We saw little overall progress made last week in talks between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association, further raising the odds on spring training 2022 and the regular season being delayed.
In fact, we saw some weird proceedings at the end of the week, when MLB requested federal mediation to resolve disagreements over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), only to see the proposal shot down by the players. In the broad picture, it was a blip; it didn’t really accomplish anything, and it wasn’t clear whether it was designed to accomplish anything past generating some good PR for MLB. It didn’t.
We do not expect any negotiations this week, with owners meetings scheduled for Orlando. We would love to be flies on the wall during those meetings, as it’s no secret within the industry that plenty of owners and front-office types are very frustrated at the glacial pace of talks, holding both the hard-line MLB reps and small-market owners involved in the talks accountable. (That also represents a much larger split in the MLB universe of owners: a financial plan that works for Boston and New York won’t be seen as working for Colorado and Milwaukee. But that’s a whole other large issue that won’t affect our ability to enjoy a cold one on the Peoria Stadium berm.)
One interesting thing–at least interesting for the readers of this site–is that with all the uncertainty surrounding the 2022 season, talk is still centered on a delay of spring training, not a cancelation. (Why no cancelation chatter yet? Players still need to get into shape for the regular season, which is considered to be a three-week process.) There’s virtually no chance pitchers and catchers will report around Feb. 15, and there’s virtually no chance workouts with full squads set for Feb. 21 will happen. With the first games scheduled for Feb. 25-26, we’re certainly looking at the very really real possibility that spring training will be delayed or altered. Meanwhile, minor leaguers are expected to report on Feb. 21, and since the minor leaguers are not locked out, their spring training will proceed as normal as will the start of their 2022 regular season. There’s still a lot up in the air, and our advice really hasn’t changed since December, when the lockout was imposed by MLB. Teams and ballpark operators are still prepping for spring training with the assumption that games will begin Feb. 25-26. Because there’s still some give on the calendar, you can still plan for spring training–but do so smartly. First, be sure to make as many parts of your plans are as refundable as possible. That means hotel and reservations that can be canceled at the last minute. That means not prepaying car and hotel reservations, even at a cheaper rate. And that means shopping for airfares with minimal impact fees for cancelations or changes. Second, try to plan a trip for the middle to end of March, in case spring training is delayed and February games are scrapped.
We will see in a week how this advice holds up.