Baseball is Back!

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99 days after the start of MLB’s lockout, which shed a negative light on the sport of baseball and put the 2022 season in jeopardy, the owners and players reached a new deal on the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

Seeing the 2022 season up in the air for passionate baseball fans was more than depressing. Fan’s frustrations echoed on social media as they took shots at owners who, much more than less, deserved every bit of criticism. As the March 1st deadline for a new CBA passed, we recall Rob Manfred’s infamous words: “I see missing games as a disastrous outcome for this industry, and we’re committed to agreeing to avoid that.¨ MLB threatened cancellation of regular-season games unless a new deal was reached, and as the deadline loomed, made laughable proposals to the union, which questioned how much MLB was really committed to avoiding the atrocity of missing games. 

A Disastrous Outcome

MLB did, in fact, cancel games. They canceled the first two series of the regular season on Tuesday, March 1st, which led to players and fans being deeply unsatisfied and even angry. Manfred could be seen laughing while he broke the news during a press conference shortly after the  5 pm deadline on Tuesday. As the week went on, MLB and the MLBPA (Major League Baseball Players Association) would meet on Thursday, March 3rd. The meetings would not last long. MLB described the two sides as being “deadlocked.” In reality, MLB wasn’t taking any steps to compromise and get things moving forward. 

More Deadlines, Little Urgency

As a new week blossomed, a new deadline blossomed with it. MLB set yet another deadline for a new CBA to be agreed upon (Wednesday, March 9th). Otherwise, they would cancel more games — seeming like they were threatening players and not actually destroying the sport that they themselves are in charge of running. So on Tuesday, March 8th, MLB and the PA got to it. They spent 16+ hours negotiating with each other to try and hash out a new deal to save baseball. But why wasn’t there more of a sense of urgency to negotiate day and night to get the 2022 season started? There was, actually, but all the urgency was on the player’s side. 

Strength Against Ultimatums

Just look at the owner’s “best and final offer” right before the first deadline. Their proposal was made in such bad faith and was so unreasonable that the players immediately voted unanimously to reject it–even though the deadline loomed. The players understood they had to set a precedent and look out for future generations of players. They knew that accepting the offer would not do the sport of baseball any good. In fact, the owner’s “best and final offer” wasn’t better than the one they offered to the PA on March 8th. Experienced people in business such as these fine billionaires had to have thought that their offer would be rejected.

So truth be told, MLB knew what it was doing along with their deadlines and threats. Using an ultimatum: accept the deal or forfeit pay and games — to try and force players into a deal that would be detrimental to the players and the sport, just so that they could be on their (the owners) terms. Did Manfred really think the players would succumb so easily? Unlike the owners, the players were fighting for a worthy cause. They worked together cohesively to make sure a system of fair and deserved pay was in place for themselves and the future players who work tirelessly on their craft. While owners work together to make sure their bellies continue to get full over the coming years as they cheat others. 

There has never been any urgency from MLB and its owners. This attests to the sad fact that several owners see baseball as nothing more than a few more dollars in their pockets. 

Thank God for Thursday!

 As Wednesday morning approached, there was a glimmer of light in the darkness. The PA would make their counteroffer to the proposal MLB laid out before them Tuesday night:

MLB’s CBT proposal: $230m going up to $242m over five years.

PA’s request: $238m going up to $263 over five years. 

MLB’s pre-arb bonus pool proposal: From $20m to now $40m

PA’s request: $80m

MLB’s minimum salary proposal: $700k going up to $770k over five years.

PA’s request: $725k going up to $830k over five years.

Strings Attached

MLB also wanted to implement an international draft and an additional penalty tier for teams that exceed the Competitive Balance Tax. As you can see, on Tuesday, the MLB got closer to the PA’s requests. But each time the MLB moved on monetary issues, they came with strings attached, such as introducing an international draft and an additional tier of penalty for the CBT. 

The negotiations that took place Wednesday would determine the fate of more baseball games. And as a matter of fact, they did. MLB canceled another round of games, which led to fans feeling confused and players speaking out. 

But, TGFT, thank God for Thursday!

On Thursday, March 10, the 99th day of the MLB lockout, MLB and the PA were able to break through after several discouraging and stressful negotiation sessions. Here are the important pieces of the new CBA that were agreed to:

  • CBT starting at $230m going up to $244
  • Pre-arbitration bonus pool at $50m
  • Man on 2nd to start extra innings rule terminated
  • Universal DH 
  • Minimum salary starting at $700k and going up to $780k 
  • The fourth tier of penalty for CBT 
  • New 12-team playoff format 

Games that were canceled would also be rescheduled.

After 99 days of blood, sweat, and tears; Twitter jabs, endless ranting from passionate baseball fans, hopeless thoughts and fear of losing our sport, countless tweets from reporters, and the collective “Rob Manfred sucks” chants:

Baseball is Back

There will be sunflower seeds and peanuts; Hamburgers and hot dogs; Lemonade and beer, and lots of ice cream to go around. While it all may cost a fortune, it’s definitely worth pairing with the crack of the bat, the pop of the glove, and the sun blazing on the green grass–cut to perfection. There will be rivalries, benches emptying, ejections; Moon shots, walk-offs, and grand slams; No-hitters, records set, and history made. Diving plays will commence as players sacrifice their bodies for that oh-so-precious third out. The ball will bounce off gloves, be thrown into the crowd, and heartbreak will ensue. But we’ll get over it because more baseball will be played. 

A Free Agency Frenzy

Fans have a lot to look forward to within the next couple of days. Such as the free agency decisions of several premier players: Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Kris Bryant, Freddie Freeman, Nick Castellanos, Anthony Rizzo, and more. With less than a month until opening day, free agents will be signing deals left and right, and it could just be your team that strikes gold. There will be tons of attention on Major League Baseball during the course of the next several weeks. Lovers of the sport understand this is exactly the momentum needed to propel MLB into its 2022 season. There is the free agency frenzy to be excited for and the excitement surrounding franchises who bolstered their rosters. 

Who and What to Watch:

Huge splashes made in free agency pre-lockout: Marcus Semien and Corey Seager – both elite with the glove and the bat – joined forces and headed to the Texas Rangers. The Rangers now have a middle infield that you could rank with the other top-notch middle-infield duos of Major League Baseball. Not only that, but the Rangers also boast a good young core and the #2 pick in the MLB draft – Jack Leiter.  He is a right-handed pitcher that was grossly dominant throughout the 2021 NCAA baseball season and College World Series. Realistically, the Rangers won’t compete for another two years. But they’re off to a fantastic start as both Semien and Seager signed multi-year deals (7yrs/$175m & 10yrs/$325m), and boy, will that team be fun to watch as they gell together. 

New York Mets

The New York Mets also made big splashes in free agency. Acquiring future Hall of Fame pitcher Max Scherzer, quality at-bat Mark Canha, All-Star Eduardo Escobar, and the mad-man on the bases – Starling Marte. The biggest of these splashes was Scherzer, who signed a three-year, 130 million dollar deal pre-lockout. The biggest deal in baseball history in terms of AAV. Scherzer is the oldest player to sign a contract worth $100 million or more. The Mets now have the best 1-2 punch out of all the pitching rotations in Major League Baseball: Jacob deGrom and his new partner, Scherzer. How disgusting. Fans will be enjoying this two-headed monster much more than the players that will have to face them in the box on back-to-back days. 

Los Angeles Angels

All MLB fans should watch out for the impact of Noah Syndergaard signing with the Los Angeles Angels. We saw Thor make his return for the Mets in the 2021 season. He looked good. Good enough that the Angels signed him to a 1yr/$20m dollar deal. The scenario in which the Angels make the playoffs is good for MLB. The Angels have the two best players in the sport, both big-time superstars in Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. MLB’s best doesn’t always make the playoffs. So for the two best players in the sport to be on the big stage in October, when many more tune into baseball, would be a MAJOR win for MLB.

But there’s one hurdle the Angels need to overcome to be on that big stage, and that is their pitching woes. As we’re watching the Angels this year, let’s hope that Syndergaard can provide a big boost to this pitching staff that consists of Shohei Ohtani, Reid Detmers, Patrick Sandoval, Michael Lorenzen, José Suarez, and Jaime Barria. 

Fans will also get to see other players in new settings: Robbie Ray with the Seattle Mariners, Marcus Stroman with the Chicago Cubs, Kevin Gausman with the Toronto Blue Jays, Javier Báez Eduardo Rodríguez with the Detroit Tigers

A New Era of Baseball

The upcoming season will be one to remember for ages. We’ll see the growth of young superstars like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr., Juan Soto, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Wander Franco, Rafael Devers, Luis Robert, Eloy Jiménez, and more. We’ll see elite pitchers grace the mound again, like Justin Verlander and Shane Bieber. And for the first time, MLB will use a 12-team playoff format that will cause some chaos come October. 

Let’s all be grateful that our precious game is still alive and for the players that make our sport great.

 

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

Players Mentioned:

Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Kris Bryant, Freddie Freeman, Nick Castellanos, Anthony Rizzo, Marcus SemienCorey Seager, Jack Leiter, Max Scherzer, Mark CanhaEduardo EscobarStarling MarteJacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Reid Detmers, Patrick Sandoval, Michael Lorenzen, José SuarezJaime Barria, Robbie Ray, Marcus Stroman,  Javier Báez,  Eduardo Rodríguez, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr., Juan Soto, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Wander Franco, Rafael Devers, Luis Robert, Eloy JiménezJustin Verlander, Shane Bieber.