The 2020 season had many problems. The Covid-19 pandemic, no fans in the stands, outbreaks amongst teams, rule changes, only 60 games and more. There was a mini season with a World Series champion so all was not lost. In fact, the best team won mitigating some of the issues from the season.
2021 intends to be a complete 162 games. I think we should enjoy this as much as we possibly can. It might be the calm before the storm! Last year, while trying to start the season, the owners and the MLBPA could not agree on anything. They had issues agreeing to rules regarding pay, schedules, playoffs and so forth. There was no playoff agreement until opening day last year! It was ugly at times. This season season is special for one reason alone. This season is the last season under the current CBA. There will need to be a new CBA for 2022. Based on the troubles in communication, trust, and betterment of the game; it is the last season we stand a chance of having before negotiations get hot and heavy again.
Although this season has yet to have Spring Training or pitchers and catchers report, there are some negations currently on going. The teams don’t know about the rules carry overs from 2020 for example. The latest proposal from the owners was to have a unified DH in both leagues, which the players want, but to get it, the players had to agree to extended teams inclusion into the playoffs. The two issues were tied together by the owners. The MLBPA declined that proposal and did not counter offer as of yet. The MLBPA believe that extending the playoffs allows more teams in the playoffs; hence the teams will then not try to be as competitive, which could limit free agent signings. The owners would incur a cost of the DH as another player on the roster, but would recover some by getting playoff revenue to compensate. Regardless of your stance, we continue to see these sides battle over everything.
As simple as trying to get a DH into the game may seem, it has become apparent that every issue will be negotiated hard. The current CBA gives the owners leverage because they can always fall back on what was agreed to. In 2022, there will be no CBA, as it has yet to be written. Imagine rehashing every item, every rule, pay structure and having to agree for a new CBA. I do not expect this process to go well at all. In fact, I expect this to be very tedious and extremely ugly. The MLBPA does not trust the owners. This is crystal clear. The impact of this will be devastating at the negotiation table. The point is, labor will be a topic around the game once this season ends and possibly have “pop up” scenarios during this season. Pay close attention to how the sides work together. It might be a forecast into the 2022 negotiations.
It leads me to this understanding of the 2021 season. 2022 is uncertain at best. A labor problem is likely and current trend makes it seem lengthy. It means this 2021 season needs to be enjoyed to its fullest. Regardless if you like a bad team or a good one, recognize these are the best players in the world. Their day to day performances are amazing. When you get a chance to see a live game….GO! Who knows if 2022 will provide us with those opportunities. It is a unique sport where every pitch thrown is by a pitcher that is the best in the world. His purpose is to disrupt the timing and rhythm of the best hitters in the world. It is a battle on every pitch.
Enjoy the games, we might not be able to later. My advice is to capitalize now. Take nothing for granted. Get into the details and be in awe of how great today’s MLB players really are. Every pitch, every swing, every field of a groundball or a flyball matters. Above all else, have fun watching the games!