Wednesday notes

1) The Box Score geeks were kind enough to invite me to jump on to their podcast this week. The main topic conversation was the coverage of women’s sports, though we also spent some time talking about all the hubbub surrounding DeAndre Jordan’s free agency.

Here’s a link to the notes for the show.

And here’s the show itself.

2) On Monday, I commented on the way in which the indelible stain from the so-called steroids era in baseball history cuts into the experience of being a baseball fan even now.

A good illustration of this was evident on Bomani Jones’ twitter feed yesterday. Jones made the point that Barry Bonds was the greater player than Ken Griffey, Jr. Jones wasn’t referring to Bonds’ career post-1998, when by most accounts he started using PEDs and compiled a run of years – 2001-2004 – whose only parallel in baseball history is Babe Ruth’s prime. Jones was talking about the 1990s, when “the kid” (Griffey, Jr.) was widely heralded as the most gifted player in the game. And during that time, especially Griffey’s peak from 1991 to 1998, Bonds was undeniably the superior player. There are lots of ways to show this. To take one, Griffey Jr. never led the American League in OPS (on-base plus slugging), or OPS+, which accounts for contextual factors like the ballpark in which a player plays. Bonds led the National League in OPS five times during the 90s and OPS+ four times. Griffey’s best OPS+ season ever (100 is average) was 171. Bonds exceeded that figure five times through 1998. Griffey was often lionized for spectacular plays in centerfield. But the advanced metrics are less flattering to his record. And Bonds himself was a superior defender and a deserving gold glove winner eight times in the 1990s.

Griffey, Jr. was great. Bonds was undeniably greater. Again, all of this is *before* all accounts of Bonds’ PED use say he started.

But see, we can’t really relish Bonds’ greatness anymore, because it’s all overshadowed by what happened later in his career. The highjacking of Bomani’s twitter feed illustrates that well.

This is not, to be clear, a plea for sympathy for Bonds. As I said, it’s just another example of how one the joys of being a baseball fan has been diminished.

3) I see that Adam Silver is crying poverty on behalf of NBA owners, claiming that many franchises are “losing money.” (Just as it appears Wisconsin is poised to give a approval for a new, publicly financed arena for the Milwaukee Bucks).

Lord have mercy.

What it means for a sports franchise to lose money (see, above, “Bucks”)  – even if we take them and the league officials who shill for them at their word, which we should never do – is not, of course, what it means for an ordinary business to lose money. But it does take a special kind of nerve to keep whining about how hard it is to be an NBA team owner out there given the league’s unprecedented good fortune and the fleecing to which they subjected the players in the last round of labor negotiations in 2011.

Kevin Draper wrote a great analysis in May about the issues likely to be at the forefront of what increasingly looks like a coming war in 2017, when the players will have the option of opting out of the current CBA.

There will be more to say about this. If history is any guide, owners will gnash their teeth about how unsustainable the current model right up until a new agreement is reached, aided and abetted by much of the mainstream sports media, which will be both credulous about owners’ claims and unable to accept that high player salaries don’t mean they’re getting their fair share relative to the owners. Then, once the deal is concluded and some time has passed, those same media will realize that, oops, well it sure does look like the owners pulled a fast one. Again.



One comment

  1. It is pretty depressing how horrendous the news is on these issues… if every single utterance by the league office and by owners isn’t met with “yeah, but how about the increased value of your franchise, how are you factoring that into “losing money””, than the journalist should be fired for incompetence.

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