From Comcast SportsNetTORONTO (AP) -- Another NHL lockout is beginning look inevitable.Unable to move beyond the philosophical stage of talks, the owners and players have watched another week slip by without progress. They sat down together for a quick session Thursday morning before reporting the same significant gap that has existed all along.The main issue that divides them is far from complex."We believe we're paying out more than we should be," Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "It's as simple as that."Of course, the NHL Players' Association doesn't quite see it that way.Executive director Donald Fehr has acknowledged there's room for some flexibility in that area -- last week's proposal included three years with a slightly lower share in revenues for the players -- but he hasn't come to the table in a conciliatory mood after taking over a union that capitulated during the last round of negotiations."Everybody understands that employers would always like to pay less," Fehr said. "That's not a surprise to anybody -- it's disappointing sometimes -- but it's not a surprise."He went on to add that the services his constituents provide are irreplaceable."From the players' standpoint, they want a fair agreement, they want one that is equitable, they want one that recognizes their contribution," Fehr said.With both sides so entrenched, real negotiations have yet to begin even though the Sept. 15 deadline for a lockout is fast approaching.The parties attempted to make some progress Wednesday by clearing the meeting room of everyone but the key figures: Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly along with Fehr and his brother Steve Fehr, the union's No. 2 man. They soon discovered there was little common ground.Those same four men will reopen talks next Tuesday in New York during what promises to be a key negotiation session. The sides have tentatively blocked off the rest of the week for meetings as well, but they must first determine if there's anything worth talking about.That's far from guaranteed.A league that lost the entire 2004-05 season to a lockout is in real danger of having the start of another one disrupted for the same reason. The current CBA has seen the NHL grow from a 2.1 billion industry to one that pulls in 3.3 billion annually -- a fact that isn't lost on either side."We recovered well last time because we have the world's greatest fans," Bettman said.The essential difference between the offers put forward so far is perhaps best articulated in terms of their impact on the salary cap. Under the NHL's initial proposal, it would fall to 50.8 million for next season. The NHLPA's would see it set near 69 million.The league also is believed to have verbally raised the possibility of seeing the players' share in revenue drop incrementally rather than all at once. Theoretically, it could be done at a rate that is matched by an expected increase in revenues -- essentially keeping salaries constant over the duration of the agreement while owners take in more profit.So far, the union hasn't shown much interest in negotiating off of that kind of model.While it's natural to assume the parties might be more willing to make concessions as Sept. 15 nears, Fehr pointed out that they already know what's at stake."If there's going to be a lockout -- and that's something that the owners will choose or not choose -- then you would have missed games, you would have lost revenue, you would have lost paychecks," he said. "But that doesn't mean that the parties don't understand going into it that that would be the case."With the possibility of a lockout becoming more real, the posturing is starting to begin. Bettman lamented Thursday that the union wasn't ready to open talks a year ago -- the commissioner did say throughout the season there was more than enough time to make a deal -- while Fehr continues to point out that Sept. 15 is only a deadline because the NHL has made it one.The bottom line is that they need to make an agreement and there isn't one in sight.Seven years ago, the sides battled one another over the philosophical view of whether the sport needed a salary cap. With that out of the way, this fight is all about money, although Bettman declined to go into detail when asked why the owners were seeking such significant givebacks."I'm not going to get into a public debate on that," he said. "Obviously, if we didn't think that there were issues that needed to be addressed we wouldn't be in this type of negotiation."
CHICAGO — John Lackey's night started with a leadoff homer. Ty Blach's night started with a 13-pitch battle. Neither one is a positive for a pitcher, but Blach didn't view it that way. He actually appreciated Ben Zobrist stretching him out.
"It's good to have a battle like that and get you locked in," Blach said. "It gets you focused and you'll be like, I can execute and get guys out. It's good. It's a good battle."
There, in a nutshell, is so much of what Bruce Bochy loves about his young left-hander. The Giants have found Blach's arm and resolve to be remarkably resilient. He wasn't bothered when they moved him to the bullpen and he didn't get too high when they moved him back to the rotation. He is the same after seven shutout innings or three poor ones. Bochy smiled when asked about the Zobrist at-bat, which ended in a strikeout looking.
"How 'bout that?" the manager said. "He won that at-bat. It seems like the advantage goes to the hitter, seeing all those pitches. He kept his focus and got a called strikeout and here he is pitching in the eighth inning."
After needing 13 pitches for one out, Blach got the next 23 on 81 pitches. Bochy thought Blach tired a bit in the eighth, but the deep effort allowed Bochy to mix and match in the bullpen, and ultimately he found the right mix. Hunter Strickland and Mark Melancon closed it out and got Blach his second win.
--- From last night, Joe Panik's huge night helped give Blach an early lead. With the help of Ron Wotus and his shift charts, he also put on a show defensively.
--- We're trying something new right after the final pitch: Here are five quick takeaways from the 6-4 win.
--- The options game sent Kelby Tomlinson back to Triple-A on Wednesday when the Giants activated Melancon, but his latest stint in Sacramento comes with a twist. Tomlinson started his third consecutive game in center field on Monday. The Giants are getting a bit more serious about their longtime plan to make Tomlinson a super-utility player.
“Tommy is a valuable guy in the majors and if we can give him some experience in the outfield, it gives you more flexibility and versatility,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
This is not Tomlinson’s first foray into the outfield. He did work there in the offseason after the 2015 season and he has played 25 big league innings in left field the last two seasons. This is Tomlinson’s first real experience with center field, and while in the past he has said that the transition isn’t as easy as some might think, Bochy is confident Tomlinson can figure it out. He certainly has the speed to be a semi-regular in the outfield, and the Giants aren’t exactly brimming with quality center field options behind Denard Span, who is dealing with his second injury of the season.
“It’s a little different now,” Bochy said when asked about Tomlinson’s past experiences in the outfield. “He’s in Sacramento doing it, and knowing there’s a possibility we could need help in the outfield.”
If the switch doesn’t come in handy this season, it could in 2018. Bochy compared Tomlinson’s infield-outfield ability to Eduardo Nuñez, who has found regular playing time in left but is a free agent after the year.
--- Hunter Pence did some light running in the outfield before Monday’s game. Bochy said Pence is still about a week away from being an option.
--- Bochy has said it a few times now when asked about the standings, so it’s officially a new motto for a team that got off to a brutal start: “We’ve put ourselves in a great situation for a great story.”
--- They're starting to get a little grumpy around here with their team hovering around .500. Perhaps the Cubs thought they could fool a few on the way out of Wrigley.
There are no more ways to extol the virtues of the Golden State Warriors without redundancy. They have owned three consecutive regular seasons and three consecutive Western Conference playoffs, and just finished savaging the last one faster than any team since the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers, who didn’t have to play as many games as these Warriors did.
But now the season begins, and in the pass-fail world of the NBA Finals, this is the one that will define the Warriors for the ages.
After mugging the San Antonio Spurs, 129-115, to close out the West final in the minimum number of sanctioned events, the Warriors now wait for the resolution of Cleveland-Boston to begin the final assault on their destiny.
They did so without giving in to their occasional predilection for easing up on the throttle. They took an early lead, widened it slowly and carefully and made damned sure the Spurs never felt like they could do as the Celtics had done the night before in Cleveland. The Warriors were coldly efficient (well, okay, those 17 turnovers were bothersome but not ultimately an issue) at both ends of the floor and all points inbetween, and the result and its margin were both fair representations of the difference between the two teams.
In dispatching the Spurs, they became the first team ever to put 120 points on a Gregg Popovich-coached team three consecutive times; indeed the only time Popovich ever had one of his teams allow 120 in back-to-back games was when the 2005 team that eventually won the NBA title beat the Los Angeles Clippers and Warriors, both in overtime.
And while this series will be remembered as the one in which the Spurs had the least amount of weaponry, it will also be the one in which the Warriors will be remembered for wasting only one of the eight halves they played. It is difficult, in other words, to make the case that San Antonio would have won the series even with Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker. We do know it would still be going on, but the outcome seems only slightly more in doubt in such a case.
But as this affects the Warriors, this next series will dictate all of it. Win, and they can claim a mini-dynasty. Lose, and they will damned in the court of public opinion in ways that make last year’s 3-1 memes seem downright charitable.
It is the price they pay for being very good already and then adding Kevin Durant without giving up anything of real substance. It’s the price they pay for wanting it all and then doubling down for more.
People and teams who did that are not treated kindly unless they win everything that can be won, and the Warriors are now that team – like the Yankees of lore and Patriots of today, they are the standard of both excellence and excess, and marrying the two without danger is not possible, as they learned a year ago.
But that was then, Draymond Green’s wayward hand and five minutes of 0-for-everything shooting is just history. They can adapt and avenge if not eradicate the hard lesson of 2016 and be thought of as the team they all believe themselves to be.
All they have to do is take the Celtics or Cavaliers and ender them inert. They don’t have to do it in four games; chasing numbers is a fool’s errand as they discovered last year chasing the now-meaningless 73.
They just have to do it four times, and if they play as they have, winning 12 consecutive games by an average margin of 16 points and change against three other quality teams, they will succeed at the hardest level basketball can create. And whatever people may say of them good or ill, they will have achieved what was demanded of them by both supporter and detractor alike.
And that, to paraphrase Kevin Durant, is what they came to do. Win the thing, and not worry about the numbers -- especially not the style points.