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.