MLB pitchers and catchers did not report to spring training camps yesterday due to the ongoing lockoutGETTY IMAGES
Pitchers and catchers were supposed to be reporting for spring training camps yesterday, but instead “the MLBPA is building its latest counter-proposal to the league toward a new CBA,” according to NY DAILY NEWS’ Deesha Thosar. The players‘ next offer “will definitely not bring the negotiations to the final stage”. MLB “runs straight into the so-called ‘catastrophic outcome,’ which no one wants,” but one that “looks like it’s going to happen anyway.” Now both sides are saying “the obvious: Owners and players would prefer not to miss games because it results in lost revenue and paychecks”. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is “already on record that the league would prefer a four-week spring training.” But four weeks of camps mean the lockout “must end by early March — or a new CBA agreed, whichever comes first — to avoid missing regular-season games.” That leaves the sides “only about two weeks to bridge the gap between their biggest economic disagreements.” The baseball calendar “will eventually pressure the two sides to reach an agreement,” but right now that pressure “has yet to reach boiling point” (NY DAILY NEWS, 2/16).
ruin a good thing: In SF, John Shea writes that a “possibly blissful week has turned into a depressing week” because owners and players “did not come to a collective agreement”. The season opener on March 31 “remains in danger”. There is “no chance of a solution in mid-February” because both sides “knew that they would not suffer seriously financially if nothing was done by now”. Only when the “threat of games being canceled – leading to cuts in revenue and salaries – is recognized – will there be a sense of urgency” (SF CHRONICLE, 2/16). In Tampa, John Romano writes that the pitchers and catchers’ spring training daily report is the “moment when hope and time begin anew,” but instead there are “lawyers arguing and sources whispering.” The “only certainty is that we are now closer than ever to canceling or rescheduling spring and possibly regular season games” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 2/16). In KC, Vahe Gregorian writes that MLB owners are “too blindly consumed by their own agenda to embrace the common good.” In addition to the “adversarial attitude that set the tone for this clash” with the players, their approach alienates “the lifeblood of the game: the people who want to continue to love baseball, if only baseball would love it back, the fans, for whom… they pretend to serve… and disregard at their peril” (KC STAR, 2/16).
MANY PROBLEMS TO FIX: In Detroit, Lynn Henning writes that this new CBA was “always complicated, messy, hostile — and necessary.” There are “many problems…stacked high.” There is “always a delay”, the “only question is the length”. The attitude of the owners is “not quite so sinister”. They made enough money to become owners, for the most part, by being “sound businessmen whose businesses needed to run efficiently”. Players who “have only a short window of opportunity to maximize income” are also “anxious to get the best possible deal that will give them… a chance to approach this thing called life on the highest possible financial basis” (DETROIT NEWS, 2/16). TIMES’ Romano writes: “I’m not suggesting that there aren’t legitimate differences between owners and players, but they’re not trying to solve a complicated problem like global warming. They’re just trying to figure out who gets more time in the vault with the billions of dollars that fans, networks and sponsors are throwing at them.” The “only real problem” baseball faces today is finding “a system that creates an even playing field that gives each team an equal chance to win”. One that “does not penalize smarter teams” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 2/16).
MINOR LEAGUE SUPPORT: The AP notes that a minor-league player advocacy group “lauded locked out big leagues for refusing to consider a proposal” from MLB that would give teams the “flexibility to play hundreds of cut minor league jobs”. The union said during ongoing negotiations that it “is not interested in this proposal, which is part of a larger package of 28 articles, and has rejected it on at least three occasions”. The group Advocates for Minor Leaguers said in a statement: “The proposal itself underlines again that minor leagues need and deserve a say in their wages and working conditions.” Players on minor league contracts are “not bound by collective bargaining agreements” (AP, 16.2).