MLB is working on a scheduling reconfiguration for the '13 season and beyond that "likely will eliminate the Mets and Yankees as well as other 'natural rivals' playing home-and-home, six-game series annually," according to sources cited by Adam Rubin of ESPN N.Y. Games between natural rivals "likely will be limited to three games at one ballpark, or two games apiece at each ballpark." Rubin noted while the six-game Mets-Yankees series "increased the difficulty of the Mets' schedule, the Yankees annually playing three games a season at Citi Field has provided a boost to attendance and revenue." Sources noted that the '13 MLB schedule, and the "precise new configurations, are still being discussed." The potential scheduling change comes as the Astros will move from the NL Central to the AL West beginning with the '13 MLB season (ESPNNY.com, 4/30). YAHOO SPORTS' Kevin Kaduk wrote, "I'm guessing those ongoing 'discussions' involve" White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf and Mets Owner Fred Wilpon "complaining about the guaranteed three sellouts that could disappear from their ledgers every few seasons." Kaduk: "Apart from someone with a financial stake in the schedule, I can't imagine anyone having that big of a problem with this change should it be implemented" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/30).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
NHL VP/Player Safety & Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan "rebuffed the suggestion by many who say that his recent decisions have been influenced by Commissioner Gary Bettman, team owners, general managers and the players association," according to Christopher Botta of the N.Y. TIMES. Shanahan in a video conversation said, "No one got to us. No one has affected the way we operate." Botta noted Shanahan "is criticized as often for not suspending players" as he is for his suspensions. Shanahan "declines to offer explanations for every unpunished hit," but he "explained his rationale." Shanahan: "My job is not to make up the rules. It’s to enforce the rules we have. Now if the rules ever change, we'll enforce those. But for now, we know that if you make a full body check, there's going to be some subsequent contact with the head. Our advice is to hit through the body." Asked if the criticism has "lessened his enthusiasm for the job," Shanahan laughed. He said, "No, I can handle it. What I've learned is that I'm not interested in satisfying everyone who thinks every hit should be 10 or 15 games. I'm also not interested in satisfying members of the old guard who think there shouldn't be any suspensions" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/29). In St. Louis, Bernie Miklasz notes Kings LW Dwight King was not suspended after pushing Blues D Alex Pietrangelo into the boards during Game One of the team's Western Conference Semifinal series and missed last night's Game Two due to the injury he suffered on the play. Miklasz writes, "We realize that the NHL is the banana republic of professional sports, run by a spineless commissioner and a 'Player Safety' director who might as well be knee-capping the league’s stars, given his gross negligence in protecting them." The NHL is in a "state of Malice in Wonderland, where logic and common sense are forbidden." The youngest, best and brightest of the league "are prey for lunkheads, loons and low-rent hit men" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/1).
WHOA, CANADA: The Canadiens in '93 remain the last team based in Canada to win the Stanley Cup, and the GLOBE & MAIL's James Mirtle wrote the drought "has gotten rather embarrassing, especially considering the financial situation of every Canadian team has improved dramatically in the last decade." The seven NHL teams in Canada "are now routinely the league's wealthiest, paying into revenue sharing for newer markets like Phoenix and Nashville on the basis of lengthy sellout streaks and high ticket prices." Demand has "never been higher, despite that lack of winning a Cup, and that in part has brought a team back to Winnipeg and created a movement for two more in Quebec City and the Greater Toronto Area." Once again, no Canadian team "is expected to collect revenue sharing, not even the Jets." Mirtle wrote, "The why behind this trend may not be any more complicated than simply that these franchise are mismanaged. ... What's too often left unsaid is that with the dollar at par, the Canadian franchises have a significant financial advantage and it really should be showing up more on the ice" (GLOBEANDMAIL.com, 4/27).
NUMBERS GAME: In N.Y., Larry Brooks noted just "three of the top nine salary cap teams have made it to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs -- the Capitals (first), Flyers (second) and Kings (seventh)." The Western Conference Semifinals "feature clubs ranked 22nd, 23rd and 24th under the cap -- the Coyotes, Blues and Predators, respectively." Brooks: "We’re waiting to hear someone on Sixth Avenue construct a cogent argument as to why the current collective bargaining agreement needs be amended in further favor of the owners under the guise of giving 'everyone a chance to win?'" It is "true the cap charge doesn’t equal payroll, and the franchises that carry the league on their financial backs ... can front-load and erase mistakes when other teams cannot, or will not." But it is a "canard that spending ensures success" (N.Y. POST, 4/30).
DEAL OR NO DEAL? In Pittsburgh, Josh Yohe notes with the NHL's CBA set to expire in September, anything from a "smooth agreement to a work stoppage is in play." There is a "sentiment from players that, unlike in previous negotiations, they will emerge on a more even playing field following this deal." Penguins LW Steve Sullivan said, “We made a lot of concessions in 2004. (Owners) got everything they wanted. I don’t know what they could ask for this time.” Yohe writes, "This much is known: Many players are expecting the start of the 2012-13 season to be delayed" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 5/1).
NBA Commissioner David Stern said the season-ending injuries to several marquee players, including Bulls G Derrick Rose and Magic C Dwight Howard, are not “related at all” to the lockout-shortened 66-game regular season this year. Stern appeared on ESPN Radio's "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" yesterday, and Cowherd asked him if he was "worried some players are saying it is." Stern: “When anything happens, that’s going to happen. But I was just reading something from a doctor who said that he just doesn’t believe." He added there is "no evidence that the wear-and-tear" was a factor in Rose's injury. Despite his stance, Stern said it is "still worthy of our study at season’s end to see how that just works out." Stern: "We want to find out if we can learn something from this, but basically, in most years we average about five ACLs. Prior to this year’s playoffs, we had three, from a schedule where we played two more games a month" ("The Herd with Colin Cowherd," ESPN Radio, 4/30). N.Y.-based surgeon Dr. David Altchek said that “too much playing could actually make a player less susceptible to the injuries” because they “might lack the type of explosiveness it takes to blow out a knee ligament.” He said, "In fact, I think if you're tired, you're a lot less likely to tear your ACL because you're not going to be as explosive" (AP, 4/29).
UNFORTUNATE TIMING OR CRAMMING TOO MUCH IN? ESPN CHICAGO's Michael Wilbon wrote under the header, "Rose A Casualty Of NBA's Schedule." Wilbon: "Derrick Rose was doomed the moment the owners and the players' union signed that agreement" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 4/29). ESPN’s J.A. Adande said the lockout "comes into play here, even though medical experts are saying this was an injury that could have happened at anytime.” SB Nation's Bomani Jones said, "I agree that overall this year we’ve seen more injuries probably because of the compressed schedule." However, he added, "I’m not in a position to tell you whether or not this ACL tear on a non-contact injury was caused by the compressed schedule. I can tell you this: That leads me to believe that what happened to him was probably going to happen at some point.” Jones continued, “Yes, the schedule is compressed. Yes, that caused more injuries. But nobody really did anything wrong here.” ESPN's Jackie MacMullan said a torn ACL like what happened to Rose and Knicks F Iman Shumpert over the weekend “falls under the category of, ‘Well too many games, that’s what happens.'" MacMullan: "I do think there have been some injuries over time, chronic injuries, that have affected players over this compressed schedule” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 4/30).
FEELING THE HEAT: Nike basketball shoe designer Jason Petrie continued to get heat for his Twitter comments insinuating Rose, an adidas endorser, got hurt for wearing adidas shoes. Comcast SportsNet Chicago’s Mark Schanowski said, “I thought Petrie was a complete idiot. It’s almost like he was happy that Derrick Rose got hurt. That's something you should never be able to tolerate. He should be fired for putting that kind of thing out there." The Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein: “It would be cool if they fired him, but instead they’ll probably give him a raise because for the few people out there who didn't realize what Derrick wore, now look at all the pub." Greenstein: "Nike’s getting a lot of good pub out of this” (“Chicago Tribune Live,” Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 4/30). ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser said he would fire Petrie for the "antagonistic" tweets “so fast his head would spin.” Kornheiser: "It’s stupid. It’s wrong on every level.” Meanwhile, ESPN's Wilbon said whoever wrote Nike’s official response “that didn’t even name Derrick Rose, wouldn’t even address him by name, that was classless” (“PTI,” ESPN, 4/30). Comcast SportsNet Chicago's Dave Kaplan said, “To not mention Derrick Rose because he wears adidas is as low-class a move. ... Why would you not say, ‘We wish Derrick a speedy recovery?’ ‘We wish anyone who is injured a speedy recovery?’ That’s moronic and idiocy because he wears adidas” ("Chicago Tribune Live," Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 4/30).