Reactions to the New MLB Labor Deal
Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association have announced a new five-year agreement that includes many new aspects. One of those is the mandatory testing for Human Growth Hormone. The next step is getting the agreement in formal writing and ratified by both the players and owners.
“I believe that this new five-year agreement will continue the remarkable surge in popularity that baseball has enjoyed,” MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said.
“Here are some of the important aspects of the new agreement, taken from the MLB website:
- Blood testing for HGH with a 50-game suspension for a first failed test, 100 games for a second, and lifetime ban with the right to seek reinstatement for the third.
- A raise in the minimum salary from $414,000 this year to $480,000 in 2012, and ultimately to more than $500,000.
- A luxury tax on teams that spend above an aggregate figure for players signed through the annual First-Year Player Draft and the near elimination of draft-pick compensation for the signing of free agents.
- Subject to MLB discussions with the umpires union, the expansion of instant replay to include fair and foul calls on balls hit down the line, in addition to others trapped by fielders. Replay has been used only to review home runs — fair or foul, in or out of the park.
- Restrictions for the first time on the use of smokeless tobacco on the field or in dugouts. Players are still allowed to chew, but while they’re in an area where they can be picked up by a television camera, the protocol now is for them not to have pouches or tins of tobacco visible in their uniform back pockets.
So is this good for the sport? Or are there some hidden problems that could arise?
It’s pretty much a good thing for baseball. The testing for HGH, and a clear-cut way of penalizing those athletes who have used it is really important. Some people will say, “Well why didn’t they institute this all those years back when HGH was at its height?” I think the option was definitely explored, but testing was not as advanced as it was today, and could not be relied on heavily. Today testing can tell you without a doubt who does or does not use HGH.
Some may say that the additional wild card teams will just make playoffs longer and reward teams who have lost their division. Yeah, some length will be added to the postseason, but let’s chalk it up for the love of the sport. The playoffs start with many teams and gets whittled down to just two by the time the World Series begins. It’s this fact of elimination that makes the sport exciting and seemingly makes every pitch matter. Adding another race for wild cards will only add to the suspense and excitement in the latter half of the season that all fans enjoy. It’s a good thing for the sport, it might even attract more fans!
“Won’t adding more replay checks just eventually end up in the umpires being taken out altogether? That’s a part of the game itself.” I agree that umpires are necessary in keeping with the tradition of the game. The human element prevents anyone from knowing exactly what can happen, as umpires can get calls wrong, which can make for a nice love/hate relationship as I’ve come to see it. But in reality, no, I don’t think that the umpires will get phased out. At least anytime soon. With home runs and now foul line balls being reviewed, I think it can actually help the umpires do their job more effectively. They have so many things to be aware of at all times that a ball hit down the line should be supposed with video proof when it’s available. Some people will say that now anything hit down the line will be reviewed. Honestly, I don’t think that would happen. Managers and players know that you don’t challenge something unless you are willing to toe the line for the cause and not just to see if you can snatch a base here or there. Even if this does happen, I’m sure that Bud Selig would be more than willing to fix it quickly.
The money issue? I think that’s good in my opinion. No longer will players be paid inordinate amounts of money for their talents. Spending doesn’t mean you will create a good team, in fact, it’s a lot of scouting that does. A club needs to make good quality choices with who they’ll have on their team. They should be efficient with their money, not blow it all away on big names. I think the tax will help some of the scouting going on down lower get the attention and advocacy it needs, as sneaking in a top prospect here and there can be cost-effective and extremely important for a small or medium market club.
My favorite change coming to the MLB (which isn’t really listed, but I had to talk about it) is the moving of the Houston Astros to the AL West in 2013. Awesome. Now there are an even 15 teams in both leagues, and if I’m not mistaken that means that interleague play will be all year. Fantastic! I love interleague play. I always want to see the funny face AL pitchers make when they have to swing a bat, especially if there’s a guy on base. Of course, this like everything else is open to interpretation, but c’mon, if I were a pitcher I’d like to switch it up more, but I’m not, so that point becomes moot. Nonetheless I think it’s a good idea.