Readers often send me emails containing nuggets of information that I did not know and probably would never have run across; some of them are sufficiently off-center and I share those with everyone else. Such was the case last week – although I did not discover the communiques until yesterday afternoon. Here is the salient part of an email from a former colleague who has been reading these rants for more than 20 years:
“I know that [Kurt] Vonnegut is a favorite of yours. Did you know that he used to write for Sports Illustrated? That is what this blog post says.”
Indeed, I love Kurt Vonnegut’s stories; and no, I had no idea he ever wrote for Sports Illustrated and until I checked out the link provided in the email, I could not imagine him writing about sports. This is the link provided in the email I received; it is very brief; if you go and check it out, you will see why Kurt Vonnegut’s career at Sports Illustrated was very brief and you will see why I remain skeptical that he had any future as a sportswriter.
And, I got another email from another reader with a football stat that I would never have gone looking for – – let alone run across. I have not verified these numbers, but I present them here as they were sent to me:
- In the history of the NFL, only 11 QBs to start an NFL game played college football at Michigan.
- Tom Brady has started 283 games and won 219 of those games.
- The other 10 QBs from Michigan to start games in the NFL have combined to start 372 games and they won only 183 of those games.
I am surprised that Michigan has only produced 11 starting NFL QBs over the last century; and even knowing Brady’s “GOAT Status”, I am surprised at the disparity between his numbers and those of his fellow Michigan alums.
The NBA has the framework for its return to action. The idea is that 22 of the 30 NBA teams will assemble in Orlando, FL and play 8 regular season games starting on July 31 to set the playoff brackets. Then playoffs will happen in pairings of 7-game series until there is a champion crowned for the 2019/2020 season. If that final series goes the distance, the seventh game would take place on October 12.
Part of that schedule plan is that the next NBA season would start around December 1 and lots of people have focused on how little down time the two teams in the NBA Finals would have between the end of a series in mid-October and the need to start training camp in early/mid-November for the ensuing season. One of the reasons driving the NBA to start on December 1 is that they do not want to have their playoffs run so late that they go up against the Tokyo Olympics next summer. Those Olympic Games will start on July 23, 2021.
As usual, I prefer to look at the NBA’s scheduling wizardry differently. I look at the fact that teams will convene in Orlando on July 7 and the two teams in the final series will be there until at least early October. That means those players will be “isolated” in Orlando, FL in a “Disney World environment” for 3 months. Why do I think that is not going to turn out to be an ideal situation for those players and coaches…?
- [Aside: I recognize the attractiveness of the facilities available in Orlando to house the players and coaches and to provide a proper venue for the games. I also recognize that August and September are active months in the “hurricane season”….]
Meanwhile, in MLB, the owners and the players’ union continue to find ways to annoy each other and to make a return to the field – with or without fans in the stands – look less and less likely. The two sides need now – – and have needed for many years truth be told – – an intervention from people who love the game meaning that those people have to love both flawed institutions. MLB is a business that has $11B in annual revenue; that is a lot of cheese. And these two sides cannot get past their joint pettiness to find a way so that every one of them can “dip their beak” into the $11B bounty.
I believe the roots of this go back to Curt Flood and his lawsuit that overthrew the reserve clause and instituted the concept of free agency. Make no mistake, I think what Flood did was right, proper and beneficial for baseball as a game. Having said that, the way it all came down set in motion a sequence of labor negotiations that have swung like a pendulum and left significant scars on both sides. If Rob Manfred called Tony Clark and suggested they have dinner together tonight, I would not be surprised if both men brought food tasters with them. That kind of distrust must stop sometime or MLB as we have come to know it is not going to exist.
Like the NBA, the NHL and the NFL, the owners and players in MLB need to recognize a simple foundational fact:
- The two sides – despite their distrust and their enmity – can only enjoy the benefits of $11B in annual revenue if they act as partners in the business of staging a media funded “reality show”.
If the show ceases to go on, both sides lose. Remember the 1994 World Series? Of course you don’t, because there was no World Series in 1994. And if the jamokes on both sides today do not find common ground to build an agreement as to how to play a truncated 2020 season AND to come to an agreement quickly in 2021 on a new CBA without putting fans through another ego-driven opera next year, MLB could be facing a permanent decline.
In the immortal words of Snuffy Smith – – and Barney Google too – – “Time’s a wastin’”…
Finally, consider this item from Dwight Perry’s column, Sideline Chatter in the Seattle Times:
“South Korea soccer club FC Seoul got fined $82,000 after about 20 sex dolls — all wearing masks and some holding signs — were substituted for live fans in the stands a 1-0 win over Gwangju FC.
“So what’s next, EPL clubs using inflatable hooligans?”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………