Australian sports fans who have looked on with amusement and incredulity at the regular bouts of player strikes in Major League baseball over the years will be disappointed to learn that a new labour deal was struck this week in a move that will virtually eliminate the shutdowns (for the next five years, anyway) that have dogged the sport.

MLB officials were keen to see this latest deal put through before the current labour agreement expired on 19 December, which itself was signed only hours before players were set to strike late in 2002.

“These negotiations were emblematic of the new spirit of cooperation and trust that now exists between the clubs and the players,” said MLB commissioner Bud Selig. “We’re in the midst of baseball’s golden age.”

And who could argue with him?

Not only will owners and fans will be delighted to know that the game will not see a repeat of the infamous 232-day player strike that shook the sport in 1994, the players will also be no doubt be satisfied in knowing they will remunerated fairly for an honest day’s work.

Starting from next season, the minimum wage will be set at a modest $US380,000(!), and in even better news, players union chief Don Fehr announced there was no plan to introduce blood testing for human growth hormone abuse until a blood testing is validated.