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By Joe Kazmar
For the Record 

Kaz's Korner

MLB Lockout - dollar signs between millionaires & billionaires


Last updated 12/7/2021 at 5:54pm

Major League Baseball is on the verge of its first work stoppage since 1994--when the World Series was canceled for the first time--and will likely put a halt to all offseason activities such as signing free agents, extending existing contracts, modifying the 40-man rosters, players not being able to work out at team facilities and players having to rehab at a non-team facility.

The lockout officially began at 12:01 a.m. last Thursday, but management negotiators left the MLB Players Association’s hotel nine hours before the old contract was set to expire, without giving a return date.

The union demanded a change over the declining average salary, middle-class players being forced out by teams concentrating their payrolls on the wealthy players, and veterans given their walking papers in favor of lower-paid youth, especially those teams tearing down their rosters to rebuild, according to the Associated Press last week.

On the topic of free agency, MLB wants to keep it the same or change eligibility to age 29.5 rather than six years of major league service, which it has been since 1976 while the union wants to change it to five years of service and age 29.5, whichever comes first.

MLB also wants to eliminate penalties for teams signing free agents who turned down a qualifying offer. Draft pick compensation has existed since 1976.

MLB wants to keep the salary arbitration the way it is while the union wants to lower eligibility down to two years of major league service, its level from 1974 through 1986 when it increased to three years.

There are several other changes to be discussed, but one that could happen is expanding the post-season from 10 to 14 teams with wild cards increasing from two per league to four, according to the AP article.

The division winner with the best record in each league would advance directly to the Division Series and the other two division winners and wild card teams would play in a best-of-three round.

The division winner with the second-best record would choose its opponent from among the three lowest-seeded wild-card teams. The division winner with the third-best record would get to pick from among the from the remaining two wild-card teams. The top wild card would face whichever team is left over after the division winners make their choices.

However, the union would like to see 12-team expanded playoffs and possibly having just two eight-team divisions per league, subject to agreement on MLBPA economic proposals.

Rob Manfred, who succeeded Bud Selig as commissioner in 2015 following 25 years as an MLB labor negotiator, made it quite clear that he would prefer an off-season lockout to a mid-season strike.

That’s because billionaire management’s credit lines took a hit following income deprivation caused by the coronavirus pandemic and may not be able to withstand a lengthy work stoppage.

Major league baseball’s popularity has dropped dramatically in the past couple of years, with the state of the sport that can still thrill us in October and November, but can put us to sleep April through September, while the billionaire owners figure out how to better divide all the billions which eventually always gets figured out.

It’s plain to see that the sport of baseball can’t hold a candle to the NFL and it pales when compared to the country-wide passion of college football, which was quite evident last weekend. And when the NBA is soaring in the spring, baseball looks slow and plodding.

It will be very interesting to see just how many of the players’ demands will be ratified by the money-hungry owners.

KWICKIES…It looks to me like that home-field advantage the Seattle Seahawks have enjoyed for so long might be gone, and so might Head Coach Pete Carroll. The Seahawks were 1-4 at home until they hung on for a 30-23 victory over the San Francisco 49ers Sunday in Seattle.

It was a bad Friday night for both Orange high school teams who were the first two football teams from the city to make it to the state regional finals and both lost by identical 31-14 scores after a key player left the game with an injury. The West Orange-Stark Mustangs lost to China Spring for the second straight year while the Little Cypress-Mauriceville Battlin’ Bears were upended by Tyler Chapel Hill. But the city of Orange is very proud of both local teams.

I’m glad to see that Buck O’Neil was among the six elected to the baseball Hall of Fame Sunday. He was a champion of Black ball players during his eight-decade career on and off the field. He was joined by Gil Hodges, Bud Fowler, Minnie Minoso and the only living new members Jim Kaat and Tony Oliva. Buck was a coach for the Chicago Cubs and personally picked me up at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix for spring training when I was playing for them in 1964.

The four teams in the semi-final round of the College Football Playoffs were selected Sunday along with all of the bowl games and their participants. No. 1 Alabama (12-1) is an early 13½-point favorite over undefeated No. 4 Cincinnati (13-0) in the Cotton Bowl while No. 2 Michigan (12-1) takes on No. 3 Georgia (12-1), The formerly undefeated Bulldogs are favored by 7½ points in the Orange Bowl. Both semifinal games will be played Dec. 31 with the Cotton Bowl kicking off at 2:30 p.m. and the Orange Bowl starting at 6:30 p.m. Both games will be televised by ESPN.

Whoever was trying to pare down the number of bowl games this year really blew it because there are 43 bowl games plus the CFP championship game Jan. 10 at Indianapolis. Seven teams from the Lone Star State received bids: UTSA vs. San Diego State in the Frisco Bowl Dec. 21, Houston vs. Auburn in the Birmingham Bowl and Texas Tech vs. in the Liberty Bowl both on Dec. 28, SMU vs. Virginia in the Fenway Bowl Dec. 29 and Texas A&M vs. Wake Forest in the Gator Bowl Dec. 31. Two teams from Louisiana also received bids: Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Marshall in the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 18 and LSU vs. Kansas State in the Texas Bowl on Jan. 4 and Baylor vs. Ole Miss on Jan. 4.

Former Dallas Cowboys star quarterback and television football analyst Tony Romo was inducted last night into the College Football Hall of Fame. He played for Eastern Illinois from 2000-2002 where he was a three-time All-American and three-time Ohio Valley Player of the Year. Tony played his high school football for Burlington High in Burlington, Wisconsin.

Some of the college and NFL coaches who either lost their jobs or found a new one last weekend included Manny Diaz, fired by the Miami Hurricanes and probably will be replaced by Oregon’s Mario Cristobal, Clemson offensive coordinator Brent Venables who was hired as the Oklahoma Sooners new head coach and Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady, who was replaced by senior offensive assistant Jeff Nixon.

The Arizona Cardinals have won all seven road games this season while the Denver Broncos have lost 12 straight meetings with the Kansas City Chiefs.

JUST BETWEEN US…Every offensive position on the Houston Texans plus the coaches and their overall performance received an F-minus from Monday’s Houston Chronicle and was described as “horrendous” after being blanked 31-0 by the surging Indianapolis Colts Sunday at NRG Stadium. The defense was spared the below failing grade and got C’s and D’s. The Texans did accomplish something when they became the first NFL team to be officially eliminated from the playoffs. They also made some headway on nabbing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 draft in April as the Detroit Lions snapped their 15-game losing streak by making a touchdown as time ran out Sunday and upsetting the Minnesota Vikings 29-27. It was Detroit’s first victory since 2010 without Matt Stafford starting at quarterback for the Lions. It also was the seventh loss for the Vikings by one score and fourth time they were defeated on the final play of the game. Detroit needs to win one more game—assuming Houston loses its remainder—for the Texans to be a shoo-in for the top draft pick.


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