MLB Does What the NBA Couldn’t, Agreeing to a New CBA

Posted: November 22, 2011 by Kodi in MLB

The new CBA will bring forth a lot of new rules and a team will move from the NL to the AL

The negotiations over money didn’t seem to be nearly as difficult as it has been for other sports leagues

but they did expand something that may be deemed controversial by certain baseball fans . . . 

Major League Baseball has had its ups and downs when it came to popularity and a lot of it had to do with the after effects of going on strike during the 1994-95 season and have had 9 seasons affected by work stoppages or walkouts between 1972 and 1994. If you have a hard time understanding the impact just look at the lost NHL season in 2004-05, the NFL’s lockout from this summer and the shitty situation the NBA is in right now. All of the disputes in the major sports leagues are over the renewal of a collective bargaining agreement, CBA, between the players/MLBPA and owners/league.

The MLB Players Association became a labor union in 1966 and Marvin Miller was selected by the players to be the MLBPA’s first executive director for his work as an economist with the United Steel Workers of America. The MLBPA serves as a representative for all current MLB players, although some players may opt out, and the Association plays a big factor during players salary arbitration and grievances. They also help set the guidelines for playing conditions, training and games for all events involving MLB players no matter where the events take place, in MLB stadiums, minor league stadiums, spring training, international tournaments and winter ball.

The first CBA was negotiated between the owners and the MLBPA led by Miller in 1968 which gave the players the right to have an outside source decide grievances between them and the owners. The CBA was going to expire on December 11, 2011 and both sides knew that there was little negotiating that actually needed to occur. They were able to come to a new CBA on November 22, 2011 which will last for 5 years, ensuring that there will be 21 consecutive years without a work stoppage.

The negotiations went so well because baseball revenues have been increasing although nearly all games are played in a country whose economy is out of control. In 2003 MLB revenues were less than $4 billion but have blossomed to over $7 billion from this season. The agreement was spurned from negotiations between MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, Rob Manfred on behalf of the owners and Michael Weiner for the players. This is likely the final CBA negotiation for Selig who has discussed his plans to retire after the 2012 season an he’s hoping that the game’s popularity and revenues continue to grow and that the details negotiated in this CBA  will improve the game down the line.

“I am thrilled for the fans that the clubs and the players of Major League Baseball, together, have the opportunity to further build on our game’s unprecedented popularity” Selig said proudly. You know it’s a good deal when both sides seemed as pleased about the agreement and Michael Weiner sounded just as proud as Selig. “This is a good day for baseball and a good day for collective bargaining” and Weiner bragged about the “quality of the agreement that has been reached”. He continued to reiterate his pleasure explaining that “nobody back in the ‘70s, 80’s or early 90’s would ever have believed we would have 21 years of labor peace” continuing to gush that “this is really a proud day for us”.

So what exactly did they agree upon?

The biggest hurdle was that the two sides had to negotiate revenue sharing because money always seems to be the most difficult agreement to attain during these CBA negotiations. This CBA makes the top 15 markets ineligible for revenue sharing by 2016. The teams that cross the $178 million luxury tax threshold will be taxed 42% in the 2012 season and 50% in 2013. The only team above that $178 million threshold last year was the Yankees payroll of $202.7 million while the Phillies were 2nd with $173 and the Red Sox spent $162.

Another important issue that they two came to an agreement on was the compensation of draft choices. The MLB is going to institute a luxury tax on teams that spend a certain amount or percentage of their salary on signing bonuses in the draft. Depending on how many picks a team has and the order of draft position a player is chose the range will vary between $4.5 and $11.5 million and will be applied on total money spent, not per player. This means each team is given a draft spending ceiling and teams are given a certain allotment of money they can spend on players from the draft. This will limit rebuilding efforts strictly through the draft but doesn’t completely take away their rights, just sets guidelines like any good CBA would

This particular agreement allows teams to still hand out huge bonuses but if they spend 5% over the allotted amount of money they may be forced to pay a 75% tax. If that doesn’t act as a big enough deterrent teams that go over their allotted amount of money by 5-10% they pay the tax and lose a first round draft pick. If a team spends over 15% of their allotted amount of money they pay a 100% tax and lose two first round picks.

Teams may no longer sign drafted players to major league contracts, similar to the ones given by the Washington Nationals to Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and others. The draft signing deadline was also pushed forward to mid-July which allows teams to evaluate players for longer or trade players from the previous year’s draft before the July 31st trade deadline which allows college coaches to set their fall rosters with more time to spare.

There is also a significant change in the way teams may acquire international players, as the teams will have a pool of money to spend on such talent. Similar to the draft pool there are definitive taxes for those who spend 5%, 10-15% and 15%+ over their allotted pool size. That pool will start at $2.9 million next offseason and teams with smaller markets and the worst records will receive bigger pools. In 2014 team will be able to trade up to half of their money from their international pool in negotiations so teams may be able to acquire a larger pool if there is a certain international player that they are interested in signing.

The CBA made a huge leap in recognizing one’s personal rights because it stated that the agreement would cover all players regardless of their race, color, religion or national origin and the phrase sexual orientation will be added to that list in this new CBA. It also raises the minimum major league salary from $414,000 to $480,000 this year which was an increase of 16% and by the time this CBA expired the minimum salary will be $500,000.

The CBA also creates earlier deadlines in hopes of speeding up the off-season by forcing teams to determine whether or not they offer arbitration to free agents after the World Series rather than in late November. They also agreed to move the tender deadline for arbitration eligible players up to December 2. This is important because there will also be more super twos. The percentage of players eligible for arbitration before having at least three years of MLB service will rise from the top 17% of players with 2-3 years of service time to the top 22%.

The negotiations about money are clearly what make or break these CBA’s but what are the biggest issue’s the fans need to know about?

Starting in 2013 the Houston Astros will move from the National League Central to the American League West a stipulation agreed upon before the sale of the club in the last few weeks. This is important because now each league will have 15 teams and the CBA calls for interleague play throughout the entire season. There will also be an additional wild card team added to each league for the postseason. Selig is “more than very hopeful” that this will be instituted for the 2012 season. The two wild card teams would play a one game playoff to determine who would advance to the divisional round. The only  thing left to negotiate for the rule to take place in 2012 is striking a deal between the MLB and network television for the rights to broadcast these play in games.

The MLB has been the sport most affected by the illegal use of steroids and that is why they are being proactive in implementing human growth hormone testing. They agreed to start drawing blood and testing for HGH beginning this spring training and becoming the first major U.S. professional sports league to test for the substance. “It wasn’t difficult to pass” Weiner said and that may be due to the fact that after spring training players will only be tested if there is reasonable suspicion they are using. What a fucking loophole! They save face by being the first to test for it but it’s all just a façade because realistically these baseball players just have to wait until the season starts to start drinking that fine Cambodian titty milk as a Dave Chappelle skit once joked.

They continue to improve their image in this CBA by agreeing to prohibit players, managers and coaches from carrying a tin or any other package of tobacco in their uniforms at any time fans are allowed in the park. They are not allowed to use any tobacco products during television interviews or any team sponsored event. There has been a lot of pressure from a watchdog group called Knock Tobacco Out of the Park Coalition who supported this measure and tried to get a complete ban of all tobacco in ballparks.

Once again Bud Selig is changing the role players have during the All-Star Game. The CBA states that “participation in the All-Star Game will be required unless the player is unable to play due to injury or excused by the commissioner” First he made the All-Star Game important by having the winning league get home-field advantage in the World Series and now he is forcing players to show up, which is a great move for public relations because fans were ticked off when players they elected didn’t want to play in the game.

Then there is the huge controversy of the CBA, other than the fact that many people find interleague play to be a mockery and absolutely are disgusted by the thought of having/not having a designated hitter, is the expansion of instant replay. They had already allowed umpires to review certain home run calls to ensure that a ball did in fact get over the fence or not. Now they are going to include plays where balls may appear to be “trapped” and certain fair-or-foul calls. What’s next perfecting the strike zone?

I am a baseball traditionalist, who adds a little flavor by embracing the DH, but I absolutely hate that they are increasing the amount of replay that will be used in baseball. The game takes long enough and human error is a huge part of a game’s outcome and now all of that is being taken away by an eye in the sky. I am excited about a lot of things that were negotiated in this new CBA but I am strongly against expanding instant replay, there is no need for it.

  1. foultalk says:

    It’s about time that MLB made improvements with instant replay, blood testing and the amateur draft.

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