Each day during the sports pause stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, NESN.com will publish a diary full of random thoughts, opinions, takeaways, and other cool tidbits we’ve stumbled across in the absence of actual games. Because why not? We’re all in this together.
The ongoing game of tug-of-war between Major League Baseball and its players may be almost over, and it looks like the league learned the hard way that in a game of strength against a bunch of pro athletes, they don’t have the upper hand.
The MLB pitched proposal after proposal, trying to get players to agree to make less than 100 percent of their prorated salaries (though the league previously promised that at the beginning of the sports shut down). The players weren’t having it, even after commissioner Rob Manfred publicly stated his lack of confidence that the season would happen, and it looks like they were right to stand their ground.
Manfred on Wednesday released a statement revealing that he and union executive director Tony Clark met and “jointly developed framework that we agreed could form the basis of an agreement and subject to conversations with our respective constituents.”
According to reports, the league’s fourth official proposal offered players their full salaries, prorated for a 60-game season. The details are rumored to also include an expanded playoff for 2020 and 2021, as well as an adopted designated hitter for the National League.
Should the MLB and MLBPA finally finish up negotiations by Friday, here is the timeline: Players reportedly would report to “Spring Training 2.0” by June 29 for three full weeks before returning to their team’s market to get the regular season going on July 19.
Of course, that’s if, and only if, this seemingly perpetual game of tug of war ends.
Here’s what other sports news came out of Wednesday:
— Speaking of dysfunctional restart plans, the NBA’s negotiations had gone on too smoothly to be true. Insert Kyrie Irving.
Rumors on Tuesday were circulating that Kyrie Irving was encouraging players to sit out of the NBA’s resumption in Orlando and even start a new league. But, his Brooklyn Nets teammates on Wednesday shot that rumor down.
Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard, who has been involved with the coalition that teammate Avery Bradley and Irving created to give players a space to voice their concerns about the restart, clarified their motives behind it.
Howard did admit Irving can seem a little radical sometimes, but said their intentions are not to halt the NBA return. They just want to ensure the league puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to using its platform to fight systemic racism.
— Sticking with that thought, the English Premier League on Wednesday returned to play and the pregame scene was pretty cool. Instead of having names on the back of their jerseys, players had “Black Lives Matter” written on their kits, and before both fixtures that took place, everyone on the field — even referees — got down on one knee for a moment to express solidarity with the movement.
— Legendary NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. got news that he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and the video of him finding out was really touching. Congrats Dale, your father would be proud.
— Warrior Ice Arena is open for business again, or at least, voluntary workouts for the Boston Bruins. Here are some highlights from Zdeno Chara, John Moore and Par Lindholm’s ice time.
— New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman also had a training video circulate the internet, showing the world some of the drills he does to stay sharp in the offseason.
— With the Patriots depth chart at linebacker looking much different for this upcoming season, third-year player Ja’Whaun Bentley is hoping to step up big time. He on Wednesday expressed his eagerness to find an increased role.
— As public opinion has changed since the early days of Colin Kaepernick’s protests, it appears more teams may be likely to bring him in for workouts before next season. The Los Angeles Chargers seemingly will.
But before that can happen, Patriots’ Devin McCourty believes the NFL needs to bring him in for a productive, sit-down conversation and tell Kaepernick to his face that they mishandled his peaceful protests back in 2016.
— Happy anniversary to the 2008 Boston Celtics.
In honor of their 17th NBA title, the Tweet, Stat and Video of the day are all dedicated to them.
Tweet of the Day
On this date in 2008, the Celtics win their 17th NBA title with a 131-92 victory over the Lakers in Game 6.
Boston was a 24-win team the season before, wrapping up the biggest turnaround in NBA history and their first title since 1986. pic.twitter.com/Cx2ht5GArV
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 17, 2020
Stat of the Day
Kevin Garnett’s stat line from Game 7 was pretty impressive, and the only other players to achieve a Finals game like that are too. Tim Duncan, LeBron James and Magic Johnson are some pretty good company.
Tim Duncan, LeBron James, and Magic Johnson are the only other players to put up the stats below in an NBA Finals game. https://t.co/s5BmpPjzFm
— Tucker Boynton (@Tucker_TnL) June 17, 2020
Video of the Day
This video still, and probably always will, give me the chills. Remember kids, anything is possible. Even an 18th Celtics NBA title this year.