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Newz Forum: OTHER: The Sports Curmudgeon on MLB, The Mets, The Saints, The Browns plus more...

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posted on Dec, 27 2004 @ 12:31 PM
As of today, the DC government says it has a private financing deal in place. Of course, it has only been blessed by the Chairperson of the City Council and did not involve the entire body so we don't know yet if it will be acceptable or not. And we have no idea if the new deal is acceptable to MLB because the story at the moment is that there is one "Fortune 500 company" who is willing to toss in a huge chunk of the stadium cost (maybe as much as $100M) and we're not sure just what it wants to get out of the deal.

Surely, this is not mere largesse; they have to get something for that kind of money and that could mean that there will be have to be less money for either the DC government or the MLB owners. There's that pesky Law of Conservation of Matter once again. So, everyone in this area is either euphoric once again or they are with me and are waiting to see how this latest news spasm plays out.

Since I started with baseball this morning, here's another thing that I found interesting in the past week or so. Certified genius, Billy Beane, has traded away Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson for half a dozen or so prospects. Since both of these guys are still young, it isn't immediately obvious that Beane is getting rid of them because he thinks that they are on the down slope of their careers. So my assumption is that he is trading them away for economic reasons, i.e. to save money on the payroll. Fine, that's how Beane has earned his reputation in baseball circles. So, explain this to me; why do you trade for a catcher who will make about $10M a year when you then have to turn around and trade away two of your best young pitchers to reduce the payroll pressure that contract has caused?

I read a report that part of the Mets' deal with Pedro Martinez calls for him to get the use of a luxury suite at Shea Stadium for every one of the Mets' home games. That is in addition to the guaranteed $53M in salary he will get. Obviously, I don't understand why that kind of money would make acquiring that suite on his own some kind of economic burden, but I think there is a larger question here that has to be asked:

How can anyone use the words "luxury" and "Shea Stadium" in the same sentence?

There is a high school kid in York, PA who is a highly coveted college recruit as a wide receiver. He is also a track athlete and has run the 100-meter dash in 10.5 seconds. That may not win the Olympics, but it is still awfully fast for a high school kid. However, this kid's parents have given him a huge burden to carry because they named him, Knowledge Timmons. I certainly hope that his SAT scores make him eligible as a freshman once he gets to college...

There were some really gutless performances in the NFL over the weekend before last but few of them were quite as bad as the Denver Broncos surrender to the KC Chiefs. The columnists in Denver are not pleased to say the least. Here is a flavor of what they said:

"When it comes to special teams, few if any, NFL franchises are as consistently dreadful as the Broncos. who ranked 28th in the league in kickoff coverage before Dante Hall's touchdown trek... Not that the punt coverage team is much better. This is the Broncos we're talking about. They cover kicks like snow covers Ecuador." (Jim Armstrong in the Denver Post.)

"What happened to the Broncos is they were whipped, flogged, thrashed, belted, thumped, hammered, pummeled, pounded, humiliated and left for pony jerky on the frozen sod of Arrowhead Stadium." (Bernie Lincicome in the Rocky Mountain News.)

The Cleveland Browns were also pretty miserable on Sunday, but there might be a ray of hope for that team if the ownership there has done their math properly. When they fired Butch Davis and agreed to honor the remaining $12M left in his contract, they set themselves up to pay Davis $24M as their coach and he got them 24 wins. The Browns original coach - in this incarnation of the team - was Chris Palmer who earned $5M and won 5 games in his tenure. So clearly, the Browns need to hire someone on a one year contract and to pay him $16M - - or better yet, $19M. Cleveland fans need not thank me; that's the reason I do these essays...

Coaches on two miserable teams and one that is underachieving may survive because their owners are notoriously cheap. Red McCombs in Minnesota has Mike Tice earning less than $1M this year; there are probably a couple of special teamers on the Vikings making what Tice is making and McCombs holds an option for next year on Tice at about $1M. So even if the Vikes tank again, Tice may keep his job because he is tied into a deal that will assure he is the lowest paid coach in the league.

Jim Haslett's Saints have underachieved for at least the last three seasons. But he has a fairly sizeable contract and is signed up for next year. Tom Benson may dance like a fool on the sidelines when the Saints are winning - not really necessary in recent years - but he is not a wild and crazy guy when it comes to opening the purse strings. So, Haslett might hang around just to avoid the situation where Benson has to pay Haslett not to coach the team and to pay someone else to coach the team.

And in SF, John York has gained a large measure of infamy in his short tenure as the team CEO for his focus on each and every coast detail. There is a story that he charged a player 37 cents for a stamp to mail out a response to a fan letter from the team headquarters. I don't know if that is apocryphal or not; but if true, this man does not belong in the "sports ownership business". York wants to fire some of the assistant coaches; Dennis Erickson's contract says that Erickson has sole control over the coaching staff. Erickson has several years left on his deal and this could bring about a confrontation that will cost York either a bunch of money (ouch!) or a measure of public humiliation as he accedes to the demands of a coach who is 2-12 at the moment and who seems to have first overall draft pick locked up. Oh, by the way, can you imagine the joy that York will get when he hears the signing bonus demands from the agent for whoever is the #1 overall draft pick next year? That's a lot of 37-cent postage stamps!

Dwight Perry had a great observation in the Seattle Times:

"What would you call it if the 7-7 Seahawks somehow earned a shot at the Colts in Super Bowl XXXIX?"

"The Indy - .500"

Finally, Senator Norm Coleman (R-Minnesota) was the former mayor of St. Paul and was a central figure in getting the NHL to put an expansion team in that area after the North Stars left to go to Dallas as the Stars. Charlie Walters reported in the St. Paul Pioneer-Press that Coleman was back in the home area and took in a tennis exhibition at the Xcel Energy Center where the Minnesota Wild would be playing if the Minnesota Wild were actually - you know - playing hockey this year. Reportedly, Coleman said that he went to the tennis match "to make sure there was still ice in the building."

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

Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon


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