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Marc 09-02-2002 10:16 AM

Sports Central Newsletter - #84 - Can Baseball Save Itself?
The Sports Central Newsletter
August 25th, 2002 - Issue #84

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|-- IN THIS ISSUE... --|

- Words From the Editor 08.25.02
- Reader's Showcase (Sports Trivia)
- What's new at Sports Central?
- Feature Article: Can Baseball Save Itself From Itself?
- Marquee Matchup (NFL)



Hello folks,

It's perplexing to think how drastically the sports landscape could change in two weeks when our next issue comes out. The NFL will be launching its Week 1 and there could be no baseball with the Aug. 30 strike date looming. Of our 11 solid articles posted this week, a number of them have dealt with baseball and its possible work stoppage. While the two sides continue to bicker, Mike Round gives his straight take in this issue's Feature Article: "Can Baseball Save Itself From Itself?"

We'll be debuting a new column next issue, hopefully, so stay tuned for that. We plan on posting weekly NFL power rankings on the site, as those are quite popular among the gridiron fans. Speaking of which, if you missed it, our Patrick Moran had a chance to interview Bills QB Drew Bledsoe. Check out his one-on-one conversation:

Our NFL board is very active with the season starting. Drop by and share some of your thoughts:

Until next time,

- Marc James
mailto:[email protected]


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Each issue, the Reader's Showcase features either challenging sports trivia or sports rant entries from readers on a rotating basis. For the Sports Trivia questions, we will randomly choose trivia questions ranging from baseball to hockey to golf. As for the Sports Rant, you, the readers, have the opportunity write-in with your opinions and thoughts and have your thoughts published in front of thousands of interested eyes.

In this issue, we're featuring another challenging sports trivia question. Answer correctly, and we'll mention you in a future issue!


What do Phil Simms, Sid Luckman, and George Landa have in common?

A) All rushed 99 yards in a single play
mailto:[email protected]?subject=Newsletter84_rushed

B) All been sacked 15 times in a single game
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C) All threw 7 TD passes in single game
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D) All wore number 99
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Note: If the text below each choice is not a clickable link, you may reply to this newsletter with your selection.


[ Next Issue ]

Have something on your mind? We want to hear about it! Send us your sports rants: mailto:[email protected]?subject=Readers_Showcase



Revisiting the new articles for the week of 08/19/02 - 08/25/02:


MLB: Are the Expos finished?
By Jon Collins

The sports headlines have been filled with stories like Barry Bonds' 600th homer and the possibilities of a strike. But behind the shadows of these stories, cowers a Canadian ballclub that is fighting for their survival. Their fans dejected and a stadium plan on hold, and SC's Jon Collins asks, can anything save the Montreal Expos?


NBA: Challenges face Yao-mania
By Brian Ault

The 7-6 freak of nature Yao Ming went No. 1 in the June NBA Draft and he looked good during his first tune-up World Basketball Championships game against the United States. Will he be good in the NBA? Yes, but not this year, says SC's Brian Ault as he breaksdown the challenges that face Yao this season.


COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Tarnished Dome in South Bend?
By Sean McDonald

These aren't your father's Fighting Irish. No Notre Dame in the Top 25? What in the hame of Knute Rockne is going on here? SC's Sean McDonald looks at the decline of the Golden Domers, finds out what went wrong, and looks to see if new coach Tyrone Willingham will be able to return Notre Dame to national prominence.


MLB: AL shortstops are elite threesome
By Sean Rogers

Much talk has been given to whether or not the American League's upper echelon of shortstops should be considered three players or four players. SC's Sean Rogers explains why it should remain three -- but perhaps not the three you think.


MLB: Dear baseball, please strike
By Eric Maus

Terrell Davis was many things during his seven years in the NFL: League MVP, Super Bowl MVP, 2,000-yard rusher, and finally, injury-prone dead weight on the roster. Now Davis is retiring after only seven seasons in the pros. Was his window of greatness enough to make him a Hall of Famer?


NFL: Terrell Davis in perspective
By Brad Oremland

Terrell Davis was many things during his seven years in the NFL: League MVP, Super Bowl MVP, 2,000-yard rusher, and finally, injury-prone dead weight on the roster. Now Davis is retiring after only seven seasons in the pros. Was his window of greatness enough to make him a Hall of Famer?


MLB: Don't destroy a great season
By James Anderson

If ever there was a season that needs to be played out, this year is it. Everything about this season has been great individually and in terms of team play and it doesn't get a whole lot better. It's hard not to get to get starry-eyed when see all the great statistics that may go to waste if a strike does happen, says SC's James Anderson.


COLUMN: Amico Report: Thinning air
By Sam Amico

Michael Jordan looked as healthy as ever during his SportsCenter conversation on Aug. 18 and it turns out that Jordan has reportedly lost 10 pounds since June. All of this can only mean one thing -- that MJ is planning on suiting up for the Wizards one more time. More Jordan news in this week's Amico Report.


NFL: The NFL coaching carousel
By Jeff Moore

In the ultra-competitive world of the NFL, winning now is the rule of survival. Those who don't win (and some who do) can find themselves out of a job in short order. This season is no different as some coaches are being watched to see how they do with their new teams. Others are being watched to see how much longer they can last.


NHL: Change of guard continues in East
By Vishal Patel

Last season in the Eastern Conference, many of the perennial division leaders took backseats to standouts like the Canadiens, Islanders, Bruins, and Hurricanes. Check in with SC's Vishal Patel as he updates how these teams have fared as well as the rest in the conference look as the offseason winds to a close.


MLB: Where have you gone, Joe?
By Will Meadows

As baseball reaches one of it's darkest hours, SC's Will Meadows digs deep into some of the reasons for baseball's current demise and provides insight on how greed has destroyed a game that is no longer recognized as America's favorite pastime.


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Can Baseball Save Itself From Itself?

One week to go before baseball Armageddon. The squalid sight of millionaires squabbling with billionaires has already turned many off the sport for good. But, for the few left that actually care, there's a solution to be found and blame to be apportioned. So, how can this thing be resolved before the playoffs are lost and who is right and wrong in this whole debacle?


By Mike Round

Two stories that surfaced this week summed up all that is wrong in the world of baseball. Firstly, over in California, Jay Arsenault, a 36-year-old carpenter and proud owner of the Barry Bonds 600th homerun ball, was ordered to appear in court to answer allegations that he reneged on a deal with his friends (who provided him with his ticket) to share any proceeds from the said ball.

When he emerged from the melee at Pac Bell on August 9th, bloodied yet victorious, ball in sweaty grasping hand, Mr. Arsenault declared, "money talks." Greedy grown men, fighting over a $9 baseball in the hopes of getting rich quick, is the perfect metaphor for a game that has slowly lost its position in the nation's sporting conscience. The fact that the loathsome Barry Bonds slugged the ball into the baying crowd is even more apt.

The second story was a small byline from that hotbed of baseball Montreal. The Expos agreed to a contract with their top pick in the draft, Clint Everts, 18-years-old from Cypress Hills High School in Houston. The deal saw Everts pick up $2.5 million in signing bonus.

No one knows how good young Clint will be in five years time, but whatever would possess a team that has struggled to compete ever since its inception to risk such a vast sum of money on an unproven talent? At least NFL rookies can contribute from day one. Baseball rookies need more seasoning than Indian food. No one can lay the blame for this madness at the door of young Mr. Everts or his advisors. The owners, in this case the league itself, have the power to call a halt.

Surely, the answer lies with the owners' plan for a "luxury tax" then? No -- a thousand times no. The "luxury tax" proposal is just a salary cap dressed up in a dinner jacket and bow tie. No one forces owners to pay players ludicrous wages, not the players themselves or their agents. Tom Hicks, who with supreme irony is leading the call for the owners to stand firm, outbid himself by over $100 million for the services of A-Rod. Likewise, Rupert Murdoch gave Kevin Brown, a permanent resident on the DL, $105 million when absolutely no one else was interested in paying him even half of that. These are men spending their father's money like someone is going to take it away from them at any moment. And now they have the temerity to ask the players' union to save them from themselves!

Is there are salary cap in the world of accountancy? Or construction? Or movie acting? No, of course not. When was the last time you heard that moviegoers were lobbying outside theaters all over the nation complaining that movie stars got paid too much and should take a pay cut so admission prices go down? When was the last time you read a letter in the newspapers bemoaning the fact that Mel Gibson gets paid $30 million for a movie, but the audience has to get by on $20,000 a year?

The "fans" that ***** about players' salaries are simply jealous of their vast earnings. Not that they'd turn it down themselves, of course, if it was offered to them for fixing cars or programming computers, etc.

The other game-saving plan the owners' brains trust (now there's an oxymoron) has come up with is revenue sharing. Let me see if I have this straight. You take money away from well-managed, profitable, successful, and well-supported teams and give it to lame duck franchises like the Brewers, who have absolutely no interest in contending or even in trying to improve. And here I was thinking the Soviet Union was dead.

How ironic that Selig is the de facto owner of the miserable Brewers and he is championing this hogwash that was stolen straight out of the Pete Rozelle playbook "How to Improve Your Sport." Does anyone really think that by giving the Pirates $30 million of Yankee money it will inspire one of the worst front offices in professional sport to do anything other than what they've historically done -- i.e. waste it?

If you want to see how to run a baseball team while keeping tight fiscal control, take a look at the Twins or A's. Both are, depending on whom you listen to, on the list of possibles for contraction. The Twins will, and the A's might, make the postseason. The Mets, $100 million plus payroll and all, won't, because of bad management decisions by the ownership and the GM.

If baseball wants to seriously address the problem of low revenue teams being unable to compete, then it should steal Billy Beane away from Oakland and send him on a nationwide tour lecturing GM's on the art of shrewd management.

Has anyone informed the owners that the Berlin Wall came down 13 years ago? We live in a free market economy, where a man or woman is free to sell their labor to whoever is willing to pay them the most; a society that rewards success and risk taking, not one that gives handouts to crumbling, unsuccessful, failing enterprises. The only exception to that is the NFL, which is so concerned about its fans that it rewards them by forcing successful teams to dismantle their rosters every year. The God in football is the salary cap, and thus the owners' bottom line, not the hard-pressed fan.

How does this thing end? First of all, you can take it to the bank that the owners are not united on fighting this to the bitter end. Selig's ludicrous Soviet-style gag order is masking the fact that there are a bunch of team owners out there who don't have the stomach for a battle that will kill the end of season and playoffs. Those voices will be increasingly heard post August 30th if the players walk.

The players aren't stupid enough to fight revenue sharing to the death, realizing they need to win the PR war by backing off a touch, but will endeavor to protect the Yankees' payroll as far as they can, figuring, rightly, that the Yankees' payroll sets the league tone. Thus, the two sides meet somewhere around $120 million (at today's figures) and phase in a 30% tax on anything above that figure, probably over five years or so. If the Yankees want to bust the payroll by $10 million, another $3 million in tax isn't going to bother them.

The hard-liners amongst the owners want to go the David Stern route and break the union on this. They have as much chance of that as Beirut does of holding the 2012 Olympics. The owners' record in labor disputes is impeccable -- they've lost every one.

If you want to badmouth the players over this dispute, feel free. But remember this. The owners have never -- EVER -- opened their books to prove their contention that the game is losing money and needs to restructure its finances. If and when it does, some of the more discerning and thoughtful fans of the best damn sport period might take their suggestions more seriously.


Mike welcomes your feedback on his column: mailto:[email protected]?subject=Feature_Article



--> National Football League

By Marc James

Green Bay Packers (1-1) vs. Cleveland Browns (2-0)
Monday, Aug. 26, 8 PM ET; Lambeau Field; Green Bay, Wisconsin; TV: ABC

The new Monday Night Football team featuring John Madden and Al Michaels makes its way into the historic and renovated Lambeau Field this Monday evening. While the stadium has a year to go before it is completely finished, new seats have been added and many improvements will be apparent to its structure.

The Packers are looking to avoid any injuries and continue to evaluate their wide receivers, which has been the big story of the offseason. Terry Glenn remains hobbled with a banged up knee, but he is hopeful to get in for a few snaps Monday. The No. 2 WR, second-year player Robert Ferguson, is now healthy, and Donald Driver, rookie Javon Walker, and Derek Lee all are fighting for the No. 3 spot.

Meanwhile, the Browns have their own controversy -- at running back. Rookie William Green and Jamel White are still battling for the right to take handoffs from third-year gunner Tim Couch, with the veteran White holding the upperhand at this time. Explosive receiver Kevin Johnson recently resigned with the Browns, but they still lack a dangerous No. 2 option. WR Quincy Morgan will try to fill the gap once again this season.

With Antonio Freeman signing with the Eagles over the weekend, the Packers have to work with what they have in their WR corps and cannot afford any more injuries. Look for a solid game with the better all-around team prevailing.

[ Game Breakdown ]

Offense - Packers
Defense - Packers
Coaching - Packers
Spec. Teams - Packers
Coaching - Packers

Prediction: Packers 24, Browns 10


Got a game you want previewed? Send us your feedback:
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(Thanks for reading! Next issue set to come out on 09/08/02.)


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