In light of the ongoing labor strife in Major League Baseball, the league has officially announced that the spring training schedule has been postponed until March 5 at the earliest. Here's the official statement from MLB:
We regret that, without a collective bargaining agreement in place, we must postpone the start of Spring Training games until no earlier than Saturday, March 5th. All 30 Clubs are unified in their strong desire to bring players back to the field and fans back to the stands. The Clubs have adopted a uniform policy that provides an option for full refunds for fans who have purchased tickets from the Clubs to any Spring Training games that are not taking place.We are committed to reaching an agreement that is fair to each side. On Monday, members of the owners' bargaining committee will join an in-person meeting with the Players Association and remain every day next week to negotiate and work hard towards starting the season on time.
First, here's yet another reminder that in no way is the league required to postpone any of these games. It's an owner-mandated lockout that they could decide to lift in order to play games while negotiating a new CBA. Right on cue, MLBPA released the following statement:
MLB announced today that it 'must' postpone the start of spring training games. This is false. Nothing requires the league to delay the start of spring training, much like nothing required the league's decision to implement the lockout in the first place. Despite these decisions by the league, players remain committed to the negotiating process.
The most newsworthy takeaway from the statement is, of course, the delayed start to spring training play. Game action was supposed to begin Feb. 26 and instead it'll happen no sooner than March 5. In all likelihood, that wipes out around 6-9 games of action per team when they generally play 28-32.
On the positive side, there's still time to come an agreement and keep the regular season in place. Commissioner Rob Manfred has stated that the teams will need roughly four weeks in order to start opening day (March 31) on time. It's reasonable that teams could start working out 4-5 days before taking part in game action on March 5 and then getting ready for March 31.
In light of that, the next most-newsworthy part of the statement would be the in-person meetings coming next week. Up to this point, the two sides have taken days or even weeks between meetings. The last meeting between the two sides was Thursday -- full details on said meeting here -- and the next one is Monday. They then plan to meet every single day next week.
Generally speaking, on matters of collective bargaining, more frequent meetings take place when progress is being made. Though the latest statement from Major League Baseball is hardly encouraging to baseball fans, there remains hope that the regular season will be started on time.