The Washington Nationals finished up a home stand playing to lots more empty seats than paying customers. The team is pretty bad; the stadium is as
attractive as a cesspool; and the fans, who nominally pined for baseball for all those years that it was not in Washington, have gotten tired of the
Nats already. In a span of four games, they always played to less than 21,000 fans and set two records for lowest attendance in club history - both
of those 'records' were crowds of less than 20,000.
The baseball poets here are certain that as soon as a new owner is named for the team and they break ground for the new stadium, all will be well.
That's supposed to happen very soon - maybe next week. But once again, there is a cautionary note that has to be sounded. The groundbreaking for the
new stadium will be ceremonial only; the bulldozers aren't coming in just yet. Part of the reason is that the bonds to finance the construction have
not been sold yet and another part is that not all of the land for the stadium complex has been acquired by the city yet. With the DC government in
charge, this stadium is nowhere near a lead-pipe cinch to be ready for play in time for the opener of the 2008 season. So attendance may continue to
Driving around in suburban DC yesterday, I saw an SUV with a spare tyre mounted on the tailgate. It had Oregon license plates and the spare tyre had
a cover on it with the logo of the Boston Red Sox. My first thought was that this sort of captured the essence of 'Red Sox Nation' as a concept. I
followed this car for a while and then realized that a spare tire cover with the Red Sox logo on it might also be marketed as David Wells' warm up
jacket. Once again, I've demonstrated why I never made my career in marketing...
The Cubs held a sale of 'leftover stuff' about a week ago. I have to admit that I never heard of a major league team having a yard sale, but that is
what this sounds like. You could buy old Sammy Sosa tee shirts and bobblehead dolls that went all the way back to Ryne Sandberg. Talk about someone
there needing to get on top of 'inventory control', Sandberg hasn't been with the Cubbies for a while now. He's been gone long enough that he became
eligible for the Hall of Fame and then was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Are the Cubs sure there aren't some Billy Williams and George Altman
shirts in the back basement somewhere?
The Buffalo Bills' owner, Ralph Wilson, has been unhappy with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement; he and Mike Brown were the only two owners who
voted against ratifying it. He is convinced that his small market team will get screwed over in the deal. Maybe he's right; maybe he's wrong. He
has managed, however, to get the Congressthing who represents Buffalo to call for Congressional hearings into the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement.
You may recall a few weeks ago I told you about a Florida legislator who wanted to make it a state law that two high schools play each other in
football. Now tell me, is that so much worse than the Congress of the United States holding hearings for the purpose of determining if legislation is
needed that would govern/oversee the labor agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA?
At the same time the Bills' owner is worried about the team's financial viability, the football folks go out and sign Peerless Price to a contract
worth about $3M per year in guaranteed money. Price didn't make it as the lead receiver in Atlanta and the Bills have jettisoned Eric Moulds already
making Price their prime candidate for 'lead receiver'. How's that going to work?
Our long national nightmare is finally over. Brett Favre has made his decision; he will play football for the Green Bay Packers again next season.
Some people wonder what took so long. Maybe it isn't the player moves made or not made by the front office; maybe it is the coach in Green Bay. I'm
not about to try to convince you that Mike Sherman was the reincarnated Vince Lombardi; he wasn't. But I have to say that I can't see the resume
entries for Mike McCarthy that might lead the Packers to think he is anything more than the reincarnated Ray Rhodes. After being an assistant in
Green Bay in the late 90s, McCarthy has been with the Saints and the 49ers for the last five years as an offensive coach and offensive coordinator.
Did I sleep through a season where either of these teams wowed the league with their offensive fireworks in the past 5 years?
The famous 'Ron Mexico Case' has been resolved with an out of court settlement. You probably recall that a woman accused Michael Vick of giving her
genital herpes and her pleading in that case alleged that Vick used the alias, Ron Mexico, when he has liaisons with various women. Obviously, no
details of the settlement have been released; that is pretty much the way these kinds of civil suits end. It would not be in either party's interest
to reveal all of the details of the settlement - particularly if a sizeable electronic funds deposit was made to the woman’s personal checking
account. Maybe now, the NFL will allow people to buy Falcons' jerseys with the number 7 and the name 'Mexico' on them.
Oh by the way, genital herpes is the mirror image of love. Genital herpes is always having to say you're sorry.
Ray Lewis has not been happy with the Ravens in this off-season and the conventional wisdom is that he wants a new contract with a big chunk of money
up front as a bonus. Someone described it as 'Peyton Manning money' probably referring to the $34M in bonus money that Manning got from the Colts a
couple of years ago. Ray Lewis isn't worth anything near that figure now and it is debatable if he was ever worth that kind of money even at the peak
of his career. Lewis was a great linebacker several years ago and was a major cog in the Ravens' Super Bowl win. But his skills have eroded; and
even though he thinks it's because he doesn't have huge tackles in front of him to let him just fly to the ball, there is more to it. Father Time
takes his toll on everyone and Ray Lewis is not an exception. According to Mike Preston in the Baltimore Sun several months ago, the Ravens sniffed
around to see what kind of offer they might get for Lewis and the best they got was a second round pick. Maybe part of that is that teams knew he
would then ask for 'Peyton Manning money' and that would create an impasse; or maybe that's what teams think Ray Lewis is worth these days.
Oh, don't feel too sorry for Ray Lewis as an exploited player. His existing contract reportedly calls for him to earn $5.5M this year, $6.5M next
year and $6.5M in 2008. I know that money would not feed Latrell Spreewell's family, but I think I could find a way to make ends meet with that
Finally, Jerry Greene had a great line in the Orlando Sentinel that summarized concisely and succinctly all the nonsense surrounding Keith Hernandez
and his oafish comments about the female member of the Padres' training staff in the Padres' dugout:
'Hey, Keith Hernandez, want to meet me at Hooters?'
But don't get me wrong, I love sports... ... ...