Moag and Company Sports Notes (13 Mar 2020)

Date: Mar 2020

Trivia

When did the Boston Celtics win their first NBA championship?

Last Week’s Answer: The last MLB player to win back-to-back NL MVPs was Albert Pujols (2008 and 2009 with the St. Louis Cardinals).

Football:

NFLPA player reps "voted down a resolution that would have allowed players who have already voted on the proposed CBA to change their votes," according to ESPN.com. Enough players "had asked whether they could change their votes" that the player reps "decided to propose the resolution, but it did not succeed." The NFLPA did vote to "extend the voting window by 48 hours to allow more time for players to consider and vote on the proposal." The player reps "voted to extend the deadline" to 11:59 pm ET Saturday. The "goal of the extension is to give players more time to digest the 456-page proposed CBA". SI.com wrote it is "fair to say that the NFLPA staff wants as many players to vote as possible." The "strength of the CBA proposal they’ve put forth is in how it helps the rank-and-file, and that 60% of the league’s players are on the minimum ... is important here as the union tries to get every last one of them to cast a ballot". ESPN.com said his “overwhelming sense” on which way the CBA vote will turn out “is that it’s going to be a close vote.” Schefter: “It sounds like it’s got some support, but it’s got definite detractors and the detractors have been speaking out loud and clear to voice their opposition”.

Baseball:

MLB officials were "unsure whether opening the season as early as April 9 would be feasible, instead deciding to leave the official start of the season an open question," according to the N.Y. Times. If the season "resumes in April, some teams could still be affected by restrictions from local governments." Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that he "wanted all major sporting events to be canceled -- or played without fans -- until May 1". Players have been asked to "remain at their spring training residences for the next few days as MLB works with the players association to structure the next few weeks." One issue that "must be worked out is if players will be paid if they agree to remain in camps during the dormant period." The fallout from the league’s decision to delay the season will be "wide-reaching, affecting multiple levels within every organization." Now ballparks will be "empty on Opening Day, on March 26, with game day operations staff idle and concession workers without jobs". St. Louis Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak said that once a start date is "clearer an additional, shortened spring training might be necessary". The start of the regular season is delayed two weeks, and "don't be surprised if it's longer". There is "no blueprint from which to reference." However, the "guiding principle must be this alone: whatever is best for public health and safety." Economics, logistics and traditions "must not drive decisions".

Basketball:

The NBA made a historic decision to suspend its season due to the coronavirus outbreak last night, and the league now will decide what is next after "making sure its players get the medical attention they need," according to USA Today. The NBA "could try to squeeze in an 82-game season and just move back the start of the playoffs." It also could "decide to play the remaining games scheduled when play resumes even if it means less than an 82-game season". It is "all but guaranteed that games will be postponed for at least 14 days as the league reassesses the outbreak and monitors the health of its players." There is a "chance that after the hiatus -- however long it might be -- the NBA would simply begin the playoffs." It could also be possible that the NBA "attempts to resume play as scheduled at some point." However, in addition to the "calendar working against that approach, there would be numerous logistical hurdles to clear relating to venue availability." One other possibility is that the season "will be canceled altogether". Meanwhile, ESPN.com notes the NBA has "asked their teams to give their availability of their arenas through August 1st".

Soccer:

MLS is “suspending its season" due to coronavirus, according to SI.com. PROSOCCERUSA.com notes the MLS suspension comes "on the heels of the league closing locker rooms to media." MLS is "following other soccer leagues around the world with all domestic sporting events, including Serie A in Italy being suspended until at least April 3." And there are "reports the UEFA Champions League may be suspended and the European championships being moved" until '21. Meanwhile The USL owners were "holding a vote via conference call to determine whether or not matches would be played." As a non-single-entity league, any decision to postpone or alter the slate of matches "will be made by the owners." Sources "expect the USL to follow MLS’s lead given the presence of affiliated clubs in the owners’ call". MLS confirmed the suspension, noting that it will last 30 days.

Hockey:

The NHL's decision to pause its season due to coronavirus leaves "numerous unanswered questions," from when games might resume to "what the economic impact might be on the bottom line," according to the AP. Predators President & CEO Sean Henry "wouldn't rule out the possibility of the season not resuming." He said, "We're working through really uncharted territory". If and when the NHL’s season does restart, it is "unclear if the regular season resumes where it left off, whether an abridged schedule takes place, or the playoffs start immediately ... since not all teams have played the same amount of games." Any scenario, however, "could be complicated by arena availability". NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that he is "not sure how far into the summer the NHL could push the schedule as the league is taking a day-to-day approach with the development of the coronavirus".

Other:

AT&T Senior Exec VP & CFO John Stephens indicated that an auction to sell four of its RSNs to reduce overall debt is "nearing a possible buyer and conclusion," according to the Hollywood Reporter. Stephens did not name any potential bidders for the four RSNs -- AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh, AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, AT&T SportsNet Southwest and Root Sports Northwest. He brought up the future of the channels as he "detailed efforts to sell non-core assets, including corporate properties, to reduce the phone giant's total debt burden after acquiring Time Warner Inc. and investing for WarnerMedia to launch" the streaming service HBO Max in May. The N.Y. Post last month reported AT&T received bids for the RSNs around $500M, short of the expected $1B range.

Sources: SportsBusiness Daily; ESPN; USA Today; SI.com; PROSOCCERUSA.com; N.Y. Times; the AP;  Hollywood Reporter; N.Y. Post

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