Major League Baseball shuts out players for the first time in a quarter of a century

When Major League Baseball shut out its players when the bell rang at midnight on Thursday, the ninth stoppage in more than a century, the biggest star of the game seemed to have disappeared.

Stories about player deals and multi-million dollar contracts have been removed from the MLB website. Photos of star sluggers such as Giancarlo Stanton and Shohei Ohtani were replaced with blank, anonymous silhouettes on the roster of the 30 baseball teams.

Due to conflicts between club owners and players’ unions, including strikes and employer suspensions, professional baseball in the United States has a long and painful suspension record. The last time such a stoppage occurred in the form of a player strike in the 1994 season, canceling the World Series that year. But after a quarter of a century of labor peace, the latest baseball lockout was launched for the first time in the digital realm.

“It’s not a good thing for the sport, it’s not something we’ve taken lightly, we know it’s bad for business,” Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said on Thursday after the owner chose to close the league. Soon after.

The work stoppage began with the previous collective bargaining agreement, which governed the labor and employment terms between the two parties, and expired at 11:59 pm on Wednesday evening. Manfred said he hopes to finalize a new agreement before the current baseball offseason and the start of the 2022 season.

Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Luck called the suspension a “drastic and unnecessary measure”, but said he was committed to negotiating a new CBA, “strengthening competition, improving products for our fans, and promoting players Rights and interests. Our membership”.

Both sides are still Agree on key points, Including proposals to expand the baseball playoffs and revenue sharing terms between players and owners. Manfred said the league has proposed to create a draft lottery for new talents, and set up a universal designated batsman throughout the league (a player who hits the ball but does not play, currently only half of the MLB clubs use it). At the same time, Major League Baseball requires that the qualification period for players’ free agents — they can renegotiate contracts or seek transfers — be shortened from seven years to five years, and raise the league’s threshold for taxation of club salaries.

In this context, the sport is struggling to cope with changing consumer tastes and the emergence of digital media. The average game attendance rate has fallen from the highs in the 1990s and early 2000s- A sharp decline Since the game was reopened to fans during the pandemic, its fan base has aged.

When broadcasting ruled for a day, nine games lasting more than four hours were ideal entertainment; in the streaming era, movies, sitcoms, and other sports events can be watched at the push of a button, and baseball is very competitive.

The shutdown extended into the spring could threaten the delicate ecosystem of the Regional Sports Network (RSN), which hosts most baseball games.

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Unlike other American professional sports that have strong national media rights, baseball relies heavily on ticket revenue and a large number of regional sports networks (RSN) to conduct and distribute game broadcasts. The 162 regular season games of Major League Baseball dwarf the duration of other professional leagues, such as the National Football League (17 weeks) and the National Basketball Association (82 weeks).

“If the suspension time is too long and it will interfere with regular season games, it will interfere with all licensees, because MLB is an important source of programming, because the season is long and there are many games,” Senior Vice President Neilberg Lee said. Rating agency Moody’s media and telecommunications business. “It turns out that they will be difficult to replace, especially the RSN that relies heavily on one or two sports teams (including baseball).”

Christopher Ripley, CEO of Sinclair Broadcast Group, one of the largest RSN operators, told analysts on Tuesday that the shutdown “may have an impact on the industry”, especially around potential Discussion of direct-to-consumer streaming media products.

Major League Baseball has been negotiating to provide its own national streaming platform, According to the New York PostIf finally completed, this initiative will provide consumers with an option to avoid the expensive cable TV package subscriptions required to watch the game.

Currently, the suspension is mainly to interfere with players’ ability to train during free agency, recover from injuries or obtain new contracts. With the expiration of the CBA, the club spent more than $1.7 billion in the past month to sign free agents before the freeze. The record-breaking pitcher Max Scherzer signed a three-year, $130 million contract with the New York Mets before the deadline. This is one of the largest personal transactions in MLB history.

Scherzer himself is a member of the Major League Baseball Labor Negotiation Subcommittee. He said that only a wealthy boss like Steve Cohen can sign such a contract. Hedge fund giants Who bought the metropolis It was sold for $2.4 billion last fall and was willing to spend more than the alliance’s luxury tax threshold.

“This is something we are currently negotiating, how the team will consider it as the upper limit and will not spend too much on it, although the penalty for this is negligible,” Scherzer said on Wednesday a few hours before the CBA deadline. As a player, he added, “You, like anyone on the team, need a boss to support you.”

At the same time, other players began to mock the boss for deleting the league roster photos. Change contour picture Blank gray silhouettes on social media. Some people, like pitcher Noah Syndergaard (Noah Syndergaard), Posted a picture on Twitter The angry Casey Bates in the 1990 movie “Misery” criticized Major League Baseball’s suspension letter.

Commissioner Manfred stated that “people have overemphasized” the broken relationship between the owner and the player.

“In the final analysis, it is about the substance of the new labor contract.” “We are here. They are there. We need to find a way to bridge the gap.”



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