MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced the cancellation of Opening Day and teams' first two series of the 2022 season on Tuesday, moments after the league and players' union failed to agree on a new CBA. Nine straight days of meetings in Florida weren't enough -- MLB's self-imposed lockout remains in effect, and games will be lost due to labor issues for the first time since 1995.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Manfred addressed his unwelcomed decision and said that both parties "worked hard to avoid an outcome that's bad for our fans, bad for our players, and bad for our clubs." Manfred joked and laughed through parts of the session, and his attitude certainly wasn't lost on the disgruntled players. The season has been delayed indefinitely.
"Manfred is the perfect man for the players' association. I mean, if you want somebody who you can make into the whole villain of this thing," ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan told The DA Show on Wednesday. "I'm curious where you think Rob Manfred ranks among fans in the Bettman, Goodell, Silver, Manfred quartet... I see how people talk about Manfred on social media. But it's social media. I pay attention to it, but I don't look at it like it's the be-all, end-all.
"I think the players have their foil. Strategically, this gets really interesting. And if they play this right, if they were to make this a referendum on Rob Manfred, I really do wonder what the pressure would feel like for Major League Baseball then. If the person who's supposed to be in charge of this thing is getting absolutely blasted, day after day by the players, does he have enough capital to survive that?"
Both the league and players' union reportedly made progress in negotiations on Monday, but the players rejected MLB's "best offer" on Tuesday, as those concessions were too insufficient. Union chief Tony Clark spoke to reporters on Tuesday, and mentioned that players "remain committed to the bargaining process and getting back on the field as soon as possible."
A statement released by the players' union said that Manfred's "defensive lockout" was "a culmination of a decades-long attempt by owners to break our player fraternity. As in the past, this effort will fail." The core economic issues on the table include salary arbitration, the competitive balance tax, service time, minimum salaries, and pre-arbitration bonus pool money.
The entire baseball conversation between Passan and DA can be accessed in the audio player above.