It’s pretty tempting to look at the NHL’s latest offer to the players and think it’s a decent, though not really great, deal. We’re dying for hockey here, anything that looks even close to an 82-game season MUST be worth jumping on. So, a 50-50 split of hockey related revenue? What could be more fair?
Well, if you believe- as this blog does- that the players are what really generate interest in the sport- and thus, that revenue in the first place- you might argue that they deserve more than just half of the take. I’m not entirely sure I think that, and if I do, I certainly don’t know how MUCH more. I’m just saying, I think the players are entitled to the fruits of their labors, and it’s not clear that half of hockey related revenue is that. Plus, there’s a lot of questions about what “hockey related revenue” is; I don’t quite understand how any money a hockey team or league brings in ISN’T “hockey related revenue”, but that’s probably why I don’t own a team.
It’s also unclear how this will affect the owners’ pathetic attempts to crawl out from under their own stupidity: what happens to all the nutty contracts they’ve handed out over the last few years? Word is, they’ll be paid through deferment, which just means that future players will be subsidizing them. What’s more, the more vulnerable players will almost certainly take that hit- the rookies, the 3rd and 4th liners, the roster-fillers- in other words, all the guys who don’t have the security of multi-year, mutli-million contracts and endorsement deals. That’s untenable, too.
Still; the players are holding together well, and seem to have at least enough public support on their side that they’re not operating from a position of weakness. If they take this deal- or something close to it- in the name of getting on the ice for 82 games, I can accept that. But if they don’t, well, I see why they wouldn’t.
A lot more to unpack from the owners’ proposal, and the lockout in general. I hope to do some more on it soon, but as the election approached, my posting schedule will be even more erratic than usual. Tuck your pants inside your shoes, and we’ll get through this together.
4:10- After some computer issues, we’re ready to go! After last year, I couldn’t be more excited.
4:14- Matt Holliday walks, but otherwise, the Cardinals prove useless in the top of the first. OTOH, people actually went to Turner Field! Good for them.
4:16- I love this “boring” credit card commercial. “Who’s boring now?” Dude, you looked at a picture, took a cooking class, and went to a concert. Still you, guy.
4:17- OTOH, whotta bitch to just be all like, “Boring guy, you’e just boring. Boring. Boring.” Humans don’t talk like that. She shoulda had food in her mouth while she said it.
4:19- Watching the Braves on TBS feels like being in the enemy camp. Because Tyler Perry and Big Bang Theory reruns are my mortal enemies.
4:32- Chipper Jones hit .287 this year. At seventy-eleven years old.
4:34- It took me like, half an hour to figure out how to upload the picture at the top, because I am a dumb. But I regret nothing. LOOK HOW DOUCHEY LOSHE LOOKS! LOOK INTO THE SPRAWLING MAW OF THE FINAL DOUCHE!
4:39- The entire Braves line-up looks like they spend the off season fighting Wolverine in a Canadien forrest.
4:41- The ump tenderly kisses Ross on the forehead, says, “Don’t worry, I’ll never let a strike hurt you.” Bring back the union refs!
4:42- The tomahawk chop roughly translates to: “We can’t even wipe our asses without the ump’s help.”
4:43- Although some scholars contend that it’s closer to: “This is INCREDIBLY racist, but fuck it, you guys let Sherman burn our city to the fucking ground.”
4:45- Man, the things I could do with 4 stikes. The novels I could write. The diseases I could cure.
4:46- But alas, I am but one man, with only three strikes. Unloved by the inbred gods we call “umpires”.
4:47- Weird that it took me 35 minutes before I did my first inbred joke about a game played in Atlanta.
4:49- All of these stories about Garcia and Cox- how they consult on roster moves, how Garcia essentially left all of Cox’ stuff up in his office- are kind of fucked up. If you’ve got a shadow manager like that- and if he’s damn near the face of the franchise- it wouldn’t take much clubhouse discord to have a real crisis of authority on your hands.
4:53- Jesus, Jimmy Fallon. What life choices led you to this point?
5:07- Apparently, the Braves feel bad about the phantom strike on Ross, and they botch a double play. Runners at first and third, no outs, and Allen Me, the clutchiest Cardinal hitter, is up.
5:08- Fuck you, clutch is totally a thing when it comes to Allen Me. Numbers are bullshit. Just ask Republicans about today’s job report.
5:09- Allen Me bounces one off the wall. Beltran scores, and the game is 2-1. No outs, runners on second and third.
5:12- Alright, so, that happened. 3-2 Cardinals, off of some situational hitting from the heart of the order.
5:20- Jesus, are we really doing the chop for a successful bunt? YOU’RE CHEAPENING THE FUNDAMENTALLY RACIST AND DOUCHEY SIGNATURE OF YOU FRANCHISE!
5:21- Wow. There’s a lot of “WTF” that just happened. Let’s break this down.
5:22- First, Simmons, the #8 hitter, bunts with runners on first and third. WHO THE FUCK DOES THAT? “Oh, hey, let’s set up the pitcher for a two out at bat. THEY’LL NEVER SEE IT COMING.”
5:23- So, Simmons gets the bunt down because GRINDERBALL, Loshe scoops it up, throws to first…and it bounces off of Simmons’ helmet. Don’t worry: he’s okay. Or at least, no dumber than he was when he decided to bunt with the pitcher behind him.
5:24- So, the ball goes off his noggin and it looks like all hell is breaking lose! EVERY RUNNER IS SCORING! FANS ARE BEING WAVED ONTO THE FIELD TO SCORE FOR THEMSELVES! There’s more scoring than at your mom’s house on Easter Sunday!
5:25- Except that the umpires notice- UN MOMENTO!- that Simmons was in fair territory when he went all Alex Morgan on the baseball. THAT’S RUNNER INTERFERENCE! CANCEL CHRISTMAS!
5:27- So, Simmons is OUT! The runners are returned to their bags! The score doesn’t change! It’s like the end of a Doctor Who episode- EVERYTHING’S BACK HOW IT STARTED, EXCEPT THE DALEKS ARE DEAD.
5:28- And then, the Cardinals strike out the pitcher, as one does. Bottom line: 3-2 Cardinals, and Simmons is a Dalek. EXTERMINATE.
5:37- BTW, It needs to be said- If Chris Carpenter had been on the mound for Simmons’ bunt, he would have been AIMING at Simmons’ head. Just ‘cause.
5:44- Matt Holliday crushes an inside pitch. 4-2 Cardinals. Colby dares to hope once more.
5:53- Now, they’re chopping as Matheney goes to the bullpen. Listen, I’d understand if they’d actually chased Loshe. But he just got an out, and is holding on to a 4-2 lead. Maybe save the chop for when it’s actually in response to a thing?
5:54- Then again, I suppose that would depend on the people in the stadium knowing anything about the Braves BESIDES the stupid chop.
5:56- Lance Lynn- usually a starter- comes in in relief. IT’S LIKE TONY LARUSSA NEVER LEFT!
6:03- Jesus, Scarlet O’Hara could play better defense than the Braves are tonight.
6:04- Medlen leaves the game, and the Braves fans give him a standing O. At least it’s not a chop, but…really? You’re down 4-2, and about half of that is errors from the deps behind Medlen, but Holliday’s Homer and Craig’s double were all Medlen. Not saying he’s been the problem here, but he’s not been standing O-level good, either.
6:06- JIMMY CARTER! TED TURNER! ALL THE STARS IN ATLANTA’S SKY HAVE COME OUT TONIGHT TO WAIT FOR DEATH’S SWEET EMBRACE!
6:09- Jesus, did Uggla drool all over the ball or something?
6:18- The Turner Field is playing “Thank God I’m a Country Boy”. FACT CHECK: over 400,000 people live in Atlanta.
6:20- Edward Mujica looks like the contestant on Top Chef who specializes in fusion cuisine, but doesn’t want to be known as the guy who cooks Mexican food.
6:22- In this seventh inning, TBS’ broadcast crew is talking about bridges more than a Congressional infrastructure inquiry.
6:24- THIS is actually an appropriate time for the chop. Not because of Costanza’s hit, but because all Native Americans are watching their local news right now.
6:25- Did I just indicate that it’s okay to be racist so long as no one’s looking?
6:27- CORRECTION: It was CoNstanza that hit, not Jason Alexander’s character from Seinfeld. My apologies, I always get those two confused.
6:32- Let Chipper Jones’ failure be a lesson to you: old people can’t get shit done. It’s a hip hop world, keep up or get out tha way.
6:40- I also love this Arby’s commercial with the retired detective. What a good use of his time. I SEE HOW HE MADE DETECTIVE. Also, the blurring out thing ain’t fooling anyone. We all know he’s talking about Wendy’s.
6:42- Mitchell Boggs looks like one of the thugs working for a super villain who woulda fought Swamp Thing in the ’80s.
6:46- The Cardinals’ “bridge” relievers are looking about like a Minnesota expressway right now.
6:47- Yup. Way too soon. But we went there together, and that’s important.
6:51- Oh, you assholes.
6:53- Kozma and Holliday got their wires crossed, and let a ball drop in shallow left field (but not THAT shallow). And an ump called…the infield fly rule. That’s pretty well bullshit.
6:54- Atlanta fans are throwing shit- a lot of shit- on to the field. The TBS crew is getting all paternalistic on them, and yeah, I grok that, but seriously, Sam Holbrooke’s call was horseshit. I couldn’t blame them for even thinking Holbrooke is on the take.
6:55- Well, we’ve got ourselves an #umpshow, folks.
6:56- Question for the room: does this get us closer to instant replay? This play actually wouldn’t be reviewable (At least not yet), but a major umpire fuck up in the MLB’s newest, most favorite-est toy? This seems like a significant embarrassment, which usually leads directly to change (See: NFL, Referee lockout).
6:57- If it does change things, I’m sure glad my Redbirds could be a part of it!
6:58- The players have been sent to the dugouts because of the debris. The umpires are conferring in the middle of the field, but it looks more like they’re just staying away from the fans rather than actually talking about changing their minds.
7:00- Tom Verducci is explaining a couple of the finer points of the infield fly rule and the exact nature of the Braves’ dispute. The Braves are right, but speaking as an attorney, OH GOD SHUT UP I JUST SPENT THE ENTIRE DAMN WEEK DOING THIS SHIT.
7:01- Despite all the chaos, Lance Berkman is still sauntering around the dugout with a shit-eating smirk on his face. Because Honey Puma don’t give a shit.
7:03- The TBS crew is still chastising Braves fans. Again, it’d be better if they were more mature, but I really completely understand the frustration. Maybe we can try to fix how the game is called before we tell the fans how to be fans?
7:04- Fredi Gonzalez has officially put the game under “protest”, which I’ve never even heard of. The ump looks up at the official scorer and performs the Expecto Patronus spell or something, who the hell knows.
7:07- “Folks in Atlanta haven’t been this angry at boys in blue since Sherman burned the city for its insolence.” -Friend of the Blog Jeremy.
7:11- After 18 minutes of delay, we’re back to- nope, another TO, as Braves fans have thrown another half-empty beer can.
7:13- It’d be pretty hilarious if, after all that, Jason Motte walks the bases loaded anyway.
7:14- So, is the story that Kozma heard the ump’s late call on the infield fly thing, and that’s why he bugged off?
7:15- Huh. Turns out I’m not laughing, after all.
7:16- Jesus, Motte, buddy, whattup here?
7:17- Motte K’s Boune, ensuring that Atlanta will burn again tonight.
7:19- Jeremy: So if the Cards lose, does Jason Motte return to his job of touring with Bon Iver?
7:25- At the same time: The Braves DID end up with the bases loaded, with their leadoff man at the plate. Granted, with one less out than before, but still- at some point, the Braves have to take responsibility for not delivering. Besides, they were down three before the whole mishegoss started…
7:34- Breathe, Colby, breathe…
7:35- The first base ump gave Chipper a nice retirement present, but I prefer the gold watch- classic, understated, a real conversation piece.
7:36- Aaaaaaaaaand EXHALE.
7:37- Holy shit, this single game shows how fundamentally and completely flawed this one-game wild card thing is.
7:53- Ahhhhh ha ha ha ha ha.
7:54- Okay Cardinals fans- any landing you can walk away from, right?
I say this all the time, but it must be frustrating to be a Chicago Cubs fan. This week, we learned that Joe Ricketts, patriarch of the family that owns the Cubbies*, has formed a $10 million superPAC to go after President Obama. Now, the Cubs are one of the most noted teams in baseball. I would say they have a national fanbase, or at least a far-flung one. But still: this is the Chicago Cubs. Most of the folks in the bleachers probably don’t have much interest in supporting an anti-Obama ad campaign. Nonetheless, they have to worry about the money they spend on tickets, beer, and jerseys going to just such an effort. And this is on top of the Ricketts’ insulting attempt to game the Illinois amusement tax to fund their ballpark while cutting commercials railing against wasteful public spending. Baseball fans on the north side of Chicago- a very progressive place- have to deal with a reactionary ideologue.
*-It’s worth noting that Joe does not appear to be involved in the day-to-day operations of the Cubs, and that the family as a whole, not Joe as an individual, owns the controlling stake. But, since the family as a whole has that money because of Joe’s success with TD Ameritrade, I think we may be splitting hairs.
That would be a lot easier, of course, if the Ricketts were putting a winning team on the field. I’m a Cardinals fan, and Bill DeWitt spent 8 years rewarding every hateful, war-mongering idea that George Bush had with ceremonial first pitches. But because I love Ozzie Smith and Jim Edmonds and the 2011 World Series so much, I can engage in some impressive Doublethink and wear red and white without any reservations. I suppose all- or at least most- sports fans have to engage in such mental gymnastics. Outside of maybe the Rooneys, the Burkes, and the Worker’s Collective in Green Bay, most sports executives and owners are Randian assholes. But if they have winning teams, or at least trying teams, you can forgive that. At least that demonstrates that they respect you as a fan.
The evidence of such respect from the Ricketts is…suspect. There’s the hiring of Theo Epstein, locking up Starlin Castro, and bringing in Anthony Rizzo. Those are big moves, that should not be minimized. But they’re also moves in a long-game, and the Cubs’ front office has been pretty clear that we don’t know if they’re going to pay off until 2014-15 at the earliest. In the meantime, we have the Ricketts’ squabbling with rooftop owners and putting up new, gimmicky ads. We have one placeholder manager, and one no-name manager. We have Alfonso Soriano still patrolling left field, if you can somehow convince yourself that what he does out there is anything reminiscent of defense.
That’s not necessarily bad; it’s a mixed record. But if I’m a Chicagoan voting for Obama in November- and if I’m the first, then I’m probably the second- it doesn’t give me a compelling reason to forget about Joe Ricketts’ bullshit and keep spending my money.
And, oh, look- Chicagoans aren’t.
The galling thing about the NHL lockout: it’s the owners’ clumsy, ham-fisted attempt to get themselves a bailout.
Like Wall Street in 2008, the owners have made some piss poor decisions; unjustifiable contracts, untenable markets, PR disasters, and long-term myopia about the media. Now, the owners are claiming poverty and asking the players to accept lower salaries- even though the owners spent most of the summer giving players insane paydays. The owners want more money so that they have enough in their coffers to move on from these bad decisions, and are saying the entire industry can’t hold if they don’t get it.
Sounds awfully familiar, right?
I’m not a “moral hazard” kind of guy. If the players really did have to take a haircut to ensure the viability of the game, I’d say they need to just accept that. But the fact is, hockey is growing; it’s up to a $3.3 billion industry. Now, that’s a testament to the strength of the game, the star power of the players, and the luck of the draw in the Stanley Cup Finals (the NHL is pretty fucking lucky Chicago, Boston, and L.A. are the markets that won the last three Cups), but it’s nonetheless true. Hockey was growing just fine under the current system. The owners are lying- and doing so poorly- when they say otherwise.
A lot more on this later. For now, I’ll point out one thing: a lot of people don’t care about labor struggles when they’re only over pay. They say that if this was really about workers’ rights- safety, free speech, something like that- then a strike or a lockout would be a big deal, but if it’s just people arguing over how much someone gets paid, it needn’t rise to the level that it shuts down the industry.
Well, 1) Tell the owners, as they’re the ones who locked out the players.
and 2) Just compensation is workers’ rights. People are entitled to the fruits of their labors. Now, there’s an awful lot of fruit in the NHL, and a lot of people put the labor into it. I don’t know exactly where to draw the lines. But I do know that we don’t jerseys with the owners’ names on them. We don’t buy tickets for marketing meetings or to see the owner set the year’s payroll. We go to see the players, and the fact that we do is why the NHL has grown into a $3.3 billion industry. So yeah, I think the players are the ones most responsible for that money, and are justified in asking for most of it.
Like I said, I’ll have more to say on this later. But for now, I think it’s worth pointing out that people asking that their work enrich themselves, and not others, is worker’s rights.
The 2012 Summer Paralympics ended last Sunday. You’re forgiven for not knowing that; it’s not like anyone here in the U.S. was watching. It’s not like anyone here could watch; NBC, the exclusive rights-holder, has only planned to air 5 hours of the Games (with 90 minutes airing today). There’s certainly online streaming, but given most people’s experiences streaming the Olympics, I understand if you were weary of that path, as well.
It is, of course, a stone cold shame that U.S. audiences have so little access to the Paralympics. Not because it’s unfair to Paralympians or because it displays a harsh insensitivity to what they go through or even because it disrespects them as athletes. I mean, I guess it does, but there’s all sorts of unfair shit, we gotta move on. No, it’s a shame because some FUCKING AWESOME SHIT happened at the Paralympics!
And I missed all of it!
I think one of the north stars of this blog is that we sports fans should get access to as much sports as possible. We shouldn’t have to miss an awesome game, match, or race because of bullshit blackout rules or rights violations or any other artificial barriers. God knows a camera can’t be at every single event, but if the camera is already there, you might as well give everyone a chance to see what it’s recording. You never know when you’re going to turn someone into a new lifelong fan.
The argument against the Paralympics is that nobody would have watched them, so NBC’s profitability was on the line. And sure, I think profitability might be a natural barrier; I’m not expecting NBC to turn into a charity for enthusiasts of lesser-known sports. But I question if it’s true that the ratings would be all that awful. After all, the primary evidence that they’d be bad is that NBC didn’t air the Games in the first place. But NBC’s record of making good decisions on ratings is, shall we say, a little lacking? On the other hand, I follow a lot of British media, and they were positively gaga over the Paralympics. I don’t think we’re so different from our British cousins that we wouldn’t have at least checked it out for an hour or so.
Besides that, the IOC itself was providing the feeds; NBC would, at most, have to do commentary. Besides that, NBC has a whole sister network devoted to lesser known sports. It could probably play one less fishing tournament to make room for the Paralympics. Besides that, NBC has demonstrated success in taking obscure sports and presenting them in such a way that turns them into ratings bonanzas. I really don’t buy that they couldn’t have made the Paralympics into something with mediocre ratings. I understand that the NBC wasn’t going to show the Paralympics Closing Ceremonies instead of Sunday Night Football. I wouldn’t want it to! But the choice wasn’t just that. There were plenty of times when the choice was between the Paralympics and a rerun of Parks and Recreation, and I think it’s a lot closer of a question as to which of those would draw more viewers (and I say that as someone who ADORES Parks and Rec).
In general, there’s sometimes this feeling that football, baseball, and basketball are the only sports that anyone in the country will really EVER watch, with hockey, soccer, golf and tennis getting in on probation for their biggest events. We assume that, since none of the sports networks really play anything else, there must not really be a market for anything else. But that’s just a twisted version of the Efficient Market Hypothesis. We can call it the Efficient Sports Media Hypothesis. Actually, we can call it whatever we want, because I don’t buy it.
I think interest follows access, just like in Title IX. I don’t think we can trust the same sports media industry that employs Jack Buck and Tim McCarver to really know what sports fans want. I also think much of the sports media has different priorities than sports fans- maximizing profit over maximizing viewers, for one thing. So, to paraphrase Larry Summers’ definitive takedown of the original Efficient Market Hypothesis: THERE ARE IDIOTS. TURN ON ESPN.