All right, it’s finally here: mobile registration for Illinois sports betting is back. If you’re in the state and you’ve been waiting to sign up for a particular sportsbook, now you can do it. We’ll have launch promos throughout the weekend, so jump on them if you’re interested, and, if you’re not, feel free to ignore and thanks for indulging us!
• As of last night, the big lockout-related news was the MLB had officially cancelled another chunk of Spring Training games (which can now start no sooner than March 18), and the players are considering approaching MLB with a revised proposal that includes a 14-team playoff structure (which the owners very much want). My back-of-the-napkin math says that another set of regular season games are also going to be cancelled if no deal is done by Sunday night. But everyone everywhere expects that there won’t be pressure until the RSN rebate issue comes up (after about 15 to 20 game cancellations or more), and, working backwards, that isn’t going to happen for at least another week or two. So, that is to say, it is not reasonable to expect a deal by tomorrow night, even if the players do approach with a new idea. I suppose I’m just hoping there are legit negotiations by tomorrow, and perhaps extending into the week. That would leave open the slim possibility of a deal that costs us all only about half of April.
• For now, though, no sessions are scheduled:
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 5, 2022
• I hope that changes shortly, and something gets on the books for tomorrow. Or at least Monday? I know there are perverse incentives to wait, but I don’t want to lose the forrest for the trees here: it still sucks hugely and completely every single day that passes without an agreement.
• Meanwhile, even without a deal and with regular season games getting axed, MLB is still reportedly negotiating a new TV rights deal for those mid-week games that ESPN recently gave up (they are the ones that are not exclusive, and still show on the local RSN). What’s particularly interesting about those games is that they have apparently become seen as an entree into the live baseball world for streamers. That is to say, first we heard that Apple was in talks for the games, and now the NY Post reports that Peacock is also discussing them. What’s interesting is that BOTH could actually work together to get those games (with NBC handling production), which could be an all-sides-win situation if it’s done well: a way to get some MLB games in front of folks on different national platforms, in addition to the traditional national broadcasting model and ESPN+.
• Because the games would not be exclusive, are mid-week, and are not playoffs, I would think the deals would not be particularly huge. Again, you do it right, and the value is more about the long-term exposure for your sport, rather than JUST the incremental dollars in the deal. But there will be some dollars, and that means MLB has an incentive to not sign these deals until a CBA is done (and/or, desperately try to not have the details leak). The owners aren’t going to want the numbers to be known by the players when the negotiations are ongoing – to say nothing of any upcoming sports betting deals, or other not-yet-finalized revenue streams – which would be crummy, but could also apply some additional pressure to the owners to get a deal done sooner rather than later.
• Great read at The Athletic from Eno Sarris on why the Competitive Balance Tax (luxury tax) acts as an effective salary cap, and why the proposals from the owners and the players, despite looking pretty close to each other in nominal terms, actually wind up really far apart. The short version is that, even though the first threshold proposed by the players in year one is $238M and by the owners is $220M – which seems really close together, all things considered – that difference could amount to upwards of $100 million in extra spending around the league. By year five of the proposals, when the proposed CBT gap is up to $33 million, that spending increase could be up to $150 million. It’s a big chunk of money that the sides are fighting over on this topic (and that’s before you consider whether there really are any “competitive balance” effects or not).
• Trevor Bauer has filed a defamation suit against Deadspin for the way it covered the sexual abuse allegations last year that wound up in an ongoing investigation that still has Bauer on administrative leave by MLB. Bauer will not face criminal charges, but the allegations were disturbing, to say the least. It remains unclear what will happen with Bauer whenever the lockout ends. He is likely to face suspension under the league’s domestic violence policy, but it’s possible it will be a retroactive suspension, effectively served last year. But then what? He still has two years on his contract with the Dodgers, who may not have any interest in having him back. If the Dodgers let him go, is another team going to sign Bauer, who was controversial even before last year’s allegations?
• It is very weird to remember that Byron Buxton signed a huge, and uniquely-structured, extension with the Twins before the lockout. Everything back then seems like it was so long ago. It was a weird ride:
Remember the day 3 months ago when #MNTwins celebrated Byron Buxton’s seven-year, $100-million deal and later had to scrub the news story from their website when #MLB imposed its lockout? You’re not the only one who thought it was strange. https://t.co/Xjerw5TTCa pic.twitter.com/ddQSobkQLK
— danhayesmlb (@DanHayesMLB) March 4, 2022
• That all reminded me that Buxton isn’t going to be one of the most interesting free agents in a long time (when he would have been, after this season). Dang. I forgot how much I’d been looking forward to that.
• Nasty stuff, and this kid is just a freshman:
Chase Burns, Fastball/Cutter, Overlay. pic.twitter.com/GxCyHWnnSo
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 5, 2022
• Our friends at Obvious Shirts have a physical location coming in Wrigleyville, just north of Wrigley Field, but a meaningful grand opening is on hold thanks to the lockout. Turns out Gordon Wittenmyer and NBC went over for an interview:
— NBC Sports Chicago (@NBCSChicago) March 5, 2022
• The Bears could theoretically consider moving Khalil Mack, but would it actually be worth it:
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) March 4, 2022