Professional sports teams should be reveling in their success: rising attendance and revenue, great TV ratings. Instead, you hear talk of contraction in baseball, a lockout exists in the NFL and an NBA team is likely on the move — again.
Since the lunkheads in charge don’t seem interested in solving these problems, I’m going to suggest some solutions.
The richest clubs are tired of supporting the poorest with the revenue-sharing plan, so they’re talking of eliminating the Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays. Read More
It was just one game, but the Giants’ 2-1 loss to the Dodgers in the season opener in Los Angeles showed how difficult it will be for them to repeat, just as division champions.
New Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has his team playing up to its considerable ability. Center fielder Matt Kemp, the poster boy for sloth, hustled throughout and scored the run that put the Dodgers ahead in the seventh inning.
James Loney, another mine of unrealized potential, lined a double to right to give the Dodgers what became their winning run. Read More
One reason it’s difficult to predict what will happen next in the NFL labor strife: In at least one regard, this dispute is unlike any in the normal negotiating process.“The one thing that strikes me is the union voting to decertify,” labor attorney Joshua Zuckenberg, partner in the New York firm of Pryor Cashman, told me in a telephone conversation. Read More
The Giants have to buck some strong historical trends as they attempt to repeat as World Series champions.Only three National League teams have ever won back-to-back world championships, the last being the Cincinnati Reds’ “Big Red Machine” of 1975-76. Earlier, it was the New York Giants in 1921-22. The other team? Surprise: It was the Chicago Cubs, who won in 1907 and 1908 — and haven’t won since. Read More
The headline over a column in another Bay Area newspaper insisted that baseball, not just Barry Bonds, is on trial in a San Francisco courtroom this week.
More accurately, it should be the sports media, because its writers and broadcasters who have made Bonds and steroids the central figures in the steroids-in-baseball story, while virtually ignoring the much more serious problem in the NFL.
Anybody who has been in an NFL locker room recently has seen examples of out-of-control steroid use. Read More
Intercollegiate athletics has long been closer to semipro than amateur, but in light of recent developments, it’s time to remove the “semi.”Example No. 1: Last December, the NCA announced that Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four of his teammates would be suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for accepting improper benefits and selling team memorabilia. Read More
Brandon Belt appears ready for the major leagues, but will he be temporarily stalled as Giants general manager Brian Sabean again tries to protect a player on whom he made a mistake?
Belt has impressed everybody with his play this spring. Spring training statistics are largely meaningless because both position players and pitchers work on different schedules. Young hitters, especially those who have played winter ball, come in at full go, while veteran pitchers are trying to work themselves into shape for the season. Read More
The NFL public relations machine has set up a year-long sport.
Once, the season ran from September through December, with championship games in January. The draft was in February, and then everybody took a vacation until training camp in July.
Now, there’s a seamless run. The Super Bowl is played in February. Then, the draft combine is held in Indianapolis.
The draft is in April, followed by a string of minicamps and OTAs (organized team activities), almost up to the day training camps start. Meanwhile, there is endless speculation about free agents. Read More
Can the Giants repeat as world champions? When I had a telephone conversation with Steven Goldman, editor of Baseball Prospectus (absolutely the best book if you want to know what’s really happening), I asked him two specific questions:
1. What are the reasons you think the Giants could repeat? Read More
Mike Montgomery is the best Bay Area college basketball coach since Pete Newell, and he may be doing his best job ever with this year’s Cal Bears.Montgomery lost almost everybody from last year’s Pac-10 Conference champion team, and he suffered further hits when Max Zhang decided to stay in China and freshman guard Gary Franklin left in early January.The Bears were picked to finish seventh in the Pac-10, but they finished the regular season tied for fourth and will play the team they’re tied with, the USC Trojans, in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament Thursday. Read More
The last time the NFL had a work stoppage was 1987. Carmen Policy, who was representing the 49ers at league meetings, remembers it well.
The issue was free agency. Policy came home from a league meeting convinced that the owners, led by Tampa Bay’s Hugh Culverhouse, were determined not to allow it. “They had shouldered Pete Rozelle aside. ‘OK, Pete, you’ve had your say. Now, sit down.’” Read More
Television networks and, by extension, viewers who have cable systems with NFL games, are backing the owners in the current dispute over a new collective bargaining agreement.The networks have agreed to pay owners approximately $4 billion to cover their operating costs during a lockout. In theory, the owners would repay it when play resumes, but it might only be a part of the next agreement. Read More
The Giants’ World Series triumph last fall was especially satisfying because it bucked the trend in professional sports of exalting individual play over the team.
The Giants certainly had star players. Tim Lincecum is a two-time Cy Young Award winner. Buster Posey was NL Rookie of the Year. But this was a team victory with some unlikely stars — Cody Ross, Andres Torres, Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria — who came alive in the postseason.
That’s quite different than what’s been happening across the rest of the sports landscape. Read More
It would be a cruel joke on San Francisco 49ers fans if NFL owners locked out players just as the 49ers appear to be getting their house in order.Newly appointed general manager Trent Baalke seems to be organizing the front office well.Baalke and his assistants can proceed much as they would in any year because their chief job now is preparing for the April draft, which involves college players who are not yet part of the NFL Players Association. Read More
If there is an NFL lockout this season, it probably won’t have the same effect as the 1994 baseball strike, says marketing expert Adam Hanft, president and CEO of Hanft Projects, whose clients include Time Warner, AOL, Viacom and AT&T Wireless.
“Baseball fans are different from football fans,” said Hanft in a telephone interview. “Baseball fans are into numbers and statistics, and a strike upsets them because it messes with the numbers. Football fans don’t care so much about the numbers. They just want to see the games.” Read More