Right now is time for the hot stove league in Major League Baseball.

Fans dream about hope in spring training as their teams make trades and sign free agents.

But instead, there may be no 2022 baseball season after every owner came to this major conclusion.

On December 1, the owners locked out the players as the collective bargaining agreement expired, imposing the first work stoppage in baseball since the disastrous 1994 players strike canceled the World Series and introduced fans to the horrors of replacement player baseball.

Buffoonish commissioner Rob Manfred – who introduced idiotic concepts like seven inning double header games and starting extra innings with a runner on second base – blamed everything on the players’ demands to protect the salary scale and competitive balance of the game.

“We believe that an offseason lockout is the best mechanism to protect the 2022 season,” Manfred claimed. “We hope that the lockout will jumpstart the negotiations and get us to an agreement that will allow the season to start on time.”

Manfred claimed this lockout was the only thing standing between the game and being competitive.

“This defensive lockout was necessary because the Players Association’s vision for Major League Baseball would threaten the ability of most teams to be competitive,” Manfred added.

In 2019, Baseball generated $10.7 billion dollars in revenue.

There is no doubt baseball took a hit in 2020 as the pandemic reduced the season to 60 games with no fans in the stands.

But by June of this year everyone was playing to full capacity.

Financial statements from the Atlanta Braves – considered a bellwether for the league – showed in quarter three of this year – the period from July to September – Atlanta made $30 million in profit with $234 million in revenue.

In the same period in 2020, the Braves lost $16 million with $110 million in revenue.

The game is back to full financial health, but what concerns the players is the idea of teams tanking – trading off star players and lowering payroll in order to lose to secure higher draft picks – and the advanced use of data analytics, which the owners now weaponize to cut free agent contracts to veteran players in their 30s.

Everyone thought baseball learned the lesson of 1994 when the first canceled World Series poisoned the sport in the minds of many fans.

The only way baseball recovered was by making a deal with the devil and looking the other way as steroids flooded into the game and the home run chases to break Roger Maris’ single season homerun record by Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire drew fans back into the game in 1998.

Baseball doesn’t have another rabbit it can pull out of its hat like that again.

Fans don’t care who wins a fight between millionaires and billionaires dividing up the financial pie generated by a child’s game.

They just want to see the games on the field.

Sports with Balls will keep you up-to-date on any new developments in this ongoing story.