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MLB's wild pitch

For the leadership groups of the major sports leagues in our country to be this tone deaf is staggering.

We're talking about billion-dollar-a-year operations, and at almost every turn the players tell the owners to hold their beer in terms of PR missteps and then the owners tell the players to hold their scotch.

After the players carted a truckload of negativity from bemoaning revenue-sharing ideas that would equate to million-dollar pay cuts and a defect salary cap, MLB owners have floated an idea that the big-dollar guys would take a bigger haircut than the rank and file player.

In a lot of ways, it's akin to the shell game the NFL owners played during the talks and votes on the extension CBA in the last year.

The NFL crafted a plan that increased baseline sidelines for the majority of players and used that carrot to get a majority of the votes. It's a crafty negotiation strategy that worked, but any positive descriptions of that approach could only be crafted during normal circumstances.

During a historic pandemic, it's downright crappy. And it's certainly not by accident, when you consider the following:

> The highest paid players — guys who make more than $20 million per season — would make 20 percent of their prorated salary. That's lawyer gobbledygook that means Mike Trout — the face of the sport and a guy that took a little less to stay with the Angels, who gladly gave him $37 million per — would make $5.75 million over an 82-game schedule;

> The owners redirected all the angst against "revenue-sharing" and pointing the blame on the players who are going to come across in some circles as millionaires complaining about making seven- or eight-figure salaries in a time when close to 40 million Americans are out of work;

> The players have continued to state they had an agreement with the owners about prorated salaries back in March when this happened, and that the owners did not plan for the loss of revenue that comes with limited-to-no-fans scenarios. Uh, that lack of foresight is on the owners, gang;

> When the players asked to see the owners' books and projections to detail how drastic the owners' losses were truly going to be, all they got was crickets.

Leadership through fear, in almost every avenue, is not leadership. It may be exploitation. It may be opportunistic greed. It may be dictatorial desires of power.

But it's certainly not leadership. And it's almost always counterproductive in the long haul. Because, while some are quick to point that this is the owners' first offer, and first offers are almost always a bit outlandish, the initial reaction from the players appears to show the union galvanizing because of the absurdity of that offer.

I do not have a side in this. Truly I don't. Like Jules and everyone else, would I prefer to have the Braves on as the background of my summer? Of course.

But you know what — and I hope someone gets this message to all sides of MLB leadership — I don't miss baseball as much as I thought I would. And that should scare the bleep out of everyone in the game, because if baseball loses me — a 49-year-old middle-class white dude who grew up playing and loving the game — how in the world will baseball reach the attention-disorder, instant-gratification generations younger than me?  

In the end, the employees everywhere — me included — have been asked in some way or form to share in the financial pain being caused by this. And those sacrifices in a lot of ways are understandable during this unprecedented time.

But for baseball — everyone involved, from owners to players and all the rest — to roll the dice with the trust and emotions of a fan base that is desperate for its return and the sense of normalcy is far more dangerous than the language of the contracts and the details of the negotiations.

And it could be way more expensive for everyone involved than the $32-million haircut the owners want Mike Trout to take.      
 

Granted, everyone from ESPN baseball experts Jeff Passan and play-by-play guys still feel confident that MLB and the players will figure this out.

 

I will say this as a kid that knew the order of every NL team growing up and emulated every batting style of every Reds player and every Dodgers player and every Braves player during wiffle ball in terms of baseball figuring this out:

 

They damn well better.    


 

New normals in sports

There are lots of rules and schedule changes from The Corona reshuffling that could very well stick long term.

I believe the universal DH will become a thing across both leagues, as will the expanded rosters and playoff fields, in baseball.

I think the NBA powers that be would love a Christmas Day season opening, among other basketball alterations.

As for golf, well, the details and success of The Match with Tiger and Peyton topping Phil and Tom Brady, should send a clear message to the powers that run golf.

And those powers should find ways to use those successes sooner rather than later.

Golf has some great personalities. In addition to Phil — more on him in a moment — Rory and JT and Jordan Spieth are guys with energetic and engaging personalities. And let the world get a hold of Keith Mitchell, the long-hitting, smack-talking for Baylor School and Georgia star who already has a PGA Tour win. There are a lot of them.

Wire them up and let them connect to sports the way Phil and Peyton and even Brady and occasionally Tiger did during The Match. Would it take some convincing for the players? Sure. But the pay-off would be way worth it — for the fans and for the game and the PGA Tour — in the short- and long-term.

Some other takeaways from The Match:

> Mickelson is going to be the best golf analyst ever. A biting-but-humorous version of Johnny Miller who the players will actually like;

> Speaking of changes, hey PGA, let the players wear shorts;

> As for the actual golf, man, I know it's a couple months later, but if Tiger was that healthy — and was able to generate that kind of tee consistency — in Augusta in April, he would have been in contention considering his knowledge of that joint and the ghosts and echoes in those Georgia pines;

 

> Golf needs to make Chuck Barkley an offer he can't refuse. Barkley has officially joined Tony Romo as TV personalities that draw viewers on the merits of their analysis, regardless of the event. That's high praise and highly marketable;


 

Speaking of marketability (and Romo)

We spoke Tuesday about hoping the powers that let the success of this event stand and that trying to replicate The Match would be extremely difficult and borderline impossible.
 

That said, it's almost a certainty that another Match is coming, and Kyle Porter from CBSsports.com actually has a couple of pairings that could be OK.


Again, I hope this one is the last one, but three was too much money made and too many eyeballs tuned in for there not to be at least one more, if not several.    
 

Porter suggests the non-golfing pair of Nick Saban vs. Steve Spurrier, which sounds entertaining, considering Saban's intensity and Spurrier's flair.

 

Steph Curry's name appears throughout the list, and Curry and Romo may be the best golfers among the celebs. Steph and MJ are Porter's list too.


But with the exception of possibly Rory — or JT — Phil and/or Tiger are almost must-needs because of style and draw.

It's one of those things — we know another Match is coming, whether we want it or not.
 
 

This and that
 

— You know the rules. When TFP college football expert David Paschall writes college football, we read and link Paschall's views on college football. Here's his report on TV schedules being delayed for the early weeks of college football.

 

— You know the rules. Paschall college football read and link Paschall's views on college football. Here's his report on the latest UGA football recruit.

 

— Well, the worm turned. Now there are apparently several reported interested parties looking to buy the XFL and its proposed 2021 format that was going to be a 12-game, tournament-style season. One of the interesting scenarios could be that if leagues can't get out of their own way and are not overly motivated to play without fans because of potential losses, the XFL is comfortable playing without fans. Plus, who knows what next spring will look like, right?


— Former UT lineman and all-around good guy Bill Emendorfer joined us on Press Row on Tuesday. Here's our chat.

— I have been fairly critical about Booger McFarland's one season as the lead analyst on Monday Night Football. ESPN has announced that McFarland will not be back for a second season. And you have to tip your visor to the classy way Booger has picked (sorry!) up the pieces.

— Is Mike Singletary the single worst coach in football history? Yes, he was a Hall of Famer as one of the most ferocious middle linebackers ever, but after a disastrous stint as the head coach of the 49ers in the NFL, Singletary has now resigned his high school gig after a wait for it almost there a 1-21 record over the last two years.

— Speaking of baseball and costs, well here's a report that the A's will stop paying minor leaguers May 31. This comes after the news that the A's missed their April rent payment for the stadium in Oakland. Wow.

— OK, not sure what to make of this, but it feels a little strange to have officially licensed NFL team Corona masks. Wow. And of course the have a growing number of college logos that are, of course, officially licensed.

 

Today's questions

Which way Wednesday starts this way
Which side would you blame if baseball doesn't return?

Which do you think will be better, Peyton Manning calling football games or Phil Mickelson doing golf commentary?

Which pairing for another Match would you watch (and none is an acceptable answer)?

Which logo would you want on your Corona Mask (and, again, none is an acceptable answer)?

As for today, well, let's review.
Todd Bridges is 55 today. He was Willis on Different Strokes, and it begs two questions: Why the apostrophe in 'Diff'rent' and holy buckets, am I the only one who thought Todd Bridges was older than that? (Also, I did have to Google him to see if he was still alive, so there's that.)

Paul Gleason died on this day in 2006. Gleason was great as a side character with near-perfect comedy timing as Mr. Vernon in Breakfast Club, Deputy Chief Dwayne T Robertson in Die Hard and Clarence Beeks in Trading Places.

We are next deep in National Backyard Games week, so there's that. Rushmore of best backyard games.

Go, and remember the mailbag.

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