MLB and the MLBPA in March began discussing a new CBA, and MLB Exec VP/Labor Relations & HR Rob Manfred on Thursday expressed "mild optimism that a deal could be reached" before the current deal expires in December. Manfred: "I really like the pace we're on. We're in the early stages of the process. The process is well under way." Still, Manfred "warned of reading too much" into the early discussions. He declined to comment on "whether the 'tenor' of the negotiations was different" now that Michael Weiner has replaced Don Fehr as Exec Dir of the MLBPA (N.Y. POST, 5/13).
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Fehr is “going through his learning curve and adjustment period” as the new NHLPA Exec Dir, and the two will be “working more and more closely together as he gets more and more comfortable with understanding our game and the business of our game.” Bettman: “We have another year to go in our collective bargaining agreement. Nobody wants to see work stoppages in any sports. Everybody knows we went through a difficult period. … Obviously, when the time comes, we'll get together with the players association, I'll get together it Donald Fehr and work our way through the next collective bargaining agreement" ("Chronicle Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 5/12).
SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE: In Milwaukee, Michael Hunt writes the NBA's business model is "so insanely broken in terms of parity and the pocketbook that a lockout is coming July 1 unless someone can figure this thing out." Unlike the NFL, the NBA "can't last as is." NBA Commissioner David Stern has "caused enough problems by marketing players at the expense of franchises, and now he wants to stuff the entitled genie back into the bottle." Hunt adds, "I'm not sure I believe the league when it says it lost $300 million this season. I'm not sure I believe 22 of the 30 teams are losing money, but I'm pretty sure the Bucks aren't showing a profit" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 5/13).
FIGHT CLUB: Zuffa LLC this week held the third annual UFC Fighter Summit in Las Vegas, gathering its athletes for "sessions on concussions, steroids, rules and finances," and in Jacksonville, Francine King wrote Zuffa and UFC President Dana White deserve credit for "making an effort to take care of the fighters." King: "I have to give credit where credit is due. ... As short as most athletes' careers are, there's no better advice than for them to watch their finances closely. There are just too many sad stories of athletes who've squandered or been swindled" out of their incomes (JACKSONVILLE.com, 5/12).