Regular readers may remember that some of us Fools have had very little love for Sports Authority (NYSE:TSA) over the past year. While the firm gobbled up much of its competition, it couldn't cough up the cash flow, nor could it be bothered, unfortunately, to communicate clearly with its shareholders in some of its quarterly earnings reports. Still, the stock was flying high for a while before losing steam and then crashing on last month's big guidance drop.

So, with some strikes and a couple of balls, how does the firm measure up on this quarter's pitch?

Ouch. It looks like strike three to me.

Management tried to put on a happy face, pointing out that the $0.25 per share in GAAP earnings would have been $0.45 had it not been for those pesky merger costs. But that's still 10% worse than the $0.50 achieved last year by Gart Sports, only half the current entity. According to the meager table providing a glimpse of last year's combined results, the Sports Authority half was in the red for the quarter.

The revenue picture was similarly scary. Sure, the reported $605 million looks great compared with Gart's $266 million last year, but then, what would the other half have brought? Maybe we don't need to know everything, since what we've got is dismal enough. Comps were down 3.8% from the combined results last year. So they can provide combined comps but not the real combined numbers? Whatever.

Just be aware that the "bad weather" that allegedly hurt Sports Authority didn't seem to hurt a surging Dick's Sporting Goods (NYSE:DKS), which provided real growth despite the costs of swallowing up ailing ex-competitor Galyans.

Guidance for around $1.90 per share is a lot less than the $2.23 analysts have been hoping to see. And the firm is still in cash-burn mode, churning through $57 million in operations for Q1 plus spending another $7 million on capital expenses. That leaves the balance sheet with $31 million in cash and $390 million in long-term debt. So much for the glory of the merger.

The stock might look cheap to some at around 11 times earnings guidance (ignoring merger costs), but with comps sales projected to fall yet again, shares are more a gamble than an investment. There's lean competition from Dick's, as well as Big 5 Sporting Goods (NASDAQ:BGFV), Foot Locker (NYSE:FL), and even (NASDAQ:AMZN). Sports Authority needs to bring up its game, or investors are going to lose again.

At the time of publication, Seth Jayson had no position in any company mentioned. View his Fool profilehere.