Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred wasted no time painting the players' association as the greedier side in collective bargaining negotiations – and the one responsible for the lockout that MLB owners implemented early Thursday.
At 12:03 a.m. on Dec. 2, minutes after the collective bargaining agreement expired, MLB.com published a letter from the commissioner to the league's fans. It was an effort to shape public opinion ahead of what could be a lengthy work stoppage. Owners didn't have to lock out players, but Manfred said it's a defensive measure to prevent a strike like the one that ripped apart the 1994 season.
Much of the letter outlined a financial playing field that is far from reality for most players – and far from the players' vision for the next CBA. The letter was also something of an indirect message: If players want major changes, it's going to be difficult. The owners will test their solidarity. The fans? They'll have to wait.
Let's examine some of Manfred's, and by extension, the owners' assertions.
Manfred wrote that the stoppage occurred despite the "league's best efforts." Those efforts included a proposal delivered Wednesday at a seven-minute meeting to reduce players' pension funding, sources told theScore. Pensions weren't previously up for discussion, and players consider the topic a non-starter.
One player agent told theScore he felt owners used the issue of pensions to stall negotiations, the beginning of an effort to wait out and squeeze players. There's no date for talks to resume.