Labor agreement positive for baseball, but not everything turned out well

It’s great that baseball will have five more years of labor peace through 2021 now that a new collective bargaining agreement has been hammered out. The less fans have to hear about labor, the better.It’s great that the All-Star Game will no longer determine who has home-field advantage in the World Series. Finally, it will go to the team with the better record. It’s great (for most people) that teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers will have to pay tens of millions of dollars more in luxury tax if they want to keep inflating their payrolls.It’s great that, based on media leaks late Wednesday, the qualifying-offer/draft-pick-compensation system for free agents will be more convoluted than ever. MORE: Most important people in baseball history, ranked(OK, that’s not great.)Also not great is this: Players and owners didn’t satisfactorily resolve two of the game’s most contentious on-field issues: the schedule and roster sizes. Instead, we got a longer season and status quo on rosters.Beginning in 2018, the regular season will last four days longer than it does now. It’ll go 187 days instead of 183 days. Those extra four days will likely be in March — frigid, soggy March in a lot of locales. On the other hand, there will be more off-days in the summer (unless teams have to make up March snowouts).The idea of shrinking the season to 154 or 156 games, which seemed to have some support, has been put away until the next decade at least. That’s a shame. Ending the regular season a week earlier could have allowed for the Division Series to expand to best of seven while not extending the World Series deeper into November. Just playing 154 or 156 games over 183 days would have given players more off-days than what they will be getting now.MORE: SN ranks, tracks every player on FA marketBut no owner wants to give up the revenue from three or four home games, and no player is going to give up salary even though he’s working less. He also isn’t going to agree to play doubleheaders. If you look at it that way, then it’s pretty clear none of that was happening.The roster issue is more frustrating. The rule remains 25 active players from opening day through Aug. 31, then as many as 40 active from Sept. 1 through the end of the regular season. What happened to that 26th guy who could help a bullpen? What happened to making sure there would be no more four-hour pennant-race games between a team with 38 players and a team with 29 players?According to Fox Sports, both sides were hesitant to expand rosters during the regular season. There were also concerns about clubs monkeying with service time for players in the final month. The sides might keep talking about this.MORE: 2017 season to start with seven games in two daysA change from 25/40 to 26/30 would have made a lot of sense from a competitive standpoint. So would a change from 25/40 to 26/40, with a limit on how many could be active on a given day (28 or 30 seems about right) in the final month. Teams wouldn’t have stopped adding pitchers, so it seems unlikely that there would have been a large reduction in the number of September call-ups. It also seems unlikely that teams would use the limits to deny a lot more top prospects service time. It’s more important for clubs to do that during the 25-man period.Simple roster reforms would have made the game better and fairer. We eagerly await word from the negotiating experts on why nothing was done.Players and owners had to negotiate a lot more than just these two on-field issues, but they’re important issues. They’re more important to fans than,

say, the new hard cap on bonus money for international free agents. It was important for the sides to make real, positive changes during these talks while there was momentum to make them.


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