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No baseball normalcy until 2022?
Say it ain't so...
Good morning, all. Hope your week is going well.
It’s World Series time for baseball and I don’t know about you, but it sure does seem strange. I am not suggesting the game go back to day World Series games, when you snuck a transistor radio into class - remember radios? - then raced home to catch the last few innings on television. I am talking about a World Series being played on a neutral field for the first time - Globe Life Park in Arlington, TX - and in the same ballpark for the entire series for the first time since 1944.
The series itself is interesting, as the big-money LA Dodgers take on the low-payroll Tampa Bay Rays. But in this COVID-riddled season, so many things are different. For example, fans were not permitted in any ballparks, until the NLCS. The Series is being played in the same park as the NLCS and fans are being allowed in the ballpark once again, somewhere in the neighborhood of 11,000. The ESPN radio broadcasting crew for the series - Dan Shulman, Jessica Mendoza and Chris Singleton - isn’t even at the ballpark. They are broadcasting the series off of monitors at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, CT. (Look for more of this kind of arrangement in 2021.) This seems rather strange to me, considering the FOX-TV crew is at the stadium, as are the aforementioned fans.
But what is even more interesting are the comments made by Todd Boehly, co-owner of the Dodgers:
“I think we’re looking for 2022 to start to feel normal again, while we work through this in 2021.”
Translation. Parks will be nowhere near capacity in 2021. The off season, free agent market will not produce many big contracts and other budgetary constraints will be implemented, including fewer ballclub employees - we have already witnessed major front office layoffs - and fewer team broadcasters. And repeat, the broadcasters will probably not travel with their teams again, as bean counters realize the savings that can be had on travel, hotel rooms and other stipends. Better to trot out the Zoom calls and social media to connect the players with the fans. Throw in the fact the owners’ agreement with the Players Association expires at the end of 2021 and you have a recipe for a clouded future. And I haven’t even mentioned what will happen to the minor leagues now that MLB has taken over their operation.
So when Todd Boehly says it may be 2022 before baseball returns to normal, that just might be wishful thinking. The fact is, there may never be a normal the way we knew it. The new normal may look a lot different, leading one to wonder if the baseball model can withstand yet another financial hit.
The Dallas Cowboys have a new coach, the veteran Mike McCarthy, who won a Super Bowl, when he guided the Green Bay Packers. But things have not gone well for “America’s Team.” After getting blown out, 38-10, Monday night by the Arizona Cardinals, Dallas is 2-4. And now there appears to be an open players’ revolt toward the new coaching staff. Players are accusing the staff of not preparing them for games and not being competent in their jobs. Of course, no player will be identified with the quotes, choosing to hide behind the famous anonymous banner.
Maybe there is a reason McCarthy didn’t land a job, immediately after his Packers’ dismissal. And as a Giants fan, maybe my analysis was misplaced, when I was rooting for him to fill the Giants coaching vacancy in the off season. Who knows, though? The season is not yet at the midway point and Dallas is in the worst division in football, where this year a 6-10 record just might snag the division crown.
NFL remains a hit in UK
It was thought that because the NFL would have to cancel its 2020 slate of games in the United Kingdom due to the virus, the game’s popularity “on the other side of the pond,” would take a hit. Not so. The first three Sunday night games televised in the UK have witnessed a ratings jump of 8% over 2019. And according to Front Office Sports:
“Overall linear and digital engagement has also risen 54% year-over-year across the league’s media rights and digital content portfolio.
In other words, the sport is as popular as ever, no matter what Joe Buck and Troy Aikman say over a hot mike.
Emrick calls it a career
I am not much of a hockey fan, but on the occasion when I would watch a match, I knew it was a big one if Mike Emrick was at the mic. On Monday, the venerable NHL broadcaster, who has been heard on NBC, ESPN and ABC in addition to broadcasting local coverage, announced his retirement at the age of 74.
The praise for Emrick, who is in the Hockey Hall of Fame, came rolling in when word broke of his retirement. Good for him to go out on top and at an age, where he can still enjoy life.
That’s it for today. Thanks for your support, and if you can spread the word about the newsletter, I would be most appreciative.