Spring training is around the corner.
Major League Baseball’s spring training is scheduled to begin in about two weeks, but storm clouds still hover over the industry as the Major League Baseball Players Association rejected the Major League Baseball owners’ request for a federal mediator in an effort to resolved an impasse that has resulted in an owners’ lockout of the players. Both sides are trying to gain favor in the court of public opinion. The owners saying, we want to settle and can with a mediator, the players saying the owners did not even consider their offer and instead wanted a federal mediator. Time is slipping away if a full spring training season is the goal. As always, the dispute comes down to money and how to split the enormous money that flows into the industry.
MLB does not have money problems. In the lead up to the lockout, MLB owners spent more than $1.7 billion signing players to long term deals. Distressed industries do not spend that kind of money on employees so it follows that MLB is not a financially depressed industry. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said the work stoppage was “bad for business”. Until there are spring training facilities closed and games missed, only industry people will notice there is a lockout. The lockout was designed to gain leverage over the players and prevent the players from going on strike. The 2022 Major League Baseball season is scheduled to begin on March 31st. No one has lost money yet so there is no urgency. But there is one thing to remember, for the owners, baseball is part of a business portfolio, for the players it is their prime source of revenue and careers are short. The owners have the upper hand. But there is still time left to get a deal done without impacting the upcoming season.
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