The argument is simple:
-- David Ortiz is saying he deserves more than a 150,000 raise after a season in which he hit .309 with 29 home runs, 96 RBI, a .398 on-base percentage and a .554 slugging percentage (that's a .953 OPS).
-- And the Red Sox are saying no players similar to Ortiz -- aging, one-dimensional designated hitters -- make anything close to the 16.5 million he's seeking.
Today, unless the two sides reach a last-minute agreement, an arbitrator gets to decide who's right.
The Sox and Ortiz will present their cases in St. Petersburg, Fla., with the arbitrator eventually having to decide whether Ortiz will earn what he's asking for (that 16.5 million) or what Boston is offering (12.65 million). The Sox have a history of settling with their players before the hearings -- they last went to arbitration in 2002, against Roland Arrojo -- but two months of fruitless negotiations have led us to this point.
The problem, as has been pointed out by virtually everyone, is that the arbitration process is bruising; the team's argument is best made by pointing out the player's weaknesses. And since Ortiz can be touchy and sensitive in the best of times, you have to think he's not going to be a very happy camper when this is over, even if he wins. Especially since he's given the Sox a couple of team-friendly deals in the past, which may be another reason why he's sticking to his guns this time.
If they haven't settled by now, odds are they probably won't. But there's always hope.
For everyone's sake, let's hope they do.
We haven't heard from cornerback Malcolm Butler as his future as a Patriot hangs in the balance after his visit with the New Orleans Saints last week.
Butler, a restricted free agent who has yet to sign the $3.91 million tender offered by the Patriots, posted a photo Wednesday on Instagram with the cryptic message "Nothing changed but the change," which happens to be a lyric from a song titled "Could It Be" by rapper Nick Lyon. So, perhaps a change of teams is being referred to.
More to come...
The NFL is acknowledging it has a time-management issue. Games are too long. Commercial are too frequent. And according to an email addressed to NFL fans, Roger Goodell is hoping to change that.
On Wednesday afternoon the commissioner explained the methods by which the league is hoping to improve the fan experience, most of which concern the presentation of games with as few interruptions as possible.
"On the football side, there are a number of changes we are making to the mechanics and rules of the game to maintain excitement and also improve the consistency of our officiating," Goodell wrote. "For example, next week clubs will vote on a change to centralize replay reviews. Instead of a fixed sideline monitor, we will bring a tablet to the Referee who can review the play in consultation with our officiating headquarters in New York, which has the final decision. This should improve consistency and accuracy of decisions and help speed up the process.
"Regarding game timing, we're going to institute a play clock following the extra point when television does not take a break, and we're considering instituting a play clock after a touchdown. We're also going to standardize the starting of the clock after a runner goes out-of-bounds, and standardize halftime lengths in all games, so we return to the action as quickly as possible. Those are just a few of the elements we are working on to improve the pace of our game."
Goodell also mentioned that the NFL is working with its broadcast partners to reduce the frequency of commercial breaks during games.
"For example," Goodell wrote, "we know how annoying it is when we come back from a commercial break, kick off, and then cut to a commercial again. I hate that too. Our goal is to eliminate it."
Goodell, team owners and executives will convene in Phoenix next week for the league's annual meetings where discussions about these potential changes could see meaningful progress.