1-Man’s Opinion on Sports–Tuesday. “MLB-Union…Fighting Again”

Posted by on January 26th, 2021  •  0 Comments  • 

“The DH-in-NL”

 

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The 2021 season is just around the corner, and the Union and the Commissioners Office are at it again.

The Union insists there be a 162-game schedule despite the raging Covid virus.

The Owners are trying to open the Spring Training camps on time.

And the two sides remain at odds on a lot of different things.  The latest, whether there should be a designated hitter in the National League in 2021, as there was in the pandemic shortened 2020 season.

The Union agreed to use the DH last fall as a way to get 15-more players on major league contracts.  They were given 50M by owners for the players pool, as MLB got a bump in its TV contracts for the expanded wild card weekend.

Now the owners are offering a pay bump from 50M to 80M if the Union will accept the DH on a permanent basis, and also accept a permanent expansion of the playoffs for 14-teams this year going forward.

The Union says “no”.  They don’t think a bump up to 80M a year for the players is enough, consider the owners realized a 1B-bump in TV rights from last fall’s expansion.  They want a bigger slice.

The DH makes the game more exciting, better than having pitchers hit (.128) when they bat for themselves.  But the union wants more money, a much bigger slice of the pie, for its players.

A never ending battle over money, the way of life in baseball right now.

Here’s a closer look at the story, thanks MLB.com

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The Major League Baseball Players Association rejected the league’s most recent proposal to implement a universal designated hitter, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported this morning in a larger, broad-reaching look at the issues facing the two parties. MLB offered up a universal DH and a willingness to rule in favor of two players on a pair of service time grievances, per Rosenthal, but in exchange they sought an agreement on expanded playoffs, the implementation of a pitch clock and a Spring Training trial run with electronic strike zones, among other elements.

The lack of clarity on whether there will be a DH in the National League next season continues to serve as a major impediment for teams and for some free agents alike. Nelson Cruz and Marcell Ozuna, in particular, can’t fully get a grasp on their markets until they know whether the NL will carry a DH. Meanwhile, NL teams are left to build a lineup and a roster without knowing whether they’ll have a spot for an extra hitter.

The MLBPA clearly doesn’t view the addition of a designated hitter in the National League to be as advantageous to its side as the expansion of playoffs is to the league. That’s plenty understandable, given that most clubs no longer employ expensive, dedicated designated hitters and that the expansion of playoff teams would create far more revenue for the league than  for its players.

Rosenthal notes that MLB’s latest offer included an extra $30MM or so to be divided up among players — up from $50MM in 2020’s expanded field — but team-side revenues would increase on a much greater basis. Under the traditional structure (i.e. pre-2020), players’ postseason shares are tied to gate revenue, while teams collect 100 percent of television revenues. Last year, in the absence of fans, players agreed to an expanded, 16-team playoff field that saw $50MM of television revenues divided among players.

From the players’ vantage point, postseason expansion is a double-edged sword. A greater chance to play in October could very well be appealing, but there are likely some who (like many fans) worry about “watering down” the field. Of greater concern is the manner in which postseason expansion could also impact free agency. The league would surely argue that increasing the field will motivate borderline clubs to spend more on the open market, thus making it a win for the players.

However, the opposite effect could also play out as well; if the bar to reach the postseason is lowered, some clubs won’t feel as compelled to spend for an extra couple of wins to push themselves over the top. The margin for error is much greater when nearly half (or even more than half) of the teams in the game qualify for postseason play than it is when only a third of clubs do. That’s especially true when at any given point, there are a handful of teams tanking and actively doing everything they can not to win games.

At the end of the day, there’s a substantial disconnect between the extent to which the league and the union feel the universal DH will benefit players. The MLBPA knows that playoff expansion, and the associated revenues, is a massive bargaining chip to leverage in current talks and in the looming talks for a new CBA. That seems too large a concession to make in exchange for the universal DH — particularly because the commissioner’s office also wants a DH implemented in the National League.

Rob Manfred has continually sought to increase in-game action, and considering the fact that pitchers posted a combined .128/.160/.162 batting line with a 44 percent strikeout rate in 2019, swapping them out for a competent hitter would help with that goal. Of course, many traditionalists abhor the very notion of the designated hitter and are overwhelmingly against its implementation in the National League, but at this point it feels like an inevitability — whether that implementation comes in 2021 or in 2022.

As labor lawyer Eugene Freedman (who recently chatted with MLBTR’s Tim Dierkesabout the CBA) points out on Twitter, the very framing of this scenario as a negotiation is somewhat misleading. The two sides already have an agreement in place in the form of the 2016-21 CBA, and the union is under no obligation to renegotiate that agreement simply because the league is now making a push for an expanded postseason format.

The MLBPA’s latest rejection doesn’t mean that the two sides won’t eventually agree to something, of course. The league is obviously very motivated to expand the upcoming postseason field and grow its postseason revenues, so perhaps they’ll put together a more enticing offer. We saw in 2020 that the two sides are willing to come back to the table at the last minute, as 2020’s expanded postseason format was agreed upon about three hours prior to the first pitch being thrown on Opening Day.

1-Man’s Opinion on Sports-Monday. “NFL Playoffs–Matchups-Mismatches-Big Plays-Big Mistakes”

Posted by on January 25th, 2021  •  0 Comments  • 

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“NFL Playoffs–Matchups-Mismatches”

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1-game lived up to its billing, the other was a disappointment.

1-we expected to get there, the other didn’t.

Now we look towards the Super Bowl and the quarterback matchup, the old guard-vs-new breed.

 

Sunday was a day to step away from everything else in life and just watch the NFL.  The matchups provided excited..the mismatches were everywhere.

TAMPA BAY-GREEN BAY:

Huge setback for Aaron Rodgers losing this game..this showdown with Tom Brady.  It was more on the Packers coaching than it was their quarterback.  Coach Matt LaFleur kicking a field goal on a 4th down at the 8-yard line, never getting the ball back with 3-minutes to go.  But up till then, this was wild, vintage football between two very good teams.

The matchups of WRs-vs-CBs.  QBs dealing with a fierce pass rush.  RBs’ hitting holes and gashing defenses.  Long drives, big catches, big runs.  Sacks and pressures and dropped passes.  Both teams in attack mode.

Brady-Rodgers put on a show.  The secondaries suffered badly in the game.

The Bucs bracketed star receiver Davantae Adams almost out of the game.

The Packers picked off 3-Brady passes and almost came all the way back to win.

But in this game, the wrong calls killed Green Bay.  How the Packers would not provide safety help deep at the end of the first half and allow a 39Y-TD pass with (:01) left was a killer.   So was the 4th down call not to try and score a TD with 3-minutes left in the game.

Tampa Bay earned this trip to the Super Bowl, winning 3-road games in the playoffs.  Green Bay goes home disappointed after a likely MVP season from its quarterback.

It was as good as it could have been scripted.  Too bad someone had to lose, and it was the Packers in Lambeau Field

KANSAS CITY-BUFFALO

There was just too much of everything for the Bills to handle and so the Chiefs are going back to the Super Bowl.

Too much pass rush on Josh Allen, the Bills brilliant young QB.  Too much Travis Kelce-Tyreek Hill, a combined 22-receptions for KC.

Too much Patrick Mahomes, spraying the football all over the field.

Too much KC defense, keeping Buffalo out of the end zone, ending drives at the 4…the 9…and an interception at the 12.

Too many cheapshot penalties late in the game as emotions ran raw, when the Chiefs knew they were going to the Big Show and the Bills were going home.

It was pretty lopsided pretty much of the night at Arrowhead Stadium, but KC just showed how dynamic-diverse they really are.

So we head to the Super Bowl with Brady and Mahomes squaring off.  Firepower and firebrands on the roster.  It will be a fun game for sure.

Brady trying for his 7th ring.  Mahomes looking to his 2nd.  Andy Reid cementing his legacy as a coach.

In a season spent avoiding Covid outbreaks, the NFL has gotten us to the Big Game.  In a year of our life devastated by the virus, we had 6-hours of football to try and give us some normalcy.

The NFL gave us an interesting Sunday.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming, our lives in crisis.

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1-Man’s Opinion on Sports-Friday. “PAC-12 Conference–Crisis & Crossroads”

Posted by on January 22nd, 2021  •  0 Comments  • 

 

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“Pac 12 Conference–There Will Be Blood”

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The Pac 12-Conference, the so-called conference of champions, or so says all the promos you could see on their TV telecasts, if you could see their games.

I can see more games on my TV from the home of my Alma Mater (Ohio University), via the Mid American Conference, than I can of USC-UCLA-Oregon-Washington, places where I did play-by-play.  I get that ESPN package on my flat-screen TV.

Hell I can see more games involving Wyoming, Boise State, San Diego State from the Mountain West Conference right next door thanks to the CBS Sports Network via Direct TV.

I can see the Westminster Dog Show and Manchester City-vs-Manchester United soccer and Formula 1-racing because there is NBC Sports Network.

But the old Civil War (Oregon-Oregon State)…the Apple Cup (Washington-Washington State)..the Centennial Cup (Arizona State-Arizona)..very doubtful.  I love the history of this conference.  Love the beauty of the campuses.  Love the dynamics of alot of quality coaches.  I love the logos and the colors.

The man who took over the Pac 12, and took it from a town-and-gown operation, the man who created the Pac 12-Network, the man who has guided his conference to last place in the Media rights business deals, is leaving.

Larry Scott has been ousted as Commissioner of the Pac 12-Network.  The league is in ruin.  It is no longer viewed as a truce National power in football and basketball.  It’s per school revenue share TV payments ,(31M) a year via the network, are at the  bottom of the standings compared to the SEC (51M) per school annually.  It pales in comparison to what Texas or even Wake Forest gets.

Larry Scott, for all his bluster, bombast, and creative license, never got the Pac 12 Network any clearance on Direct TV.  You have to pay to see those games, and not many want to subscribe to even more things.  Instead of the push to get Texas and Oklahoma into the conference, he would up with small market-reputation Utah and Colorado.

 

The pandemic has devastated the league financially, and he had no answers just platitudes and maybe more promises.

I love watching my Ohio Bobcats-vs-Miami Redhawks in the “Battle of the Bricks”.  I can see that, but I cannot see the Ducks-vs-Beavers, Huskies vs Cougars, or other Pac 12 teams that carry the West Coast Flag.

A new day is coming for college athletics, with new leadership in the Pac 12.  The “Conference of Champions” deserves better than what it has had from a leader.

Some 24-hours we have had, getting rid of a bad President, and now a bad Commissioner.

Bills came due.  There had to be an accounting for all the bad decisions made.

To steal the title of the movie we saw…”There Will Be Blood” and there was, in Washington, DC and on the West Coast in college athletics.

A new day dawns without Larry Scott as Pac 12-Commissioner.

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1-Man’s Opinion on Sports-Thursday. “Chargers Great Says Good Bye–Fond Farewell”

Posted by on January 21st, 2021  •  0 Comments  • 

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“Fond Farwell-Philip Rivers”

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Dadgummit.

He’s retired.

He, being legendary quarterback Philip Rivers, who has decided to move on to the next chapter of his life.

A week after his Colts playoff game with Buffalo, he has elected to walk away from the NFL.

Where do you start when discussing a 17-year carrer?

..The hyper-active audible playcalls at the line of scrimage.
..The touchdown passes to Antonio Gates
..The runs-the passes to Ladainian Tomlinson
..The fist bumps with teammates coming off the field after a scoring drive
..The distinctive side arm delivery
..The lifetime bond with his center Nick Hardwick
..The deep TD bombs to Vincent Jackson
..The slants and go to Keenan Allen
..The dump and runs to Danny Woodhead-Austin Ekeler
..The yapping with Broncos QB-Jay Cutler
..The wins at Arrowhead Stadium or at Mile High Stadium
..The war of words with Raiders fans in the Black Hole
..His love of gameday…any time..any place.

The Rivers era ends with pages and pages of statistics.

He leaves the NFL having started 240-games in a row..second only to Brett Favre
He finishes with a (134-106) record and a (5-7) playoff record
He winds up with (63,440Y) passing and 421-TDs…fifth in NHL history
He took (464) sacks..threw (224) interceptions…had a career (95) QB rating

He had just 2-major injuries in 17-years, 16-with the Chargers, a torn knee ligament and a toe injury

He was loud-proud, and stand up guy in the pocket and a stand up guy with the media.

He was beloved by his coaches Marty Schottenheimer, Norv Turner and even Mike McCoy.

A devout Christian, he and Tiffany have 9-children.
His most famous vacation, taking his family to the Vatican to meet the Pope.

He was durable, dynamic, an amazing team leader.

And he was ours in San Diego for almost his entire career.

His calling card: Faith-Family-Football-Friends.

A great QB…a greater person.

I read his farewell note…and all I could say was ‘Dadgummit’.

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“Every year, January 20th is a special and emotional day,” Rivers said. “It is St. Sebastian’s Feast day, the day I played in the AFC Championship without an ACL, and now the day that after 17 seasons, I’m announcing my retirement from the National Football League. Thank you God for allowing me to live out my childhood dream of playing quarterback in the NFL.

“I am grateful to the Chargers for 16 seasons, and the Colts for the 17th season.

“Thank you to all my coaches that helped me grow as a player and person.

“Thanks to the support staff.

“I appreciate the opposing defenses making it challenging physically and mentally every week . . . I also enjoyed the banter.

“I appreciate the referees for putting up with all my fussing. I think I was right most of the time dadgummit!

“Thanks to the fans in San Diego and around the nation that both cheered and booed.

“Special thanks to my teammates. Without a doubt my favorite part of the game, being a teammate. Thank you for being mine.

“Lastly, thank you to my wife and best friend Tiffany, and our children Halle, Caroline, Grace, Gunner, Sarah, Peter, Rebecca, Clare, and Anna. Could not have don’t it without y’all’s unwavering support.

“As my playing career comes to an end, the next chapter begins.”

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1-Man’s Opinion on Sports–Wednesday. “NFL Coaching Hires-What’s Wrong–Rooney Rule or Owners”

Posted by on January 20th, 2021  •  0 Comments  • 

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“NFL Coaching Hires–What’s Wrong–Rooney Rule or NFL Owners”

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The NFL has a problem…not a Covid problem…surely not a money problem…definitely not a popularity problem.

But it has an image problem of the “Good Old White Boys Club”…hiring white coaches, ignoring black head coaches.

7-openings this off season…5-jobs filled…2-left…0-African Americans hired yet.

This comes on the heels of last years hiring-firing season with almost the same results.

There are 32-head coaching jobs in the NFL.  There are 2-black head coaches, 1-Hispanic coach, 2-Muslim coach.

The outrage spilling over from the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which helps in the delivery of minority candidates to NFL owners, is strong this year.

Here’s a close up look at the emotion swirling around this year’s hiring cycle..courtesy of the website ‘Undefeated’

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Nearing the close of another hiring cycle, NFL owners have failed again.

In a period in which there were initially seven openings for head coaches and now has only two vacancies remaining, no Black coaches have been tabbed to fill any yet. In most categories, going 0 for 5 is an awful look. This one qualifies.

For proponents of inclusive hiring throughout the league, the lack of progress would be concerning during any cycle. That it has occurred following the previous three cycles, however, is downright alarming for the game’s Black assistant coaches, several told The Undefeated in recent interviews. During the previous cycles, there were 20 openings for head coaches. Only one coach of color was hired in each cycle — and one Black coach total.

As of the publication of this column, the Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles had not officially completed their coaching searches. Perhaps a fourth-quarter comeback of sorts will occur, enabling the league to claim a net gain in its number of Black head coaches (at the start of the process, the total stood at only one — Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers; Brian Flores of the Miami Dolphins is Afro-Latino and Ron Rivera of the Washington Football Team is Latino). Of course, even having two or three Black head coaches in a league with 32 teams isn’t exactly something to thump one’s chest about.

Some will point to the hiring of Robert Saleh, the first Muslim head coach in NFL history, by the New York Jets as a sign of progress on the coaching front. Make no mistake, that move is noteworthy. But let’s be real: The NFL has never been Blacker.

The league’s on-field workforce is more than 70% Black. Of the 32 players selected in the first round of the 2020 draft, 29 are Black. Black quarterbacks now set the league’s agenda, and the best among them, Kansas City Chiefs wunderkind Patrick Mahomes, is the new face of the NFL. With that backdrop, the NFL is sending a horrible message to its Black assistant coaches.

And don’t count on both the Texans and Eagles to turn to Black assistants to lead their teams. It’s more likely that Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid would punt on fourth down late in a game while running out the clock to complete a victory is within his reach.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (left) talks to Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy (right) after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter of Super Bowl LIV on Feb. 2, 2020, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

RICH GRAESSLE/PPI/ICON SPORTSWIRE VIA GETTY IMAGES

Commissioner Roger Goodell and his top lieutenants had hoped for better — far better — after high-ranking officials from the league office and the Fritz Pollard Alliance, the independent group that advises the NFL on matters of diversity, intensified their efforts around hiring during the offseason. Their belief was that by incentivizing inclusion and focusing on policies that would potentially accelerate the ability of candidates to move through the pipeline, positive change would manifest in improvement as soon as this cycle. So much for that.

What has occurred since the end of the regular season is yet another painful reminder, coaches say, that the league office can only do so much. The NFL’s hiring problem, at its core, is at the ownership level. And it’s as glaring as ever.

What’s most galling to Black coaches is the clear double standard present in the hiring process. While white assistants with little experience as coordinators or even position coaches are fast-tracked for the top-rung jobs, top-notch Black assistants often toil for years waiting for opportunities that never come, regardless of their role in contributing to an organization’s overall success. For Black assistants, the curious case of Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is just about becoming a cautionary tale.

With their victory over the Cleveland Browns in the AFC divisional round Sunday, the Chiefs will become the first AFC team to host three consecutive AFC title games. For that entire period, Bieniemy has been the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator. Furthermore, Mahomes, who swears by Bieniemy, is 24-1 in his last 25 starts, including a Super Bowl victory. The Chiefs’ success overall and that individually of the team’s young superstar signal-caller should be a launching pad for Bieniemy to run his own shop. Bieniemy is still waiting for it to happen.

Meanwhile, after only one season as a defensive coordinator with the Los Angeles Rams, Brandon Staley has been hired to take over the Los Angeles Chargers. Staley becomes a head coach not even four years after being hired for his first NFL coaching gig. Until this season, he coached outside linebackers. Granted, the Rams thrived under Staley this season, leading the NFL in many categories. But here’s the thing: Bieniemy has been doing it big with the Chiefs for several years.

Then there’s the Detroit Lions’ coaching vacancy.

Reportedly, the Lions are expected to hire New Orleans Saints tight ends coach Dan Campbell, who has never been a coordinator in the NFL. Could Staley and Campbell wind up being successful with the Chargers and Lions, respectively? Absolutely. What their ascent reinforces, though, is the existence of the same double standard on display recently during the sacking of the U.S. Capitol by a crowd of mostly white rioters. The bar is still set much higher for Black assistants.

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Some have suggested that Bieniemy isn’t viewed favorably by owners because Reid handles the Chiefs’ primary play-calling duties, that somehow the play-calling role is all that matters in determining whether a prospective head coach will succeed.

Putting aside that wrongheaded thinking for a moment, you know who also had largely the same working relationship with Reid while they served under him on offense with the Chiefs? Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy and former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson. Given the opportunities Nagy, Pederson and other white non-primary play-callers have received, the whole play-calling narrative, with regard to Bieniemy’s lack of advancement, simply doesn’t hold water.

Play-calling has become a lot like those illegal Jim Crow-era voting “tests” Black people endured, such as having to guess how many jelly beans were in a jar. It’s just something used to exclude Black assistants from the hiring process.

Another common criticism of Black assistants, albeit one that may be made up of whole cloth, is that they do not interview well. Impressing owners, especially during the initial get-to-know-you sessions, is key in advancing in the process. Besides laying out an X’s-and-O’s vision for success, many owners want coaches who seem capable of inspiring players. Supposedly, another knock on Bieniemy is that he doesn’t command the room.

Look, short of Bieniemy rapping all of his answers to questions, there’s no way he could interview so poorly, relative to his role in the Chiefs’ spectacular success, to still be shut out. It just doesn’t add up.

The other whispers around Bieniemy concern incidents that occurred during his playing days and time as a young coach, though nothing that has been publicly revealed in the past 20 years. By all accounts, Bieniemy has set a positive example while delivering daily for the Chiefs.

The Jacksonville Jaguars hired Urban Meyer, who hasn’t proven anything in the NFL, despite the fact that while coaching at Ohio State, he reportedly knew about spousal abuse allegations against assistant coach Zach Smith before Smith was fired. The school suspended Meyer for three games after an independent investigation determined he failed to uphold the values of the university. None of that stopped Meyer from getting an opportunity at football’s highest level. Or is it that only Black coaches are disqualified because of issues in their past?

The thought process about Black assistants, generally, is warped. In many respects, it’s the same type of flawed, outdated outlook that resulted in Mitch Trubisky being selected ahead of Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in the 2017 draft. What’s most harmful, it has stymied the careers of many Black coaches.

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace saw himself in Trubisky. Does that mean Pace is a virulent racist? Of course not. Often, people in decision-making lean on their life experiences. Their frame of reference sometimes plays an outsize role in planning. It just so happens that the overwhelming majority of high-level decision-makers in the NFL are white men. There’s no sugarcoating where things stand, and there are no signs of improvement on the horizon.

When it comes to hiring coaches, NFL owners couldn’t make their feelings more clear. All that’s needed now is to hang the sign: Black men need not apply.”NF