I touched on it late last night, but here are more details about the Major League Baseball’s new labor deal. All of this comes straight from The Associated Press, which obtained a copy of the deal yesterday. Some of these will be noticeable changes, but none strike me as unreasonable.
MLB wants to expand replay to include fair-or-foul calls, “whether a fly ball or line drive was trapped” and fan interference all around the ballpark. Umpires still must give their approval and it’s uncertain whether the extra replay will be in place by Opening Day.
The All-Star break will be expanded to four days, rather than the traditional three-day gap. The five-year deal says starting in 2013 that MLB “shall have the right to elect to switch the All-Star game from Tuesday to Wednesday and the Home Run Derby from Monday to Tuesday.” Sixty-nine of 82 All-Star games have been played on Tuesday, according to STATS LLC.
Players must tell the commissioner’s office by July 31 of the preceding year if they want a new jersey. That is, unless “the player (or someone on his behalf) purchases the existing finished goods inventory of apparel containing the player’s jersey number.” As in, every replica jersey, jacket, T-shirt, mug and anything else with a number that’s anywhere in stock.
The deal includes a new schedule format starting in 2013, when there will be six five-team divisions, with no more than 20 interleague games per team. Teams will play 17 or 18 times against division opponents, with the exact format still to be worked out. Along the same lines, the AP also reports that teams in the same division can play one another in the playoffs before the league championship series.
The deal also bans players and team officials from asking official scorers to reconsider decisions — clubs must instead send video to MLB to appeal calls — and increases punishments for slow-moving hitters and pitchers, raising pace-of-game fines up to $10,000 each for the sixth violation and beyond.
Odds and ends
• Now, all players on 40-man rosters are assured of single rooms during spring training. They’ve had that perk during the regular season since 1997.
• The agreement says “no player may have any visible markings or logos tattooed on his body” as part of the uniform regulations. “Just trying to head something off at the pass,” said Rob Manfred, baseball’s executive vice president for labor relations.
• Eliminating a practice of some teams, there is a prohibition on “taxi squads” — calling up players from the minors and not activating them. Also, teams may only invite players to offseason minicamps if they are not yet eligible for salary arbitration.
• Possible suspensions for intentionally throwing a ball or equipment at non-uniformed personnel with the intention of causing bodily harm; for assaulting fans, media or umpires; or for making public statements that question the integrity of the game, the umpires, the commissioner or the commissioner’s staff.
• The agreement calls for nicknames written on equipment to “not reasonably likely to offend fans, business partners, players and others associated with the game.”
• For the postseason, the sides agreed to negotiate on tiebreaker rules — do teams tied for the last wild-card berth meet on the field, or will the tie be broken by a formula?