We are barely a day into the MLB’s lockout which went into effect after the CBA expired at midnight Thursday. Both sides addressed the media this morning with commissioner Rob Manfred trying to portray the lockout as a necessary step. Manfred began his discussion by saying that all 30 owners supported the decision to enact the lockout.
“We took this action with the support of all 30 clubs,” Rob Manfred says opening his press conference explaining MLB’s lockout.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) December 2, 2021
Manfred, in recent days, has referred to a lockout as a defensive mechanism that the owners were forced to put in place by the MLBPA’s actions. Technically, that isn’t true as both sides could have agreed to continue to operate under the old CBA and continue to negotiate. Manfred pointed to the 1994-95 strike by the players as a reason for enacting the lockout.
Rob Manfred said MLB decided to impose a lockout now because of what happened in 1994-95: If you play without an agreement you're vulnerable to a strike at any point in time.''— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 2, 2021
That season, the CBA expired on December 31, 1993, but both sides continued to operate and the season began with negotiations continuing. When progress wasn’t reached, and in reaction to certain actions by the owners and by Congress, the players elected to go on strike in August, bringing an abrupt end to the season. The strike continued into 1995 and a slightly-shortened regular season was played once a deal was in place.
Manfred acknowledged that no further meetings with the union are scheduled at this time but his hope was they can get back to the table quickly.
Rob Manfred no further meetings with MLBPA are yet scheduled. “It is our desire to get back to the table as quickly as we can."— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) December 2, 2021
MLBPA executive director Tony Clark responded to Manfred’s comments and to the lockout in general. Clark accused the league of keeping up the appearance of being interested in bargaining without that actually being the case. He added that the players won’t be pressured or intimidated into accepting a deal that they don’t believe is fair.
Tony Clark says the league was more interested in the appearance of bargaining than bargaining itself. “The lockout won’t pressure or intimidate players into a deal that they don’t believe is fair”— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) December 2, 2021
Once the lockout went in place, the league released a letter from Manfred to fans on its social channels and all MLB.com websites. The letter was somewhat provocative and again placed blame on the union for forcing the owners into the lockout.
Clark naturally had a pretty spot on response to Manfred’s letter.
Clark on Manfred's letter, posted to social media last night: "It would have been beneficial to the process to have spent as much time negotiating in the room as it appeared was spent on the letter."— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) December 2, 2021
Manfred closed his media session saying that he remains optimistic that both sides can find an agreement before any labor strife would affect the 2022 season in terms of missed games. Judging how things have gone so far, there is going to be a lot of work to do.