MLB Lockout: How the Digital Age Is Impacting Work Stoppage

In the first 36 hours or so of the MLB lockdown, we’ve already seen how different this work stoppage will be from others due to the ubiquitous media landscape. Just as television networks, websites and social media accounts were instrumental in the recent political elections, they could also decide baseball’s first union struggle in the digital age.

Minutes after the collective agreement between owners and players expired at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, Commissioner Rob Manfred used the league’s website to post a letter to fans. Under the guise of transparency, Manfred’s letter is both condescending in its tone and misleading in its purpose. “This defensive lockdown was necessary because the Players Association’s vision for Major League Baseball would threaten the ability of most teams to compete,” Manfred wrote, omitting the fact that player lockdown is an offensive tactic in the league. collective bargaining. It’s a choice, and while foreclosure seemed inevitable for months, owners didn’t have to. As my friend and former SI baseball writer Jack Dickey explained on Twitter, “The owners want to sweat the lower and middle market players to try to break the union solidarity and win a better deal. (Dickey now works for the News Guild of New York, where he serves as the local representative for Union SI, so his perspective is based on his knowledge of union struggles and baseball.) Simultaneously, any content featuring of Players has been removed from MLB.com. So all the stories of last week’s exciting stove deals that had populated the site so far have been deleted. Gone are the squad roster pages, although you can still find player stats and basic biographical information on their individual pages. Their headshots have been replaced with the same blank characters. This gave the players a class action that could not have been done in any of the league’s previous seven stoppages. One by one, many of them changed their Twitter profile photos to blank photos of their player pages.

Manfred also held a press conference on Thursday morning, in which, among other things, he said: “The most negative reaction we have is when a player goes into free agency. By making this available earlier, we don’t see this as a positive. He conveniently left out the excitement of all those free agent signings since the start of this week. With the exception of the World Series and Opening Day, with a few exceptions, baseball gets the most attention around the trade deadline and during busy free agent signing periods. The league promotes its spending and successful deals with specials on MLB Network and on its website, unless there is a lockout, that is. Of course, team fans are upset when their favorite player leaves for another team in free agency. But those losses become much more acceptable when their team rotates to sign another team’s star player. Manfred knows that big deals are great for baseball, but he represents the owners, who want to keep their players in check for as long as possible. It’s true that previous Commissioners have held press conferences during previous work stoppages, but this time around Manfred’s comments received the instant boost that the social media world provides. For better and for worse. It doesn’t take much to recognize the flawed logic of Manfred’s comments on free agency, and more people than ever can watch this clip on demand. There are plenty of great reporters covering the work stoppage who explain the fundamental issues of collective bargaining for each party and put everything in context for any fan to see.

This lockout will almost certainly last for weeks, if not months. As always, one front of this labor war is fought privately at the bargaining table, while the other is staged publicly through the media. They’ll explain why the other side is to blame, arguing that if only the other guys were reasonable the start of the season wouldn’t be in jeopardy. The point is to get fans to direct their anger towards a particular side, so that side breaks down and concedes. It will get ugly. The insults will come from anonymous league officials. They will call the greedy players. They will paraphrase Mark Knopfler—We have to install microwave ovens, custom kitchen deliveries… They play baseball on television in prime time. Now that doesn’t work. Money for nothing; free shots– in an attempt to turn working class fans against gamers. Without a doubt, this will influence some fans. It’s always like that.

But this time around, many fans have a better understanding of how owners took away wages by manipulating uptime, relying on younger players earning less, and using competitive balance tax as unofficial salary cap. They also recognize that the owners are much richer than even the highest paid players. The net worth of Mets owner Steve Cohen is around $ 11 billion, more than 29 times the value of Max Scherzer’s estimated career earnings. All I had to do was google “steve cohen net worth” and “max scherzer career income”, get out my iPhone and use his calculator. These are just a few of the many pieces of information relevant to negotiating matters that are readily available to anyone. How they are used will be what leads to an agreement at the bargaining table.

Do you have questions for our team? Send a note to [email protected].

1. OPENING

“Today, the lockout is a messy procedural move designed to come close to a deal. But every day threatens to turn it into something much worse. Owners and players alike play a dangerous game of chicken in a crowded entertainment landscape. “

It’s Tom Verducci in his story yesterday morning on the issues of this lockout.

You can read Tom’s entire column here.

Mets Max Scherzer Jersey Exchange Chart

2. ICYMI

Need more info on lockdown. We have what you need:

Our no-frills guide to the MLB Labor War by Stephanie Apstein
Fighting is for money, but will gambling be collateral damage?

Questions lingering as MLB lockdown suspends play by Emma Baccellieri
Here’s a look at what baseball will face when it comes back, regardless of the moment.

Missing our coverage of the free agent frenzy since the start of the week? Here is!

The Max Scherzer accord is a major asset for the Mets. Now they need more. by Emma Baccellieri
How do you assess a record contract like this? The success of this movement will depend on what they do next.

MLB Free Agency is booming ahead of Tom Verducci’s impending lockdown
Just days before baseball’s scheduled shutdown, the Mets signed a record-breaking deal with Max Scherzer and the Rangers, who suffered 102 losses, distributed more than $ 500 million.

The Rangers are splashing out on spending. Will it make a difference? by the laws of the will
Texas has signed superstars Corey Seager and Marcus Semien to mega-deals worth a combined $ 500 million, but its near-term outlook for 2022 is still not great.

The Sure Thing: Why the Rays Extended Baseball’s Next Phenomenon by Tom Verducci
To be as good as this youngster is a strong marker of greatness. Wander Franco is as good as any young player we’ve seen.

Tigers make risky but sensible choice to sign Javy Báez through Emma Baccellieri
Here are three reasons Detroit gave one of baseball’s most entertaining and frustrating players a six-year, $ 140 million contract.

Sailors leverage an ace to keep pace in AL West by Nick Selbe
Seattle took a big step towards building its surprise success last season by signing 2021 AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray on Monday.

3. NOTE by Stephanie Apstein

If you’ve been to MLB.com or any of the team sites since 11:59 p.m. ET on December 1, you may have noticed a glaring lack of baseball coverage. The website is full of stories of retired players, but there is nothing on anyone currently wearing a uniform. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand tweeted that the league tries to comply with federal labor laws by not using player names, images and likenesses for marketing purposes. In addition to cleaning up the stories, the MLB also anonymized promotional events such as bobblehead parties and drawn down banners outside at least one stadium. He also removed all of the player photos from the list pages and replaced them with blank cartoon heads. In response, many players replaced their Twitter profile photos with the same image. The first work stoppage of the digital age has begun.

4. WHAT TO LOOK FOR by Matt Martell

The new Hall of Fame could be announced Sunday night when the results of two special elections, the Early Baseball Era and the Golden Days Era, are announced at 6 p.m. on MLB Network.

The Early Baseball Era ballot features players Bill Dahlen, John Donaldson, Bud Fowler, Vic Harris, Grant “Home Run” Johnson, Lefty O’Doul, Buck O’Neil, Dick “Cannonball” Redding, Allie Reynolds and George ” Tubby “Scales. Dahlen and O’Doul played before integration, while Reynolds anchored the Yankees’ rotation in the 40s and 50s. The rest were star Negro League players and / or pioneers who deserve to be considered.

The Golden Days Era ballot features players Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Roger Maris, Minnie Miñoso, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce and Maury Wills, and manager Danny Murtaugh.

Candidates must appear on 75% of the 16 ballots cast in each election to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

5. THE FARM of Emma Baccellieri

As Stephanie noted, many players have changed their Twitter profile photos in solidarity to match the anonymous, faceless portrait that is now used on the league’s website. But some have personalized it a bit: Take advantage of the Twins launcher Randy Dobnak mustache and glasses, starting free agent Johnny Cueto’s Hair and Guardians third baseman José Ramirez bandana and chain.

That’s all about us today. We’ll be back to your inbox next Friday. In the meantime, share this newsletter with your friends and family and tell them to subscribe to SI.com/newsletters. If you have any questions or comments, email us at [email protected]

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