T-Mobile Park in Seattle, Washington. Fields like this one may not see players or fans anytime soon if the MLB lockout continues. Photo by Nick Wozny

On December 1, 2021, the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between MLB players and team owners expired. The CBA is a labor agreement that reflects the negotiations between league players and league owners. However, less than two hours prior to the expiration of the CBA, MLB owners unanimously voted for a work stoppage in the form of a lockout. This two and a half month lockout is the first in Major League Baseball since 1995, and has potential to be the biggest lockout in all of sports.

There are two sides to a work stoppage in Major League Baseball: a strike, which is where the players initiate the stoppage; and a lockout, in which case the owners are the cause of the stoppage. The cause for this lockout is the expiration of the CBA which expired on December 2, 2021, and the fact that a new CBA is yet to be agreed upon. MLB owners are unwilling to proceed with the season without this agreement with their players, and after multiple months of debating between the MLB Players Union and the MLB Owners, the two sides still remain at odds. With the most recent of the meetings between the league and the players not making any progress, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is scheduled to address the media in late February, allowing a deeper dive into what is going on behind the scenes of the lock out.

With the minimum salary of an MLB player decreasing for the third consecutive season, the players seek a new free agency system that allows younger players to be paid more and sooner. Meanwhile, the owners disagree with the players and feel that young stars should have multiple seasons of professional experience before getting paid the larger contracts.

With the owners voting for a work stoppage in early December, the MLB lockout began right in the middle of the league’s offseason. Many free agents including Carlos Correa, Kris Bryant, and World Series champion Freddie Freeman still remain unsigned months later as we approach a potential Spring Training Whether they will be able to play in a potential 2022 season remains in doubt. Many other players who were able to sign before the lockout began have been unable to train with their teammates and coaching staff at team facilities, and their frustration with league management grows deeper every day. This lockout has caused countless complications for all players both signed or not, and it is possible that the league’s players will go on strike if the issue isn’t resolved by Opening Day on March 31.

To make matters even worse, the players, coaches, league management, and owners aren’t the only ones affected by the lockout. Thousands of people countrywide work within, and for, the league’s organizations at games, practices, and other events that may not take place this year because of the lockout. All of these people could be forced to find other jobs and ways to provide for their families in a short period of time if that ends up being the case.

After two and a half months of debating, no progress between the players union and league ownership has been made, and millions worldwide are being affected because of it, including the fans. “From what the players say about the owners and the league, it really seems like a money grab on their side,” said MLB superfan Jacob “The Zim Man” Zimmerman. “The players just want the economics of baseball to catch up to where the world of sports is at today and the league is trying to do the bare minimum when it comes to those economic improvements,” Zimmerman added. The future of the league remains uncertain, and while some fans are beginning to worry, other fans and analysts are remaining optimistic as they consider both sides of the story. “What we get to hear as fans is the players’ points of view and how unfair things seem. But in fairness, we don’t know the league owners’ side of the story. They seem to believe that the negotiations are heading in the right direction, there’s now optimism that a deal will get done, and I believe that it will,” mentioned local MLB analyst/superfan, Kevin Arriola.

With the MLB season originally scheduled to start in just a couple of weeks, we all hope the league’s owners and players can come to an agreement soon and get our favorite athletes back onto the field!

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