Andrew Dawson, Editor-in-Chief |
Over the past several months, Major League Baseball (MLB) and the players association couldn’t agree to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), creating the first work stoppage or “lockout” the league has faced in 26 years. The lockout lasted 104 days before the MLB and the players association agreed on the new CBA. MLB announced that the regular season will begin on Apr. 7 and fans are excited to see their favorite teams finally compete. Though, many fans are wondering why the lockout was created in the first place.
The last CBA contract expired in the offseason and MLB owners were trying to implement new changes to the game of baseball. Along with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, owners wanted to expand postseason play, adding one extra team to the playoffs per conference. This is because it would create more television revenue for baseball, but players would only receive a small percentage of that income. Therefore, the lockout was established due to a disagreement in where the MLB would disperse the new television revenue.
Personally, I didn’t pick a side between the owners and players association. I believe it was a financial disagreement between billionaire owners and millionaire athletes. I have no sympathy between either side of the dispute, but as a fan, I just wanted the lockout to stop and baseball to begin play.
However, the lockout helped create strong negotiations and changes that will benefit the game of baseball. The players association was successful in changing the new minimum league salary for the athletes. In the past five years, the minimum salary was $129,500 but was raised to $700,000 with the new bargaining agreement. They also increased MLB’s luxury tax allowing owners to spend more money on their rosters.
While the financial aspect of the agreement is important, some of the most notable revisions to the CBA will change the game of baseball. With the addition of two extra teams for the playoffs, MLB is eliminating the wild card game and implementing a new three-game series. I like this revision because unlike other sports, baseball is predicated on game series. The MLB has one of the longest regular seasons, playing 162 games, so it would be unfair to be eliminated from the playoffs after losing just one game.
Another important revision that was created from the new CBA contract was adding a universal designated hitter (DH). MLB’s American League (AL) conference already used a DH, but the National League (NL) conference didn’t have the same luxury. Instead, the NL required their pitchers to hit in their lineups. As a young fan, I never understood why they did this. The AL allowed a professional hitter to bat instead of a pitcher, but the NL couldn’t use the DH when they played games in their conference. The pitchers would bat last in the lineup and usually strikeout due to their lack of hitting experience. Overall, this revision will help the game of baseball. It will allow athletes to focus on their specific position and will lead to more runs being scored in the NL with the addition of the DH.
Though, the biggest change the CBA created was eliminating the shift from baseball. Imagine going to an MLB game and watching your favorite team compete. Your team is batting, and your favorite left-handed player comes up to the plate. Before getting into the batter’s box, he takes a few practice swings to warm up his muscles. As he enters the batter’s box and stares down the pitcher, the defense immediately shifts to one side of the field. Instead of having three players playing the outfield, now there are five, filling all the gaps in right field. Now ask yourself, how is a left-handed hitter supposed to hit a double in right field when there are five players covering that position? In other words, it’s extremely difficult. This is why the MLB decided to eliminate the shift. Players will not be allowed to leave their position to cover another one. This gives every single batter a fair chance to compete and possibly change the score of the game.
Now you may be wondering why can’t left-handed batters hit the ball to the other side of the field? Honestly, I ask myself that same question. Most of these professional athletes are getting paid millions of dollars to play a children’s game but can’t learn how to consistently hit the ball to the left side of the infield. This is something young baseball players practice in Little League, but professional athletes can’t learn how to because it’s too difficult. Overall, I’m glad the shift has been eliminated because it will lead to more entertaining games, but I would like to think professional baseball players could learn how to hit the ball to both sides of the field.
Ultimately, only time will tell if the new revisions to the CBA contract will positively change the game of baseball, but fans should be ecstatic because the 2022 MLB Season is almost upon us.