The lowdown on the lockout

NOW: The lowdown on the lockout

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- With the Super Bowl in the rear view mirror, the attention of the sports world typically shifts to baseball and the start of spring training right about now. 

The boys of summer usually get their start in winter with spring training. Not this year. 

"The final clock ticks on that Super Bowl, then it's like okay, football is done, baseball, you're up," said Jeff Cirillo, Brewers Wall of Honor inductee. 

"To my disappointment, I have to report we instituted a lockout of Major League players," said Rob Manfred, MLB commissioner.

That means for now, there is no Major League Baseball. While the owners and players association try to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement, everything is on hold. 

Typically, players start showing up in Arizona or Florida this week to begin spring training, with the Brewers' first exhibition game still scheduled, for now, for Feb. 26. 

"I'm already saying they're delayed," said Marcus Hanel.

Hanel has spent more than 30 years in baseball. First as a minor league player, then as the Brewers bullpen catcher from 2000 until the end of the 2020 season. 

Marcus says the lockout changes everything from the crucial aspects of the sport, like spring training, to pictures on MLB's website and any communication between players and the front office.

"I've heard of stories where on that deadline, guys were at weddings and as soon as that deadline -- I got to leave, because so and so is here. Even if a front office person walked into a Starbucks and saw a player, they have to write a report -- 'hey, I saw so and so.' It's pretty wild."

Baseball hasn't had a full-fledged work stoppage since the strike that started in 1994. Hanel was a single-A catcher about midway through his playing career while Brewers Wall of Honor inductee Jeff Cirillo was a rookie. 

"There were some guys cut at the knees by not having a deal," said Cirillo.

"It was an odd, odd feeling," said Hanel. "There was a lot of tension when you got to camp. Weren't sure what was expected of you. It got pretty stressful at times."

Baseball's popularity dropped after the '94-'95 strike, with the steroid-infused home run race helping bring fans back a few years later. 

If this lockout lingers, who knows what it would take to win back the fans again.

"They have every right to be upset about that," said Cirillo. "They do. With what everyone has dealt with the last couple of years, the timing is not good for this. I believe cooler heads should prevail. For the game of baseball, they should figure it out."

While negotiations continue, the players have to stay ready. Anyone on the 40-man roster is locked out, but expected to be in shape if and when the season begins, working out at places like Hitters in Caledonia, but without any interaction with their coaches.

"It's an antsy time, guys are trying to fill their time properly to be ready for the season," said Hanel.

There might be good news on the horizon. The two sides met again Saturday and there is some optimism that a deal will get done eventually. If not, at least the minor leagues are on schedule.

Share this article:
Sign up for the Sports Newsletter