I have a bunch of things on my clipboard for this morning, but I choose to start with an unusual happening in MLB yesterday. Two pitchers for the Cincinnati Reds combined to throw 8 no-hit innings – – and the Reds lost the game. The score was 0 – 0 in the bottom of the 8th when the Pirates loaded the bases on 3 walks. With one out, the Pirates’ hitter bounced a ball to second base that should have been an inning-ending double play, but the shortstop bobbled the toss from the second baseman and the batter beat the throw to first. That 1-0 score held up in the top of the 9th inning – – so the Reds pitched a no-hitter and lost the game; that does not happen often…
Bad things happen to bad teams and – make no mistake – the 2022 Reds are a bad team. They started the season 3-22 in their first 25 games. That projects to a final record of 19-143 for a season. That is the sort of record that smacks of the 1899 Cleveland Spiders who went 20-134 in MLB’s previous 154-game season.
The Reds have “gotten hot” after that start winning 6 of their last 10 games to post a record of 6-26 as of this morning. For the record, that projects to a season-ending record of 30-132. That is about halfway between the Spiders’ showing in 1899 and the “modern standard for futility” set by the 1962 NY Mets who finished the year at 40-120-1.
Fans in Cincy would be in the right if they got very mad with the team. Last year, the Reds finished over .500; they did not seriously threaten to make the playoffs, but they finished with a better record than 9 of the teams in the National League; in fact, if the playoffs in the NL had been expanded to 6 teams, the Reds would have been the “last team in”. So, what did the Reds do in the off-season?
- They dumped salary; they let free agents walk; they acquired prospects and draft picks.
- Then they put this current squad on the field from day to day.
Recall the problems and issues with game attendance last year for MLB with the COVID pandemic ebbing and flowing. With that in mind, it is not surprising at all that MLB is looking at a surge in attendance at its games in 2022; in fact, as of this morning only one team in all of MLB (the Rangers) shows a decline in home attendance year-over-year. However, the Reds’ year-over-year comparison puts them down in the lower rungs of the MLB ladder along with the perennially attendance challenged teams such as the Marlins, Rays, A’s and Pirates. In 14 home dates, the Reds are averaging 16,899 fans per game.
The Reds’ team president – coincidentally the son of the majority owner of the team – did an interview with one of the Reds’ local “broadcast partners” about the upcoming season and addressed the team’s off-season economic decisions this way:
“Well, where are you going to go? Let’s start there. I mean, sell the team to who? That’s the other thing — you want to have this debate? If you want to look at, what would you do with this team to have it be more profitable, make more money, compete more in the current economic system that this game exists? It would be to pick it up and move it somewhere else. And so be careful what you ask for.”
Cincy is not one of the “big-market teams”; that is for sure. However, that statement could easily sound like noblesse oblige to Reds’ fans thinking about coming out to see the team play on any given Wednesday night. Sounds to me as if he just said that no one is out there looking to buy the team even if it were for sale and then if someone bought it, they would probably want to move it. I think the fans’ response to all that would be along the lines of:
- “ … and the horse you rode in on.”
By the way, Reds’ fans are not the only ones who are “less that pleased” with the ownership/management of their local heroes. A couple of years ago, more than 50,000 Pirates’ fans signed a petition urging the current owner there – Robert Nutting – to sell the team. Through the first 18 home dates, the Pirates drew and average of only 11,851 fans to what I believe is the best baseball venue in MLB. [Disclaimer: I have not been to all 30 of the current MLB parks but I have been to more of them than not.]
Moving on… reports surfaced over the weekend that there could be a players’ strike in the CFL. The players union and the league engaged in 16 hours of bargaining last week but could not reach an agreement. The union notified players not to participate in training camp activities that are about to begin for the CFL; players on 7 of the 9 teams are expected to follow that directive; the other two teams are located in Alberta where provincial labor laws require additional steps before workers can officially strike. Reports say that the players for those two teams are expected to join the work stoppage as soon as those hurdles are crossed.
This is not good news for the CFL. Reports over the weekend seemed to try to paint the situation in the best light saying that the two sides “are not that far apart.” That may be true; I have no way to confirm or deny that statement. However, I can say with confidence that the two sides are sufficiently apart that the union is calling for a players’ strike. So, what is left to be done is more than editing and proofreading the final agreement document.
The CFL has had financial stability problems ever since ethe onset of the pandemic. The league lost an entire season of play and the league sought – but did not get – a hefty capital infusion from the national government in Canada. So, for the moment things do not look rosy for the league.
As I understand it, the league proposed a 10-year agreement that would not have increased the team salary cap over the life of the agreement. Knowing exactly nothing about the financials for the 9 CFL teams, that sounds like an outrageous proposal that could not be ceded to by the union. On the other hand, the fact that it was deemed sufficiently defendable by some of the league negotiators could easily speak to the economic fragility of the league.
One other issue in the negotiations involves something I was unaware of until reading about it here. The CFL has something called The Game Rule Ratio; notwithstanding the roster make-up of any team, that team may dress 46 players for each game with the following restrictions:
- Minimum of 21 “national players” (not exactly but closely translates to “Canadian players”)
- Maximum of 20 American players
- Maximum of 2 QBs of any designation
- Minimum of 2 “Global players”.
The original proposal from the CFL would have removed this rule – – and given the numbers of US football players at the professional and collegiate levels as opposed to Canadian football players at similar levels, that would make the CFL potentially a lot less “Canadian”.
Finally, apropos of nothing, let me close today with a definition from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:
“Job: Your punishment for not winning the lottery.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………