"I want to start by apologizing to our fans," Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in announcing that owners and players have agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement, allowing the 2022 season to begin April 7. After 99 days, the owners canceled their lockout at 7pm Thursday; they'd voted 30-0 to approve the five-year contract, per the AP. The vote by the players' representatives was 26-12, per ESPN. An international amateur draft remains an unsettled issue, with a new negotiating deadline in late July. The issues the owners and players association agreed on include:
- Expanded playoffs: The postseason will begin with 12 teams, starting this season. The owners wanted 14, which would have been four more than last season. Reaching the postseason had been a difficult ticket to earn in baseball, per ESPN, and sending more teams there lessens the importance of a team's record in the regular season. The NBA and NHL invite 16 teams.
- A universal DH: Starting immediately, the National League will have a designated hitter. Both leagues used the DH during the shortened 2020 season, per USA Today. Pitchers other than Shohei Ohtani are unlikely to bat regularly from now on. Wes Farrell holds the career record for home runs hit by a pitcher, per Baseball Reference, at 38.
- A full season: Although Manfred said that the season's first two series had been canceled, would not be rescheduled, and players would not be paid for them, the union can't be excluded from that decision, per Yahoo Sports. The games will be made up during the season, and everybody will be paid.
- The minimum: The bottom salary for players will go up $20,000 per year, after it increases this season from $570,500 to about $700,000.
- Canceling temporary rules: The seven-inning doubleheaders are gone, as is the rule starting extra innings with each team already having a runner on second base.
- Changes ahead: MLB won the ability to make rule changes next season, per CBS Sports. A pitch clock could be added, larger bases could be installed on the field, and defensive shifts could be limited.
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