Tuesday, July 19, 2011

NFL Labor Talks Near Complete

Over the past week, there has finally been some urgency between the owners and the players and it looks like football may be on the horizon.  After months of throwing words at each other and small spats in between the two sides, it seems like both finally decided to man up.  The players right now actually may hold more of the cards.  The owners don't want games cancelled and they are conceding on many issues.

The first big development was that the owners finally dropped the idea of "first right of refusal".  They wanted to be able to match contracts given in free agency for up to 3 of their players.  Dropping this shows they mean business and aren't playing around.  Since then, they have set a salary cap (120 million), eliminated two-a-days, and moved much closer to an agreement.  On Thursday, the owners and players will meet with Judge Boylan to discuss the progress and to vote on whether or not to accept the new CBA which is almost fully finished.  Now they have only a few issues to resolve.  The players want a reduction in the amount of times you can be "franchised", workers compensation issues, and lost benefits from 2010.  These things need to get done by Thursday or the players may not approve the new CBA.  Considering how things are proceeding, there is a good chance that this gets done this week which means Free Agency is on the horizon.

I touched on this earlier with Hines Ward, but the AFC North (minus the Browns) seems like they are trying to prove Ray Lewis right in his prediction that the lockout will cause more crime.  Funny enough, up until this past week the AFC North had a clean record.  After Ward's DUI, came an assault charge for Bengals Safety marvin white, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest for Pacman Jones, and assaulting a family member for Cedric Benson.  The only one that will probably have any serious ramification (significantly more than a fine) is Benson, because this is his second assault charge in as many years and the first one hasn't even gone to court yet.

In Other News:

The Women's Soccer team lost the World Cup to Japan, not for a lack of trying.  They had some epic performances again, including a late header by none other than Abby Wambach.  She also was the only woman to score her kick in the shootout at the end.  Japan probably needed this one more.  With all that country has been though, they needed a win.  The US is a Women's Soccer powerhouse and the US had a good showing in the Olympics last year.

The Indians have gone 4-3 since the All-Star break and with a win tomorrow, would have won 2 straight series.  The Hitting has been pretty consistent, only once scoring less than 3 runs.  The bullpen surprisingly has been shaky.  The bullpen has been consistent all year, but their ERA since the All-Star break is 5.71.  It is probably just a bump in the road for them.  The guys who got rocked are the guys who generally get rocked anyways and the core of the bullpen was relatively solid.  The only guys I have any worries about right now is Raffy Perez.  He started off the year dominant, but has gotten less and less dominant to the point now where he has a 5.14 ERA in July.

On the offensive side, there has been a lot of shuffling.  Sizemore is out again with a knee injury.  Its hard to say with him how long it could be.  Thankfully, Austin Kearns is hitting .346 in July and is picking up the slack in the outfield.  Brantley is having an excellent July after an awful June.  He is hitting .338 for the month and has provided a spark for the offense.  Its really been the long balls this week.  Santana has 2 and Asdrubal has 3 and they have combined for 12 RBIs in the past week.  While Santana's average is down this year, he is on pace for over 25 home runs.

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