Major League Baseball, believing negotiations with the players union are close to reaching a stalemate, formally requested immediate assistance of a federal mediator Thursday to help resolve their differences towards reaching an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement.
The Major League Baseball Players Association, which was directly informed of the request by MLB officials Thursday afternoon, declined to publicly comment or reveal whether they would accept MLB’s offer. Federal mediation cannot enforce a settlement.
The union is unlikely to accept the request, at least at this juncture, with one veteran player, with direct knowledge of the talks telling USA TODAY Sports, “It’s nothing more than a publicity stunt.’’
The player spoke on the condition of anonymity since he was not authorized to speak publicly by union officials or the executive board.
MLB, in hopes of accelerating the talks, or at least getting a neutral party’s input, believe the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service would provide valuable assistance in reaching a compromise.
One MLB executive with direct knowledge of the negotiations said the league views mediation as the most productive path forward and that a third party would be beneficial for everyone.
The two sides have had only four negotiating sessions since Dec. 1, last meeting on Tuesday.
The painfully slow movement in talks makes the start of spring training on Feb. 16 highly unlikely, and potentially jeopardizing the scheduled March 31 start of the regular season.
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The two sides used a federal mediator during the 1994-95 strike when the owners were prepared to declare an impasse, but it wound up having no impact with the 1994 World Series being canceled.
Federal mediators have played a key role in assisting past sports’ negotiations, however, including the 50-day MLB strike in 1981; the NHL’s 113-day lockout in 2012-2013, the NFL referees’ lockout in 2012, the Major League Soccer referees’ lockout in 2014, and MLS negotiations in 2010 and 2015.
If the two sides fail to reach an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement by the first week of March, the 2022 season would be delayed or shortened from the normal 162-game season. MLB has insisted it has no interest in stretching the season into mid-November or playing an abundance of doubleheaders.
‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort