My Take On The CBA

Taking the cue from Mr. Play At The Plate, here are my thoughts on the CBA:

I understand why it folded, what with the NBA Developmental League in place, still with its long history - starting in 1946 - it's a shame.

Oh, wait, he's talking about baseball.

OK, here are some of the highlights of the new CBA:

1. Houston Astros move from the National League Central to the American League West in 2013. I know a lot of baseball fans are up in arms over this but it doesn't much matter to me. On one hand, I hate to see Houston's tradition in the NL shot; on the other hand, at least it should create a great in-state rivalry (which no doubt will be a lopsided affair for several seasons at least, but still...). I don't think it's a big deal to move the NL out of Texas given the fact interleague play will be prevalent now.

On a highly personal level, I see the point of the desire some had to move Milwaukee back to the AL and I wouldn't have minded that given four of my favorite six teams are in the NL Central. But, really, moving Milwaukee to the AL West makes no geographic sense.

2. Two more Wild Card teams will be added to the playoff mix as early as next season. The Wild Card teams in each league would most likely face each other in a one-game playoff to advance to the Division Series. MLB now has until March 1 to determine whether the playoffs will be expanded for the coming season. I love this plan. It restores value to actually winning the division - including by putting wild card teams at an added disadvantage of having their rotations screwed up. 

3. Blood testing for HGH with a 50-game suspension for a first failed test, 100 games for a second and lifetime ban with the right to seek reinstatement for the third. Highly in favor.

4. A raise in the minimum salary from $414,000 this year to $480,000 in 2012, and ultimately to more than $500,000. Meh.

5. A luxury tax on teams that spend above an aggregate figure for players signed through the annual First-Year Player Draft and the near elimination of Draft-pick compensation for the signing of free agents. I have zero cents to add here as well. Honestly, for better or worse, I purposefully try to ignore this stuff for the most part and focus on the game.

6. Subject to MLB discussions with the umpires' union, the expansion of instant replay to include fair and foul calls on balls hit down the line in addition to others trapped by fielders. Replay has been used only to review home runs -- fair or foul, in or out of the park. I'm not too concerned about this slowing down the game but I realize many won't like it. I just think it's important to get some of those tough calls right and worth the time.

7. Restrictions for the first time on the use of smokeless tobacco on the field or in dugouts. Players are still allowed to chew, but while they're in an area where they can be picked up by a television camera, the protocol now is for them not to have pouches or tins of tobacco visible in their uniform back pockets. Part of me wants to say "leave 'em alone" - and, really, "leave 'em alone" - but yet I'm in favor of this given the hero worship factor for little kids. 

In fact, I'm also in favor of banning open spitting of said chew. Or get the players to at least turn their back to the playing field when they spit. Yes, I realize this is ridiculous and won't happen but I had several family members and friends this year tell me that they can't actually stomach watching baseball games any more due to the incessant spitting. It got me to paying more attention to that aspect of the game and it seriously is a constant. Can't imagine it's drawing in fans.

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