A Sports World Amuse-Bouche

Often when you go to a top-shelf restaurant, the waiter will bring you a small bite of something created in the kitchen for the day; it is free of charge; it – presumably – gives you an idea of the quality of the food  you will be ordering from the menu.  In French restaurants, this token is called an amuse-bouche – – something that amuses  your mouth.

The sports world is poised to present us with a sporting version of an amuse-bouche this weekend.  Before college football begins in earnest, there is a small sampling of games to be played this weekend.  There is a fundamental difference between the restaurant offering and this weekend’s offering, however:

  • A restaurant’s amuse-bouche is always tasty and enjoyable.
  • This week’s offering of college football games is as appealing as a muddy boot at best.

There will be seven games on Saturday; five of them involve at least one Division I team.  That is the best thing one can say about the card.  The “biggest game” is Nebraska at Illinois and here is my sense of the gravitas associated with that game:

  • The loser of this game will likely finish last in the Western Division of the Big-10.

Here in Curmudgeon Central there is a proclivity for looking at things through the other end of the telescope and the games on Saturday provide a perfect opportunity to do that.  Instead of focusing on Nebraska/Illinois as a meaningless contest, I prefer to focus on a game between UTEP and New Mexico State.  Both these teams have been horrible for quite a while:

  • Since 2005, UTEP has had exactly one winning season.
  • Since the 2016 season, the combined UTEP record is 5 – 39.
  • Since 2002, New Mexico State has had exactly one winning season.
  • Since the 2017 season, the combined New Mexico State record is 6-20.

The loser of this game will be highlighting a later game on its schedule against a Division 1-AA opponent as a “must win game”.

The offering of this amuse-bouche may not spike my interest level in college football for 2021, but it does remind me to take the time over the next few days to compile a pre-season look at college football because the real games – the ones that actually matter – will start a week from Saturday.  Among the folks who cover college football, the games this Saturday are referred to as “Week Zero” on the schedule.  Looking at the games, I think they should be labeled “Weak Zero.”

In MLB, it appears that things are getting serious regarding the Oakland a’s getting a new stadium.  A report earlier this week said that the team is carrying on parallel negotiations with officials in both Oakland and Las Vegas.  The A’s team president had this to say recently:

“I think it’s important that we recognize that we’re still having conversations [with officials in Oakland]. It’s also really important to understand the parties are still working towards a mutually agreeable solution. But we’re also going to work on a parallel path in Las Vegas, because it’s important that we have multiple options. We’re really running out of time here at the Coliseum.”

“Running out of time here at the Coliseum” has two meanings:

  1. The facility is decrepit; it has been decrepit for more than a few years now; it needs to be razed.
  2. The lease between the stadium officials and the A’s will expire at the end of the 2024 season.  The team would have to go brain dead to sign another long-term lease there, so – as Snuffy Smith would often say in the comic strips – “Time’s a-wasting!”

A recent report said that the State of California may have almost $300M available in its General Fund to contribute to the proposed stadium plan in Oakland.  If you want to read about that latest report, you can do so here.  Moreover, in that linked report there are other links to earlier reporting on all these negotiations if you are interested in the various twists and turns that they have taken over the past several years.

The tactic of playing one city off another is a standard gambit for sports franchises in the US.  However, the fact remains that baseball franchises do not move very often.  Normally, the Commissioner and other MLB execs do not take a public position regarding negotiations with cities and prefer to work in the background.  This time, there is a difference.  Back in May here are two statements that make me think things are different this time around:

“The Athletics need a new ballpark to remain competitive, so it is now in our best interest to also consider other markets.”  [Official statement from MLB]

And …

 “The time is here for a decision on our future, and it is unclear to us and MLB whether there is a path to success for the A’s in Oakland.”  [Statement by A’s team president concurrent with the MLB statement]

Finally, having spoken on matters related to Oakland in California, let me close with this observation by anthropologist, Ashley Montagu:

“[California] is the land of perpetual pubescence, where cultural lag is mistaken for renaissance.”

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



2 thoughts on “A Sports World Amuse-Bouche”

  1. “Build us a new stadium or we’ll leave.”

    My memory has more holes in it than swiss cheese, but haven’t I heard this negotiating approach before?

    1. TenaciousP:

      I am certain that you recall Al Davis using that argument unsuccessfully in Oakland before he moved the team to LA for a while…

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