It is official: Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are in a lockout. After representatives from both sides were unable to come to an agreement earlier this week, the collective bargaining agreement expired on December 1 and the battle between the players and owners will now begin in earnest. It will likely be ugly and public.
The league wasted no time in attempting to strengthen their position by making a point. On Thursday morning, one day after the lockout began, MLB.com looked awfully different. They took down all mentions of current players, leaving the website filled with articles about the 2022 Hall of Fame class and... that's really it.
Why would they do this? Well, technically, MLB only has the rights to the names, likeness, and images of their players under the CBA. So without the CBA, they don't have those rights.
But the league can't actually worried about the players suing them because they still have articles up on the MLB website. This seems like Rob Manfred and Co. making a point. Or trying to, anyway. To hammer home that the owners aren't playing around and if the players won't play ball, as it were, then they effectively don't exist in the eyes of MLB.
However, this is actually making the opposite point. Who cares about going to the MLB website if there isn't anything about the players actually taking the field in 2022? There's only so much the poor staff writers at the site can scribe about the Hall of Fame class or whatever Ichirio is up to nowadays. The owners pay the bills but the league has no content, no draw without the players.
Players responded by changing their Twitter pictures to blank, anonymous cutouts of baseball players.
The war is underway. Everyone better buckle up.