RIP Ernie Banks & Minnie Minoso

Minnie Minoso died over the weekend. Very recently, Ernie Banks also passed away. It has not been a good couple of weeks for long-term baseball fans in Chicago either on the North Side or the South Side.

Rest in Peace Minnie Minoso and Ernie Banks.

The Tampa Bay Times is now the “exclusive print media sponsor” for the University of South Florida. Here is a link to the press release making that announcement. I have no idea what the scope of this exclusive sponsorship might be, but the paper is still going to be covering USF sports and USF “happenings”. Am I the only one who thinks that this sponsorship is nothing more than an ongoing conflict of interest? The paper is going to cover and report on the activities of its “sponsored client” and “image partner” so that the public can be fully informed on all of the issues. Yeah, right… Imagine if a local or state politician were involved in a similar conflict of interest situation and the Tampa Bay Times was on the story. Do you think the paper might choose to take a highly principled position with regard to such conflicts?

FIFA seems to be on the verge of suddenly recognizing that their decision to put the 2022 World Cup tournament in Qatar might not have been the brightest move in the history of sports. The World Cup has always been contested in the summer when the major leagues in Europe are in their “off-season”. Unfortunately, the temperatures in Qatar in the summer often hover around 110 degrees Fahrenheit and have been known to cross the 120-degree line too. Those are unsafe conditions for players and officials and most folks might consider those conditions to be “less than comfy” for spectators.

Back when the bidding process was underway, there was talk of Qatar building evaporative cooling systems to keep the temperatures more manageable. That sounds great until one does some engineering calculations; then that idea sounds like sending a manned space flight to the sun and keeping the astronauts cool by having the ship rendezvous with the sun at night.

Reports are that FIFA will move the World Cup games to November or December in 2022 when – climatologically speaking – the weather is cooler in Qatar. If they announce such a decision, it should annoy several large constituencies involved with FIFA:

    The European Leagues will not like it at all since November/December is in the midst of their seasons. Moreover, in England, the FA Cup tournament begins in November meaning that English teams already have two simultaneous competitions ongoing.

    MLS here in the US should not like this schedule switch at all – even though it falls in the MLS “off-season”. MLS is in a different situation than the European Leagues; MLS benefits significantly from the “bump” that it gets quadrennially from the World Cup. If the tournament is in November/December, MLS will get a much smaller “bump” because it is not playing at that time of the year and whatever “bump” it might have gotten would be diminished because November/December is the middle of the NFL season. Futbol is huge worldwide but here in the US, the NFL rules.

    FOX will not like the decision for the reason that November/December is in the NFL season. FOX has the TV rights to the 2022 World Cup; it obviously would love to put the games on the air in June/July and not face the problem of:

      Going up against the NFL on TV

      Juggling schedules around because FOX is also an NFL broadcaster.

There was a report yesterday that may give credence to the lack of enthusiasm on the part of FOX for such a decision. Reports said that FOX had been given the TV rights for the 2026 World Cup without any open bidding process. Since FIFA is not known for their propensity to leave money on the table, my sixth sense here says that this is FIFA’s way to keep FOX from being less than fully cooperative and committed to the 2022 World Cup.

Stay tuned; this saga has more acts to follow…

Oh, one more thing about fans sitting in 110-degree weather to watch World Cup Games… As in several countries in that part of the world, alcohol is not openly sold or widely available. That means fans in that heat will not have a cold brewski at the ready. Somehow, I cannot see coffee and hot chocolate for sale as a way to compensate.

One other very minor soccer note today… Jason Cummings is young player on Scotland’s Under-19 national team. He also plays for a team in one of the Scottish leagues. Jason Cummings is now banned from a McDonald’s in Edinburgh due to an incident there where reports say he was involved in “pelting the staff with muffins”. For the record, he denies the report and I am surely in no position to speak to its veracity.

I will note however that what he may have needed at the first stage of the alleged incident was a FIFA referee at the next table to call him for using his hands. That might have prevented the situation from escalating and would allow Cummings continued access to this particular set of Golden Arches.

Finally, here is a comment from Brad Dickson in the Omaha-World Herald:

“Legendary college basketball coach, the one and only Jerry Tarkanian has died. He was mostly healthy and lived to be 84. I’m waiting for a surgeon general recommendation that we all eat towels.”

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