Business, Baseball And Bad Water

Just to demonstrate that I do read things besides the sports page, I ran across an item in BloombergBusinessweek about the Big East Conference. The new interim commissioner of the Big East, Joe Bailey, announced that the conference was looking to “tweak” its name. You can read it here.

Bailey must have stayed awake in his geography classes in Middle School because it seems that he has realized that a conference about to add Boise State, Houston, Memphis, San Diego State and SMU is not exactly “Eastern”. In the recent past, one had merely to ignore the presence of DePaul and Notre Dame in the Big East to accept the “East”; now, Notre Dame is gone to the ACC and DePaul is east of all those new schools by a large margin save for Memphis. Therefore, Bailey’s announcement makes sense – until you listen to the management-speak and see how they are going about the “tweaking”. Here is what Bailey told BloombergBusinessweek:

“The unintended consequences of adding new schools is that all of a sudden the Big East is a national conference. It extends to four time zones in major markets. In one sense, it almost represents the United States in that diversity.”


    “We look like a pack of asshats calling ourselves the “ Anything East” and so we are going to change our name.”

Now, what I would expect is the announcement that the Big East will henceforth be known as … But that is not how the geniuses who are in charge there want to conduct business. Instead, they have “commissioned a study” to come up with possible “tweaks” to the conference name but the geniuses would not say when the study might result in a set of name-change possibilities going in front of the member schools for ratification.

Bottom line here:

    They are going to pay someone to come up with ideas for naming their own conference. This is an amalgam of about 15 institutions of higher learning and they need someone else to tell them what their name ought to be?

    They did not give those folks a deadline to come up with a new name. Hey, keep this a low-pressure task because too much adrenaline might yield a stupid suggestion for the name-change – - and those 15 institutions of higher learning might not be smart enough to reject a stupid suggestion.

    Clearly, these folks have too much time and money on their hands.

With only a couple of weeks to go in the MLB season, baseball faces an interesting moral challenge. Look at the NL statistics and the person leading the league in batting average is Melky Cabrera at .346. The “minor problem” is that Cabrera is serving a 50-game suspension after testing positive for PEDs. [Add to that the fact that an associate of Cabrera’s tried to put up a phony website, which could have been used in a “plausible-denial defense” by Cabrera.] I believe Cabrera’s 459 at-bats qualify him to win the NL batting title. Now, would that justify an asterisk in the MLB record book or not?

As of this morning, Andrew McCutcheon of the Pirates is hitting .339 and Buster Posey of the Giants is hitting .333. They are the only two players with a reasonable chance of getting hot and topping Cabrera’s .346 average, which is not going to change.

The mention of McCutcheon reminds me to comment on the 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates. There was a point where they led the NL Central and looked to be a shoo-in to the playoffs. In the past several weeks, the team has come unglued. As of this morning, their record stands at 74-73 and they are only one game from being mathematically eliminated from the NL Central title. [They remain in the wildcard playoff race but need to get hot in the final weeks of the seson to make it to the playoffs.] They need 8 wins in their last 15 games to get their record over .500 for the first time in two decades; that accomplishment looked like a cinch about a month ago but now it might be a struggle.

Attendance is up in Pittsburgh as might be expected and the Pirates are on track to draw more than 2 million fans this year. I believe that the last time the Pirates accomplished that feat was in the year when PNC Park opened and fans came out to see the new park and fell in love with the park despite the ‘product on the field”.

In other baseball attendance matters, it appears as if the Chicago Cubs will fall short of 3 million fans this year. If so, that will be the first time since 2003 that the Cubbies failed to hit that mark. The average attendance for Cubs’ games this season is down 1399 fans per game. However, average attendance is still just a tad over 36,000 fans meaning that the Cubs’ fanbase is very loyal. The Cubs have not been very good over the past several years; everyone knows they have not won a World Series in more than a century; the team might lose 100 games this season (although they are on track to lose only 98 as of this morning) and their nominally iconic ballpark is falling apart. Yet, the fans keep showing up… They love their Cubbies.

Switching gears, the National Institutes of Health need to conduct a study of the municipal water supply in Lubbock TX to figure out what it is in the water there that causes coaches at Texas Tech to lose their self-control.

    Remember the allegations that Mike Leach made Craig James’ son stand in a dark room during practice as a way to recover from a concussion. To be fair here, Leach thought James was just trying to get out of practicing but that is the nexus of a legal action involving the case that I will not even attempt to analyze here. If you would like sampling of how Mike Leach and Craig James get along, just Google the following phrase, “Mike Leach/Craig James”.

    Now we have the Billy Gillispie situation at Texas Tech where 15 players on the basketball team have left the team in the past year or so and some have claimed that Gillispie abused some of those players. One such allegation is that he made a player with a stress fracture run the steps in the arena. Gillispie is on “sick leave” and under doctor’s orders to avoid stress; meanwhile Texas Tech is conducting an investigation into all of the allegations. Basketball practice begins in less than a month…

Who would ever have thought that Texas Tech might harken back to those placid days of yore when Bob Knight was the basketball coach there…

Finally, Dwight Perry had this comment in the Seattle Times relevant to the Texas Tech basketball situation:

“The Texas Transportation Commission has increased the speed limit to 85 mph on Interstate highways out of Austin.

“For disgruntled Texas Tech basketball players fleeing Lubbock, it’s 95.”

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

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  • Peter  On September 19, 2012 at 10:24 am

    I think it’s great that the “student-athletes” at BSU will have all that travel time for their away games. Think of what they can do with all that study time on the plane! Dean’s List, anyone?

    This realignment is definitely a “student-athlete-first” initiative!

    It’s probably exceptionally cost-efficient, as well!

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On September 19, 2012 at 10:33 am


      I see that you recently got your “Sarcasm Booster shot”. I am scheduled for mine next month… :)

  • Peter  On September 19, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Oh, and if I lived in a city where I could regularly knock off work on a weekday to go to a big bar where an MLB baseball game happens to be going on, there’s no telling how many 100+ loss seasons I could endure.

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