Baseball Greed, A's, Giants, 49ers - and More
Absurd, but I donít blame TV. Baseball willingly gave networks the right to decide when games should be played, so they could get a better financial package.
Greed drives the sport. Star players have multi-million contracts, but donít ever suggest to them that they take a cut so baseball could have some control over game times. George Steinbrennerís revenues are so high that he can make money with a $203 million payroll, but donít suggest to him that he could take a cut in profits so baseball could return to the old 154-game schedule. Having fewer games would mean more rest for players, fewer injuries and a better game, but everybody in baseball sees only dollar signs.
Itís no better in college sports, where NCAA and conference contracts have given ABC an exclusive window in the middle of the day. If teams have a game thatís televised by another network, it has to be at another time. Cal even has a 7:30 start time next week, and I can hear the screams from residents around Memorial Stadium already.
The erratic start times have been a big factor in driving Stanford attendance down. Some think that tailgating originated at Stanford in the Ď60s, and over the years, Iíve often enjoyed that with Stanford alums who are friends (yes, I have some). But fans canít plan tailgates when the start times are uncertain and often bad. The Big Game has a 4 p.m. start at Stanford this year.
The worst part is that itís unnecessary. The NCAA should have told ABC that the network could choose whatever game it wanted, but that other networks could then have games in the same time slot. Maybe the network would have paid a little less, but that policy would have been much better for the fans. Of course, we know that nobody cares about the fans at the games. Itís all about the TV audience.
AíS MANAGER: Two of the Aís coaches, Ron Washington and Bob Geren, are among the candidates for the managerial job vacated by Ken Macha. Though Washington is the favorite of players and, probably, fans, I think Geren would be the better choice.
Geren has managed at the top minor league level, with the Sacramento River Cats. Washington has been a superb coach, but that doesnít necessarily translate into managerial skills. A coach can be close to players, as Washington is. As a manager, he has to keep his distance.
Washington is also interviewing with other teams, but letís be honest: Because heís black, teams will interview him, but that doesnít mean these are serious interviews. Iíd be surprised if he gets a managerís job elsewhere.
What I think the Aís should do is give Washington a large raise so he could continue to be a coach, much as the 49ers once did with Bobb McKittrick, to keep him from going to the Rams as a coordinator.
READER ANDY MOUSALIMAS offers this scathing evaluation of the Raiders:
1) Check out the Chargers this week. Is it a conspiracy against them because they play Monday night against a tough Pittsburgh team and then have to play the following Sunday against a Raider team that just had a bye? No, because these things happen to all the teams in the NFL.
Only the Raiders whine.
2) If Raider fans knew anything about the schedule, they would realize it is set up years ahead. For instance, every year the AFC West plays the same teams from a respective NFC division; with six games in the division, that makes 10 games equally the same.
Only the Raiders whine.
3) Against Kansas City, more whining about two touchdowns that were called back. Barely mentioned was the return by Hall that was nullified.
Only the Raiders whine.
Thanks, Andy. Couldnít have said it better myself. Meanwhile, the Raiders game against the Chargers will fall well short of a sellout, probably more than 10,000 short. Because the Raiders wonít say anything to discourage the rowdies who come to games, many other fans have been turned off and wonít come to the games. But, heaven forbid that Raiders management should look in the mirror.
WITH JEFF ULBRICH out for the season, 49er coach Mike Nolanís decision to virtually give away Jamie Wilborn looks even worse.
In the wake of Wilbornís departure, Iíve seen comments by writers that he was doing too much free lancing. Writers donít see game videos. In my experience, those evaluations are usually supplied by a coach who doesnít want to be quoted.
Interestingly, in noting that Ulbrichís replacement, Saleem Rasheed, plays differently than Ulbrich, Nolan said, ďAs long as he makes plays on the ball carrier, however he makes plays is his business.Ē
But not, unfortunately, in Wilbornís case.
ANY LINGERING doubts about the weakness of the National League West were surely erased when the San Diego Padres made a quick three-and-out disappearance in the divisional series.
Itís too bad baseball doesnít have a system like English soccer, where weak teams are dropped to a lower division and strong teams are brought up from the lower division. How many Pacific Coast League teams would be in the NL West next year under that plan? And would the Giants be playing in the PCL?
STAR POWER: Michelle Wie may soon give womenís golf a shot in the arm comparable to what Arnold Palmer did for menís golf more than 40 years ago.
Wie has caught the publicís eye in a way none of the top golfers on the LPGA tour ever have. Part of it is her game, incredibly advanced for her youth. Equally important, she looks like an athlete and has that undefinable quality known as charisma, the components of Palmerís early success, too.
Wie is part of a group of excellent young female golfers, and at least one of them, Paula Creamer, may be further advanced in her game. But it will be Wie who defines womenís golf in the next few years, and the sportís opportunity to grow will depend largely on how successful she is.
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