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MLB LOCKOUT? NO MORE “LET THE KIDS PLAY”?

Bill Menzel/ Latino Sports

New York- This is the time of the year where baseball fans are supposed to be excited for the weeks to come. Spring Training! New players in your favorite team’s jersey. Watching farm systems young upcomers develop. The lead up to Opening Day. It’s all entertaining and an amazing draw to the sport. Unfortunately, the MLB owners took that away from us this time around.

Just over two months ago, on December 2nd, MLB owners forced a lockout of the players in an attempt to negotiate a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). This move is a tool used by owners to jolt the start of dialog among the sides. Let’s be clear on one point. This is a lockout forced by the owners. Not a work strike started by the players. A lockout in sports generally means that workers are told by management to not show up.

The perspective of the average sports fan as we sit today is similar to “baseball players are being greedy and selfish; the players are demanding more money”. This is not the case. The complex side for baseball players is arbitration levels. Determining arbitration levels among a player all comes down to service time. There are different forms of arbitration such as 2-3 years and 5-6 years service time in MLB when figuring contract details. We will discuss a name that is known and his level of pay due to arbitration.

Son of Hall of Famer Vladimir, Guerrero Jr has made a name for himself in his first two full seasons in the Major Leagues. Guerrero Jr spent a majority of his childhood in Nizao, Dominican Republic, if not, traveling with his father during the summers to enjoy pro-baseball up close.

In 2015, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, was signed by Toronto as an amateur free agent and made his pro debut in 2019. In the 2021 season, Blue Jays franchise stud Guerrero Jr. posted a .311 batting average along with 48 home runs and 111 RBIs. Well known nickname “Vladdy” finished in second place for the 2021 American League MVP voting behind Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, phenom Shohei Ohtani. 22 year old Guerrero Jr looks to start right where he left off this upcoming season. He is also a recipient of the Latino Sports MVP Al Rookie of the Year award.

In the 2021 season, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. earned approximately $605,400 dollars due to the current arbitration structure. The year Guerrero Jr, had on the diamond will not go unnoticed; however, his contract layout should not either. There are not many in the league who can draw fans to baseball such as Vladdy has done within his two years in the majors.

Guerrero Jr, is slated to be an unrestricted free agent following the 2025 season. Until then, he will make an adjusted standard yearly amount due to service time and determinations throughout arbitration hearings. The arbitration structure must be broken down and repaired back up into a completely new authentic structure.

The MLB Players Association includes representatives such as 7- time All-Star Max Scherzer, New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor, St. Louis Cardinals reliever Andrew Miller, Toronto Blue Jays star Marcus Semien and more. Being a representative for the MLB Players Association is an honor, as stated by many. These reps are voted on by their peers every two years.

Max Scherzer, Player Association representative expressed his MLB lockout thoughts over his Twitter account on February 4th: “We want a system where threshold and penalties don’t function as caps, allows younger players to realize more of their market value, makes service time manipulation a thing of the past, and eliminate tanking as a winning strategy”.

According to Baseball Player Careers | The Princeton Review regarding the span of a pro baseball player’s career, the average baseball player’s career once making it into the major leagues is “2.7 years”. From high school-college bal,l-rookie ball-minor leagues, to the pros is an extremely difficult path to work yourself into. It is one of, if not the most demanding, and mentally draining paths in professional sports.

From the jump, international players have it even rougher. The structure in branching, your name and talent is an issue baseball has been struggling with compared to other sports. Trends on YouTube tend to be national AAU basketball games and high school matchups. To add to that, individual high school plus college football highlights have been highly coveted ways to grow your name as well.

Baseball, on the other hand, the younger audience level has been on a down trend. Past implements on rules and marketing schemes by MLB are significant factors in this issue. The layout of extra innings starting with a runner on 2nd base along with 7-inning double headers are rules that take the passion and joy level out of games. Media copyright rules and local television blackout restrictions are something MLB must repair soon. For example, with an MLB TV paid subscription last season, subscribers were able to watch any major league game desired except the games in their local region! Can you believe that? What’s the benefit for them? The average baseball fan?

At the end of the day, this negotiation is owners vs players, billionaires vs millionaires. Negotiations have already faced public backlash, and the farther we go, the more ugly it will get. Especially if regular season games must get postponed.

The lack of empathy and passion for baseball has been thrown to the side. Talks between the owners and Players Association are expected to ramp up next week. Let’s hope for the best. Baseball to be played on Opening Day, March 31st.

SOURCE:
“Baseball Player.” Baseball Player Careers | The Princeton Review, https://www.princetonreview.com/careers/22/baseball-player.

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