The recent major league baseball bargaining agreement still has not accomplished what it should; there is still no salary cap in major league baseball, nor is there a true revenue-sharing plan, and until these occur, competition will not be enhanced. The rich teams will continue to prosper and will continue to afford the best players, and this very small group of teams will be the only ones with a real shot at winning a World Series on a repeated basis. A luxury tax on teams that spend over the line of demarcation is a joke; the Steinbrenners of the world can afford to pay that tax, or they’ll simply get it from an increase in their television deals, or from an increase in ticket prices paid by their fans who could care less if their team earns a title, like baseball teams once did, or buys it. No major sport, not one, is as poorly run as major league baseball, and there’s still no end in sight.
Story of the Week
THE FUTURE OF THE NFL
Ah, yes, it’s back! The NFL season kicks off for real. How nice indeed. It’s like a long-lost best friend knocking on your door. NFL, I missed you, old buddy, I missed you.
Nothing stays the same. If it does, it’s potentially doomed. Remember "Larry the Liquidator’s" speech in "Other People’s Money" when he said that the manufacturer of the best buggy whips wound up losing the most money because it stayed around the longest.
That won’t happen to the NFL. In this century, more likely much sooner than later, look for major changes. Knee braces will have computer chips. Sports drinks will dissolve the body chemicals that cause fatigue. Television replays will show everything the ball-carrier saw, right up to the collision.
The future will be the past, only with more bells and whistles and lasers. Older fans will insist the players were better in their day (I do that all the time.) But they will recognize the game, just as pro football fans of past decades recognize pro football of today.
The progress of evolution follows some constant themes. Paul Brown was the first coach to show game film to his players as a teaching tool. Sid Gilman was the first to organize clips of game film according to offensive plays. Now that they’re on videotape, coded on computers, the clips are organized by play and defensive coverage. The play books will no doubt be video one day soon.
Soon, the marriage of computer and video technology will make it possible to measure the speed of things players actually do during a game; driving from a three-point stance into the defender, bursting from the line of scrimmage into the secondary, dropping from the center to the pass-pocket, throwing from the pocket to the sideline, and so on.
Protective pads have gone from tiny to bulky to smaller again, trying to accomplish both safety and speed. They’ll probably continue to shrink, but they’ll withstand more force. Gloves for wide-receivers (I am vehemently opposed to them) have gone from zero to tolerable in cold weather to commonplace even in domed stadiums. Please tell me quarterbacks aren’t going to wear them, too.
Even off the field, some things will come full-circle. Promotional stunts were needed to sell pro football in the ‘20s. The NFL hasn’t needed much of that stuff in the last 25 years; television has seen to that. But now, with prices going through the proverbial roof, entertainment choices on the rise, and international markets beckoning, there’ll probably be an emphasis on drum-beating and promotion like there was when football was fighting for a place in the sun, only now the NFL will be doing it for more mega-millions.
And why not! The NFL deserves its success; it’s run right!!
Last Week’s Trivia
Who is the only pitcher in major league baseball history to win 20 games in a season, and record 20 saves in a season? John Smoltz of the Atlanta Braves. Look at his recorded saves this season, and it’s not over yet.
Trivia Question of the Week
There was a year when four players in two major sports all wore #32, and all were MVP’s of their respective leagues. What year and who were they? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.