Counting days until pitchers, catchers (and labor issues) report

Alan Greenwood

When the Super Bowl can’t serve as a cover for unhappy news from elsewhere in the little world of big-league sports, the clouds are particularly foreboding.

Ken Rosenthal has a story on The Athletic’s web page guaranteed to chasten the enthusiasm of anyone who has been faithfully marking off the days until pitchers and catchers report.

“The threat of the sport’s first work stoppage since 1994-95 is palpable.”

Since Rosenthal is as plugged in as any baseball reporter can be, his words need not be buttressed by dire quotes from unidentified sources.

The MLB Players Association, which has dominated owners at the negotiating table since the Bowie Kuhn administration, stands ready to slap MLB up-side its noggin for colluding to depress the free agent market.

Expect commissioner Rob Manfred to start tweeting “No collusion” any day now.

The players are antsy because there remain top-shelf free agents, such as Byrce Harper, have not found a new employer willing to fork over mountains of dough for six or seven seasons.

For a definition of what constitutes collusion in terms of a collective bargaining agreement, find a lawyer.

Admittedly, my enthusiasm for writing about the business of baseball is on a par with my enthusiasm for the annual torture we know as New England winters.

Rosenthal’s most ominous report: The Players Association is authorized to withhold players’ licensing fees in order to build a war chest if the worst happens.

Somehow it seems improbable that the ballplayers will endure any of the life-altering pain felt by government workers during the shutdown.

TIME TRAVEL: Jan. 31, 1958 – Venerable Telegraph sports editor Mike Shalhoup used the lead of his “Mike’s Musings” column to report on some dubious officiating in Nashua High’s boys basketball loss at Manchester Central.

One example centered on one of Nashua center’s Nick Mandravelis’ trips to the foul line.

Mandravelis turned to ask an official if the foul had put Central in the penalty situation. Simultaneously, another Nashua player requested a time out.

The ref’s call: Mandravelis forfeited his foul shots by taking too much time and the Panthers didn’t have their time out awarded.

“You can be sure that from here on in Nashua and Central authorities will be justified in insisting that only non-Manchester and non-Nashua referees be assigned to future meetings.”

Homers wearing striped shirts and whistling fouls? Say it ain’t so!

AND FINALLY: Sunday night we’ll find out who is the Super Bowl LIII champion and which player receives the dubious distinction of biggest blowhard during Super Bowl week.

For the Rams, there is cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman deriding Tom Brady as an aging, fading NFL legend. “He will slowly start to reveal himself,” Robey-Coleman said of the Rams’ ability to pressure Brady.

Then there is Patriots safety Patrick Chung, promising the faithful at the send-off rally that the Pats “We’re going to go out there and kick their ass, baby.”

Stay tuned to find out who is the Super Bowl jackass.

Alan Greenwood can be reached at 594-1248, agreenwood or @Telegraph_ AlanG.