Major League Baseball's 30 controlling owners voted unanimously Wednesday night to lock out players as collective bargaining talks with the players' union stalled before a midnight deadline. This is MLB's ninth work stoppage and the first since an infamous strike that spanned the 1994 and 1995 seasons.
The MLB owners and Major League Baseball Players Association met in Texas this week to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement, and the negotiations — ongoing since the spring — had not been going well. Wednesday's meeting lasted less than 10 minutes. The union demanded change following anger over a declining average salary, middle-class players forced out by teams concentrating payroll on the wealthy, and veterans jettisoned in favor of lower-paid youth, especially among clubs tearing down their rosters to rebuild," The Associated Press reports.
The immediate impact of the lockout — management's version of a strike — is that players will be barred from team workout facilities and weight rooms, and there will likely be a freeze on trading and hiring players. MLB had intentionally scheduled the lockout during the off-season to avoid the public relations debacle from the long 1994-95 stoppage. The two sides have 11 weeks until pitchers and catchers are schedule to show up for spring training on Feb. 16; spring training games are supposed to start Feb. 26, and opening day of the regular season is set for March 41.
"No player remains active from the 232-day strike that cut short the 1994 season, led to the first cancellation of the World Series in 90 years, and caused the 1995 season to start late," AP reports. "That stoppage ended only when a federal judge — future Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor — issued an injunction forcing owners to restore the work rules of the expired labor contract."