Difficult to recall a bleaker time on the business side of sports, and it has come to a head this month.
Talk about a June swoon:
The NFL is embroiled in the longest work stoppage in its history, now at 105 days.
The NBA is careening toward a midnight Thursday deadline that could signal the start of a lockout that may well surpass the one that wiped out a third of the 1998-99 season.
The Los Angeles Dodgers filed for bankruptcy.
The Atlanta Thrashers received approval to move to Winnipeg, the second time the NHL has struck out in Atlanta.
There has been no sanctuary with the ball in play, at least not for a South Florida rooting interest. It all seemed to spring from the Heat coughing up that 15-point lead in the last seven minutes of Game 2 of the NBA Finals.
Suddenly, LeBron James transformed from king to court jester.
About the same time the Marlins went into a stunning tailspin after entering June nine games over .500 and off to one of the best starts in their history. They are 3-23 for the month with a staggering string of 14 consecutive losses in one-run games. Along the way they lost a manager, and the return of ace right-hander Josh Johnson keeps getting pushed back: He is headed for an exam of his valuable right shoulder by the same surgeon who repaired his elbow.
Not the way the to build excitement and momentum for next season’s opening of the new ballpark in Miami. Even the stream of glowing progress reports from the construction site was interrupted by the first glitch with the disclosure of numerous hairline cracks in the support beams of the parking garages.
With nine months to Opening Day, the Marlins expressed confidence the problem will be corrected and work completed on time. But it’s par for an unsettling June in which cracks seem to be spreading throughout the fabric of sports.
It extended to the world stage, as only two Americans finished in the top 10 of the U.S. Open and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy rewrote our record book. The Williams sister went out early at Wimbledon, as did Andy Roddick as American men were headed for their 11th year without a title.
The Florida Gators made a nice run to the College World Series finals, then got swept.
In South Florida, the local team having the best June was the long down-trodden Florida Panthers, who drafted a high-scoring junior center, acquired proven veterans Brian Campbell and Tomas Kopecky and are heading into the free-agency period with money to spend.
With the Panthers finally showing reason for hope, will the feeling spread in July?
Indications are the NFL is heading toward a labor settlement, if not before the July 4 weekend then soon. Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA’s DeMaurice Smith are meeting by themselves, which is being interpreted as a sign negotiations are in the final stages.
Details of latest negotiations suggest that owners will walk away with a marginally larger share of the revenue pie, but not to the extent they were seeking. For fans, the bottom line is the likelihood the league will be ready for some football this fall after all.
The situation with the NBA does not appear as promising. A negotiating session is scheduled for Thursday and the deadline could be extended if progress is being made, but it is hard to find anyone holding out hope that a lockout will be averted.