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MLB Owners Need to End the Lockout and Start Spring Training

Ryan Phillips
Rob Manfred, MLB Owners Meetings
Rob Manfred, MLB Owners Meetings / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages
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On Friday, Major League Baseball announced the start of spring training games will be postponed by at least a week. The sports world unleashed a collective "duh" at the news. The league and its players continue to be mired in the midst of contentious collective bargaining agreement negotiations in which little tangible progress is being made. It's time for the owners to end the lockout they imposed, and allow spring training to start while discussions continue.

As CBS Sports' Matt Snyder points out, the owners could choose to end the lockout any time. It's not a necessary bargaining tool. They claimed they implemented it on December 2 to help jumpstart negotiations on a new CBA. Then they waited 43 days to actually make an offer to the Players Association. So, yeah, that was a huge waste of time and rhetoric.

Spring training games were originally scheduled to start on February 26. Now none will be held until at least March 5. MLB has also informed the Players Association it believes a new CBA would need to be finished by February 28 for the 2022 season to start on time. So, again, why not just allow players to start getting ready for the season now just in case a deal is struck and they can start the season on time. It seems the most logical move.

As Snyder also points out, the move to end the lockout could be seen as a good faith gesture that might help grease the wheels of negotiation. Fans would love it because, dammit, we miss baseball and spring training is really fun. Why not give us a distraction while you continue the soul-crushingly slow process of negotiating? It's a win all the way around.

If MLB did end the lockout, there's definitely a chance the players could counter with a strike, but we don't know that. At this point, the only reason baseball isn't happening is because of the moves made by the owners. Frankly, that tells you where we are. A group of billionaires is holding the sport hostage because they want to scratch out a little more money for themselves. And negotiations have borne that out.

So far, the players have made some pretty significant concessions. They've agreed to expanded playoffs, accepted advertisements on uniforms, and dropped their demand for earlier free agency. Both sides believed a draft lottery system was necessary to defend against tanking, so that wasn't difficult. Yes, details need to be hammered out on some of those proposals, but that's where progress has been made. Unfortunately, owners are steadfastly refusing to budge on the biggest issue: giving the players more money.

There's no way to look at baseball's current labor mess and come to any conclusion other than it being the owners' fault. They locked the players out and refuse to make major concessions. They could end this all right now, but are refusing to do so.

From where I stand, there's no logical reason for the owners to continue the lockout. Rob Manfred & Co. need to end it, start spring training and get back to negotiating. Not doing so could do irreparable damage to baseball.

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