Joe Santoro: Play or not, college football decision is about money | NevadaAppeal.com
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Joe Santoro: Play or not, college football decision is about money

By Joe Santoro For the Nevada Appeal

There will be no high school or college football in the state of Nevada this fall. Relax. It’s not the end of the world as we know it. It actually isn’t even the end of this football season as of right now. The hope is that some sort of a season can be played starting in February or March. So instead of complaining that you don’t have football to obsess about this fall you should take comfort in knowing that our student athletes’ health and safety will not be at risk. The Mountain West this past week, just like the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association earlier this month, absolutely did the right thing by calling off sports this fall. Playing football in a pandemic is careless, selfish and ridiculous. People in this country have lost their lives and their jobs because of COVID-19. Being concerned or angry about losing games is, well, silly. The games will come back. Just be patient.

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The reason the Mountain West and other conferences are not going to play football or any other sport this fall is not because those conferences are concerned about the health and safety of the athletes. It is because it became financially impossible to play. There was a point not too long ago where all of the financial risk was in not playing. But now the risk is in actually staging the events. There would have been little or no revenue from fans to help with travel costs. There was no six or seven-figure paydays for playing games against larger schools. And there was the growing concern of a possibility of program-destroying lawsuits due to the very real threat of a COVID-19 outbreak among the players. Conferences like the Mountain West just couldn’t play games this fall.

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The recent months have made it obvious that college athletes need to form some sort of union to protect themselves from greedy college presidents, athletic directors and coaches. The players are the ones who always take all of the health and safety risks. It is time they are fully protected. Over the last 40 or 50 years, coaches and athletic directors have gone from getting paid like the average car mechanic and produce manager in a grocery store to becoming millionaires like doctors, lawyers and CEOs. The athletes’ world has basically stayed the same. A player’s value right now only goes as far as they can help make a coach or university rich. It is time that changes drastically.

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Does anyone truly believe LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers will not be in the NBA Finals? The league (and its television partners) desperately needs LeBron to play throughout this pandemic playoff season. LeBron is one of the most fascinating sports figures this country has ever produced. He is courageous, brave, thoughtful and wonderfully talented. He changes every game he plays. Whether we want him to win or lose, he is the reason we care about the NBA. He is not only the face of the league, he is the arms, legs, head, heart and soul of the league.

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The Oakland A’s were 13-6 through Wednesday’s games. This might be the year A’s fans have been waiting for since the early 1990s. The rest of the A’s division is a mess. The Astros are just fighting with everybody. The Angels continue to underachieve. The Rangers and Mariners are meaningless. The A’s are as good as any team in baseball. The San Francisco Giants across the Bay are, well, another story. The Giants wouldn’t even win the Pacific Coast League. Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria, Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt were all hitting under .215 as of Thursday morning. The pitchers have given up 30 homers in 20 games. Giants fans don’t need to pay attention to this team until at least 2025.

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Will anyone hit .400 in major league baseball this season? Just three regulars — Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon (.472), the Giants’ Donovan Solano (.458) and the Yankees’ D.J. LeMahieu (.431) — were over .400. Blackmon and LeMahieu have both already won batting titles and Solano did hit .330 with the Giants last year in 81 games. But .400, even through just 60 games, takes an incredible amount of luck. Ted Williams will still be the last player to hit .400 over a full season no matter what happens over the next six weeks or so but this is why baseball is the greatest sport. The numbers and not just the championships actually do matter to the fans.

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Houston Astros pitcher Zack Greinke might have changed the sport forever on Wednesday. Greinke, pitching against the Giants, was the one giving the signs to catcher Martin Maldonado and not the other way around. It speeded up the game because Greinke didn’t have to shake off Maldonado’s signs. The pitcher giving the sign is also great for the catcher. If the pitcher gives the sign the catcher can’t be blamed for calling the wrong pitch. Also the catcher never really knows if the pitcher receives the sign. Also, if the pitcher is giving the sign, he is throwing a pitch he wants to throw and his head and focus is into the game on every pitch. It would be surprising if more pitchers don’t start doing this by next season, if not sooner.

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The Arizona Diamondbacks’ signing of Madison Bumgarner this past offseason to an $85 million contract over five years now looks like a disaster. Bumgarner has made four starts for the Diamondbacks and has an earned run average of 9.35 after allowing 20 hits and seven homers over just 17.1 innings. He’s 0-3 and his fastball seems to get slower with each passing inning. Bumgarner just turned 31. He shouldn’t be on the decline just yet. But all of those years of making 30-plus starts in the regular season and even more in the pressure-packed postseason for the San Francisco Giants seems to have drained his arm.