Until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached between MLB owners and the MLBPA, players are officially locked out.
One of the immediate fallout effects: the removal of various news stories and images on MLB.com and across the league’s network of official team sites. That felt particularly dystopian, especially considering the stories that remained up to fill in that editorial space.
On team sites, player headshots are gone while coaches and staff remain. pic.twitter.com/pymwUuxyN3
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) December 2, 2021
It was especially weird to go to a team roster page and see that all the players had been effectively blacked out.
— Carter Williams (@cwilliamsKSL) December 2, 2021
The league offered an explanation for this with an official statement:
You may notice that the content on this site looks a little different than usual. The reason for this is because the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players and the league expired just before midnight on Dec. 1 and a new CBA is currently being negotiated between the owners and the MLBPA.
Until a new agreement is reached, there will be limitations on the type of content we display. As a result, you will see a lot more content that focuses on the game’s rich history. Once a new agreement is reached, the up-to-the minute news and analysis you have come to expect will continue as usual.
While it seems petty, it’s at least slightly motivated by a desire to limit exposure legally:
According to the league, in order to comply with federal labor law during the lockout, MLB is making every effort to not use players’ names, images or likenesses for promotional, advertising or other commercial purposes. https://t.co/4BU2ALf4sY
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) December 2, 2021
But, well, it still feels fairly petty, right? Not to mention the fact that it happened minutes after the lockout officially began. That meant the league had been preparing for this outcome; surely editorial content and player photos were not super high on the emergency lockout chart, which meant this was very much not an emergency lockout. It was at the very least heavily anticipated from ownership’s side, if not outright preordained.
Rays homepage at 11:58 p.m. vs 12:20 a.m. pic.twitter.com/OyX98fvAGj
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) December 2, 2021
Hopefully this doesn’t end up dragging on through the start of the season, and hopefully the players can achieve a more equitable arrangement in the end.