MLB lockdown ends and 162-game season will be played

It took 99 days of a controversial lockout, but baseball is back. A deal reached Thursday by Major League Baseball club owners and its ...


It took 99 days of a controversial lockout, but baseball is back.

A deal reached Thursday by Major League Baseball club owners and its players’ union after months of heated negotiations will allow for a full season, with opening day scheduled for April 7.

The five-year collective agreement will increase wages for young players and provide more incentive for teams to compete, among other provisions. Over the past two days, the deal was nearly derailed due to disagreement over creating a draft system for overseas players, but a compromise was reached which will be finalized later.

“Being back on the field is exciting for the owners, the players, the fans too,” said Gerrit Cole, a Yankees star pitcher and member of a union subcommittee who worked on the deal, during the talk. ‘a telephone interview. “I think that will be the first step in maybe trying to mend some of the fences with some of the fans who have probably been upset with this process, and rightly so.”

At a press conference shortly after owners of all 30 MLB clubs voted to ratify the deal, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred beamed as he announced the sport’s return. He then tried to strike a more conciliatory tone with the players – and the fans who watched the labor struggle drag on in public and jeopardize spring training.

“I apologize to our fans,” he said. “I know the last few months have been difficult. There was a lot of uncertainty at a time when there is a lot of uncertainty in the world. Kind of like the collective bargaining process sometimes works.

The news was welcomed by fans, players and even politicians, with the game’s best player, Mike Trout, tweeting the simple message “See you in Tempe” in reference to the Angels’ spring training facility in Arizona.

With the deal, baseball will approach something closer to a normal season for the first time since 2019. The past two seasons have been disrupted by the pandemic, which has limited the number of fans who can attend games, and the fear of what was should be a bitter labor dispute.

Now, with the lockout behind them, the league and its players will begin a frantic race towards the regular season. Despite a flurry of pre-lockdown activity, there are more than 200 unsigned players, including stars like the first baseman Freddie Freeman and shortstop Carlos Correa.

In what is expected to be a trading frenzy, players will have to travel to spring training camps in Arizona and Florida this weekend. spring training, which is normally six weeks, will be significantly reduced. Players must report by Sunday and exhibition games will begin on March 17.

“As far as the shortened spring, we had to go through that in 2020,” Cole said. “There is some experience there before. And I think that will give some players and some organizations some wisdom on how they go about it.

Baseball’s last work stoppage came when players went on strike in 1994, a dispute that carried over into the 1995 season. Since then, the league and its players have enjoyed social peace.

It wasn’t always a friendly relationship, and the players’ union, the strongest in professional sports, has become increasingly vocal in recent years over its complaints. These included wages lagging behind the club’s income, a desire to improve competition between teams, and how younger players were paid less despite being heavily dependent. And when a new deal couldn’t be reached when the previous one expired, Manfred locked out the players on December 2.

“If we had just slipped through the season and started the season without the lockout, I don’t think we would have a deal today,” Manfred said.

Tony Clark, former player and union leader, said in a statement: “Our union has suffered the second longest work stoppage in its history to make significant progress in key areas that will not only improve rights and benefits current players, but those of generations to come. Players have remained engaged and unified from start to finish and, in doing so, have re-energized our fraternity.

In negotiating this deal, club owners and players have pushed themselves to the brink. The leeway with which to run a full 162-game season without major schedule changes was shrinking as the weeks went by.

Ultimately, a full schedule will be incorporated into the existing schedule, with previously canceled games being made up on holidays and with nine-inning doubleheaders scattered throughout the season, which will not end until three days later than the normal. The World Series dates will remain the same.

The deal came after three days of grueling negotiations this week. Although a senior union subcommittee voted 8-0 against the deal, the union’s wider executive committee voted 26-12 in favor. The owners ratified the agreement on Thursday evening, officially ending the lockout.

The parties initially began discussing a new working agreement last spring, exchanging proposals throughout the summer and fall. After Atlanta beat Houston in the 2021 World Series, a new deal has become the sport’s main concern.

Despite numerous record deals in recent years, the average major league salary of around $4 million has plateaued. The average career length is around four years and salary arbitration – which provides for increases – usually begins after a player has accumulated three years of service. According to the union, 60% of players who played in a major league game last year were paid around the league minimum rate of $570,500.

Face-to-face talks in Texas in late November did not result in an agreement. The same was true for meetings in New York throughout the winter. There have also been lulls, with MLB spending 43 days between initiating the lockdown and presenting another economic proposal in January.

Nine straight days of negotiations in Florida, starting Feb. 21, yielded only modest progress. And when a deal hasn’t been reached by MLB’s self-imposed deadline of March 1, Manfred canceled the first two series of the season for each team and said players would not be paid for games not played.

A week after Manfred called off the games, MLB again tried to facilitate a deal with a new deadline. He changed his position and offered players the option of playing a full season and receiving full salary and service time if the players reached an agreement by Tuesday, with a corresponding threat of cancellation of more than matches.

Sensing a certain urgency, the sets of proposals have evolved several times. But on Wednesday, when a roadblock over the implementation of the international draft and the end of a draft pick compensation system emerged, the parties could not agree on a solution before the deadline for 6 p.m. league.

Even as Manfred announced the cancellation of another week of matches – bringing the total to around 180 contests – the parties continued to talk and cleared remaining hurdles on the international draft and bid qualification system on Thursday morning , with the final decision on these issues being postponed. until July 25.

The actors held firm throughout the process as the two previous collective agreements had been seen as having further tipped the balance of power and the economy in favor of the landlords. Realizing that major changes to the system would be tense and full of on the edge of the abyssthe union has spent years preparing for this fight against MLB owners, who ran an estimated $11 billion-a-year business before the pandemic.

Although some players wanted to keep pushing because they felt some aspects of the deal still hadn’t kept pace with owners’ coffers, the younger players made the biggest gains in this deal.

“We’re committed to working hard over the life of the deal, maybe getting to the bottom of players’ concerns more regularly so they don’t pile up,” Manfred said. “This negotiation started very far apart – and in case anyone missed the memo – they came up with a very, very broad agenda for change. They are entitled to it. That’s what it’s about. »

Where gamers have seen notable changes: the minimum wage will rise to $700,000 in 2022 (and increase by $20,000 each year), and luxury tax thresholds, which effectively penalize owners for overspending, will increase from 210 million dollars in 2021 to 230 million dollars in 2022. (and rise to 244 million dollars in 2026).

A $50 million bonus pool will be created for top young players not yet eligible for salary arbitration; a lottery system will be added for the top six spots in the amateur draft to prevent teams from losing to earn the No. 1 pick; the playoffs will be expanded to 12 teams (owners wanted 14, which the union says watered it down); and there will be new ways to prevent clubs from manipulating young players’ time in service (those who finish first or second in the annual Rookie of the Year voting will be credited with a full year).

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Newsrust - US Top News: MLB lockdown ends and 162-game season will be played
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