SBD/Issue 85/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • Action Item From MLB Task Force Expected Before Season's Start

    Selig Says Meeting Was A
    "Great Exchange Of Ideas"
    At least one action item from MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's newly formed on-field task force is expected prior to the start of the '10 season following a nearly four-hour session Thursday in Paradise Valley, Arizona. Meeting for the first time since the December formation of the group, the 14-member panel discussed more than 15 separate topics, Selig said, though much like Wednesday's unprecedented gathering of GMs at the owners' meetings, he declined to disclose specific details. There is already consensus on some issues, however, the commissioner said. "This was a great exchange of ideas. I said there would be no sacred cows, and there were no sacred cows. Everything was on the table," Selig said. "The group took this very seriously, and everybody had very strong opinions." He later joked the only subject not discussed was an evaluation of the commissioner. Selig created the group -- assembled from a mix of team owners and execs, GMs, managers, league consultant Frank Robinson and syndicated columnist George Will -- to address a wide range of competition-related issues such as postseason scheduling, instant replay and pace of game play. The recommendations expected to come from the panel will likely be a mix of items that Selig can act on unilaterally, will require owner approval, or will need to be collectively bargained with the MLBPA. Selig said he intends to convene the task force again in the next two to three weeks at a yet-to-be-determined location. "We have a lot of work to do," he said. "I have a sense that action will come out of this soon. This is an action committee. Some will happen pretty quickly, others will take some time" (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). The next owners' meetings are set for May, and Selig said of the task force, "I think I’m going to bring them to that meeting -- that’s how good it was. I know they enjoyed it. They made a major contribution to our understanding of a lot of really tough issues” ("Hot Stove," MLB Net, 1/14).

    ECONOMIC FORECAST: Selig said it is too soon to say definitively whether the league will have a better fiscal year this year than in '09. League revenues were roughly flat compared to '08 at around $6.5B, in part because of new revenue from the MLB Network offsetting declining gate receipts. Selig: "We're sort of at the same level, perhaps a little better. You can't get a group of economists to agree on what's going to happen, but I think we'll do OK (this year)." To that end, several individual teams have indicated that ticket sales patterns have closely resembled '09 in that consumers are waiting as long as possible to make purchasing decisions. Will, as he did last January, made a presentation to the owners on his outlook for the national economy. 

    STEPPING UP TO THE PLATE: The owners Thursday also heard a presentation from Stand Up 2 Cancer, which MLB has been supporting since '08, on the organization's ongoing work to fight the disease. Selig called the session among the most moving in his 40 years of attending owners' meetings. "I don't think I've ever seen more emotion. I'm very proud of our association with this group. They do tremendous work. This issue is so pervasive now -- everybody's been affected by it in some way" (Fisher).

    STRIKING A NEW DEAL: The AP’s Bob Baum reported MLB owners “unanimously ratified a five-year contract with umpires on Thursday, wrapping up a decade of labor peace in a sport once plagued by work stoppages.” A source said that the deal, “expected to be ratified by umpires on Monday, would remove a ban on umpires appearing in consecutive World Series.” A source said that the agreement “also would allow management to use video to evaluate umpires and establish new programs for early retirement” (AP, 1/14).

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  • Goodell Remains Optimistic About CBA Talks, Hopes For Progress

    Goodell Says Its Becoming Increasingly
    Likely NFL Will Be In Uncapped Season
    NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Friday morning said he wishes there was "more progress happening" in CBA negotiations with the NFLPA, but added the "good news is that dialogue is happening." Goodell: "Obviously, as we get closer to the start of a new year, it becomes increasingly likely we'll be in an uncapped season and the clubs are preparing for that." Meanwhile, Goodell stressed that the Redskins and Seahawks both adhered to the Rooney Rule in hiring new head coaches this month. Goodell: "I actually feel that the Rooney Rule was not only observed, it was followed very sincerely. ... I'm aware of both the owners' and the CEOs' perspective going back several weeks and their initiative and what they were thinking about." He added, "I'm confident that both clubs went after this with the right perspective and the right process." Meanwhile, Goodell said moving the Pro Bowl from Hawaii to Miami, the site of this year's Super Bowl, is a "big change, and we thought it was a great way to create a new platform and a bigger platform for our great players." He noted, "We’ve already sold more tickets to the Pro Bowl this year than we've sold in the past. Hawaii has been a great place and we're going back next year, but this is an opportunity for us to try something different" ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN2, 1/15).

    SIDES STILL FAR APART: NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith Wednesday addressed the CBA negotiations and said he has a "hard time understanding why in the era of such good business why we just can't get this thing taken care of sooner rather than later." When asked whether he has been contacted by politicians about preventing a work stoppage in '11, Smith said the NFLPA has "fielded a lot of questions across the board and some of those questions have come from not only people on the Hill but people within state houses, state legislatures, state attorney generals, consumer interest groups." Smith: "Everyone wants to make sure that this game goes forward and the players are absolutely committed to that. It's my job to try to figure out why eight billion isn't enough" (CHICAGOBREAKINGSPORTS.com, 1/13).

    INCONSISTENT POSITION? In St. Paul, Brian Murphy reports the NFL "went on the offensive in a Minneapolis courtroom Thursday, attacking claims" by Vikings DTs Kevin and Pat Williams that the league "violated state drug-testing laws when it suspended them" in '08 for taking the StarCaps supplement, which contains a banned substance. The NFL "argued for the first time Thursday that the Williamses could not sue the league for violating" the Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act because the Vikings "are their employers, not the NFL, which is responsible for disciplining players under the anti-doping policy." Peter Ginsberg, an attorney for the Williamses, "seized on that to portray a conflict in legal positions the NFL is staking in separate court cases," including American Needle v. NFL. The league in that case Wednesday "argued its teams should be allowed to operate as a single business unit when negotiating licensing and merchandising contracts" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 1/15).

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  • Don Garber Says MLS, MLSPU "Working Hard" To Reach New CBA

    Garber Says MLS, Union Meeting Regularly
    In Attempt To Hash Out New CBA
    MLS Commissioner Don Garber Thursday said the league and the MLSPU are "working hard collectively" to reach a new CBA that is "going to be good for both players and for management." He said the two sides have spent a "lot of time talking, but I'm not sure over the last year we spent time really talking and we're really talking now." Garber: "We're meeting regularly. We met several times last week. We'll meet again next week, but we are going to get to a point where both the players and management are going to have to make some tough decisions. We're not going to be able to agree to a deal that's not in the long-term best interest of the league. We've been doing very well over the last 10 years making this league very stable ... and clearly the players are going to have to try to think about what kind of deal they'll accept." ESPN soccer analyst Alexi Lalas noted MLS team owners believe the current CBA has "not only gotten us here through the good times, but more importantly through the lean times." Lalas: "I think that there is a deal out there to be done. But some of the changes are very, very difficult because they are completely counter to what the ownership believes is not just the past, but also -- at least for the foreseeable future -- needs to be in place to go forward." ESPN's John Harkes noted 80% of MLS players have non-guaranteed contracts and said, "Are you kidding me? ... From the players' perspective, things have to advance and improve" ("2010 MLS Superdraft," ESPN2, 1/14). Garber noted the MLS and union plan to meet next Wednesday in DC, and said, "Everything so far is positive. We're going to try to reach an agreement that's good for the management but also good for the players" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1/15).

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