- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Major League Baseball and its player union are expected to announce tonight the completion of a new five-year collective bargaining agreement. That means 12 years after baseball cancelled the World Series because of a player’s strike, we can safely say there will be no work stoppage in baseball until at least 2011.

The negotiations over this CBA were some of the smoothest — and quickest — in history. Fans have grown accustomed to labor talks dragging on for months after the season’s end, with both sides eager to argue their side through the media. But this time, both sides stayed low key and got the deal done without a single mention of a possible strike or lockout.

We can credit the overall economic health of baseball for the deal getting done so soon. Very few teams are losing money anymore, and MLB Advanced Media, baseball’s Internet arm, is a cash cow for the sport. Neither the league nor its players were prepared do anything to to rock a very solid boat.

Both sides also avoided a contentious fight over the issue of steroids and amphetamines by reaching a deal on stricter testing and penalties last November. With that issue out of the way, the league and its players had few broad philosophical differences that needed to be bridged. There were some adjustments to revenue sharing — teams now must spend more of their revenue sharing payments on player salaries — and some tweaking of the luxury tax threshold.

Unlike every other pro sports league, there is still no salary cap, but given the parity the league has seen over the past few seasons, a cap was not something owners felt the need to push for.

Now, baseball can endure an offseason devoid of too much rancor, and fans can focus their attention instead on the hot stoves.

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