More Boston Red Sox spring training games have been cancelled
Major League Baseball has cancelled three more days of spring training games, according to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers. That wipes out three games from the Boston Red Sox spring schedule, which will now begin no earlier than March 8.
The league had previously postponed spring training by a week, costing the Red Sox a total of nine games when factoring in split-squad games and the annual tune-up against Northeastern that would have taken place yesterday. The Red Sox were expecting to open the spring slate against the Minnesota Twins on March 5 but that game is now cancelled, along with games against the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees.
Boston is currently set to host the Pittsburgh Pirates at JetBlue Park on Tuesday, March 8. This revised date is contingent on MLB and the MLBPA coming to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement by a league-imposed deadline of February 28.
If the sides can’t agree on a deal by the end of the month, the owners remain steadfast with their threat of postponing Opening Day. They have been adamant that cancelled games will not be made up, meaning players will lose paychecks, putting the pressure on the MLBPA.
The sides met for five consecutive days this week but remain miles apart in negotiations. While some encouraging progress was made on Friday regarding the implementation of a draft lottery, there are several other hurdles to clear before we get to within striking distance of a deal.
The owners have agreed to the proposal of creating a bonus pool to reward the top pre-arbitration eligible players but there remains a significant gap between their offer and the amount the players are asking for to fund this pool. There are concerns with revenue sharing and service-time manipulation that need to be solved and they have barely scratched the surface on revising the structure of the competitive balance tax.
Progress is being made but negotiations are inching along at a snail’s pace. The owners dragged their feet for months while locking out the players and refusing to make an offer. When owners finally came to the table, the players claimed they weren’t negotiating in good faith based on early proposals that weren’t even close to meeting their demands.
As infuriating as it is from a fan’s perspective, we shouldn’t be all that surprised by the league’s tactics. The threat of cancelling regular season games is the strongest leverage that the owners have on their side. The billionaires can afford to lose a handful of home games if the end result is a CBA that is favorable to their side. Contrary to popular belief, a large percentage of baseball players aren’t millionaires – losing paychecks matters to them. The owners know this and are eager to exploit it.
Is it a wise business strategy? Sure, taking advantage of any leverage they can get is the key to winning negotiations. The owners are intentionally allowing these talks to go down to the wire to apply pressure on the MLBPA to cave to their demands.
Finding common ground on the primary sticking points shouldn’t be this difficult but the owners don’t appear to be interested in a fair deal. They want a deal that allows moderate concessions to appease the players but still ultimately makes the owners feel that they won the battle.
The strategy might work but at what cost? Our anxiety levels are already through the roof and the cancellation of regular season games would further alienate fans. A shortened training camp leaves insufficient time to ramp up for the season, diluting the product on the field with unprepared players and increasing the chances for injuries.
The owners don’t care. Their greedy tactics are a bad look for MLB but they aren’t overly concerned about the negative public perception as long as it’s outweighed by the money they are stuffing in their pockets.