Negotiations between Major League Baseball's owners and players on a new collective bargaining agreement continue to drag on. It's become increasingly clear that the regular season will be shortened as a result of this mess. Unless the two sides come to an agreement on Monday, games will be cancelled. That would be catastrophic to the game of baseball, and the blame lies almost exclusively on one side.
Rob Manfred and the owners he represents started this process by locking out the players on December 2. The stated purpose of that move was to jumpstart negotiations. The owners then sat on their hands for 43 days before offering up a proposal. All that wasted time got us where we are today.
The owners could have ended the lockout weeks ago as a sign of good faith and allowed the players to start spring training while a new deal was hammered out. That would have meant the players would be able to get ready for the season and could start as soon as possible. Instead we're now at the end of February and spring training hasn't even started.
The players have caved on a lot of MLB's asks during the negotiation process. Expanded playoffs, advertising on jerseys and more. The players' main sticking points are raising the competitive balance tax (luxury tax) threshold, increasing minimum salaries to keep up with inflation and fixing service time issues. That doesn't seem like a whole lot, but owners refuse to budge.
Manfred appears to be on the verge of his second shortened season as commissioner. The first came in 2020 due to COVID-19. He handled those negotiations with players miserably and it cost everyone money. Now he's guiding a group of owners that clearly expected the players to roll over and take a bad deal. That hasn't happened. The players appear to be completely unified and willing to sit as long as it takes to get a deal done.
It is on the owners to get this done. The players have made concessions, the owners have barely budged. If they don't solve this soon they'll face an apathetic fanbase tired of the mess they've made.
Fans want games and they want to see the players play. They're not sympathetic to billionaire owners who want to secure more revenue. That's what Manfred and his ilk seem to not understand.
It's on the owners to get this done. As of now they're steering the spot off a cliff.