Baseball works toward another labor truce

Baseball works toward another labor truce
March 11, 2011, 10:02 pm
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Friday, March 11, 2011Posted: 3:45 PM Updated: 6:26 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. While negotiations between the NFL and its players union unravel in Washington, baseball is approaching 16 years of uninterrupted labor peace.

Since wiping out the 1994 World Series, there has been a thaw in the cold war between owners and the Major League Baseball Players Association. There is optimism on both sides that a new labor deal will be reached amicably before years end, without any of the work stoppages that previously defined their relationship.

Cubs catcher Koyie Hill, the teams lead union representative, doesnt see any red flags at this point. MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner has essentially said the same thing on his spring-training tour, which will bring him to Cubs camp later this month.

There havent been any major concerns about not being able to work together, Hill said Friday. Everythings been pretty professional. (I) havent seen anything that would be alarming. That doesnt mean we dont need to sit down and get (it done). But were not going at it lackadaisical.

The NFL negotiations have focused on major structural issues with the collective bargaining agreement. Baseball talks figure to be more on the perimeter, figuring out how to regulate the amateur draft and the international market.

In the run-up to the Super Bowl, news coverage slanted toward labor conflict, and speculation about how long the NFL might go dark. It drew attention away from the Green Bay Packers, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the sports biggest day.

Though the current agreement wont expire until Dec. 11, its a good guess that the keepers of the game wouldnt want to play the World Series against that backdrop.

One thing we all underestimated is how badly it hurt us, commissioner Bud Selig said last week at HoHoKam Park. Every two, three years, its all fans are reading about.

The thing about labor peace (is its) in everybodys interest. Player salaries have gone up, revenues have gone up and the sports popularity is at an all-time high. So when you look back on it, there are a lot of lessons to be learned. And I think we have.

Thinking of home

Kosuke Fukudome stood in the clubhouse Friday morning and tilted his head up toward the big-screen TV, watching CNNs coverage of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan.

Through a translator, Fukudome said that he contacted his brother back home in Japan and was optimistic that his extended family remained safe.

The games become international, manager Mike Quade said. All of a sudden these things happen around the world in the Dominican Republic, Japan, wherever and you get to the ballpark and the first thing youre asking is: Are your people ok?

Etc.

Ryan Dempster threw five scoreless innings during Fridays 4-3 win over the White Sox at Camelback Ranch. Jeff Samardzija gave up all three runs in the ninth, raising his ERA to 8.44. John Grabow, who is monitoring a sore left shoulder, is hoping to pitch in a game before Wednesdays off-day. Its getting better, Mike Quade said. Its time to get him back out there. The Cubs optioned relievers Esmailin Caridad and John Gaub to Triple-A Iowa on Friday, cutting their spring roster to 58 players.

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.