The latest episode of the soap opera that is the MLB lockout featured a five-hour meeting between the players and owners to discuss a collective bargaining agreement for the upcoming season. The two parties have been at each other’s throats since the lockout began on December 2 of last year.
While both parties seem to believe they’ve compromised on certain issues, there is still much to be ironed out. Yesterday’s meeting was the longest the two groups have had since the lockout began, and many have speculated that a meeting of such magnitude could only bode well for the immediate future of baseball. Turns out they were right. The owners announced that they had taken back some of the proposals they’d offered in the last few months.
MLB no longer wants to limit the number of minor leaguers in each team’s system. And it also pulled its offer limiting the number of times a player can be optioned to five. Those are good signs, but wait a second. Neither of those were a thing last season. So, essentially, all MLB has done is go back to square one.
Since the lockout started, as both the players and owners agreed that the previous CBA needed to be improved, going back to square one might sound like a step forward given what we’ve heard since the lockout began. But it’s almost like taking a step backward — back to the start of December. For a league that should be in Florida and Arizona already and has its scheduled start date slated for just over a month from now, that doesn’t seem like a very positive movement.
There is a positive spin to put on all this though. It shows that the owners are willing to walk back some of their proposals from earlier. If they’ve given way on some of their requirements from the players, who’s to say that the players can’t start doing the same? However, that’s where things get murky. It’s likely that the owners were always willing to form a CBA under similar pretenses as the ones in the previous CBA. The proposals they offered were likely just bargaining techniques to make the old CBA more palatable. It’s a bargaining tactic where you shoot for the outrageous to get the other side of the table to agree to something much lesser, something that now appears more reasonable, a something you actually want. Basically, if you want one of your friend’s fries, don’t ask for one, ask for the whole basket. When they say no, then ask for a single fry. They’ll think “Well, at least it’s not the whole thing, and be more likely to give it to you.”
The owners were likely playing a similar card. Seeing as how most of the outrageous proposals that MLB has made during this lockout have come in recent weeks, that just makes it all the more likely in my eyes. The owners are likely hoping that walking back some of those proposals will make the MLBPA more accepting of some of the minor changes the owners have proposed, and perhaps the players will be willing to walk back on some of their larger proposals. That hasn’t seemed to work though.
All news coming from these meetings has implied that while the owners are continually willing to compromise with their proposals, the players are holding firm about what they want. I’m not blaming the players for standing up for what they believe, and wanting to be treated with the respect they deserve, only to point out that until more news of compromise comes out, we’re likely still miles away from an agreement.
Obviously, I’m not in the meetings, so I don’t know exactly what’s going down. The players union has claimed that Tuesday’s meeting was “productive.” Clearly though, little headway was made, and today’s meeting came and went without as much as a peep as to any progress. If that’s what we’re considering a success nowadays, then we still have a long, daunting road ahead of us.