By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
HOUSTON -- The NFL lockout is in its fourth month, with no end in sight.
The NBA locked its players out earlier this week and some believe the 2011-12 season is in jeopardy.
The NHL has a year remaining on its current labor deal, but already there is speculation that the league and its players may be headed for a work stoppage a year from this fall.
And then there's baseball.
Remarkably, the same sport which had the worst labor record as recently as 15 years ago now has the best. The current CBA expires in December and a new agreement has not yet been reached, but both sides -- ownership and the Players Association --
expect a deal will be reached without any interruption, or, for that matter, much difficulty.
This peaceful co-existence between management and labor would have been unimagineable not long ago. Now, each day in the Red Sox clubhouse, players watch TV and see updates on labor disputes in basketball and football, secure in the knowledge that the divide that once existed in their own game has been closed.
And some within that clubhouse shake their heads at the messes that exist in the NBA and NFL, just as fans expressed disgust toward baseball a generation ago.
"You mean to tell me there's not a way for both sides to be happy and the fans don't get screwed?" asked manager Terry Francona. "I do understand that someone making 50,000-60,000 and is paying for a ticket would be very put off. I can understand that. They don't want to hear this and I don't blame them.
"I think we all have a responsibility to figure it out. I think baseball has done a good job figuring out that we need to be partners and they're doing a great job.''
"Sometimes, when it comes to this kind of stuff,'' said David Ortiz, "I think we forget about the most important (people) and that's the fans. One thing you don't want to do is piss them off. They're the ones who make this interesting.''
Ortiz, a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan, said he doesn't even want to think about the prospect of football-less Sundays this fall.
"I'm having nightmares all ready,'' he said with a laugh. "Seriously, there's no way you want to think about (not having games). And I'm from the Dominican Republic (where football doesn't have much of a following) and I see it that way. Think about if you're born and raised here.''
Dustin Pedroia says improved communication between labor and management in baseball is the key to the improved relationship.
"It took a long time to get over the last strike (in 1994-95),'' said Pedroia. "We don't want to go through that again. Both sides know how great the game is and how much money there is in it, so the best thing is to play and not have any work stoppages.''
Tim Wakefield, the only Red Sox player who was playing in 1994, said it's a relief to not go through the distraction of a labor impasse.
"It's nice,'' Wakefield said. "I don't think either side wants to be in that situaton again.''
Ortiz, too, believes that baseball learned the hard way in the 1980s and 1990s how damaging labor strife can be.
"We all have those bad memories,'' he said. "We don't want to be going through that.''
And aside from the professional kinship, players want the NFL and NBA to resume so that they, too, can be entertained.
"I hope they get it done,'' concluded Ortiz. "I'm a baseball player, but I'm a huge fan of football and basketball.