Major League Baseball and the MLBPA have been working diligently for quite some time to get a deal done before the current CBA expires on December 11. There were optimistic reports that the new deal could be announced during the World Series, but now it looks like Tuesday will be the big day.
Several huge issues are being dealt with in these negotiations, including the Astros moving to the AL to set up two 15-team leagues. That is a monumental change, as the odd number of dance partners necessitates interleague play all season long.
The playoff format is said to be altered as well, with an additional wildcard team in each league and a one-game first round added.
These major points are just a sample of the touchy subjects addressed with the new CBA. The five-year deal tackles other hot-button issues like draft slotting, the luxury tax and testing for HGH.
That’s right, HGH testing.
The NFL made a big splash with the announcement that testing for human growth hormone was part of the agreement when they ended their lockout, but the player’s union has balked so far. Minor league players have been randomly tested since July of 2010, but the major leaguers have fought the testing itself and the method (blood draws). The new agreement has apparently ironed out this process.
When the announcement comes, it will be a great day for baseball and a lesson for professional sports leagues everywhere. The two sides have been negotiating well in advance of the December 11 expiration date but most people haven’t known about it. Why?
In the aftermath of the “scorched-earth” result of 1994, MLB has gotten its act together in an impressive way. The pending deal runs through 2016 which will run MLB’s continuous streak of labor peace to 22 years. The NFL and NBA are battling with their players in toxic environments. Major League Baseball has been down that path and has left the posturing and public confrontation in the past. “Who’d have thunk it” stuff, indeed, after the painful tug-of-war affairs that played out just about every time around leading up to 1994.
And you can add this labor harmony to a list of under-appreciated successes on Bud Selig’s watch.