Here we go again in baseball. Labor-management relations at a standstill.
Everything old is new again.
"Defensive lockout," according to commissioner Rob Manfred, is necessary to make an agreement. And war is peace. And slavery is freedom.
It is a more complicated issue than billionaire owners versus millionaire players so I wish that short-hand description could be scrapped. But it does come down to money
and plenty of it.
Average salaries in baseball have been dropping in recent years and so have median salaries which is a more important figure. Other pro sports have passed baseball in
the median quality - the midpoint between the richest and the least hightly-paid player.
It will be key for the players that two of their union leaders, the newly-enriched free agents Max Scherzer and Marcus Semien, keep their less financially-endowed brethren informed of developments. They likely will but the prospects for a deal look far away right now.
I have a suspicion that those fans who bellow the loudest about greedy players would probably be the first people to jump in line to get the most money out of misguided owners.
Over time, they have never been able to stop themselves from putting that shiny free agent on the mantelpiece when huckstered by clever player representatives.
If you want more historical background on owners' inability to control themselves, check out my first book, THE IMPERFECT DIAMOND which was updated in a second and third edition.
In my intro, I noted the late satirist Mort Sahl's comment that Richard Nixon's memoir
"Six Crises" should have come out in a looseleaf edition so you could just add the crises.
So goes it with the baseball labor story except in 2021 total attendance is not up and it may
not return if there is any protracted shutdown.
I suggest that there better be some agreement before the Super Bowl - which is late this year, Feb. 13, because of the expanded 17-game NFL schedule. Otherwise, spring training games and the regular season starting on March 31 will be impacted.
I was wondering why the Braves hadn't resigned Freddie Freeman, their leader and first baseman and lifelong Brave. Then I discovered that his agent is Casey Close, a former
U of Michigan player and briefly a Yankee farmhand who became Derek Jeter's player agent and is now a big mover and shaker in the sports business firmament.
It is not only Scott Boras trying to get top dollar from owners. In fact, in some ways Boras is admirable because as far as I know his Boras Corporation is not yet connected to a huge conglomerate as most agents like Casey Close are.
As for me, I will try to ignore the power plays, egos, and greed on both sides. I applaud versatile Chris Taylor for re-signing just before the lockout with the Dodgers who realized they made a mistake in letting another grinder like Kike Hernandez get away last off-season to the Boston Red Sox.
I love grinders, players who know how to win and do the "little things" that don't appear in box scores. In fact, as one wise person recently said, "There are no little things."
My cheering for the rest of the fall and winter will focus on Wisconsin Badgers men's
basketball who improved to 8-1 earlier today (Sat afternoon Dec 4) convincingly beating state rival Marquette 87-73. Johnny Davis is an exciting player coming into his own and the rest of the team is playing good team basketball.
I'm also following closely, and in person when I can, my other alma mater, Columbia's women's basketball which has started 7-2 in the pre-Ivy League season. They are a versatile and speedy team and fun to watch under coach Megan Griffith who played for
non-contending Columbia teams and assisted at great Princeton winning teams.
Methinks she and all good coaches imbibe the great Christy Mathewson saying:
"I have learned little from winning. I have learned everything from losing."
Picked for 3rd in pre-season polls, the Lions will play their top rivals Princeton and Penn at home, respectively, on F Jan 7 at 7p and Sa Jan 8 at 5p. They open league season at home Su Jan 2 at 1p against Yale. Check out gocolumbialions.com for ticket info and other stories.
In closing, I want to rave about the "La Boheme" I attended late last month at the
Metropolitan Opera. It was my first foray to live opera since before the pandemic.
The orchestra and chorus under Korean woman conductor Eun Sun Kim making her NYC debut never sounded better. The story of the irrepressible bohemians in 19th century France never fails to captivate.
I wasn't familiar with any of the singers but they all performed with elan in the long-running Franco Zefferelli production.
Conductor Eun Kim returns to the Met for four more "Boheme"'s on May 16, May 20,
May 24, and May 29 all at 8p. There will be four other "Boheme"'s in January.
Sunday afternoon Jan 9 at 3p, a welcome innovation for opera. Why should ballet and concerts have the audiences Sun afternoons to themselves?
There will be the national radio broadcast on Sa Jan 22 at 1p, and two weeknight performances at 8p, Jan 13 and Jan 18.
For Bohemeatologists, if I can coin a word, the 1926 silent movie "Boheme"
directed by the notable King Vidor, airs on TCM early Mon Dec 6 at 1:15a.
Speaking of TCM, its Star of the Month is Ingrid Bergman, aired mainly on Weds.
I caught her the other night in "Gaslight" 1944, directed by George Cukor, and her performance opposite convincing bad guy Charles Boyer, was so riveting that I passed up the first half of Wisconsin-Georgia Tech game.
"Gaslight" marked the debut of 18-year-old Angela Lansbury as a sassy maid in the
Victorian household. The next year she had a haunting role in Albert Lewin's "Picture of
Dorian Gray" opposite Hurd Hatfield and with George Sanders.
Her haunting rendition of the little yellow bird song remains constantly with me. "Dorian Gray" might be found on TCM On Demand.
Mentioning Lansbury makes me think of the recent death of Stephen Sondheim, 91.
More on him and his impact on so many people, including the New Yorkers who burst out in song when they learned of his death, next time.
As well as reflections on the incomparable David Frishberg, 88, who mastered jazz piano and vocals and lyrics and composition. And through "Van Lingle Mungo" and "Matty" made a lasting contribution to baseball.
That's all for now. Always remember: Take it easy but take it. And now more than
ever, stay positive and test negative.