So, in preparation of a must-have postseason, Major League Baseball and the players association have agreed to bubble-up. There are reports of huge fiscal losses across all of baseball. Dave O'Brien reported for The Athletic that at least 65 Braves employees were told Tuesday that their contracts would not be renewed as the team slashes its budget.
So the postseason and the supremely large TV money that comes with it is critical for the sport. Unlike other sports, the majority of regular-season TV deals are regional with some national broadcasts on ESPN or Fox.
So postponing or dragging out or having a team forfeit because of a Corona outbreak simply will not do come playoff time. Not for the game. Not for anything left of the credibility of the title someone will claim late next month. And especially not for the bottom line of everyone involved in baseball as revenue plummets and eight- and nine-figure annual revenue projections become nine or 10-figure loses.
Think that's an overstatement? Look around baseball, gang. The Braves — who have a palace of a new ballpark and a favorable, albeit not great, regional TV deal with Fox SportsSouth — lost $200 million from April 1 to the end of June. And this comes at a time when the Mets — the Mets people — just sold for more than $2 billion.
It puts a little more clarity in some of the owners' laments about fewer games and expanded playoffs, no? Because the players are still getting prorated deals — and yes, the negotiation process was as smooth the S.S. Minnow's three-hour tour — and the owners are hemorrhaging coin.
This is not a dip. This is a financial 180, and this postseason could not be more important.
So they are going to bubble up in Texas and California after the first round of the playoffs.
And all of this comes with a slew of unknowns beyond the somewhat surreal playoff set-up. (The winner and the second-place team from each division will make the playoffs and then two wildcard teams from each league will be included. Yes, under that unusual set-up, if the season ended today, there would be two NL playoff teams with losing records. Seriously.)
It's going to be nuts. Want even more proof? Well, if every series goes the distance — the first round series is best of three, the Division series is best of five, the LCS and the World Series are best of seven of course — there would be 65 playoff games. There were a total of 66 playoff games in the entire 1960s.Ponder that. We'll wait.
There is simply no way to have any idea about what to expect will happen.But here are two revelations about the decision to bubble.
> This postseason is critical for the business side of the sport. The bubble is proof of that.
> And, the bubble seriously hurts the Braves chances.
Yes, the bubble hurts the Braves' already slim chances to win the whole thing.
The bubble will not have off-days between games for the divisional or league championship series. Days that were reserved for travel or positioned for better TV chances are gone. Both NL division series play daily from Oct. 6 to Oct. 10.
The NLCS is scheduled for Oct. 12 to Oct. 18.
Everyone with vision just a smidge better than Helen Keller's can see the Braves weakest link is starting pitching. In that supremely important part of the game, no postseason off days means no chance to juggle your rotation to a get Max Fried three starts in a seven-game series or, fingers crossed, get Fried and Cole Hamels two starts each in a five-game series.
(Side note: Cole Hamels makes his Braves debut tonight, and Fried is set to return to action Friday night. Yes, those starts are very important.)
Clippers going to Clippers, I guess
Heavy is the head that wears the crown, huh?
Well, I know this in my bones: If LeBron dropped anything close to the floater Kawhi Leonard did last night as the Clippers completely gagged away a 3-1 series lead and lost Game 7 to the Nuggets, well, the flogging line would be as long as the Great Wall of China. (Yes, that simile was chosen for a reason.)
There had been a lot of chatter about whether Kawhi is all-time elite. He was the best player on the floor last year as the Raptors won an improbable title. (Side note: As thrilled as NBA execs could be at the idea of a Celtics-Lakers finals reunion, they have to be just as passionately terrified about a Denver-MIami championship series.)
He had two Finals MVPs and the Clippers were thought to be the most dangerous team in the postseason bubble. Well, Denver's rally from a 3-1 hole included comebacks from 20-point deficits in Games 5 and 6 and Leonard and sidekick Paul George being head-scratchingly awful in Tuesday's decisive Game 7.
Leonard finished with 14 points in 44 minutes and a plus/minus of -21. (Plus/minus is the score, plus or minus, while that player was on the floor.) And, after the Clippers took a two-point halftime lead into the locker room, Leonard scored two more points than Jules did in his final half of the season.
Leonard's line for the final two quarters: 2 points, 1-of-11 from the field, which is a sterling 9 percent, 0-for-4 from 3, which is well, you know that percentage and 0.0 free-throw attempts. (Zero.Zero Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life son.)
Can you imagine the backlash LeBron would be getting with a similar showing?
This and that
— Hey, I will post the names of the Intimidator Pool survivors later today. And, remember the U.S. Open contest. Send five golfers and we'll roll the dice. Entries must be in by the end of Wednesday. I know I'm picking Jon Rahm. I think you have to pick DJ too. Thoughts?
— Looks like the Big Ten is about to announce that they will play football. Wow, lots to take in there, but expect some victory laps from Trump and Co. on this one.
— You know the rules. Here's TFP sports editor Stephen Hargis on the bubbling emotions around the Marion County-South Pittsburg rivalry and the decision by MCHS coach Dale Pruitt to not reschedule last Friday's game, which was called because of Corona reasons.
— A Texas man was sentenced to 28 months in the pokey for a Masters tickets scam.
— Speaking of Texas, Jerry Jones sidestepped the kneeling topic Tuesday in his weekly radio appearance. Jones, you may remember, said previously that Dallas players would stand for the anthem. Cowboys DT Dontari Poe took a knee Sunday night during the anthem. (Side note: That no one offered a follow up question to Jones on the topic is interviewing at its worst. Or at its most afraid.)
Which way Wednesday starts this way
Which is your go-to euphemism for jail: Pokey, Clink, Big House, Hoosegow or is there another?
Which word would you pick to describe the Big Ten's reversal about playing this fall: Dumb, smart, weak, wise, greedy or is there another?
Which way do you lean: The Braves' decision not to deal for another starter was made worse or better because of the bubble scenario? (Worse because a third option is vital; better because why mortgage the future for one arm that is still not going to get you by the Dodgers or the Padres.)
As for this day, Sept. 16, let review.
Happy birthday to my mother-in-law. Have a great one.
B.B. King would have been 95 today. J.C. Penney would have been 145 today.
Allen Funt would have been 106 today, and for those unaware, Funt may be the most underrated TV contributor of all-time. Since he not only hosted but created "Candid Camera" he was in a lot of ways, the father of so many TV and entertainment spin-offs it's hard to name them all.
But try this on for size: His creation of that little format has an imprint on every reality TV show, not to mention the video craze on the interwebs.
Mickey Rourke is 68 today. Dude made some awful surgical decisions.
On this day in 1984, Miami Vice debuted. Does it make the Rushmore of TV shows with a city in its title?Go, and remember the mailbag, the golf contest and the Intimidator Pool, if you are eligible.