Thursday, April 5, 2012

Opening Day MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement Odds and Ends

Happy Opening Day one and all!  There is no greater feeling than that of opening day in major league baseball as each club and its fans enters a state of eternal optimism!  Who remembers who won last year's World Series?  Even the Cubbies can wait a few days before the eternal mantra of "wait until next year"starts being uttered in Wrigleyville.  Heck, with Major League Baseball and the MLBPA agreeing to add one more wild card per each league, they may even get to wait until late July before they throw in the towel.   Yes, as I described before, Commissioner Bud has gone wild card crazy.  Up against a stringent deadline and scheduling nightmare, the Commissioner's Office and MLBPA representatives were able to work together to come to an agreement for this season.  While the World Series and League Championship Series will remain, for 2012 only in order to deal with the scheduling nightmare, the parties agreed the five-game Division Series will begin with two home games for lower seeds, followed by up to three home games for higher seeds. Division Titles and Wild Card slots will also be decided by a one-game play-in if necessary, as opposed to the prior use of head to head records.  The way the playoff system will work is that the two wild card teams will play a one game play-off to decide who moves on to the division series.  This also creates a competitive incentive to win the division as division winners will have two off days prior to the start of their series, where as the wild card teams will likely have to burn an ace pitcher to make it to the next stage.  In lauding the deal, Cardinals Manager Mike Matheney pointed to how exciting the last day of the season was last year and how that this system can guarantee that type of excitement every year.

 I understand why they decided to implement the system since it allows for even the most downtrodden fan (yeah I'm looking at you Pittsburgh Pirate Fan), to feel like they still have a chance way into the stretch drive.  I also like the emphasis that it puts on winning the division title and the strategy related to the wild card playoff games.  However, I do think it will have a detrimental impact on one of my favorite times of the year in the hot-stove league, the trade deadline.  With more teams mathematically still alive in the play-off race, there are going to be a lot less trades and a lot less sellers.  I hate to think of baseball seasons without blockbuster deadline deals like the Manny Ramirez Dodger trade, Randy Johnson Astros trade, Cliff Lee Trade and so on.  To maintain this excitement, I would urge Commissioner Bud and the MLBPA to agree to push the trade deadline back from July 31st to August 30th. 

Although I have not been able to secure a copy of the new MLB CBA as of yet,  I was able to find a copy of a Summary of Major League Players Association-Major League Baseball Labor Agreement on MLB's website.  As I predicted here, the MLB has followed in the NFL's steps in "making it better" by adding non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation to Article XV.

Additionally, another point worth mentioning in passing is that they have agreed to a social media policy.  It will be interesting to see if this policy covers both content-based restrictions and time, place and manner social media restrictions. 

Well, I'm going to end this real abruptly, as Vin Scully just informed me that "it's time for Dodger baseball!"  Check back later to see the new changes to salary arbitration eligibility and draft pick compensation.   Play Ball!  

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