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Name: Jim MonaghanHeight: 5'8"Weight: 150
Prior to joining WDHA, Jim spent a number of years as part of the New York/New Jersey sports media corps covering the Mets, Yankees, Jets, Giants, Knicks, Nets, Devils and Rangers. Jim has over 25 years of experience coaching and playing baseball. He spent two years in baseball management with the Newark Bears. and coached the Don Bosco Prep freshman baseball team to back-to-back Bergen County championships for the only time in the school's history. He's also an instructor with Professional Baseball Instruction in Bergen County.
That sound you heard last night was the collective football community breathing a sigh of relief - the NFL's lockout of its game officials was finally over.
You didn't need to be a cast member of "The Big Bang Theory" to know that after the National Football League gave us the Green Bay/Seattle debacle on national television Monday night, an end to the NFL's lockout of game officials would come to an end sooner rather than later. It almost didn't matter what the replacement officials did in the pre-season because the games mean so little. But once the season started for real....
Using a collection of high school, collegiate and even lingerie league officials, the league owners were hopeful that they could keep the 121 regular game officials off the field long enough to get them to crack. The biggest issue? Simply put, it was pensions. Technically, NFL officials are considered part-time employees and the league owners didn't want to continue paying into the pension fund for 121 part-time employees.
Two things happened this past weekend - the Baltimore Ravens beat New England on a controversial field goal late in the game, and well, we're still trying to figure out what happened in the endzone at the end of the Green Bay/Seattle game on Monday. One estimate claimed that the Seattle victory resulted in a $300 million swing in gambling payouts.
The National Football League is a $9 billion annual industry. Let that number sink in - $9 billion. The owners appeared to be willing to take a hardline on this; heck, if some of them had been able to get their way a year ago when it was the players who were locked out, there might not have been a season at all. Understand that the owners didn't get to be where they are today by making stupid business decisions. But what they were doing here was downright ludicrous.
So maybe it was a blessing in disguise that Green Bay lost on that absurd play Monday night, because that's probably what convinced everyone that an agreement had to be reached.
In a somewhat related matter, the start of the National Hockey League's 2012-2013 season is in serious jeopardy. The issue? Of course, it's money. The owners want to change the percentage of revenue doled out to them and the players (they want to give a lower percentage to the players, of course). The pre-season games have already been canceled, but both sides are supposed to meet again today to continue discussions. For the record, NHL revenues climbed to $3.3 billion last season. It's not an NFL-sized number, but it's still very serious revenue. Are the owners REALLY dumb enough to risk an entire season over a couple of percentage points of that $3.3 billion? You hope that cooler heads prevail and you REALLY hope that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman realizes what's at stake here and works with the players to make sure that not a single regular season game is missed.
And let's not leave baseball out of the discussion. While MLB has enjoyed unprecedented labor cooperation between owners and players for more than a decade, there's a level of fiscal irresponsibility among some owners that is hard to understand. The Yankees have a history of doling out ridiculous contracts - they could have chosen to let ARod wander off after he opted out in 2007 - and the Red Sox aren't far behind. I love Carl Crawford as a player, but they completely overpaid for him. And the John Lackey signing was plain stupid, even if he did happen to be the best pitcher on that year's free agent market. Consider then the Los Angeles Dodgers who took Crawford, Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto from the Red Sox in a trade that basically allowed Boston to hit the reset button. It prompted one mid-level Yankees official to ask ESPN's Buster Olney, "Why couldn't the Dodgers have done that for us?" The Dodgers took on an enormous amount of payroll and are a couple of losses away from playoff elimination.
The teams with the top 5 payrolls are the Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox, Angels and Tigers. The Red Sox have already been eliminated from the post-season, the Phillies are hanging on by a thread, the Angels aren't far behind, and while not likely, it's still possible that the Yankees and Tigers could miss the playoffs entirely. Meanwhile, Baltimore (with less than half the payroll of the Yankees) continues to make life miserable for New York, and Oakland (2nd lowest payroll in baseball) stands a very good chance of earning a Wild Card spot. It's not what you spend so much as how you spend it.
By the way, Major League Baseball's gross revenues for 2011? Nearly $8 billion.
My point? There's more than enough money in each of the above sports (and the NBA, too with $4.3 billion in 2011-12 revenues) to go around. I personally couldn't care less what a player or an owner makes. The more the merrier. Just be smart about how/where you spend it. The NFL owners took an enormous PR hit over this replacement ref fiasco and it could have been completely avoided had the people who are entrusted with running the game just used some fiscal common sense. The NHL is next. Get this done so we can drop the puck.
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