Greetings From Across The Pond…

It is Tax Day in the US; how nice to be in Ireland where it is easy to avoid the annual local TV “news” reports relating the people racing to file their taxes by midnite local time.  Why the stations think this is news every year is beyond me; why they glorify those mouth breathers is also beyond me.  Over here in Dublin, it is just a normal day; windy, chilly, cloudy with occasional drizzle.  The Irish TV stations do not make a big deal of such normalcy…

Two major losing streaks came to an end over the weekend:

  1. Orioles’ first baseman, Chris Davis, got his first hit of the season snapping an 0 for 54 hitting debacle that extended back to September 14, 2018.  [That is the longest hitless streak for a position player in baseball history; the previous record was 0 for 46 by Eugenio Velez in 2010-11.]  Actually, Davis went 3 for 5 in Saturday’s game with 4 RBIs which would be a significant day for just about any players let alone one who has gone 0 for 61.  That 3-hit outburst raised Davis’ average for the season to all of .079.  Unfortunately, Davis reverted to form on Sunday and went 0 for 4.
  2. Tiger Woods won The Masters meaning that he won a major tournament for the first time in a decade.  This is obviously great news for Tiger Woods, but it is far better news for the people who write about golf.  For the last 5 years or so, they were constrained to write about how Woods was working hard to regain his glorious game and the obstacles he still had to overcome to regain his glory.  Those were glorification pieces – – but they are nothing compared to the paeans of praise that can now be written.  If you think I am exaggerating, please try to get through this recounting of Woods’ victory at Augusta from CBSSports.com.

https://www.cbssports.com/golf/news/tiger-woods-returns-to-glory-harkening-emotions-of-the-past-in-genius-performance-at-2019-masters/

According to reports at NBCSports.com, the NFLPA and some of the NFL owners met in Minneapolis about a week ago to discuss how to proceed with negotiations for a new CBA.  If you recall the level of rancor that was in evidence about 18 months ago when the “national anthem controversy” was at its apogee, the fact that the two sides even found one another’s phone number is significant.  Recall that the players’ executive committee was advising players to set aside money to be used as individual strike funds because the common wisdom was that a strike was inevitable.

I would like to think that there has been an injection of sanity received on both sides of the negotiating table.  The underlying fact here is that the NFL and the NFLPA are partners in the production of a television extravaganza that fuels the input of $15B per year in revenue.  The two partners need to negotiate the conundrum of how that $15B should be shared; if sanity and rationality are permitted to be in the room when the bargaining occurs, that process will be much simpler than negotiating Middle East peace.

The players probably want some or all of these points:

  • They would like more of the gross revenue dollars to show up in the revenue pool that creates the salary cap.
  • They would like a slightly larger percentage of whatever that salary cap pool might be.
  • They would probably like to get rid of – or at least significantly modify – the rules governing the franchise tag.
  • They probably want a change in the Commissioner’s absolute authority in discipline cases.
  • They hate Thursday Night games; this will be a dilemma for the players.

The owners want some or all of these points:

  • They want some of the revenue stream to come off the top to go into the NFL stadium construction fund which has been seriously depleted in recent years.
  • They want the Commissioner to remain as the disciplinarian because it takes the heat off the owners in those situations.
  • They want as much of the revenue stream to wind up in their pockets as i9s possible.

For all the anger and vitriol that came from the players and the NFLPA during the “anthem controversy”, the players have done well under the current CBA which has been in effect since 2011 and will run through 2021.  They negotiated on issues of working conditions – – practice times and off-season schedules – and they have benefited by the inclusion(s) of new rules aimed at player safety.  The way the revenue stream is rising, and the formula employed to calculate the salary cap and the salary floor for each year has led to those numbers going up by about $10M per year in the past several years.

From the owners’ perspective, this CBA has been kind to them; they are in a situation where it is virtually impossible for an owner to lose money in a given year no matter how bad their team may be or how rebellious their fanbase may be.

Here are the sticking points that I see and how they may be resolved:

  1. Thursday Night Football:  Looking at the TV deal, this adds – by my calculation – between $8M and $10M to the salary cap revenue pool each year.  The owners love that; the players need to decide if they want to get rid of Thursday Night Football badly enough to drop the salary cap by that amount.  I think the answer lies in scheduling changes that will allow Thursday night teams to have bye weeks the week before their appearances there ridding the teams of 3-day turnarounds between games.
  2. The Commissioner as judge, jury and executioner in disciplinary matters:  I wrote about the resolution of this problem on September 10, 2014 wherein the league and the union jointly fund a disciplinary body to handle these matters.  You can find that rant in the archives on the side roll of the website; the headline for that rant is The Disciplinarian.
  3. The Franchise Tag:  I suspect that this issue will get little change because the owners seem to like it the way it is, and the players are not likely to give up much to get it changed because it does not affect more than a few players per year.  This issue gets a lot more publicity that it merits in terms of the impact on the players as a group.  In a given season, maybe 3 or 4 players have to suffer under the yoke of the franchise tag and the number who have sat out a full year to avoid the franchise tag is vanishingly small.  I can’t see the union lowering their percentage of “the take” by a half a percent in order to rid the world of something that is only odious to a handful of its wealthiest members.  Maybe the contract modification that is more worthwhile for the union to seek to modify is the length and/or the rate of salary increases contained in the so-called “rookie contracts”.

Finally, Dwight Perry had this observation about an ongoing NFL disciplinary matter in the Seattle Times recently:

“Pot-loving Cowboys’ DT David Irving — suspended yet again by the NFL for violating its substance-abuse policy — says he’s quitting football.

“Or is he just blowing more smoke?”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

 

 

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