Non-Metallic K.O. On Marvin Miller’s Legacy

Posted in Baseball, Dino Costa, The Marketplace at 10:50 pm by

Listeners to Dino Costa‘s Tuesday evening Mad Dog Radio program heard the self-obsessed host holler, “good riddance” while noting the passing of former Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Marvin Miller.  Miller, The Yonkers Cowboy declared, was the individual most responsible for baseball’s obscene ticket prices, competitive imbalance and destruction of a grand old game he presumably held dear when Charles Comiskey owned a team. There’s some deep hypocrisy in Costa railing against free agency during the same week he’s openly lobbying for /fantasizing about an HBO TV gig,  much as the charge that free agency has ‘ruined” professional sports is laughably simplistic.  Since the advent of free agency, it’s not only players and owners who’ve prospered ; the entire sports media industry has grown exponentially.  I don’t mean to speak ill of the recently deceased, but you could make a case that were it not for the efforts of Marvin Miller, the likes of Chris Russo and Dino Costa would have to do something else to earn a living.

While the union-hating Costa clings to the knee-jerk notion that higher player salaries have damaged baseball, Keith Olbermann prefers to trade in facts.

You can argue that the pendulum Marvin unleashed from its artificial restraint has swung too far to the other side (and you’d be wrong – who is about to sign a six billion dollar contract? The new Dodgers owners, or Evan Longoria?) You can argue that what Marvin wrought has destroyed competitive balance and especially the small markets (and you’d be wrong – in the 18 seasons before his ascent, the Yankees had won 15 pennants and the Dodgers had won nine, and the team then in Kansas City had finished last or in the bottom four 13 times). You can argue that the freedom Marvin enabled has destroyed the continuity of players and made the one-team player nearly extinct (and you’d be wrong – there are 41 Hall of Famers who played for only one team, and a disproportionate number, 11, are from the Free Agent era. The only thing that’s changed is that the players can now initiate their own jarring relocation, not just the owners).

Marvin Miller’s original goal as the head of the players’ union was freedom – to eliminate the nonsensical conclusion (improbably upheld by the Supreme Court) that because baseball players “played,” their bosses were not truly running interstate commerce. And thus, a 17-year old kid who signed a one-year contract with, say, the Philadelphia Phillies, was actually signing a 25-year contract. Each “one-year” agreement had a proviso allowing the owners to “renew” the contract for another year. And in the renewal year, the proviso re-set, and the contract could be “renewed” again.

It wasn’t actually slavery, but it sure as hell wasn’t freedom.

Carefoot Tells The Raptors, “I’m Done Caring”

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 7:24 pm by

“I used to fantasize about how cool it would be to write about the exquisite relief of the Raptors finally winning an NBA championship,” mused Raptorblog’s Scott Carefoot in last Friday’s farewell post.  “I now recognize what a sad and unrealistic fantasy that was.”  Departing after a decade in order to take a full time position supervising The Hockey News and Decor At Home (presumably the latter is a busier beat these days), Carefoot (above) tells The Star’s Raju Mudhar, ” I really do feel nothing walking away from it.”

“I’m looking forward to being a sports fan again,” he said during a phone interview on Monday. “I started it as a way to break into sports media and in my own convoluted way I ended up doing that, so I’m not going to continue punishing myself by covering that team.”

Carefoot says he will still peek in on the team occasionally, as opposed to living and dying with it.

“I’m not saying I’m completely boycotting the Raptors, what I’ll do is pay attention to the score, and if it looks like it’s a close game in the fourth quarter, and I’m near at TV, I’ll turn it on, but I’m not going to invest all the time I’ve spent watching an entire game and writing about it any more. Because they don’t deserve it, and they don’t deserve it from fans any more.”

Branch : Kaepernick Is Less Likely To Spend Time On His Back

Posted in Gridiron at 5:42 pm by

Of today’s announcement that Colin Kaepernick will remain San Francisco’s starting QB, despite Alex Smith (above) having recovered from his recent concussion, Niners coach Jim Harbaugh simply called the move, “going with the hot hand”.  Putting aside for a moment whether or not Smith should’ve pretended his brains weren’t scrambled, the SF Chronicle’s Eric Branch points out there’s some statistical reason beyond Harbaugh’s faith in momentum.

In terms your toddler could understand, the 49ers have fewer really bad plays – and more really good plays – with Kaepernick at the controls, which is a nod to the second-year quarterback’s strong arm and fast feet.

In his two starts, Kaepernick has been sacked just once, despite being under constant pressure Sunday against the Saints. In contrast, Smith was sacked 22 times in his eight full games this season. In addtion, Kaepernick had 10 pass completions of 20 yards or more in his two starts. In his eight full games, Smith had 22.

Tight end Delanie Walker acknowledged Kaepernick is more willing to throw risky passes downfield, which is perfectly acceptable since Kaepernick has also thrown just one interception in two starts.

“That’s just Kaep being young so he takes more chances,” Walker said. “Alex is the more ready quarterback, controlling the offense, making sure we get another down. Kaep, he will take a chance and go for the big play.”


Sharp : Ship Stompy Suh Somewhere Else

Posted in Gridiron at 11:11 pm by

Lions LB Ndamukong Suh escaped league censure for his 2nd annual Thanksgiving attempted-maiming of an opponent, in this case, Texans QB Matt Schaub, but that’s not enough to satisfy the Detroit Free Press’ Drew Shap, who calls the Nebraska grad, “annoyingly arrogant and capricious.” And he likes to step on necks, too!

Only Suh can properly describe his intent on the Schaub kick, but the man’s lost his last benefit of the doubt. I don’t believe he said to himself while flipping to the ground “Hmmm, might this be an opportune time to kick a quarterback in his junk?” Last time, I checked Suh wasn’t a ninja. But I do believe Suh deliberately and angrily initiated a clearly non-football act, justifying in his mind that wherever his cleats met Schaub, so be it.

Suh’s actions aren’t a big deal in relation to the bruising collisions contributing to concussions and neck “stingers.” But his kick did nothing to lessen the perception that he’s no more than a dirty player who thinks he can get away with this stupidity. That won’t work in an NFL now obsessed with purveying a public image that it’s committed to policing extraneous football violence. It’s worried about future lawsuits from former players.

But it hasn’t helped the Lions that they’re perceived as thinking they’re above the law — whether it’s a coach throwing a challenge flag when the rules said he couldn’t or a defensive tackle throwing a kick where he shouldn’t have.

The New York Mets Public Relations Dept. : Overzealous Or Simply Full Of Shit?

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 9:16 pm by

So what are we to make of the New York Daily News’ Andy Martino claiming the Mets have offered David Wright a 7-year extension, “well in excess of $100 million”, followed some hours later by Wright pouring cold water on the report? It would hardly be the first time in recent memory the club’s version of events differed from that of a player or his agent. And the timing is certainly fortuitous, with Metsradamus deeming it “absolutely hysterical”, that said offer created a mild stir less than a day after the Rays locked up Evan Longoria.

Now don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t think that the Mets just started putting together offers Monday afternoon. But I do think it’s funny that this gets leaked the day after Longoria happens. And I realize that I come off as a conspiracy theorist here. But think about how much the Mets have based their decisions on fan reaction and public relations, and then tell me that it isn’t at least a little bit possible that the Mets organization intentionally floated this red herring.

Red herring or not, I hope this does lead to something significant. Preferably a press conference re-introducing David Wright as the face of the franchise until his retirement. If it leads to a rejection and a subsequent trade, so be it. It’s better than what seems to be the Mets usual course of action, which is to do nothing and then bemoan outside circumstances and convince us that they gave it the ol’ college try. So forgive me for being a pessimist until there’s a resolution.

Andray Blatche Is Not Quite Finished Talking About The Past

Posted in Basketball, Sports Radio at 4:45 pm by

Nets F Andray Blatche seems to be taking a little too much pleasure in the plight of his former employer, the Washington Wizards. 106.7 The Fan’s Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier couldn’t help but notice Blatche’s poorly veiled shots at the Wizards, and invited God’s Gift To Lazy Bloggers to answer such not-loaded-at-all questions like, “what do you think your legacy was in Washington?”

Blatche vs. Kushner, Rouhier (MP3)


The Slouch’s Bold Alternative To Maryland’s Big Ten Entry

Posted in Basketball, College Spurts, Gridiron, poker, The Marketplace at 10:27 pm by

As you’ve probably read elsewhere, Rutgers and Maryland recently agreed to leave the Big East and ACC respectively, enticed by the television riches of the Big Ten. Acknowledging the Terrapins’ windfall (as well as a likely violation of the Maryland Open Meetings act), the Washington Post’s Norman Chad (above) argues, “it’s preferable for a great university not to have Division I athletics.”

Remarkably, Spelman College in Atlanta just made this very decision, announcing its withdrawal from Division III intercollegiate athletics. “Hoping to replace organized sports for the few with fitness for all,” as the New York Times put it, Spelman determined it made little sense to spend $1 million annually on 80 student-athletes when it could redirect time and money to the physical welfare of the entire 2,100-student body.

I realize my College Park brethren — who refuse to rise and revolt against the athletic industrial complex that rules the day — will reject this option. So I have a more pragmatic proposal that keeps Maryland in the ACC and solves the fiscal crisis:

Open a casino on campus!

(You don’t even have to recruit “student-gamblers” — they’re already there.) Maryland voters just approved Las Vegas-style table-games gambling. Replace vending machines with slot machines and library tables with blackjack tables, and we’re talking a new weight room for the football team within 18 months!!!

At a minimum, I’d open a card room in the student union. Heck, the gent who just won the World Series of Poker Main Event, Greg Merson, briefly went to Maryland. So let’s break ground on the Greg Merson Poker Room — of course, first I’d make him come back to College Park and complete his degree.