It’s A Miracle

What’s the only major sports league in the U.S. to not lose any scheduled games this century due to labor strife? Yup, amazingly the answer is MLB. For all of us who lived and suffered through the 1994-95 labor war, this is a pretty amazing fact. The new CBA assures that we will get to 2017 before we have to worry about a work stoppage and it contains some very interesting provisions.

First, congrats to MLB for getting real HGH testing. They are actually going to use blood tests which is a pretty radical move and a very strong signal that players and owners want a “clean” game.

And it’s nice that MLB finally took a stand on the All-Star Game. Starting next year, players selected to participate must do so, unless they are injured. Sure, there is a potential for some phantom injuries here, but this will hopefully put an end to 80-something players getting selected to the game.

And there are some other good ideas in the CBA. Requiring all players, starting in 2013, to wear a helmet that can protect them against a 100-mph fastball is a safety idea that is long overdue. I wish it had included a clause that every writer who made fun of the original helmet had to stand in the box and see a pitch come at them at 100-mph, but I quibble. Making a 26th player eligible when there is a doubleheader is also a good idea.

But, MLB also screwed a couple of things up. I talked about the Astros and interleague play before, but the new draft/international signing rules will really hurt the teams they are trying to protect. Consider this, in 2011 the Red Sox spent the 10th-most in MLB on their draft pool. The Yankees were 16th. This is the one case where you can’t accuse the big clubs of spending huge amounts, it was clubs like Washington, Kansas City and Pittsburgh. Ken Rosenthal has posted a good piece on it here. By eliminating their ability to spend freely on the draft and internationally, MLB has done two things. First, they have made it more likely that two-sport starts will not choose baseball. More importantly, they have handicapped the smaller market teams in the one area that they were doing well in. Consider this stat from Rosenthal’s piece, in 2011 all the clubs spent a total of $236 million in the draft, or about $30 million more than the Yankees’ payroll. I could be very wrong, but I think this new system will make the Red Sox and Yankees even stronger because they still can spend their money at the big league level and the luxury tax threshold is actually going up to $189 million.

And with that, I am going to put the computer down until next week. Barring any moves, I will be back after the Thanksgiving weekend. I hope all of you reading this and your families have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.