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Baseball reaches labor deal
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published October 23, 2006
DETROIT - Players and owners set aside their long history of bitter negotiations to reach a tentative agreement on a five-year contract, the first time the sides have achieved labor peace before their current deal expires.
The agreement was struck during bargaining in New York on Friday night and Saturday and is subject to the sides putting the deal in writing, the Associated Press reported.
The current deal, set to expire Dec. 19, was agreed to Aug. 30, 2002, hours before players were set to strike. That contract was the first since 1970 achieved without a work stoppage, and this marks the first reached before the expiration of the previous one.
"Baseball is at an all-time high point right now," Detroit leftfielder Craig Monroe said before Game 2 of the World Series. "You've got low-market teams doing well and different teams winning every year. Getting this done couldn't have come at a better time."
Lawyers were working on drafting language for the new deal Sunday and hoped to put the finishing touches on it today or Tuesday. Once that happened, commissioner Bud Selig would announce it in St. Louis at the World Series.
"You've got a city like Detroit, you've got a city like St. Louis enjoying this, and it would be neat to get something finalized because it's good for the game," White Sox designated hitter Jim Thome said.
Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, and union head Donald Fehr declined comment.
Baseball had eight work stoppages from 1972-95. The new deal guarantees labor peace through the 2011 season.
"Everybody's pretty happy with the industry. In baseball, everybody's making out pretty well," Cardinals reliever Jason Isringhausen said.
Since baseball's first labor contract in 1968, there have been strikes in 1972, 1980, 1981, 1985 and 1994-95 and management lockouts in 1973, 1976 and 1990. The last strike lasted 7½ months and wiped out the World Series for the first time in 90 years, and for many teams it took years to rebuild attendance.
Most of the key provisions of the current contract will be continued with minor modifications. With the luxury tax set to expire Dec. 19, there was pressure on management to make a deal to ensure that the 2007 season would be played with the tax in place.
After the last work stoppage, the sides reached a landmark agreement in 1997 that increased revenue sharing. The 2002 deal boosted the money large-market teams gave to their competitors.
Record economic success helped produce an agreement with no public rancor.