Major League Baseball gave its fans an early Christmas present: a new labor contract that will avoid the lockout problems seen in football and basketball.
Rather than subjecting their fans to public animosity and bickering, MLB learned from the mistakes made by the National Football League and National Basketball Association and came to what looks to be a very fair and quick agreement. It ensures that there will be no interruption (or threat of interruption) to the game of baseball at a time when baseball’s popularity is on the rise again.
It looks like Bud Selig is the big winner as he got almost everything he wanted, including the addition of two wild cards to the playoffs and draft and signing changes designed to rein in exorbitant spending. He got the players’ union to agree to institute testing for human growth hormone, even though the new agreement is being criticized for the lack of in-season random testing. Selig did have to finally give in on expanded replay, which he has resisted for years. But I think he will eventually come to terms with the fact that instant replay is best for the game of baseball. Overall, Selig now comes off as the wisest commissioner among the Big Three American sports, understanding that a contentious labor negotiation simply wouldn’t fly with so many people out of work and struggling to make ends meet.
The New York Yankees were portrayed as one of the losers in the new agreement because of new taxes to be imposed on teams that overpay for draft picks. But the Yankees and Brian Cashman are sensitive about criticisms that they pay their way into the playoffs every year and have begun trying to limit their payroll and expenditures. And anything that forces the Yankees to be more disciplined in their spending is probably a good thing for us fans who bear the brunt of excessive spending through higher ticket prices.
I’m proud to be a baseball fan today. My sympathies go out to my uncles and all the other basketball fans who continue to needlessly suffer.