Rob Manfred is scheduled to address the media on Thursday, and, unfortunately, it isn’t because he’s stepping down as Major League Baseball’s commissioner.
It appears that the purpose of this media availability will be for Manfred to inform everyone of some very predictable news, which is that spring training is going to be delayed due to the lockout.
This time of year is when pitchers and catchers would normally report to Florida and Arizona and we’d all be reading stories about players being in the best shape of their lives with spring training games right around the corner. But, with no Collective Bargaining Agreement in place, players will be doing their prep for the 2022 season independently.
Again, given the way negotiations have gone this news is certainly no surprise. It was inevitable when MLB didn’t bother to hold a meeting for a month right when the lockout was announced back at the beginning of December that this is where we’d be with spring on the horizon. While there has been some positive momentum made in the negotiations through January and early February, it appears the two sides are still very far apart.
The first spring training games are scheduled for February 26, which is under three weeks away. While spring training games don’t draw the same revenue, both in terms of television and radio and at the gates, as regular-season games do, having actual games get chopped is going to add pressure to these negotiations.
Opening Day for the 2022 season is scheduled for March 31. Will there be a deal sorted out by then?
Who knows, but it would be wildly shortsighted for MLB to miss any games just two years after the 2020 season was shrunk to just 60 games, resulting in regional sports networks being rebated for games that weren’t played.