Questions and Answers About the MLB Lockout

After the Collective Labor Agreement (CBA) between Major Leagues (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) concluded on December 1, and team owners declared a lockout, the American ball has been practically paralyzed.

For the past 40 days, transactions and / or conversations between clubs and their players from the 40-member protected Major League Baseball roster have stopped. Movements are only allowed with technical and office personnel and with players who have contracts to act in the minor leagues.

Here are some of the most common questions baseball fans ask themselves at this point in the situation.

1. Who paralyzed the industry?

Answer: The owners declared a lockout shortly after the labor pact expired. The shutdown is a technical move supposedly to prevent a player strike, however, because it occurs during the offseason it doesn’t make much practical sense.

2. What are the main reasons for the conflict?

A: As colleague Jesse Rogers explained in a previous story on ESPN, the roadblock is inexpensive.

Athletes feel that fewer and fewer second- and third-tier players are getting paid appropriately when they finally become free agents after six years of major league service, something that mostly happens when the player is in their 30s.

Basically, baseball players want to update the system so that free agency makes sense again for more players. On the other hand, players want some measures to prevent so many teams from being content with not competing, which limits the total investment. A minimum in annual payrolls would also help reduce the gap between the clubs that invest the most and those that spend the least on players.

3. What are the most significant advances since the closure began?

A: None. Basically, the parties have not negotiated on the important points that separate them since the closing began on December 1. The general consensus is that at some point in the next few days, the team owners will make a new offer to the players, which would formally restart the discussions.

4. When should we be concerned about the 2022 game schedule?

A: Considering that the first call for catchers and pitchers is scheduled for the end of the second week of February, then this is the time to begin to fear that there may not be time to reach an agreement without affecting the start of spring training.

Anyway, the most important part of the business is the regular season and the opening day (March 31) could perfectly be maintained, even if the labor dispute shortened the exhibition schedule a bit. However, with each day that passes without an agreement, the chances of affecting the series regular increase.

5. How many times has a season been cut due to labor disputes?

A: In the eight previous fights, only three forced the cancellation of official matches.

In 1972, the first MLB players’ strike lasted 13 days and canceled 86 games. No team played more than 156 games, out of a 162 schedule.

The 1981 strike (right in the middle of the tournament) eliminated 713 games, forced to divide the season in two and create a round of divisional series to decide the rivals that would face in the Championship Series. The strike began on June 12 and ended on July 31.

The last, and greatest, players’ strike of all time, began on August 12, 1994, and was not resolved until April of the following year. In all, 948 regular-series games and the 1994 postseason were canceled. There was no World Series for the first time since 1904 and no club was declared champion for the first time in history.

Due to the strike, in 1994 no team played more than 113 games and in 1995 a schedule of 144 games was drawn up for each ninth.

6 What have been the most extreme movements of owners and players in previous labor proceedings?

A: Both occurred in the great battle of 1994-95.

Team owners held spring training sessions in 1995 with replacement players or strikebreakers and even announced a regular season schedule with replacement players.

The idea was a complete disaster. In addition to the public relations damage, MLB could not even be unanimous on the idea. The Baltimore Orioles said they would not use strikebreakers, Canadian law prohibited the Toronto Blue Jays from such a move, and Detroit Tigers manager Sparky Anderson said he would not damage his service record by directing bogus Major League Baseball players and withdrew momentarily. .

But while it is well on record that team owners called in substitute players to put pressure on the MLBPA, what not many remember is that the players’ guild that Don Fehr led was part of a new league project that sought to challenge the immunity exception. antitrust who enjoys baseball.

On November 1, 1994, a group of shareholders, led by several congressmen and a players agent, announced the United Baseball League (UBL), a circuit of 10 teams (eight in the United States and one in each country, Canada and Mexico. ).

The project was so ambitious that it included plans for future expansion to South Korea and Japan. The idea was magnificent and would give players a new platform, even when the dispute with the majors is resolved. After all, there is a law in America that prevents a company from having a monopoly on an industry.

The Sherman Antitrust Act of July 2, 1890 was the basis for the federal government’s actions to limit monopolies, considering them restrictive for international trade and unfair for consumers.

However, oddly enough, MLB has an antitrust immunity exception.

In 1915, the Federal League (created as a “minor league” in 1913 and elevated to “Major Leagues” in 1914-15) took the National League (founded in 1876) to court, claiming that the old circuit had conspired to monopolize the “Major League Baseball” category, which in practice was a violation of the Sherman Act.

The process was long and caused the Federal League to disappear due to financial incapacity, but the final ruling laid the foundations for exclusivity. In 1922, the Supreme Court of Justice issued a ruling (written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.) declaring that neither baseball games nor the “personal effort” of players fell within the definition of commerce and therefore the baseball business was not subject to the Sherman Antitrust Act.

In the case of the United Baseball League, the plan died before it was born, after the 1994-95 strike was resolved, and MLB had no need to claim its rights in court.