The happiest one I’ve had in quite some time… Baseball got itself together (finally), and it’s bracket reveal weekend in college basketball. Nets still need to be cut over the next two days, but we’ll return on Monday with a first-look at the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
Play Ball: The Lockout is Over
MLB & Players’ Association Reach Agreement on New Labor Deal
Ratification Friday! After four months of a head-scratching labor battle that had me swinging for the fences with catchy updates, the chains have finally been broken. The MLB owners unanimously voted to ratify the new collective bargaining agreement on Thursday, officially ending a 99-day lockout and saving a full season. Baseball’s second-longest work stoppage in league history is finally over. Here are all the details you need to know.
Opening Day (April 7)
The 2022 MLB season will officially begin on April 7, and the league will still have a complete 162-game schedule. The mandatory Spring Training report date for all clubs is this Sunday, and exhibition games will begin March 17.
CBA Details to Know
The minimum salary for players with less than three years of service time will increase from $570,000 to $780,000, plus a bonus pool of $50 million distributed to younger players. The postseason will expand to 12 teams. Player uniforms will feature advertisements on jerseys and helmets. There’s also a draft lottery to discourage tanking. In addition, a number of rule changes could be implemented, including pitch clock changes, larger bases, ban on shifts and the universal designated hitter.
Discussions about an international draft process are ongoing. Although international draft rules were not part of the CBA, the league and MLBPA agreed to a new deadline to establish draft rules by July.
Free Agency is Open
As baseball goes back to business, the floodgates reopen on MLB free agency. Hot names like Freddie Freeman, Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Nelson Cruz, Jorge Soler and Nick Castellanos are still available, not to mention pitchers like Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.
Baseball is finally done with the shenanigans. Let’s play ball!
Champ Week: Down Goes #3 Baylor
Oklahoma Stuns #3 Baylor (72-67) in Big 12 Quarterfinals; Other Top-10 Teams Survive
We march on through Championship Week with another upset that could shake up NCAA bracket seeding. Oklahoma (18-14) was certainly on the bubble entering the Big 12 tournament, but a takedown of the 3rd-ranked Bears gives them their fourth win over teams expected to be seeded 4s or better in the NCAA Tournament.
NCAA Men’s Highlights
Pac-12: #2 Arizona def. Stanford (84-80)
Big 12: Oklahoma def. #3 Baylor (72-67)
Big East: #8 Villanova def. St. John’s (66-65)
Big East: #11 Providence def. Butler (65-61)
The action continues today with a dozen-or-so matchups that have bubble implications. Here are the top games we’re watching:
Today’s Schedule (Top Games to Watch)
Big Ten: Indiana vs. #16 Illinois (11:30 am ET)
SEC: Texas A&M vs. #4 Auburn (Noon ET)
SEC: Mississippi State vs. #9 Tennessee (6:00 pm ET)
Big East: Creighton vs. #11 Providence (6:30 pm ET)
Big Ten: Michigan State vs. #12 Wisconsin (6:30 pm ET)
Big 12: TCU vs. #6 Kansas (7:00 pm ET)
ACC: Miami vs. #7 Duke (7:00 pm ET)
SEC: Vanderbilt vs. #5 Kentucky (8:00 pm ET)
PAC-12: Colorado vs. #2 Arizona (9:00 pm ET)
Big Ten: Penn State vs. #9 Purdue (9:00 pm ET)
NBA MVP Voting
Yesterday, we asked: Who are you picking to win NBA MVP? The results were close, but The Sportsletter team likes Joel Embiid as the frontrunner.
The first meeting between the Nets and 76ers since the Ben Simmons-James Harden trade went as expected in the pregame. Philly fans greeted Simmons with a chorus of boos, but it was the Nets who dominated the game (129-100) thanks to 71 combined points from Kevin Durant (25), Seth Curry (24) and Kyrie Irving (22).
Johnny Gaudreau tallied his sixth career NHL hat trick in the Flames’ beatdown against the Lightning on Thursday (4-1). Gaudreau lit the lamp in each period to give Calgary another home win in a month that features a dozen home games for the Flames. With 77 points, they’re sitting comfortably atop the Pacific standings.
Tommy Fleetwood (-6) and Tom Hoge (-6) lead the field after Day 1 of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, but a number of players had their rounds cut short due to weather delays and darkness after a slow round.
The Must-Watch List
It’ the weekend before the Madness. Conference tournaments roll into Selection Sunday, and all eyes are on the NCAA Tournaments. The women’s season is in the books, but the men’s bracket has bubbles ready to burst.
NCAA Conference Tournament Schedules (All Weekend)
NCAA Selection Show (Sun. 6:00 pm)
The Players Championship (All Weekend)
Bucks at Warriors (Sat. 8:30 pm)
Knicks at Nets (Sun. 1:00 pm)
Lakers at Suns (Sun. 9:00 pm)
Lightning at Oilers (Sat. 10:00 pm)
Hurricanes at Penguins (Sun. 1:00 pm)
Flames at Avalanche (Sun. 8:00 pm)
EPL: Man. United vs. Tottenham (Sat. 12:30 pm)
MLS: Seattle Sounders vs. LA Galaxy (Sat. 3:30 pm)
*All Times Eastern
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