Well, we've just about reached the point of no return. For nearly three months, we've speculated the lockout likely wouldn't end until the two sides faced a significant deadline: the potential loss of regular season games. And now, alas, we are on the verge of reaching that point.
Major League Baseball reiterated Wednesday that if a deal is not in place by Monday, opening day will not proceed as scheduled March 31, adding that any games lost would not be made up and players would not be paid for any lost games. The MLB Players Association has suggested for several weeks that Feb. 28 isn't really a hard deadline and that it could still be possible to work out a new collective bargaining agreement in the days following it and still have enough time to conduct spring training and open the 2022 season as planned.
This much is clear: The two sides remain awfully far apart on a number of issues, and any movement that has taken place since daily negotiations began Monday in Jupiter, Fla., has been minimal. Perhaps the threat at last of the clock running out will spur them to make real progress toward each other for the first time since this interminable process began.
Absent any other news this morning, we'll take this opportunity to open the floor to your questions. I'll do my best to answer them as best I can, perhaps even try to share some rays of optimism during an otherwise dark time. ...