Owners and players both lost a ton of money from the effects of empty arenas brought on by COVID-19, and it’s going to be interesting to see which side cracks first.
Who are the key players and what do they represent?
By Joseph Agosti, Contributor
The 2022 MLB season is in big trouble. We are now months into a self-imposed lockout staged by the MLB owners, in order to hasten a deal for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the MLB Players Association (MLBPA). But here we are in late January, just over a month from spring training, and a deal is no closer than it was in early December. The MLB has a complicated history regarding labour relations. On the positive, there have been zero work stoppages since 1994. But on the flip side, the 1994 players’ strike resulted in the remaining half of the season being cancelled along with the 1994 World Series. And that’s without mentioning the well-publicized tit-for-tat exchanges between MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark.
Let’s start with the key players, Rob Manfred and Tony Clark. These two men are at the forefront of negotiations, representing the owners and the players respectively. Manfred works as the Commissioner of Baseball, an owner-installed position who presides over the game and its rules on behalf of the 30 MLB owners. Let me be clear, Rob Manfred’s job is to make as much money as possible for the owners. He doesn’t work for the fans, the media, and he certainly does not work for the players. His most important job is to put as much money in the owners’ pockets as possible. Manfred wants to reduce player salaries, expand the playoffs (which increases TV revenue), and implement a universal Designated Hitter (someone to bat in place of the pitcher). All of these changes take money out of the players’ hands and into the owners.
Tony Clark, on the other hand, represents the opposite of Rob Manfred. He represents the players and only the players. He may say he has the fan’s best interests at heart, but really he wants to increase player salaries by any means necessary. Clark’s main goals for the next CBA are to reduce time played before free agency and raise the Luxury Tax (a tax imposed on the highest spending teams). So in summary, Manfred wants the players to make less money, Clark wants the players to make more. No wonder the two don’t see eye to eye.
So where do we go from here? Talks are at an impasse, with the two sides only meeting briefly since the lockout was imposed. It’s clear that some concessions are going to have to be made. Perhaps the owners will be willing to trade expanded playoffs to bump up league minimum salary. Owners and players both lost a ton of money from the effects of empty arenas brought on by COVID-19, and it’s going to be interesting to see which side cracks first. If compromise is unattainable, the 2022 season may end up the way of 1994.