Commissioner Rob Manfred ‘Confident’ MLB Can Avoid Another Strike
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred during an interview before the 2019 MLB All-Star Game at Progressive Field
Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

This past August marked the 25th anniversary of one of the darkest days in modern baseball history. On Aug. 12, 1994, the season came to an erupt end after failed labor discussions between MLB and the MLB Players Association translated into a strike that would last into the following April.

In addition to the remainder of the regular season being canceled that year, there was consequently no postseason or World Series. That was particularly upsetting for the Montreal Expos, who boasted baseball’s best record at the time and were considered favorites to represent the National League in the Fall Classic.

Likewise, the Los Angeles Dodgers were poised to return to the playoffs for the first time since winning the 1988 World Series. Orel Hershiser and Eric Karros, key members of the 1994 team, reflected on what could have been had a work stoppage never occurred.

While the sport is in a much better position compared to 25 years ago, there are a few lingering issues that have raised some cause for concern.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, who represented the owners during the 1994 strike, remains hopeful the sport can dodge a similar situation and continue making progress, via Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times:

“I’m pretty confident we’re smart enough not to take another step backward,” Manfred said.

One problem currently plaguing MLB has been a steep decline in attendance over recent years. The average of tickets solid per game is on track to be fewer than 30,000 for a third consecutive season.

Another issue for MLB has been back-to-back stagnant free agent periods, which affected hundreds of players in the process. Some of the top names available such as Bryce Harper and Manny Machado ultimately received the lucrative contract they sought, but remained unsigned well into February, when pitchers and catchers had already reported to Spring Training.

For players in lesser tiers, some had to settle for below-market contracts just to find a home for the 2019 season. David Freese, an 11-year veteran, spoke on the free agency process and revealed that he quickly worked out a new contract with the Dodgers this past offseason after seeing similar players of his caliber struggle to find work.

Manfred placed the blame on players and their representatives, which drew a critical response from MLBPA executive director Tony Clark.

With tensions continuing to rise, there are early warning signs of a potential labor stoppage when the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires in December 2021. Furthermore, MLB and MiLB also appear to be at odds over potential changes to their agreement.