Friday, July 25, 2014

Category: General


Bonds Trial Starts

March 26th, 2011 | 3 comments »

Spring is here, which means that those who check BetUs for baseball lines are starting among sports betting players, but the actual MLB season will have a shadow looming over it all season.  The perjury trial of Barry Bonds starts today as prosecutors attempt to prove that the home run king lied to a grand jury, and the question remains: what is Bonds’ legacy in the game, and does it even matter?

These accusations surrounding Bonds are from six years ago, and a lot has changed in that time. “The Steroid Era” is looked at as a dark time in baseball, but no one, particularly commissioner Bud Selig, was complaining when the home run race between St. Louis’ Mark McGwire and Chicago’s Sammy Sosa boosted sagging rating in baseball back in 1998. It should also be noted that Bonds had one of his best seasons in 1998, smashing 37 homers with 122 RBIs, posting a .303 average along with 28 stolen bases and a Gold Glove in the outfield, but does anyone remember that? No, they remember the seasons that McGwire and Sosa had as they chased and surpassed Roger Maris’ record. Anyone looking for a reason as to why Bonds started to allegedly take steroids only has to look at the attention that McGwire and Sosa received during that time.

It took McGwire years to begrudgingly admit that he used steroids, although he says that he didn’t do it to aid his strength, but to recover from injuries faster. Sosa still hasn’t admitted it, although like Bonds, all you have to do is look at their physiques and see what was going on. Bonds shouldn’t have lied to the grand jury six years ago, and he probably shouldn’t have done so, but regardless of whether he did or not, his legacy was going to take a hit, much bigger than McGwire, Sosa, or any other player involved with the steroid era. One of the prevailing theories is that Bonds has never been known to be friendly with most of the media, so they kept bringing it up until something happened. Some think that is just Bonds being paranoid, but that would be short-sighted. It’s the only reason that Bonds has been vilified and why this trial is going to be a major storyline during the upcoming season, especially in San Francisco where the discussion should be surrounding the Giants’ quest to repeat.

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Searching for an Intern/Research Assistant

February 16th, 2011 | 3 comments »

I’m in need of another intern/research assistant. I have one fabulous one already, but I’ve got him on a project that is going to take awhile. Basically, I need someone who can do a lot of the research behind the articles/books I write.  I have a list of 19 topics (on a variety of sports) I currently want to write about, but I don’t have the time to write any of them because I still practice law full-time and am finishing up a book that is due to the publisher.

If you’re curious as to what sort of work it would be, my other intern right now is taking financial reports from college athletic departments and putting them into charts like the ones here so I can write pieces on the conferences I haven’t covered yet. If you email me, I can tell you a couple of the other topics that need research right now.

You do not have to live in Atlanta to apply. If you can get school credit, great. I’m also happy to write you a recommendation if you do good work, link to your work when I give you credit on my pieces, etc. 

If you’re interested, shoot me an email and tell me a little about yourself: education, why you’d want to do this, how much time you have, etc. A resume would be great too.

I will accept applications until 5:00 p.m. on Thursday. I’ll make a decision on Friday.

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The Perfect Game That Wasn’t

June 3rd, 2010 | 1 comment »

You’ve certainly heard by now that Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers was one out away from being only the twenty-first man in MLB history to throw a perfect game.  A blown call by umpire, Jim Joyce, on what would have been the twenty-seventh out of the game kept Galarraga from obtaining the perfect game, but no doubt made him a part of baseball history.

The call heard ’round the world has been replayed countless times in the past fifteen hours or so, and there is no doubt that Joyce made the wrong call.  I won’t belabor the point here, but Joyce admitted he was wrong and asked to see Galarraga after the game to personally apologize.

So now the question is what, if anything, should be done to right this wrong.  Some are pointing to this as an example of why MLB should have expanded instant replay.  Others are demanding that MLB reverse the call and give Galarraga the perfect game. 

I absolutely do not support MLB overturning Joyce’s call and awarding the perfect game to Galarraga.  Don’t get me wrong, I was outraged at first.  Then I quickly moved on to feeling sad, for both Galarraga and Joyce.  It wasn’t until I saw a comment made by someone I follow on Twitter (@BrianBernardoni) that I came to terms with how I feel about the situation.  Here’s what it said: “A#perfectgame is perfection for all involved. Perfect failure by the losing team, perfect play by the winners and perfect calls by the umps.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Brian is absolutely right.  It’s because of this that I don’t support MLB stepping in to award Galarraga the perfect game.  I’ve read and heard enough about his thoughts on the matter last night and this morning to believe that Galarraga himself wouldn’t want that.  It will never be a perfect game.

I’m also not sure how I feel about expanded instant replay (right now only homerun calls can be reviewed).  I shudder at the thought of computers eventually replacing umpires when it comes to calling balls and strikes.  More immediately, I worry that instant replay will be overused and slow down a game that already catches a lot of grief over its length.

All that being said, I think baseball lags behind the other three major sports in terms of not using instant replay more extensively.  Even tennis uses technology to judge line calls these days.  So, I think what I can live with is a system similar to the NHL.  You could allow the umpires on the field to initiate instant replay, and have a war room at the league office that could initiate review as is done in the NHL.  However, I think allowing teams to call for review is potentially dangerous in terms of slowing down the game.  I trust the umpires and the officials in the league office to do so only in situations that genuinely require the extra review, such as last night’s incident.

Only time will tell if last night’s heartbreaking ending to an almost perfect game will be the catalyst for more instant replay in MLB.  If done correctly and carefully, it could be beneficial for both players and umpires.  Unfortunately, nothing can be done for Galarraga and Joyce, who I’m sure both lost sleep over last night’s events.  I’m just glad to see the Tigers, Galarraga and Joyce handling the situation with such a high level of class (see here).

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The Mark McGwire Song

January 16th, 2010 | Comment »

For those here in Atlanta, I’m sure you’ve heard of Randy & Spiff, formerly the morning show guys on Fox 97 and now on True Oldies 106.7.  I don’t listen to them regularly, but I’ve always been a fan of their Shower Stall Singers segments.  My personal favorite was from 1991 or 1992 when the Braves played the Pirates in the playoffs and the Shower Stall Singers featured “Taking Care of Pittsburgh” to the tune of “Taking Care of Business.”  I’ve got the tape and have been meaning to load some of those great tunes for us Braves fans to reminisce about the good ole days when we were winning pennants every year. 

So, Randy & Spiff have recently been reunited on the morning airwaves at 106.7, thus reuniting the Shower Stall Singers.  My dad alerted me to a great song they played this week about Mark McGwire.  Really entertaining and totally stuck in my head.  Definitely take a minute to listen!

Mark McGwire Song

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Where Have All The African American MLB Players Gone?

January 13th, 2010 | 28 comments »

There was this great song in the 90s “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone” that I am reminded of now as I ponder why the percentage of African Americans in MLB has decreased steadily over the past 15 years.  It’s certainly a phenomenon I’ve heard the last few years as a Braves fan.  Until now, however, I never took the time to ask why.  I’ve heard people say it’s because African American young men would rather play football.  Perhaps, but why?  I don’t think it’s simply because they prefer football, after all baseball is the national pastime.  Doesn’t every little boy want to grow up to be a professional baseball player one day?

Maybe it has something to do with the declining ability of African American young men to play college baseball.  One of the best things that came out of 2009 for me was the opportunity to become a part of a terrific organization here in Atlanta called L.E.A.D.  (which stands for Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct).  L.E.A.D. is America’s first instructional league for inner-city teens.  L.E.A.D.’s goal is to expose inner-city teens to competitive baseball, while also providing them with a strong sense of community involvement.  I could do a whole post on how phenomenal this group has been and how much I’ve enjoyed my experience with them, but back to the topic at hand…

The young men who are a part of L.E.A.D. have the end goal of using their baseball talent to gain collegiate scholarships in order to pursue greater educational opportunities.  Except scholarship opportunities in baseball are becoming more difficult to obtain.  The NCAA limits the  number of full scholarships in baseball to 11.7, however, the typical team roster is between 25-45 players.  In 2008, new rules were adopted that limited the number of players on aid to 30 for the 2008-2009 season and 27 for the 2009-2010 season.  Scholarships used to be split into amounts that allowed most, if not all, of the roster players to receive some sort of financial aid.  Unfortuantely, there was some abuse that caused the new rules had to be implemented.  Coaches were giving out “tryout scholarships” which lured the player to campus with a small scholarship.  The amount was small enough that the coach could cut the player during fall practices without if effecting his bottom line.

Sometimes rules aimed at one problem make way for a new kind of problem.  Under the new rules, only 27 players can be on scholarship and each scholarship must be for at least 25% of the tuition, room and board.  Compare that to football where 85 full scholarships are available for about 87 roster spots (active and inactive), or basketball where 13 full scholarships are available for 12-15 roster spots.  Which sport would you choose to play if you were a young African American athlete who could only get a college education through an athletic scholarship?

Consider this, the champions of the 2009 College World Series, the LSU Tigers, had two African American players, neither of whom were on baseball scholarships.  Instead, Chad Jones and Jared Mitchell were both on football scholarships.  Thanks to a friend of mine who pointed that out, as I think it uniquely illustrates the point.

All of this causes a ripple effect.  More African American teens either choose the football scholarship, or they choose to enter the MLB draft directly out of high school.  If the kid has to play on a football scholarship in order to play baseball in college, he’s increasing his risk of injury and may also ultimately decide that he should go pro in the NFL.  Going directly into the MLB draft from high school though causes a whole new set of issues.  Not only is the teen who goes directly to the minor leagues missing out on higher education, but he has to prove immediately that he can progress through the minor leagues or he is likely to get lost in the shuffle. 

The final result of all of this is a decline in African American players at the Major League level.  In 2007, MLB reached its lowest level for African American players since the 80s at only 8.2% (although this number grew to 10.2 in 2008).  The total population of players of color in MLB is 39.6%, with Latinos comprising 27% and Asians 2.4%.  There were only 4 African American managers in MLB in 2008.  There were only 3 African American General Managers at the start of the 2009 season.  No African Americans own a MLB club.  There are also no African American CEO or Team Presidents.  You can see the chart below to compare this with the NFL and NBA.

2008   Players Managers/
Head Coaches
General Managers CEOs/Team Presidents Owners
MLB (30 teams/25 man roster)   10.20% 5 3 0 0
NFL (32 teams/53 man roster)   67% 6 5 0 0
NBA(30 teams/15 man roster)   77% 11 3 5 1

I won’t pretend that I know the answer to the problem.  I don’t.  I do, however, recognize that something is happening here.  The number of African American baseball players has been declining for fifteen years, with 2008 being the first time since 1998 that MLB saw any increase in the percentage of African Americans playing the game.  Don’t get me wrong, MLB is doing a fairly good job diversifying if you count all players of color.  But I’m left to wonder why the number of African American players continues to decrease while the percentage of other players of color consistently increases.  The reasons I’ve stated above seem to factor in, but so does the structure of the MLB draft.  African American players enter through the draft, while Latino and Asian players generally do not.  Clubs are able to scout talent in Latin American and Japan and either scoop up undiscovered talent or outbid their competitors for the best talent in those countries.  Thus, we’re seeing a rising number of Latino and Asian players enter the game.  All the while, African Americans have been on the decline for the better part of two decades. 

As I said before, I have no definitive plan for how to change things moving forward.  This is all merely food for thought.  I’d love to hear what you all think!

For love of the game,

Kristi

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Welcome to It’s a Swing and a Miss!

January 7th, 2010 | 1 comment »

New year, new blog! After three years of blogging on Chop ‘n Change, it’s time to return to having my own personal blog. Nearly five years ago, I started blogging under the name BabeonBaseball. Attempting to give my poor “real world” friends a break, I took to the internet to discuss all things baseball. At that point in time, most of my blogging centered around the Braves, my hometown team. Eventually, I was asked to join Chop ‘n Change and gladly joined what turned out to be a great group of Braves bloggers over the years.

In the years that have passed, I have spent more and more time studying baseball adminstration and economics and less time blogging about the Braves. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Braves (although I have plenty to say about their offseason dealings, or lack thereof), but I am passionate about everything baseball. As they say, baseball is a jealous mistress. So, here I am out on my own again.

Since my last experience blogging on my own about baseball, I’ve had my legal journal article Can Money Still Buy the Postseason in Major League Baseball?: a 10-year retrospective on revenue sharing and the luxury tax published by the University of Denver.  I have also had terrific opportunities to guest lecture on revenue generation and development, revenue sharing, collective bargaining and competitive balance at Georgia State University and Kennesaw State University.  All of this has led me to work on a book that will further develop the ideas from my legal journal article and my lecturing. 

So, as I prepare to submit the first few chapters of my book to the publisher, I am embarking on this new blogging journey.  There will be no baseball topic that is off limits here.  For the first week or so, I’ll be reposting some past blogs from Chop ‘n Change that are on topics of general interest.  I’ll also be doing some book reviews for the many, many baseball books I’ve read along the way. 

Keep your eye out for a new tab to appear at the top of the page in the coming days that will link to reviews of every stadium I’ve been to, both in the Majors and Minors.  And I’m not just talking about telling you Fenway is the oldest park in use in the Majors.  I’ll give you the lowdown on the area around the stadium, where to stay, how to get around the city, where to eat both inside and outside the park, what kind of seats to buy, ballpark traditions and much more!  Ever wondered what it’s like to go through the draft as a player?  I’ll have some great interviews from players I interviewed for my book.  We’ll talk about revenue sharing, the luxury tax, club payrolls, how MLB Advanced Media is changing the economic landscape.  Do you have a question about collective bargaining or team administration?  Email me and I’ll cover that topic.

Special thanks go out to my friend Eric Richardson who inspired the name for this site.  Also, a big thank you to my friend, Jeremy Whigham, who has always designed me the most amazing graphics for my many crazy exploits.  Thanks to him, I have a terrific banner for this site that is even more than I envisioned!

For those who have followed me over the years, I hope you’ll join me for this new journey.

For love of the game,

Kristi

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