MLB Lockout

The fall of 1994 was a sad year for baseball, with a player’s strike in August that would not resolve until right before 1995. Consequently, there was no World Series for the first time since 1904. Baseball had been played through multiple wars, but it couldn’t be played because of greed from both sides: players and owners. Because of this, the Montreal Expos moved out of Montreal and became the Washington Nationals. The owners couldn’t afford players due to the pay increase, which meant their fanbases also decreased by around 20%. 

Some people say baseball came back in 1998 with the home run race of the St. Louis Cardinals’ Mark McGwire and The Cubs’ Sammy Sosa. The two battled, racing to overtake Roger Maris’ home run record. Everyone was watching the Cubs and Cardinals game, with games selling out and fans claiming, “Baseball is back!”

Twenty-eight years have passed, and in that time, fans have learned that the home run race was basically fake, with steroids on both sides and MLB doing nothing about it. In 2022,  baseball finds itself in a similar situation, without a collective bargaining agreement (CBA): a contract to explain the luxury tax and players’ minimum and maximum salary. 

This means that the players can’t get paid, given that the contract expired at the beginning of December. This lockout is different from prior lockouts because, given the change in baseball, it was clear to fans that there were serious issues that needed to be addressed. For example. there needs to be a raised MLB minimum as well as expanded playoffs—and a final decision on whether the extra man on base and seven inning doubleheaders, which were experimental in the two COVID-19 seasons, should become permanent rules. 

The problem is that this CBA didn’t get signed before the end of 2021, or Feb. 14,which is when players were supposed to report for spring training. Then, the media reported that discussions were picking up, and a week after February, MLB said that their scheduled 162 games would be affected. When the deadline passed, I thought there would not be baseball until mid-June, with the potential for MLB officials and players not agreeing on a CBA until May. 

Then on March 9, out of nowhere, they reached an agreement. During the whole lockout we thought that both sides, players and owners, were far apart. Somehow it appears that the CBA favored the player’s wishes, which is surprising because the owners have the upper hand as billionaires. Once again, though, we can say Baseball is back!

Right after the CBA got signed, it went to a free agency freeze with Kris Bryant going to the Rockies and Freddie Freeman going to the Dodgers. The Dodgers also re-signed Clayton Kershaw. Trevor Story is going to Boston, while Anthony Rizzo signs another two years with the Yankees. Noah Syndergaard was sent to the Angels. 

But the biggest move that we learned Sunday night (if you are a Cardinals fan like me), is that Albert Pujols, who left the Cardinals for the Angels after winning a world series, is returning to St. Louis after 10 years. I thought after he signed that big Angels deal he would retire with his career, but he’s coming back to St. Louis with the Cardinals’ offer. 

The Cardinals didn’t do that well in free agency, though, only getting Pujols and an OK starting pitcher, Stephen Matz, after losing two of our starting pitchers from last year. Then, it was revealed that Jack Flattery—the Cardinals’ ace from the past two years—will probably not play in April. From the pitching standpoint, the Cardinals are not doing that well, as they lack a fifth pitcher. The Dodgers are absolutely stacked with four amazing pitchers: Bauer, Buller, Kershaw, and Urias. Now, they also have Freman on first and Chris Taylor on second, with Justin Turner and Trea Turner on the shortstop. Bellinger is in the center, with Betts on right, and their weakest link in left field with A.J Pollock. The Cardinals did struggle with the Dodgers last season after losing in the one-game wild card by pitching. Hopefully, the Cardinals can snag a playoff spot as there are six playoff spots instead of five. The Brewers will probably win the division as they are a great regular-season team. No matter if you are a Cardinal fan or A’s fan or even a Cubs fan, Baseball is Back! 

For students of SLU, Ballpark Village is a short drive or even a walkable distance away. If you are interested in attending a game, the tickets are reasonably priced, with $20 being the going rate for games against harder opponents. An easier opponent can allow you to snag a ticket for $10. If you are a fan of baseball, the Cardinals’ ballpark is a staple of the MLB and the Cardinals hold one of the most storied and historic programs in baseball’s history.