Happy All-Star break to each of you. Know that this is officially the slowest week in sports. Let's see if we can't jumpstart it some.
From the "7-Up Stinks Studios," here we go...
American League's Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees celebrates after winning the MLB Home Run Derby Monday, July 11, 2011, in Phoenix. His mother Claribel Mercedes is in the background. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
The MLB all-star break used to be a big deal. Before interleague play, the all-star game was the one time to see the AL star sluggers vs. the NL ace pitchers and vice versa. It was cool, and it meant something.
Now, with interleague play allowing AL and NL teams to face off regularly and the foolish rule change that the winning league gets home-field advantage in the World Series means the game has become mundane and means too much. Are there ways to fix it? Sure, but they make too much sense and would never be agreed upon.
How would the 5-at-10 fix the All-Star game? Glad you asked.
Problem: First, home-field advantage in the World Series is much too great a stake. It's like if you and your buddies wanted to make the back nine interesting and decided to bet the pink slips of your car. There has to be something between nothing at stake and too much on the line, right?
Answer: A lot of players have a clause in their contracts that includes some sort of bonus for making the all-star team. Put that on the line. The players on the winning team get to keep their bonuses; the losing team will donate it to charity. And for the players that don't receive a bonus, the clubs can come up with $10,000 for each of them, too. (C'mon, you don't think the Braves would have been happy to agree to pay $10 grand in March in return for Craig Kimbrel being lights out.)
Problem: Whether it's interleague play or just the wear and tear of the everyday baseball grind, it certainly seems the players do not view being an all-star with as much honor as they once did. This year 16 all-stars either declined their invites or are missing tonight's game because of injury. To be fair the starting pitchers that threw Sunday were asked not to come because they were not going to be able to pitch — and that's a good change.
Answer: This will always be difficult to hurdle — especially in regard to injury. This will change a great deal when we change the way all-stars are picked. Fan voting used to be cool, but online voting has skewed the process. Let the fan vote determine the top 5 players at each position that a panel of players, managers, GMs and other baseball types will get to decide the starters.
Problem: The game is boring.
Answer: Well, it's going to be tough to completely solve this one because baseball is slow at its core. That said, use this chance introduce possible rule changes — yes, we're talking about instant replay — and new technologies — let's try new camera angles and why can't we get a mic on Brian McCann? — to make the experience more enjoyable for the fans.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning (18) in action during the second quarter of an NFL AFC wild card football playoff game between the New York Jets and the Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis on Jan. 8. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
NFL targets July 21
Sources with knowledge of the negotiations between the NFL and the players have told various news outlets that there is a lot of confidence that the new labor deal will be approved by the start of the league meetings July 21 in Atlanta.
Here's hoping the reports are true — the thought of NFL-free Sundays is less than thrilling — and the NFL and the players can get this thing finished. It appears that the final major sticking point involves rookie pay scales and contract lengths. If that's the final straw, the 5-at-10 has to wonder who's doing the majority of the decision-making for the players: the players or the agents? It seems that the current players would be concerned with the rookie pay scale, but that it would not be as big as some of the other obstacles such as revenue sharing, guaranteed contracts and after-NFL benefits.
But the rookie scale offers big paydays for agents and new players.
Another side benefit of this 11th hour deal is the league will be a flurry of activity off the field once the deal gets ratified. Think about that guy that has about three beers too many at your fantasy football draft and tries to trade for everybody and draft Tom Brady in the 13th round.
Here's the schedule of events according to ESPN if the deal is agreed upon on July 21:
Here is how the outlined plan for a July 1 deal could be adjusted for a potential July 21 deal with what would be the corresponding dates, according to sources familiar with the document, which many teams in the league have not yet seen:
• July 21 -- Educate the clubs on the new league rules and allow voluntary training for teams and agents.
• July 25 -- Sign undrafted rookies, as well as give free agents a chance to re-sign with their teams.
• July 28 -- League year starts and free agency begins.
• Aug. 2 -- Rosters must be set at 90 players.
• Aug. 3 -- Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.
• Aug. 7 -- A four-day match period for teams to match restricted free-agent offer sheets.
• Aug 12 -- Deadline for rookies to sign contracts (not yet agreed upon).
• Aug. 16 -- Signing period for restricted free agents ends, as does the signing period for franchise and transition tenders.
• Aug. 29 -- Deadline for players to report to earned credit for an accrued season toward free agency.
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits a drive on the 15th hole during the third round of the Masters golf tournament Saturday, April 9, 2011, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
THE Open Championship
The 5-at-10 loves the draft. You know this.
The 5-at-10 also loves major championship golf, and that means we're excited about THE Open Championship. So what happens when we're excited — that's right a contest.
"THE Open Championship contest that is so snobby we use all caps on THE THE just like THE Ohio State University" will be like the U.S. Open contest last month. Pick five golfers and the final place of each golfer will get that many points (for example: First place = 1 point; 12th place = 12 points, etc.) and the lowest score wins. Any golfer that misses the cut will be 100 points. One change this time, we'll throw out the highest-point player in each entry.
So submit five players and the top four count. The winner will get something involving some form of tickets or some other sports trinket.
So who you got, and as always we'll try to get some of the other media types in town to play along.
Jim Tressel, right, watches Wednesday, May 25, 2005 as Anthony Schlegel, John Conroy and Robbie Smith talk to the members of the media about recent legal and disciplinary problems involving other members of the team, during a discussion in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
This and that
— Our ace TFP columnist Mark Wiedmer does a great job of pointing out the sham that is THE self-imposed violations for THE Ohio State University. Now, to make matters worse, THE Ohio State University is changing its tune on the way former coach Jim Tressel left the program. Originally, OSU president Gordon Gee said Tressel was not given an ultimatum when he resigned amid controversy. In its response to the NCAA according to the Columbus Dispatch, THE OSU stated it sought Tressel's resignation and "As a result, the institution has imposed significant corrective and punitive actions upon itself and sought and received the resignation of Tressel." You stay classy, Gordon Gee.
— Shannon Stone, the fan that fell to his death at a Texas Rangers game last week, was buried Monday. Another disaster was averted at Monday's home run derby when a fan who was close to falling from the stands was caught by his buddies.
— Speaking of the home run derby, the 5-at-10 saw exactly one swing — eventual winner Robinson Cano hitting one over the pool in right-center field (that sounds weird, right?). It was cool, Cool, COOL that Cano's dad was throwing him BP. It was not cool that Chris Berman was back, back, back, back doing the announcing. Do think ESPN will pay for the bleeding from my ears?
— UTC quarterback B.J. Coleman was named to the preseason Payton Award watch list. Two quick thoughts here: One, the 5-at-10 has big expectations for these Mocs; two, can football season start, like Saturday?
Alabama running back Mark Ingram (22) fights his way for extra yards against Kentucky safety Marcus McClinton, right, in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Today, NCAA Football12 by EA Sports will be released. There was a point — pre-Mrs. 5-at-10 and definitely pre-5-at-10 tots — that this would cause a 24-to-36-hour virus (cough, cough) to invade the 5-at-10 compound.
Today's question, in honor or the release of EA Sports' NCAA 12, is what is your favorite video sports game of all-time? Why?
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...