Baseball is a game of repetition and routine. From the president throwing out a first pitch on Opening Day to Jim Thome pointing his bat toward center field before settling in to take each pitch, the game is structured around any number of odd rituals, attempts to impose order on unruly fate and provide what commissioner Bud Selig has called "a window to escape from the tedium and difficulties of daily life."
In all their mild absurdity these are some of the best things about the game, and one of the best has recurred this spring. Just as you know the game is about to start when the lineup cards are presented, you know labor negotiations are about to start when you start hearing odd proposals having to do with parity and competitive balance. Over the years these have included such grand ideas as a salary cap and contraction. This year's model, coming ahead of the December 2011 expiry of the current labor accord, has to do with realignment.