News item: The All-Star festivities in Cleveland provided a convenient platform for players to talk tough about their discontent with the current economic system and insist they are unified enough to go on strike if something isn’t done about it.
My take: It’s important to note that there is not a single player in the majors right now who was around for the last work stoppage in 1994-95. It’s also important to remember that everyone talks like a warrior in times of peace.
Bonus take: Some veteran players — most notably our old friend Adam Jones — have been treated shabbily over the past couple of offseasons. But if the players go on strike, what the paying customers will remember is that Jones made nearly $100 million before getting scant interest as a free agent after his worst offensive season in a decade.
News item: The campaign to get equal pay and treatment for the United States Women’s National Soccer Team gained steam with Sunday’s World Cup-clinching victory over the Netherlands.
My take: Though the revenue and salary situations are more complicated than the sound bites might lead you to believe, U.S. Soccer should standardize the pay and working conditions between the men’s and women’s teams. Even if the men’s team generated higher overall revenues — and it hasn’t since 2015 — the women’s team has been so much more successful that it’s hard to make an argument against total equity.
News item: The Orioles opened the nonmathematical second half of the season Friday in the midst of their most successful run of the year.
My take: They entered the All-Star break with five wins in their previous nine games, which isn’t going to give anybody delusions of adequacy, but certainly beat the alternative. Now fans get to sweat out the two weeks until the trade deadline, wondering if the front office is really willing to trade new face of the franchise Trey Mancini.
News item: Next season, the NBA will give coaches one opportunity per game to challenge an officiating decision. Coaches will be required to use a timeout to request a review and there must be clear and conclusive evidence to overturn the original call.
My take: This is great news, because there aren’t nearly enough stoppages in NBA games and basketball fans will get to find out what baseball and football fans already know. That “clear and conclusive visual evidence” means whatever the replay guys in New York want it to mean.
News item: Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander caused quite a stir when he spent part of the All-Star workout day accusing Major League Baseball of intentionally altering this year’s baseballs to jack up home run totals.
My take: Verlander obviously is understandably sensitive about the ridiculous increase in homers this year, because he leads the major leagues in giving them up. Everyone knows there’s something up with the balls, but attributing it to a vast MLB conspiracy is probably a stretch.
Bonus take: The Lords of the Realm aren’t that clever. Remember, it only took them 40 years to figure out a way to outflank the players union and legally stifle the free-agent market.
News item: Rookies Pete Alonso and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. faced off in the final round of the All-Star Home Run Derby, with Alonso winning the $1 million first prize and Guerrero hitting the most homers overall — a record-smashing 91. Guerrero also hit the longest home run of the competition, sending a ball 488 feet into the night.
My take: Sorry, but the Home Run Derby just doesn’t do it for me anymore. I’d rather just watch Justin Verlander give up more of them than anybody and still post a 2.98 ERA.
News item: The NFL has pulled its full-time officiating plan off the bargaining table during collective bargaining negotiations with the NFL Referees Association. The move is not expected to have a significant effect on the 2019 season because the current CBA will be in effect until May 31, 2020.