Discussion: The Coming Lockout? Our Reactions…

November 30, 2021

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This week we posed a simple question to our writers:

What will your reaction to the lockout be?
CBA talks have begun in Dallas but word is the Dec. 2 lockout is a certainty. There is said to be incremental movement but not nearly enough progress; the sides haven’t talked much about core economic issues today. Two days to go but basically no hope to avoid a work stoppage, — Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 30, 2021

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Here are the responses from some of our writers…

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James Vlietstra – As of now, when the current CBA expires, I fully expect there to be a lockout by the owners.

There has been an escalating discourse between the owners and the MLBPA over the last several years, including the last labor negotiations in which the players basically rolled over after years of victories.

There’s been over 26 since the last work stoppage. That is an unprecedented streak. However, the strike of 1994-95 almost ruined the sport. The World Series was canceled for the first time ever. Replacement players were hired.

Perhaps because so much time has passed by that not many of the sport’s leadership endured the last one. Owners Peter Angelos and Jerry Reinsdorf, of the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox, respectively, are the only ones that I have identified.

In 1994, The Yankees were among the favorites to win the World Series. I was a teenager that had known nothing but failure.

Obviously, since that time, the Yankees have won a MLB leading 5 championships, but at the time I was very bitter. The sport I loved was shut down by greedy billionaires fighting with millionaires.

As I said earlier, I fully expect a lockout. I do hope that it is resolved quickly. Spring Training is a time for excitement for the upcoming season. If that is delayed or pushes the start of the season back, I will be incredibly disappointed that a sport that produces $10B+ in revenue again chooses to shut down.

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Paul Semendinger – A lockout would be very very upsetting. These are millionaires and billionaires all arguing over money beyond most people’s comprehension at the same time that so many in the rest of the country struggle to make ends meet. It would be a horrible look for baseball. A horrible look. The sport is awash in money. (See the linked Tweets below.)

The Players’ Association and the owners need to get a deal done and prevent a lockout and/or a strike.

This deadline has been coming for years. The people who run the game knew this date was coming. It should never have even gotten this far. That it has is troubling and sad.

The excitement over the signings and trades these last few days would all be thrown away.

If baseball closes down on Dec. 2 I’ll be sad, angry, frustrated, and disappointed all in equal measures.

By shutting the sport down, the caretakers of baseball will do terrible damage to the sport. You don’t grow a sport by taking it away from the public. At all.

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Ethan Semendinger – I don’t really know how to feel about the CBA expiring and the potentially looming lockout of the players going into the 2022 season. After the shortened 2020 season saw salaries get cut by over 50% for all players, I’d truthfully be shocked if the MLBPA is truly willing to continue to eat away at their salaries. The players at the top (Gerrit Cole, Fernando Tatis Jr, Mike Trout, etc.) are in no worry about this because of long commitments and large salaries. How long can they keep the players like Clint Frazier/Tyler Wade/etc. on board? Those guys are likely to get very few paydays in their careers and they’ll- even though it’ll far exceed my future salaries- need that money for now and after their playing careers. I wouldn’t be shocked if the MLBPA ran into a situation like the NFL had (and the MLB had in 1994/1995) where there were a number of “SCABS” crossing the picket lines in order to maximize the (relatively) minimal earnings they’ll be able to get. I’ll be the first to say that I’ll support those players, even if it is counter-intuitive to my main point (below).

The owners- yes, even for the Orioles/Rays/Athletics/Rockies- have and make more money each year than I can dream of. There is no wonder that whenever a baseball team goes up for sale it has many many buyers ready. As much as they’ll scream “poor”, all MLB ownership groups make serious amounts of money through TV deals, advertising, and revenue sharing. It’s a profitable business from the bottom to the top earning teams. And, as they continue to make more and more, players continue to see a smaller and smaller percentage of that money. The only fair way to solve the issue is to develop a percentage cut of profit to be mandated that owners must pay their team as a whole (let’s hypothetically say 50%). Owners have to pay 50% of their previous years profit (not revenue) on their team, though owners who want to win will be allowed (and encouraged) to spend more to get the best talent.

Enough of this salary cap or salary floor. That is disadvantageous to both the owners and players. Top players will eat larger percentages of available yearly salaries, making it harder to field a competitive team, thus harder to win, and ultimately less entertaining to the fans as a few highly paid players per team have to navigate around a bunch of players on rookie contracts.

How do I feel about the potential lockout? It’s going to be frustrating because everyone is always wrong.

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Chris O’Connor – At this point, I would be shocked if there was not a lockout. I am very much excited for the inevitable flurry of signings in the days before the lockout, but an interruption to the nearly 30 years of labor piece is obviously not good news for baseball. Reports suggest that a likely end to the lockout would be mid-February, or somewhere around the time that pitchers and catchers report. As long as this gets done before spring training, I think that a true crisis will have been avoided. But with these two sides and their relationship, anything is possible as it relates to a worse stalemate than expected.

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Mike Whiteman – Having endured through two terrible work stoppages (1981 and 1994), labor strife in the offseason would seem to feel like a non-event. The recent frenzy of free agent and trade activity gives fans some hot stove activity to chew on for awhile.

Come back and ask me the same question in March, and I may not be as laid back about it.

Top 10 $ committed to free agents so far: Texas: $561.2 million New York Mets: $254 million Toronto: $121 million Seattle: $115 million Detroit: $77 million Houston: $67 million Miami: $53 million Los Angeles Angels: $45 million St. Louis: $44 million San Francisco: $36 million — Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 29, 2021

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What if I had told you that there would be $1.445 billion spent on free agents (and counting of course) by Nov. 29 and just $17.5M of it would be by the Dodgers (Andrew Heaney), Red Sox (Michael Wacha) and Yankees (Joely Rodriguez)? — Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) November 29, 2021

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#LaborDispute #lockout

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