- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 7, 2009

SATURDAY’S BEST BET ON TELEVISION

Could the U.S. really lose to Canada in the opening round of the World Baseball Classic again? 2 p.m., ESPN

SPORTS’ TURNING POINT?

In the past century, the development of pro sports in the U.S. can be traced to several key shifts: the advent of television, the post-World War II boom and the invention of steroids, to name a few.

We might have reached another one.

If the economic collapse becomes as bad as some experts project, pro sports might look different a few years from now: three-week road trips, smaller stadiums, even reduced player contracts.

Those were just a few of the ideas leading sports economists discussed in early November. And that was when the Dow Jones was still around 9,000.

While banks and consumers were already being hit hard then, the pro leagues remained largely insulated. Then leagues and teams began layoffs, sponsors disappeared and tickets went unsold.

That insulation, it seems, is fraying.

“The effect that [the economy] going to have on major league sports in the United States has not yet been seen,” Red Sox owner John Henry told the Boston Globe two weeks ago. “2010 is probably going to look a lot different than 2008.”

TWT Five Key NHL deadline deals

1. Brian Skrudland, Mike Keane to Stars, 1998: The duo, who had each won a Stanley Cup with Montreal, helped Dallas hoist the Cup in 1999.

2. Chris Chelios to Red Wings, 1999: The Tuck Everlasting of defensemen won a pair of Cups with the Red Wings in the next decade.

3. Ray Bourque to Avs, 2000: A Boston institution, No. 77 headed west and at long last raised the Cup the next year.

4. Jamie Langenbrunner, Joe Nieuwendyk to Devils, 2002: New Jersey hitched its star to two Stars and picked up a ring the very next season.

5. Ray Sheppard, 1996: The former 50-goal scorer had 16 points in the playoffs as fledgling Florida went all the way to the Finals.

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