As I get to a time of year when writing schedules will be less orderly than usual, let me use today to go through my clipboard and comment on a hodgepodge of stuff. I’ll start with “hot stove baseball”.
The Washington Post had a story saying that Jayson Werth’s 7-year contract with the Nats for $126M also contains a “full no-trade clause”. Players and agents and teams used to spin those clauses to convince fans that all parties had a commitment to each other in this deal; everyone was “in for the duration”. Balderdash! No-trade clauses are nothing more than greed wrapped up in legalisms. That clause now allows Werth and agent Scott Boras to wheedle even more money out of a team that might think of trading for Werth anytime in the next 7 years.
Translation: $126M ain’t enough…
After the Yankees lost out on the Cliff Lee sweepstakes, I thought they would use the money they had not spent there and make a splash elsewhere. They did not pursue Lee just for the Hell of it; the Yankees need help in the starting rotation. So, I have to confess that I was more than a bit surprised to see that “Plan B” for the Yankees seemed to include signing Russell Martin – who by the way needs some knee surgery – and then to inquire of the Cubbies if Carlos Zambrano might be available. Let me say this about Zambrano and the Yankees:
If the scrutiny and the stress of playing for the Cubs “made him crazy”, then playing for the Yankees in NYC would require him take so much lithium they will be able to make a car battery out of him after he retires.
As various folks eulogized Bob Feller after his passing earlier this month, one of them – - sorry, I lost the origin of this so I cannot cite it properly – - recounted something Feller said after he returned from WW II. He had volunteered to serve in the war; he was not drafted and people called him a hero when he got home and returned to the Cleveland Indians. Said Feller:
“I’m no hero. Heroes don’t come back. Survivors return home. Heroes never come home. If anyone thinks I’m a hero, I’m not.”
Previously, I wrote that bowl committees would not be thrilled to take Temple as a team in their bowl game because Temple fan support is next to nil. A commenter on that rant took me to task on that claiming Temple fan support was pretty good; it is not. Temple is one of the very few teams in the country with a winning record that has not been invited to a bowl game this year. However, given some of the stories surfacing, it may be a good thing.
Bowl committees require the teams to sell allocations of tickets; if fans do not buy them, then the schools have to pony up the money. Now you might think that the value of a ticket that cannot be sold to anyone would be ZERO or next to ZERO, but that is not the way bowl committees do math. That ticket has a price printed on it; that is what the schools have to pay. Moreover, it is not just a couple of hundred tickets we are talking about here.
According to a story in the New Haven Register, UConn might lose $2.5M by playing in the Fiesta Bowl (one of the BCS Bowl Games) against Oklahoma. UConn is on the hook to sell “more than 10,000” tickets to that game and the “cheap seats” go for a face value of $111. Pretend you are a UConn alum and you want to go to the game and take a family of 4. You can get tix in two places:
1. From UConn
2. From ticket resellers like stubhub.com
From UConn you pay the face price of the ticket (lower level seat down by one of the goal lines is $235 per seat). On stubhub.com at the moment, you can have the same seats for between $45 and 60. The fact is there are more seats than fans for 95% of the bowl games so bowl committees make the schools pay for the privilege of filling the bowl committees’ pockets. However, city sponsors do not care about ticket sales; they only care about living breathing bodies who show up and spend money in hotels and restaurants and shops. Therefore, city sponsors put pressure on the bowl committees to get teams there who will bring fans along.
UConn fans will not show up in droves for the Fiesta Bowl; count on it. Temple fans would not have shown up in droves for any bowl game based on the fact that they do not show up in droves for home games. If you tune into bowl games, pay attention to the crowds in the stands; when you see empty seats, you are looking at what bowl committees and city sponsors see as missed opportunities. That is what those myriad bowl games are about.
Greg Cote of the Miami Herald had this comment about Florida International’s upcoming appearance in the Little Caesars Bowl on 26 December in Detroit:
“FIU has sold fewer than 1,000 tickets to its upcoming bowl. There’s a shock. Who in their right mind would spend Christmas in Detroit if given a choice?”
Bob Molinaro noted this irony in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:
“In passing: Anybody else enjoy the irony of Cam Newton receiving his Heisman Trophy in the Best Buy Theater?”
When George Steinbenner was not elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this year, Johnny Bench – - a member of the Veterans’ Committee who voted on the candidacy – - said, “Some people thought it’s too early.” Everyone is entitled to his opinion on the matter but Scott Ostler made this point in the SF Chronicle:
“Too early? They’re going to wait until Steinbrenner is deader?”
Finally, let me close with another observation by Greg Cote in the Miami Herald regarding the University of Miami’s new football coach, Al Golden:
“Golden has moved quickly on a staff, bringing with him from Temple defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio, line coach Jethro Franklin and DBs coach Paul Williams. Not a lot of people know Franklin recently was voted third-greatest Jethro, after Bodine and Tull.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………