Major League Baseball announced a preliminary agreement with the players' union Tuesday on a new collective bargaining agreement.
You don't have to tell me. I already know how boring the legalese found within a baseball labor agreements can be to the average fan. Most of you just want to see balls fly out of the park, web gems and collisions at the plate. Whether or not the league minimum salary is raised from $414,000 to $480,000 is particularly of no concern to most of us trying to get by on modest salaries.
Still, there were some interesting new changes that made the fine print worth reading. I am very excited about one.
Starting in 2012 players, must conceal tobacco products and may not carry tobacco products in their uniforms or on their bodies when fans are in the ballpark.
What does that mean?
If they can't have tobacco products in their uniforms or on their bodies, then how are they supposed to conceal them? I can see this getting interesting. Is everyone's bat rack now going to have a can of Skoal hidden under their slot?
I'm just happy that there is actually a line in the agreement that says players can't have chew in their mouths when doing an interview with the media or talking to fans. For seven years, I've inhaled some pretty bad tobacco breath and dodged some wicked dip spits in my quest to get player interviews.
Hopefully, I'll never have to ask a player again if they can bear to take the dip out for two minutes while I interview them.
Also, there will be blood testing for human growth hormone. All players will be tested during spring training and for reasonable cause at any time during the season.
I wonder what reasonable cause will be. I can see it now: Once a player jacks homer No. 25 on the year, he'll round the bases, touch home plate and some guy wearing rubber gloves will great him in the hallway between the dugout and clubhouse.
The deal makes the Astros' move from the National League Central to the American League West official. I'll tell you who's most happy about that: the Rangers, Angels, Athletics and Mariners. As Orioles radio announcer Joe Angel says, those four teams can put more games "in the win column." At least the Orioles will now have a minimum of two series a year against a bottom dweller.
Another random note from the new agreement: Active rosters will increase from 25 to 26 for doubleheaders. We'll see a lot of pitchers called up for a day and sent back down that night to give the club an extra arm for doubleheaders. Luckily for the Orioles, Troy Patton is well trained in that art.
In expanding the roster, franchises are going to have a choose a guy who isn't ranked high on their list of prospects, someone whose major league service time clock can start ticking without worry.
There are of course more major points to the new CBA, and you can read them here.
I just thought the smaller points were interesting.