Good morning, frents!
October 26 is a big day in Chicago sports history. Not only is today the 16th anniversary of the 2005 White Sox title, it's also the 37th anniversary of Michael Jordan's debut with the Bulls.
Two years ago, I talked with a lot of people who were at Chicago Stadium that night — everyone from coach Kevin Loughery to Dave Corzine to the San Diego Chicken — and the result was one of my favorite pieces ever. Bookmark that if you need a long read later.
Bulls 111, Raptors 108
Major League Baseball owners are "almost certain" to lock the players out when the current collective-bargaining agreement expires on December 1.
That's the reporting, anyway, from Ronald Blum of the Associated Press as the World Series between Houston and Atlanta starts tonight.
The news shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's been paying attention. Though the sport has enjoyed labor peace since the devastating 1994 strike, the two sides have been headed this way for years. The prolonged bickering over the last two pandemic restarts were only a preview.
Among the list of issues that need to be resolved:
- Salary arbitration: Players are under team control for their first six big-league seasons (a period often manipulated) and teams have seemingly wisened up on the huge nine-figure contracts that have been rewards for the big stars who reached free agency — usually at a point in their careers when their production starts to decline.
- Tanking: This is a tricky one. Players abhor the large number of teams hiding behind rebuilds because it drives down the average salary across the league. But if a salary floor is instituted, it could also bring a salary cap, which the players decidedly don't want. (MLB remains the only of the four major sports without a cap, though the luxury tax basically acts as one.)
- Sinking salaries: According to Blum, the average MLB salary has fallen from $4.1 million in 2017 to a projected $3.7 million in 2021. The biggest of the big stars are getting paid — think Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Fernando Tatis, Jr. — while everyone else is being squeezed once they hit the payday of free agency.
Of course this all happens just as the White Sox are entering another period of competitiveness — just like it did in 1994.
A presumed lockout is sure to affect the Cubs' climb back, too, as free agency won't begin until there's a new CBA.
Hopefully the two sides don't ruin our entire holiday and start a third straight season with a long period of uncertainty, followed by a rush to get on the field.
But it sounds like we should hunker down for the long haul because nothing about this is going to be quick. Joy.
News and results
Bulls: First 4-0 start since the 1996-97 team
The ending was a little rocky, but the new-look Bulls are the only 4-0 team after a 111-108 win in Toronto on Monday night.
- DeMar DeRozan had a big night against his former team, scoring 26 points for the game and 11 in the final quarter.
- Zach LaVine scored 22 and Nikola Vucevic had 17, but the most interesting line was the one belonging to Lonzo Ball. He finished with 15 points, all coming off a 5-on-9 performance on 3-pointers.
- The Bulls led by as many as 20 points in the second half, but Toronto whittled that down to two with just under five minutes left to play.
- The two numbers you love to see: The Bulls forced 21 Raptors turnovers and were 21-of-22 from the free-throw line.
Next: The Bulls host the Knicks on Thursday. Twelve of their next 13 games will come against teams that made the playoffs last season.
Bears: Matt Nagy test positive for COVID-19
Yes, we wanted Nagy in his car and headed away from Halas Hall on Monday morning, but not in this fashion.
- Nagy is vaccinated and said he feels good, but will need two negative tests spaced 24 hours apart to return to the team for Sunday's home game against San Francisco.
- No other team members tested positive on Monday, though this news is concerning when combined with last week's positive tests that kept Robert Quinn, Jimmy Graham and Elijah Wilkinson out of the Buccaneers game. The team has entered heightened mitigation protocols.
The 1996-97 Bulls started the season 12-0. Who dealt them their first loss and how many wins did they finish with?
1. The Cubs have a new assistant GM: 38-year-old Ehsan Bokhari, who has both the Astros and Dodgers on his resume. ESPN
2. The Bulls' strong start got them a quick boost across the national power rankings. Bleacher Nation
3. A pair of shoes that Michael Jordan wore in his fifth NBA game just sold for a record $1.47 million. NBC Sports Chicago
4. Marshall's Dorothy Gaters, the winningest high school coach in Illinois history with 1,153 victories, is stepping down after 45 years. Sun-Times
5. Karl Klockars got some time with the entire 2021 Bourbon County Stout lineup. Here are his notes. (Also: Make sure you sign up for his newsletter if you haven't already.) Guys Drinking Beer