Where we are a month after the lockdown

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On December 2, 2021, the owners of Major League Baseball made the short-sighted and aggressive decision to impose an offseason lockdown on the sport, freezing 40-player rosters and banning players and team employees from communicating. . It’s been a month since that fateful day ended more than 25 years of work-related peace in baseball, and as we head out of the holiday season in what is usually a very busy part of the offseason, let’s do update on the situation of this story. far.

In the days before the collective agreement expired on December 1, representatives from Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association gathered in Texas to try to strike a deal. That went along with the negotiations for the shortened 2020 season, which means it really didn’t happen at all, with league ownership demanding players who were designed. kill any potential offer and delay negotiations long enough for them to institute the lockout.

Immediately after the lockdown went into effect, Rob Manfred issued “A Letter to Baseball Fans,” a very spurious statement that attempted to shift blame for the lockdown onto the players. In it, the league commissioner said he was “disappointed” to have been “forced” to implement a “defensive lockout” because the players were “unwilling to leave their position. starting point, to make compromises or to collaborate on solutions “. It was a long, drawn-out statement that claimed the league’s financial system was not broken and that the players were fighting to implement a vision that “would threaten the ability of most teams to be competitive”.

In response, the MLBPA issued the following statement, notable for its brevity:

MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark added the following:

“This drastic and unnecessary measure will not affect the players’ determination to conclude a fair contract. We remain committed to negotiating a new collective agreement that strengthens competition, improves the product for our fans, and advances the rights and benefits of our members. “

As these statements fell, MLB made the curious decision to wipe all traces of modern players from their website altogether. Citing legal issues regarding the use of player likenesses, they removed all articles about active players, replaced all player images with generic silhouettes that make everyone from Gerrit Cole to Andrew Velazquez look like a player created by the user of MVP Baseball 2005, and transformed all of the site’s content into retrospectives on the history of sport.

Legal experts, however, have struggled to identify the exact legal issues that worry the league, especially as the league continues to sell jerseys and other equipment on its website. Nathaniel Grow, professor of business law and ethics at Indiana University, suggested athleticism that they were concerns about the Uniform Player’s Contract, which states that the team may use images of the player for marketing purposes, although he notes that since the players are still technically under contract, the cleanup is probably not legally required.

For what it’s worth, the cleanup isn’t even limited to just websites, with teams removing signs featuring active players from the stadium. More ridiculously, it led the Philadelphia Phillies to remove a banner celebrating Bryce Harper’s MVP award just 12 days after it was set up.

Some, including myself, wonder if the movement at her heart represents an attempt to put pressure on the players, even though she’s so incredibly small it borders on pettiness. Either way, it looks like the decision had the opposite effect, as a number of players instead changed their profile picture to the silhouette in solidarity to poke fun at the league’s decision.

While this was happening, baseball writers began to break down the fan lockdown, in particular explaining the economic issues that are at the heart of the dispute. Writing for Forbes, Anthony Witrado notes that the MLB essentially wants to maintain the status quo because the status quo is extremely in their favor. Chelsea Janes from the Washington post goes into more detail, highlighting how the league highlights the high salaries of the game’s elite players, while the union instead fights to ensure that young players and the “middle class” in baseball are paid at a rate more comparable to their own. field value. Many writers, meanwhile, have gone into great detail about the league’s rising revenue and declining payroll over the past decade.

After the initial storm of reactions died down and the lockout became the status quo for baseball, we started to get a glimpse of how the world of baseball settled into a life of lockdown. out. Ranging from awkward Christmas dinners to lack of communication between injured players and their coaching and coaching staff, the league’s decision to essentially shut down the world of baseball simply complicated the world of baseball – and because the league and the union didn’t negotiate anything serious in December for no reason.

And why has this lockout really been unnecessary, at least so far? Because there has been almost no negotiation since the owners implemented the lockout, except for a brief meeting in mid-December that dealt specifically with “non-core” issues such as as PED policies, joint policy on domestic violence / sexual assault / child abuse. , and the protocols for filing grievances – all important topics that need to be discussed, but ultimately they have absolutely nothing to do with foreclosure. Conversations about revenue sharing, the extended playoffs, tanking, free agency, manipulation of duty time, and more. will only take place at some point in January … which hopefully means any day now.

However, whenever these negotiations resume, expect them to be contentious. Since the day the lockout began, the two sides have blamed each other, and this public posture has not ceased in the meantime. It is an understandable negotiating tactic, an attempt to influence public opinion by presenting itself as the victim.

This time around, it looks like gamers are winning the PR battle, at least online. In recent weeks, sports journalists and financial experts have written articles on the lockdown, most of which have a decidedly pro-player orientation. Stéphanie Apstein from Illustrated sports advocated for players to capture their own narratives after the league essentially “erased” them, to help break the “millionaire versus billionaire” oversimplification that is often thrown. Jules Posner of Forbes.com, meanwhile, reframe the discussion from “millionaires versus billionaires” to “employee versus employer,” writing:

Even though the MLB working class has a few millionaires, the MLB work stoppage is just a microcosm of the larger socio-economic landscape. There are pensions, health insurance coverage, and salary considerations with broad implications on the table for the next ACA — all very real work issues impacting real workers. Even a victory for MLB workers is still a victory for all workers.

Meanwhile, for the first time, the amount of money homeowners have access to takes center stage. MLB Business Rumors“Darragh McDonald Provided A Summary Of MLB Owners’ Net Worth – With Sources! – in a format similar to a summary of free agent contract values. Despite their immense resources and the fact that the league is recording record revenues, total payrolls have declined since 2017, now reaching the levels it was in 2015. Kevin B. Blackistone of the Washington post warns fans not to trust the owners, who are trying to turn the lockout and their own financial situation around in order to win the public relations battle. They claim the sport is in dire financial straits and must limit spending to keep the sport afloat, but then refuse to open their books even to the players they negotiate with to prove it. Returning to last year’s negotiations for the pandemic-cut season, Ken Rosenthal reported that the financial data provided to the players was described by the union’s lawyer as “so heavily drafted that it was essentially meaningless” .

Meanwhile, many actors have said publicly, both through chatting with members of the media and through their own social media accounts, discussing what they expect from the negotiations. Zack Britton, Marcus Semien and Lucas Giolito appeared on Jomboy Media’s Chris Rose Rotation last week and expressed frustration at the current lack of negotiations, with the Yankees reliever stating: “We feel like we’ve come up with some good proposals. And really, we didn’t get anything from their ending in Dallas (in negotiations during the last days of November). Giolito added more details saying:

“We are here, we are ready to negotiate. We’re pretty much expecting the MLB. We made our proposals, we made several proposals just before they decided to lock us out. They said no, they weren’t interested at the time. … We are not going to negotiate against ourselves. It takes two to tango. “

Beyond this naturally frustrating issue, the trio also discussed the main goals of the players, including offensive tanking and low wages for young star players. Britton in particular highlighted Aaron Judge and Juan Soto, two “guys who are superstars who come into the league and just tear it apart” but are forced to wait several seasons to earn salaries commensurate with value. that they bring to their teams.

Official talks and public appearances by senior union officials aren’t the only ways the players have shown agency in the lockout. Jameson Taillon has drawn attention to the fact that players have no contact with their coaches by making fun of them on Twitter.

Many Quadruple-A types – that is, those floating on the border between the major league bench room and the Triple-A starter and who would likely receive an invite to spring training – have chosen to move abroad and play for Korean and Japanese teams next year, including former Yankees Chris Gittens, Mike Tauchman, Iván Nova, Brooks Kriske, Breyvic Valera and Socrates Brito.

And that finally brings us to today, Jan. 2, 2022. For the past few years, the Yankees have been busy in the early days of the year, signing Troy Tulowitzki, DJ LeMahieu (twice) and Corey Kluber, and trading for Jameson Taillon before the year reached a month. For now, however, the hot stove remains off, and we can only hope that the negotiations will be brief.

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