Monday Notes (abbreviated)

1) A shout-out to CBS sports radio. Specifically, to Greg Gianotti and Nick Wright, both hosts on the network. They’re both excellent – smart, entertaining and refreshingly able to think seriously and talk comfortably about bigger picture stuff. I like them both a lot. In particular, Wright – who is a weekend host – is a gem.

Case in point – last night. Wright had on his show for half an hour, Harry Edwards, the legendary sports sociologist who, in many ways, pioneered efforts to investigate sports as a means of exploring race in American society. The subject was Baltimore and it would be hard to imagine that kind of conversation occurring anywhere on ESPN radio. Especially interesting was their discussion of the failings of media to get the story right, in particular to provide the larger context within which the unrest of the last week has taken place. Edwards, interestingly, kept insisting that Baltimore’s problem is not, primarily, a policing problem. In fact, he said, the policing problems that do exist in Baltimore and elsewhere in American cities are a result of decades of failed policy and deteriorating neighborhoods being pushed down to the cops.

When the interview ended, Wright said he knew that it wasn’t for everyone, that lots of people who follow sports and turn on sports radio do so because they want their escape. But, he hoped, folks who were listening did, at least, come away from the half hour having heard something that they hadn’t previously thought about.

2) Mike Axisa, of River Avenue Blues (a Yankees website), had this great rant in response to a mailbag question about “greedy” players like pitchers CC Sabathia, the fading star who is still collecting $20-million plus per year at the back end of his contract.

Here’s the question and answer:

Tom asks: Why can’t money hungry MLB players honorably retire when they are no longer an asset to their team, instead of hanging around until the end of their contract? (I’m thinking about CC and Beltran)

Rant time: The only reason players are called “money hungry” is because fans have no idea how much the owners make. If anything, players are underpaid. MLB is setting a new revenue record every year yet the players are getting a smaller piece of the pie — as Nathaniel Grow wrote last month, players were getting 56% of revenue in 2002 but now it’s only 40%. The players generate the revenue. They’re the reason the sport exists and they deserve more money. A player declined at the end of a big money contract? Tough. No one complained when he was playing for a fraction of his market value early in his career. Honorably retire? Get real. How about owners honor their side of the contract and not try to weasel out of it like the Angels and Josh Hamilton or this A-Rod home run milestone bonus nonsense. I hope Sabathia and Beltran get every penny they’re owed. Teams are not victims. They’re more “money hungry” than the players will ever be.

Perfect.

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