With Spring Training looming – and already a no-brainer bet to be delayed – and the threat of actual regular season games lost, MLB’s owners are attempting to get help to negotiate with the players union.
In *THEORY,* bringing in a third party mediator can really help with negotiations:
Major League Baseball today requested immediate assistance of a federal mediator to help resolve the sport’s lockout, sources told ESPN. Under their request, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service would help assist with the proceedings.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 3, 2022
I say in theory, because the mediator – usually a judge or former judge and a staff – can help only so much. But the idea is that a neutral third party can try to bridge the gap in issues and try to assist in coming up with solutions *without* allowing the temperature between the sides to rise. I don’t want to needlessly get peoples’ hopes up – because the owners could’ve done this a long time ago – but this is a potentially helpful step.
The flip side, if you want to be negative, is that this is an acknowledgement by MLB that a deal is not going to get done without help. In other words, it’s a recognition that the negotiations between the two sides, alone, are not likely to be productive. So that means they are definitely as far apart as we have been led to believe, and that part is absolutely not a good sign. Note that federal mediation was involved back in 1994 and in 1981, and neither time aided in avoiding missed games. You don’t really get to this point unless things are bad.
So, on the whole, as far as the timeline is concerned, I don’t see this as immediately changing my perspective. Spring Training is still definitely going to be delayed, and I’d give Opening Day proceeding on schedule no better than a 50/50 shot at this point.
More soon if there is fallout from this.
UPDATE: A better sense of how this played out, as I’m going to guess this was preceded by the owners being unable to get on the same page to go back with an offer, so a majority decided instead to simply say no counter, and let’s try for mediation:
Sources: MLB has told the MLBPA it will not make a counter offer after MLB two days ago saying it would.
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) February 3, 2022
Now we wait to see if the players even agree to mediation. I don’t quite know why they wouldn’t, but they have been much more aggressive through this process than they have been in the past (and, like I’ve said, I hardly blame them). I grow more frustrated by the day at the owners’ seeming unwillingness to be reasonable. I haven’t seen it yet.
UPDATE 2: A lot more here.