MLB, Which Unilaterally Imposed the Lockout, Says It Will Cancel Regular Season Games if No Deal By February 28

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MLB, Which Unilaterally Imposed the Lockout, Says It Will Cancel Regular Season Games if No Deal By February 28

Chicago Cubs

Seems important to keep clear up front that Major League Baseball, comprised of its 30 constituent teams and owners, unilaterally chose to impose a lockout on December 1 when the Collective Bargaining Agreement expired. They could have, instead, operated the game under the old CBA while continuing to negotiate a new one. But the league feared the players wielding the ability to strike later on, so they instead took that option away. That’s why we’re here.

And, as I said this afternoon, even if the owners had been a little flexible about the whole February-28-as-a-deadline-for-a-new-CBA thing, it wouldn’t matter: they do not want to pay to make up regular season games. So, to foreclose any doubt about the firmness of the deadline it has imposed, MLB made itself abundantly clear tonight in a statement:

So the line has been drawn: a deal done by Monday between two sides that are solar systems apart, or MLB starts cancelling regular season games.

The reason MLB is comfortable with that position? Because it has always been the intention of at least some of the owners to either (1) completely break the union and get a headsmacker of a win in the new CBA, or (2) lose a whole lot of regular season games (and associated expenses). Remember, it takes only eight owners to block a deal, so for as absurd as that position seems, it probably makes financial sense for at least some of them (fans and the future of the sport be damned). That group really doesn’t care which option plays out, because they either get a great deal for the next five years, or they save a ton of money in the short-term and then probably still get an overwhelmingly good deal (because they believe, eventually, the players will break).

And for many of those owners, I expect that April and May games are not nearly as valuable as June and beyond. So when they start cancelling a few games, their position might be, eff it, let’s cancel a lot of games.

The only calculation left for the owners is how much they value expanded playoffs in 2022, which some estimates have pegged at worth upwards of an additional $100 million in revenue. The players have said that if a single regular season game is lost, expanded postseason is off the table. Which, again, means that if the owners cancel a single game, many of them will feel like they might as well cancel a lot of games.

As I’ve said before: a group that wants to set a firm deadline for the lockout it started should be the group coming to the table with reasonable offers. For all we can see on the outside, MLB and its owners have done nothing remotely close to that.

Regular season games are going to be lost at this point, and fans will respond through their behavior in the aggregate. I guess we’ll see if crushing the union for an even bigger slice of the pie will wind up having been worth it when the pie shrinks over the next decade.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.