SBD/Issue 21/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • Call For Expanded MLB Replay Grows Louder With Playoff Mishaps

    Repeated Close Calls In Postseason Have
    Re-Ignited Talks Of Adding More Replay
    The first week of the MLB Playoffs has seen several controversial calls that may have factored into the outcome of games, and the league should start using instant replay "for a wide array of calls" after more than a year of "excellent results with instant-replay use on home runs," according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig last week reiterated that he is "open to making changes," and this is one change "he should implement as soon as possible." Olney: "If it's possible to do it for the World Series, they should start making preparations now." MLB could "simply expand the list of reviewable" situations to include calls on bases, tag plays, fair/foul balls and "plays that stem from situations around home plate." There "should not be replay on ball or strike calls, or check-swing calls" (ESPN.com, 10/10). SI.com's Jon Heyman noted umpire Phil Cuzzi acknowledged making a mistake during the 11th inning of Twins-Yankees ALDS Game 2 on Friday, and baseball "looks bad to have this happen a day" after umpire C.B. Bucknor "missed multiple calls at first base in the Angels' Game 1 victory over the Red Sox." MLB "needs to do a few things," such as determine "whether it's worthwhile to have umpires down the outfield lines" (SI.com, 10/10). On Long Island, Anthony Rieber wrote MLB should replace umpires along the foul lines with someone "in the press box and be the 'replay umpire.'" Whenever the umpire "sees a blatant error, he buzzes down, halts play and takes a look at it" (NEWSDAY, 10/11).

    NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT: In N.Y., Mike Vaccaro wrote under the header, "Lack Of Replay Is A Major League Foul-Up." Why does MLB -- "in an age of high-definition, in a time when ballgames are televised by using more than a dozen cameras all over ballparks" -- only allow "home runs to be replayed?" Getting calls "right, especially in October, shouldn't just be a wish, it should be a requirement" (N.Y. POST, 10/11). YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Passan wrote MLB should "take the cue from football" for its use of instant replay. Passan: "Use a red replay flag. Each team gets two per game." Nobody inside MLB "wants a postseason defined by its umpiring screw-ups, and yet year after year, they happen. ... Ignoring the issue won't make it go away" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/10). SI.com's Joe Posnanski wrote replay is "inescapable now because these playoffs have been an umpiring disaster." While it is "probably just a bad run of high-profile missed calls," it has "felt like an epidemic." This is the "sort of thing that gets people talking," and the "arguments against replay don't make a whole lot of sense" (SI.com, 10/10). ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian said, "If we go too far with this, the rhythm of the game is really going to be damaged. ... If you can find a way to do this without disrupting the game and the rhythm of the game, I’m all for it. I just don’t know if you can.” But ESPN’s Eduardo Perez, noting the missed fair ball call in Yankees-Twins, said, “When it’s blatant like this, something has to be done” (“Baseball Tonight,” ESPN2, 10/11).

    KICKIN' IT OLD SCHOOL: In N.Y., William Rhoden writes MLB needs a "great World Series, a Series for the ages," and a Dodgers-Yankees matchup "could take the game back to its roots at a time when baseball desperately needs to recover a portion of the trust, if not the innocence, that it has lost in the steroid era." The two "venerable franchises competing in a World Series would recall an era in baseball when things seemed simpler and the game was more pure." That matchup would include Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez and Dodgers LF Manny Ramirez, "two great players who had admitted culpability and moved on." The matchup would represent a "line of demarcation, that the game was ready to get past one of the most painful episodes in its history" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/12).

    WEATHER OR NOT: In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones noted MLB delayed this season because of the WBC in March, and "can you imagine how cold it might be two weeks from now in New York, Philadelphia and Denver -- all cities that could still be hosting baseball games?" MLB might need to "schedule more day-night doubleheaders during the season." Teams could "still have full gates for 81 home games, but if they could knock even a week out of the regular-season schedule, it might help avoid some of the chilly weather" (TAMPABAY.com, 10/11).

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  • NBA Tells Players Union That Owners Are Suffering Deep Losses

    Hunter Wants To Look At NBA
    Finances Before Next CBA Talk
    NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter indicated that the NBA has told the union that team owners "will lose 'hundreds of millions of dollars' over the course of the current" CBA, based on the "last four years of the deal combined with projections of declines in revenue for the next two years," according to Mullen & Lombardo of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Hunter said that the league has "begun disclosing its finances to the union, sending two boxes of documents" to the NBPA last week. The NBA's statements about losses were based in part on "projections of what will happen in the future," and Hunter noted that the NBA last year "projected revenue declines and ended up with" a 2% revenue gain for the '08-09 season. Hunter: "They say they have lost money ... and they want to recoup those losses and achieve a more positive financial statement or balance. Their contention is the players are receiving too great a portion of the revenues." But he added, "They are losing money because of their alleged reduction in fans ... and as a result they have had to reduce ticket prices. That is why they are losing money." While NBA owners are "pushing for another bargaining session," Hunter said that he "wants to be cautious and digest the financial information the league sent before meeting again." Hunter: "They would like for me to negotiate a deal now in the current climate" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/12 issue).

    ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS: In Boston, Gary Washburn wrote with the NBA CBA set to expire after the '10-11 season, Hunter "might have bookmarked" NBA Commissioner David Stern's comments last week regarding the financial state of the league. Stern while addressing reporters in London said of the economic downturn, "Actually, we've been remarkably unaffected by it. Our attendance will be strong, again, this year. Our television ratings have been up for two years and likely will go up. ... We feel pretty good about our place in this difficult time." Washburn noted Hunter may "figure that if the league is doing so well and remaining strong during this tumultuous time, then there is no reason for the players to give more of a percentage of revenue to owners" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/11).

    RUSSIAN DRESSING: ESPN.com's Bill Simmons wrote, "You know the NBA is in at least a little trouble financially when it allows a Russian billionaire to buy a team. Five or six years ago, how fast do you think David Stern squashes the idea when someone says to him, 'So, I guess the best way to describe him is that he's like a Russian Mark Cuban'? Two seconds? One second? Which raises the question: Did Stern just open the door to all foreign billionaires, or was this a one-time thing?" Simmons wrote the NBA simply was "desperate to fix this Nets situation and salvage the Brooklyn complex that it didn't care where the money came from," and the sale was a "one-time exception" (ESPN.com, 10/9).

    UNION DUES: SBJ's Lombardo & Mullen in a separate piece report the NBRA in its most recent financial filing reported total assets of nearly $133M for the 12-month period ending June 30, down from $136.7M from the year earlier. A union source indicated that the "decrease was due to a decline in the stock market and other union investments." The filing reveals that the NBA paid the union $6.8M in licensing fees "in each quarter of the most recent fiscal year," up from $6.25M a year earlier. The league also paid the union $8M in logo-use revenue, up from $7M. Meanwhile, the filing shows that Hunter earned $3.465M last year, up from $2.318M a year earlier. The increase is "attributed to a one-time payout" of about $1.1M for "vacation time accrued over 13 years" that Hunter has served as Exec Dir (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/12 issue).

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  • NFL Expecting Gate Revenue To Decline Slightly This Season

     
    Figures sent in briefing books to NFL teams last week in preparation for this week's league meeting in Boston indicated that gate revenue at NFL games is "projected to fall by a low-single-digit percent this season" from the '08 campaign, according to sources cited by Daniel Kaplan of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The books also show that national league revenue, "which includes TV and sponsorships, will be up 6[%] in 2009 over 2008." Kaplan notes of the league's "approximately $8[B] in revenue, about $4.7[B] is national, with the rest coming locally," and if gate revenue is "down, local revenue, which also includes team sponsorship, a hard-hit category, will likely be down this year, as well." Meanwhile, sources said that in addition to the budget updates, teams at the meeting will "get a stadium security presentation," as well as a briefing on "where the league's collective-bargaining talks stand." Several limited partnerships in teams also "will be voted on, including for the Miami Dolphins, who have been adding a slew of celebrity minority investors" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/12 issue). 

    HEALTH CARE REFORM: In an op-ed piece for the N.Y. TIMES, author Stefan Fatsis lists six changes the NFLPA "should insist on in the next contract." These changes includes that team doctors and trainers "should no longer be employed by" individual teams, doctors "should inform players about injuries before they tell any club officials" and players "should be able to view their medical records whenever they want." Teams also should be "required to report every injury," grievance procedures "should be reformed" and payments to injured players "should be excluded from payrolls" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/12).

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  • League Notes

    Allen Being Mentioned As Candidate
    For Top Post At NHLPA
    ESPN.com's Lester Munson cited sources as saying that attorney David Feher, a "veteran of labor wars in the NFL and the NBA," is interested in succeeding Paul Kelly as NHLPA Exec Dir. Feher has "negotiated eight major collective bargaining agreements" for various leagues. Meanwhile, former NFLPA Assistant Exec Dir Doug Allen also has been "mentioned as a possible successor" to Kelly. Allen recently was removed as Exec Dir of the Screen Actors Guild. Neither Feher nor Allen commented on the subject. But one attorney said, "The players are dividing into factions, the union's structure is deeply flawed, and I am not sure why anyone would even consider the job at this point" (ESPN.com, 10/9).

    OPENING NIGHT REVIEWS: In Orlando, Sam Gardner noted the UFL Florida Tuskers defeated the N.Y. Sentinels 35-13 Saturday in front of an announced crowd of 11,203 at the Citrus Bowl (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 10/11). However, SI.com's Peter King writes there was "no buzz in Las Vegas or Orlando for the opening weekend" of the UFL. With the two games allegedly drawing 14,000 and 11,000, respectively, the "first weekend of the odd, four-team, six-games-per-team league was inauspicious,"  and the "wide swaths of empty seats at both games was embarrassing." King: "The only way the league can work is to be content being a Triple-A league with some borderline NFL players; to have the long view; to play on Thursday nights; and to not have the sort of visions of grandeur that the XFL and USFL had" (SI.com, 10/12).

    KID'S PLAY: Penguins C Sidney Crosby said it is important for the NHL to "bring interest" to the game of hockey. Crosby: "It's up to the league to decide what strategies they want. I don't think the players necessarily should be the ones deciding what we do. As long as the players are willing to do their part, that's the most important thing." Meanwhile, Crosby admits "being more picky in what he does from a marketing point of view" (TORONTO SUN, 10/11).

    CROSSING THE FINISH LINE: IRL driver Dario Franchitti Saturday captured the IndyCar Series title, collecting a $1M bonus for his Target Chip Ganassi team last night during the season-ending awards ceremony at the W Hotel in Miami. Also, Raphael Matos was named IndyCar Rookie of the Year, Graham Rahal received the Tony Renna Rising Star Award and J.R. Hildebrand received the Greg Moore Legacy Award (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 10/12).



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