Tagged: MLB

The Filibuster

Now that the Dodgers are controlled by MLB, is the situation there going to be as ugly as their throwbacks?

Jenny
Hammond, IN

____________________________________

frank_mccourt.jpgBefore I address the Dodgers’ situation, I want to take care of the second part of your question.  I’m not completely sure why you find the new throwbacks (an oxymoron if there ever was one) so horrific.  Maybe it’s the color, maybe it’s because it says Brooklyn even though the Dodgers have had nothing to do with that borough for decades.  I don’t know as though sky blue would be my first choice but if you really want to talk ugly, let’s talk Astros, Pirates or Nuggets.  Those, my friend, are some truly ugly uniforms.

MLB taking over the Dodgers?  That’s not ugly.  That’s just business.  McCourt’s running of the Dodgers is to ownership what those old Pirates’ hats were to MLB headware.  A disgrace, plain and simple.  Let’s take it step by step.

First, when McCourt bought the Dodgers, he leveraged the buyout.  In layman’s terms, it’s kind of like he took a mortgage on the franchise in order to buy the franchise.  That’s not a problem in and of itself but when he bought the Dodgers, they weren’t a brand-new, top-of-the-line model.  They were a fixer-upper.  Instead of making the repairs, though, he took any money he made to pad his own lifestyle.

Second, when McCourt’s life started to fall pieces, he used the franchise as his personal piggy bank.  Need to pay the lawyers?  Add a couple bucks to each beer.  Mrs. McCourt won’t settle for less than financial ruin?  Bleed it out of the season ticket holders. 

Third, despite everything, McCourt still doesn’t see any error in what he’s done.  His statement in response to Selig’s action obviates further discussion: “Major League Baseball sets strict financial guidelines which all 30
teams must follow. The Dodgers are in compliance with these guidelines.”  He simply doesn’t get it.

Here’s the deal.  Like it or not, for MLB to work, the teams in the big markets have to be healthy.  This specifically means New York, Chicago and LA.  On top of that, the Dodgers are one of MLB’s standard bearers.  Jackie Robinson was a Dodger.  Kirk Gibson fist-pumped his way around the bases as a Dodger.  But when the owner of the Dodgers has to take a massive loan just to cover the monthly payroll, something has gone horribly wrong.

I don’t like Selig.  I think he’s done a pretty awful job at managing MLB and some of his decisions will continue to haunt the game for a long time.  However, he made the right call this time.  The courts will most likely take the same view which is heartening to baseball fans and definitely good news for Dodgers fans.  Sure, Selig’s last adventure in takeover didn’t go all that well but that was a different era and Montreal is not LA.

As long as McCourt doesn’t drag this out too long, the situation should be resolved relatively quickly.  MLB wants a healthy Dodgers organization and will work quickly to get the club out of its own hands and into those of an owner who actually cares about the team. In addition, if Selig is smart he’s already looking ahead and realizing he’s going to have bigger fish to fry with the impending implosion of the Mets.  As for Dodgers fans, they can go back to wondering about the throwback jersey.

-A

– – –

**Have a topic you want to see us Filibuster?  Want a
free pimp for your blog?  How ’bout just finding out if Mr. Lung’s affection for Albert Pujols is more cute or creepy

Send us your Filibuster questions
by emailing kraulung@gmail.com or by commenting below
.

Even Keanu Can’t Make This One Enjoyable

kid_strike.jpgSince when have shutdowns become a good idea?  The NHL nearly folded after its stoppage and has only begun to recover thanks to Crosby and Ovechkin.  Unless Keanu Reeves leads the way, no one wants to see replacement players take the field again in place of the NFL stars.  MLB relegated itself to a decade of irrelevance after their last strike.  So why does the government think it will work for them?

I understand the difference here.  Stoppages and lockouts due to strikes are different than shutdowns due to budget impasses.  But they do share some important characteristics, one of the main ones being that its a really good way to piss people off. 

To be fair, only one group of people has really clamored for the shutdown.  Democrats and Republicans both know that cutting off your nose to spite your face will cost both sides in 2012.  However, the Tea Partiers haven’t learned that lesson yet and appear more than happy to shut everything down.  What happens then?  Well, here’s a partial reckoning.

As I write this, it ain’t over yet.  The Congress has until midnight to either pass the spending bill or try to ram through another continuing resolution.  They better hope they do.  Baseball learned the hard way that the best way to turn off an entire generation of fans was to shut down the game for the season.  People already hate Congress.  Do they really want to give us more reasons?

-A

We All Lose

terry_jones.jpg

Special days historically fall prey to those who use them for their own gain.  Like when god decided to send Jesus to earth on Christmas and then have him die on Easter.  Seriously, you’re god and that’s the best you could do?

It’s no different now.  From simple and relatively justified things like MLB putting players in pink for Breast Cancer awareness or having everyone wear number 42 to commemorate Jackie Robinson to things that don’t quite feel right like Glenn Beck marching on the National Mall and claiming the mantle of MLK on the anniversary of the “I have a Dream” speech, these days give both demagogues and dissenters context for their issues.

Sadly, most of the time it’s the demagogues who get the coverage.  I have spent a bit of time in Muslim countries and most of the people I have met are nice people who want to make a living and provide for their families.  Yes, they’re serious about their religion but they don’t use it as an excuse for violence. 

So what’s the point in getting them riled up by staging a Quran burning?  I know the event has been canceled and I know that the pastor of a small church in Florida does not deserve as much coverage as he has been given.  But when David Petraeus, Sarah Palin, Barack Obama and the Southern Baptist convention all agree that what you’re doing is a bad idea, maybe it’s time to stop and rethink.

As odious as the planned act may be, even worse is the day on which it falls.  Sometimes a Saturday
is more than just a Saturday.  Like when it’s September 11th.  Using a day like today that should be reserved for contemplation and mourning as a vehicle for the same kind of bilious beliefs that fueled the hijackers nine years ago means we all lose.

I preferred it when September 11th had no meaning, when it wasn’t a special day.  But that is no longer possible.  So maybe it’s time that people stop grandstanding and allow this day to have one simple message.  Hate kills.  That goes for Terry Jones, Glenn Beck and Michael Moore just as much as it does for Bin Laden.

-A

Island Dreams

pirate_camp_dr.jpgWhen people mention the Pittsburgh Pirates, you assume that nothing good can follow.  But there are exceptions to that rule, at least if you believe Time magazine.  Two weeks ago Time not only said the Pirates are doing something right, they also said the organization is an example to be followed

It’s no secret that MLB spends a lot of money looking for fresh talent overseas.  Many of the greatest players in the game today and in the past are products of that search.  MLB has harvested the fertile fields of the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Curacao (just to name a few) to give us players like Big Papi, Johan Santana and Andruw Jones.  That is not going to stop.

But Time raises the alarmist cry, decrying the conditions in the DR and castigating teams for not providing the same level of living standards the writer claims exist for young players in the US.  At the same time, the article gets a little schizophrenic, insinuating that the DR will go the way of PR if baseball decides to treat them the same way it now deals with the territory.  The article claims, “After the U.S. commonwealth became subject to the draft in the (sic) 1989, the
number of Puerto Rican signees remained flat, while those in the D.R.
skyrocketed.” 

What I read in that, though, is that despite Puerto Rican players now going through the draft, the number entering MLB each year stayed constant.  If anything, that seems to imply that the system worked.  Puerto Ricans still made it to the majors, they just followed a route that ensured they got their fair share.  And if you can play, you’re going to get paid. 

dr_baseball_camp.jpgLook, it’s no secret that many kids see sports as a way out of a bad situation.  That’s just as true in the US as it is in the DR.  But do we crucify Nike for running basketball tournaments in the inner city where they can then get their hooks into promising young talent?  Do you think Coach K runs a basketball camp each year out of the kindness of his heart?  Both Nike and Krzyzewski realize that most of those kids are never going to make it, even at the collegiate level.  And it’s not like they’re taking care of them when the inevitable happens and the dream of an NBA career shatters.

This is how sports operate.  They offer the hope of a better future but that future is only available to a very select group.  What happens in the DR is sad and most of these kids will never end up making it.  But it’s even more sad that the government of the DR can’t provide basic services to its citizens and MLB is supposed to step in and fill the gap.  At least baseball offers them a dream.  That’s a lot more than the Pirates offer their fans.

-A

Special thanks to L for the article

The Filibuster

What’d you guys think of your boy Zito drilling Prince Fielder for his
earthquake celebration? It’s only spring training and we’re already
seeing fireworks?!? What’s your take?

Sam
Carbondale, IL

____________________________________

Fielder_HBP.jpgFlush from yet another amazing Super Bowl game, the NFL recently took out its manhood, held it in both hands while staring proudly and then swiftly and viciously emasculated itself, leaving nothing but a bloody stump.  You like touchdown celebrations?  Well, let’s see how much you like them when it means giving the other team 15 yards on the kickoff.

Ostensibly, the owners made this decision to protect the game.  After all, football is a team sport that involves no individual glory and this is why players are all paid the exact same amount.  Oh, they aren’t?  Uh, nevermind then.

My point is, the NFL could take a lesson from MLB and how it deals with this sort of issue.  Guys like Prince Fielder are free to celebrate their heroics however they want.  If that means running around the bases quickly with their head down, that’s fine.  And if it means setting up a choreographed event at home plate with your teammates, that’s fine, too.  But you’re going to have to face the consequences.

The consequences for Prince’s actions were a plunk in the back.  Prince has adequate padding so I’m sure there will not be any long lasting effects.  But it did let the Brewers know their actions hadn’t gone unnoticed.  Sure, it’s sad that it had to come from close personal friend of RSBS, Barry Zito, but them’s the breaks.

That’s the thing.  Baseball has rules against retaliation but unless it’s so blatant as to be unignorable, most umps are going to turn the other way.  It’s part of the game and has been for a long time.  In fact, this is probably one of those few areas where orthodox fans like Mr. Lung and reformed fans like myself can find grounds for agreement.  Baseball is a game where things get settled on the field (unless you’re Michael Barrett and Carlos Zambrano) and the NFL could take a lesson.

Let a guy like TO or Ochocinco do a little dance and get down after making a spectacular catch.  And then let them put 2 and 2 together when they get their teeth knocked out the next time they catch a ball.  It won’t take long before the celebrations get tempered of their own accord.

That things like these go without saying is part of what makes baseball a great game.  It’s not just about individual valor and team glory.  It’s also the tradition and the melodrama.  You think the Brewers will have forgotten that “pitch that got away” the next time they’re playing the Giants?  And do you think the Giants will go easy on Fielder the next time he’s up to bat?  No way, man.  And that’s just one more reason to be watching those games.

-A

***SEND US YOUR FILIBUSTERS****

Something on your mind?  Want to see Jeff and Al sweat (separately, not together, eww)?  Think you got a real stumper?  Send us your Filibuster question(s) by commenting or emailing them to us at kraulung@gmail.com. 

***Information about the lovechild of Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh also welcome.

Towards a Truly World Series

NHL_ALL_STARS.jpgWhen the NHL switched it’s All-Star game format in the late 90’s from the typical conference vs. conference match-up to a North America vs. The World battle royale, it seemed to herald the dawn of a new, global style of sport. Of course there are the Olympics and the World Cup but if sports like hockey were going to take on an internationalist bent, it was only a matter of time before the whole world came on-board.

Five years later the game reverted back to it’s traditional format and globalism had lost a bit of its luster but the overall move towards a more universal sporting life continued to pick up steam.

Just take a look around the major American sports. The NBA is still dominated by Americans but Europeans, South Americans and even the Chinese have become stars in their own right. The NFL is probably the only league that can still claim to be nearly 100% American but that probably owes much to the fact that the rest of the world is more than happy with their own version of football.

Even the most traditionally American of sports has taken on a greater international context in the past decade with the creation of the World Baseball Classic. And MLB has no plans to stop there. Just this past week it was reported that Bud Selig has been in discussions with his Japanese counterpart for a match-up between the two countries’ respective champions. Maybe it’s only two countries at this point but there’s no doubt that baseball will follow soccer’s lead and institutes some sort of World Club Championships pitting the best club teams from around the world against each other.

It makes sense. There seems to be no end to what consumers are willing to suck up and with all the money to be made from the merchandising, not to mention the actual playing of these games, the different national leagues would be foolish not to join in. Bud Selig will do anything at this point to have his legacy be something other than the steroid era and this would definitely be one way to do that.

Lost in all this is the fact that despite its near collapse a few seasons ago, the NHL may have had it right after all. You can fight globalization and maybe you’ll win some battles. But the war has already been won and it’s here to stay. Baseball appears ready to embrace that.

-A

Sympatico

Rabbi_Baseball.jpgWell, it seems that once again my erudite co-blogger and myself have found something on which we can agree. As right as the Tigers were to hold the line on the start of their Good Friday game, the Yankees and MLB are wrong in caving to the Yom Kippur lobby.

Now, I understand the concern. As I’ve mentioned before, I lived in NYC and that place is a ghost town on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. But moving up the start time so a few people can get their fast on? Sorry, no. Even in Saudi Arabia World Cup qualifiers are still taking place despite the fact that it’s smack dab in the middle of the fasting month of Ramadan. If the Saudis aren’t changing that up, maybe MLB should take note.

However, it’s nice that Mr. Lung and myself can agree on something. After all the hyperbolic excesses of the past couple weeks, I find it reassuring that there are still areas where we are sympatico.

But, since it is Labor Day and on this day of rest it is only natural that we should turn to questions of labor, I wonder what his thoughts are on the place of labor and collective bargaining in baseball today. I ask this because there is a law in the Federal government that even though employees may unionize, they do not have the right to strike. Should baseball consider setting up some sort of similar agreement? Since it is America’s past time, shouldn’t it be considered just as essential?

-A