Let me get two “breaking news” items out of the way first…
- Tom Brady confirms that he is indeed retiring. Lost in all the accolades and retrospectives on his career is a vote of thanks we owe to him that he did not announce his retirement a year before making it happen thereby exposing the world to a Farewell Tour. Thanks – and Godspeed – Tom Brady. BTW, please save the date 5 years from now when you will need to be in Canton, OH to don the coveted – – yet ugly – – yellow blazer they put on Hall of Fame inductees…
- The Washington Football Team characterizes its name change as a “reintroduction” of the franchise. Cutting through the argle-bargle, the new name will be the Washington Commanders. After two years of “process”, that is the new name; try to contain your exuberance…
Yesterday afternoon, I found an email in my inbox from “the reader in Houston”. Since I did not recall writing about anything related to “sports history” yesterday, I wondered what tidbit he was adding to yesterday’s rant. Rather than adding to or correcting a historical comment, he simply quoted the opening line from yesterday and added to it:
“’I do not recall how or why I began a string of searches on Spotrac.com’
Perhaps you were looking to see how much NBA salary money was being lost by players missing games either by injury, rest, or for personal reasons, just like you did for MLB. The NBA may surpass the 2021 MLB figures.
This is not the reason I went looking – – but it was enough of a tease to send me back to Spotrac.com to see what “the reader in Houston” meant. As is always the case, he is onto something there.
- For the 2021 MLB season, teams paid out $$871,443,647 to 852 players who missed a total of 48,029 games due to placement on the Injured List. I believe my observation at the time was something like, “That’s a lot of cheese…”
- For the NBA season to date, there are similar staggering numbers. Spotrac.com makes a distinction in the case of the NBA that was not present in their MLB compilation; there are three lists; one is for players who are injured another is for players who do not play so they can “rest” and the third is for players who have missed games for “personal reasons”.
- For games missed due to injury, 464 players have missed 4,631 games and have received $568,370,291 in salary. The NBA regular season is about 65% over so that salary number projects to be about $874M.
- For games missed due to “resting”, 25 players have missed a total of 50 games and earned $4,010,706 while “resting”. If that keeps on the same pace, that money projection is another $6.2M.
- For the “personal” list, 27 players have missed 274 games while earning $81,809,966. That figure projects to be $126M at season’s end.
So, the total amount of money paid to NBA players while not playing so far this year is $654,190,963. Using a crude linear extrapolation, the end of the regular season will see that total rise to $1.0B. Indeed, it looks as if the NBA teams will pay out more than the MLB teams did last year to non-performing players.
And this brings to mind LeBron James’ comment from several years ago equating the NBA owners’ behaviors with people who have a “slave mentality”. I have exactly no credentials as a historian, but I do not recall ever reading or hearing about any slaveholders – here in the US or anywhere else in the world – paying out a total of $1.0B to their slaves for not working. Moreover, LeBron James has utilized the tool of “free agency” to take his talents to various cities at his own choosing. There is certainly nothing wrong with that – – but if the owners had a real “slave mentality”, the concept of “free agency” would not exist.
Lest someone accuse me of taking LeBron’s words out of context, here is what he said on his HBO program, The Shop:
“In the NFL they got a bunch of old white men owning teams and they got that slave mentality. And it’s like this is my team you do what the “bleep” I tell y’all to do. Or we get rid of y’all…”
And just to close out that issue, let me observe that Michael Jordan as the owner of the Charlotte Hornets was probably surprised to learn that he is an “old white man”…
Moving on … As you get ready to watch or read about the winter Games that are ready to roll in Beijing, look carefully at all the snow on the ski slopes. It is beautiful and it is unnatural. There is almost no snow that has fallen from the sky around Beijing this year; almost every flake of snow you see is artificially created and deposited on the slopes. Basically, that is snow created from liquid water that is “frozen” in what amounts to giant refrigerators and then blown into the air by giant fans so it can fall to the ground where needed. That process has been ongoing for months.
I cannot wait until someone decides to calculate the carbon footprint for all that artificial snow. Let the handwringing begin.
Finally, speed skating is an event in the Winter games. So, let close today with a comment from Brad Rock who is now retired from the Deseret News. I have had this one on my clipboard for some time now:
“The world short track speed skating champion has been banned a year for pantsing a teammate.
“Lim Hyo-Jun pulled the prank on a younger skater in front of other South Korean athletes, violating sexual harassment rules.
“So now you know. No matter how high you go in sports, you’re never far from your junior high gym class.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………