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Newz Forum: OTHER: The Sports Curmudgeon on Randy Johnson, Bobby Abreu, Lance Armstrong plus more...

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posted on Jan, 13 2005 @ 04:37 PM
Do you believe in omens? If you are a Yankees' fan, you had better not take yesterday's confrontation between Randy Johnson and a cameraman for WCBS-TV as a harbinger of things to come. There was a verbal confrontation where Johnson told the guy no pictures and then told him not to get in his (Johnson's) face and not to talk back.

There was also "contact" between Johnson's arm and the camera. And this was merely on his way into the office to take a physical exam! Immediately a statement was forthcoming from Johnson's agent and the Yankees and just about everyone else with an interest in this matter saying how unfortunate this incident was and how Johnson wished he had handled it differently. Welcome to the big city, big guy!

Carlos Beltran is going to NY too as a member of the Mets. The Mets have signed him to a $112M deal over the next 7 years and unless my long division is out of whack, that comes out to $16M per year. I know he was hotter than a Scotch Bonnet pepper during the playoffs last year, but $16M per year? I have a cousin who is a baseball nut and he has said for the last several months that Beltran's stats are not significantly different from Bobby Abreu's stats with the Phillies. So, now that Beltran is signed, I decided to go and check it out.

Beltran is a lifetime .284 hitter who in his five full seasons in MLB has averaged 103 RBIs and 28 HRs. His career on base percentage is .353 and his career slugging percentage is .490. Abreu is a lifetime .305 hitter who in his seven full seasons in MLB has averaged 93 RBIs and 21 HRs. His career on base percentage is .412 and his career slugging percentage is .517. Beltran is making more than 75% more per season than Abreu and based on these numbers, I'd say that either the Phillies have a humongous bargain on their hands or Scott Boras snookered the Mets. You make the call.

Here's a call I feel pretty comfortable in making based on the Mets' signing of Beltran and Pedro Martinez and Kris Benson and maybe Carlos Delgado. It has nothing to do with the standings in the NL East next year. It has to do with the price of tickets for Mets games in that fetid sewer known as Shea Stadium. Ticket prices will be going up - and not just a little bit.

However, I do have to wonder if the Houston Astros have some as yet unrevealed stratagem for this off-season still up their sleeve. They have lost Beltran and Jeff Kent and the jury is still out on whether or not Roger Clemens will be back for the 2005 season. So, what's the counter-move?

Ticket prices have also gone up in Tampa. That's right, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays who would set a franchise record if they finished this year at 75-87 have raised ticket prices. It's not as if the stands have been overflowing despite the miserable teams; the Devil Rays play to huge blocks of empty seats virtually every game. So, you have to wonder how the law of supply and demand can possibly be working in their favor. Even if I stipulate for a moment here that the increased ticket prices will actually increase their revenues in some meaningful way (I don't actually believe that is even remotely possible, but what the hey...), I am certainly not convinced that the increased revenue will be plowed back into the team in terms of an increased payroll in 2006.

Another news item from yesterday told us that Lance Armstrong has not yet decided if he will make another run at the Tour de France. As you probably know, I don't particularly find bicycle racing to be a mesmerizing sport; but I do have one thing to ask here even though it is clearly rhetorical. If Lance Armstrong ceased to be a champion bicycle racer, how long would his celebrity status endure? My guess is that he would be on the “B-list” within 8 weeks and on the "C-List" in six months. After a year, he'd be cutting ribbons to open new gas stations in Pigeon Roost, Kentucky. So, one of the things he really needs to assess is how much he needs the bright spotlight. Because if celebrity status has become centrally important in his life, he better get in shape and make another try at the Tour de France.

Yesterday, I glanced at the NBA standings because I have three outstanding wagers on the number of wins for teams over the course of the season. I figured it was time to see how those wagers were doing. In so doing, I noticed that the NBA season is almost half over and no one yet cares even a little bit. I also noticed that one of the wagers is as dead as the Devil Rays in the AL East. The other two still have a shot.

I also noticed that in the Atlantic Division, the Boston Celtics had a record of 15-19 and were only 2 games out of first place. The Nets were 12-21 and were only 4.5 games out of the lead. Why not rename the Atlantic Division, the Mediocrity Division?

Meanwhile, the New Orleans Hornets were 3-29 and are actually on pace to break the 1973 Sixers' record for futility at 9-73. Given that New Orleans is a mediocre pro sports town to begin with and not a hotbed of basketball interest, my guess is that the Hornets will be struggling to get 8,000 people to their games by March 15th even when the team gives away tickets to anyone with a measurable blood pressure. In the last week, the Hornets reported attendances of 13 – 14 thousand people for two home games but given the Byzantine counting rules allowed by the NBA, this could mean that there were actually only 2,500 asses in seats at any time during these games.

In another NBA story, newly traded Vince Carter told TNT interviewers that he did not always play his hardest during his stay in Toronto. Poor Vince was only paid $13M per year there and that obviously was not enough to purchase his full efforts in each and every game. Some people have reacted to this story with shock. Folks, this is what I have been telling you for the last couple of years; the NBA regular season is an unwatchable product because Carter - and a whole passel of other players - are dogging it out there on the court at least half the time. And that kind of loafing does not make it worthwhile to pay $60 per game for a decent seat.

Someone named Hector Solano is a professional rassler with an organization called NWA/TNA. I presume this is a competitor to the WWE, but if that is not the case please don't send me any notes giving me the straight scoop because I really don't care. Hector was caught in the Houston airport in possession of two different steroids for which he has a Mexican doctor's prescription. He is a Mexican citizen. However, it is illegal in the US to possess steroids for use in bodybuilding activities. This could be an interesting case if it ever goes to trial because you would have a rassler trying to assert that he was not in a business where bodybuilding was a significant part of the business. I'd tell you to stay tuned for more info on this matter - except that I won't be looking to follow it and will only report on it if I trip over any further information as I did with this information.

Finally, here is an assessment from Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star and One thing I love about Jason Whitlock is that you never really have to parse his sentences too finely to figure out where he stands on any given issue:

"Randy Moss is a coward and a punk and has the leadership skills of a five-year old Girl Scout placed in charge of Navy Seals. Moss is not a winner. He contaminates and undermines everything with which he comes in contact."

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

Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon

[Edited on 1/13/05 by SportzWriter]

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