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MLB Lockout: Baseball enters its first work stoppage in more than 25 years

Players and owners couldn't negotiate on a new collective bargaining agreement.

TAMPA, Fla. — Representatives with MLB's players' union and team owners were unable to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement. That means the league has now entered its first work stoppage since 1994.

What that means for baseball in the story below.


It's an event that's been more than 25 years in the making. Once again, players and owners in Major League Baseball must come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) or face a potential lockout.

The deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday.

The last time baseball fans were forced to wonder when they'd see their favorite team on the field again was during the 1994 season. 

At the time, representatives of MLB's players' union and team owners were stuck in a heated negotiation of how to disperse the league's revenue. Neither side could come to an agreement, causing players to go on strike at the tail end of the season, effectively canceling all games and eventually the World Series. 

It was a huge blow to the sport, causing many fans to turn their back on baseball. 

Now, in 2021, it seems like déjà vu for fans. However, this time, instead of a strike, it's a lockout. 

So, what exactly does that mean?

What's a lockout?

The last time players and owners agreed on a CBA was in 2016. Without a new agreement in place, owners can choose to lockout players from any team facility. It's a tactic that is used to force the union into a more urgent state of negotiation.

A lockout also means no more free-agent signings. In fact, it means no contact between players and teams at all.   

What happens tonight?

At 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, the 2016 CBA comes to an end. The two sides will have to continue negotiating before baseball can be played in 2022.

What is the CBA?

The collective bargaining agreement in MLB is the outline that players and owners follow in terms of revenue sharing and scheduling for each side. It is the working order that each side uses after they have found a middle ground on issues the two want to be worked out.

The CBA covers everything from player salary, how many games are played and the overall larger economics of the game. Some of the issues players and owners can't agree on this time around mainly center around control. 

Players want to be able to hit the free-agent market sooner, rather than deal with years of arbitration. Owners on the other hand want a salary cap that will allow smaller market teams to stay competitive. 

Other topics that could be discussed under the CBA include allowing designated hitters in the National League.

Credit: AP
Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash watches from the dugout during a baseball game against the Miami Marlins Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)

Dates we need to know?

After midnight tonight, the next date that will likely be of importance is Feb. 1, 2022. If the deal hasn't been made by then, we will likely see a push back on the spring training schedule that could impact games played in the 2022 regular season.