Tucked away in an AP report today, there’s the potential for a really, really, REALLY significant change in the tides in Major League Baseball.
At a time when the league and the Players Association are seemingly at each other’s throats, owing in large part to the way many teams have behaved after the implementation of the last Collective Bargaining Agreement, the AP reports that there’s a chance the sides could agree to what is effectively a new CBA *before* the current CBA expires in 2021. Not only would that have the practical effect of changing much about the game (you already know the topics – in-game rules, pace-of-play, free agent compensation, service time, designated hitter, roster sizes, pitcher usage, tanking, etc.), but it would also avert the possibility of a strike before it even comes up.
The league and the players are currently going back and forth about various rules changes, and, although the players wanted that conversation to include elements that impact the economics of the game, the initial sense was that owners didn’t want to touch that part right now. Maybe they’ve changed their mind?
Here’s the salient part of the report, emphasis added:
“While players have proposed major initiatives that impact economics, such as expanding the designated hitter to the National League and adding provisions that make rebuilding rosters with young players less attractive, management has been focused on on-field issues thus far. Management told the union it would be willing to discuss larger economic issues as part of talks that could lead to a longer labor contract.”
That’s an enormous revelation right there. It’s a willingness by the owners – reportedly! – to totally re-open the CBA before it expires. That just doesn’t happen in baseball. Let me underscore that: in the history of the CBA (50 years), it has never happened.
To that end, I’ll confess that I’m a little dubious the owners will actually be willing to bend on anything economic right now, when they can just keep punting for a few more years and try to turn the screws again in 2021. I’m not trying to take a shot at the owners, but, historically, I’m just sayin’.
Given the acrimony in the game, and the potential to make some really important improvements to the sport at this point in time, I really hope the sides *ARE* willing to engage in this kind of unprecedented negotiation.