Major League Baseball could never be the recipe for Coca-Cola. In fact, it could never be the recipe for anything. Because baseball has a tendency to add ingredients at will. More salt, more cheese, a new spice. Whatever it takes to give the product more pizzazz. And the unwritten rule would always be that you never reduce the amount of anything. Baseball is very much like that. And the idea of adding a 26th man to a team’s roster follows the same line of thinking. Except this time, maybe not so much.
Although an occasional puff of smoke goes up and there’s talk of reducing the 162-game season, it’s always just as it was in the current negotiations between the players and owners. At least there is some comfort, though, in knowing that they weren’t talking about adding to the schedule.
Because that’s what baseball, and professional sports in general, always does. It’s almost like an involuntary reflex and they just can’t seem to help themselves. More playoff games, more Wild Card teams, more teams. Hey, I’ve got an idea. Why don’t we add a one-game shootout to decide the final Wild Card spot? That’ll knock their socks off. You get the idea.
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Ready or Not, Changes Are Coming to Baseball
But apparently the new collective bargaining agreement is going to add a 26th man to the roster. However, there’s also going to be a twist that comes with it in the subtraction of the 40-man roster call-ups in September.
Now, the baseball purists like myself will argue forever about the consequences of this change and what the effects will be for the game as it’s played on the field. But rest assured, the discussions are all about money.
The players, of course, would like to see the 40-man eligible to play rule in effect for the entire regular season. On the other hand, the owners who write the checks and pay for the benefits players receive would want a 20-man roster if they could get it. For both sides, these would be non-starter positions to take.
The compromise in the agreement, as reported by FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, is going to be the addition of the 26th man, but with a rather drastic reduction in rosters from 40 to 28 in September. For sure, the players will continue to try to get that 28 number up a bit before a final settlement is reached.
But adding a 26th man is a big deal. And it has to do with more than just money, although in a few years that extra salary spread over 30 teams could be valued at a quarter of a billion dollars taking into account an average player’s salary. But this one is more about who that extra player will be, as in will he be a pitcher or hitter?
Fallout on the Field
It matters because that decision will have a significant impact on the game being played on the field. More than likely, teams would add a pitcher to the sanctuary they are building in their bullpen. And if that happens, there’s bound to be yet another pitching change during the game, causing yet another TV timeout and interruption of the action on the field.
Which in turn ironically goes right back to the generation of money. The TV timeout means more commercial spots. And for the crowd in attendance at the game, it means one more opportunity to visit the concession stands. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem likely or fair that the teams would be forced to add a position player.
The entire issue needs to be sorted out and thought through more. The players seem to have thrown the 26th man in there from left field not realizing that the owners are going to want something in return.
The pressure on both sides to settle will only increase as the days and weeks go by. Free agents are out there waiting to see if anything will develop affecting them. Teams are waiting to see what the impact will be on revenue sharing.
Meanwhile, you and I sit here wondering what the effect will be on our fantasy leagues. And all we really want to do is to hear someone just say, “Play ball!”