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MLB Lockout: Players Reject Mediation; Sides Reach a Crossroads

MLB: JAN 28 MLB Lockout Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The calendar flipped to February a few days ago, and much of the Midwest region got pummeled with a wintery storm this week. In a normal year, early February — regardless of the foot of snow that may currently cover our favorite ballpark — marks the start of baseball’s nine-month campaign. But for now, the MLB owners and the players’ union remain in a lock in their CBA negotiations.

Even though both sides have acknowledged that crunch time is nearing (as far as starting spring training & the regular season on time), the collection of events from this week has been less than encouraging.

MLB Labor Update: Spring Training is in Danger

Following a Tuesday session described by several reporters as ‘heated’ and ‘underwhelming’, MLB did not make a counteroffer to the proposals made by the union after saying it would. Instead, MLB asked for federal mediation. This is not unheard of when it comes to labor negotiations in sports. In fact, it’s fairly common. Federal mediation was used during the baseball players’ strikes in 1981 and 1994, and more recently used to help the National Hockey League end its lockout back in 2013.

The use of federal mediation would need to be agreed on by both sides, and that ended up not being the case here. The players were not pleased with this request and officially declined the mediation on Friday.

In Commissioner Rob Manfred’s letter to baseball fans from December, he ended the testament with this: “MLB is ready to work around the clock to meet that goal. I urge the Players Association to join us at the table.”

Pitchers and catchers typically report for spring camp around Valentine’s Day; that’s under two weeks away.

Some MLB players voiced their opinions on the current state of the negotiations:

The scheduled start of the 2022 regular season is about eight weeks away.