By Kevin McAlpin
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – 99 days after Major League owners locked out players, over three-plus months of contentious back and forth negotiations finally ended on Thursday as players agreed to accept the most recent proposal from the owners. At times, it looked like a month, or two, or even the whole season could be lost in 2022. However, less than 24 hours after Major League Baseball announced that two more series would be removed from the calendars, an agreement was reached and we can all now get back to work!
Over the last 99 days, players were forbidden from having contact with their respective clubs. Free agents were prohibited from signing with new clubs. And the baseball world all sat, waited and held its collective breath that this day would finally come. Now, all that’s left is the formality of the owners ratifying the agreement, which will pass a little after 6pm Eastern.
So, what’s next? Well, for one, we know that Opening Day will take place four weeks from today. For the Braves, it means they’ll begin their quest at defending their World Series title in front of their home fans, something that doesn’t happen often. While it would be easy to dwell and reflect of the sentiments and sour tones of the last few months, today is a day to celebrate. The National Pastime is back. Soon, we’ll all gather at the ballpark to hear the crack of the bat, enjoy the smells and sounds of the boys of summer and the events of the last 99 days will become a distant memory.
As for the business of baseball, soon free agents will sign and players will report to their respective spring training camps. The ramp up will be about a third shorter than normal, with clubs having a little under four weeks to get themselves ready for the start of the 162 season. Pitchers will be affected most. Hitters are typically ready after week three.
For me, I couldn’t be more excited. 18 years in the game and this offseason has certainly been much different than any I’ve ever experienced. But for now, it’s back to work and watching the game we all love the most. For the local nine, they’re now in the crosshairs as 29 other teams will look to knock them off the top of the baseball mountain.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and @BravesRadioNet.