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MLB: Welcome to the 21st Century

It’s about time Major League Baseball got something right.

With the new five-year collective bargaining agreement that was just signed, MLB finally pulled their head out of the sand and got themselves out of the 19th Century.

The most important things the new plan calls for are expanded replay, blood testing for Human Growth Hormone (HGH), another wildcard team in each league (which will be 15 per once the Houston Astros move to the AL in 2013) and restraints on amateur signing bonuses. I just want to break all these down in small capsules real quick:

Expanded replay:
All I can say is that it’s about damn time. MLB will now include fair/foul calls and trapped catches in the outfield. I can’t remember how many times I’ve yelled at the TV over a crappy call over one of those calls that could’ve been reviewed in five seconds. Heck, they probably could’ve even reviewed it on the stadium jumbotron and still have gotten it right.

Honestly, I might even be okay if they eventually expand that to tags on stolen bases and a close call of a safe/out play at bases. Armando Gallaraga would have a perfect game right now if that were the case. Jorge Orta also would’ve been out at 1st base in the 1985 World Series. Umpires Jim Joyce and Don Dekinger would have been saved a lot of hate mail.

The only thing I would never go for is balls and strikes getting reviewed.

Blood testing for HGH:
I’m giving the most applause for this one since MLB is the first major sport in the US to implement this. To be honest, with all the scandal baseball faced in the early 2000’s, I’m surprised this didn’t happen sooner. Urine tests can be beat but blood can be a bit trickier. The sport is seemingly cleaner since the Mitchell Report but hopefully this rids the sport of anymore cheaters.

Expansion of playoffs:
It seems like the last few years, the divisions are decided by September and the only interesting race by the end are the wildcard races. Two wildcard spots in the NFL have made things interesting – I think the same thing will happen for baseball.

Amateur signing bonuses:
Well, they don’t have money restrictions anywhere else so this is seemingly the best place to have some. Out of any sport, it’s hardest to predict if baseball prospects will turn out well or not because so much of the game is mental. I think this was a solid move and should help level the playing field for small-market teams. Often times, teams like the Pirates have to let a top-level prospect go by in the draft to someone like the Yankees because they can’t afford them. Some (*cough* sleazeball agents) will argue that multi-sport athletes will go to other sports instead because they can’t get enough money up front in baseball.

“If I’ve got a great athlete, why am I going to go to baseball? I’m going to focus on the other sports,” said agent Scott Boras.

Go ahead – take them somewhere else. I’d rather see someone go to a different sport than potentially get overpaid and fizzle out in Double-A.

 Let me know your thoughts in the comments. I’m especially interested in your thoughts on instant replay: