With the MLB and players’ union unable to reach an agreement, the start of the 2022 season has been delayed.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed that the first two series of the season for each team have been cancelled, a move that means scrubbing out 91 games.
The MLB have been refusing to acknowledge that there might be any delay to the season for some time, despite rising concerns about the lack of progress in negotiations. This led to hopes that an agreement might be reached at the 11th hour. But with neither side willing to back down, the league has been forced to scrap the scheduled games.
Players don't get paid for games that aren't scheduled, and during the lockout, they're unable to access club facilities. This means that continued delays are causing significant difficulties, but it's not just impacting the players.
Workers in support roles at the clubs are also unpaid and on much lower salaries, are struggling to survive without their expected salary.
The players’ association has launched a $1 million emergency fund to help out the support workers at the clubs. This could include janitors, electricians, transportation staff, security, groundsmen and broadcast crews, to name just a few.
Recognising that support workers are “vital to the entertainment experience”, union board members Max Scherzer and Andrew Miller announced the measures on Friday.
The cancellation of the start of the 2022 season is the first time MLB games have been called off due to a lockout situation since the 1994-1995 players’ strike.
Taking into account the required training before the season begins, the earliest matches can now resume is the second week in April - but that relies on a swift resolution between the two parties. And the problem is that there is no sign of an agreement being reached so far.
The players’ association has been the first to make a move, submitting a new proposal, the first from either side since confirmation of the games being cancelled.
Reports are suggesting that the new proposal lowers the cash pool for pre-arbitration players to $80 million, down from $85 million. However, with the MLB previously only willing to offer $30 million, there remains a very large gap, even with the concession.
The new proposal also allows the MLB to make three on-field rule changes in 2023, providing they give at least 45 days' notice.
Crucially though, there has been no movement on the figures relating to luxury tax. The players' association is suggesting it starts at $238 million this year, increasing to $263 million in 2026. In contrast, the MLB is offering a starting figure of $220 million, rising to $230 million in 2026. Many believe this is the biggest issue between the two sides, and one where neither are showing any sign of being willing to compromise.
Although a meeting was due to take place in New York this weekend, it's looking increasingly unlikely that spring training will be able to commence on 18 March. This means at least a further week of cancelled games and more hardship for the workers supporting the clubs.