How to settle the MLB lockout and write a new Basic Agreement

Dec 2, 2021; Chicago, IL, USA; A woman walks by locked Wrigley Field on the first day of Major League Baseball lockout. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 2, 2021; Chicago, IL, USA; A woman walks by locked Wrigley Field on the first day of Major League Baseball lockout. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Tom Hallion wearing an ad for cryptofirm FTX. Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Tom Hallion wearing an ad for cryptofirm FTX. Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

Non-financial issues

Since instituting the lockout, the owners have proposed a three-team draft lottery in response to the Association’s competitive balance concerns. Those Association concerns, by the way, are only superficially valid. More than half of “tanking” teams play at least one postseason game within three seasons of “tanking.”

The Association is apparently willing to accept a five-team lottery. Owners should take them up on that amendment.

The owners, seeking more postseason revenue, want to extend the postseason from 10 to 14 teams. The Players have offered to extend to 12, although why they have a problem with adding two more teams is not clear.

The true cost of this idea is esoteric; every team added to the postseason increases the lottery aspect of the postseason and decreases the likelihood of the best team winning. Still, this idea is obviously going through, and whether at 10 or 14 doesn’t make much difference.

The DH: It’s obviously coming to the National League, whose owners aren’t even fighting the idea despite the fact that DH is easily the most costly position in baseball.

Ads on uniforms: Another means of increasing revenue that will happen notwithstanding its artistic demerits. At this point, the only debate is how to cut the players in for a share of becoming billboards. MLB’s existing agreement with a crypto service over advertising on umps provides an obvious framework.

Rules changes: Some variant of the extra inning rule, probably starting at 12 innings, will be adopted non-controversially. A committee consisting of players and owners will be appointed to look at other potential changes, including how to deal with increasing game lengths without reducing commercial TV ad time. That ought to happen, but it would reduce revenues so it’s a non-starter.