MLB Labor Talks Stalled: Commissioner Manfred Could Learn From Bud Selig

Major league baseball’s collective bargaining agreement is set to expire on December 1 and talks have stalled between the player’s union and owners. For the first time in over 20 years there are talks of a possible lockout.

MLB has enjoyed over two decades of labor peace since the 232-day labor stoppage wiped out the 1994 World Series and part of the 1995 regular season. Then acting commissioner Bud Selig did all he could to advocate a workable solution for both sides. It wasn’t until a judge’s injunction was ruled that ended the longest labor war in baseball history.

Since then there hasn’t even been a hint of labor strife. Every time the CBA was due to expire the owners and players quickly and quietly agreed upon a new contract without any problems. Both sides knew that the 1994-1995 stoppage nearly crippled baseball. Something like that could never happen again.

Some people have never liked former owner and recently retired commissioner Bud Selig; however he always fostered peaceful talks between the owners and players. He was a visionary, and a mediator. Getting a deal done without games being in danger of cancellation was always the most important aspect for Selig after that terrible work stoppage. Peace reigned for 22 years.

Rob Manred and Bud Selig
Rob Manfred and Bud Selig-Photo

I knew there was going to be trouble once glorified administrator Rob Manfred took over the reins of the commissioner’s office. He was not like Selig in any way. He was more focused on ridiculous changes that made no sense for Baseball and bottom lines then the good of the game, or keeping traditions alive.

Instituting pitch clocks, pace of play nonsense, defensive shift banns, and ignoring what’s best for the players and fans has been his M.O. since taking over. Honestly I have never liked the guy. Now MLB is on the verge of their first work stoppage since 1995. Is it any wonder it’s happened on Manfred’s first term in charge?

The differences between the two sides seem minor. This would probably never have happened under Selig’s watch. The owners want to institute an international draft, but the players are against it. I agree with the players on this one. An international draft would seem to be more trouble than it is worth. Figuring out all of the international laws, immigration status, and just organizing something of that scope would be pretty difficult. The owners have recently stated that they are willing to dump the idea.

The owners have also thrown out the idea of eliminating the qualifying offer system, which is tied to draft pick compensation. The qualifying offer is now at 17.5 million dollars for impending free agent players who have been offered. Would unrestricted free agency be good for the game?

Other issues being bickered about are setting the limits for the luxury tax, and some language for the drug prevention program. Manfred has also talked about shortening the regular season, and changing expansion of rosters in September from 40 players, to 28-29 players. It seems stupid to limit every team to only 3-4 call-ups per September. Every team has the choice to expand to 40 players at the end of the season. Why take away that freedom? Why take away clubs ability to look at as many prospects as possible? The answer to that is money. The less minor leaguers promoted to major league rosters in September means less players they have to pay major league salaries too.

The annual winter meetings are scheduled to take place from December 5-8. The CBA is due to expire on December 1. There are  talks that many teams won’t even participate in those meetings if a new CBA is not in place by then. The majority of the hot stove has been in a standstill, and it could affect the rest of the offseason as teams wait to pursue free agents, and or make trades.

20 years of labor peace is a major accomplishment. People may dislike Selig for creating the wild cards, and the steroid era, but he was able to get the owners and players together at the table and in the end got the deals signed without stoppages for two decades. He promoted an environment of peaceful negotiations.

Commissioner Manfred has a lot to learn, and could learn a lot from Bud Selig.

Scott Andes-Owner/writer

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