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Newz Forum: OTHER: The Sports Curmudgeon on Washington Nationals, the Saints, NCAA plus more...

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posted on Nov, 24 2004 @ 06:35 PM
The Washington Nationals - nee Montreal Expos - unveiled their name and logo and all that kind of stuff yesterday. I hope that this team does not use this as a model for the threshold of information they have to purvey as the basis for their decision to call a news conference and turn the news conference into a gala. The name is hardly new or novel and the team colors will be red, white and blue. Wow. Who would have ever guessed?

Lots of people are saying that the NBA has a serious problem on its hands in the aftermath of the Pistons/Pacers dust-up. It's true that they have a lot of public relations fence mending to do but the NBA is good at that. Here is a problem I don't think that they have worried about. Suppose the fans in Atlanta taunt a visiting team and throw objects at them to the point where the visiting players charge into the stands. That could become a real disaster involving real injuries. Not only will the players be bigger and stronger than the fans, they might outnumber them too.

In the next couple of days, you are going to read at least one column where someone lists all the things they are thankful for in this season of Thanksgiving. The NFL schedule makers certainly should make no one's list this year. First, we get to watch the Lions and the Colts on Thanksgiving Day; that should be a real nail-biter. Then, we get to see the Cowboys and the Bears; on an ordinary Sunday, that game would be shown in Dallas and Chicago and to prisoners in maximum security in order to keep them from getting worked up.

Going into Sunday's game against the Broncos, the Saints demonstrated their commitment to equal opportunity. They were the worst defense in the league against the run and they were the worst defense in the league against the pass; no favoritism there. Then on Sunday, the Saints rolled over and played dead and woke up their owner in the process. Tom Benson is best known for his sideline dancing with a parasol but after Sunday's performance, he said that this was the worst he's seen in his 20 years of ownership. Given that Jim Haslett's teams have a history of folding like card table chairs in December, I suspect that he will be movin' on down the road in the near future.

But Benson is also - much more quietly - seeking some financial relief from the politicians in New Orleans and Louisiana and if he does not get some relief, he's threatening to move the team to Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Saints; there's a team with a nickname that will have to change. The Saints have a clause in their lease with the Superdome that lets the team buy its way out of the lease after the 2005 season for a fee of $80M. Now that's a lot of cheese - even for an NFL owner - but perhaps it could be "cost-shared" with a city interested in acquiring an NFL franchise?

Benson wants a new stadium but he might settle for a huge upgrade to the existing Superdome. That's nothing new; everyone wants a new stadium or an upgrade to his or her existing one. He obviously also wants to retain the cash incentives that flow from the state to his pockets in terms of cash money and he wants them to build a huge "tailgating park" for him. Then to top off the raid on the state coffers, he wants the city and the state to develop the land next to the team's practice facility so that he can build a hotel there. Obviously, he will not get all of that if he moves the team to LA, but this could be a viable threat to the politicos there in Louisiana. Stay tuned for more on this.

Speaking of drains on the taxpayers funds, I read somewhere that the total cost of the Olympics in Athens came in at $11.6B, which is $3.5B more than the Greek government had budgeted for. For those of you keeping score at home, that means that the costs were 44% more than had been planned; people in New York should take heed of this as they think about bidding for the privilege of hosting the 2012 Olympics. The article I read was unclear about whether or not this $11.6B figure included all the transportation upgrades that were effected in and around Athens. I can't imagine that those costs were on top of this expenditure, but then again, I can't imagine spending $11.6B on facilities for the Olympic Games.

According to The World Factbook published by CIA - this is not sinister at all; you can find it on the Internet by going to Google and typing in "world factbook": and hitting the button marked "I'm Feeling Lucky" - the Greek economy has a GDP of $214B in 2003. The public debt in 2003 was already 101% of the GDP and one of the economic challenges for the nation was "reduction of public debt". Well, all of a sudden, there is a need for an extra $3.5B to cover the costs of the Olympic Games, which were not profitable, and so the Public debt just went up by about another $1.5%. Tell me again why cities want to host Olympic Games?

Eldrick Woods won a golf tournament. That's news because the last one he won was in nine months ago in February. Someone said that it was not a good year for him on the PGA tour because his wins there equaled the number of his marriages. This win was by 10 strokes or so over a field of notables in Japan - including Ryokin Kawagishi - in the Dunlop Phoenix. If you have ever heard of that tournament or could pick that golfer out of a line-up with the Swedish bikini team - you really need to take the remote in hand and change the channel to recognize that something other than The Golf Channel will come through your receiver. It's just like Eldrick has been telling people all along, he's been so close to winning all along.

Ron Brown had a note in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer about a documentary being done on Manute Bol. It is being done by NBA-TV and should air sometime in December. Bol had been recruited by Cleveland State and the school got itself on NCAA probation for the way in which it pursued Bol; that's the reason why this is a news item in Cleveland. I wonder how much better Cleveland State would have been with Bol on their team. Could it have been worth probation?

Finally, here is a suggestion for the NCAA as it seeks new ways to pretend to foster the ideal of the scholar-athlete. As they look to fine-tune their academic eligibility rules, they can establish the "NHL Eligibility Criterion". The ratings for recent Stanley Cup Finals games were 1.8; if a scholar-athlete's grades are below that number...

But don't get me wrong, I love sports...

Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon.

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