Schadenfreude R Us

It has been a few days since the news broke that Mark Cuban is the defendant in a civil law suit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging that he profited from insider trading. For the record, please note:

    1. This is a civil suit. To date there have been no criminal charges filed – let alone proven.

    2. Mark Cuban protests his innocence and no verdict has been rendered in the civil suit.

Many folks have written/said that these charges are sufficient ammunition to keep Cuban out of the MLB Ownership Coterie. Perhaps it is. But here in Curmudgeon Central – where there is a sign on the wall reading, “Schadenfreude R Us” – there is a parallel question. To pose that question, I need to reset a story.

Back when Kobe Bryant had his unfortunate Colorado encounter with that young hotel employee, Mark Cuban proclaimed that the news of Bryant’s charges and his trial would be good for the NBA. Cuban said that l’affaire Bryant got people talking abut the NBA including people who normally didn’t care about the NBA – - and that kind of coverage was always good. At the time, I asked Mark Cuban – via e-mail – if he thought the folks who ran the Archdiocese of Boston might agree with his assessment. I never got an answer to that query.

So, now it seems perfectly appropriate to ask a parallel question:

    Will this publicity – regardless of the outcome of the legal aspects of the matter – help or hinder Mark Cuban’s chances to buy the Chicago Cubs?

For the record, I am not expecting to get an answer from him on that one either…

Since I mentioned the Chicago Cubs, recall that they went through the 2008 season with the best record in the National League and then lost by a sweep in the first round of the NL playoffs – - for the second year in a row. That raises the question whether the Cubs remain jinxed loveable losers or just plain garden-variety chokers. You make the call…

Ryan Dempster started the opening game of the playoffs this year for the Cubs. When they exited the playoffs, his contract was up and he was a free agent. Earlier this week, he signed a 4-year deal with the Cubs for $52M which would seem to indicate that the Cubs are happy to invest at the rate of at least $850K per win because 60 wins over a four year span for Dempster is about the best one might expect. Whatever. It’s their money until someone else buys them at which point it will be someone else’s money.

Naturally, there was a press event to celebrate the signing of the deal and somehow Ryan Dempster managed to say the following to someone from the Chicago Tribune:

“Maybe we underestimated how prepared you have to be, how ready you have to be, especially in a five-game series. It’s like a short heavyweight bout. Ding, the bell is ringing, you’ve got to go … Maybe L.A. was just a little more prepared for us than we were for them.”

Earth to Ryan Dempster! You were in the playoffs in 2007 too. You lost three straight games in 2007 too. You didn’t learn anything from that? You didn’t realize you had to be prepared to play your opponent right away in the playoffs? And now, you are taking down a $52M guaranteed contract? How can this story end well?

Meanwhile, Greg Cote of the Miami Herald summed up the Cubs’ recent acquisition of Marlins’ relief pitcher Kevin Gregg in the following way:

“Newly departed closer Kevin Gregg had planned on saving memorabilia from his Marlins days, but unfortunately he blew the save.”

The Seattle Mariners have a new leadership team as the franchise looks to ascend from the depths of the American League standings. The new GM is Jack Zduriencik; the new field manager is Don Wakamatsu. Perhaps these guys are great baseball minds and the world will see that over the next couple of seasons – - or maybe the ownership of the Mariners has some kind of vendetta going with headline writers working for the Seattle newspapers.

Quick Quiz. No Googling allowed:

    Right now, which is the most dysfunctional franchise and why:

      A. NY Knicks
      B. LA Clippers
      C. Oakland Raiders
      D. Detroit Lions

    500 words or less…

It is time for both Travis Henry and Shawn Kemp to move along; we have a new leader in the clubhouse. Jason Caffey a former power forward for the Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks has fathered ten children with eight different women and has fallen behind in payments to the children/mothers because he can no longer meet all the child support obligations. This info comes from his bankruptcy filing. Looking strictly at the economics of this matter, I think the use of condoms by this man would have been a more prudent course of action.

Finally, since I mentioned l’affaire Bryant above, here is an item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“One of the world’s largest diamonds — weighing nearly 500 carats — has been unearthed in a Lesothan mine, Reuters reported. Gemologists predict it’s destined for a museum or the finger of Kobe Bryant’s wife, Vanessa.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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  • Anthony  On November 20, 2008 at 2:19 am

    The most dysfunctional franchise are the Raider from Oakland; Al Davis is the reason.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On November 20, 2008 at 10:30 am


    I can certainly understand your selection here; the Raiders have been awful this year – - and for the past several years. There is no way I would try to convince you that Al Davis still has his fastball.

  • JJC  On November 20, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Unless Cuban is quickly exonerated, he won’t be able to buy the Cubs. Or on the other side, if he were to cop a plea, pay a fine, and be on his merry then he would be free to buy the Cubs. The only thing that prevents it is the threat of some sort of federal interference. Any outcome is good.

    Dysfunctional is the Lions. Raiders are the easy choice but the thing is that everyone, save 1 person, knows exactly why. Trying to parse out why the Lions suck as badly as they do just can’t be done easily. You take away Davis and the Raiders would be mostly functional. What could you do to make the Lions functional? I don’t know. As a Packers fan, it is no longer fun beating them up year after year. Smashing the B**rs last week felt good only because they have been competitive. Beating the Lions just isn’t any fun anymore. I’d like to see them put up a fight before getting mowed down is all.

    The LA Clippers are intentionally bad, or so my theory goes. They are essentially getting a free ride at the Staples Center and any talent they have they trade before they get too expensive. Davis is a fool, the Lions are a mess but the Clippers just don’t get any points because they don’t try.

    The Knicks are Lion like in their ability to hire someone and forget to fire them promptly. They gave Thomas too much latitude for too much time and didn’t get the memo that he is a bitter man willing to hold a grudge at the drop of the hat for petty reason to the point that he would even spite himself or even his family. They won’t get magically better, Thomas did some long term damage like Ditka did to the Dolphins with bad draft trades, but they are moving in the right direction. Which you can’t say about the Lions because they aren’t moving in any direction.

  • Rich  On November 20, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    I’ll go with the Raiders as most dysfunctional team. I am expecting them to move back to LA and to sue the cities of Oakland, and Los Angeles as well as the NFL. That’s what Al Davis does best. Things won’t get better for that team until the control of it is pried from Al’s cold dead fingers.
    I might add here that they also have the most dysfunctional fans. Is this due to some kind of ‘trickle down’ effect, or ‘trickle up’?

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On November 20, 2008 at 3:32 pm


    You make a good argument for your case that the Lions head the list for dysfunctionality. I purposely selected these four franchises for their seemingly bottomless reservoirs of futility.


    Trickle down dysfunctionality … an amazingly interesting concept.

    If dysfunctionality is a liquid, it can only trickle down – not up. However, if dysfunctionality is a gas …

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