Hump day hot takes: MLB lockout looms closer, thank you Phil Kessel and more

Now that I’m very full on Thanksgiving food, it’s time to crap it out in the form of five hot takes. Time to dive in. 

Ah yes, the most wonderful time of the year. Or so they say. While three of the four major sports are playing, the fourth one heats up (pun intended) with the hot stove. But even so, there are problems looking with Major League Baseball, as the short honeymoon phase of the Cubs winning the World Series for the first time this century might come to a screeching halt because of a lockout. What is this, the NHL?

So here we are, on the last day of November, chatting about the world of sports in hot-take fashion. Did you miss my pre-holiday hot takes here on the Chin Music Pod? Fret now, here are the leftovers for you to enjoy.


1. This MLB lockout could actually happen

This story really slipped under the radar for me until the last week. That’s my fault. I was all fat and happy with the football and hockey seasons that I completely forgot that Major League Baseball had it’s CBA end on December 1. I guess I also expected to see Rob Manfred, one of the better commissioners in sports, according to Brendan, iron this out and labor peace continue between the two sides. Boy was I wrong.

As the clock winds ever closer to the midnight hour, it’s becoming a very realistic possibility that the MLB locks out the players union, and we have the uncertainty of baseball coming back this spring. Now I’m betting the house that there won’t be any missed games this spring, but the Winter Meetings and may early days of Spring Training are most definitely in jeopardy.

The two biggest arguments that could cause a stoppage hinge on the owners wanting an International Draft and the players wanting qualifying offers and free agent signings to no longer have a draft pick tied to them. Some big-time issues on the table, and neither side willing to budge. Unlike the NFLPA, the Players’ Union actually has some balls, and will stick to their guns.

International players like Fernando Rodney and Nelson Cruz met with the owners about the possibility of an International Draft. The players want no part of that. The reason being that international free agents are free to sign with whoever they want for however much they can get. They can get to free agency sooner, and maximize their value. Owners argue that only high-market teams can afford the best players. American players are subject to the draft and slotted signing bonuses, but they also get to compete in NCAA baseball and make money in the minor leagues.

Per usual, I’m with the players. Owners complaining about money is the ultimate bullshit move. Even the “cheapest” franchise is baseball is owned by multi-multi-multi millionaires. If they choose to not spend money on international talent that’s their fault. They have the capital, don’t bitch and cry poor about it.

On the draft pick compensation, I’m with the players again. While sure, some of the mid-level guys benefit from “qualifying offers” where they get well above what they would sniff on the free agent market, it keeps player rights basically under the lock and key of their existing team. They can’t maximize their value because opposing teams don’t want to give up a possible high draft pick for a seasoned veteran. That’s why most players who are given qualifying offers often settle for that contract, since most teams won’t part with valuable chips for the future.

These aren’t two small things keeping the sides away. These are two major issues, that I don’t see going away before the Dec. 1 deadline. Could a lockout and missed games be coming? I doubt it, but extending the Cubs as World Series champions seems like an alright way to start 2017.

Editor’s note: Here’s the one thing I give baseball credit for here and Tim mentions it above. It’s a low-key genius move to have the CBA expire in December, when we’re still months away pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training. Yes the Winter Meetings may get scrubbed, which would be unfortunate, but at least we aren’t missing meaningful baseball.

It honestly makes me think that those that run hockey are even more stupid (or evil) than I perhaps considered. Their deadline always seems to force them to cancel games—why not just have the CBA expire on July 1?


2. Phil Kessel said what most non-Pittsburgh hockey fans always think to Sidney Crosby

Sidney Crosby is one of the best hockey players in the world. I don’t like him, and I especially hate how much he bitches and complains on the ice. But, that doesn’t take away from the fact that he is one of the top three hockey players on the planet.

I can imagine that sort of confidence might go to somebody’s head. It would be hard not to. As the captain of the defending Stanley Cup champs and the face of the NHL, Crosby can do whatever he wants in most cases.

That is, unless he’s giving the business to Phil Kessel.

On the bench, as Crosby rips into his teammate (and the guy who probably should have won the Conn Smythe last year), Kessel decided to not take any of his shit. Good for you Phil.

“Fuck you. What the fuck are you yelling at me for?”

I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

Now I’m sure this happens all the time on NHL benches, but we don’t see it. Especially in locker rooms, where so many alpha males are in one spot for nine months of the year, but to see Phil, the often mild-manner and quiet guy give it right back to Captain Crosby, was just fantastic.

Ever since he was traded (asked to be dealt) from the Bruins, I’ve always sort of loathed him. But the more I watch his game, and read about his antics, I’m definitely coming around on him. From his hot-dog loving self, to his A+ tweets during the World Cup of Hockey, Kessel is endearing himself to even the most diehard Bruins fan. Good for you, keep telling Sidney where to shove it.

Editor’s note: Phil Kessel for Conn Smythe, Hart, Rocket Richard, Hockey Hall of Fame, the Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest, President and, most of all, king of my heart.


3. Draymond Green has definitely become  the biggest villain in the NBA

Man, if that isn’t a face you want to punch, or a dick you want to kick, I don’t know what is. I get it, the Warriors are stupid good. They have the best collection of talent in basketball, and they should waltz to another NBA Finals appearance. That’s all well and good. But the bullshit that Draymond Green is spewing makes me hate him even more than his nut-punching ways.

First, he’s saying that the Warriors’ defense is fueled by the critics. Then he’s getting into Twitter beefs with NFL reporters. And he’s still doing his best to slap guys in the balls. Not much has changed after he was suspended during the NBA Finals. I guess that’s who he is.

And guess what. That’s just fine. If he wants to play the villain, let’s call a spade a spade and anoint him the villain. He’s cocky, he isn’t afraid to show it, and he’s on the best team in the league. It used to be LeBron because he was so good and he let everyone know it. Now, Draymond is firmly wearing the crown as the biggest DB in the NBA.

It’s fine to be the villain. Just ask Dennis Rodman or Ron Artest during their heyday. Business was damn good when they were winning games. But if this team loses, I don’t want to hear from this slug anymore. Go back to being what you were, a bench guy who played minutes for a solid team.


4. Even without a conference title, Ohio State needs to be in the College Football Playoff

Sorry Jim Harbaugh, them’s the breaks. You lost to Ohio State in the biggest (and best) college football game of the year. The Wolverines get to head home with their tails tucked between their legs. And Ohio State, by virtue of of the head-to-head tiebreaker with that awful school Penn State, will be at home for the Big 10 championship.

That’s just fine. I don’t think Penn State or Wisconsin deserves a shot to make it to the College Football Playoff. Only one Big 10 team deserves to get in, and that’s Ohio State. A loss on the road, to a team that has proven itself to be pretty good, should actually help the Buckeyes case for making the final four. If Penn State wins, even better. But the Buckeyes should be heading back to the playoff once again.

Anybody with eyes knows that they’re one of the best teams in football. They had one slip-up, and rebounded with a thrilling win over another top team. They play in the second toughest conference in college football, and lost once. So sure, they might not get a conference title, but their eyes should be firmly looked on the awkward looking trophy they get for a national championship.

Alabama and Ohio State should comfortably be in, with Clemson, Washington, Oklahoma and the Nittany Lions fighting for the final two spots. Conference championships should help Clemson and Washington get in, as long as they do so in convincing fashion. Whoever the final two that get in are going to cause a lot of debate. That’s fine. But Ohio State needs to be in the playoff, regardless of their non-Big 10 title game appearance.


5. The New York Giants scare the living shit out of me

I hate seeing the Giants succeed. Much to the chagrin of Brendan, the Giants are really good this year. They’re 8-3, knocked off the Cowboys, and seemed poised for a return to the playoffs. Why, you ask, do the Giants scare me? It’s as much about the mouthbreathing, dumb-looking QB that I have right above this take, as it is an irrational fear of history repeating for the third time.

No, I’m not penciling the Patriots into the Super Bowl, don’t bite my head off for that. All I’m doing is imagining a now quite-possible scenario of New England meeting New York in Houston for the Lombardi Trophy, and watching shit hit the fan for the third time in my lifetime. It’s the nightmare scenario of all nightmare scenarios.

This Giants team is built pretty much the exact same way as they’ve always been. Dumb motherfucker Eli Manning under center, a just alright running game, solid offensive line, stud wide receivers, a terrifying front seven, and an average secondary. If that’s  not the perfect blueprint for a team to win in the postseason, then I don’t know what is. Even with Ben McAdoo, who is equally goofy looking as his quarterback and not Tom Coughlin, the Giants strike fear deep into my heart. The unknown element of McAdoo in the big game puts me at ease a little bit compared to what Tom Coughlin used to do, but man, this Giants team is good.

They’re positioned for another run through Wild Card weekend (spoiler alert: I think the Cowboys win the NFC East), and then with some of that veteran leadership, knock off some teams on the road before reaching the Super Bowl.

I’m pulling for losses every week for this team, regardless of what the Patriots do. In the event these teams meet for the title again, I’ll be hiding under a pillow.

Editor’s note: I love nothing more than torturing Patriot fans with the ghosts of Giants past. Eli’s play has scared the crap out of me, and a relatively calm affair from the Browns has not calmed my nerves. But, the Eli-fanatic side of me just says he’s saving his peak for the game against the Pats.


6. Chin Music Pod Camel Flinstone of the Week: Jack Capuano

We’re back baby.

The Camel of the Week award goes to my old whipping post, Jack Capuano. I’ve actually tried to go out of my way to be kind to Cappy this year. I think he’s staying this year whether Islander fans like it or not, and I think Garth Snow is as much to blame for this debacle as Capuano is.

But what does Ryan Strome have to do to get out of the doghouse?

For the uninformed, Strome was a healthy scratch for the second time in as many games. His play has been less than stellar, sure, tallying just six points, including two goals, so far this season. Sad as it is to say, however, that’s far from the most underwhelming performance this year.

Anders Lee has just five points, Nikolay Kulemin has four and $5.5 million man Andrew Ladd has netted only three. So why is Strome continuously sat?

This is where the Capuano firing becomes a more pertinent issue. Islanders win totals aside, young players seem to alternate between not developing at all and regressing under the reign of Cappy. The Islanders are banking on young players, and based on Strome’s words on the issue over the past few days (or lack there of) this is starting to affect his play on the ice.

Things are going from bad to worse in Brooklyn, and for that, Jack Capuano earns our camel of the week.

That’ll do it for me. I’ll be back next week with some more hot takes for your Wednesday reading enjoyment. Follow Tim on Twitter@culvey13 for more, or to tell me I’m a moron. Tim was a former high school baseball all-star, who unlike Matt, led his team to a sectional title game with a winning record and over .400 batting average.


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