Earlier this week, we learned the NHL lockout was extended through the end of 2012 as games were canceled through December 30.  So far, NHL fans have been deprived of 526 games and will also lose their beloved Winter Classic game and All-Star festivities.  The sides were reportedly close to a deal after meeting for three consecutive days last week, but the league pulled its offer off the table after the union could not provide concrete answers on several key issues.  Gary Bettman, aka the worst commissioner in the history of sports, is now fathering his third extended lockout during his nearly two decade run as the commissioner of the NHL.  He was originally appointed to the position to help facilitate and save the NHL from work stoppages.  Doing a bang-up job, guy.

The 1994-95 season saw only 48 games played, 2004-05 was the infamous full season cancellation and many hockey fans are worried that we could see a repeat here in 2012-13.  Every time the two sides seem to be close to a deal, the owners and Bettman throw a wrench in the plan.  As always with labor disputes between millionaires and billionaires fighting over money, both sides come off as greedy slime-balls that the fans grow to despise.  With this lockout, however, I'd say it's safe to assume most NHL fans are growing more and more frustrated with Bettman – not a surprise considering he's nearly universally hated by all NHL fans, lockout or not.  Enough with the emotional press conferences and mud-slinging through the media between the two sides.  I thought the political season was over?  If Bettman and friends take away the entire season and cost us the beauty and excitement of playoff NHL hockey, then he’s going to have even more problems on his plate.  Fans eventually came back after 2005 – I’m not so sure they will this time.

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• We have a new highest paid right-handed pitcher in baseball and his name is Zack Greinke.  The Los Angeles Dodgers shelled out $147 million and gave the former Cy Young award winner a six-year deal.  Greinke won his Cy Young in 2009 with the Kansas City Royals when Trey Hillman was his manager.  Hillman is now a bench coach for the Dodgers and with his anxiety and depression issues, Greinke needing a comfortable situation is vital.  He now has financial and long-term security with the Dodgers and the familiarity of being with a coach he’s had success with before.  He won’t be counted on as the top pitcher on the team with fellow Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw being the undisputed number one guy along with Josh Beckett in the rotation as well.  The Dodgers also signed Ryu Hyun-Jin out of Korea.  Greinke may be able to fall into the background and let his phenomenal pitching do the talking for him as he tries to help lead the talented Dodgers back to the playoffs.

• Former commissioner of the NFL Paul Tagliabue has made a ruling in the New Orleans Saints bounty case.  Jonathan Vilma, Scott Fujita, Will Smith and Anthony Hargrove were all given suspensions for their role in the infamous bounty scandal that was discovered by Roger Goodell this past summer.  Tagliabue decided to overturn all punishments – including Fujita who was exonerated of any and all wrong doing.  Vilma – the most outspoken of the players involved – has decided to continue with his defamation lawsuit he is putting forth against Goodell.  Vilma was originally given a full-season suspension which was the harshest penalty handed out.

• A blockbuster deal in baseball happened on Tuesday when the Reds, Diamondbacks and Reds agreed on a nine player trade.  The Reds, who won the NL Central last season, acquired OF Shin-Soo Choo from the Indians while giving up OF Drew Stubbs, INF Jason Donald and heralded prospect SS Didi Gregorius to the Indians.  The Indians then flipped Gregorius, P Tony Sipp and 1B prospect Lars Anderson to the Diamondbacks for former third overall pick P Trevor Bauer and relievers Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw.  A lot of moving parts in this deal – enough to make any baseball nerd drool.  The Reds getting Choo further solidifies themselves as one of the top teams in the National League despite now having an atrocious outfield when it comes to fielding with Choo, Jay Bruce and Ryan Ludwick.  The Indians get a potential stud in Trevor Bauer, but be warned Cleveland fans, Bauer came up last season with much fanfare and underwhelmed everyone with his terrible control problems.  He’s Tim Lincecum-esque with his mannerisms on the mound and uniqueness, but he’s a project.  The Diamondbacks getting Gregorius softens the blow of losing one of their top pitching prospects.  The Reds will obviously shine the brightest in 2013 with Choo adding even more pop to an already formidable lineup, but it’s going to be very interesting to see how potential studs Bauer and Gregorius perform in 2-3 years for their new teams.

• Depending on whom you believe, Dez Bryant – WR for the Dallas Cowboys – is either out for the rest of the season or going to be ready to play this Sunday.  Early reports this week suggested that Dez would be out for the rest of the season with a fractured left index finger but Bryant has been resilient in stating that he would play with the injury.  Surgery is reportedly needed for the Cowboys’ top receiver and delaying it could cause some long-term damage.  Dallas is in the playoff hunt – only one game back in the Wild Card race behind the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks so it’s very understandable that Bryant would insist on playing.  With TD catches each of the past five games, Bryant has seemingly finally matured as a receiver as well as a person with his determination to play for his team.  Bryant sought a second opinion when he was told he’d have to miss the rest of the season and it remains to be seen if he’ll be able to suit up this weekend or for any other games this season.

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