Major League Baseball (MLB) have been forced to cancel the start of the regular season as the lockout with the players has continued past the league’s Tuesday deadline.
The 2022 season was scheduled to begin on March 31. The ongoing work stoppage is the ninth in MLB history, and commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed the opening round of games has been cancelled.
Following a week of intense daily negotiations between the two parties as well as three months of on-off negotiations, the MLB officially cancelled the first two series of the regular season. Service time toward free agency, playoff expansion, luxury tax and a salary floor are among the key factors which led the league to lock out the players in December.
“The calendar dictates that we're not going to be able to play the first two series of the regular season and those games are officially cancelled,” Manfred told a news conference. “The clubs and our owners fully understand just how important it is to our millions of fans that we get the game on the field as soon as possible.
“To that end, we want to bargain and we want an agreement with the Players' Association as quickly as possible.”
The 2021-22 lockout is the first MLB work stoppage since the 1994-95 strike - and the first lockout of the players since 1990. Owners unanimously voted to enact a lockout following the expiration of the 2016 collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players’ union.
This is the second interruption of regular season play in the last three seasons, with the 2020 season affected, delayed and ultimately shortened in response to the Covid pandemic.
Players Association executive director Tony Clark admitted it was a sad day for the players, fans and the sport, referring to the lockout as the ‘ultimate economic weapon’ to use against the players.
“In a $10billion industry, the owners have made a conscious decision to use this weapon against the greatest asset they have: the players,” Clark told a news conference. “But the group won't be intimidated. I've seen more unity over the last few years than any time in our recent history."
Clark added that the group was committed to the bargaining process and getting back on the field as soon as possible.
Throughout the process and negotiations, the union have said it has sought to promote competition, provide fair compensation to young players and uphold the integrity of the market system.