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Major League Baseball's lockout ends after both sides reach a deal

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

In this country, the second-longest work stoppage in Major League Baseball history is over. NPR's Tom Goldman reports.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: If I had a dollar for every time a newscaster, podcaster, whatever caster said this yesterday...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CASTER #1: Baseball is back. Oh, my god. Baseball is back.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CASTER #2: We begin with breaking news. Major League Baseball is back.

GOLDMAN: The excitement was understandable, and it beats the anger most felt for the 99 days it took to bring baseball back. The lockout by owners against players started last December and seemed certain to continue this week. But yesterday, enough compromise happened. Players accepted an owners proposal, and that was it. At a press conference after the owners unanimously ratified the deal, Manfred made it sound like his side did most of that compromising.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

ROB MANFRED: I hope that the players appreciate that we worked very hard to address the key concerns that they brought to the table.

GOLDMAN: The union wanted better pay for younger players. Owners agreed to boost the minimum salary from about 570,000 to 700,000 this season. Also, a new $50 million bonus pool will go to the best young players who haven't been in the league long enough to reach salary arbitration. Owners, Manfred said, even budged on postseason expansion.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

MANFRED: We wanted a 14-team playoff. We thought it was the best one. We compromised in order to try to address their concerns.

GOLDMAN: There will be 12 teams in the playoffs, up from 10. In a statement, the union did not sound especially grateful for what baseball sees as its largesse. Executive Director Tony Clark talked about enduring the second-longest work stoppage in baseball history and how players reenergized their fraternity during the difficult process. There was more than the hint of a chill. Manfred admitted he hasn't been successful forging a good relationship with players. Perhaps it'll be easier now that baseball is back fully. By agreeing yesterday, the two sides preserved the 162-game schedule with no cancellations. Spring training starts this weekend. Opening day is April 7, only a week after it was originally scheduled and after 99 days of a hard slog. Tom Goldman, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF LOS STRAITJACKETS' "TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.