With all the hoopla that surrounded the NBA free agent signing frenzy this summer, a couple of happenings slipped through the cracks. In times past, players who could not make the NBA or who were in the twilight of their basketball careers would find their way to Europe to play in one of the many national leagues there. Recently, the Chinese option has opened for players. Stephon Marbury has been playing in China for more than 5 years now as a member of the Beijing Ducks. [Mmmm… Tasty!] Marbury is now 41 years old.
Over the summer, Chinese Basketball Association teams have made offers to other NBA veteran players to entice them to cross the Pacific Ocean instead of the Atlantic Ocean to extend their careers.
- Dwayne Wade reportedly has a 3-year $25M offer from the Zhejiang Golden Bulls. There are also reports that Wade has signed a “lifetime contract” with Li-Ning – a Chinese clothing and shoe manufacturer. As of this morning the offer from the Golden Bulls is still unsigned and on the table. Wade is 36 years old; last year he only played in 21 games in the NBA. I would be very surprised to see an NBA team offer him anything close to a 3-year deal worth $25M.
- Last week, Lamar Odom (age 38) announced that he will resume his basketball career in China next year. He did not reveal the team and there were no reports of the contract terms involved but Odom did say that Stephon Marbury was his “inspiration” to go to China to play again. He also announced that he will be moving to Shenzen, China – the area that links mainland China and Hong Kong. By coincidence, Shenzen also has a team in the China Basketball Association, so maybe we do know the team he will play for. Odom has been out of the NBA since 2013 and has had serious addiction problems since then.
The reigning champions of the Chinese Basketball Association are the Liaoning Flying Leopards. Liaoning is the Chinese province that borders North Korea; I have never been there; and if they have flying leopards there, I do not think I would want to visit.
I have been tracking the MLB teams that project to lose 100 games or more for the 2018 season since the end of April. The Baltimore Orioles have the worst record in MLB this morning; they are 1.5 games worse than the KC Royals; their record is 33-76. The O’s were big-time sellers at the MLB trade deadline getting prospects for just about anyone on the team that any other MLB team sniffed around. The exception was Adam Jones – and All-Star caliber outfielder – who is still with the O’s. The reason he is still there is a tad unusual.
According to reports, the O’s had a deal in place to send Jones to the Phillies. That would have sent Jones from a bottom-feeder to a team at the top of the NL East with playoff aspirations. The deal fell through when Jones exercised his right under the MLB CBA to veto the trade because he is a “10-5 guy”. According to the CBA, any player who has been in MLB for 10 years and has been with his current team for the last 5 years has the right to veto any trade at any time. Jones played the 10-5 card.
Reporters asked him why he turned down the opportunity to play for a contender and Jones’ answer was direct – and a bit testy. He said he did it because previous MLB players went on strike to win him those 10-5 rights and he decided that he wanted to use them. Had he stopped there – and had the reporters not continued to question him on the issue – that decision would be lost in memory already. However, he went on to say that it was no one’s business why he made the decision and that unless others were ready to take up the burden of paying all of his bills, then they needed to “shut the Hell up”. Let me dance on that tightrope for a moment:
- Jones is absolutely correct; this is his decision and he has exactly no obligation to explain it or justify it to anyone.
- At the same time, he is intelligent enough to realize that his decision here is not the one that many other players would have made and that “unusual-ness” is going to be the subject of inquiry by reporters. Therefore, he might have had a more tolerant or measured response at the ready. I don’t think he intended to tell the world to go away; I think he reacted to reporters’ questions in a way that is not commonplace for him.
- Adam Jones is a free agent at the end of the season. It would be ironic if at that time he chose to sign with the Phillies, no?
One other thing about the Orioles and their record … Thirty years ago, in 1988, the Orioles started the season by losing their first 21 games in a row. The previous record for consecutive losses to start the season was shared by the Tigers (1920) and the Senators (1904) with 13 losses. The Orioles did not “eclipse” that mark; they obliterated it. The 1988 Orioles went on to post a final record of 54-107 [There must have been a rain-out that they decided not to make up.] and they finished a mere 34.5 games behind the AL East leader when the AL East had 7 teams. This year’s Baltimore Orioles are on pace to win only 50 games and lose 112. Ouch!
While on the subject of MLB, Bob Molinaro had this comment in his column last week in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:
“Milestone: From the where-has-the-time-gone file, I was surprised to hear last week that Washington Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg was turning 30. Seems like just the other day the big righty was a gangly kid appearing on his first disabled list.”
I remember Strasburg’s first game. He struck out 14 batters and the Washington baseball poets went gaga. They were ready to commission the plaque for Cooperstown that day. I suggested then that it might be a good idea to pump the brakes just a tad. After all, those 14 strikeouts in his first game still left him exactly 5,700 strikeouts behind Nolan Ryan.
Finally, Dwight Perry had this comment about another MLB pitcher in the Seattle Times:
“Ex-MLB pitcher Kevin Brown caught two men stealing from his mailbox in Macon Ga., and kept them at gunpoint until police arrived.
“Elias Sports Bureau statisticians alertly credited him with a hold.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………