The hiring of Isiah Thomas as the head basketball coach at Florida International University continues to draw “less than fully positive” reviews from columnists around the country. Here is an item from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald – a local paper for FIU:
“FIU athletic director Pete Garcia reportedly did not even bother to speak to anyone from the New York Knicks when considering whether to hire Thomas. It is believed to be the most thorough vetting process since John McCain introduced Sarah Palin.”
In case you think that only “local papers” took note of this personnel move, consider this item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times – hardly a local paper for FIU:
“Isiah Thomas, having run the Continental Basketball Association and the NBA’s Raptors and Knicks into the ground, has been named head coach at FIU.
“FIU, in case you’re wondering, stands for Flubbed It Up.”
You just have to know that Messr. Perry had to think carefully to come up with the phrase “Flubbed It Up” because the more obvious word to use for the letter “F” would never have gotten past the editors in his fine family newspaper…
ESPN will part company with Stephen A. Smith; his contract expires in May and reports say that ESPN will not renew the deal. Smith is a controversial figure and his verbal style is easy to parody. Nevertheless, I have always thought he was a good reporter with good sources inside the NBA. When he wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer, I used to look specifically to see if he had written anything on a given day. I have not yet seen any speculation as to where he will go next but I hope he surfaces somewhere very soon.
ESPN also announced that they have a deal with Matt Millen and that he will be part of the MNF programming. Most reports say he will replace Emmitt Smith for the studio portion of the programming along with Stuart Scott and Steve Young. Make all the jokes and nasty comments you want about how Millen was a disaster as GM of the Lions; Matt Millen is excellent on TV as an analyst and he will be so far above Emmitt Smith in that role that you can give him a new nickname – - Stratosphere.
There are some other reports that he might be in the booth for the game telecasts on MNF with no subsequent rumor as to which of the three incumbents might not be invited back. I like the MNF announcing crew as it is; I think Matt Millen has shown he can be excellent as a color analyst; so from my perspective, ESPN has an embarrassment of riches situation on its hands. I must say, however, that I hope they do not try to make it a four-man crew to do the games. That would not be fun to listen to…
By the way, if Millen does wind up as the studio analyst for MNF as most reports have it, what is the ESPN plan for Herm Edwards? From everything I ever heard from Herm Edwards, he is insightful, analytical, and articulate on the subject of football. It would seem to me that ESPN would want to highlight him on NFL programming and an MNF slot seemed to be so logical. Stay tuned…
Given that I firmly believe that the NFL schedule is coordinated to a large degree with the four “network partners”, I have to conclude that NBC must love the NFC East. I do not think they got the following line-up of games by accident for Sunday Night Football:
Cowboys/Giants on 20 September
Cowboys/Eagles on 8 November
Cowboys/Redskins on 27 December
Some people think that I am unduly harsh on the Washington Nationals when I say things like they are a AAA team playing for major league prices in a new $612M stadium that is nice but nothing more than that and they cannot come close to filling it because Washington fans basically don’t give a rat’s patootie about baseball. Well, here is the headline from a column by Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:
“Nationals’ Blunders Vaults Team Into A New League – Comedy”
You should read the entire column – - it really is excellent – - to see what other observers think about this farcical franchise.
Both NY baseball teams have seen that the current economy will not allow them to fill their new stadiums at the outrageous prices that they seek to charge. Last Saturday, the Yankees played a home game on a day with nice weather here on the East Coast. They had more than 7,000 unsold tix and more than a few of those were the expensive ones right behind home plate – - assuring that every time the centerfield camera was on, the viewers stared at those empty blue chairs. On the same weekend, the Mets had more than 5,000 empty seats at CitiField.
New stadia should sell out for decent weather dates in their first year unless the teams stink (not the case with the Yankees or the Mets) or the fan base is indifferent (not the case in NYC but certainly the case in Washington DC). The problem in NY is that the prices for tickets would be exorbitant in good economic times and are over the line and into the range of “obscene” in these bad economic times.
Meanwhile, when you want to think about a franchise that just does not get it, consider the Atlanta Braves. Reports from Atlanta say that the Braves will add a surcharge of $2 on every ticket purchased by a fan who walks up to the ticket window and buys it on game day. The Braves are nowhere near selling out their stadium but they are going to provide an economic disincentive to fans who might make a last minute decision to come to see the game? How is that a good idea?
Once the game starts, those unsold tickets are worthless – as in worth not a single farthing. If anything, the Braves should reduce the prices for people who walk-up – - although that would make for logistical problems, so I understand why they might not do that. However, adding to the cost of a ticket at 5:00PM which will be worthless at 7:45PM makes no damned sense – particularly in a place notorious for being a bad sports town.
Finally, here is a comment from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald regarding tickets to another sporting event:
“UM [University of Miami] played host to the Atlantic Coast Conference track and field championships this past weekend. Admission was free, approximating public interest.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…