December 5, 2013
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Monday, January 19, 2009
The Tribune's John Kass, with the help of Jerry Reinsdorf, speculates about the implications of the president being a White Sox fan:
"Well, maybe he could issue a presidential edict to get us another pitcher who could go 200 innings," Reinsdorf said. "That might be nice."
If I became president I have absolutely zero faith that I wouldn't meddle in the affairs of my baseball team. I'd be at a press conference about some treaty, and just before the Premier of East Guavickistan or wherever was about to speak, I'd say something like "with today's signing ceremony, we believe that a lasting peace will be brought to this critical part of the world. A peace that, nonetheless, will be forever imperiled unless Frank Wren can find a power bat for the outfield and, at the very least, platoon Jeff Francoeur."
If you say stuff like that enough, people will begin to believe it.
The Reds have inked a deal with the best available option at an extremely important position.
Good for them.
I've been known to stretch a metaphor beyond its breaking point, but this is downright bizarre.
I got through the Civil War -- well, at least I think it was the Civil War -- before throwing in the towel. Quick: someone with a greater attention span than mine -- tell me if they included the Taft-Hartley Act in this thing. It's one of my favorite acts.
Because it's a huge shock:
When they surprised the public with plans for a new ballpark for the minor-league Braves a year ago, Gwinnett County officials said the stadium would cost $40 million and would pay for itself from Day One.
As expected, J.C. -- who is quoted in the AJC article -- is all over it at Sabernomics.
My question is why elected officials seem so willing to cite budget problems to cut or scale back useful stuff like bus service and recreation centers yet never feel the need to change course when these stadium deals turn into budgetary disasters, as they almost always do.
I'm kind of an idiot when it comes to the concept of seat licenses, mostly because I've never considered buying season tickets for anything and thus haven't been required to think much about it. Beyond knowing that they have been a part of every new park, stadium, and arena to open over the past couple of decades, I don't know how they really work.
One thing I thought I knew about them, however, was that you don't go selling seat licenses to people who already have season tickets. I guess I was wrong about that, though, because the Cubs seem to be at least thinking about doing just that:
Seat licenses. On the final day of the last convention of the Tribune Co. era, the idea of selling seat licenses at Wrigley Field was termed a "possibility."
So what, do you institute a seat license each time a season ticket holder dies, or does everyone who already has season tickets get socked with a big fee in order to hang on to them? The former option seems like it would be hard to administer, the latter seems really damn unfair. If I'm missing something, someone please fill me in on how it would work.
From the department of randomness, comes a story about Peter Ueberroth place in civil rights history:
There were a million people at the Martin Luther King Day parade in Atlanta in 1986, several hundred of whom still have a picture of Peter Ueberroth somewhere in their scrapbooks.
Two levels of fail in this article. The first comes when it says "Ueberroth remains unclear as to exactly why he was invited to participate in 1986, in one of the first big celebrations after MLK Day became an official holiday." I'm sure it's just a coincidence that Ueberroth joined the board of Coca-Cola that same year. I mean, clearly, a little Atlanta-based mom and pop beverage maker like that wouldn't have had the pull to get someone like Pete Ueberroth into a local parade. Of course, if Ueberroth's association with Coke had anything to do with it, the juxtaposition of a civil rights icon and a corporate plant would cloud up a nice little civil rights story, wouldn't it?
Fail part II: The article goes on to note how "Ueberroth is also remembered for his efforts in furthering the cause of racial equality in baseball," and "the progress he made in baseball," without mentioning how orchestrating an illegal collusion operation in an effort to break a labor union fits into that legacy. Maybe we should just leave that assessment to historians.
Why do I even care? Well, for one thing, I hate Peter Ueberroth, so whenever I can make fun of him I do. On a less petty note, however, it's important to remember that whenever you see a news article like this, it's being written for a reason. The reason here? One never knows for sure, but given that it is highly doubtful that some reporter was randomly trolling 23 year-old newspaper archives, noted a story about Ueberroth, and decided to revisit it, we can guess that this is the work of a reporter or a press agent or someone wanting to place something that puts Ueberroth in a good light for whatever reason, and thought that associating him with this week's Obamamania would further that purpose.
There will be a ton of examples of this sort of thing until the honeymoon is over, so while I will not deny that it is an inspiring and heady time to be an American, let's not leave our healthy skepticism about, well, everything, at the door.
Jack Curry had a good article yesterday about Mark McGwire and integrity, which is the reason why most of the people keeping him out of the Hall of Fame won't vote for him. Curry makes a good point, however, and that's that the integrity issue is really two-fold: (1) should McGwire be kept out of the Hall of Fame because he probably took steroids; and (2) should McGwire be kept out of the Hall of Fame because he wouldn't answer questions about steroids before Congress during the great "I'm not here to talk about the past" episode. My sense is that, as far as his Hall of Fame chances go, it doesn't really matter. If McGwire had spoken frankly before Congress the same people who now cite his reticence on that day as the reason for their vote would simply switch to his cheating as the reason, and he wouldn't get much more support. If he had lied and said he never did anything, he'd be in worse shape. As far as Cooperstown goes, his inartful "no-comment" probably doesn't matter.
For my part, I don't really care about the Hall of Fame, so I find the discussion of whether x or y event would have gotten McGwire in there to be uninteresting. His performance that day does, however, impact my view of McGwire as a historical figure. He never cost me a dime or robbed me of a memory, but unlike almost every other player attached to PEDs, I can't consider the guy without feelings of disappointment creeping in.
Why? Because McGwire had a chance to do some good that day, at relatively little cost and didn't. I've written about this before, but it's worth saying again: Unlike Rafael Palmiero, Sammy Sosa, Jose Canseco, Curt Schilling or any of the others called before Congress, McGwire stood alone as someone with both the freedom to speak without fear of real retribution -- he was out of the game by then -- and the integrity and popularity required to bring reason and thoughtfulness to bear on the issue of performance enhancing drugs. Jose Canseco was there and spoke frankly, but he's a joke of a human being so no one takes him seriously. Most of the other players were still active had had a legitimate fear of discipline, either official in the form of sanctions from MLB, or unofficial due to being labeled a snitch by teammates. McGwire was different. He was about as close a thing baseball had to a hero at the time and was thus uniquely positioned to do something good, yet failed.
I have always been skeptical of Congress's involvement with steroids in professional sports (it's all grandstanding, really), and as a lawyer I never would advise a client to cop to drug use under oath, but I still can't help wondering what the PED discourse would have looked like since then if, on that fateful day before Congress, McGwire had said "Yes, I took steroids. Here's why. This was my cost-benefit analysis. Now let's talk about it"?
Initially, of course, it would have caused a firestorm, but that happened anyway. In the long run, however, the national conversation about performance enhancing drugs would have been elevated a bit, as we all would have had to deal with the fact that a guy all of America looked up to was taking them and being honest about them. Sure, some would have still called him a cheater and continued to beat the drum they're still beating today. But maybe some others would have thought twice about the subject and the hysteria that still reigns would be diminished. Maybe his testimony would have led to a lot more thinking, reason, perspective, and compassion and a lot less bloviating when it comes to steroids. Of course McGwire didn't do that, and he's been in self-imposed exile ever since, his reputation in tatters, his Hall of Fame chances nil.
I haven't shed many tears for McGwire over this because he, perhaps more than anyone, could have prevented all of this madness. I suppose that's too much to put on any man's shoulders, even a man with shoulders as strong as McGwire's. But that's how it happened, and that's why he's on the island he's on today.
As mentioned in the inaugural edition of this feature, "The people in my neighborhood" will periodically highlight the work of some of the (for now, anyway) lesser-known bloggers with whom I've had the pleasure of conversing and who, on occasion, loiter around ShysterBall comment threads waiting for you to make a mistake and then pounce on it like a hobo on mulligan stew. Friends of ShysterBall, as it were, of whose work you may not be aware if you're just clicking the same bookmarks you set up back when the borderline Asperger's dude from the IT department brought you your new machine after you spilled a Coke Zero on the old one.
Like I said last week, this isn't some popularity contest or Deadspin commenter audition, so if you think your blog should be on here and it isn't, I'm not shunning you; I just forgot or haven't seen it or something equally innocuous, so just shoot me an email. I won't promise that I'll always feature it, but if you update pretty regularly and have something interesting to say, I'll certainly be reading it and getting around to you eventually.
With that out of the way:
What will the next week hold for these magnificent blogs? Hell if I know, because I just got all ten volumes of Y: The Last Man from the library and plan on reading them to the exclusion of all else over the next few days. Baseball is everywhere. A story about the simultaneous death of every male animal on the planet save one guy from Ohio and his pet monkey who are subsequently hunted down like dogs by neo-Amazons only comes around once in a while, and it's moments like these you have to savor.
Here's Jim Rice on why he never won a championship in Boston:
"During that time, Steinbrenner spent more money than the Red Sox. He had more free agents. So when you get the best free agents, and you get the superstars from other ballclubs, that's what made you have a better team. The more money you can spend, the better you should get."
Fine, the ball went between Buckner's legs because Steinbrenner signed Don Gullet. We get that. But tell us, Jim, why have the Sox won two titles this decade and the Yankees none?
"If you look at the Red Sox now, you see them bringing guys up in the organization. That's why Theo has been the person he's been over the last couple of years. He'll bring young kids up and stay within the organization. The Yankees haven't won in the last eight years. What do they do? They go out and buy high-priced players in the hope to get back the winning percentage they had 10 years ago."
So it's not just the money spent in free agency, it's the brains spending that money, and if you have enough brains, you can do pretty damn well with your farm system too. Hey, I agree with Jim Rice! Unfortunately, given that these quotes were offered by Rice in an effort to criticize free spending, I don't know that even Jim Rice would agree with Jim Rice.
We now have ourselves a Super Bowl match up, and because we've all known where the game is going to be played for years and because weather is not an issue, we now have two whole weeks worth of media days, Playboy parties, VIP gatherings, television specials, marketing tie-ins, and countless other media, P.R., and corporate-driven baloney before any actual football is played. On this august occasion, I would ask Buster Olney, Tracy Ringolsby, and all of the other writers who came out in favor of a pre-planned neutral-site World Series back when it was raining in Philadelphia in October how they would feel if the vapid stupidity that will take place between now and the Super Bowl accompanied the World Series. Which it certainly would if you had date, weather, and location certainty like the football people do. Something tells me that a few raindrops isn't worth turning the Fall Classic into a circus like we'll be seeing down in Tampa for the next two weeks.
But that's for another day. Today at THT: