5 reasons why baseball needs the 2022 MLB lockout

by Fred Hofstetter on February 8, 2022

Enough consternation about the 2022 lockout's potential for disaster. Here's why the lockout comes at a great time for baseball.

Baseball on Right Hand Batter's Box on Baseball Field

MLB continues its long customer-first history by subjecting them to the methodical process of litigious and esoteric business negotiations.

The MLB Player’s Association and MLB owners continue to clash swords in a fantastic crescendo. The public reels, captivated by the behind-the-scenes machinations of savvy corporate agents and tycoons.

MLB insiders malign the possibility of a delayed season. Lockout commentary drips the familiar sweat of fear and anxiety. A plague of doubt and uncertainty adorns headlines industry-wide. In response, fans’ fevered sweating combats the contagion. Resolution remains the supposed cure, and until then, unrest shall reign.

Stay your trepidation. MLB baseball needs the lockout, and so do its fans. This is why:

1. The lockout reminds us baseball is, most importantly, a business.

Baseball is no child’s game. Baseball is serious business. Forget ye old days at the park sliding around in the muck, thrashing at apples with a stick. Don’t mistake baseball for a game of leisure occupying sweeping, symmetrical diamonds which sparkle under dewy peals of sunshine.

Real baseball is played through contracts, memos and agendas. On remote conference calls. Intense negotiations. Heated exchanges infused with subversive influence and manipulation tactics.

Without a sound financial and legal structure, professional baseball can’t happen. Fans forget themselves and obsess over game rules such as substances on uniforms or how extra innings works. The real rules for which you should vomit unsurpassed passion include the pre-arbitration bonus pool, the luxury tax, and service time manipulation.

Just the other day, my 2-year-old nephew looked up at me and asked, Uncle Fred, do you believe teams who don’t manipulate the service time of their top prospects should be awarded draft picks? I smiled and patted him on the back. A young little baseball fan tyke in training. His mother often catches him fantasizing about securing a federal mediator he lies in bed at night, failing to fall asleep in his excitement. We discussed service time for several hours.

This is what American children dream of: becoming an MLB executive, player representative, or lawyer. Children want, and need, the lockout.

2. It spices up the offseason.

Trade rumors and free agent rumblings infect MLB offseasons. Best-shape-of-his-life puff pieces. Conversations about baseball players, the upcoming season of games, storylines continuing from the conclusion of the 2021 season. Portraits of regal careers nearing their close, replaced by the wide-eyed youth to blossom in their place.

Thankfully the lockout vacuums these predictable yawners. Instead, we spring ourselves from bed each ice cold winter morning shivering in anticipation of the news and updates from the latest negotiations between the MLBPA and MLB’s owners.

Will the MLBPA secure their request for a $100 million pre-arbitration bonus pool? We absolutely 1) know what that is 2) care what that is 3) can’t wait to find out about it.

3. It makes the NFL look positively boring.

Sports leagues fiercely compete. The NFL envies baseball’s branding as America’s Pastime, for which MLB continues to benefit. A riveting lockout ensures baseball’s supremacy.

You tell me what sounds more interesting:

  1. Multiple thrilling last-minute playoff games in packed, deafening stadiums. The world’s best athletes engaged in legendary competition. Epic storylines of perseverance and redemption. Not a whisper of behind-the-scenes labor deals.
  2. Heated business debates, filthy rich bickering over the spoils, savvy negotiation tactics, dispassionate legal dissertations.

It’s no wonder America continues to choose baseball as its preferred pastime. Again, and again.

4. The real heroes finally shine.

Too long baseball players like Mike Trout, Aaron Judge, and Freddie Freeman have stolen the spotlight from MLBPA representatives, MLB executives and middle managers facilitating crucial administrative duties within MLB front offices across the league.

The real heroes of baseball wield MBAs, not Louisville Sluggers. The real heroes dictate process and procedures, and carefully abide by strictly defined rules and parameters. Instead of picking up a ball and bat, or running the bases, the real heroes dictate the terms of who’s allowed to run those bases, when it’s appropriate to run the bases, and estimate the market value of the running those bases.

5. The People love bureaucracy.

If there’s anything baseball fans have grown to adore—especially over the last 2 years or so, it’s Important social issues. Activism. Grandstanding, and also demagoguing. On a daily basis. In every corner of life. Now more than ever, the people of the United States demand weighty, Important commentary from rich entrepreneurs and athletes.

The lockout allows baseball fans across the country to revel in Official Statements, fleeting details of sticking points in negotiations, and dramatic postponements and cancellations. All day, baseball fans obsessively swipe through Twitter thirsting for legalese from corporate journalists, lawyers, and intermediaries.

The last thing anyone needs right now is to enjoy the company of fellow human beings and witness a silly game outdoors in beautiful weather with ample ventilation and sunlight. It’s best we delay this behavior perpetually, secluding ourselves indoors out of sunlight in poorly ventilated areas, nervously refreshing social media in anticipation of the next colossal generation-defining event to be sad about.

Don’t take it for granted.

Appreciate this monumental moment in which the legendary baseball heroes of our age, MLB owners, MLBPA representatives, and an impending federal mediator lock antlers in an epic business battle. A moment for suits to finally earn their well-deserved place in the spotlight, casting a shadow on those who too often bask in its glow (think Ken Griffey Jr., Ichiro Suzuki, or Greg Maddux).

This is the moment in history baseball truly deserves.

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