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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, December 01, 2016 10:01 pm

All-Star Game loses luster

RONALD BLUM | Associated Press

NEW YORK – The league that wins baseball’s All-Star Game no longer will get home-field advantage in the World Series, which instead will go to the pennant winner with the better regular-season record.

In addition, players and management agreed the minimum stay on the disabled list will be reduced from 15 days to 10.

Players and owners agreed to a five-year labor deal Wednesday, subject to ratification.

Home-field advantage in the World Series generally rotated between the leagues through 2002. Baseball, led by then-Commissioner Bud Selig, and Fox television promoted the "This Time It Counts" innovation after the 2002 All-Star Game in Milwaukee ended in a 7-7, 11-inning tie when both teams ran out of pitchers. Selig was booed in his own Milwaukee backyard.

What began as a two-year experiment was extended. The American League won 11 of 14 All-Star Games played under the rule, and the AL won eight World Series in those years.

As part of the changes for next year, players in the All-Star Game will have the incentive to play for a pool of money.

The Dodgers, Latin American teenagers and Cubans approaching their mid-20s were losers in baseball’s new labor contract, which includes stiffer penalties for high-spending teams and a hard cap on signing bonuses for international amateurs.

Mid-tier free agents were winners, with management agreeing that teams will no longer forfeit first-round draft picks for signing players who turn down qualifying offers. But top-tier free agents could wind up as losers if potential bidders back off because of the steeper tax for exceeding the payroll threshold.

The luxury tax threshold, which was $178 million in 2011 and $189 million this year, will rise to $210 million by 2021. That represents an 18 percent rise over a decade, well below the rate of increase in baseball’s revenue.

And the highest tax bracket will rise, with two levels of new surtaxes.

The Dodgers’ luxury-tax payroll this year was about $256 million, down from a record $297 million last year, leaving them on track to owe a tax of approximately $34 million – a 50 percent rate assesses on the amount over the threshold.

While management failed to gain the international draft it wanted, players did agree to a hard cap on international signings. The signing pool limit will be $4.75 million for the signing period that begins July 2. Players who left Cuba also are impacted by the changes. Under the new rules, Cubans don’t count against a team’s signing bonus pool if they are at least 25, it was 23, and played in a professional league for at least five seasons.