Tidying Up…

With the weekend approaching, I need to take care of a few loose ends that are hanging around on my clipboard. The first one is a comment from Steve Rosenbloom’s Rosenblog on the Chicago Tribune website:

“The All-Star Game determined home-field advantage in the World Series. The Yankees are a team with a stake in that. The Yankees captain skipped the All-Star Game. How important is the game again? Connect the dots, Bud.”

Yet another reason to cancel this – - and every other – - All-Star contest…

The TV ratings are in and this year’s MLB All-Star Game had national rating of 6.9. That is the lowest TV rating ever for this event according to the folks at Nielsen. The reality is that trying to concoct “meaning” for the All-Star game has as much chance of succeeding as a deaf kid playing musical chairs.

Sticking with baseball, I read that the LA Dodgers fired Steve Garvey from their community relations department because Garvey had the temerity to try to round up a consortium that would buy the Dodgers out of bankruptcy. Frank McCourt seems bound and determined to join the ranks of Danny Boy Snyder, Al Davis Donald Sterling and James Dolan as an employer of last resort.

Jim Thome has hit 595 homeruns in his career. Only seven players in the history of baseball have ever hit 600 or more. Reports say that when Thome gets to 598, MLB will make sure that pitchers have specially marked balls to throw to Thome so that the ball that is his 600th homerun can be authenticated. When Thome comes to the plate, the pitchers will get the marked balls; when anyone else is batting, “ordinary balls” will be used.

I can hear the announcement now:

“Conspiracy theorists, start your engines…”

I cannot wait to read all the possible ways that those specially marked are “juiced” and what the evidence for that “juicing” is…

The Florida Marlins rank dead last in MLB in average attendance per game. Through 47 home dates, they are almost 2000 fans per game below the next lowest team (Tampa Bay). In a cost-cutting move, the Marlins will close the entire upper deck of Sun Life Stadium for the rest of the season. With attendance as bad as it has been in Miami for about the last 15 years and with the fans in Tampa pretty much ignoring a good Rays’ team, can someone explain to me why MLB stays in Florida after Spring Training ends?

With the Pirates hovering around the .500 mark and threatening to break their streak of 18 consecutive losing seasons, it may be time to focus on the prospects of the Baltimore Orioles who will certainly chalk up their 14th consecutive losing season this year. Remember last season when Buck Showalter took over and the team went on a winning binge (34-23 in August/September) because he held players accountable and made sure they know what he expected of them. It was such a feelgood story…

Well, the Orioles stink in spades again this year. This year their record stands at 36-52 and they are 19.5 games out of first place in the AL East. On most nights, they are not competitive and watching them is only marginally more enjoyable than abdominal surgery. The Orioles have two very good young players in Adam Jones and Matt Wieters. JJ Hardy is serviceable at shortstop and maybe Luke Scott will become a serviceable MLB player some day. Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis do not embarrass themselves or the franchise on the field. However, as Porky Pig was wont to say:

“Th.. Th.. That’s all folks!”

Oh, and JJ Hardy is a free agent at the end of this season…

Much as I wish it were possible, I cannot ignore the James Harrison/Roger Goodell brouhaha any longer. In case you just came out of a medically induced coma, Harrison told a men’s magazine that Goodell was “a crook”, “a devil”, “stupid”, “a puppet” and “a dictator”. Ignoring the idea that a dictator might somehow also be a puppet, these slurs were insufficient for the astute and contemplative Mr. Harrison; he just had to add this comment:

“If that man was on fire and I had to piss to put him out, I wouldn’t do it … I hate him and will never respect him.”

Goodell fined Harrison something in the neighborhood of $100K last year for various “incidents”. What is the Over/Under for Harrison’s fines this coming season?

Oh, and by the way, if James Harrison thinks Goodell is only half as bad as his comments would imply, why doesn’t he “take his talents to the Arena League”? You know, most rational folk would find it very appealing to get out from under a “dictator” that you cannot respect and away from a “devil”…

In another NFL-related matter, Vikings’ RB, Adrian Peterson, is going to be one of the guest editors for an upcoming issue of ESPN The Magazine when that publication does its “Revenge of the Jocks Issue”. Perhaps in a piece titled something like From the Editor’s Desk, Peterson can review the plight of slaves in the US through the middle of the 19th century and demonstrate how the lives of today’s NFL players parallel those folks.

Finally, here is another great line from Bob Uecker that I ran across recently:

“People don’t know this but I helped the Cardinals win the pennant. I came down with hepatitis. The trainer injected me with it.”

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

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  • David Egbert  On July 15, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Frank, you know the answer to Florida. It’s all about the greed on MLB owners. They talked Tampa Bay in to building a $130 million all purpose domed stadium on the promise of a major league team. The then proceeded to use the area as a foil to obtain new owners and stadiums for five established major league teams. When they finally granted an expansion franchise($160 million in the owners pockets)they gave the team to the evil and greedy Vince Naimoli who spend the next 10 years running the franchise and the stadium into the ground. And you wonder why the residents of Tampa Bay don’t rush out to lay down $100 plus to see a game agains the Orioles on Monday night!

  • Ed  On July 15, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I am sure that any minute now Harrison will have a rep stop by to tell us the quotes were simply taken out of context…

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On July 18, 2011 at 10:11 am

    David Egbert:

    First, since you addressed me as “Frank”, I have to assume that you think I am Frank Deford who periodically adopts the persona of “Sports Curmudgeon” on his NPR segments. I am not Frank Deford; I could only wish to be able to write one-tenth as well as he can.

    Blaming the current Tampa attendance figures on MLB owners’ greed and Vince Naimoli should be getting old by now. Naimoli was not a lovable man and his thriftiness was the stuff of legends. But he has been gone for about 5 years now and the Rays have been a GOOD team and a winning team for 3 consecutive years.

    As of today (7/18/11)the Rays rank 29th (out of 30 teams) in total attendance beating only the Florida Marlins and the Rays rank 28th (out of 30 teams) in average attendance per game beating only the Marlins and the Oakland A’s. For a team that has been over .500 for three straight years and been to the World Series in the last three years and been in the playoffs for two of those three years, that is shameful support by the people of Tampa/St. Pete.

    As a point of reference, the Rays average attendance this year is down just under 2400 fans per game compared to last year. If those fans are still “taking it out on Vince Naimoli”, they really need to seek out some therapy.

    The Dallas Mavericks had bad ownership and could not give tix away to see a horrid team. Then a new owner came in and the team became good. And the fans in Dallas came out to support that good team with a new owner. I’m still waiting for the fans in Tampa to do likewise. At the moment, Tampa/St. Pete does not deserve a major league team.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On July 18, 2011 at 10:12 am


    As you predicted, Harrison issued a statement of clarification – - which was clearly written or edited by people of the PR persuasion…

  • Ed  On July 18, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    …and the PR looked about as plausible as the Korean soccer players being hit by lightning scenario

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