Archive for September 4th, 2012
It seems as if the Olympic Gold medal Andy Murray obtained at the London 2012 Summer Olympics have certainly helped him get in the right state of mind to keep on showing that he might just have what it takes to get into the elite trio of Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Let’s not forget that just a few weeks earlier, in the same grass courts of the All English Club, Andy Murray had managed his way up to the Wimbledon’s final, were he eventually lost to Roger Federer. But in a nice touch of fate, Murray would go on and face this Swiss Maestro again in the gold medal matchup in the London Olympics. And this time, for the first time in 5 distinct shots, it would be Murray taking the win and his first Olympic medal.
Now, it seems as if he has been able to translate some of that momentum into a solid performance in the US Open that is certainly making him look like one of the favorite to go on and give both Novak Djokovic, the US Open defending Champion, and Roger Federer, in his route to a record-breaking 18th Grand Slam title, a good run for their money. After beating Milos Raonic, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2, last night, he made it quite clear that this is the best tennis we’ve seen him play ever, and that he is ready to go and get his first Grand Slam title. His recent performances have been phenomenal and after the surgically precise win over Raonic, Murray has now reached his 8th consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal.
Don’t let the overwhelming score make you think for a second that Milos Raonic was not a brilliant contestant. Just consider the following statistics to make up your mind about Raonic. The 21-year-old’s best weapon is his serve. He came into the match with 89 aces in three matches, this is 21 more aces than the Argentinean Nicolas Almagro, who had played four games. His fastest serve was clocked at 143 mph, one off the tournament high established by John Isner. As a matter of fact the Canadian (although born in Montenegro) pro who currently resides in Monte Carlo hit 14 aces for the game. That included one bullet that hit 140 mph on the radar. And yet, Andy Murray made it look real easy as he toyed with the ATP World Tour’s No. 16-ranked player. It looks as if the confidence boost has given Murray the trust he needs to star playing towards the lines under pressure and his artillery seems now much more diverse and effective on the key games.
“I used a lot of variation tonight,” Murray said in the postgame press conference. “Milos has a massive game. I had to guess sometimes. I was lucky, because they fly past you and sometimes you get a racket on it. Tonight I got a racket on it.” Now it’s really up to him to find a way to get back in the game and bring back home his first mayor. He has the motivation, and to make it a bit easier, Rafa Nadal is out resting his sore knee. This looks like his best shot yet. Let’s see if he can get it.
It seems to me that the professional leagues in the United States just doesn’t seem to go into the preseason without some sort of lockout. Hockey, baseball, football, basketball, the last four 5 years have had some sort of action of this sort. And it’s getting a little old. Particularly now when the NFL has officially reached a 3-month long lockdown with it’s referees. They say it’s all about money, and perhaps the biggest question here is why, with all the money that the NFL has reported in revenue, can’t they come into an agreement with the officiating crews. Now, time is running up and with less than a day before the NFL season kicks off, no talks are scheduled between the league and the locked-out on-field officials.
So we can make it official. It will be up to the replacement officials to kick off the season opener between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants. During three different days last week the NFL and the NFL Referees Association met together to find a deal, but the parties did not reach an agreement to end the three-month-old lockout. Replacement officials who worked the preseason games will officiate the first week of the season. The league and the NFL Referees Association, which covers more than 120 on-field officials, are at odds over salary, retirement benefits and operational issues.
This are some of the key aspects that need to be solved before we can get the regular officials back in the field. The NFL would like to move away from the traditional pension model from the previous agreement, freezing pensions now and eventually terminating them in favor of a defined contribution model ranging between $16,000 to $23,000 per year. Not exactly your dream 401K. Now, when it comes to salary, there is also a big difference. I mean, big for the referees but it seems to me very little for the organizations as a whole. Last week both sides were approximately $16 million apart on a seven-year deal. NFLRA will emphasize, equals a cost of less than $75,000 per year per NFL team.
The NFL also wants to get more officiating crews. Move from the 18 they already have to the proposed 21 officiating crews. The NFL says this is “extras” would come in to secure their bench and get the training needed for the future. The Referees association see this as an attempt to threat to the continued livelihood and security of it’s current members. The NFL is stating that under the proposed changes, the pay structure includes annual pay increases that could earn an experienced official more than $200,000 annually by 2018. The NFLRA has disputed the value of the proposal, insisting it would ultimately reduce their compensation.
Now as the first game is just a few hours from kicking off, it becomes evident that the referees are now going to rely heavily on the replacement referees to make some bold and evident mistakes in their officiating either on Wednesday or on the bulk of games coming up on Sunday. If that is the case, they will certainly have more leverage for negotiating their return. On the other hand, if the replacements make a good job, they’ll be forced to stick with what the NFL throws at them in the negotiation.