There was a glimmer of hope when both sides pulled an all-nighter Monday and with an extended deadline of 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Alas, hope faded as the last grains of sand slipped through the hourglass late Tuesday afternoon. Major League Baseball’s lockout, which had already bitten into Grapefruit League and Cactus League schedules, removed the first two series of the 2022 season.
Each day that goes by without an agreement means we are that much closer to seeing more and more games being wiped away.
Work stoppages are nothing new to MLB. Those of a certain age vividly remember 1981 when a good portion of the summer was spent without baseball. And how on earth could the World Series not be played, as was the case in 1994?
The current impasse adds to a list of owner lockouts and player strikes that have dotted the game’s timeline the past half century. Not every stoppage resulted in lost games. Here is a list of those that did and those that altered the schedule, but not to the point of games being lost.
With pension for players at issue, 86 games at the beginning of the season were lost and not made up. The season began April 15 with games that were originally scheduled on that date. That decision, coupled with not making up games, resulted in teams playing between 153 and 156 games. The disparity was amplified at the end of the season when the Tigers, who took two of three from the Red Sox in a season-ending series, won the American League East with an 86-70 record while Boston’s season was over despite being even in the loss column at 85-70.
The disagreement on how teams losing free agents were to be compensated (i.e., draft picks, players) resulted in a largely empty summer for fans as play was stopped for nearly two months. The hiatus began June 12 and play resumed August 9 with the all-star game in Cleveland, which was originally scheduled for July 14. League games returned on August 10.
Two months without games led to a split-season format. Teams that were leading their divisions when play was halted were declared first-half champs. Teams winning the second half played first-half winners in a best-of-five division series to determine who would advance to the championship series. The Cincinnati Reds finished with the best overall record in the majors, but did not win the National League West in either half and were therefore left out of the playoffs.
Had a team won its division in both halves, it would have played the team with the second-best overall record.
Owners’ issues pertaining to pension contributions and their desire to place a cap on player earnings through salary arbitration led to a two-day (August 6-7) strike. The games were made up with doubleheaders and/or open dates.
What could take place this spring might resemble what happened 32 years ago. Let’s hope that is the case. Free agency, salary arbitration, and revenue sharing – sound familiar? – were at the heart of this lockout. Most of spring training was wiped away and games did not begin until the third week of March. Opening Day was pushed back one week and all 162 games were played.
When Randy Johnson struck out Ernie Young swinging to finish off Seattle’s 8-1 win over visiting Oakland on the evening of August 11, little could anybody have figured that would be the last pitch thrown in an MLB game until April 25 the following year.
Owners, who were found guilty of collusion in the mid-1980s, were insistent upon a salary cap. That led to a 232-day lockout resulting in the World Series, which played on through an influenza pandemic and two world wars, being canceled for the first time since 1904.
When play was halted, the Montreal Expos had an MLB-best 74-40 (.649) record, San Diego’s Tony Gwynn led the majors with a .394 average, and Houston’s Jeff Bagwell had 116 RBIs in 110 games.
Spring training 1995 began with replacement players before MLBPA members returned in early April. There were three weeks of spring training followed by a 144-game season that got underway in late April.