Major League Baseball has canceled the start of the 2022 regular season after failing to reach a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with its players by yesterday’s (March 1) deadline.
The new campaign was due to begin on March 31 but commissioner Rob Manfred announced that the first two series of the regular season will not be played as the lockout continues.
It marks the first time in 27 years that the league will lose games over a labor dispute.
The MLB schedule will now drop from 162 games to 156 at most, while Manfred said the league and players’ union have not yet made plans for future negotiations. Players will not be paid for missed games.
Manfred said: “The calendar dictates that we’re not going to be able to play the first two series of the regular season and those games are officially canceled.”
The owners and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) were unable to reach a deal despite nine days of negotiations in which some progress was made during 13 bargaining sessions over nearly 17 hours on Monday.
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The league had also pushed back its Monday deadline to Tuesday and sent the players’ association a “best and final offer” yesterday on the ninth straight day of negotiations but talks eventually broke down hours before the new deadline as the proposal was unanimously rejected by the union.
Service time toward free agency, playoff expansion, luxury tax, and a salary floor are among the key issues in the current dispute, which led the league to lock out the players in December, the first work stoppage since the 1994-95 season.
That lockout forced a premature end to one season, delayed the start of the following campaign, and angered fans, with attendances plummeting when play finally resumed.
This lockout – the ninth in baseball history – will be the fourth that causes regular season games to be canceled.
Until a deal is struck, all player activity as relates to their teams, including free-agent signings, trades, and use of team facilities, will continue to be prohibited.
Players stand to lose up to $20.5 million in salary for each day of the season that is canceled.
MBLPA executive director Tony Clark described it as a sad day for the players, fans, and the game and called the lockout the “ultimate economic weapon” to use against the players.
He said: “In a $10 billion industry, the owners have made a conscious decision to use this weapon against the greatest asset they have: the players.
With the loss of regular season games, more pressure will be placed on Manfred, with several players taking to social media to criticize the commissioner.
In a statement issued to MLB fans, Manfred stated his desire for talks to resume as soon as possible and for all parties to reach a swift resolution.
He said: “We are prepared to continue negotiations. We have been informed that the MLBPA is headed back to New York meaning that no agreement is possible until at least Thursday.
“As such, camps could not meaningfully operate until at least March 8, leaving only 23 days before scheduled Opening Day.
“We played without an agreement in 1994 and the players went on strike in August, forcing the cancellation of the World Series. It was a painful chapter in our game’s history. We cannot risk such an outcome again for our fans and our sport.
“The clubs and our owners fully understand just how important it is to our millions of fans that we get the game on the field as soon as possible. To that end, we want to bargain and we want a deal with the players association as quickly as possible.”