ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — "We came to Texas to make a deal. We committed to the process. We made proposals and it just did not happen."
Those were Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred's comments on December 2. The league's owners locked the players out amid a labor dispute where both sides have failed to reach a collective bargaining agreement. Spring training was supposed to begin this week, but no agreement has been reached. With both sides at an impasse, the league announced that it's canceling spring training games through March 5.
"Unfortunately, we’re at a point now where the clock is ticking, and it’s real-time," said Rays broadcaster and 13-year MLB veteran pitcher Brian Anderson. "And if they don’t make real progress very soon, the start of the regular season could be in jeopardy."
Aside from the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, MLB revenue has increased, but the average player's salary has decreased. Now it's a matter of money.
"And [the players are] saying 'Whoa! This shouldn’t be.' And it shouldn’t be," Anderson added. "So now, you’ve got the owners, who really don’t want to move a whole lot on anything because they’ve got a pretty good deal. And the players, they want to make up all that ground in one fell swoop. And that’s why you’re seeing these sides so dug in their respective corners."
Anderson was a rookie during the strike-shortened season of 1994. He wants nothing to do with another work stoppage.
"I think that is just awful for the game. You saw what happened in ’94-’95. If it wasn’t for the home run race in ’97-’98 when you started getting [Mark] McGwire and [Sammy] Sosa and all those guys into it… who knows if baseball would’ve made it all the way back."
"We made the mistake of playing without a collective bargaining agreement in 1994, and it cost our fans and our clubs," Manfred included in his December comments. "We will not make that same mistake again."
Players and owners are scheduled to meet again next week, possibly every day until a deal is done, according to ESPN.
The Rays are scheduled to open the regular season on March 31 in Boston. Tampa Bay's home opener is slated for April 8 against Baltimore.