The St. Paul Saints are one of several minor league baseball teams owned in part by Mike Veeck. For those who don't know, Mike Veeck is Bill Veeck's
son so promotional stunts come naturally to him and minor league baseball is a fertile ground for promotions. On May 27th, the Saints will hold 'Love
Boat Night'. But it will have nothing at all to do with the old TV show because the first 2500 fans through the gates will get a small rubber boat
called 'The Minnetonka Queen' and it is in purple and gold colors.
Yes, May 27th is the one-year anniversary of the Minnesota Vikings' 'love boat cruise' on Lake Minnetonka. The vice-president of the Saints said.
'This promotion just fell into our laps,' which is a great double entendre since some of the allegations of wrongdoing there involve lap dances. Now
if they could only get some guy to dress in a Viking costume to throw out the first pitch...
Later this year, the Saints will have some other interesting promotions. They will have a Bill Murray bobblehead doll night in June. In case you
wonder how that happened, Bill Murray is a co-owner of the team. And later in the year, they will so 'Smallball Night' as a salute to Eddie Gaedel -
the 3' 9' man that Bill Veeck sent up to bat as a pinch hitter for the St. Louis Browns back in the 50s.
Mentioning Eddie Gaedel got me thinking about 'old-time baseball' and that reminded me of a ruling by a judge in California that seems a bit odd to
me. A baseball player for a Community College in California was beaned in a baseball game as retaliation because the pitcher on his team had hit an
opposing player with a pitch earlier in the game. The California Supreme Court ruled he could not sue the opposing team/college for damages even
though he still suffers from seizures five years after the fact. The underlying reason is that a player assumes the risk of getting hit in the head
with a pitch when he plays baseball. The decision handed down said:
'...being intentionally hit is an inherent risk of the sport so accepted by custom that a pitch intentionally thrown at a batter has its own
terminology such as 'chin music'.'
So let me try to understand the logic here. It's OK to do something in a baseball game that would clearly be a criminal act if you did it on a random
street corner because it is a custom of the game and somebody gave a cute name to that activity. I sort of understand the legal concept of
'assumption of risk' even though I never went to law school but I don't understand how 'custom' and 'terminology' can be the basis for expanding the
risks that one must assume. I guess retaliatory crackback blocks in football would not be actionable in California on the basis of this decision.
And barbaric things like cock fighting and bear baiting shouldn't bother these judges either; they have long lineages of 'custom' behind them and
surely they have their own jargon.
Since I've just demonstrated unambiguously that I am not a legal scholar, let me comment on Redskins' safety Sean Taylor and his legal situation at
the moment. Taylor was arrested in Florida months ago and charged with a firearms violation of some kind which is a felony in Florida and which
carries a minimum mandatory three-years-in-jail sentence if a jury finds him guilty. I have no idea what happened on that evening so I surely have no
idea if he is guilty or not. Here's what's odd. Taylor was reportedly offered a plea bargain and turned it down. In that plea bargain, he would
plead guilty to a lesser charge of 'felony aggravated assault' which does not have any mandatory jail time associated with it and the sentence would
be something that did not send Taylor to jail at all. Taylor and his lawyers rejected the deal.
Now that is rolling the dice folks. There are three counts of whatever the firearm violation is pending so if - I said IF - Taylor is found guilty on
all of them and the judge is in a bad mood, he could spend a mandatory nine years in jail; the judge doesn't have to make the sentences concurrent.
That would end Taylor's NFL career, and whatever bonus money he got from the Redskins would certainly be subject to some kind of payback. So, he is
betting a lot of money and maybe his entire career on what a jury will do when they go into a room to deliberate. I can understand someone not
wanting to have a felony conviction on his record - which is what the plea bargain would do - but in this situation, it looks like Taylor is assuming
a very large risk to keep that off his record. Maybe he plans to run for President some day and figures a felony on his record would get in the way?
Yesterday I saw the first promos on ESPN for the upcoming FIFA World Cup games that will begin in June. That sent me poking around the Internet and
allowed me to ascertain that more than 1 million fans have purchased just over 7.8 million tickets to World Cup events in Germany. On a global scale,
the World Cup is by far the biggest sporting 'thing' out there; it makes the Olympics look like the Little League World Series. So, you can now
expect to read and hear articles about how strange it is that soccer isn't big in the US and how Americans don't like soccer because it is low scoring
and so on. These stories seem to be stored in a vault somewhere and dragged out every four years and dusted off for reprinting. The 'soccer poets'
are almost as bad as the 'baseball poets'. However, there may be something that could tweak American sports fans' interest here.
Prostitution is legal in some of the venues for the games and some 'upscale brothels' have sprung up in anticipation of the crowds coming to see the
games. In addition, German authorities say that between 40,000 and 50,000 prostitutes from all over the world will be in Germany for the month long
period of the World Cup and most of them will be 'independent contractors' so to speak; one need not patronize one of the local brothels - either
upscale or downscale - to avail oneself of their services. So, American sports fans can take heart here; there will obviously be a whole lot of
scoring going on at the World Cup.
Finally, here's a line from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:
'In Syracuse, they dedicated a basketball monument to the 24-second clock, according to a news release from The Society for the Prevention of Needless
But don't get me wrong, I love sports... ... ...
[Edited on 5/29/06 by SportzCurmudgeon]