Last night, New York Yankee owner Hal Steinbrenner and the other 29 club owners unanimously voted to impose a lockout. It was not a surprise as the two sides in the negotiations for a new five-year agreement were reportedly still far apart on pending issues. The lockout means an immediate stop to any trades or new free-agent contracts. The lockout will last until the two sides can come to an agreement.
The move last night signals the first time there has been an MLB work stoppage since August of 1994. That stoppage ended the season with no World Series and lasted into the 1995 season that was delayed. The stoppage lasted over seven and a half months. That stoppage likely cost the Yankees a championship, as the team was 70 and 43 before the stoppage. This present stoppage is due to a lockout by the owners, the 1994 halt was caused by a player walkout. Itâ€™s unclear if it will affect Opening Day for the start of the 2022 spring training.
Super agent Scott Boras had this to say about the lockout:
â€œWe have something in our rules that creates non-competitiveness. It creates something that drives down fan interest. All those things need to be addressed and addressed immediately, because the whole integrity and wholesomeness of the game needs to be back to where it was, so thereâ€™s an incentive to get back to the ballpark and win every day,â€
His client, Mets newly acquired pitcher Max Scherzer and player negotiator, had this to say:
â€œThere are so many different ways as players as whole that we believe we can make the game better. Weâ€™re absolutely committed to doing that,â€ Sherzer told reporters. â€œI hear every other player, whether young or old, theyâ€™re all saying the same thing clubhouse to clubhouse. Itâ€™s not just me who thinks this, itâ€™s everybody. Itâ€™s obvious to all the players.â€
In the wee hours of Thursday, after the lockout was affirmed, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred explained why the lockout was necessary.
â€œThis defensive lockout was necessary, because the players associationâ€™s vision for Major League Baseball would threaten the ability of most teams to be competitiveâ€¦ Itâ€™s simply not a viable option. From the beginning, the MLBPA has been unwilling to move from their starting position, compromise or collaborate on solutions.â€
How long this lockout will last is anyone’s guess, but a short outcome does look like it is in the offing. At stake is money, the players want more earlier, and the owners want to keep that money. In the last several agreements, the owners have pretty much had their way. This time the players have made it clear that they are sick of it and are not going to take it anymore. They have their heels dug in, which does not spell for any early agreement.
As of this writing, baseball player’s union leader Tony Clark, who is an ex-Yankee first baseman, has not made a statement on the lockout.
At 12:03 am today Manfred issued this letter to baseball fans: