In crafting schedule, NFL had shrewd game plan

News item: The 2011 NFL schedule has been carefully constructed so that the league can lose the first three weeks of the regular season and still complete a full 16-game schedule.

My take: And you're surprised? This is the league that fines players for wearing the wrong shoelaces. Of course, the owners already know exactly when the new collective bargaining agreement will be finalized. They just haven't told the union yet.

Related news item: The stalemated labor negotiations have been put on hold until May 16 because the mediator — judge magistrate Arthur Boylan — needs to attend to other matters on his judicial calendar.

My take: The sense of urgency here is inspiring. Guess both sides just want to wait and see whether the lockout withstands the union's court challenge.

News item: When Ravens coach John Harbaugh and new San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh meet on Thanksgiving night at M&T Bank Stadium, it will be the first time that two brothers have faced each other as head coaches in an NFL game.

My take: I'm sure both of them are pretty stoked about that, but I think it's a greater tribute to their father, former coach Jack Harbaugh, who really made it possible.

News item: Highly successful George Mason men's basketball coach Jim Larranaga has resigned to become the new coach at Miami.

My take: Can't argue with that. Larranaga led the mid-major Patriots to the NCAA tournament five times in 14 seasons, including their Cinderella run to the 2006 Final Four. He will be sorely missed in the Colonial Athletic Association, where he is the all-time winningest coach, but he deserves a shot to compete in a major conference.

News item: Major League Baseball has seized control of the Los Angeles Dodgers amid concerns about the franchise's solvency after owner Frank McCourt took out a $30 million loan to meet the team's first player payroll of 2011.

My take: The Dodgers will have plenty of money when they finalize their long-term TV deal with Fox, but Selig has taken this action because of McCourt's reckless stewardship of the franchise up to this point.

Bonus take: It would be cool if baseball commissioner Bud Selig asked former owner Peter O'Malley to run the franchise for MLB, but I'm guessing it'll be someone like former Braves and Nationals president Stan Kasten.

News item: Selig told the Associated Press Sports Editors that he will not consider changes in the official recognition of Barry Bonds' home run records in the aftermath of his conviction on obstruction of justice charges related to baseball's steroid scandal.

My take: That's the right move, no matter what you think of Bonds and the part he played in baseball's steroid scandal. This isn't track and field, so there's no way to put the statistical genie back in the bottle.

Related news item: Selig also confirmed that MLB intends to expand the playoffs next season by adding a second wild-card team in each league and opening with a pure wild-card round. The plan is pending an agreement with the players union on the details.

My take: I'm totally against any increase in the number of playoff teams in baseball, and I will be again the next time MLB dilutes the postseason pool. If I wanted to watch the NBA playoffs, I wouldn't be a baseball fan.

News item: U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara recently announced widespread illegal gambling and bank fraud indictments aimed at shutting down the three largest poker websites — PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker.

My take: Of course, you're still free to play the various state and multistate lotteries, which keep a much higher percentage of the take than any casino, racetrack or gambling site. This is more about kneecapping the competition than protecting the public.

News item: Cincinnati Reds pitcher Mike Leake has been charged with misdemeanor theft for allegedly removing security tags from several articles of clothing and removing those articles from a downtown Macy's without paying for them.

My take: Apparently, it isn't easy to live on $425,000 per year in Cincinnati.

Bonus take: I'm surprised the Bengals didn't immediately put out a press release saying, "It wasn't us!"

Listen to Peter Schmuck on "The Week in Review" on Fridays at noon on WBAL (1090 AM) and

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