Dan's Dugout: Baseball Can Have Fun Again • Latino Sports


Dan’s Dugout: Baseball Can Have Fun Again


NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Baseball came thisclose to blowing a bigger hole in its side than the Titanic’s iceberg.

After generating a stupefying $10 billion in revenues this year, owners and players nearly shut down the game — again — because of their bickering.

Doesn’t anyone remember the 232-day strike that killed the 1994 postseason and reduced the following year to 144 games after slicing off a hefty piece of spring training?

Rob Manfred keeps the peace

Rob Manfred keeps the peace

In their first joust as heads of their respective sides, Commissioner Rob Manfred and union chief Tony Clark clashed about issues from the international draft to a shorter schedule.

When the dust settled, most parties were pleased — probably because little had changed in the old Basic Agreement.

After threatening to disrupt player movement during the Winter Meetings that start here Sunday, labor and management reached agreement with two hours to spare before the old pact would have expired.

Never mind that they could have agreed, from the outset, to extend it one more week in an effort to salvage the Winter Meetings and all the tabloid headlines it generates.

The new deal, which is far from the New Deal created by Franklin D. Roosevelt, still binds players to their

Union chief Tony Clark (left) with Hall of Famer Dave Winfield

Union chief Tony Clark (left) with Hall of Famer Dave Winfield

signing clubs for six years, leaves roster size at 25 for the season and 40 for September, and still precludes the international player draft the owners wanted as protection from themselves. But it also adds four more off-days, starting in 2018, and eliminates the rule that a club signing a free agent who rejects a qualifying offer from his original team is forced to give up a first-round draft pick as compensation.

Also gone is the folly of World Series home-field advantage going to the winning league in the All-Star Game. Under the new system, the team with the best overall winning percentage in the majors will host four of the seven games, should the Series advance that far [the Cubs would have had home-field in 2016 rather than the Indians].

The bottom line is the combatants have returned to their respective corners and will stay there for five years. This deal stretches through 2021, when Donald Trump will be starting his second term or checking into one of his hotels, and promises to maintain labor peace in America’s national pastime.

A hearty mazel tov is due to all who started by butting heads but ended by shaking hands.

Now it’s on to Washington, where the unshackled movers and shakers figure to have their busiest carnival in years. Keep your seat belts buckled.

Meetings musings: Even after re-signing Yoenis Cespedes, the New York Mets need a catcher, a

Yoenis Cespedes returns to the Mets

centerfielder, and a closer but are more likely to trade since they have little left to spend . . .

Star White Sox southpaw Chris Sale is virtually certain to move this week, perhaps to Atlanta or Washington, and could be paired with slugging third baseman Todd Frazier . . .

Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen would also be wise to keep his bags packed . . .

Ex-Yankee Brian McCann says he approved the trade to Houston because he believes the Astros have a better chance to win the World Series . . .

Legions of Latin players, led by ex-Yankee slugger Robinson Cano, flocked to Irvine, TX in support of the players union and its stance against an international draft . . .

Aroldis Chapman could be on the move again

Aroldis Chapman could be on the move again

The Cardinals, Giants, and Braves are all hot on the trail of free agent third baseman Justin Turner, the one-time Mets utilityman . . .

The winter trade mart may come to be known as The Year of the Closer, with Aroldis Chapman (Cubs), Kenley Jansen (Dodgers), and Mark Melancon (Nationals) all likely to find new homes before the holidays . . .

Tearing up his knee for the second time lowers the value of Wilson Ramos, Washington’s All-Star catcher, but he’s still the best free-agent catcher on the market, just ahead of Matt Wieters (Orioles) . . .

If the Mets don’t land the centerfielder they covet, they could turn to Jose Reyes, who has the speed and athleticism to play the spot even better than Ian Desmond, the one-time shortstop who made the same move last year . . .

Loving the show Pitch, about the first female major-leaguer, on FOX Thursdays at 8p EST.



About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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