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Marc 07-15-2002 02:54 PM

Sports Central Newsletter - #81 - Strike and Return to the Minors!
The Sports Central Newsletter
July 14th, 2002 - Issue #81

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

- Words From the Editor 07.14.02
- Reader's Showcase (Sports Rant)
- What's new at Sports Central?
- Feature Article: Strike and Return to the Minors!
- Marquee Matchup (MLB) 07.14.02



Hello folks,

This baseball thing has gotten to be absurd and ridiculous. Critics and sportswriters are calling for Bud Selig's head and it's gotten so bad that Bud was booed off his own field in Milwaukee during the All-Star Game. Fan can only reminisce about the good old days when faced with today's numerous problems ranging from financial shortcomings to sagging ratings to outrageous player salaries.

The once-glorified Major League Baseball will now be lucky to end the year with all its teams intact. The nation's national pastime seems more like the forgotten pastime. Never can I remember such a large and integral sports league in such a poor state. And once again, all the fingers point to everyone's favorite culprit, Bud Selig.

As harsh as it sounds, there is no other man responsible for this but him. His ill-timed announcements seem to put a black eye in baseball when the sport needs it least. Case in point, a few weeks after one of the best World Series ever, last year's series between the D-Backs and Yankees, the bone-headed Selig gave baseball another punch below the belt with the announcement of contraction that added fuel to the fire of speculation. And after a shockingly disappointing All-Star Game this past week, Bud goes off again and adds more speculation about how several teams may not make the next payroll. Brilliant, just brilliant.

Bud, resign now. You need it. The fans need it. Baseball needs it.

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 sports rant where you have the opportunity to sound-off. We welcome your thoughts at: mailto:[email protected]?subject=Readers_Showcase


Piet Van Leer really stuck it to MLB commissioner Bud Selig in a recent Sports Central article, (

"Just when you thought Bud couldn't get worse, he announces that one team might wind up bankrupt, and one team could fail to meet payroll this week. Now I was really lost because I heard Bud Selig testify that all but six MLB teams lost money last year. Attendance is down, so all the teams should be bankrupt. At the very least, 24 of them should fail to meet payroll.

"I was also confused because Bud kept the teams a mystery. Why would he do that? He publicly opened the books to Congress and named all the teams in financial peril. Those books had to be accurate, right? I mean, what kind of auditor would sign off crooked books? Certainly not ... Arthur Anderson, who was responsible for MLB's audit?

"Baseball then did the about face that we're accustomed to seeing, saying the mystery team was kept afloat, but they don't know for how long. Does anyone really care what the Bud says anymore? He has the credibility of what he is, a used car salesman."


What's your take on Bud Selig? Is he entirely to blame for baseball's woes and do you even take him seriously anymore? Send us your comments: mailto:[email protected]?subject=Bud_Selig



Last issue, we asked, "How many AL batting titles did baseball great Ted Williams win?" The correct answer was 6 and congratulations to Jared Spinelli, Denys Nelson, and Michael Nashalsky for answering correctly!



Revisiting the new articles for the week of 07/08/02 - 07/14/02:


NBA: NBA dreams and nightmares
By Will Meadows

The NBA offseason is a time of hope. With the right signings and acquisitions, teams seemingly overnight can reach NBA glory. On the flipside, things can come crashing down even before they begin. SC's Will Meadows takes a look at the teams making the wrong moves and a hardwood star with a big heart.


GOLF: Privacy, please
By Vincet Musco

The controversial All-Star Game marked the mid-point of this year's baseball season. Find out how your team is doing and what they need to do to be playing in October as SC's Peter Friberg breaks down each team with playoff aspirations.


MLB: The death of baseball
By Piet Van Leer

The All-Star game served as the ultimate metaphor for the state of the game. A tie-game, bewildered leadership, and an overall embarrassment from MLB only solidified their haphazard stance over the past six months. But baseball died long ago, says SC's Piet Van Leer.


MLB: Midseason team reviews
By Peter Friberg

The controversial All-Star Game marked the mid-point of this year's baseball season. Find out how your team is doing and what they need to do to be playing in October as SC's Peter Friberg breaks down each team with playoff aspirations.


WORLD CUP: The Pink Card: A modest proposal
By Brian Algra

Now that the World Cup has passed us by, the press is wondering once again whether soccer can really catch on in the United States. As a concerned onlooker, Brian Algra has an idea for fine-tuning the game to better suit the American sporting ethic.


NFL: The underappreciated superstar
By Brad Oremland

Hidden deep in the ranks of underrated players is a name you wouldn't expect to find there. Many consider Marshall Faulk the greatest player in the NFL today. In the last three seasons, he's won a Super Bowl ring and a league MVP Award, been All-Pro three times, and broken the record for touchdowns in a season. At this point, no one argues that Faulk isn't one of the best in the game today. But Brad Oremland argues that he's one of the best ever.


COLUMN: Amico Report: Blasting the Cavs
By Sam Amico

It's pretty difficult to make Sam Amico mad. He hates sounding like a jerk -- but he is afraid he's about to. Find out what Sports Illustrated did that irks this resident Cavs fan so much in the latest Amico Report.


MLB: Are you prepared for the strike?
By James Anderson

After seeing petitions circulating earlier this season on the Internet calling for fans to boycott baseball games and their products, SC's James Anderson started to think that the game of baseball is in trouble. With all the fuss hanging over the game now, you have to wonder if fans can actually live without the season finishing and crowning a World Series champion.


NHL: A look back at the cools and fools
By Josie Lemieux

The 2001-2002 NHL season was more than the common games-playoffs-Cup saga. Sometimes delightful and memorable, the season also contained painful, revolting, and tragic episodes. NHL players are excelling on golf courses as we speak, but a look back at the season's cools and fools should bring a breeze of fresh air until next September, says SC's Josie Lemieux.


TENNIS: Wimbledon's strawberries and cream
By Tom Kosinski

Wimbledon saw Lleyton Hewitt became the first Australian since Pat Cash to capture the Wimbledon championship and Serena Williams winning her second consecutive grand slam championship. With tennis' grandest tournament over, SC's Tom Kosinski adds his own unique brand of "strawberries and cream" to the tournament.


MLB: Reviving the Midsummer Classic
By John J. Roberts

The face of baseball is changing with the rush of foreign superstars to the game. The All-Star Game might be spiced up a bit by tweaking the formula and having North America square off against the World, says SC's John J. Roberts.


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Strike and Return to the Minors!

There's a growing trend, amongst baseball fans and writers alike, to lionize minor league baseball as a trip down memory lane. Go back to the minors and experience the game as it used to be -- as it should be. Take the family along, without the need to remortgage your house and sell one of your offspring into sneaker-making slavery on a Far Eastern island. Are things so bad with baseball that the only way to enjoy the game is by ignoring the best the game has to offer?


By Mike Round

I've heard a lot lately in praise of the minor league game; about how it's a life-altering experience that transports you back to the good old days, with quaint, old-style ballparks, and players that not only sign endless autographs, but actually talk to the fans, without the need for payment.

In the minors, there's no Armando Benitez throwing a temper tantrum because a rookie has the locker next to him. No Barry Bonds, with his private room and TV away from his teammates. No fire sale before the All-Star Break that cheats the fans and make a mockery of advance sales. There's no need to consult your calculator to see how much A-Rod earned grounding out into a double-play. There's just Cracker Jacks, the sound of wood on ball, the smell of hot dogs, and a good honest ball game.

The New Orleans Zephyrs are the AAA affiliate of the Houston Astros. They had a home game last Saturday against the Tucson Sidewinders, affiliated to the Diamondbacks, at the somewhat pretentiously-named "The Shrine on Airline" -- the perfect opportunity to take in the minor league scene and enjoy a night out with the family without draining the kids' college fund.

The stadium was nice and functional without reminding me of Bull Durham. The game (a 4-3 win for the Zephyrs) was interesting without being a nail-biter. The crowd was encouraged to participate by the usual nonsense from an announcer with an extremely annoying voice. There was a fancy dress competition, some impromptu dancing from a scantily clad young woman atop the home dugout, and a postgame concert. Not bad for $9 to sit behind home plate.

The play was moderate, yet honest. No one jogged to first base on a ground ball, as is the norm in the majors. Adam Everett has a slick glove, but still can't bat. Morgan Ensberg looks like a young Scott Brosius at third; the Scott Brosius that was in Oakland -- not the New York version.

The same seats to watch the New York Mets cost $43, almost five times the price of AAA games. The players are five times better (the visiting players, that is), and the game five times as important, but that is irrelevant to a family man expected to shell out over $150 just for tickets to a ball game.

The equivalent premium seats to watch the NFL's New Orleans Saints, surely the definition of mediocre, costs an incredible $80. Yet the NFL hears virtually no criticism of its pricing, the salaries the players earn, or its standard of play. Why? Because the NFL cleverly promotes its product, while Major League Baseball just shoots itself in the foot, time and time again.

Major League Baseball has a wealth of stars that fans should be flocking to see. This is a golden era, talent-wise, for baseball. Pitchers like Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, and Mariano Rivera are all genuine Hall of Fame candidates. The list of premium young pitchers ready to take their place is endless. Sluggers Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Alex Rodriguez, and Ken Griffey, Jr. will join these elite modern day hurlers in Cooperstown. There are dozens of star hitters behind them that beg attention, from Lance Berkman in Houston to Todd Helton in Colorado.

The trio of young, talented, educated, good-looking, well-spoken AL shortstops would make the perfect point men for MLB to promote its sport. Instead, we get hand wringing, woe-is-me, poverty-pleading Bud Light-in-the-brain on every show, from Generation X's lowbrow Best Damn Sports Show, to the sports segment on MSNBC and CNN.

The NFL has Brett Favre, Marshall Faulk, and Kurt Warner. There are a few other better-than-average players around (Ahman Green, Randy Moss -- football's Raul Mondesi, Terrell Owens, Jeff Garcia, and Daunte Culpepper) and some Hall of Fame guys who've seen better days (Emmitt Smith, Tim Brown, and Jerry Rice). But that's it. The NFL can't compete with MLB for individual box office attractions. It's scandalous that baseball is neglecting this golden crop of stars.

The NFL has parity -- and baseball doesn't. Parity is another word for mediocrity. Any one of 20 or so mediocre teams can win the Super Bowl. The Patriots and the Ravens (a team whose best offensive player on their championship winning team was the kicker) have won the last two renewals despite their blatant shortcomings. Yet the NFL sees its TV ratings grow whilst baseball's drops like WorldCom stock.

The NFL is locked into promoting its product for exactly what it is -- colorful, noisy, violent, dangerous, glamorous, and sexy. Anyone can win in today's NFL -- except the Bengals.

Baseball is busy telling the public the game's sick and needs major surgery. The fault for this criminal neglect lies with the owners and their point man, Bud Selig.

Selig is the worst commissioner in modern day sports -- period. His performance in the All-Star Game was as laughable as it was embarrassing. Any self-respecting commissioner would have turned to Joe Torre and Bob Brenley and said:

"Play ball! You got yourselves in this mess now get yourself out. Freddy Garcia regularly throws 100 pitches, yet at 31, he's had enough? He hasn't thrown a baseball for five days! The "injury" to Vicente Padilla is tough -- get an outfielder to pitch and stick him in the field. Get on with the game and quit whining about sending poor Freddy back to Lou Pinella with an injury. Injuries are part of sports."

Instead, Selig throws up his arms and concedes to the managers. Yet another kick in the teeth for the fans who'd shelled out a ludicrous $175 for the privilege of attending what is essentially an exhibition game.

The owners bleat incessantly about losing money, yet no one forced Dan Duquette at gunpoint to give Jose O-For-Man and Darren Oliver $7 million each. No one else was interested in them. Darren Dreifort's agent must have fainted when he saw an offer of $55 million from Rupert Murdoch. Tom Hicks gave A-Rod $252 million, at least $110 million more than any other club was even considering.

Hey, owners! You want salaries to come down? Then offer these guys what you can afford and not a cent more! They'll soon get the message. If they walk for more dough, then so be it. If they don't like what you're paying, then they can do what Jeff Shaw did -- retire.

A neutral commissioner would take the owners aside privately and remind them of this. But Selig isn't neutral -- he's the de facto owner of a small market team that has its eyes on the easy money of revenue sharing. Revenue sharing has nothing to do with allowing the Brewers and all the other bum baseball franchises to compete with the Yankees. It has everything to do with inflating profits for badly-run, historically incompetent teams like the Brewers, Royals, and Tigers.

You can share as much revenue as you like -- the good players who want to earn good money and win championships will still gravitate to the Bronx. If Selig wants to find out how to compete on a shoestring budget, he can put Billy Beane's number on his speed dial. Sadly for Brewer fans, Selig doesn't give a toss about competing -- he just smells an easy buck.

The solution to the ills of baseball lies with the fans. The fans should set a strike date. And stick to it. They should boycott the ballparks and watch something else on TV. If they want to watch baseball, they can visit their friendly minor league team. The players and owners will soon get the message. The fans should return when there isn't a team that charges more than $25 to sit in the premium seats. The owners can set salaries according to the new ticket prices.

If the players don't like the new salaries, they can retire or take a new job. Simple. It's the fans' game and they hold the key to solving the eternal problem of owner versus player. If only they realized it.



--> Major League Baseball

By Jared Spinelli

San Francisco Giants (52-38) at St. Louis Cardinals (48-39)

Wednesday, July 17, 7:10 PM EST; Busch Stadium; St. Louis, MO;
TV: ESPN Regional

In this exciting National League matchup, the Central division-leading St. Louis Cardinals host Barry Bonds (27 HRs, 110 BB) and the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants, third place in the West, are currently on the outside of the playoff picture and looking in, although the team owns a better record than the Cardinals. San Francisco will be coming off a short two-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Cardinals, who recently put pitcher Woody Williams on the 15-day DL, are in the need for another starting pitcher to bolster their rotation ever since the untimely death of Darryl Kile. The Cardinals currently own a 3.5-game lead over the Cincinnati Reds in the Central Division.

[ Game Breakdown ]

Pitching - St. Louis
Hitting - San Francisco
Infield - Draw
Outfield - St. Louis
Overall - San Francisco

Prediction: Giants 5, Cardinals 4


Got a game you want previewed? Send us your feedback:
mailto:[email protected]?subject=MM

You are welcome to post your thoughts on the message boards at:


Special thanks to our newsletter editor, Lee Manchur!

(Thanks for reading! Next issue set to come out on 07/28/02.)


Contents copyright 1998-2002 Sports Central.
No part of this newsletter may be reproduced without permission.

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