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Batting Around: Will MLB play a 162-game regular season in 2022 after the lockout?

The Atlanta Braves are World Series champions and now baseball is in the middle of its first work stoppage since the 1994-95 strike. MLB and the MLBPA were unable to agree to a new collective bargaining agreement prior to the Dec. 1 deadline, so the owners locked out the players, and spring training has been delayed. The regular season will soon be in jeopardy.

Throughout the offseason the CBS Sports MLB experts will bring you a weekly Batting Around roundtable breaking down pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff. Last week we debated Freddie Freeman’s landing spot. This week we’re going to discuss the length of the 2022 season.

How many games will each team play in 2022?

R.J. Anderson: I’ll hold out hope a little longer and say 162. I can’t pretend I have a great deal of confidence with how the owners and the league have operated to date, but I also have a hard time imagining them willingly losing regular-season revenue over some proposed changes that are — to be frank — anything but radical. It would be myopic and silly — and, given who we’re talking about, I suppose it must be taken as a serious possibility.  

Matt Snyder: I’m going to maintain a little optimism here, too, and say the players are in camp by March 1. Commissioner Rob Manfred said in his press conference last week they’d need about four weeks of spring training to start the regular season and while much of that press conference was him spewing nonsense, I believe that part. A March 1 beginning of spring training means opening day on March 31 is doable. Let’s keep the faith here. 

Dayn Perry: I’m still inclined to say 162. Cutting into the regular season is a whole other level of self-destruction that I don’t think MLB is willing to let happen. That’s when players start missing checks, and that’s when the money gets serious for team owners. I think the league’s goal is to break the union, but I don’t think they’re willing to lose games that count in order to achieve that (very cynical) objective. I’m prepared to be disappointed on this front, but for now I’m saying we get a full regular season.

Mike Axisa: I’ve tried to remain optimistic. I was originally hopeful there would be no work stoppage, thinking neither side wanted a third straight compromised season. Now I can’t help but feel pessimistic about the lockout because the owners don’t seem all that interested in getting a deal done (there is no good reason for waiting 43 days to make an offer after initiating the lockout). The players made by far the biggest move during negotiations when they proposed an expanded 12-team postseason field, and the owners are proposing baby steps. And every one of those baby steps has a string attached. We’ll give you a slightly higher minimum salary, but it will be a set salary teams can’t exceed. We’ll slightly raise the luxury-tax threshold, but it’ll come with massively increased penalties. MLB’s proposals don’t even keep up with inflation, nevermind with league revenues. If the owners want to get a deal done, they aren’t showing it.

To answer the question, I’m going to say 80 games with the season starting in early July, and hope I’m wrong. History tells us that things will look dire for a long time, then the two sides will get together and hammer out a deal in like 36 hours. Hopefully that happens soon and the regular season can begin as scheduled. I’m no longer optimistic though. The owners have yet to make an offer serious enough to get the union’s attention, and I don’t see them caving anytime soon. They seem very willing to lose fans and do long-term damage to the sport as long as it puts one extra penny in their pocket.