The New Orleans Pelicans fired their GM, Dell Demps, over the weekend. Demps was a central character in the soap opera that ensued once Anthony Davis demanded a trade from the Pelicans [Hint – hint: to the Lakers] and that trade never happened. Then the team toyed with the idea of sitting Davis out for the rest of the season to prevent injury and preserve his trade value over this summer – – but the NBA threatened huge fines for the team and for all practical purposes vetoed that idea. Then Davis played in a game just before the All-Star break and “injured his shoulder”; he left the game and the arena before the game was over.
[Aside: He must have been catching a flight to Lourdes because he was miraculously able to play in the All-Star Game last Sunday.]
The team owner – Gayle Benson who also is the person running the New Orleans Saints in the NFL – was reported to be enraged that Davis left the building in mid-game. So, she fired Dell Demps. It is not clear to me how that event became the straw that broke the camel’s back; but then again, I don’t own or run an NBA or NFL franchise.
Anthony Davis is a top-shelf basketball player; if anyone want to have him become the “face of their franchise”, I suggest he is ill-suited to that task. During All-Star week festivities, he sat for a live interview and denied that he asked for a trade or that there was a list of preferred teams to which he would like to be traded if he had – in fact – asked to be traded. [Aside: Try not to get lost in the contrafactual subjunctive mood here…] Then he said he would be willing to play for “any of the 29 teams” in the NBA because all he wants to do is win.
- Translation #1: I want to play for any team in the NBA other than a team that plays its home games in the State of Louisiana.
- Translation #2: Every other team in the NBA wants to win and could possibly win – – except for this sorry-assed franchise that I have been stuck with for the last six-and-a-half years even though they are paying me about $25M per year to lead this sorry-assed team to victory.
Having heard that interview, I can see why Davis wants to play for the Lakers. There is no way he will have to be the face of the franchise there so long as LeBron James and Magic Johnson are there. If he goes to LA, he can focus on playing basketball – – something he is perfectly capable of doing.
Pelicans’ coach Alvin Gentry has had to stand in front of the press for the last couple of weeks and field questions about all of this. On the night when Davis left the building early, he probably had reached his limit in terms of trying to put some perspective on all this; he referred to the situation the team found itself in as “a dumpster fire”. Give Alvin Gentry an award for candor…
As Spring Training progresses for all the MLB teams, there are still lots of free agents out there who have not signed contracts; it seems that everyone is waiting to see what happens with Harper and Machado to break the logjam. Indians’ pitcher Trevor Bauer signed a 1-year deal with the Indians and said he would do so again next year; he suggested that the whole free agency situation could be resolved if everyone got 1-year contracts.
Somewhere in the cosmos, Charles O. Finley – the former bodacious owner of the Oakland A’s – is smiling knowingly. Back in the 1970s when free agency was brand new, lots of people were forecasting gloom and doom. Only the rich/big market teams would be able to afford the star players who exercised free agency; the league would become unbalanced and non-competitive; you get the idea… Charlie Finley always thought about baseball differently than his fellow-owners; he said that the way to keep salary demands under control was to be sure there was an abundance of supply during every free agency period. It’s called the Law of Supply and Demand
His idea was that every team should bid for player services with 1-year contracts. That meant every player was a free agent every year; there would never be a year when there was only one or two stud starting pitchers out there to exploit a bidding war. [There is no need to point out here that this idea has more than a few shortcomings, but the underlying principle was offered up as a way for management to limit the “outrageous demands” that free agents were making. And this was before Scott Boras got into the agent business.]
There are 1200 players on MLB rosters at any given time plus minor league players that are in development stages with the various teams. Imagine for a moment that every Halloween about 2000 real and aspiring baseball players all became free agents at once. Then imagine the demolition derby that would ensue as 30 MLB GMs and front office gofers fanned out around the country to sign the players they wanted at prices they wanted with secondary plans in hand to go after other guys if the preferred guy signed elsewhere. Put a little background music to that and you would have the 21st century version of the Keystone Kops.
Last week there were reports that the Boston Red Sox would have a rotating cast of announcers to do their radio broadcasts. Former Mets’ play-by-play guy, Josh Lewin, is on the menu; so is Sean McDonough along with Red Sox staple, Joe Castiglione. These guys will divide up the 162 games along with a mix-and-match group of color commentators. It was one name on the list of “part-time color guys” that caught my attention.
- Chris Berman
When Berman did baseball play-by-play on ESPN, I thought that was his weakest area of performance. As a color analyst, he might be interesting. Some of his broadcasting hijinks can become tiresome; but with him only on some of the time for Red Sox games, he could be interesting to listen to.
Finally, Dwight Perry took notice of Chris Berman’s part-time return to the broadcasting booth with this comment in the Seattle Times:
“Look who’s back, back, back in the booth.
“Former ESPN icon Chris Berman will be among the rotating stable of announcers calling call Red Sox games on WEEI Radio this year.
“Mookie ‘Gentlemen, Place Your’ Betts and Mitch ‘This Land Is’ Moreland refused comment.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………