MLB-NHL-NBA restarts

We came to a screeching halt in mid- March! The coronavirus sent our entire society back…seemingly like many decades ago… as we lived almost exclusively in our house. Finally….we’re looking at returning to the world of 2020 that we barely knew. Let’s take a look @ the return of the professional sports to our TV, our calendars and our life.
….plans for the NHL… When the games begin, 24 teams will restart by diving directly into the playoffs. Seven teams have seen the conclusion of their season with this plan. While the top 4 teams DO receive 1st round byes… they will play a series of games between themselves to determine their actual seeds for the playoffs. The other 8 teams of each conference will begin playoff action immediately. The #5-12 teams in each conference will open up with 5 v 12, 6 v 11, 7 v 10 and 8 v 9 in the opening playoff rounds. The Winners will advance to begin competing against the top 4 seeded teams. Each conference will play all their games in one hub city. There will be 4 series played in each conference with the 5th series being the Stanley Cup Finals. The NHL feels that the winner of 4/5 series would be viewed as a true champion.
…reactions to the NHL plan….the hub cities will be interesting….generally, one would have looked immediately to New York to be the Eastern Conference hub. With the recent troubles in NY due to the unrest, the NHL may look to Newark or Boston to host the games. The Western conference had to look immediately @ Los Angeles. Again…there is unrest there. I’ve heard some fans throw out the possibility of Vegas. Granted, that may be a wonderful place to stay although 1) increased number of people are coming & going continually may elevate the chance of disease 2) how many ice rinks are in Vegas so that the teams could practice on the off days 3) Only 1 NHL team would be a true “home” teams….how does that change the emotion? 4) Hockey is said to be the most unpredictable professional sport—it has a higher percentage of randomness. Not luck but randomness—an unusal bounce of the puck; some “average” player makes a phenomenal shot; goalies at this level all stop about the same percentage of shots-90% so a GK mistake is devastating. As it stands, the best teams in hockey win in regulation just a bit over 50% of their games. Sooo, this new arrangement for 2020 just throws another new twist of randomness into the scheme. Also, with only one site per conference, the game times can’t ALL be prime time. 5) New Jersey’s & Buffalo’s playoff records continue to slide… the Devils …maybe that’s it?….maybe it should be the Saints?…since 2008 have missed the playoffs 7 times, and lost the 1st round w/o winning a match 4 other years. Only 2012 was different – 3 playoff series wins! Buffalo has missed the playoffs 9 straight years! This year, with the uneven number of games played, Buffalo .493% trailed Montreal in percentage .500% and trailed by 3 points…but…had two games in hand on the Canadians when the league suspended regular season play. However, this plan DOES have several many sound approaches to the reopening process.
…plans for the NBA…not a hot item in the Lou but nonetheless a major professional sport… the NBA will play all their games in Orlando,Fla. 22 teams from the 2 conferences will be invited with 16 teams reaching the playoffs. The restart will being with 8 regular season games for each team. After those 8 games, IF the #9 seed is within 4 games of the #8 seed, there will be a play-in tournament for the final spot. Strangely, the NBA invited 13 teams from the Western Conference and just 9 teams from the Eastern Conference. In the West, the 13th team, Phoenix Suns had 26 wins while the 8th team in that conference was Grizzlies were also under .500 @ 32-33. In the East the 9th place team, the Wizards were a paltry 24-40, 5.5 games behind the #8 team, Orlando Magic. I just guessing, but the NBA probably had to choose at least ONE team from the Eastern Conference. The play-in tournament is novel….the #9 team would have to beat the #8 team twice to advance into playoffs while the #8 team only has to win ONE of the games!
…thoughts on NBA plan…I like that novel approach for wild card teams. That’s an advantage that other teams should consider for playoffs …why let these MLB wild card teams start EVEN with the division champion in the playoffs when the Division champion was better for 162 games? The one location saves cost for the NBA owners and the location provides the players families an opportunity to enjoy themselves daily. I don’t follow the NBA much but maybe the strong partnership between the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, and the players rep, Chris Paul, should be studied by the MLB. Paul has made suggestions over the last decade or so that the NBA have followed. The NBA is said to the overall strongest relationship between players and owners yet…contrary to MLB players union… the NBA uses profit sharing to benefit both parties. This relationship formed in 2014 has benefitted both sides….for the owners, the average team value have increased from $630m to $2.1B and their equity from $175m to $325m. For the players, their rookie salaries have gone from $500,000 to $900,000. Veteran players made a minimum of $1.4m, today its $2.5m. In 2014, there were 2 star players with $30m/season-Michael Jordan & Kobe Bryant. Today, there are 20 players earning more than $30m/season!! Win-Win!! Owners & players on board with each other!!
…now turning to our beloved MLB…from afar, it seems that each side(owners v players union) is negotiating to win over the other side not WITH the other side. Right now, as I write this on Friday morning, we’re at the intersection of dispute over games to be played—ergo, the income for owners & players. I haven’t seen any real talk about the safety procedures or true preparation for the season. The Players would like 114 games, the owners want 50 games. As you recall, the owners got the union to the table by agreeing to pro-rate their salary to the number of games. Then…..when they arrived –the owners asked to have it pro-rated to the amount of the owners income (which is going to be dramatically reduced w/o any fans). That dispute lasted several weeks. Now….the owners have gone back to the original offer of prorated salary according to games….but….since the owners are now realizing that they will lose money on home games ( not counting television rights which goes to the league…THEN to the owners), they want a very short season of 60 games to cut their losses. 82 games(1/2 season) is the midway point of these two offers…so it seems.. that may be the final agreement on games after a short spring training. But now, the pendulum has turned, the players NOW want more games, not the owners. In order to get more games, the union will have to concede something that the owners want and probably something that the players don’t want to do.
…My thoughts… again these 2 sides are having another acrimonious negotiation that is painful and a “turn-off” to the fans…at least THIS fan. The other major professional sports are really working cooperatively to find a solution. Why is that? Some unbelievably naïve notions on each side— If the owners didn’t realize that the games would have NO fans or very, very few fans when the games resumed—what were they thinking? If the players thought that the owners would just roll over & accept not making big money…what were they thinking? Bob Costas pointed out that these negotiations should NOT be made public….it pits one side vs the other—makes it into a winner v loser. The longer these negotiations take to reach a conclusion, the less interested the fans become…at least, this fan! Shockingly to me, the MLBPA has a former player..not a lawyer, as their lead negotiator. Tony Clark, former MLB player, has worked many years to climb up the poll to become the leader. But… is he the most qualified to spear head these talks? The biggest union gains were under Marvin Miller…a lawyer. Also…how is a 2-3 week spring training going to work? If a team can get ready in 2-3 weeks, why have they held 6-8 week spring trainings for decades? I’m wondering….There is early talk of realigning divisions to reduce travel its a dramatic change (EAST, MIDWEST, WEST)…it would replace the traditional NL & AL leagues. Maybe… maybe, this would become a permanent change? However, that really is a very minor point. Logistically, I haven’t seen any planning about how to handle the 50 man roster. Will they work out every day @ Busch? Hold Intra-squad games frequently (heh, let the fans watch it for a very cheap price). I still feel that each side must concede some points… compromise. It isn’t fun reading about billionaires fighting millionaires over money! Holding out for an entire season could be very damaging to the sport. Your thoughts are invited. Post on Facebook under the blog.

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