It's always easier to make a deal when business is booming.
Just a day before Thanksgiving, Major League Baseball gave fans across the county another reason to be thankful.
Management and labor agreed to a new five-year contract — it runs from 2011-2016 — that will ensure 21 years of continuity since the strike of 1994. Players and owners went to war repeatedly in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, doing themselves and the game great harm in the process.
But they've learned their lesson and found a way to work together. Most important, there is so much money in the game they reached the common-sense conclusion that there is plenty for everyone. After all, baseball's total revenues increased from $3 billion to $7 billion between 2003 and 2011.
In contrast, players and owners in the National Football League endured a lengthy lockout this year before concluding their negotiations. Players and owners in the National Basketball Association are currently locked in a labor standoff that jeopardizes their season. Professional hockey has yet to recover from the canceled 2004-05 season.
Here are some key provisions:
— The new minimum wage for players increases from $414,000 to $480,000 and will climb to $500,000 over the life of the contract.
— The Houston Astros will move to the American League in 2013, giving each league 15 teams.
— An additional wild-card team will be added to each league for the playoff, setting up a potentially lucrative play-in game.
— New rules will allow testing for a human growth hormone.
None of these changes is earth-shattering. What really matters here is that they learned from their mistakes to work together for mutual benefit, setting an example for their brethren in other professional sports to follow.