Smallwood: Baseball and the beauty of labor peace

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A general view before Game 7 of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on Nov. 2, 2016 in Cleveland.

Can it be that in this new world in sports, labor peace actually is the normal?          

On Wednesday, it was reported that Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association had reached a verbal agreement on a new five-year collective bargaining agreement just hours before the old one was set to expire.          

If it comes to pass, it will extend the labor peace in baseball to 26 years since the strike in 1994-95 that resulting in the cancellation of the 1994 World Series.          

Finally, the owners and players seem to get what fans have realized for decades as they suffered through work stoppages of billionaire owners fighting against millionaire players.          

Hey dummies, there is more than enough money for everybody and the only thing that can mess that up is your personal greed.          

Between 1976, when free agency first came to Major League Baseball, and 1994, there were six total strikes or lockouts with all being primarily related to how to divide revenue fairly between owners and players.          

Most were relatively painless financially because most only lasted days.          

The strike that started on Aug. 12, 1994 was different, however. Both sides dug in so deep over revenue sharing and a salary cap that it forced the postponement of the playoffs and ended up lasting 232 days.          

The damage done by actually cancelling a World Series seemed to put fear into both sides and despite more posturing, they’ve always managed to understand that the only limitations to the golden eggs laid by the goose were bad farmers.          

With Major League Baseball now being a $10 billion-a-year industry, agreeing to mutual concessions was better than the risk of losing the combination to the vault.          

After years of conjecture about either or both the NBA Board of Governors and the NBA Players Association utilizing an early termination clause for their CBA on June 30, 2017, the most recent rumors are that the sides have made significant progress and could finalize a deal in the near future.          

It’s no coincidence that this optimism came right after the Association’s new television deal, valued at $24 billion over nine years, kicked in before the start of this season.          

The additional $2.6 billion added to the revenue pool had the NBA salary cap jump from $70 million in 2015-16 to $94.12 million for 2016-17.          

It was a cash cow for everyone, as marginal free agents such as Los Angeles Lakers center Timofey Mozgov could sign a deal for $16 million a year or New Jersey Nets guard Jeremy Lin could get $12 million a year.          

LeBron James cashed in for $30+ million a season while star players Mike Conley of Memphis and DeMar DeRozan of Toronto got the same $27+ million per year that megastar Kevin Durant got to go to Golden State.            

The NBA has not lost games to a work stoppage since the lockout in 2011 cost it 240 games.          

The NFL, which is the king of sports revenue generators, had a brief lockout in the 2011 preseason but has not lost a regular-season game to labor unrest since the 1987 strike and ill-fated replacement games.          

The NFL CBA signed in 2011 has no opt-out clause and runs through the 2020 season.          

Even the devastating effects of the 2004-05 National Hockey League lockout that cost the entire season was not enough stupidity to stop the NHL owners from having another lockout in 2012-13 that shortened the season to 48 games.          

The league, which has combined television contracts in Canada and the United States worth $7 billion, is presently under a 10-year deal that runs through the 2021-22 season.          

Sometimes the money is just so much, that it ends up costing more to try to win a labor fight than to just divide it up civilly.