Most of the athletes competing in the Olympics compete for nothing more than the love of their sport. Let’s face it, being the 10th best ping-pong player in the world probably isn’t going to make you a whole lot of money. I think that’s one of the reasons that this Forbes slideshow is interesting. Granted, it shows mainly the haves of the international sporting circuit but it also shows the disparity between mainstream and non-mainstream sports.
If you really want to see what sports can get you, though, it’s too bad they didn’t include baseball in the Olympics this year. If so, they could have featured Derek Jeter’s Tampa monstrosity:
LeBron may be king but Jeter has the palace.
But having immensely enjoyed the 30th Olympiad from London thus far, the truth is, I don’t miss it at all. In fact, if I want to watch the best baseball in the entire world, I just flip over to any of the 15 games being broadcast on my DirectTV Extra Innings package (do I get a credit for that plug?).
And really, that’s the only reason needed for not including baseball as an Olympic sport. Remember how excruciating it used to be watching Olympic basketball without the finest athletes in the world participating? And that’s in a sport lucky enough to have worldwide appeal. Sure, we US Americans love our baseball, but the truth is, outside of Japan and a few pockets of Canadian air, the rest of the world could care less.
In fact, unless you grow up around the game of baseball, it’s pretty darn impossible to learn the rules of the game. Believe me, during my four years in China, I tried like crazy to teach it to anyone who would listen. But after a few hours of mass confusion, people tended to pretend they had to be somewhere, anywhere, just to get away from the crazy white guy wielding a stick and three different leather gloves.
Honestly, a professional-less international baseball tournament would be a pretty boring affair. The World Baseball Classic already features the best of the best, and even that has proven to be an extremely hard sell.
What makes the Olympic games so appealing, to me, is that it really is a celebration of glory. The absolute greatest athletes in their respective sports, from LeBron James to Roger Federer, Mary Keitany to Usain Bolt and hundreds more in between, all come to the same place, and the world is watching.
Albert Pujols ain’t gonna show up. Neither is Derek Jeter nor any other Major League Baseballer. And even if they did, the world wouldn’t care.
IOC Chairman Jacque Rogge’s original statement to MLB columnist Mark Newman sums it up pretty well:
“To be on the Olympic program is an issue where you need universality as much as possible. You need to have a sport with a following, you need to have the best players and you need to be in strict compliance with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency). And these are the qualifications that have to be met. When you have all that, you have to win hearts. You can win the mind, but you still must win hearts.”
Oh yeah, then there’s that whole juicing thing…
Hate me ‘cuz I’m cool with the Olympics as is, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Sports Illustrated‘s annual Fortune 50 list of the 50 highest-earning American athletes list is out and Major League Baseball is heavily represented. In fact, 36% of the athletes are baseballers — some better than others (looking at you, Barry Zito). And while I’m sad to see an star like Floyd Mayweather, Jr at the top, one who eschews real glory at the highest level for a comfortable place atop boxing mediocrity, I am glad that baseball players are makin’ that pay-puh. It makes me feel less suicidal when I pay $8 for a 16 oz beer.
Here’s a quick rundown of the highest paid American baseball players and their overall ranking among American athletes in parenthesis.
1. Alex Rodriguez (6)
Too bad for the Yankees A-Rod can’t be young and steroided like the good old days. His health is just going downhill from here.
2. Derek Jeter (9)
He can do no wrong. I would pay this man a bazillion dollars a year if I could. And since Albert left me, I have no problems admitting my 17-year Jeet man-crush.
3. Joe Mauer (12)
Really? 12th highest paid American athlete overall and third highest Major Leaguer? I would feel better about this if he could hit it over the Target Field fence once in a while.
4. Vernon Wells (17)
PSSSHH!!!! I just ruined my keyboard with a mouthful of coffee.
5. C.C. Sabathia (20)
Mo’ money, mo’ foooooooooooooooooood!
6. Mark Teixeira (21)
Nothing says $23 million a year like a YEEE-HAW JAW!
7. Prince Fielder (22)
I have a feeling if I make one more Prince Fielder fat joke then I’m going to be… eaten…
8. Adrian Gonzalez (25)
He may have lost his power stroke, but with $21 million a year I’m sure he’s strokin’ plenty of power.
9. Justin Verlander (28)
A man’s man, I would prefer to see Verlander at the very top of this list, or at the very least, have the opportunity to rifle a fastball at Mayweather’s head.
10. Cliff Lee (29)
Way to go, Phillies. You’re making Clifton Phifer look bad.
11. Ryan Howard (32)
While many of my Cardinal fan brethren choose to hate on Albert, I prefer to hate on Howard, the man who made signing Albert impossible.
12. Roy Halladay (35)
Way to go, Phillies. You bring in the best pitcher in baseball to get you over the hump then s*** the bed three years in a row.
13, 14, 15. Barry Zito, Carl Crawford, Albert Pujols (Tied for 36 overall)
One of these things is not like the other…
16. Josh Beckett (44)
Is it me or has he gained like 40 pounds since he was traded to the Red Sox?
17. Jake Peavy (45)
Up until this year, I thought dude was done. Yes, the crow I’ve been eating tastes bad.
18. A.J. Burnett (49)
Huh? How did A.J. get on this list? I’d like to know the same. He should’ve signed two contracts, one for each of his personalities. At least he’s been living up to it ever since his worst day ever.
Hate me ‘cuz I didn’t make the list, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right!
Holy crap. September 28, 2011. Has there ever been a better day of baseball?
South Bend, IN
One of the greatest aspects of our hallowed national pastime is that every day has the potential to bring greatness. You might see a no hitter. You might see a triple play. You might see four homeruns in one game by the same player.
In fact, just this season I witnessed Derek Jeter collect five hits in a game. TWICE. I saw Justin Upton hit a broken bat homerun. I saw Mariano Rivera become the undisputed king of the save.
I also saw back-t0-back bunt basehits to start off a game. I saw Shelley Duncan have the defensive game of his life by making three nearly identical amazing grabs in left to rob the Rangers. And I saw Adam Dunn get a base hit off a lefty.
Magic. Baseball has it. And some days it has it more than others.
I would put September 28, 2011 in that category for sure, because on that day FOUR games provided unparallelled magical endings, nearly simultaneously.
But I also can’t think of September 28th without thinking about 2007 Game 163 or the 2008 Game 163 or the 2009 Game 163!!! In fact, I still consider that 2009 Tigers v. Twins contest to be the most jaw-dropping game I have ever witnessed with my own two eyes. Clearly, when we reach the end of September and regular season games carry the weight of sending teams on to capture even more glory, the potential for being among the best is like a batting practice fastball.
Right down central.
In the end though, what qualifies as the “best day in baseball” is obviously relative. For me, I can’t seem to get past October 27, 2006.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
**Have a topic you want to see us Filibuster? Interested to know why Mr. Krause walks with an odd limp? Send us your Filibuster questions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by commenting below.
For me, the tragedy of 9/11 cannot be separated from the baseball that eventually helped ease the grief. The few moments of distraction it provided during a time when nothing else really made sense cannot be overstated. For a bonafide baseball nerd like myself, the game is always the best medicine.
In the fall of 2001, the prescription was Mike Piazza, Derek Jeter and one of the most dramatic World Series ever played.
Last night, during my first visit to New York’s gorgeous and amenity laden Citi Field, I was surrounded by people who felt exactly the same as me. And that, my friends, is a very powerful thing.
And so in this Podcast brought to you by Lifestyles…
“KEITH, GET A BUCKET!”
After Jeff and Allen dragged Johanna’s almost lifeless body out of the Lollapalooza bullpen, the RSBS crew sat down to smack down on all-things baseball. Joined midway by special guest, Tim Baffoe of The Heckler and AM 670 The Score, everybody gets in on the roller coaster that is Chicago baseball, Tony LaRussa versus the World, Derek Jeter’s legacy and a hypothetical question involving the conflicting theologies of Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton.
This is some shizz ya ain’t gonna wanna miss!
And make sure to follow Tim Baffoe (aka the Ten Foot Midget) on Twitter. Dude’s got a lock on sports satire!
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*Special thanks to our PodMaster Keith Carmack. Make sure you follow him on Twitter and check out his sweet Undercast. And, also, if you haven’t already, check out the teaser to his film-in-progress and don’t be afraid to help a brotha out!
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Recorded Saturday, August 6, 2011
One reason why I’ll never tire of my inanimate life partner (her name is baseball) is because every time I watch a game, I have the chance to see something I’ve never seen before. Or, as was the case Wednesday night at Sox Park, I might see 18 somethings I’ve never seen before.
The Yankees were in town. My buddy Mike had sweet tickets on the 100 level. And I was craving the sort of breeze only Adam Dunn’s wiff-n-miss bat can provide.
It didn’t take long for the game to get out of hand. In fact, the game STARTED with something I have NEVER seen before: back-to-back bunt basehits, thanks to Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter.
In fact, Jeter went 5 for 6 in the game, only the fourth time he has ever collected five hits in one game (the third being his epic 3K performance just last month) and yes, that’s something I’ve never seen before.
I have also never seen a White Sox pitcher (Brian Bruney) enter a game, record ZERO outs, give up 2 hits and 2 earned runs and still not be the worst performer of the night. Like my buddy Mike said: “When you put Will Ohman in in the third, it’s already a disaster.”
And, of course, nothing spells disaster like the 2011 version of Adam Dunn.
But hark! Baseball games always offer something new; and I hadn’t been to a Sox game all season where Adam Dunn didn’t strike out at least once, BUT, lo and behold, Dunn went 1 for 4 with NO strikeouts! Hallelujah! Champagne for errrrrrrybody!
Dude still can’t hit an 11-run homer though. At this moribund point, I’m thinking that might be the only thing that could save his career.
And so in this Podcast brought to you by Lifestyles…
After a rough night of Pirate inspired debauchery, Jeff and Johanna clear the cobwebs (and police reports) to make room for special guest, Paul Lebowitz. It doesn’t take long for them to get riled up as they touch on the evil FOX chimera Joe McCarver, Clint Hurdle’s Pirates, the White Sox’s diamond impotence and much, much more!
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Subscribe to the RSBS Podcast by clicking *HERE*
Subscribe via iTunes by clicking *HERE*
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Recorded Saturday, July 16, 2011
Since it’s the start of the All-Star break, who’s your All-Star so far this season?
First of all, major cap tip to ultimate All-Star, The Captain, Derek Jeter, a man who has been giving me goosebumps for 17 years and counting. Dude is a paragon of class, someone who always goes hard and who seems to have a natural knack for the dramatic.
Jeter is one of those duh, no kidding he’s an All-Star sorta guys, the Pete Rose type, the kind of player you always expect to be an All-Star ‘cuz that’ s how he carries himself, on and off the field. But there’s another type of All-Star, the kind who generally isn’t included in the actual All-Star Game… they are the grinders, the 110% effort guys, the ones who find clean uniforms shameful.
When I was playing legion and high school ball, I was never the best on the team. I was short. I was skinny. I pretty much had zero tools… but I always went hard. Bruises, cuts, scrapes… I was tattooed with them. One day, after a particularly poor team performance, Coach said we needed to give more effort, to go harder. He said, “Lung has more energy in his pinky finger than the rest of you do as a team.”
I never forgot that. And even though I didn’t have the talent to be a starter, or to be successful at baseball at all, I did learn to walk pretty tall after that because everyone knew I gave it everything I had on every play.
Nyjer Morgan does that today.
Shocking, yes, I know, that I would praise the talents of a misfit who plays for a rival team. But have you ever watched Nyjer Morgan play baseball? That dude is fired up! And he plays helluh-hard! There is no let-up in his game and above all the homeruns, the no-hitters, the miraculous defensive plays in the field, I would rather watch nine Nyjer Morgans play against nine Nyjer Morgans than any of the aforementioned spectacles.
He may be odd, he may be hot headed and he may be just a few clicks shy of stupid, but Nyjer Morgan loves baseball like I love baseball, and he plays it in such a way that I can’t ever take my eyes off him.
He’s my undisputed off-the-radar All-Star.
Hate me, it’s cool… just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
**Have a topic you want to see us Filibuster? Want a free pimp for your blog? Would you like to know if Mr. Krause’s rumored affinity for little people is true? Send us your Filibuster questions by emailing email@example.com or by commenting below.
How come you get to vote up to 25 times for All Star selections? Is one vote per person less democratic?
MLB made $6.1 billion in revenue in 2010. 28% of that revenue ($1.7 billion), came from the New York Yankees. The Phillies and Red Sox place in the top six most valuable franchises. Until the Wilpons’ recent financial issues, the Mets also figured into this top tier of baseball royalty.
When you look at these clubs, you notice they have two things in common. Number one, they generate large amounts of revenue for MLB and number two, they all belong to large east coast cities. These two facts are closely related and this fact has not slipped MLB’s notice.
How do you keep a bunch of super-rich clubs happy? Simple. You make sure that their players get elected to the All-Star game.
With fan voting and internet voting, of course the large metropolitan areas and the teams with large fan bases are going to ensure that their players get voted on to the All-Star roster. Whether or not they belong there is an entirely different story.
As of 29 June, the leading vote getter among AL catchers was Russell Martin of the Yankees. Martin’s batting average at this same point was .230, 10 points below the league average and 73 points lower than the second place catcher, Alex Avila of the Tigers. Similarly, Derek Jeter sat half a million votes in front of Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera while Cabrera sat about 40 points ahead of Jeter in terms of average among AL shortstops.
The list goes on and on but the fact of the matter is, the story would be the same whether fans had only 1 opportunity to vote or 50. MLB consciously made the choice to allow this because MLB is a business and businesses have to grow or die.
We could go back to the old way of choosing the All-Star team, the method they used before 1970. Back then the players, coaches and managers voted on the All-Stars and this more or less insured that the best players, as opposed to the most popular, made the team. But the fans weren’t all that interested. They wanted to see “their” guys playing in the mid-summer classic, whether or not they were the best. And because baseball is a business, baseball gave the vote back to the fans.
Should Russell Martin and Derek Jeter start for the AL this year? Statistically, absolutely not. But baseball is business and that means the answer has to be reformatted. Should Russell Martin and Derek Jeter start for the AL this year? Monetarily, without a doubt.
So, Nathan, the answer to your question is that giving fans 1 vote or 25 votes is actually equally democratic. But if you go further and ask the question, “Does democracy work in the context of MLB All-Star voting,” you already have your answer. The answer is Russell Martin.
**Have a topic you want to see us Filibuster? Want a free pimp for your blog? Have you ever wondered exactly how Jeff wound up in Tijuana dressed as an organ-grinder’s monkey? Send us your Filibuster questions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by commenting below.