Tuesday's announcement that Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have agreed to a new, five-year, collective bargaining agreement assures that baseball fans won't have to endure the stress of a potential lost season. MLB executives and players successfully came to the table and came to terms on a deal that seemingly works for everyone..but is this new deal good for baseball?
-Instant replay expanded to include fair/foul/trapped balls - Incorporating instant replay into any sport will always be a slippery slope. First home run calls..and now this. I think everyone involved got this right. These are not everyday instances and in most cases can be decided via replay very quickly. It shouldn't notably slow the game down, providing fans with a more accurate outcome without negatively affecting the experience.
-All-Star Game participation will be required - Amen. The all-star game in every league is designed to showcase the game. If premier players do not attend it becomes pointless. What happened last season, when more than a dozen players opted out of the game, was ridiculous to the point where the players should be ashamed. Well done by everyone involved to eliminate the opportunities for self-centered players to excuse themselves from this honor.
-HGH testing to begin Spring 2012 - For MLB to continue to rehabilitate its image this is 100% necessary. I don't intend to initiate or further rumors, but when Albert Pujols returned mere days after severely injuring his wrist last season..it has to make you think. I look forward to the days when such ideas can be put to rest before they even come up. HGH testing won't accomplish that alone, but its a solid start.
-The amateur draft is dead (at least for the time being) - Any team that spends more than 5% over slot is subject to a 75% draft tax. Spending 10%-15% over slot earns the offending team a 100% draft tax and the loss of their 1st or 2nd round draft pick in each of the next TWO season depending on the circumstances. With the draft being such a crap shoot, who would take such a risk? Therefore, an inability to spend over slot will prohibit teams from offering top prospects the financial incentive to forgo their college years. As a result, many expect the talent pool to dip considerably over the next several years as a result.
-Additional Wild Card Teams - Although I know there are others who will disagree, this decision is mind numbingly stupid to me. The idea that, theoretically, a 93-69 team may have their playoff future decided by a one-game playoff against an 85-77 team is foolish. MLB is trying to recapture the success (and insanity) that was the final day of the 2011 regular season, but they're sacrificing of the entire regular season in the process. Yes, this approach puts an emphasis on winning the division, but it also makes the Wild Card seem incredibly cheap.
The agreement that was struck this week is extremely interesting and I'm excited to here the background and backlash surrounding it. MLB owners, executives and players should be proud that they were able to avoid a work stoppage, such as the one that threatened the NFL season and has all but eliminated the NBA season. Any agreement, in that sense, is good for baseball. However, I will say that I am glad that this is only a five year deal because there are some glaring problems with this agreement that will need rectified sooner than later for the good of the league
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