Major League Baseball and its Player’s Union have done what they have needed to do and have agreed to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. And, unlike the NBA, NFL and NHL, they did it before it resulted in a labor stoppage of any sort. Fear not, baseball fans. The 2017 MLB season will go on as planned. The deal will last until 2022, so there will be no lockouts in the game any time soon.
The MLB and the MLB Player’s Association came to terms on the new CBA last week, and it has been reported that the deal has been ratified. The agreement does not include many changes from its predecessor, with a few notable exceptions.
New guidelines for signing international free agents have been put in place, most likely to stop teams from circumventing regulations. This past summer, the Boston Red Sox were banned from IFA negotiations in the 2016-17 signing period as a penalty for packing prospects together in deals to avoid breaking regulations. The team may have used these shady methods to acquire Cuban superstar Yoan Moancada, now the MLB’s top prospect.
But, the biggest difference to MLB diehards will probably be the one made to the All-Star Game. Since 2003, the team in the league that won the Mid-Summer Classic was rewarded with home-field advantage in that year’s World Series. This policy polarized baseball fans, with some saying it was an unfair way to decided the advantage and others saying it gave the game legitimacy. This is no longer the case, as the players on the winning league’s team will now receive monetary bonuses instead.
Home-field advantage in the Fall-Classic will once again go to the team with the better regular-season record. It’s interesting that this occurs after 2016. Although the American League won this past year’s ASG in San Diego, giving home-field advantage to this year’s AL champion Cleveland, it ended up working more to the advantage of the NL champion, the Cubs.
Having four of the Series’ seven games at Cleveland allowed the Cubs to get Kyle Schwarber in the lineup four times as designated hitter (as averse to three had the Cubs had the advantage) , which significantly bolstered the team’s offense and has been attributed to the Cubs’ historic victory.
It’s worth asking why MLB can come to a new agreement before a labor stoppage while the other three major North American sports leagues have not. The last MLB lockout prevented the completion of the 1994 season and therefore that year’s World Series from being played. Since that time, the NHL has had two labor stoppages (one cancelling the entire 2004-05 season), the NBA has had four and the NFL has had three.
For baseball fans, it’s very good that MLB can resolve these types of problems before labor is stopped and the great game that we all follow so obsessively is not played. Well done, MLB. Thank you for actually remembering that the fans are the ones that a lockout affects, not the players. If only the other sports could learn this.
Flyers Remove Statue of Kate Smith
The Philadelphia Flyers have joined the New York Yankees in the removal of ties to singer Kate Smith, whose famous rendition of “God Bless America” was played at both Flyers and Yankees games.
Earlier this week, the Yankees decided to suspend the use of Smith’s rendition, which was played during the seventh-inning stretch, while they investigated allegations of racism against the later singer.
According to a report from the New York Daily News, there are conflicting claims about Smith’s 1939 song “That’s Why Darkies Were Born” which
originated in the 1931 Broadway revue “George White’s Scandals” and was considered satire but includes racist language, including the line;
“Someone had to pick the cotton. … That’s why darkies were born.”
The song was recorded by Smith and Paul Robeson, who was black.
The Flyers put out the following statement on Sunday (h/t ESPN):
“The Flyers have enjoyed a long and popular relationship with ‘God Bless America,’ as performed by the late Kate Smith, a woman who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor for her patriotic contributions to our nation.
“But in recent days, we learned that several of the songs Kate Smith performed in the 1930s include lyrics and sentiments that are incompatible with the values of our organization, and evoke painful and unacceptable themes.”
Smith, who was popular during the WWII era, recorded the offensive jingle, “Pickaninny Heaven,” which she directed at “colored children” who should fantasize about an amazing place with “great big watermelons,” among various other treats.
Smith also endorsed the “Mammy Doll” back in 1939 which was based on a racist caricature of a black woman similar to Aunt Jemima.
“The Yankees have been made aware of a recording that had been previously unknown to us and decided to immediately and carefully review this new information,” a club spokesman said. “The Yankees take social, racial and cultural insensitivities very seriously. And while no final conclusions have been made, we are erring on the side of sensitivity.”
The odds aren’t good that Smith’s songs will return to their prominent places during sporting events such as they were with the Yankees and the Flyers.
There is a lot of cleaning up to do when it comes to racism in sports, and weeding out songs attached to artists with questionable, and controversial, backgrounds such as Smith’s, is important in pushing forward towards the future.
MLB Investigating Racist Social Media Messages Sent to Cubs’ Carl Edwards Jr.
Major League Baseball is investigating racial messages sent, via social media, to Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Carl Edwards Jr. prior to his demotion to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs back on April 6th.
According to The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney, the messages have caught the attention of both the Cubs and the MLB Players Association, leading to the launch of the investigation.
Mooney had been a solid bullpen option during the last few seasons, but had a nightmare start to the 2019 season posting a terrible 32.40 ERA in just 1.2 innings of work over four appearances.
Carlos Zambrano Attempting Comeback, Signs with Indy Team
Former MLB pitcher Carlos Zambrano is attempting a comeback and has signed with the American Association’s Chicago Dogs, according to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Gordon Wittenmyer.
Zambrano last pitched in the majors back in 2012 with the Miami Marlins, but earlier in his career he finished in the top five of the Cy Young voting in the National League three times as a member of the Chicago Cubs.
Zambrano started his comeback bid last fall when he took the mound for 7 starts in the Mexican League, pitching to the tune of a 5.18 ERA, and performing even worse during a short stint in the Venezuelan Winter League.
Given his recent lack of production, it is a longshot to believe that Zambrano will return to the MLB level, but stranger things have happened.
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