Most Significant Work Stoppages in MLB History

Most Significant Work Stoppages in MLB History

Few things in life are more nauseating than millionaires arguing with billionaires. The 2022 Major League Baseball (MLB) season is in jeopardy because, apparently, the team owners don’t want to see fans happy. This labor negotiation isn’t the first time baseball has had issues, though. In fact, this is just another addition to the most significant work stoppages in MLB history.

1972 Strike

The 1972 strike is significant because it was the first-ever players’ strike in MLB’s storied history. The players felt that a strike was in order because of a disagreement with the owners about their pensions. They settled the spat in a matter of weeks, but it wiped 86 games off the schedule. Of course, every game counts, considering the Boston Red Sox lost the division to the Detroit Tigers by half a game that year.

1973 Lockout

Apparently, the owners held a grudge until the following season, locking out the players for the first time. The stoppage went on through most of February, affecting spring training. The most powerful effect of this lockout is that it created salary arbitration, allowing players to make their cases for why they should make more money based on their performance.

1976 Lockout

The 1976 lockout wasn’t a lengthy one, seeing as it only went on for a couple of weeks in March, but it changed the game forever. This became the dawn of free agency, in which players can go to the highest bidder. Two pitchers, Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally, took their cases to federal court to earn the right to choose their desired playing locations. After the court ruled in favor of the players, the owners ended the lockout.

1981 Strike

From June 12 to July 31, 1981, no player set foot on a diamond, canceling over 700 games. The big holdup was free-agent compensation, in which a team gains something for a departing player. The 1981 season was when the division winners were divided into first- and second-half champions, leading to an experimental playoff format. These new rules hosed the Cincinnati Reds, which had the best record in the game but missed the postseason entirely.

1994 Strike

The granddaddy of all MLB labor stoppages is the 1994–1995 strike. The aftereffects of this ordeal are still being felt today. The 1994 season was set to become the most exciting campaign of all time. It saw Tony Gwynn flirt with a .400 batting average, Frank Thomas and Jeff Bagwell putting up video-game numbers, Matt Williams potentially chasing down Roger Maris, and the Montreal Expos becoming the most exciting team in the game—until the game abruptly stopped due to the strike. There was no World Series champion, nor was there a team in Montreal a decade-plus later. The only good that may have come out of it was the “Steroid Era.” Even if it was cheating, it was still fun to watch.

Unfortunately, the 2021–22 lockout will be an addition to the most significant work stoppages in MLB history. Hopefully, it stops short of using replacement players or requiring you to grab a new baseball bat to put on a showcase for your favorite team. So let’s try to figure this thing out, please!

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TWB Editorial