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Owners, players ratify new Collective Bargaining Agreement

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The Associated Press is reporting that baseball owners have ratified the new Collective Bargaining Agreement by a 29-1 vote, conducted over telephone.

No official announcement of the vote has been made and no public confirmation of the breakdown of the vote should be expected, but the AP’s source says that Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg was the lone dissenting vote during the telephone meeting Tuesday. Sternberg declined comment when contacted by the AP. Later, he offered this statement to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports:

“I am thankful for the hard work, leadership, and spirit of compromise that were essential to this agreement coming together. Twice a decade, the bargaining process provides an opportunity to address the extraordinary and widening competitive gap that exists on-field between higher and lower revenue clubs. I feel that opportunity was missed here.”

The man presumably wanted greater revenue sharing, penalties for large-spending organizations and help for his club.

The deal was agreed to on November 30 and, as all CBAs do, made significant changes to the business of the game and, in some cases, the manner and context in which it will be played for the next five years.

It raises luxury tax thresholds, penalizing teams which spend above a certain set amount on aggregate team payroll, while simultaneously increasing the tax rate, which will, over time, serve as a greater form of downward pressure on payrolls. It imposes a hard cap on signing bonuses for international amateur players. It eliminates the provision that gave World Series home-field advantage to the All-Star winner and bans rookie hazing in which players are dressed up as women or female characters. It likewise bans smokeless tobacco use for players who do not already have major league service.

UPDATE: The CBA has now been ratified, unanimously, by the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Umpire ejects Adrian Beltre for moving on-deck circle

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As far as ejections go, this is one of the stranger ones you’ll hear about. Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre was ejected in the bottom of the eighth inning of a game his team trailed at the time 18-6. Beltre was a few feet away from the circle towards home plate and was asked by Marlins pitcher Drew Steckenrider to get into the circle. So rather than step a few feet back to his right, Beltre picked up the circle and dragged it to where he was. And that got him ejected by second base umpire Gerry Davis. Manager Jeff Banister was also ejected after having a word with Davis.

Here’s a video from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Beltre, by the way, went 3-for-3 with a walk, a pair of doubles, and a solo home run. He’s now four hits away from 3,000 for his career.

Video: Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford hits an inside-the-park grand slam

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Phillies shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford’s stock has fallen sharply this season. He had an abysmal first three months, batting .203/.321/.276 in 291 plate appearances. Baseball America rated him the 12th overall prospect in baseball going into the season and rated him No. 92 in their midseason top 100. It was bad.

Since the calendar turned to July, however, Crawford has been more like his normal self. In 92 at-bats this month entering Wednesday night’s action, he was hitting .300/.391/.650 with six home runs, 13 RBI, 18 runs scored, and a terrific 15/12 K/BB ratio.

Crawford padded his stats more on Wednesday night as he circled the bases for an inside-the-park grand slam. Via the IronPigs Twitter:

Crawford was actually dead-to-rights at home, but he fooled the catcher with a great late slide.

Crawford finished 1-for-3 with a walk along with the slam on the night as the IronPigs beat the Gwinnett Braves 8-2.