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Minnie Mouse Manfred
[Posted Tues. p.m.]
PGA Tour Quiz: Last time I mentioned that Vijay Singh won nine times in 2004. Byron Nelson won 18 in 1945, but, frankly, this record is a little deceiving. Ben Hogan won 13 times in 1946, and 10 times in 1948, while Sam Snead won 11 events in 1950. But post-1950, aside from Singh, name the other three to win 8 or more times in a single year. [Yeah, some will find this easy, especially if you are age 55 and above…but it’s for the masses.] Answer below.
The MLB S---Show
Commissioner Rob Manfred said during an interview with ESPN on Monday that he doesn’t think MLBPA executive director Tony Clark was being dishonest late last week when stating “it’s time to get back to work, just tell us when and where.”
His belief is that Clark was trying to bait Manfred into following through with previous threats to use his power to mandate a 48-to-50 game schedule with prorated pay so that the players can immediately file an unfair labor practice grievance against owners.
“It’s just a disaster for our game,” Manfred said of not having an agreement as yet. “Absolutely no question about it. It shouldn’t be happening. And it’s important that we find a way to get past it and get the game back on the field for the benefit of our fans.”
“We are running out of time,” Manfred said. “The clock is ticking on this, but the key, the important first step, is a willingness on the part of the MLBPA to get back at the table and engage in the process.”
“We’re going to try to open a line of communication with the MLBPA,” Manfred added. “We’ll be communicating with them in writing about some of the things that need to be done in order to cooperatively get back on the field and we’re hopeful that we’ll get a more positive response to that overture.
The commissioner said the owners are ready and willing to keep negotiating.
“The clubs are interested in finding a way back on the field, and it remains their strong preference to get back on the field with an agreement, or at least the cooperation of the players,” Manfred said.
A week ago, Manfred promised there unequivocally would be a 2020 baseball season. That’s no longer his stance.
“I do learn as I go along,” he said. “Given how long my 100% prediction lasted, I’m not going to handicap it again but it’s something less than 100 (percent), that’s for sure.
“I’m not confident. I think there’s real risk, and as long as there’s no dialogue that real risk is going to continue.”
Joel Sherman / New York Post
“Rob Manfred went on national TV on Monday and delivered the wrong message.
“It is not just that he did such a public 180 by announcing that he no longer is confident there will be a 2020 major league season, five days after putting it at 100 percent that there would be.
“Yep, that was bad. Just like Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt going on the radio during Great Depression-like financial ruin in this country to declare the baseball “industry isn’t very profitable.” Just like MLB’s new significantly higher deal with Turner becoming public as MLB has cut jobs, cut the draft and is trying to cut player pay.
“MLB is losing the game of optics.
“But losing player hearts and minds has been worse for Manfred than any flip-flop at this late date of negotiations.
“It is understood that Manfred represents the owners. He was hired and can be dismissed by them. His pay is decided by them. But I am going to give a quaint concept: The role of the commissioner of Major League Baseball was created at one of the lowest points in the sport’s history – much like today – in the aftermath of the Black Sox scandal. To take the job, Kenesaw Mountain Landis requested sweeping powers to act ‘in the best interest of baseball.’
“Reread those words – best interest of baseball. Not the best interest of owners, though they probably think that is one and the same.
“What Manfred needed to do on national TV was to make a direct appeal to the players that they are the most important element of Major League Baseball. There are no profits without them. No one comes out to watch an owner own. The players are the engine.
“Manfred needed to convey that whether the union or the public believes it or not, the owners are enduring a negative economic impact that he must react to as the commissioner. But that should not mean stomping on players. That is so 1965.
“Manfred needed to acknowledge the players are the reason people were excited for baseball to return. He must find a way to escape a narrative that for something to be good for management it has to be bad for players. Ultimately, what is good for the players is good for the game.
“Instead, in restrictive offers and biting rhetoric MLB has turned even moderate players into firebrands. MLB has not been used to this version of the union holding so firm on a position nor the impact that social media could have in players not just bonding, but communicating their distrust and distaste to the public. There are a lot of familiar calls of greedy players, but more fans than ever are holding management to account….
“The commissioner – make that the commissioner of all baseball – should still try even at this late moment in the negotiations to let the players know he cares. That what grows the game is good for all and that the people best positioned to grow the game are the players. Despite all their hard-line words these days, players want to play. It is what they love to do. Even an abbreviated year in a short career is better than no year. Manfred needs to give them a reason to get back to that posture. The players should be the best salesmen in the game.
“Manfred needs to offer a season not only with – at minimum – a way to get to full prorated pay, but with reassurances of a future in which the best players will be on rosters, stars will be promoted not debased and a partnership roadmap to grow the game’s appeal and esteem can be demonstrated.
“Will the players believe him? It probably won’t even be a majority, especially with the union in as much of a fighting stance as it has been in a quarter century. But the game has taken sizable hits during the pandemic and there has to be a starting point for a better tomorrow. Tearing each other down and hoping fans love your sport is as ludicrous as it sounds.”
Thomas Boswell / Washington Post
“It’s time for a basic lesson in baseball arithmetic and the incredible, shameless greed of major league owners. The bosses are – again – on the verge of bashing their sport to maximize their profits in an industry that pours vast increases in wealth on them each year as they whine.
“The difference between Major League Baseball’s last rejected offer to its players for a return to play and the cost in salaries to have a reasonable 81-game season at full pay per game is about $600 million, or about $20 million per team.
“MLB acts as if absorbing such a cost – for the sake of the game, for the sake of fans and (as we’ll see) out of basic fairness – is a pandemic-induced, sport-threatening catastrophe that must be avoided.
“That’s a lie. A huge, mind-boggling lie.
“Here’s why: The average MLB has increased in value by more than $1 billion in just the past six years, from $811 million to $1.852 billion. That’s according to Statista 2020, but all estimates are similar.
“What the devil is $20 million per team when the average team has been increasing in value by $173.5 million per year?
“It is the cost of doing business – fabulous business at that.
“As a frame of reference for who is getting richer faster – owners or players – over the past four offseasons, player salaries have increased by 1 percent. Owners’ revenue in that time has increased by 15 percent. Owners always have had it great but seldom better than now.
“They just aren’t doing great at this split second because of the novel coronavirus. But they want you to ignore their vast wealth generation for decades, including huge boom times in the past 15 years with a compound annual growth rate in franchise value of 12.17 percent.
“That rate, in layman’s terms, means the value of your team, even if you make zero profit each year, doubles every six years. Appreciation, baby! Those gains are leveraged even more because all owners use some borrowed cash to buy. We haven’t even mentioned plain ol’ profits yet.
“So let me hear one more time why every owner shouldn’t be lined up and smacked in the face at dawn for repeatedly making almost-identical lowball offers to players while the 2020 season drips away?....
“The owners wanted it all. First, they wanted a season – or at least 72 games, which they could say is the best anybody could expect in a pandemic. Then they wanted a champion to crown so the sport has continuity. In addition, they wanted the union to agree to 22 more playoff games in an expanded format to sell to TV this fall.
“And finally – this must be a guesstimate because the owners refuse to open their books – MLB wanted its whole industry to break even (roughly $0.00) for 2020 at a time when the whole world is bleeding.
“What would the players have gotten in return? At best a 64.5 percent pay cut and 100 percent of the risk of getting the coronavirus and, with bad luck, dying.
“This is baseball. And always has been….
“It’s time for baseball fans and, in my opinion, those in the baseball media who are paralyzed by a timid evenhandedness to see this MLB nightmare for what it is: a case of wildly lopsided blame.
“We have a mildly annoying union that doesn’t always present its case clearly against insanely rich owners who won’t take a $25 million-per-team hit in a pandemic year to do what’s right for a sport that has increased their wealth, on average, by more than $1 billion – more than 40 times as much as $25 million – in just the past six years.
“Anything less than an immediate offer by MLB of an 81-game season at full pay per game is a baseball crime in broad daylight.”
Buster Olney / ESPN…written before Manfred’s performance on Monday.
“The house of baseball is burning and somebody needs to put out the fire immediately, by making a deal that moves the sport forward beyond this absurd fight over increments.
“The opportunity to own the sporting stage in early July is gone. The potential goodwill (and ratings) all but certain for the first big sport out of the gate may be all but squandered.
“Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts talking about a cash-flow problem when tens of millions of people have lost their jobs? Not good. Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt, who has seen the value of his franchise multiply by at least a factor of 10, talking about how you can’t make money in baseball? Not good.
“It’s not just the 2020 season at stake, but the future of MLB.
“At a time when some people are struggling to apply for unemployment benefits, nobody wants to hear about the quandaries of billionaires. Nobody should ever hear about minor leaguers having their salaries slashed, in the way that the Washington Nationals and Oakland Athletics intended to do.
“But here we are, and the longer this impasse lasts, the more resentful that fans get, as the owners haggle over amounts of money which, when measured against their collective wealth, are pathetically small – certainly not worth rendering long-term damage to the sport.
“The owners don’t have a monopoly on shortsightedness, by the way. The union leadership has pushed dominoes that helped lead to this moment through its lack of engagement over the past five years, with the two sides fueling the deterioration of their working relationship into a death spiral. Long before this current situation, MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark has almost uniformly responded to proposals about everything from pace-of-play initiatives to labor overtures with a hard no. Not, ‘let’s talk about that,’ or ‘let’s get in a room and kick this around’ – but a flat rejection.
“In lieu of dialogue, MLB has seemingly become more frustrated, more draconian in its actions, and the two sides are building nothing together. The two sides are growing nothing. The golden goose they own together is seemingly absorbing significant damage that will inevitably be reflected in the diminished revenues of owners and players.”
--Just like the positive test results from some college football players, the positive test results from at least two Cowboys players and four Houston Texans players as reported on Monday are also worrisome. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport first confirmed that Dallas star running back Ezekiel Elliott was one of those testing positive, but his agent said he is “feeling good.”
NFL chief medical officer Allen Sills said in May that the league was still working to develop processes for handling instances of the virus in players, coaches and staff.
“We fully well expect that we will have positive cases that arise,” Sills said. “Because we think that this disease will remain endemic in society, it shouldn’t be a surprise that new positive cases arise. Our challenge is to identify them as quickly as possible and prevent spread to any other participants. We’re working very diligently on that, and we’ll have some detailed plans at a later time.”
NFL players are not yet permitted to return to team facilities. Only those who are rehabbing injuries have been granted access.
--The Big Ten Conference launched a voter registration drive for more than 9,500 student-athletes while also announcing an Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition; Commissioner Kevin Warren telling USA TODAY Sports that conference athletes would be able to kneel during the national anthem if sports are played this fall.
“I’m going to personally empower student-athletes to express their right to free speech and peaceful protest,” Warren said in a phone interview Sunday. “What I have to do as a leader, I know my words matter, I know my actions matter and I will work through over these next couple months where I stand, and they know I stand together with them in all that I do.”
Warren, who is African-American, would not say if he personally will take a knee during the anthem.
Separately, Warren said a decision about allowing spectators in Big Ten stadiums is yet to be made. “The next 30 days will be critical,” he said.
--Here’s what we know from the PGA Tour’s reopening last weekend….
The audience for Colonial was the best in 16 years for this event, with Sunday’s final round averaging 3.09 million viewers, per Nielsen – the tournament’s largest final round audience since 2004 (3.98M).
The increase in viewership from last year was 50%. Go Golf!
“The Match” last month (Tiger, Peyton, Phil and Brady) did pull in 5.8M, but that was totally unique (and much needed entertainment).
Colonial supplied exciting Sunday live action, even if the play wasn’t sterling. I mean none of us have seen two critical, no more than 3-foot putts missed in such clutch moments in the span of about 10 minutes.
Some of us didn’t miss the crowds one bit…all the “you da man” crap we’re forced to put up with. Others say we’ll get tired with tournaments held without fans before The Memorial in mid-July.
The player/caddie exchanges can now be heard, at least the next few weeks. That’s good.
Collin Morikawa looks like an amazing force for the next 15 years, despite that awful missed putt in the playoff with Daniel Berger.
For all of Rory McIlroy’s huge success, it’s amazing how often he has problems on Sundays, this past one no exception as he shot four-over 74.
Dr. Whit passed on his favorite new nickname for Bryson DeChambeau and his new physique, via the Golic-Wingo show… “Bison” DeChambeau.
No one involved in last weekend’s tournament tested positive for coronavirus. Yippee!
--The top 5 players in the world are all showing up again at the RBC Heritage this week.
--Speaking of The Memorial, attendance is limited to 20 percent of its usual capacity because of safety protocols. Each fan will undergo a temperature check. Masks will be required. All bleachers have been removed. There will be a predetermined number of attendees at each hole. All guests have to park their own vehicles and walk to the course.
I posted before the conclusion of the weather-delayed race at Homestead-Miami Speedway Sunday, which ended up being won by Denny Hamlin, his third of the season and 40th overall, as he held off Chase Elliott.
There were 1,000 in the stands, all service members representing the Homestead Air Reserve Base and U.S. Southern Command in Doral, which was a great idea, and there will be 5,000 this Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama…all being seated in the frontstretch grandstand.
The sport has just done a terrific job in reopening. And to make things better, NASCAR announced it was moving its annual All-Star race from Charlotte to Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn. The plan as of now is for as many as 30,000 fans, with the race to be held in prime time on Wed., July 15. A great idea.
--No Bob Baffert entries in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes. Because it is now the first leg of the Triple Crown, instead of a mile-and-a-half, it is just 1 1/8. Tiz the Law is currently the prohibitive favorite at 3/2.
Baffert’s two biggies, Nadal (retired due to injury) and Charlatan (ankle injury…as well as a positive drug test) will not be there to add excitement.
Not having a freakin’ clue, I am staying out of this one, but I asked railbird Johnny Mac and he said box Tap It To Win and Sole Volante.
Shu’s 4-box is Tiz the Law, Tap It To Win, Sole Volante and Farmington Road.
If either one of them gets it right, they’ll receive the home version of “Bar Chat: The Game,” once we figure out to manufacture it…and a cash prize of $2.95! Plus bragging rights with their friends…forever. [This is Bar Chat #2,296, by the way.]
--The U.S. Open tennis tournament will be staged from Aug. 31-Sept. 13, but without fans, per New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday. No professional tennis tournaments have been held since March, which has left the sport’s calendar in tatters.
World number ones Novak Djokovic and Australian Ashleigh Barty, along with Rafael Nadal are among the top players who have expressed concerns about coming to New York. Australian Nick Kyrgios on Monday blasted the USTA for being “selfish” by pressing ahead with the tournament on its original dates.
Well, two things. Kyrgios is an amazing jerk and a-hole. Second, let’s wait about two weeks to see if New York spikes after all the protests and this week’s reopening, where, in fact, some of the behavior has been appalling in terms of lack of social distancing and not wearing masks.
But the fact is, New York and New Jersey have done an awesome job (fingers crossed) in bringing our numbers down.
Nonetheless, I’d put this event under the “fluid” category. Easy to cancel, but the USTA desperately needs revenue…television revenue.
--Tuesday, Bayern Munich captured its 30th German league title, eighth consecutive, with a 1-0 win over Werder Bremen, Robert Lewandowski’s strike the decider (his 31st of the season, which is pretty, pretty good).
The Premier League reopens tomorrow, Wed. Try and tune in before the match (1:00 p.m. Eastern Time) on NBCSN. There will no doubt be an interesting pre-match ceremony, even if there are no fans in attendance.
--There’s a story that former WFAN radio host Craig Carton could eventually return to the station, when the disgraced dirtball, who is serving a 3 ½-year sentence after being convicted of running a Ponzi scheme to pay off gambling debts, is let out.
A longtime ally, Chris Oliviero, who was hired on May 6 to run WFAN as Entercom New York’s senior vice president and market manager, hasn’t ruled out bringing Carton back.
Oliviero was a producer for Carton, helping team him with Boomer Esiason in 2007. Carton and Esiason’s decade-long run ended after Carton’s arrest in September 2017.
To even think of bringing Carton back, who began serving his prison sentence on June 17, 2019, is outrageous. I despise this guy.
Meanwhile, since late March, I haven’t tuned into WFAN for a single second. There’s been zero reason to do so.
--Nathan’s Famous announced it will go on with its Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest! This is huge. Granted, no fans, and it will be held at a private location, but still on ESPN.
Reminder, Covid-19 spreads if there is a reversal of fortune, which could reduce the nation’s GDP by 4 percent, according to, err, moi.
--Golfer/Instagram sensation Paige Spiranac said during her Monday episode of “Playing a Round” podcast that she doesn’t “wear underwear because it’s because I’m wearing spanky shorts and it just is too many layers if you have everything on.”
Now discuss amongst yourselves. I can’t because I’m afraid I would lose my International Web Site Association license. Remember, always look for the IWSA label for your assurance of web quality.
Top 3 songs for the week 6/15/68: #1 “Mrs. Robinson” (Simon and Garfunkel) #2 “This Guy’s In Love With You” (Herb Alpert) #3 “Mony Mony” (Tommy James and The Shondells)… and…#4 “Yummy Yummy Yummy” (Ohio Express) #5 “MacArthur Park” (Richard Harris…truly one of the worst tunes in the history of mankind, rivaling some of Shostakovich’s work…I just listened to Dmitri’s Symphony No. 5…sorry, his stuff is largely a mess…Now my man Rachmaninoff…he could compose…and that’s your classical minute…) #6 “Tighten Up” (Archie Bell & The Drells) #7 “Think” (Aretha Franklin) #8 “A Beautiful Morning” (The Rascals) #9 “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” (Hugo Montenegro) #10 “The Look Of Love” (Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66…B+ week…#5 kills it, #4 doesn’t help…sorry, LT…)
PGA Tour Quiz Answer: Post-1950, only four to win 8 events in a year…Vijay, 9 (2004); Tiger, 9 (2000), 8 (2006), 8 (1999); Arnold Palmer, 8 (1962), 8 (1960); Johnny Miller, 8 (1974).
Next Bar Chat, Monday.
Enjoy golf, Talladega and the Belmont.
[Bar Chat is IWSA approved.]