I’m strangely optimistic about the latest round of negotiations to end the lockout. Even if there’s no reason to be. Especially if there’s not. Which it sounds like there isn’t:
A Major League Baseball spokesperson said tonight that if a deal is not in place by Feb. 28, regular season games will be canceled. “A deadline is a deadline,” the spokesperson said. Player pay would not be recouped, nor would those games be rescheduled, the spokesperson said.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) February 23, 2022
This sure sounds like a threat from the owners, but how much teeth can it really have? This is the status quo at this point, and it’s all on them. They are not telling the players anything they don’t already know. This seems like a pure public relations ploy, which, if you read Twitter at all, is working, even among people who would know better if they bothered to spend a half-second trying to.
Long story short, there are a lot of people who blame the players for the situation they’re in, which is like blaming the people of Gotham for the Joker terrorizing them. The major problem here is that there’s no Batman to set him straight, so we’re at the mercy of owners who are plenty happy to see the sport burn.
Or are they? Maybe I’m being daft, but the talks this week signal to me that there could be actual movement before the end of Friday. Admittedly, what I know about labor law could fit on a post-it note... if you wrote it with a Sharpie... in uppercase letters. Nonetheless, the week’s worth of meetings between the owners and players gives me a measure of hope.
Why? Why would I trust anything at this point? Good question. The answer is that I don’t, but I also know that this will all be resolved eventually, and the schedule of negotiations gives me the slightest hope the owners are serious about doing it sooner rather than later.
I think an important thing to remember is that the night isn’t necessarily darkest before the dawn. The owners sat on their hands for a month and a half and barely negotiated until recently, when the two sides began exchanging small concessions.
Of course, these concessions might not mean much in the long run. The big issues (i.e. the CBT) are still on the table. I just can’t help feeling that if the sides — the owners, really — were truly intractable on them, they wouldn’t even be meeting face-to-face. The owners have largely shown that they don’t care about public relations.
Maybe they do, though, and this is all for show. In this sense I’m basically preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. Are the owners craven enough to stage fake negotiations to make it look like they’re trying to reach a deal? Absolutely. But they’re also craven enough to lock out the players in the first place, which, for anyone actually paying attention, is the instigation for all of this.
So yes, there are “two sides” to this issue, but the fact is the old CBA would remain in place if the owners didn’t pull this stunt, and we’d have baseball while they negotiated. This isn’t really a “two sides” issue. This is entirely about the owners wanting “more control of the product on the field,” whatever that means.
I don’t think they’d bother showing up if they didn’t think they could get it, or get enough, to keep the money funnel churning. In the end, that’s the only thing that matters to them. There will be baseball this year; they need the money like we need food and water. The only question is when. The meetings may not mean much, but we won’t know which ones meant jack squat until the last one. The more meetings, close we get to that one. All we can ask is they try.