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Manfred, owners undercut momentary hope, delay MLB Opening Day with extension of their lockout

Opening Day 2022 to be pushed back, unknown number of games lost

World Series - Atlanta Braves v Houston Astros - Game One
Rob Manfred, seen here watching a soldier reunite with their dog after a long deployment
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Patients reaching the end of their earthly journeys often experience something known in the hospice community as “terminal lucidity,” a brief, brilliant period of time, often accompanied by a surge of energy, in which the patient seems to rebound to their previous levels of mental clarity and energy, before ultimately slipping away from this mortal coil.

That seemed to be the case late last night, when MLB writer/inveterate rake-tripper Bob Nightengale reported a flush of optimism towards the MLB and MLBPA getting a deal done, something that seemed supported by the two sides staying late into the balmy Florida night to continue talks. That nothing immediately came of those talks was immaterial, soothed the sweetly poisonous song of Nightengale; both sides had momentum, and there was optimism for a deal getting done the next day. (Pay no attention to the Cassandra-like figure of Passan silently pursing his lips in the corner, we don’t talk about Jeffrey, no no no.)

Ah, but who could have seen this coming?

Really, anyone who’s been following along with the owners’ ham-handed PR tactics, and keeping track of the stooges who gabble them back, unchecked, throughout this process.

The owners’ “final, best*” offer before beginning to cancel games was exactly the sort of incremental movement we’ve seen from them all bargaining session—except with no movement on the CBT, of course, something they’re still trying to regress back to an even worse deal than the previous agreement. Regarding the players’ main bargaining points, MLB offered:

  • A $5M increase on pre-arb bonus pool from $25M to $30M (MLBPA: $85M)
  • A minimum salary increase from $675K to $700K, increasing by $10K per year (MLBPA: $725K, going up by $20K/year);
  • No changes to current CBT thresholds (MLBPA: 238/244/250/256/263).

*(Manfred claimed in his press conference he never used the bargaining term “final, best,” a legal term that would allow MLB to declare an impasse, which has official bargaining ramifications, but Manfred also claimed in the same presser that the concern of fans are at “the very top of [owners’] consideration list”, so as always, I wouldn’t put too much stock in anything that comes out of his mouth.)

[UPDATE: If the lead negotiator for the MLBPA is to be believed, and as his name is not Rob Manfred he probably should be, then indeed, the action of Rob Manfred’s lips moving does once again indicate he is lying:]

For perspective, the NFL minimum salary currently increases $45,000 per year; the owners’ proposal would have the MLB minimum salary increasing by $40,000 total. These minimal movements were obviously not enough to move players to sign, and so the lockout continues, and now the cancellations start.

MLB has announced the first two series of the regular season are canceled, wiping out the Mariners’ home starts against the Tigers and Angels. Per Manfred’s earlier comments, these games will not be made up, and players will not be paid for them; per lead union negotiator Bruce Meyer, the MLBPA will argue for the games to be made up, with pay.

As it stands right now, the Mariners would open on April 7 at the Twins, a typical delightful early-season cold-weather trip to the Midwest, but that’s assuming MLB doesn’t cancel any more games. The two sides are reportedly headed to New York to continue mediating, apparently to get away from that nasty winter weather in Florida or maybe someone has tickets to Sleep No More.