Sandy Koufax Weeps…

No one who follows sports even a little bit would be surprised by news that salaries for athletes in the major sports are astronomical when compared to salaries 50 years ago. Nevertheless, this item from Gregg Drinnan’s column, Keeping Score, in the Kamloops Daily News last weekend puts an interesting perspective on that issue:

“Major League Baseball has moved closer to yet another milestone. With the Seattle Mariners having agreed to pay starter Felix Hernandez $175 million over the next seven seasons, you now may start to wonder: Who will be the first $200-million pitcher in MLB history? That conversation likely begins and ends with Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers.

“As a point of reference, Sandy Koufax’s highest-paying contract paid him $125,000, which apparently is equal to about $800,000 today.”

According to an AP report posted on, the average salary for a major league baseball player in 2012 was $3.2M. The average player today makes – in current dollars – 4 times more than what Sandy Koufax made at the peak of his career.

With pitchers and catchers either in Spring Training already or in transit, I think you need to know that there has been a rule change in MLB this year that will affect pitchers. No longer can a pitcher fake a pickoff throw to third base. That means the usually futile play where a pitcher fakes a throw to third and then wheels around to fire a pickoff throw to first base will not happen this year. [If it does, the pitcher will have committed a balk and the runner on third base will score.] HOW-EVAH, a pitcher may fake a throw to third base if his foot is not in touch with the rubber. Count on that aspect of the rule to cause an on-field argument sometime this season.

Whenever I was at a game where a pitcher tried this futile pickoff move, I always marveled at the number of fans in the stands who would yell, “BALK!” when the rules clearly permitted the play. Now, if a pitcher forgets the new rule and tries it, all the mouthbreathers who yell “BALK!” as a reflex action will actually be correct.

Perhaps the initiative shown by MLB in changing that silly rule will rub off on the NFL Competition Committee when it next meets. There is a silly rule in the NFL book that should be changed; they need to stop the insanity of “icing the kicker” with a time-out call just prior to the snap. Here is the way to stop that nonsense:

    When a team is lined up in field goal formation, no call for a time-out by either team will be honored once the play clock has counted down to 10 seconds. [Note: The kicking team cannot call time-out either. If they only have 10 men on the field, they can play with 10 or take a delay of game penalty if no one recognizes that fact prior to the play clock reaching 10 seconds.]

That rule would allow a coach who is convinced that icing the kicker is to his advantage to do so but it would get rid of the silly time-out just before the snap.

With all of the turmoil going on in the upper echelons of college basketball this season and the obvious problems that poll voters are having in terms of ranking the best teams, I decided to see if there might be a consensus choice for the worst team in the country. A Google search for “winless college basketball teams 2013” yielded a link to a blog on in mid-January naming Grambling and Maryland Eastern Shore as the two teams then who had not won a game at that time. So, I checked to see what had happened to those teams since that blog entry in mid-January.

    Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) won a game. On 19 January, they prevailed at home against Delaware State. Unfortunately, since then UMES reverted to its losing ways and as of this morning their record is 1-19 with 7 games left to play.

    Grambling, on the other hand, remains winless. Their record stands at 0-22 with 5 games left to play. Moreover, Grambling has already lost once to each of the 5 teams left on their dance card. Then would come the conference tournament… Things do not look good for the Tigers.

It is not just that Grambling has lost all of its games; it is the way they have managed to do so.

    In 10 of those 22 losses, Grambling has scored less than 50 points.

    Only once, have the Tigers scored more than 60 points. [They lost that game by a 12-point margin.]

    Grambling has lost 5 games by 15 points or less; the other 17 losses have been by larger margins. The closest loss was by 10 points. The average margin of defeat for the season is 28 points.

    As a team, Grambling shoots 36.5% from the field. Adding to the problems such poor shooting will cause, Grambling turns the ball over 18 times per game.

Grambling competes in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), which has had some bad basketball teams in its history.

    Alcorn State was 2-29 in 2010

    Prairie View was 5-23 in 2005

    Arkansas- Pine Bluff was 4-24 in 2003 – and at the bottom of the pile –

    Prairie View was 0-28 in 1991.

Finally, Dwight Perry had this forecast for next year’s college football season in the Seattle Times:

“The financially struggling U.S. Postal Service plans to stop delivering mail on Saturdays, effective Aug. 10.

“Looks like the Southern Miss football team — 0-12 in 2012 — won’t be mailing it in this year.”

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

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  • Doug  On February 12, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    I was fortunate to see some good pitchers in person during my life, but none recently. I lived in Atlanta during Maddox, Glavine, Smoltz era, and saw Fernando Valenzuela pitch twice. Also Denny McClain twice, including a one-hitter. But, I think Sandy Koufax was the best ever during my life. It is a shame to think his compensation was so little when guys with ERAs in double digits make more than $800K today.

    Another rule the NFL should consider dumping is the rule that penalizes a coach for throwing the red flag on a play that would be reviewed automatically. A really dumb rule that cost a victory for a team this season.

    Last, the Southern Miss campus was raked by tornadoes Sunday, damaging a lot of facilities. Some teams get no luck at all.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On February 12, 2013 at 3:17 pm


      I remember seeing Bob Gibson a couple of times too…

      Agree that the NFL should change the rule about throwing a flag on a play that will be reviewed automatically.

      To be sure, tornado strikes are much more serious than an 0-12 season in football.

      • Doug  On February 12, 2013 at 9:45 pm

        A quirk of scheduling prevented me from ever seeing Bob Gibson live. I regret that.

  • Rich  On February 12, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    If they go winless this year there will probably much grumbling at Grambling.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On February 13, 2013 at 11:22 am


      I just hope that the Coach Price is renting a place in Grambling, La.

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