The official end of the baseball lockout is here. Despite blowing past an MLB-imposed Wednesday deadline that led to the league canceling two more series, the league and players continued to negotiate for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and an end to the lockout. After further negotiation, MLB made a proposal to players that received approval from the union. The owners followed with a ratification of the deal. Baseball is officially back.
Today’s agreement means that Opening Day for the league as a whole is now expected to be set for April 7. The first Orioles game is on the calendar for April 8, the start of a series in Tampa Bay. The home opener will come against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 11. Players will be expected to report to spring training by March 13, with spring training games beginning in the range of March 18-20.
All of this seems to mean that games that were announced as canceled last night will now be un-canceled. It is believed that there will still be a 162-game schedule, with doubleheaders, removed off-days, and a short extension of the regular season all believed to be involved in returning games that were previously canceled to the schedule.
On the topic of doubleheaders, some good news: The days of seven-inning doubleheaders are over. So is the era of the “Manfred Man,” the ghost baserunner meant to speed up extra inning games. I never got used to those adjustments and I’m glad that I won’t have to.
For the Orioles in the short term, this means that the long-pending signing of Jordan Lyles can finally be made official, assuming he passes a physical. There will be a mad scramble to shore up rosters over the next few days. We’ll see if the Orioles have any more major league deals to make. I wouldn’t expect anything that will generate any excitement, although the world is always capable of surprising us. If you want to get your hopes up for Carlos Correa, that’s your business.
One thing that will not happen is a Rule 5 draft. That annual institution for the Orioles is being axed for this year because it’s just not practical to try to have the draft in mid-March and start the season in early April. There will not be a 2022 version of Tyler Wells. There will also not be a 2022 version of Zach Pop.
In the medium term, the big impact of the new CBA will be measures that are meant to encourage teams to put their best players on the field rather than utilize service time loopholes, as well as measures meant to discourage teams from being very bad for a very long time. Long-term, the Orioles have an easier road to return to the playoffs from the simple fact that there are now 12 teams making the playoffs.
It’s been a grim winter as a baseball fan and I’m glad to know the lockout is over. Now, maybe we can get around to having the Orioles play a 162-game season where they don’t lose more than 100 of those games...