Finally! NBA fans can breathe a sigh of relief as players and agents finalize negotiations to begin the 2011 season. Many had already written the season off, but the 153-day lockout came to an end November 26. In the deal, which was reached during a frantic 15 hours of negotiation on November 25, players are entitled to 51.2% of all Basketball Related Income (BRI) that the NBA takes in, and the NBPA will reinstate their union to negotiate on other game related issues like age limit and draft rules. The NBA’s official season begins December 25, and will run for an abbreviated 66 games. Training begins December 9th, and players are now free to begin negotiations via agents.
Many fans view the lockout as a “millionaires vs. billionaires” fight, with true NBA fans being the real losers. Some estimates put loss of revenue for local businesses surrounding basketball stadiums in the millions, while all of the NBA support staff, such as ticket takers, stadium employees, and ushers, have not received their expected paychecks. Many fans have turned to NCAA college games, and it is a point of curiosity as to how ticket sales will fare now that
In a victory for pitchers everywhere, the Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander was voted 2011’s MLB MVP on Monday. Verlander is the first starting pitcher to bag this honor in 25 years. The dry spell for pitching MVPs has been the subject of debate among baseball fans, since clearly they play a crucial roll in any team’s victory. The last starting pitcher to be voted MVP was Roger Clemens with the Boston Red Sox in 1986. The last pitcher to win MVP was Dennis Eckersley playing for Oakland in 1992. “I’m happy that the voters acknowledged that, that we do have a major impact in this game and we can be extremely valuable to our team and its success,” Verlander said a at a press conference following the announcement.
Verlander’s stats speak for themselves: 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikes in the season. When the votes were tallied, Verlander had 13 of 28 first place votes, and 280 points from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury came in second place in the MVP race. There was some debate among sports fans when Pedro Martinez lost to Texas catcher Ivan Rodriguez in 1999, and many fans feel that the pitchers contributions are not valued highly enough by the journalists who give out the award. “Not even in my wildest dreams had I thought of this,” Verlander said. Some might raise an eyebrow at his humility—the last time a MLB pitcher had that many wins was Oakland’s Bob Welch, who went 27-6 in 1990.
In a disappointing turn of events, the NBA gave official notice to all franchise teams that the strike would cancel all scheduled games until at least December 15th, 2011. The announcement was made on Tuesday, a day after the player’s union turned down the owner’s offer. The player’s league also told the media that they plan to disband and bring an anti-trust suit against the league. Union president Derek Fisher and executive director Billy Hunter explained that the suit would make the current players vs. owners shutdown illegal. The player’s reps then went on to forecast a gloomy future for the 2011 seasons, saying that it will likely not happen at all due to the lengthy legal mess currently under way. Not mincing words, NBA commissioner David Stern told ESPN “We are about to go into the nuclear winter of the NBA.” This is the latest in a series of bitter announcements that have plagued NBA fans since July 1st. Tuesday would have been the first paycheck for the NBA players, and CNBC reported that the average player lost $220,000. Needless to say, fans were disappointed and disgusted with both sides, and the general consensus in online forums was that the disagreement was motivated by greed on both sides.
Renowned veteran coach Joe Paterno was informed on Wednesday, November 9th, that his services would no longer be required. This was a day after he announced his intention to resign at the end of the 2011 NCAA season. It was announced Wednesday night that Paterno will be replaced by Penn State’s defensive coordinator Tom Bradley. Bradley has worked closely with Paterno for 12 years. “I take this job with mixed emotions,” he told the press. “Coach Paterno will go down in history as one of the greatest men,” he added, going on to say that Paterno meant more to him than any man with the exception of his own father.
Paterno was fired by the Penn State board of trustees after his long-time defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was arrested on 40 counts of juvenile sexual abuse that spanned the 15 yeas of Sandusky’s employment. During the grand jury investigation that followed, it was found that Paterno had been alerted to at least one instance of abuse. He did report this to Penn State’s athletic director, but that was as far as the internal investigation went. It was decided that Paterno had fulfilled his legal obligations and no charges were brought against him, but ethical questions remain.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is back in the limelight and he’s picking a fight. The WBC World Welterweight champ announced he will fight an unknown opponent on May 5th, 2012, and promises to “make the biggest fight possible”. The biggest fight possible could only imply that Mayweather could finally swing punches in the ring with Manny Pacquiao, who currently holds the WBO World Welterweight title. The bout between the two has been on the table a few times before, but has never materialized due to Mayweather’s uncommon drug testing provision. Critics aim blows at Mayweather for trying to build up hype surrounding the fight but never following through so that Mayweather can keep his undefeated 42-0 record in the Boxing Hall of Fame. Without a doubt, it would be a challenging fight for Mayweather; ‘Pacman’ Pacquiao is younger and faster, which could give reason to Mayweather’s reluctance to fight. Mayweather’s last fight was a controversial one that many say goes undeserved. Mayweather knocked out Victor Ortiz as Ortiz was apologizing to the boxer for an illegal head butt in the third round. Was it a sucker punch or just following ring rules to never let your guard down? No matter the feelings many have towards the WBC champ, everyone wants to see the Mayweather vs. Pacquaio dream match happen. In the meantime, Pacquiao is scheduled to fight longtime rival Juan Manuel Marquez on November 12, 2011. Stay tuned.
Left-hander C.C. Sabathia has agreed to a one-year contract extension with the New York Yankees for an additional $25 million in 2016. Surprisingly, the buck doesn’t stop there. In 2017, Sabathia could rake in another $25 million option with a $5 million buyout. His original contract, which slated to pay the pitcher $23 million over the next four years, was up in 2015. Instead of the $92 million left on his 7 year contract, he’s now guaranteed $122 million with the extension. According to the New York Post, Sabathia’s new contract represents the highest average annual value for a pitcher on a multiyear deal at $24.4 million, topping Cliff Lee‘s $24 million average. Sabathia had until midnight on Monday to sign the new deal before becoming a free agent. The Yankees stepped up to the plate and never allowed Sabathia’s free agency to come to play. It’s obvious Sabathia has contributed greatly to the success of the franchise. He’s an ace for the team and it’s a move the Yankees had to make.