You could say that this news has been “expected” for multiple weeks now, but the actual announcement is “expected” to drop on Thursday: Spring Training is officially going to be delayed.
Per the Boston Globe, an announcement on the official delay of Spring Training is expected as soon as tomorrow, when the owners wrap their quarterly meetings and Commissioner Rob Manfred meets with the media. Pitchers and catchers were due to report to Spring Training one week from today, traditionally marking one of the most enjoyable moments of the year: the return of baseball. This year? February 16 will come and go just like every other day of the lockout: with simmering frustration, and a sense that no one is really thinking about the fans.
I think you can also “expect” that the blame for the delay offered up by Manfred on Thursday will not mention the owners, since they are effectively his bosses. It’s worth keeping that in mind, even as the role of Commissioner SHOULD be about something more than that (it seems to be that way only in the NBA, though). All we can hope is that the owners will have stepped up with a reasonable offer by the end of their meetings, but the data points over the last two years tell us that is not a particularly realistic hope.
I recognize that many folks did warn as far back as December that Spring Training might be delayed, and most of us had accepted that fact by mid-January. But what I was not prepared for, as I looked ahead to the possible futures when the lockout started, was that by the second week of February, there would have been almost no progress whatsoever, and absolutely no sense of urgency. It’s shocking and galling, but it’s where we are.
Whenever the lockout ends, you can presume there will need to be *AT LEAST* seven days of offseason before the new pitchers and catchers date, and then *AT LEAST* seven days before games begin, and then *AT LEAST* three weeks of games. All of that sounds way too condensed to me, but it is the minimum based on all the discussions out there and historical precedents. That’s five weeks, bare minimum, total. So, if Opening Day is not going to be the next announced delay, a deal must be completely finalized by the final week of this month. I’m not optimistic.
More from the owners meetings as it becomes available, and otherwise, we just await Manfred’s comments on Thursday. Well, await might be the wrong word. I’m kind of dreading them.