As many of you already know, the current 2021-2022 MLB lockout began on December 2nd, 2021, after the 2016 CBA expired followed by MLB team owners voting unanimously to enact a lockout.
Let’s go back to Spring Training 2020. Everything was good, we were attending games at the various Cactus League fields throughout the Valley. Baseball was happening! Then the current Covid-19 pandemic began, and baseball’s 2020 season became uncertain. 1st the fans were no longer allowed to attend live Spring Training games followed by the press. This of course resulted various layoffs and furloughs of non-essential workers who would normally be working at the ballparks. Concession workers, ushers, customer service reps, ticket salespersons, and more. With no fans flocking to Spring Training in 2020 also meant that local businesses were hit. Hotels, restaurants, ride-shares, and more. The pandemic obviously resulted in many of those workers being laid-off, but so did MLB’s decision to shutout the fans from live regular season games.
I am not pretending that the decision to lock-out the fans in 2020 was a bad one at all. It was the right thing to do at that time. The point I am making is that those who were laid-off or furloughed because of the 2020 shorted season, and the decision to lock-out the fans resulted in people losing their jobs inside and outside of the ballparks. People WHO WANTED TO WORK. The owners and the player’s association battled back and forth negotiating a plan for the 2020 season. The players wanted to work; the owners wanted to shorten things up. The result. A 60-game season. Let’s review 2020 using the NOBODY WANTS TO WORK theory.
2020 MLB Season
- The players: Wanted to work
- The owners: Wanted to do less work
- Those deemed non-essential by MLB and local business: Wanted to work but lost their jobs
In 2021 things with MLB sort of returned to normal. Fans were no longer locked-out of most ballparks and could view live games in socially distanced seating. The teams were requiring masks, but it was not a rule that was heavily enforced…at least in AZ. With fans viewing live games the previously deemed non-essential workers became essential again – at least in the world of live baseball. EVERYONE RETURN TO WORK was the call from MLB, ballparks, staffing agencies, restaurants, hotels etc. Folks were hiring. Ballparks needed concession workers, ushers, janitors, salespersons, security etc. Local restaurants needed staff; hotels needed staff etc. Things were getting back to normal and those that wanted to work, could.
But employers began to have a difficult time hiring and retaining staff, however. Some blamed the federal stimulus programs and state unemployment payouts as the reason NOBODY WANTED TO WORK ANYMORE! For me, it was more the result of previous mass lay-offs, pandemic deaths reducing the work force population, and also a new anti-work movement of folks that were just tired of being treated like absolute shtt by employers, supervisors, and the public. After all, 6-12 months ago employers of these workers basically said F-U, get out. BY the end of the 2021 season most MLB ballparks were no longer restricting ticket sales or enforcing any type of social distancing measures and they wanted their workers back. Let’s review 2020 using the NOBODY WANTS TO WORK theory.
2021 MLB Season
- The players: Wanted to work
- The owners: Wanted to work and wanted those laid-off or furloughed to return to work.
- The previously deemed non-essential that were now desperately needed by MLB and local business: Some wanted to work. Some did not want to return to work.
In the background of the 2021 season was the looming expiration of the CBA and the word that a new agreement was unlikely. For us fans this topic is hard to discuss. We can predict, theorize, and hope for one outcome or another. But really, none of us fans know what is going to happen with the new CBA or how long this lockout will last. It does not really matter to me why the owners and the players disagree or what either party wants out of the next CBA. What matters to me as a fan is the affect this lockout has on business and employees that rely on a 2022 spring training and MLB season. What about the affect the lockout is having on fans? Some of us are jumping ship, others are hoping for the best result – for spring training to start on time and if it doesn’t, I ask, WHY DOESN’T ANYONE WANT TO WORK ANYMORE?
We saw the letter to the Fans from The MLB Commissioner, we heard the comments from the leader of the Player’s Association, now it’s only fair to hear from us Baseball Fans. We love the game of baseball. We have been loyal to our sport for many years. We support our teams win or lose. We go to games in person, we listen on the radio. We watch on our TV’s, Computers, Phones. Now there is a possibility of games not starting on schedule as both sides are playing gamesmanship by not talking to each other. Sounds like high school to us. There is no reason for not having round the clock negotiations now.
We as Fans are not picking sides. We just ask that you communicate and work out your differences. If Spring Training Games don’t start on time, we as Fans feel betrayed by all of you involved. Most of the Spring Training Facilities if not all of them were improved or totally built with our taxpayers’ money. A nice portion of the proceeds from these games go to local Charities and youth programs. Local businesses who made a commitment to the community to build hotels, restaurants, and entertainment opportunities to help enhance the visitors coming to the area of MLB S.T. Games have heavily invested with the trust of Games being played
Jobs at the S.T. facilities are now in jeopardy. Revenue from parking, ticket sales. Food beverage Souvenirs, gone? How about the just the fun of going to a baseball game. The teams having an opportunity to build their players, their brand, connect with the community. Then the possibility of a delayed start of the regular season. How about the new revenue of legalized sports betting that many of us are warming up to? MLB gets a piece if that as well. But without us fans, none of this exists. Please don’t hurt us again with a work stoppage or delay. If there is a delay to the start if baseball, and we lose games. You may just lose us – the essential fans and also your on again off again essential workers. We have other things we can do for work, other sports we can watch or bet on, and other facilities we can spend our hard-earned money on. Is it possible that it’s MLB and the players themselves that DO NOT WANT TO WORK? Or WORK THINGS OUT?
Let’s review the current lockout using the NOBODY WANTS TO WORK theory.
2022 MLB Season
- The players: Want to work but have rejected several proposals from the owners
- The owners: Have locked out the players and the fans resulting in uncertainty with non-essential/essential work forces
- The previously deemed non-essential then deemed essential: Want to work!
Today, those affected most by the current work stoppage and likely delayed Spring Training season are the everyday workers, whether they work at the ballpark or at a local business that directly benefits from spring training and baseball games. These workers that have been treated like yo-yos since 2020.
At 1st they were non-essential and terminated. Then in 2021 the workforce was needed again by every business including MLB, the owners, and local business that continue to beg people to return to work. Now that there is an MLB lockout, will the essential worker become the non-essential once again, and who is it really that DOES NOT WANT TO WORK?