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Leagues and Governing Bodies

MLB Lockout, Day 43: Meeting today could hint at potential delays

Progress on alterations to the MLB draft could help, though there is more than competitive integrity changes being sought by the playersGETTY IMAGES

The tone of today’s meeting between MLB owners and locked-out players could "serve as an early warning system for a potential delay of spring training, the regular season will be delayed, or even whether the season will need to shortened from 162 games," according to Michael Silverman of the BOSTON GLOBE. That is "not an exaggeration of how high the stakes have grown." MLB proposed the afternoon video conference earlier this week. The content of the league's proposal will offer a "first but far from final hint about if and when these dug-in sides will move towards resolution" on a new CBA. It is "very doubtful" the owners will address revenue sharing, "which the players want to decrease" by $100M. But progress, "even if theoretical, on the draft front would help," as there is a "lot more than competitive integrity changes being sought by the players." The magnitude of "reaching consensus on those issues -- paying younger players, raising luxury tax thresholds, reducing service-time manipulation, reducing the time it takes to reach arbitration and free agency -- grows bigger as the clock ticks" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/13). In DC, Chelsea Janes notes while the sides "seemingly have not moved any closer to an agreement in recent months," they have "moved closer to the scheduled start of spring training and the regular season." For spring training to start in mid-February as planned, a deal "probably would have to be done by the first days of that month" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/13).

SOME NEWS IS GOOD NEWS: MLB Network’s Dan O’Dowd: “Anytime you’re talking, I think it’s progress.” MLB Net’s Jon Morosi: “This is going to be the first substantive conversation on core economic issues in front of the game that we have seen now since the lockout began back in early December. That on its own ... is very, very good news." O’Dowd said if the “players expect to get everything back in one CBA, I don’t think it’s going to end soon.” O’Dowd added it was “unrealistic” for both sides “to think you can address the pillars of the economic system in the game all in one CBA negotiation." That has "never happened in the history of the game.” MLB Net’s Tom Verducci said it was “important to come out of this” meeting with "some ground to agree that we can start to see a path" toward a new CBA (“MLB Tonight,” MLB Network, 1/12).

FANS CRAVE NORMALCY: In Seattle, Ryan Divish writes, "Let’s hope the duration of this meeting is longer than the seven-minute session that took place in Dallas on Dec. 1." The "lack of effort put forth" by either side over the past 40-plus days has "generated frustration and fatigue for fans." Fans "don’t want to hear about bickering negotiations or who is right or wrong." They "simply want the offseason to resume" (SEATTLE TIMES, 1/13). In Toronto, Gregor Chisholm writes for the sake of the sport, both parties "better be serious about getting down to business," as otherwise this situation "could get ugly in a hurry." There is "never a good time" for a labor stoppage, but it would seem "particularly poor on the heels of a pandemic that nearly wiped out an entire season and has had an impact on the quality of play for the better part of two years." What the sport "really needs is a return to normalcy" (TORONTO STAR, 1/13).

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SBJ Spotlight: TikTok’s threat to traditional sports media

While tech companies are consumed with finding ways to compete with TikTok, almost no one in conventional media “spends any time talking about it,” said Recode senior correspondent Peter Kafka in an Spotlight interview with SBJ’s John Ourand. “To me, that’s just an obvious disconnect.” Kafka authored a recent column headlined, “It’s TikTok’s world. Can TV live in it?” He said the main response to TikTok’s growth from traditional media execs has been to “punt and hope it’s someone else’s problem a quarter from now or two years from now.” But Kafka said that ignores the trend of conventional broadcast audiences growing older while a billion younger consumers spend most of their media time watching short video after short video. “If you’re in the business of getting anyone under the age of 30 to look at what you’re putting on a screen, you have to think about the fact that you’re probably asking them to put down TikTok and watch your thing instead,” said Kafka. “That’s a very difficult ask. … [TikTok] is insanely addictive.”

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