Today is the Ides of March, but if you check out your morning sports section, you'll be reminded of the movie Groundhog Day. Dwight Gooden has been
arrested for violating probation. Last year, he pleaded guilty to speeding away from police after a DWI stop and got three years probation as the
sentence. Yesterday, he had his regularly scheduled meeting - recall that phrase - with his probation officer and she did a drug screen on him. He
tested positive and then admitted to using coc aine. When Gooden goes before the judge that originally sentenced him to this probation regimen,
might it occur to the judge - looking at the full history of Gooden's behavior over the past 15 or so years - that probation alone might not achieve
the behavior modification that the court seems to want to effect? I think I've seen enough 'repeat performances' here to convince myself that it's
not working. Remember it was a 'regularly schedule meeting...'
Oklahoma State basketball coach, Eddie Sutton, has admitted an alcohol problem and has checked into rehab after driving under the influence and having
a small accident. Now comes word via the Daily Oklahoman that there may be some security tapes showing Sutton outside a middle school in Oklahoma
'watering the lawn'. I have a sense that we are gong to hear more about this whole matter in the upcoming months...
Since I'm on a legal tangent here, there is a story in the Indianapolis Star saying that Ways and Means Committee of the US House of Representatives
had a staff member interview a former president of the University of Michigan regarding whether or not the NCAA may have abused its tax-exempt status.
The NCAA is granted tax-exempt status (do you really believe it is a non-profit organization?) based on its claim that it is 'organized and operated
exclusively for educational purposes'. Now stifle your giggles for a moment about the 'exclusively for education' assertion because of course you
immediately think of the brilliant natural philosophers that come out of the major NCAA athletic programs every year. Consider this.
Just last year, the NCAA was sued by the NIT for violating the anti-trust laws. The NCAA settled that case by paying something upwards of $50M. Now
think about how many real non-profit organizations would be in a position to have to defend themselves against a suit based on the anti-trust laws.
The World Wildlife Fund - by the way they still are holding their March Madness tournament for the world’s favorite animal and so you should keep
going there to vote - does not spend a lot of time in court defending itself against the Audubon Society on the basis that the Audubon Society thinks
the WWF is an environmental monopoly. I can't recall a situation where one of the Ivy League Schools filed an anti-trust suit against one of the
other Ivy League Schools asserting monopolistic practices in terms of glomming onto endowment money.
There is an educational facade to the NCAA - make that a patina because the cover is very thin indeed. But the most important purpose of the NCAA is
to generate revenue for the member schools to use in their athletic departments. It is not - even in a contorted legal reasoning process - there
'exclusively for education'. That's just nonsense.
In the world of minor league baseball, the Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League will offer 'Baseball's Best Burger' this year. It has ground
beef, cheddar cheese, and two slices of bacon all sitting between Krispy Kreme donuts. This concoction will cost $4.50 at the ballpark and it will
contain 1000 calories and 45 grams of fat. I know that minor league baseball execs are brilliant at coming up with promotions and sponsorships, but
this one cries out to be sponsored by the local cardiologist who will give a discount on bypass surgery with five proofs of purchase...
Those same Gateway Grizzlies will continue a tradition of 'Time Warp Tuesdays' this season. On these special nights, you can travel back in time as
Pepsi provides retro-themed drinking glasses with old-time Pepsi logos on them for fans who purchase Pepsi products. I'm sure these are popular
promotional nights, but the real challenge here is to find that cardiologist who wants to be associated with 'Baseball's Best Burger'...
Speaking of minor league promotions, here's an idea that may not have surfaced yet. According to the upcoming book about Barry Bonds' steroid use,
one of the things he allegedly injected himself with was trenbolone, a substance used with beef cattle to give them 'increased muscle quality'. Let's
assume that's the case for the moment. Now, wouldn't it be a perfect promotion for the Durham Bulls to have a Barry Bonds night? They're probably
working on that as we speak...
There was a lot of foofaraw made about Vince Young's score on the Wonderlic test. However when I read this quote, it made me wonder about some other
sports figures and how they might fare on the test. Alex Rodriguez was asked about the venues for the WBC games. Said A-Rod, 'At least it's three
good cities - Arizona, Anaheim and San Diego.'
Memo to A-Rod: Check your AAA map to see if you can find a city named Arizona.
The Florida Marlins will either have to move from the Miami area or resign themselves to playing in a stadium that does not draw sufficient
crowds/revenues to make it one of the 'big market teams'. At the moment, San Antonio is flirting with the Marlins trying to lure them there with a
new stadium that has a $300M price tag. So, if you are in a market where you can't draw flies and another city offers you a new playpen and a
favorable lease, you'd think it would be a relatively easy decision to make. However, the sticking point at the moment is that the Marlins want a
roof on the stadium and the plans for the one in San Antonio don't call for a roof. But there's still time; the Marlins' lease in Miami runs through
2010. Just in case you doubt that the Marlins have trouble generating revenue in Miami, consider that their payroll this year had to be cut from $65M
last year to just under $20M this year to cover losses.
Finally, Greg Cote in the Miami Herald had this observation about March Madness:
'Do you have March Madness Fever? You know the games are getting close. I saw Dick Vitale in a dark alley with Vanna White last night, buying extra
But don't get me wrong, I love sports... ... ...