It's amazing isn't it? Who would have thought that in all four major sports that baseball would be the one shining example of labor negotiations? Kudos to everyone involved on both sides for getting together and realizing that the mistakes of the past are never to be made again. Not when your popularity and finances are at an all-time high.
In the midst of a NBA lockout that will most likely end their upcoming season. And the NFL now recovering from their long drawn out squabble. Commissioner Bud Selig and MLBPA leader Michael Weiner should be commended for a relatively painless process. Once the owners came to an agreement amongst themselves on the revenue sharing aspect, everything else began to fall into place.
The biggest change will be to the postseason. Two more Wild Card teams will be added into the mix next season. The top two teams that clinch the Wild Card spots in both leagues will play each other in a one game playoff to determine who moves on to the Division Series. I've always felt that less is more with the baseball postseason. However, I'm not going to say it's the worst idea ever. It should put a bigger emphasis on winning your division rather than playing a one game playoff.
The MLB draft and free agent compensation are getting overhauled starting next year. There will be spending limits on how much a draft pick will receive depending on where they're selected. Free agency will no longer be separated into 'Type A' and 'Type B' free agents. That will drastically change how trades will be made and how teams build their teams for the future.
Instant replay will now be expanded to fair/foul calls and whether a ball was caught or trapped by the fielder. It's pending approval with the umpires, but you'd have to think they won't shoot this down. I hope. Players will be required to attend the All-Star game. Unless they are truly hurt i.e, on the disabled list or excused by the commissioner's office. Concussion proof helmets will be implemented for the 2013 season. Assuming they don't look like 'The Great Gazoo' from the Flintstones.
HGH testing will begin this upcoming season. Baseball, not football, basketball or hockey is the first major North American professional sport to implement blood testing for HGH. That's startling considering how far they've come from those congressional hearings. Also players who are arrested for DWI will be required to undergo mandatory evaluation. What that evaluation is remains to be seen, but it certainly would be more than what the Detroit Tigers did with Miguel Cabrera.
Also in this labor agreement all players, managers and coaches may not use smokeless tobacco products during televised interviews and may not carry them in their uniforms. Thankfully baseball did not cave to the ridiculous notion that it should be banned altogether. Yes, it isn't allowed in the minor leagues, but even I find a problem with that.
The stuff is bad for you. There's no doubt about it. But just like cigarettes, the government who now wants to ban smokeless tobacco in the major leagues, taxes cigarettes and people are still smoking. You would think it would be more the responsibility of the adults to tell their kids that chewing tobacco isn't the greatest thing in the world not the government. But I digress.
And last, but not least the American League will have a new member in 2013. The Houston Astros will be moving from the National League Central to the American League West. What would have made more sense to me is if all the baseball teams had realigned, but you can't always have it your way. Also being put into place is year round interleague play which puts less strain on teams traveling schedules.
It's amazing to think that all of this could be accomplished with relative ease. And to think that there are still billionaire owners and millionaire players arguing right now over the same kind of issues that baseball has just agreed to without any lockout. I'm glad the NFL figured it out when they did, but it took way too long to get it done. The NBA is right back where they were in 1999. Some progress. But baseball has shocked us all with what is going to be over 20 years of labor peace. Who saw that coming?