Commissioner Rob Manfred approached the microphone at a press conference following the 5:00 PM ET deadline for a new collective bargaining agreement to be reached between the Major League Baseball Players Association and the league on Tuesday, in which he announced the cancellation of regular season games. The decision comes on the tail end of ten days worth of meetings between the league’s owners and a caucus of players union representatives in Jupiter, FL.
A 43-day gap between when MLB instituted its lockout of the players and when the league made its first core economics proposal to the MLBPA looms over what is, frankly, an unnecessary work stoppage. San Francisco Giants pitcher Alex Wood weighed in on the mishandling of negotiations by MLB via Twitter:
As it stands now, 2022 will be the third consecutive season in which Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout will be unable to play a full 162-game schedule. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the league into delaying its typical Springtime Opening Day until July 23rd. During the 60-game campaign, Trout appeared in 53 games, posting a .993 OPS to go along with 17 home runs.
The following year, Trout suffered a right calf strain in mid-May that sidelined him for the remainder of the season. The injury limited Trout to just 36 games played in 2021, meaning the three-time MVP award winner appeared in under 55% of a single season’s worth of games in the two-year span between 2020 and 2021. It was Major League Baseball’s responsibility to guarantee the game’s best player would be given the opportunity to make a proper return this season and they did not deliver.
Trout released a statement of his own regarding the MLB lockout, noting the importance of these negotiations for the future generations of baseball players.
After celebrating his 30th birthday last August, the traditional decline of an athlete’s abilities due to age will begin to become a factor in the years ahead. This story is true of many players around the league, though none other is quite as dire to the history of the game than what losing another year of Trout’s prime would be.
Trout’s career WAR total currently ranks 43rd among position players since 1900, a number that already puts him in the company of some of the game’s greatest players. Trailing one spot behind Trout on the all-time list is Paul Molitor, a Baseball Hall of Fame member who played 21 seasons in the Major Leagues. According to Baseball-Reference, three of Molitor’s four best seasons by WAR occurred when he was 30 years old or younger, which tells a worrisome story for Trout if the two sides are unable to reach a deal in the near future and Rob Manfred is prompted to cancel another portion of the 2022 season.
These are crucial years in the career of Mike Trout. Continuing to lose the chance to watch the game’s best player, especially due to avoidable circumstances like the prolonged MLB lockout, is damaging to the history of baseball and unconscionably frustrating from a fan’s perspective.
Featured Image Credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP