Will the Waino and Yadi farewell tour be delayed?

Jeff+Curry%2FUSA+Today+Sports%C2%A0

Jeff Curry/USA Today Sports 

Dan Buffa, Special to the Jewish Light

Ask any Montreal Expos fans what a strike feels like, and the impending Major League Baseball lockout on Thursday won’t feel so bad.

Back in 1994, the Expos were on a direct path to the World Series; it was only a matter of time before they hoisted the trophy. But a work stoppage delayed and later postponed the rest of the season-including the postseason for the Expos they had mapped out. Luckily, 2022 baseball fans shouldn’t have to worry about that kind of cancellation, but St. Louis Cardinals fans may argue this particular stoppage stings extra.

Major League Baseball lockout

However, there will be a delay. All the evidence that is fit to be true was laid across the national table last year. During a pandemic, the owners locked horns once again with the Major League Players Association. While every other major sport agreed on a COVID-19 season plan, M.L.B. lollygagged behind. The divide lasted weeks, packing the normally 162-game season into a 60-game vice. Ask any baseball writer today and most have agreed to toss that year out of their stat search.

The league will likely avoid that kind of embarrassment, but there will be blowback and potentially an extended delay. At the stroke of midnight later tonight, Dec. 1, the current Collective Bargaining Agreement will expire. At that time, the league (aka the owners) will most likely execute a lockout.

ADVERTISEMENT
Fox Theatre - The Prom ad


In doing so, front offices will close. While a padlock won’t be wrapped around Busch Stadium, the hot stove will go cold. Free agency will also experience a lockdown of sorts, with the big signings and trades coming to a temporary halt. The two sides are reportedly as close to a deal as I am to a first date with Scarlett Johansson, so expect months and not weeks with these negotiations.

What’s the problem?

Brew a pot of coffee and relax because the details aren’t pretty. In the eyes of the Players Association, they have given inches of ground in recent talks. But the owners aren’t an easy party to move back. They are greedy by nature, and that doesn’t mature over time. This will be a long fight, and the real question is how much actual time will be required to reboot the offseason.

There’s no healthy way to rush the players and their vulnerable arms and legs back into a long season without plenty of time to stretch out the limbs and the talent. Let’s say the talks go back and forth into 2022. A deal could be hammered out at the end of January, but then free agency would likely have to open up for at least a month, but likely more. Spring training games could begin sometime towards the end of March or early April.

While I can’t stand the normally too-long spring training schedule, a contracted one in 2022 would be a nice twist. It would help boost a quicker change to regular-season games in May possibly, or perhaps sooner.

Patience

Just remember, we’re dancing in hypothetical waters at the moment. The negotiations could go on longer–delaying the rest of free agency, spring training, the regular season, and worst of all, the postseason. 2022 could dip into 2023, and then next season is disrupted and potentially contorted.

After the craziness of last year, this is the last thing anybody needs. Losing a part of 2020 was rough enough; losing 2021 games due to different levels of greed would be a knockout punch to a sport that ranked second on most profitable sports in June of last year. A national health crisis sounds a lot better than rich people arguing over assets on a large scale.

Don’t forget about the reputation and image taking a big hit. Social media wasn’t around in the 90s, a bygone era and just the beginning of internet mania. The more time this stretches on, the comments will only grow uglier.

Yadi and Waino

Worst of all for Cardinal Nation, the “Yadi and Waino” farewell tour gets delayed. This wouldn’t be a problem if Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina were spring chickens. A long lockout could hinder a true ride off into the sunset with a pair of franchise legends.

Staging the expiration in December gives the two sides time to work their differences out, but the real clock is the number of delays it will bring to their sport. The arbitration contract deadline will most likely be delayed. The winter meetings may become the spring meetings,  the Rule 5 draft will be on hold, and the international signing periods will be messy.

Players could report to camp once a near deal was hammered out at the end of January but would still require time to get going. Every player doesn’t have a home gym or four facilities to choose from. Scrappiness will be required around locker rooms and front offices this winter, with suits jugging dates and trainer rooms staying crowded.

There was a reason teams were signing big names left and right earlier this week. A lockout was looming. It arrives late Dec. 1, unless a Hail Mary agreement occurs. The clock then begins. A waiting period that will anger hardcore fans while alienating many casual ones Will there be baseball in the spring? Sure, but what part of spring are we talking about?