So baseball won’t die, after all

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Turns out, neither side had the stomach to really put the game in peril in order to radically change how the business of baseball works. Fans will get a 162-game season, just about a week later than scheduled. They’ll get a reduced spring training, which is probably needed every year anyway but we’ll leave that for another time.

The details haven’t all emerged, but what we can put together is basically here:

So the result is that the CBT threshold is raised, and for the two teams that care about that sort of thing, that’s good. There’s still no impetus to make teams spend closer to that limit, much less over it, other than the pressure of competition from their fellow owners. Which we know isn’t a thing.

The win here, such as it is, is the establishment of a pool of $50M for pre-arbitration players. No, $50 million isn’t really enough to change things to how they should be, and the system for which players will get a bump from the minimum is still likely to be wonky as shit. But progress in these sorts of things is never rapid or violent, but slow. The players got this into this agreement for the first time, and in five years when we do this all again they can look to expand it.

That’s how it goes. Take a small step now, in time take a bigger one.

Minimum salaries, which a majority of the players are on, do get a bump. Whether it’s enough of one, for an industry that is simply awash with money…well, I suppose the diplomatic way to put it is “get what you can.” Again, this is establishing a beachhead, and next time perhaps the players can advance it even more.

It is striking that the agreement hardly swept through the players’ side, as the final vote was reportedly 26-12 (30 team reps, and then an eight-man executive council). The council voted against it, which means four teams made up of a majority players making the minimum and getting a raise didn’t think this deal was good enough. When the details come out over the next few hours, perhaps we’ll get a real sense of what the players didn’t like that voted no.

The owners did try and throw a spanner into the works at the last minute, making the players’ lawsuit over the 2020 season a deal-breaker if it wasn’t dropped. No word yet on whether the players did or not, but one gets the sense that’s a major sticking point for the executive committee.

We can parse that out later. Spring training will open immediately, the free agent market will reopen in the next few hours, there will be 162 games, and we can all sit back and watch all but two teams do their best to win 87 games to enter a playoff system that renders that 162 games pretty much moot.

On the other hand, spring and summer without baseball doesn’t make any sense and feels off. And we all need things we can enjoy wherever we can find them. 

This was the second-longest work stoppage in MLB history, next to the baseball strike of 1994-95.

This is a breaking story, check back for updates.

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