The AP reported signing bonuses for amateur draft picks is the "last major issue left in talks for baseball's new labor contract." Sources said that reps for players and owners "met Tuesday in New York." MLB Commissioner Bud Selig "wants a system of fixed signing bonuses that tie the amount to when a prospect is drafted, known as slotting." Players have "traditionally said the signing bonuses should be the subject of negotiation." Sources said that while draft bonuses "are the last big issue, those provisions are tied to other parts of the agreement, such as the luxury tax, the reserve system and the minimum salary." The current CBA expires Dec. 11 (AP, 10/26).
HEADING DOWN UNDER: In Australia, Mark Hayes reports the women's Australian Open is "poised to take its place alongside world golf's great tournaments" after being "confirmed as the co-sanctioned season-opening event of the 2012 LPGA Tour." The "global nature of the tour will be reflected in what will doubtless be the deepest field ever to play in Australia." Golf Australia CEO Stephen Pitt said that his organization "had a two-year deal with the LPGA with an option for another two years" (Melbourne HERALD SUN, 10/27). PRO GOLF TALK's Ryan Ballengee noted the "$1.1 million tournament will be played Feb. 9-12 at Royal Melbourne Golf Club -- host to the 2011 Presidents Cup." The "144-player field will likely be populated by about 100 LPGA members, competing in the 72-hole event" (NBCSPORTS.com, 10/26).
PLAYOFF PROBLEMS: In K.C., Charles Gooch notes for most lay fans, the aggregate two-game series is the "most confusing aspect" of the MLS playoffs. But Gooch writes, "My biggest issue is that 56% of the league qualify for the playoffs -- 10 of the 18 teams. That's just too many." More teams "create more chance of random occurrence." Gooch: "The playoffs shouldn't get easier and more random as they progress. It should be the opposite" (K.C. STAR, 10/27).
GOING GREEN: In N.Y., Ken Belson noted the sports industry -- "from teams to leagues to stadium and track operators -- is becoming more environmentally friendly." Team owners and event organizers are "generating new income from their cost-cutting measures by getting corporate partners, eager to align themselves with hometown teams going green, to sponsor projects like solar installations and recycling bins." MLB and other leagues have been "sharing best practices among teams and collecting statistics on energy and water use and recycling rates to create benchmarks." The NHL helps teams "send unused food at arenas to local soup kitchens, an effort that provided 165,000 meals last season and kept 105 tons of food out of landfills." The league has also "started buying credits that restore wetlands for every goal scored during the season" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/26).