Thursday, May 07, 2009

This Dodger Fan Feels The Blues

No doubt Dodger fans nationwide should be upset with the news about Manny Ramirez testing positive for steroids and being suspended 50 games. Coworkers here at the Long Beach Armada are livid. Other fans are disappointed. My girlfriend, a lifelong Dodger fan who was born just weeks after the team won its last World Series in '88, expresses her disappointment and frustration here:

This Dodger Fan Feels The Blues
By Megan Murray

So this morning I was hit with some terrible news. To most, it probably means nothing. To other sports fans like me in Los Angeles, it’s a huge deal. Manny Ramirez, the pride and joy of the LA community, dubbed “Mayor” of Dodgertown, has been tested positive for drug use.

For anyone who has been paying attention to Dodger baseball recently, you know their home record was on fire, tying previous records and setting modern ones. The boys in blue were most recently tied with the Detroit Tigers in 1911 with 12 consecutive wins at home. On Wednesday May 6th, Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals 10-3 to set a modern MLB record with most consecutive wins at home.

I saw the entire game, watching with pride as my guys slaughtered DC inning by inning. It was beautiful, and by the middle of the ninth when the Dodgers had won, I had started to tear up. I just kept thinking how I can tell my kids about this moment some day. Last night felt like Christmas. This morning, it felt like someone punched me in the face and told me Santa isn’t real.

I remember telling my boyfriend last night during the game about how silly all the Manny hype is. “You know, he makes a big difference, but he’s not the entire team.” That’s what makes me the most upset. Not that Manny will be gone for 50 games, because I still believe in what my team can do, but all the money, time, and energy spent on this one person. The dodgers made him seem like some sort of god, and now he feels like one big joke. All the pride I felt last night after the Dodgers’ big win flew out the window. I’m embarrassed as a fan, and I hope the team is too.

Apparently, Ramirez was given a medication prescribed by his doctor and he and his doctor had no idea that it went against MLB’s drug policy. Ramirez said, “LA is a special place to me and I know everybody is disappointed. So am I. I'm sorry about this whole situation.” Well Manny, you should have been more careful. You’ve let down a lot of hopeful fans that looked to you to turn the Dodgers into something great. Let’s just hope that at the end of 50 games, you still have those fans to support you…because who will? Boston? Don’t think so.

Manny's only hope: Apologizing

Manny Ramirez has one chance - just one chance - at redemption.  As reports surface that the savior of the Dodgers tested positive for steroids and will be suspended 50 games effective immediately, the slugger must follow the footsteps of past perpetrators and apologize NOW!

Don't go down the road that Roger Clemens took, firm denial with a dash of rage.  Don't try to shut out the outside world like Barry Bonds and as a result become vilified.  Don't even attempt to move on without talking about it because it happened in the past, a la Mark McGwire.

No.  Manny must apologize - even if he's not specific - to his fans, to the Dodgers, to baseball for letting them all down.

As my girlfriend, a Dodger-diehard said this morning upon hearing the news, "I'm just disappointed. ... It's like finding out Santa Clause isn't real."  How true that is.

The man who seemingly single-handedly lifted the Dodgers from the middle of the pack to the champions of the NL West last summer after a blockbuster trade is now on the fast track out of the game unless he can do the necessary damage control.  

Look at how Andy Pettitte or Jason Giambi and others were able to bounce back from similar reports.  Learn from that and repeat.

Mannywood will never again have the same glitz, glamor or glory that fans came in LA came to enjoy last season.  At this point, Ramirez can only diffuse the situation by coming clean, taking his lumps, and admitting what he did.  

Just because Santa Clause isn't real doesn't mean you can't celebrate Christmas.  But it certainly ruins some of the magic.  

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Don't take the Super Bowl to London

As reports begin to surface of the City of London working to bring the Super Bowl across the pond within the next eight years, Stateside NFL fans should rightfully be cringing at the idea.

I haven't been the biggest fan of the NFL taking two teams to London each of the past two seasons to play a regular-season game. Yes, the games have been sold out at Wembley Stadium, and the NFL clearly gets a kick out of it, which is why a third game is going to be played in London again this season. But for so many financial and economic reasons, the NFL needs to keep the Super Bowl - the single-largest uber-spectacle sporting event in the nation and perhaps the world - here in the United States.

The first glaring reason that I can bring up without being accused of wrapping myself in the flag is a purely financial objective. One report claims the Super Bowl would be worth $521.1 to the London economy. London is aiming to host the game in either 2014, 2015 or 2017, and by that time any current economic woes should ideally be passed the United States and the global economy. However even if the current economic climate has improved in 6-8 years, that is still more than a half-billion dollars that the American economy would benefit from. Taking the Super Bowl and that economic boost out of the country is financially irresponsible.

Also think about the jobs that will simply go unfilled by American workers. Consider the regular-season game that the league plays in London each year. One NFL team must give up a home game. Never mind the fans who live in the local market who want to attend the game - because we all know the NFL cares more about the TV money than attendance money, which makes sense considering the drastic difference (although tickets at the new Cowboys and Giants/Jets facilities are working to bridge the gap) - but what about the stadium employees of the team that loses a home game.

Everyone at the stadium misses out on that day of work. That might not seem like a big deal, but if you asked the people who worked at the snack bar, merchandise stand clerks, ticket takers, security guards, and so many others that make a stadium go on Sundays, I bet they'd be a little less enthusiastic about having 10% of their pay cut. (10% = each NFL team plays 10 home games per season including two pre-season games.) For example, I work for a professional baseball team that plays 44 home games. If we lost 4-5 of home games because they were played elsewhere during the regular season, that's 4-5 games I wouldn't get paid for which isn't a very enticing thought.

Maybe there would be a big pay-day in it for the NFL. Who knows what London would be able to do to make the Super Bowl in London a reality. It's already a neutral-location championship game. The Super Bowl is a unique event because of how it rotates locations not based on who is playing but on a city and a stadium's bid to host the event. London just wants a shot of it all. And even though they are optimistic it will happen, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is quoted as saying the NFL has "never" looked at the Super Bowl being in London or even Mexico City. (Granted, I'd much rather see it in former than in the latter if it is going to go international).

Don't get me wrong, there are some positives for a Super Bowl in London, like an opportunity for fans who want to make the trip to perhaps carve out a week of their time for a fun trip abroad highlighted by attending the NFL's championship game. That sounds like fun. Expensive, but fun. Based on pre-season favorites, roundtrip airfare from Boston to London would be around $610, and from Dallas would be $741. Compare that to airfare to a Super Bowl-favorite destination like San Diego. From Boston $399, and from Dallas $445.

There is also the risk of the Londoners designing a Super Bowl logo. And after what they did with their 2012 Olympics logo, there is legitimate cause for concern. But the mockery of it is amusing.

The NFL should keep it's championship game in the United States. And if they do somehow wind up with a London Super Bowl, they'll see it was an even worse mistake than playing the Pro Bowl outside of Honolulu the week before the Super Bowl.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Bubble breaks at Cowboys practice

What a scary day in Dallas as spring storms thrashed the D/FW metroplex and specifically the Cowboys "bubble" practice facility. With 12 confirmed injured, including special teams coach Joe DeCamillis, it's easy to see some Cowboy-haters making the way-too-easy, way-too-unnecessary "this is the worst Cowboys collapse since missing the playoffs last year."

Video of the structure collapsing was caught on tape.

It's something out of a movie, as players and other Cowboys personnel are scrambling through the wreckage looking for anyone possibly trapped underneath the debris.

And while the total extent of the damage looks to be relatively minor - no life-threatening injuries and no players injured - this could have had a much more catastrophic result. Perhaps the Cowboys should have taken a little of the $1 billion invested in the new stadium and instead allocated some of that for upgrading the bubble. Yes, lots of teams have similar facilities, but you can bet that they will all be reinforced or replaced within the next year based on what happen, and more importantly what could have happened, in Irving, Texas, today.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Bulls-Celtics: Win by 2?

As the Bulls and Celtics played into a third overtime in Game 6 and a seventh overtime in the series, I realized that even though I was more focused on the Mavericks/Spurs series, as a hoops fan, this series is the most undeniably amazing series ever!

Joakim Noah tapped the ball away from the C's, dibbled the length of the floor, and elevated in the face of Paul Pierce to jam home the winning points and force a deciding Game 7 in this amazing series. Basketball fans across the nation will be clamoring today about how they never want this series to end. To help these fans cope with the finality of a Game 7, I've come up with a great solution.

Just for this series - because getting such a great series is rare, and you never know how the next rounds will play out - the Bulls-Celtics should adopt a similar format to tennis, ping pong or volleyball: must win by two.

Think about it? Chicago and Boston are currently tied at 3-3. Game 7 will be the end of it before one of these teams plays the Orlando Magic in what could not possibly be as entertaining a series as this has been. But what if Game 7 goes into OT, as so many others have this series?

With the exception of Game 3, these games have all been so close, and so perhaps if a team was required to win the series by two games, basketball fans could rejoice as this series continued. While it's not necessarily a practical solution, I don't think anyone would complain about more Bulls-Celtics this season.

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