|(Source: Life magazine)|
That picture above is an image of the 1994 baseball lockout. It was a season where Paul O’Neill led in the American League batting race and where the Montreal Expos were rolling toward a championship. And then… it stopped.
Baseball has been in a harmonious balance between players and owners for the last two decades…but that may come to an end if things don’t change quickly. Both sides are working to negotiate a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and so far, there are more arguments than compromises and the clock is ticking.
The current Collective Bargaining Agreement will expire on December 1st, and if both sides cannot reach a new agreement owners are threatening a player lockout. If there was a lockout it would have immediate effects on the off season. The Winter meetings kick off on December 4th in Washington D.C. and a lockout could mean a lack of off season moves. It would certainly make the beginning of the off season difficult with teams unable to complete rosters since it would delay free agency.
Although the deadline is still more than a week away, owners are frustrated with the slow progress with key issues on both sides. Despite the slow progress commissioner Rob Manfred was confident the deadline would be met, “In terms of trying to make a deal, 10 days is plenty of time” read the rest HERE.
Some of the key issues that are slowing negotiations involve creating a fair international draft. In exchange for an international draft owners want to eliminate direct draft-pick compensation which would allow unrestricted free agency for the first time. Under current rules, teams lose a draft pick for signing a free agent that received a qualifying offer. Owners really like the idea of an international draft because it potentially means signing an international amateur for less money.
Players however reject an international draft and have their own concerns with the current draft pick compensation because it is possible for an international amateur agent to receive a bigger contract than a major league free agent that is tied to a draft pick. Players are also concerned that there is inequality with U.S. born players versus international agents. Both sides agree that the international market is so compromised that it needs a new system to eliminate corruption however, what that new system may be would likely be complicated since there are so many factors to consider.
|Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images|
Both sides are also at odds over proposed changes to the Joint Drug Agreement that was originally created back in 2006. It is rumored that several players are in favor for a stronger program during the season in hopes to continue their goal of deterring and ending the use of banned substances in the game. While players are in favor of a stronger program, the union may be looking for more leeway in other areas and will have to look for a compromise. You can read more about the agreement HERE.
Last but not least there are still issues concerning the luxury tax and revenue sharing. The Yankees are a good example struggling with the idea of getting under the costly luxury tax. Smaller market teams are still looking for a way to build competitive teams with the bigger markets and also how to get an equal share of the money coming from the luxury taxes imposed.
|Phil Carpenter / The Montreal Gazette|
Negotiations are still underway but if significant progress is not made Manfred could hold a meeting of the owners and call for a vote to authorize a lockout. If there was a lockout, it would be a huge blow to the game. As stated, the 1994 strike put an end to the Montreal Expos best season….and potentially robbed them of a World Series win. It also slowed O’Neill down from achieving even greater highs.
We don’t need to relive another season like 1994. This is America’s favorite past time and the game must continue to go on as scheduled. Let’s hope the owners and the Union can come to an agreement soon.
BYB Managing Editor
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