And so the circle of life continues on spinning round and round in the same place, and getting most of us nowhere.
The NBA is only the latest example of this, with a German opera of a negotiating session that ended after midnight and left both sides within sight of each other at the midpoint they were destined to arrive at anyway.
And they did it in the time-honored way hardline for a time, then moderate late.
You see, the details here dont matter all that much, because by the time this CBA is about the expire, the owners will scream it was a bad system that cannot endure. Thus, it will continue the streak of deals the owners hate as soon as they have figured out the last way to get around their own deal, and demand that the players agree to a new one that makes the owners even less responsible for their behavior.
And the cycle will begin again. The owners who dont really like basketball that much anyway, and really hate owning businesses in which the workers must be paid, will shriek that enough is enough, and theyd rather shut the game down than go in this vein any longer.
We, of course, will panic, because we do care about the game, dont know many of the owners, but know that if theyre like the guys we work for, theyll do it.
(Except of course the people I work for. They are human exemplars down to the last human).
And the hardliners will carry the day for awhile, convincing the union that this time they mean business. The union, who knows the game too well from having seen it so many times before, then has to make sure their players dont get scared and bolt from the hall.
Then the ugly negotiations start, with the hardliners at the table doing the talking and demeaning the union and players as much as they can get away with. And they know how much they can get away with when the union says, Fine, shut the doors. We hate you more than we like the job now, anyway. Go kill yourselves.
And at that point, the commissioner, who only earns his money at times like this, sees the hardliners have hit the wall and can only do damage now, comes in, rallies the moderates and says, Its our turn. The pre-Industrial Revolution nutjobs have done as much as they can do.
At that point, a miracle happens, as it did Wednesday night. The two sides know its time to stop screwing around and get a deal done.
Nobody ever knows when this point is reached, though the usual tipoff is like this one -- when you hear Derek Fisher call someone from management a liar. When the most rational guy in the room has had a bellyful of condescension, contempt and disgust from the other sides most demeaning members, the flares go off and everyone says, Well, were at that point. Give it three days, call for sandwiches and sodas and order notebooks and Number-2 pencils.
The notebooks and pencils are for doodling, by the way. Fifteen hours doing anything is tedious slogging.
So here we are again. Close to a deal, so close that it cant be undone unless one of the hardliners breaks out of his pen, bolts into the room and starts screaming about the benefits of serfdom, being chained to a table and making tennis shoes for four cents a day and how it builds more character than the union will ever know.
Right now, in short, weve passed the cat-herding stage and are down to the actual useful speaking. A deal will be reached soon, and then we can all go back to what we know best.
Waiting to see if the Warriors get to 32 wins before they get to 51 losses.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com