Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Red Whines: Too Many Lockouts

Made in MS Paint. Based on "Too Many Babas."
At midnight Sunday morning, the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement expired, and the third NHL lockout in 20 years began. Many of the fans, as well as the players, had fears that this was going to happen. There was so much fear in this, they worked on starting negotiations earlier than originally planned. In fact, they started talks since around the time of the Stanley Cup Finals. They had more than two whole months to figure out what to do, and with all of the issues of some of the owners not showing up for talks and some of the players being split on what is being requested and asked for, we've pretty much seen the beginning of North American hockey's version of World War 3.

Right now, Gary Bettman is hockey's most hated man. After being named commissioner in 1993, he's been a part of all three of these lockouts, and fans are blaming him for these labor stoppages. He's mainly being blamed for not being able to control both parties; in turn, he doesn't care about what the fans think, because he allegedly states that "everyone is entitled to their own opinion." Cool by me, I guess.

Even former hockey players are baffled by the fact that the players and owners knew how complicated the negotiations were going to be and didn't think of starting CBA and labor talks even earlier than July. Former player and current commentator Jeremy Roenick (@Jeremy_Roenick) even said this on Twitter:
"Its a sad day for hockey fans. I just wonder why they didn't start negotiating a year ago. What a way to destroy a leagues momentum!"
He is absolutely right. The NHL just started getting their whole fanbase back, and what happens? The same thing that lost them in the first place. At this rate, the most faithful of NHL players are going to say to heck with it, play in Europe and Russia, and never think of coming back. It just really looks ugly for North American hockey.

With those statements aside, I have to get this off my chest.
This could have been avoided.

Another lockout like this just goes to show how badly things have to change between the front office, the owners, and the players. There's obviously a poor relationship throughout the league and there's barely any supervision or strictly enforced rules around the league. Heck, don't we all remember what the NHL was like before the canceled 2004-2005 season? There were salaries and taxes that matched and looked like the disgusting-looking contracts some overpaid baseball players make today. The inmates were running the asylum, so to speak. The bleeding was stopped with the CBA that was ratified in the summer of 2005, but not everything was settled in that CBA. Issues that still persisted was free agency, contract amounts and extension policies, and the shares between the players and the owners. With all of the bickering going on, it's like democrats against republicans times two because there are far lefts and far rights in both groups. The players and the owners themselves need to get something agreed on before they can actually negotiate a new Agreement. This league is arguably the least disorganized and united league in the world. Let's not joke around--it's true.

You almost wonder what the heck they were doing in the months prior to negotiations. What, were they just picking their noses and/or sitting on their hands the whole time watching Teen Mom? There were some groups that agreed on some beliefs that should be incorporated into the renewed CBA, but did they really talk to their respective teams about it to warm them up to what could happen? Uhh...no. There's no such thing as talking to your employees (the athletes on your owned team) to the owners, and there's obviously no such thing as the players and coaches meeting with the front office to check the "stocks and bonds" as it were. There's so much separation in the league that it looks like the parents versus the kids. At this rate, it's going to take several weeks before a real deal is made.

For the time being, people, just buy NHL '13. I really don't think there is going to be a season this year because the players and owners have been stuck at square one since July. If they haven't budged in two months, this is going to be a long lockout.

They stink.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Reffin' Ain't Easy

I can't tell you how many tweets I'm still seeing on how "terrible" the officiating was last weekend during Week 1 of the NFL season. With the Packers playing the Bears tonight, it could only be invigorated. For those who are completely out of the loop, the NFL referees are actually victims of a lockout right now, and the NFL currently has what I like to call "rent-a-refs" in their place until at least Week 5 of the season.

What worries me is that stuff like this is going to go on through Week 5. Why? People feel like these "replacements" are not qualified for this job. Even the players may agree with this statement. Just watching some of the games last week gave me a scratched up scalp wondering why there were so many lousy and missed calls. Guys like Aaron Rodgers are even saying that the games were frustrating to play because even some of the obvious calls were missed. This call below was one of the ones that have been heavily disputed on by analysts and citizen journalists alike. This was originally a holding call but was overturned, resulting in a Green Bay punt return touchdown.
Credit to NFL and FOX Sports

Another issue is that people are just going to get angrier and angrier. If these "rent-a-refs" don't clean up their act this upcoming weekend, the credibility of the league could be slightly lower than usual after the following games. Sure, Roger Goodell is praising the referees, but at the same time, he's not shelling out $16 million for these replacements. This is the major issue that I wanted to get to in this post. This whole lockout could ultimately lead to a changing of the guard. Yes, it's rather plausible. I could pull out two real-world examples and what I said could actually make sense. These examples were "strikes," per se, but these arguments are for the same reason: money and working conditions.

A lot of you may already be familiar with the ongoing strike with the teachers in Chicago. A lot of the teachers have salaries spiking over $70k a year. They want more and they are being refused more. Because of their refusal, they are on strike, keeping 700,000 children out of school for the time being. If these teachers don't come back, these kids will be in school for a rather long time. If the NFL is not on track with these replacement refs and a deal isn't made in time, the season could definitely in a bind, and the players could be suffering a lockout of their own.

However, this could get a little more extreme. Here's my other example:

Back in 1981, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) went on strike requesting better pay, better working conditions, and alterations in working hours. In their absence, replacements were hired to continue the air traffic control in the United States (because truthfully, these guys are extremely important and must be around for pilots and planes). Then because of this crazy strike, Ronald Reagan wouldn't have this anymore and whipped out a...
...and wound up firing all of the workers on strike and just hired the replacements and other qualified workers. Also, these fired patrons were banned from coming back (this was later lifted and some workers came back five years later). Sick, right?

This could be a large application as to what could happen in the NFL. If a truce isn't made or a deal isn't reached, these veteran referees could ultimately be given the pink slip and told to try again later. These replacements could actually be given the job, and after a few years, the other refs could have a chance to come back and redeem themselves, despite the possibility of competing for a smaller salary than they once had. This could be pretty extreme, but it's possible, and dumber things are currently happening in the world of sports. (More on that in the end.)


There's the saying that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," but in a case like this, the recession is tough, and sometimes the referees may actually make a little bit too much money even though the game is placed in their hands to some extent. Don't let the other stuff that they do outside of football fool you, there's that one muscly ref (the name escapes me at the moment) who actually does law in the offseason and works out afterward. They may take up additional hobbies that keep them occupied during the offseason and might not necessarily do it for money. However, there are other guys out there that would kill to do their jobs in the time being and be paid for significantly less than what the actual guys are being offered.

Technically, the referees only work six full months out of the year and make a pretty hefty sum in about 25 weeks time. This is why it's a massive problem for the big guys in the NFL front office aren't the biggest fans in pumping up their salary. They're not in constant strenuous activity as the football players themselves, and there really isn't a time limit on how long they can stay in the business. From the way things are looking, the front office either wants some change or they want to make a statement in keeping the referees in place. It's looking rather ugly from this end, seeing that there is no mention of a deal being made anywhere.

In my opinion, there has to be some middle ground made, as well as some sort of policy for these guys when it comes to compensation.  Don't get me wrong, I'd kill for a $200,000 salary for working only six months, but any more than that to me would be highway robbery. I don't exactly know what these guys want out of life, but salary shouldn't be fought over. That's just me.

Football fans, start praying for some right calls and no more lockouts.


Speaking of lockouts...there's another disgusting-looking one that could possibly happen this Sunday.
Check back around then for the latest installment: TOO MANY LOCKOUTS! WHEEEEE!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

No Mercy

You had to see the photo coming after the title. Yes, Sensei?

Alright, I know this is late, but I had to figure out a way to explain my cause and such. This particular kind of topic is something along the lines of taboo or absolutely unnecessary nonsense. Honestly, the beliefs on this vary from sport to sport, but you have to admit--there had to have been at least one time where you had thought about it.

Okay. Look at this score.
I bet you're probably looking at this and saying: "Wow. That's a shame. It must have been painful to watch."

Then, you see this score.
And the first thing that goes through your head is...

Right? In my opinion, that just looks worse than any of the U.S. Men's Olympic Basketball scores from a couple of weeks ago. It also reminds me of a joke my Dad used to say that went along the lines of: "You won the game? What, the other team didn't show up?" The coach from Savannah State was quoted as saying that the game could have been much worse. Sir, I don't think that could have gotten any worse than it did. It was like watching the [insert legendary NFL team here] decimate the neighborhood peewee football team.

In particular levels of the sport, they have what is known to be the "Mercy Rule" in order to prevent absolute blowouts and embarrassment of the losing team. If you had watched the Little League World Series between Japan and Tennessee, you saw it go into effect after ten runs against Tennessee. I remember playing softball and being on either end of the Mercy Rule at times, and I think it enforced sportsmanship among the players and coaches. In retrospect, I wish they did that for my basketball team from ten years ago; a girl on the other team who was the best player heckled me and she deserved a roundhouse kick to her snaggle-tooth. See? It's not fun getting your brains bashed in by another team, especially when there's an obvious mismatch.

I know the NCAA has enough on their hands, especially when it comes to requests for college agency, scholarships, boosters, and Penn State, but I would think that this is something to look into. A lot of coaches may make something like a blowout an acceptable learning experience for the team, but there are just some times where you just want the bleeding to stop and prevent any further frustration and possible injury from trying too hard. In a sport like football, it can be incredibly detrimental for athletes to overexert themselves especially when the future efforts are futile to the overall momentum and score of the game. Of course, people are going to disagree with me strictly on the fact that it's just football and they signed up to keep pushing on and the mercy rule is for babies. Um, think of the babies. If your friend or child or sibling were out there getting pummeled and is not doing any positive push against it, then you'd kind of grow some pity for them.

From the college football games I have watched in the past, I've noticed that it is not uncommon to see a team beat their opponent by at least 30-40 points. In all seriousness, if it's a team I'm not really invested in, I just turn it off after a while because it's just not exciting to me anymore. When the lead is over a certain amount, I honestly think the game should stop or that the opposing team getting beaten badly is able to start at a certain yard line as a perk or an added bonus to keep the game closer.

Let's try straightening this out. Let's suggest this for NCAA Football and make a sort of "Mercy Rule:"

The NCAAF Mercy Rule goes into effect if:
1. If, at any point, a team is facing a deficit of 30 points or more, a touchback places them at the 40-yard line.
2. If a team is facing a deficit of over 56 points by halftime or over 40 points by the end of the third quarter, the game ends. This is assuming that the losing team has scored under 20 points in their offensive drives.

I think it would add a bit more of fluidity to the aspect of college football, and it would prevent these massive blowouts from occurring way too frequently through the years.

In conclusion, the whole idea of "no mercy" makes sense when you're playing a strong rival; however, it isn't fair to some unranked teams that just want to make a good showing and are prevented from doing so. Enforcing some sort of rule to stop merciless beating in sports may be a good idea. When it comes to something such as baseball or hockey, it's difficult to do that because of their easier shifts in momentum. While baseball isn't timed in a sense, hockey is much more fast-paced and can definitely change on a dime within seconds. There is much more time to regain strength in sports such as those. Since there is designated possession periods in football, sometimes it can be too much and the other team may never seem to have a chance.

I'm a peace-loving fellow that happens to love sports. Let's make peace among teams that can easily be brutalized. Does that sound good to you?