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MLB Spring Training Delayed by Lockout


Today was supposed to be the second day of spring training for Major League Baseball, but players are involved in a labor dispute. They’ve been locked out by their league because of a disagreement over their contracts.To understand what’s at stake, my co-host Julian talked with Joe Favorito, a sports media consultant and professor at Columbia.

He says, although it’s not your typical labor dispute… in some ways, it’s not so different from what happens in other industries.


I mean, you know, you have millionaires talking to billionaires. And it's, uh, you know, the break of the collective bargaining agreement. So it expired in the fall. And now it's a question of who gets what and how the pies broken up. It's really kind of sad but simple back and forth in labor negotiations, whether you're talking about, you know, steel workers or big professional baseball players,


There has been other strikes in major league baseball history, the 1994 and 1995 season comes to mind. Some say that created a situation where baseball players did not want to strike again, I'm kind of wondering what brought that back, you know, why now?

JOE: That was literally decades ago, and the business has changed. The amount of money coming into professional sports is, you know, continued to increase, there's new revenue streams. The players, I think it'd become more vocal and more involved. And they're looking for a bigger piece of the pie because they are the producers of what it is that goes out on the field and what fans want to have. The owners obviously view it in a little bit different. Of course, it's about the players, but they are taking the risk and look for more of the rewards.

JULIAN: When I think of being a pro baseball player, it it sounds like a great gig. I mean, a lot of kids kind of wake up every morning and dream of that becoming true. What of labor conditions historically been like for baseball players? Is it maybe not as good of a gig as it sounds like?

JOE: No, I think it's tremendously I mean, if you get to Major League Baseball, it's the gold standard. I mean, there's you know, but it's, it's a grind, I mean, it's the only sport where you're playing you have very few days off from the end of February until the beginning of November. No other sport is like that, because you're playing an extremely long 162-game schedule.

JULIAN: And how does the fans respond to this?

JOE: I think we're going to see, I think the one thing that all the major leagues hopefully are learned, have learned is during the pandemic, when there was a hiatus from all sports, people found other things to do with their discretionary income. And it took a while for them to come back. There was a lot of question whether so many people would go to an NFL game this year. It worked out very well, especially with the quality of play and the parity that was in the NFL, but you've seen it in other leagues. National Hockey League has had some attendance issues. The NBA has had attendance issues, NASCAR has had attendance issues, although they will be sold out for Daytona this weekend. And I think Major League Baseball because of the amount of games, the fact that it's outside. The cost of going to games is prohibitive for many people. So I think you'll see people going but I think people are gonna think twice if the season is stopped.

LUCY: That was Joe Favorito, a sports media consultant and professor at Columbia.


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