Monday, February 07, 2011

Shank's Trademark Optimism on display in his weekly CNN / SI article.

Hope you all enjoyed the Super Bowl last night. There won't be any football for a while.

Maybe a long while.

NFL fans have learned to live a few months without football. But a lockout? What will a lockout do to draft day? How will we live without offseason conditioning camps? Summer two-a-days? Those criminally-priced preseason games?

And what if there is no football come Labor Day? No Sunday Night Football. No Monday Night Football. No (gulp) Sunday afternoon football.
He reminds us of previous strikes, lockouts and other 'work stoppages' in other professional sports further on in the column. My interest in baseball has never been the same after the 1994 strike. I thought at the time - 'That's rich - millionaires going on strike'.

Baseball's darkest hours since the Black Sox Scandal came in 1994 when commissioner Bud Selig canceled the World Series due to a work stoppage. Refusing to accept a salary cap, Players Association chief Donald Fehr took the players off the field on Aug. 12, and on Sept. 14 Selig called the whole thing off. It marked the first time the World Series wasn't played since the New York Giants refused to play the Red Sox of the upstart American League after the 1904 season.

The baseball strike of '94 extended into spring training in 1995 and baseball owners assembled teams of replacement players. The fraudulent prospect of scab teams playing big league ball was stopped by a court ruling near the end of spring training and the real games resumed on schedule in 1995. But the damage was done.
I still feel a diminished interest about baseball since that time, but I'll acknowledge a more forgiving attitude towards football and basketball because those are sports that I like more. This means the NFL will weather this storm better because it's much more popular; I don't know how the NBA will fare if it stops operations due (like the NFL) to an expiring collective bargaining agreement. At first glance, the NFL and NBA situations share some attributes, are different in some respects (NFL - increasing revenue stream; NBA - not as much). Maybe it just boils down to one simple truth:

Owners and players are fighting over a pile of money they made by enticing fans with vicarious delusions of grandeur, just like the baseball players of yore.

Their humanity is merely a manipulative calculation fueled by the flames of greed and then superimposed onto all those who follow.
Mea culpa time?

You can make a case that baseball's steroid scandal was aided and abetted by the baseball strike of 1994. The national pastime was desperate to get fans back after the cancellation of the '94 postseason and this might be why we all looked the other way during the roided-up Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa home run chase. Everyone was rooting for baseball to come back and the long ball was a big selling point. Cal Ripken's consecutive games streak and the home run chase of '98 were largely credited with "saving the game.'' We later learned that the homers were artificially enhanced. Rampant cheating was part of the post-strike fallout.
Somewhere, Shank absolved himself of this dilemma. I cannot find the article right now - help me out, dear readers!


Monkeesfan said...

Shank of course misses that baseball's 1994 work stoppage ended because a court wasted 262 days of negotiations and arbitrarily took the side of Donald Fehr; the court thus "consigned baseball to seven more years of an unreformed economic system, which happened to be the seven worst years in terms of competitive balance," as George Will so nicely put it.

It's worth noting this in relation to the NFL because what we have here is the cost of doing business beginning to spiral out of control; if it weren't there would be no CBA issue to start with. The economic model changed on the league and it has to change with it.

It's why "labor" will not "win" this issue, because it's not owners vs. players (it isn't owners vs. owners either, though there is an element of that), it's economic reality vs. the league. The owners have to spend money to make money and the cost of doing business has changed. And given what both sides will eventually lose if the games aren't played, I see zero prospect that 2011 will not proceed with the full schedule, either under a new CBA or under some kind of temporary agreement while a longer-term deal gets worked out.

Monkeesfan said...

BTW Shank, given how detestable some of these "real" players were, why would it have been bad if the league played in 1995 without the "stars?"

It's the game, it's not just the players.