Potential silver lining for MLB canceling opening day of baseball

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The bad blood simmering over nine straight days of back-and-forth negotiations between Major League Baseball owners and players boiled over Tuesday afternoon and led MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to announce that his sport would eliminate regular season games. a labor dispute for the first time in 27 years.

While technically true, baseball also missed two-thirds of its regular season just two years ago when MLB and MLBPA couldn’t agree on how to play ball amid the pandemic. of COVID-19. While not a labor dispute by definition, the 2020 spat involved many of the same issues baseball is still trying, unsuccessfully, to address.

“I had hoped against hope that I wouldn’t have to be in the position of calling games off. We have worked hard to avoid a result that is bad for our fans, bad for our players and bad for our clubs.” Manfred wrote in a letter to fans. “I want to assure our fans that our failure to reach an agreement was not due to a lack of effort from either party. The players have been here for nine days, have worked hard and have been trying to get a deal done. I appreciate their efforts. So what’s next? The schedule dictates that we won’t be able to play the first two sets of regular season games and those games are officially off. We’re ready to continue negotiations. We have been informed that the MLBPA is back in New York, which means that no agreement is possible until at least Thursday. Currently, the camps could not meaningfully operate until at least on March 8, leaving just 23 days until opening day.

With the first two series of the season now wiped off the slate, MLB’s schedule will contain a maximum of 156 games, a change that will cost players more than $120 million in collective salary. For each additional day of the season canceled, players will lose an additional $20.5 million in wages, according to the Associated Press.

Baseball’s short-term picture looks grim, but there was potentially good, if not great, news for the sport’s long-term outlook contained in Manfred’s otherwise sad comments.

“We have proposed a procedural agreement that would allow for the timely implementation of much needed rules such as the pitch timer and the elimination of changes to improve the entertainment value of the game on the pitch,” he said. declared. “And we accepted the universal DH.”

Aside from the implication that the players did not agree with the procedural agreement offered by Manfred and the owners, the fact that the implementation of a launch clock and the banning of shifts to increase the entertainment level of the product on the baseball field is even on the table is a cause for celebration.

Action-killer change must go and a pitch clock, uh, timer, to speed up play is a regulator that baseball has needed for a long, long time. A Universal DH is probably needed a little less, but if it helps create more action and balls in play, sign us up.

Speaking of signing, we hope the players approve of these game changes when negotiations resume. If no baseball on March 31 leads to a future where baseball is played without lag and with a pitch clock, it will be more than worth it.


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