Each week, commenter Jon Marthaler bakes up a delicious batch of links for you. Other times, you can find him here. Jon?
We're one week away from the September 15th deadline in the NHL collective bargaining negotiations, after which it seems certain that the NHL owners will band together and lock out the players, stopping the hockey season from beginning on time. If nothing else, the sheer gall of the owners is impressive; seven seasons after canceling an entire year to break the players' union and get a much more owner-friendly CBA, the men in the expensive suites are back at it again, demanding that the union take around a 20 percent cut in the share of league revenues that the players receive. If this seems ridiculous, it's only because it is.
Had the players asked for a 20 percent increase in their share of league revenues, three owners would have died from laughing so hard that their hearts exploded. Nevertheless, we're on the brink of yet another work stoppage - the third in the major pro sports in two years, on the heels of the 2011 NFL and NBA lockouts - with seemingly no way out. What's striking to me is that the era of real differences between players and owners in pro sports seem to be more or less over. MLB players spent much of the 1970s and 1980s attempting to get owners to stop treating them like chattel, and eventually baseball owners managed to stop colluding and trying to roll back labor relations to the 1930s. That was an era of real differences.
The 1990s were filled with disputes about salary caps and luxury taxes, as owners tried to put a cap on spending and players tried to block these constraints. Those were real differences. But all three lockouts in the past 12 months - assuming the NHL's does indeed come to fruition - are based on one thing: the owners want more money and they're willing to blow up everything to get it. On the one hand, I suppose this is a good thing. All four leagues seem to understand that on some level, players and owners are partners, and in order for the leagues to sustain themselves, it's important for both sides to be guaranteed something.
This is an improvement from the old days, and at some level it means that all these work stoppages are about is arguments over math. On the other hand, the NBA and NFL players both just agreed to give back revenues from previous agreements, getting it down to around a 50-50 split between players and owners. The NHL will probably land in some kind of similar territory. And I guarantee you this: when those fresh agreements expire, you can count on one thing: the owners will trot out wildly false financial figures that claim they're losing money. They will plead poverty. And then they will demand that the players take 40-45 percent of revenue. And so on down the rabbit hole.
On with the links - and it's somewhat crowded, given I missed last week:
*If the Wild don't play this fall, we'll just have to spend more time watching the Wolves. Near the end of the Olympics, Grantland broke down the NBA potential of new Timberwolves guard Alexey Shved.
*Seems like we're all talking about Anthony Slama and his continued exile from the big leagues. Twinkie Town points out that he's still getting strikeouts - but getting them in different ways.
*I loved this article from The Classical about 16-inch softball leagues in Chicago.
*Here's Will Leitch writing about the new basketball arena in Brooklyn, and how it might affect both the Nets and the neighborhood.
*The Economist looked at the effect of grueling travel on sports teams, a post that includes not only data on cross-country American teams, but on the league with probably the worst road trips in the world: Super Rugby, which plays on three different continents on opposite sides of the Southern Hemisphere.
*The Classical writes about 22-year-old tennis player Michael McClune, who is enduring one of the hard transitions in sports: from junior star to grind-it-out-pro who has to fight his way up the rankings.
*And finally: it's college football Saturday, so go read some Spencer Hall to get yourself in the mood.