Thursday September 16, 2004
Twins Beat White Sox... Again
By the time you read this, the NHL's Collective Bargaining Agreement will have come to an end without a new agreement reached. The owners will have officially locked the players out, meaning that until a new CBA is reached, there will be no NHL Hockey for anyone to watch.
Now, this certainly comes as no surprise. I mean, there has been talk of no 2004-05 NHL season for over a year. It has generally been believed that the hurdles that the two sides needed to cross were as large as the Grand Canyon. I think that the most frustrating thing for hockey fans around the world is that it doesn't appear that the two sides are even trying, not even communicating. The last time they even met was a week ago.
SO, WHO'S TO BLAME?
Like with baseball in 1994, and any time labor issues are mentioned, who takes the blame? The Owners? Nope. The players? Absolutely. And I, for one, think it is completely unfair.
This is America, right? We live in a society where the economic term "Fair Market Value" applies, right? To bring it down a few levels, the price of a candy bar is somewhere between 50 and 65 cents. Why is that the price? Because that is what they charge and people buy it. Let's say a teacher in a small town high school earns $30,000 to do their job, teach students, etc. $30,000 is "Market Value" for that job. The individual understands that pay scale and either accepts it or finds a job elsewhere. Tom Hanks is given a script and if he likes it, he agrees to do that movie. He sets his price to be in the movie at, say, $20 million. The movie studio decides to take on Hanks at $20 million or sign another actor for less. Maybe Hanks really likes the movie and decides that he is willing to do it for $12 million instead. Whatever he decides, that is 'fair market value.'
The NHL's problem, like Major League Baseball's, the NBA and NFL, is that some believe that the players make too much money. They want to enforce a salary cap. The owners want to make more money. Now, on the surface, there is nothing wrong with that. If I own a major league sports team, I would want to make more money. However, for the owners to now turn around and blame the players for making too much money is a little hypocritical, don't you think?
I mean, the owner of the Colorado Avalanche OKd the deal to sign Peter Forsberg for $11 million, didn't he? The owner of the Washington Capitals agreed to acquire Jaromir Jagr and his $11 million contract, right? Tom Hicks, owner of the Texas Rangers agreed to sign Alex Rodriguez to a 10 year, $250 million contract even though no other team offered him more than $160 million. At the time these deals were done, they were done with the owner's approval, meaning that they felt they were getting "fair market value."
Do these owners have the right now to say that they have a problem with the economic situation in hockey? Do they have the right to call the players greedy? I mean, let's all be honest, if you got an offer from an NHL team in Calgary to play for $350,000 and another offer to play for Colorado for $4 million, what would you do?
In the coming months, you will hear just how greedy professional athletes are. You will hear plenty of negative talk about the players. They will probably be made out to be the bad guys. But step back and really think it through, and then determine who deserves the blame. In my head, it is the owners.
AFFECT ON FANS
Now, I have to admit, I am not really a big hockey fan. I just find it incredibly difficult to watch an NHL game on TV. Sure, I hopped on the Minnesota Wild bandwagon a year ago when they advanced to the Western Conference Finals, but other than that, I find it almost unwatchable. That said, I believe that the game of hockey is the best when it comes to watching in person. It can be a beautiful game when played at a high speed, high-talent level. And yeah, the fighting can be a bonus too.
My point with explaining my feelings about watching hockey really only to only make one point. Back in 1994 when Major League Baseball had a work stoppage, the game lost a lot of fans, at least in the short term. Many vowed never to watch baseball again. When I heard that and listened to people whine about the strike and how they would never watch baseball again, it bothered me. My opinion was simply, "Why? There is no reason not to enjoy a game you've always enjoyed just because of a work stoppage." I fully believe that.
However, now I can understand that sentiment a little more. See, for a passionate baseball fans like myself, the thought of not watching baseball for any reason makes no sense. Likewise, people who are passionate fans of hockey will continue to watch hockey if and when they come back.
However, I am a very casual hockey fan at best, and the fact that there will be no NHL hockey to watch will not affect me in any way. I didn't watch it before, so I won't miss it. The fans that I would be concerned about are the kids, or those who are just learning the game of hockey. They don't necessarily understand what is happening or why there aren't games. Either way, they won't be able to watch the games on TV this season. They won't be able to watch the world's best players. They will see the negative side of professional sports. Those are the people who are most impressionable.
The NHL also has a lot to lose. They have, by far, the lowest television revenue of any of the major sports in the US. The ratings for hockey in the US are, by far, the lowest of any of the major sports. Lets be honest, in this country, there are a lot of "minor sports" that get far more viewers than the NHL. But what about in Canada? Hockey Night in Canada get s great ratings.
But in the United States, hockey is a second tier sport. I mean, look at where hockey is popular, in the northeast, Michigan, Chicago and Minnesota. That's about it. It is huge in Canada.
WHAT TO DO NOW?
I think it is also important to remember that the owners aren't losing anything in this lockout. The players are losing their salaries, but they should be ok for awhile, assuming they have been at all wise with their money. As always, it is really just the FANS who lose out in this situation, and that is what is unfortunate.
So, thinking for the fans, I have a proposal to remedy this situation.
First, if I'm with the owners, I disband the whole NHL. I realize that this is fairly radical and eliminates a lot of great history of the NHL. However, in reality, that is not lost. It will always been in the minds of those who care and in the history books as well. Also, if we're being honest, Commissioner Gary Bettman has done a good job of messing up the league in the last 10-12 years himself.
When the owners determine how to separate their assets, the next step is to develop a new league. Many of the same rules will apply, but there will be a strict salary cap, similar to that of the NBA. I won't get into specifics, but it should be an amount where players can still make a lot of money, but so can teams. How do fans win from this? Well, lower salaries mean lower ticket prices, meaning that this becomes a grassroots league that will reach an audience that it hasn't lately, the common person who really cares about their team, not the rich businessman who can afford a box seat and shows up only to be seen.
In keeping with the grassroots attempts, I think that the league should start as a 16 team league. It should start with a dispersal draft. Who will be eligible for this draft? Anyone, including players who decide to "cross the picket line." Now, with just 16 teams in the league, the best of the best will be playing. I mean, if you have 20 players on each NHL roster and 32 teams, that is 640 players. Now, if you have 16 teams with 20 players on the roster, then you're looking at a league where just the top 320 players play. Truly, the hockey should be so much better. I know I was 100% against "Contraction" when it was mentioned in baseball a couple of years ago, but that is only because my favorite team, the Minnesota Twins, were listed as one of the teams that would have been eliminated. However, the truth is that I do believe the contraction per se, is a good idea in these leagues that just have too many teams.
So, where would the teams be in my new league? Well, I believe in regional leagues, so I would have a Canadian League and an American League (names subject to change!). I would have eight teams in each league. Here is where they would be:
Canadian League American League
East West East West
Ottawa Vancouver New York Chicago
Toronto Calgary Boston Minneapolis
Montreal Edmonton Philadelphia Detroit
Quebec City Winnipeg Buffalo Denver
You will notice that there is obviously history in each of these cities. The surprised might be Winnipeg since they "lost" their team to Phoenix a number of years ago. But again, because of the salary structure of the new league, a city like Winnipeg would be able to compete with the bigger cities. Also, I believe that it is important to have hockey where people want to watch it. That is why there should be more teams in Canada, but it all just works better to separate it eight and eight. The US cities I selected either have a major NHL history and/or are in a hockey hotbed. It is ridiculous to have hockey is places that no one cares about it. Let's be honest, those teams in Florida or in the Sunbelt really only care about hockey when their team wins. That isn't right.
The NHL Owners have locked out the players
The Owners are hypocritical and have been the cause of their own problems.
Hockey fans are really the only ones hurt in this situation.
I think that the NHL should be disbanded and a new league formed. The league should have a salary structure that makes sense for players, owners and most importantly, fans! It should be located in cities in areas where hockey is popular and the common person can afford to go to games.
So, what do you think of this whole situation? Is there a possible answer to this? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the problems as well as possible solutions. E-mail me.
Twins Top Sox... Again
You have Santana and Radke, and you've got a chance. But then you look at the rest of their roster and you really can't see them getting past the first round. Anything can happen, but I don't see it."
"What dirt do they think they're still kicking on us? Our chances coming into this series were slim and none. They're going to the playoffs and we're not. But what he did was a bit excessive. Staring into our dugout between innings was uncalled for."
- Mark Buehrle
Mark Buehrle sure did a lot of talking after the Twin beat the White Sox 10-2 on Tuesday night. Sure, it was an intense game where Torii Hunter was intentionally hit by a pitch in the first inning and then later he came through with a big double in the Twins 9-run inning, he did a little yapping. I think I would too. But, let's face it, Buehrle is the last guy who should be talking smack about the Twins. Actually, no one from the White Sox should talk bad about the Twins.
Another reason Buehrle should not have been talking so much Tuesday night is because he was the White Sox starting pitcher on Wednesday night. Giving the Twins some quotes to hang up in the locker room for last night's game was not a good idea.
Fact is, Mark Buehrle doesn't need to talk trash. He is a decent major league pitcher. At the same time, his won-loss record is directly the result of a lot of run support. Same thing this year; he's 14-9 with an ERA of 3.98.
So anyway, the Twins put out a lineup of righties. But Buehrle didn't allow a hit through the first three innings. He gave up three unearned runs in the third behind the help of his defense! Then he gave up two more runs in the fourth inning, including an RBI double by Torii Hunter, who had to be thrilled to produce against Buehrle. However, Buehrle did go seven innings and didn't give up more runs.
I just know that I was really looking forward to last night's game, just in the hopes that the Twins would hit Buehrle! but, of course, Buehrle has an excuse for everything:
``You can kind of tell we're out of the playoffs"
Yeah, that's the only reason that the Twins could have beat him. It couldn't have been anything else.
According to a posting on the Dickie Thon Twins Fan Forum, Aaron Gleeman will be posting an article on some of the other things that the White Sox have said about the Twins over the last couple of years. I look forward to reading it, so be sure to check it out.
Also, check out the Twins Geek articles the last two days for great Twins/Sox coverage and much on the perceived rivalry (I say this because in real rivalries, games at this point in the season would mean something).
Batgirl also has some pretty strong opinion on our friends from the South Side of Chicago.
HOW TO WIN -
You know, it's funny. It is not only impressive that the Twins have won these first two games from the White Sox, but it is very interesting to me how they have won these two games.
The Twins have received great starting pitching from Radke and Silva. The Twins have received great relief pitching from Durbin, Rincon, Romero and Crain. The White Sox starters have pitched well, with the exception of one inning.
The Twins have outscored the White Sox 16-3 in the two games, but they have done all of that damage without hitting one home run. So many people seem to want to see homers, but there are other ways to win too, and the Twins have found a way.
I look at one at bat in the game that I really think was huge. In the fourth inning, with two outs, Justin Morneau had two strikes on him. Now, Morneau is known as a big power hitter, but at every minor league level, he has proven to be a good hitter... period. He fought off a couple of tough pitches before getting a sharp-breaking curveball. He took really a partial swing and just put it in play. He hit a slow hopper toward third base. Joe Crede fielded the ball and threw it away. Lew Ford singled to left field, and advanced to second on a fielding error. Finally Crede had another throwing error. In the end, the Twins had three runs. Had Morneau given up on his at bat, or even on his two-strike swing, none of that happens, the inning is over and the Twins don't score. That is an excellent example to show that a strikeout is not the same as other outs. That is why I like Jason Kubel and others who just don't strike out very much!
Yes, the home runs is a huge part of baseball and can play a major role in the game. The Twins continue to hit more home runs as a team (even if they don't have an individual with more than 22 this year), and we have seen the impact one power hitter (Morneau) can have on the lineup. But there is so much more that can help a team win.
CARLOS - Carlos Silva picked up his 12th win of the season last night. He allowed just one hit (A Timo Perez bunt single) in 5 1/3 innings of work. He left the game on a Web Gem. Crede hit a hard one-hopper that drilled Silva's ankle and bounced into foul territory near first base where Justin Morneau fielded it. He flipped it to Silva covering first base for the out. I think that it was the right decision to take him out. The team had a big lead. Silva had pitched well. He had also pitched long enough into the game to qualify for the win... It also allowed us to see...
JESSE CRAIN - Yesterday I gawked at the work and "stuff" of JD Durbin. Today, I will repeat thoughts I have said about Crain since he was called up. Crain throws hard, even if he has actually sacrificed a couple mph to gain better control. That change has led to him throwing 15 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings over 10 outings. His fastball is still between 91 and 94. But his slider in the mid-80s is nasty and his curveball in the low-to-mid-70s is sharp. Seriously, he is going to be good for a lot of years!
AUGIE DOGGY - It was mentioned in the paper yesterday that Luis Rivas and his new big toenails could be ready to play today. I say don't rush him back. Maybe even just let him sit the rest of the season. I really like Augie Ojeda. Defensively, he is solid. Offensively, he puts together quality at bats, has a good eye, good bat control and right now, he isn't hurting the team at all. Once Corey Koskie can play, Michael Cuddyer should move back to 2B anyway. Might as well just shut Rivas down.
TONIGHT - The Twins will give the Sox a chance in the game tonight when they send Kyle Lohse to the mound (instead of JD Durbin!). Fortunately, Jon Garland has been almost as inconsistent as Lohse this year, so maybe that bodes well for the Twins.
Tonight - 7:10 - Kyle Lohse (7-11, 5.45, 1.65, .310) vs Jon Garland (10-10, 4.93, 1.38, .269)
Here are the current AL Central standings though last night's games:
Minnesota Twins 84-60
Chicago White Sox 72-72 12.5
Cleveland Indians 71-74 14.0
Detroit Tigers 65-79 19.0
Kansas City Royals 52-93 33.0
Any thoughts on the Twins? E-mail me.
Thanks to everyone who stops by this site! Have a wonderful day! If you have any questions or comments on anything, send me an e-mail.
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