ORLANDO — Any other February, a gathering of the 30 major league owners and top MLB executives at a posh hotel in Florida for quarterly meetings would be considered business as usual.
Not this year.
With no new talks with the locked-out players scheduled and an announcement on a delayed start to next week’s spring training expected as soon as Thursday, the business of baseball felt estranged, if not detached, from the game of baseball.
As the sun set on Day 1 of the confab at the Waldorf Astoria, Major League Baseball was weighing next moves after the players’ union nixed the league’s proposal of asking for a federal mediator to resolve the stalled talks.
The players, as well as Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, want talks to resume.
MLB’s last public word on talks via a spokesperson was that the league “remains committed to offering solutions at the table and reaching a fair agreement for both sides.”
Spring training is scheduled to start Feb. 16. Commissioner Rob Manfred is expected by many to announce that the start will be pushed back when he meets with the media here on Thursday.
His take on the state of baseball, as well as the growing threat that the start of the regular season will also be delayed with games possibly lost, will be highly anticipated.
The last time Manfred met with the media was Dec. 2, hours after the owners initiated the first work stoppage in 26 years by locking out the players. Manfred termed the maneuver to be largely defensive, meant to prompt the players to bargain with urgency.
Forty-three days later, MLB presented new proposals to the players as the talks resumed.
The owners’ last meeting was in mid-November in Chicago, where Manfred ended the conclave with a news conference in which he expressed his resolve to hold fruitful negotiations with the union before the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement.
Red Sox owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, and president and CEO Sam Kennedy arrived early Tuesday afternoon. Henry is a member of baseball’s labor policy committee and also owns the Globe.