MLS Strike Looming?

MLS Strike Looming?

Our man Rev is back with some MLS thoughts. These are his words.

Before
I get killed for it in the comments let me first acknowledge the following. 
Yes, the Phillies are in the midst of spring training. Yes, March Madness
is upon us. Yes, thanks to the Olympic break the Flyers are currently
engaged in a sprint to the regular season finish. Yes, the 76ers are
doing their damndest to accumulate ping-pong balls. And finally, yes
the Eagles are five weeks out from the draft and are busy attending
pro days. As a die-hard fan of all of these teams, events, and leagues
I get it. However, I am also a huge soccer fan who has no idea whether
the Major League Soccer season will begin, as scheduled, on March 25th,
when the Philadelphia Union are supposed to play their first ever game
in Seattle against the Sounders.

Why
is there a good chance they won’t be playing on March 25th?
Well, the players union has stated that barring a new collective bargaining
agreement they plan to go on strike on Monday.

Without going into too
much labor-related detail the issues can be boiled down pretty easily.
MLS is organized as a single entity structure. The team owners are investors
in the league. The league owns all of the player contracts. It is revenue
sharing taken to the extreme. Amongst other reasons this structure is
in place to maintain financial stability and to prevent teams from starting
an arms race and pricing each other out of business (like what happened
with the North American Soccer League).

The
players union wants the league to loosen restrictions on player movement.
Currently, a player remains the property of the team to which the he’s
been allocated. Bizarrely, this remains true even after that player’s
contract has expired. How does this work? Well, let’s take Elton Brand
as an example. If the NBA played under MLS rules when Brand’s contract
expires in 2027, or whenever it mercifully ends, Brand would remain
property of the 76ers, and would not be free to sign with another NBA
team. In order to keep playing he’d have to go to Europe or some other
professional league. As property of the 76ers he’d be unable to move
to another NBA club. Yes, this sounds Draconian, but for a start-up
league seeking cost certainty it make some sense.

Now,
I am not here to tell you who I think is right. My sole motivation is
that the two sides hammer out an agreement and the Union actually play
Seattle in front of an already sold out Qwest Field crowd of 27,700.
What I am here to tell you though is that a work stoppage could not
come at a worse time for the Union. Why?

The
Union has steadily built momentum leading to the start of the season.
They’ve done so much right so far. They’ve already sold over 9,500
season tickets. They have sponsors lined up for everything from the
name of their stadium (PPL Park) to their official ice cream (Turkey
Hill). In a down economy they’ve even somehow managed to sign a plumbing,
heating, and air conditioning services company to a sponsorship deal.
They have a 5,000-plus member fan club in place (Sons of Ben). On top
of all of this it’s also a World Cup year. The U.S. Men’s National
Team is even playing their final send-off match in Philadelphia on May
29th. Media coverage of soccer in the U.S. will be at an
all-time high this summer. Everything is in place for the Union to kick
off with a bang – save for the minor issue of their players possibly
going on strike three days before the first game in franchise history.

As
a fan who wants to see the league and the Union succeed a strike is
a frightening and potentially crippling possibility. Hopefully both
sides come to their senses and work things out in time to salvage opening
night in Seattle. Although, I suppose the lone positive thing about
a strike is I’d save a ton of money in fines and attorney fees by
not having the opportunity to assault my USMNT nemesis Jonathan Bornstein
when Chivas USA came to town.

MLB Notes: Aroldis Chapman rejoins Yankees on 5-year, $86 million deal

MLB Notes: Aroldis Chapman rejoins Yankees on 5-year, $86 million deal

OXON HILL, Md. -- Aroldis Chapman found a spot in a most familiar bullpen -- a very rich spot, too.

The hard-throwing closer reached agreement to return to the New York Yankees on Wednesday night with the highest-priced contract ever for a relief pitcher, an $86 million deal for five years.

A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that the contract was pending a physical. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet complete.

Once it's done, the 28-year-old lefty whose fastballs routinely top 100 mph would shatter the previous richest contract for a reliever -- that was the $62 million, four-year deal Mark Melancon signed with San Francisco just a couple days ago during the winter meetings.

Chapman was acquired by New York from the Cincinnati Reds last offseason, then missed the first 29 games of the season due to a domestic violence suspension from Major League Baseball. The Cuban was traded to the Chicago Cubs in late July and helped them win the World Series, becoming a free agent when it was over.

Chapman went 4-1 with 36 saves and a 1.55 ERA in a combined 59 games for the Yankees and Cubs. He struggled some in the postseason as the Cubs beat Cleveland for their first championship since 1908.

With the Yankees this season, Chapman teamed with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances in one of the most dominant bullpens in baseball history. Miller was later traded to Cleveland, but Betances is still with New York.

Earlier this week, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team was interested in both Chapman and fellow free agent closer Kenley Jansen. The Yankees had already made one deal at these meetings, signing slugger Matt Holliday, before paying a lot more to bring Chapman back to the Bronx.

Fox Sports first reported the agreement.

Rangers: Gomez reaches deal to stay with team
OXON HILL, Md. -- Carlos Gomez is staying with the Texas Rangers.

The outfielder agreed to an $11.5 million, one-year contract, a deal subject to a successful physical.

"Many of the objectives of the Rangers for Carlos go beyond one year," his agent, Scott Boras, said Wednesday. "Certainly Carlos really enjoyed the team and the environment and feels he's got a great chance to win. So I think both parties' objectives were met by that deal."

Gomez, who turned 31 last weekend, figures to play center as general manager Jon Daniels structured an outfield that includes Shin-Soo Choo in right and Nomar Mazara in left. Ian Desmond left Wednesday for a $70 million, five-year deal with Colorado.

Gomez batted just .210 with five homers in 85 games this year for Houston and was released by the Astros in August. He signed with Texas and hit .284 with eight homers and 24 RBIs in 33 games. An All-Star in 2013 and '14 with Milwaukee, Gomez has a .257 average and 116 home runs in 10 big league seasons.

"J.D. was very clear from the onset about them wanting Carlos back, and we've had communication since the season's end to pursue that," Boras said. "So it was something in our minds and in their minds. It was just a constant dialogue."

AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich contributed to this report.

Red Sox: Sale not worried about being ace
BOSTON -- New Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale says he isn't worried that he might not be the ace of the pitching staff after being traded from the White Sox to Boston.

The 27-year-old lefty told reporters on Wednesday, "We play for a trophy, not a tag."

Sale was traded to the Red Sox on Tuesday at the baseball winter meetings. He was the top starting pitcher on the market, and the Red Sox gave up touted prospect Yoan Moncada as part of a package to land him.

Sale has been an All-Star for five straight seasons and finished in the top six of the Cy Young Award voting each time. He joins a staff that already includes 2016 Cy Young winner Rick Porcello and '12 winner David Price (see full story).

Best of NBA: Cavs ride Big 3 to huge win over Knicks at MSG

Best of NBA: Cavs ride Big 3 to huge win over Knicks at MSG

NEW YORK -- LeBron James scored 25 points, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love also surpassed 20, and the Cleveland Cavaliers crushed the New York Knicks 126-94 on Wednesday night.

James had nothing to say Wednesday morning about Knicks President Phil Jackson and not much more about his decision to not stay with the team in a Donald Trump-branded hotel, but he and the Cavs made a loud statement at Madison Square Garden.

It was their second straight win after a three-game skid, and they did it easily in handing the Knicks their worst loss of the season. Irving led Cleveland with 28 points and Love scored 21, 16 in the first quarter.

Brandon Jennings scored 16 points for the Knicks, who had their four-game winning streak snapped and lost for the just the third time in 10 games. He started for Derrick Rose, who missed his first game of the season with lower back pain.

Tristan Thompson grabbed 20 rebounds for the Cavs. They played without guard J.R. Smith, who returned to Cleveland for additional testing after hyperextending his left knee Monday in Toronto (see full recap).

Antetokounmpo drops triple-double in Bucks’ win
MILWAUKEE -- Giannis Antetokounmpo got his second triple-double of the season to lead the Milwaukee Bucks over the Portland Trail Blazers 115-107 on Wednesday night.

Antetokounmpo had 15 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for his seventh career triple-double -- second-most in franchise history -- and is the only NBA player averaging at least 20 points, eight rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals this season.

Jabari Parker added 27 points for Milwaukee, which rebounded from a one-point home loss to San Antonio on Monday to win for the fifth time in six games.

The Bucks entered holding opponents to a NBA-best .311 shooting percentage from 3-point range, but Portland drill a season-high 17 of them.

Damian Lillard made five of them and scored a team-high 30 points to go with seven rebounds and six assists.

C.J. McCollum added 23 points, including four 3-pointers, as the Blazers continued a nine-game stretch of playing eight times on the road (see full recap).

Streaking Rockets roll over Lakers
HOUSTON -- Eric Gordon made a career-high eight 3-points and scored 26 points to help the Houston Rockets cruise to a 134-95 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night.

James Harden added 25 points in three quarters for the Rockets. They scored a season high and extended their winning streak to a season-best four games.

The Rockets were up by 12 in the third quarter, then had a 22-6 run to make it 96-68 and put the game out of reach with about 3 minutes left in the quarter. Houston made four 3-pointers and got a nifty one-handed dunk from Clint Capela in that run to pad the lead.

Gordon already had four 3-pointers seven minutes into the first quarter after making each of his first four attempts. It was his seventh straight game with at least four 3-pointers, which is a franchise record.

Houston's winning streak is its longest since taking five straight in January.

Lou Williams led the Lakers with 24 points. They have lost four in a row, their longest skid of the season (see full recap).