PITTSBURGH - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed at the Consol Energy Center Saturday, so it was quite a night for The Boss, his fans - and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Springsteen packed the building, which meant that Penguins ownership banked significant money. They collect money on every event, thanks to the sweetheart deal former governor Ed Rendell provided.
Springsteen has moved on, but next month the building will welcome Madonna, The Who, Justin Bieber and Carrie Underwood. That will take some of the sting out of losing November's seven scheduled hockey games.
The Pens may not have game-night revenue, but they're also not writing those big checks to players. It's up to the accountants to determine if they come out ahead on that deal. We've had enough labor stoppages in sports to know how they work. There's a master plan before it ever starts. In 1993, Mark Sauer, then the president of the Pirates, detailed exactly how baseball's labor Armageddon would play out the next year, right down the assembling of replacement teams.
People in the know talked last spring of an NHL lockout that would probably extend to January. For those who wonder why there's no urgency to talk and hammer out a deal, it's all part of the plan.
The owners are willing (and able) to wait. They're counting on the players feeling the pinch after a few missed paychecks and then pressuring the union to get a deal done. They're losing money, and the clock is ticking on careers that are generally short. Some players are forfeiting millions they'll never recover.
The theory is that the players will be so anxious to get an agreement, they won't even care about the concessions they'll make to get it. Maybe it plays out that way. Maybe the players dig in and refuse to fold.
Ralph Kiner, who turned 90 last week, was famous for home runs before he became a broadcaster famous for malapropisms.
Kiner spent his prime years with the Pirates, and there's something that jumps out in his stat line. These days, there's little concern about high strikeout totals. The feeling is strikeouts are an inevitable part of a power hitter's profile. Pedro Alvarez hit 30 home runs last season, but struck out 180 times in 586 plate appearances.
Kiner had one 100-strikeout season in his career, 109 as a rookie in 1946. As the Pirates search for a new hitting coach, is it still possible to separate a respectable number of home runs from an obscene amount of strikeouts?
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.