The Rule 5 draft is held at the end of the winter meetings, and there had been rumblings that the meetings would be called off if there was no labor agreement; Wednesday was the last day of the expiring pact. But the deal was announced late Wednesday.
Details were still trickling out during the night, but some notable tweaks to the major leagues as we know them:
- The season will open five days earlier than "usual," giving the players a handful of extra days off during the season. This is not necessarily good news for fans in northern climes (like me), but the bizarre travel patterns created in part by an ever-increasing number of teams (expansion and interleague play) to fit into a 162-game schedule were a quality and health issue.
- Smokeless tobacco is banned, with current users grandfathered in. So the chaws and snuff may be gone from the game in my lifetime, depending on how long I live.
- The All-Star Game will no longer determine home field in the World Series. Proof that Bud Selig really is retired and not running things from behind the curtain.
- There will be no international draft. This is the first instance I can think of in which the players union didn't sell out the amateurs who will someday be union members but are now merely future threats to their individual jobs. Good job. union.
- The roster rules remain as they were: 25 March through August, 40 in September. Good; I don't care to see 14-man pitching staffs.
- The free agent compensation rules got still more complex. They already made my head hurt.
- The 15-day disabled list becomes a 10-day disabled list. My brain still occasionally latches onto the old 21-day DL, so I may have a long time fully adjusting to 10.
Terry Ryan is moving on. He joined the Phillies as a special assignment scout, so he's reunited with Andy MacPhail, the man who brought him to Minnesota about 30 years ago.
I wouldn't have minded seeing Ryan remain with the Twins in such a capacity, but I also understand the rationale behind going elsewhere.