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ELI5 Podcast 2: Revisiting the MLB Lockout with Eugene Freedman

The union lawyer and top voice of labor relations in baseball joins Keelin Billue for a retrospective of the 2021-22 MLB lockout, and how it will continue to shape the league.

MLB: DEC 02 Major League Baseball Lockout James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In the second installment of Explain it Like I’m 5 (ELI5), Eugene Freedman, union lawyer and top voice of baseball labor relations, joins me to discuss a retrospective of, as well as future implications created by, the 2021-22 MLB lockout and collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

“Not a lot of people grow up in union households, but I did,” Freedman says. Freedman proudly points out his maternal grandfather went to work for a sewage disposal plant. “He literally worked knee-deep in shit,” says Freedman with a laugh.

In 1981, Freedman experienced formative personal events in both his union and baseball experience: He joined his first picket line, and went to his first baseball game.

Freedman’s love of baseball combined with his unique experience and formal education in unions and labor relations has enabled him to become one of the most prominent voices on baseball labor issues via social media. During the lockout, Freedman’s prominence was elevated as he became a trusted translator to the baseball Twitter masses on the legal and strategic activities between the MLB and MLBPA.

Though the 2021-22 MLB lockout ended, the relationship among the MLB, owners, and players never ends. Tune into the second installment of ELI5 to learn all things MLB revenue, collective bargaining ... and Prince (!!!!):

  • “Owners Have Nothing to Lose, But Players Have a Lot to Lose”: MLB streaming revenue from regional and national media outlets is often guaranteed for owners even when games are missed. However, MLB player pay is not guaranteed. Find out how this factors into the pace of negotiations.
  • The Problem with “Millionaires vs. Billionaires”: Eugene shares why common arguments like “millionaires vs. billionaires” are often not productive or accurate.
  • International Draft and Unionizing the Minors: What is at stake in the future? Why is MiLB not unionized? As it turns out, it is not as legally and strategically easy as it may look.
  • Productive Ways Forward: Eugene shares ways that both management and the MLBPA could be more productive in negotiations moving forward.
  • Prince: Eugene was not leaving this conversation without talking about his Prince fandom and vast knowledge of The Purple One.

Give Eugene a follow on Twitter: @EugeneFreedman.

Listen below, on our built-in Megaphone player:

or follow along with every episode at Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

And if you missed it, catch the first installment of ELI5, about the science behind the baseball and how it affects the game.