Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sporting Rants (because I sometimes talk about sports then start ranting instead...)

I was originally going to post this as a comment at Bronx Banter, who some of you know is a Yankee-centric fan site I often habituate (if I may so indescreetly use the term), but then I realized, "Hey, this is another one of my long rants that decidedly go off-road, so I better put it somewhere where no one will feel compelled to actually read it..." Well, if you've gotten this far, I strongly suggest that you continue...(click-click!)

Not too much being said about Toyota and Audi (happily?) stepping in for General Motors, who chose to stick with the Mets in cutting back on sponsorship deals. Were the Yankees asking for more and GM decided they couldn't afford it? Does this make more sense for the Yanks? And how do the local media, who trumpeted the split, feel about it? Personally, I have no brand preference beyond performance, so though I own a Ford Explorer, I'd much prefer a Toyota Highlander. (More on this: GM and the Mets are in negotiations for an extension of sponsorships, and while they have cut loose six major league teams, they are reviewing all of their deals in light of their nearing bakruptcy and all...)

Also, JetBlue becomes JetRed (essentially) as they partner with the Red Sox as their official airline and on some deal with Fenway Park. From what I've heard lately about JetBlue, it's no better for the Red Sox, so good luck with that.

Should Derek Lowe and his ilk be surprised that their sticker prices are being viewed as a little too high for even contending teams? They may have been steady producers, but are they in their prime? The market is busting for prime players, not producers with a long history (unlike, say, the movies)... Manny, for example, may have hurt himself immensely by playing the agent's game of opting out so late in the game for a bigger contract during an economic crisis, never mind forcing his way out of town in the manner that he did. But is Manny a bigger fool if he doesn't get what he thought he would, or Scott Boras (doubt it) for advising him to do so? No, the biggest fool is whoever signs Manny for three or more years.

Then, there's the whole thing with Furcal. I looked over by our old friends at Dodger Thoughts, and most have opted for the shrugged-shouldered "well..." response in regard to Furcal's agents backing out on Atlanta. I would like to think that the Braves were justified in their indignation if it weren't for the fact that:

A. Frank Wren could not close the deal on a trade for Jake Peavy.
B. Frank Wren could not close the deal on signing A.J. Burnett (despite the howling and warnings of many Yankee fans and media types alike).
C. Frank Wren traded Mark Texeiria when it looked like they were out of the pennant race instead of locking up a potential free agent star, then canceled himself out of this year's sweepstakes early. (Perhaps not a fact, but an observation)

That's a lot of bad luck for a seasoned GM taking over for a well-seasoned GM who usually makes deals like this with his eyes closed. And with the economy going the way it is, I don't know any "good" agent who isn't going to make sure his client doesn't get as much as he can from exactly where he wants to be. I don't agree with what Furcal's agents have supposedly done, but one shouldn't be surprised that it happened, and the real loser is Frank Wren for not doing due diligence by his team by meeting with Furcal in person, like some GMs would have. If he'd done everything possible to sign Furcal, even knocking on his door with a term sheet and literally shook hands and THEN they backed out, I'd have a little more sympathy for their plight.
Some say David Wells did the same thing when he signed with the Yanks the second time after meeting with George over cheeseburgers after he said he was about to sign elsewhere, but whereas George and Wells actually got together and literally broke bread, Furcal's agents supposedly took the offer back to the Dodgers because Furcal wanted to stay there and be a shortstop. Dirty pool, but not unwarranted considering THEY were doing due diligence by their client.

After that, I start getting a little mean, so I'll shut up for now...

Btw, I wanted to add a shout-out to former MLB pitcher Dock Ellis, who was once quoted as saying that he wouldn't start against Oakland's Vida Blue in the All-Star Game because Major League Baseball would never start "two soul brothers'' against each other. That being the 70's and all, and much of the 70's flew over my head as I was but a little child, I wonder how that was received by the baseball fans at that time. I likely would have shook my head in agreement, but I also have to think, "does he mean soul-brother because they're black, or soul-brother because they both did so much drugs?" I dunno, I was just a kid, born in midst or end of their prime, so I have a lot of catching up to do.

Nevertheless, I do remember Dock Ellis being sort of a low-level folk hero among my sports-fan family members, so there's incentive to catch up. Diane Firstman at Bronx Banter makes a good point that it's a shame where you have a sport that has blown up so much economically on the backs of its former players, (glamorous or not I might add) that you have a former player like Dock Ellis who didn't even have health insurance and had to rely on the good will of his friends. Really, it is, and speaks volumes on the priorities of a country experiencing major economic downturns rivaling the Great Depression that insists on first bailing out the very businesses that helped cause the problems instead of the people who were victimized by their decisions.

After that, I get a little mean, so I'll shut up now... >;)

(Thanks again to Diane Firstman at Bronx Banter, who inspired much of this rant with her News of the Day column which I read semi-religiously. Also acknowledgments to for the Dock Ellis illustration by James Blagden)


Diane Firstman said...

Thanks for the shout-out Chyll!

You make some salient points too ...

Todd Drew said...

Chyll Will,
I was also very disturbed to hear about what happened to Dock Ellis. I was under the apparently-false understanding that a player like Dock should have been drawing a pension and included on the MLBPA healthcare plan.