Opinion: MLB lockout sending baseball six feet under


Knight Crier

The MLB lockout is doing nothing for baseball’s popularity and it’s time for the lock to come off.

Opinions expressed in the Op/Ed section of The Knight Crier are not necessarily reflective of the views of the entire staff of the KC.

Baseball: a sport on the brink of death. The lockout between the MLB and the MLB players union is only digging a deeper grave for baseball. 

Baseball has been a dying sport for years. The lack of publicity for the sport, the overlap into other major sports seasons, and people finding it difficult to sit through a grueling, 9-inning game are most people’s reasoning for not engaging with the sport. Among other reasons, the lockout is only making it more difficult for fans to enjoy the sport. 

The lockout between the MLB management and the players association started December 2nd, 2021 when the collective bargaining agreement between the MLB and the MLB players association expired. The owners locked the players out to try and send them into an urgent state of negation, but after 2 months there has been little to no progress. The reason for the lack of progress is due to the players and owners having different opinions on the economics of the game. The current system keeps players at younger ages from getting paid even if they are in their prime. It also is keeping players that are prepared for the big leagues from coming up from the minor leagues to slow down their service time. These issues have been a topic of discussion for years, but they especially came to light when ex-president/CEO of the Seattle Mariners, Kevin Mather revealed many “techniques” ownership uses to save money as a club and the way they are abusing arbitration rules. 

Mather went into detail about holding players in the minor leagues for as long as they can and also about how they avoid signing free agents until they are willing to take less money. 

“We have taken the position that there are 180 free agents still out there on February 5th unsigned, and sooner or later these players are going to turn their hat over and come hat in hand looking for a contract”, Mather said. 

Images from Twitter: @theCUTCH22, @LLVIII40, @meLlamoTrevor, @NOAHsyndergaard

It’s known around the league and for anyone following baseball that this happens, especially with teams that do not bring in much revenue like the Mariners, but hearing a president and CEO of a baseball club put it into words and even brag about it is unsettling. It’s obviously unsettling for the players union given that the discussion they have had with the MLB has gone close to nowhere. It has also gotten to the point where MLB players are mocking the league on Twitter. Players changed their profile pictures to silhouettes of themselves because MLB.com replaced all of their pictures with generic silhouettes. The players have made it obvious that they have lost respect for management. Players are not only affected by the morality of the lockout but the loss of resources. 

Because of the lockout, players are not allowed to use any team resources. Yankees Pitcher Jameson Taillion suffered an ankle injury last season and has a 5 month recovery period. The entire staff that had planned Taillion’s recovery will not be able to work with him along with keep track of his progress and see what his recovery into next season will look like. 

Image from Twitter @jtaillion50

“Since MLB chose to lock us out, I’m not able to work with our amazing team, Physical Therapists who have been leading my post-surgery care/ progression,” Taillion explained in a tweet on December 2nd, 2021.  

Not just the players of the game are fed up, but the fans as well. It’s about this time of year when fans hear the spring training buzz and word that opening day is less than 2 months away, but this year it’s filled with the question “Is the season going to start on time?” Commissioner Rob Manfred addressed the public Thursday, February 10th with nothing but optimism which gives little hope, but the fact that pitchers and catchers were supposed to report last week, doesn’t leave much room for it. 

I’m an optimist, and I believe we will have an agreement in time to play our regular schedule”, Manfred said. 

This optimism was not implemented into any discussion very far since Spring Training has officially been delayed till March 1st. 

At least fans can be hopeful that the season has a start date, but how can fans be excited when there still is not a definite start and nothing else to keep them engaged over the off-season. No free-agent signings or big trades are happening which keep fans engaged and excite them to find out what players might be on their starting roster during the season. MLB has done nothing to ensure that fans are still engaged or excited for the season because they have no idea themselves how the season will look. The owners have to realize that the only way the MLB will stay a successful sports organization is all rooted in the fans. 

Fans come to games, buy merchandise, pay for MLB.TV subscriptions to make sure they won’t miss a game. Management needs to understand that without satisfying the fans there will not be a thriving league. Management has been so concerned with saving money, but if fans are not investing in teams, they will ultimately lose money. The MLB has already seen the effects that no fans in the stadiums do from playing a season through the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, what do they expect to happen if they lose another season. 

MLB management has lost sight of the most important part of baseball: the love of the game. Baseball is a sport that needs all the help it can get to survive, but the lockout is making that harden than it has ever been before.