In the words of Harry Caray, “hello again, everybody. It’s a bee-yooo-tiful day for baseball.”
By time everyone reads this, you will have had time to dissect the lineup that included Theriot, Cedeno, Fukudome, D. Lee, Murton, Soto, Cintron, and Pie. You will also have discussed whether Dempster was ‘Rambo-ian’ enough. (Lou’s word, not mine). So, what did you think?
Baseball is back and not moment too soon. Finally, we have news to talk about and arguments to be had. I do warn you however, I felt like this week’s column should have been named, Triple Axis of Evil. Ok, a bit dramatic and it doesn’t really fit.
First things first, I don’t agree with Jay Mariotti often, but once in a blue moon it has been known to happen and this week it did – twice. Ladies and gentlemen, we have truly entered Zell Hell, (Mariotti’s word, not mine) and if you look closely, Sam Zell does look like a billy goat or maybe Golum from Lord of the Rings. Beware Cub fans, the future of the name Wrigley Field is held by a man who makes quotes like this, about advertising that his Tribune Co. properties should be embracing: “If we can run ads for erectile dysfunction and we can run ads for penis enlargement, what’s wrong with gentleman’s clubs? Seems like we have a double standard,”
This is one topic that is not going to go away especially since Mariottti has called for a Cub fan crusade to voice the voice their outrage. Here are the cliff notes. Tribune Co. – and Cubs – owner Sam Zell once again stated on CNBC that he may sell the naming rights to the 94-year-old ballpark. His methodology centers around the fact revenue for naming rights are soaring, headlined by the $400 million, 20-year deal the New York Mets negotiated to name their new ballpark Citi Field. Coincidently, the Yankees, just turned down a naming rights offer of $50 million a year. Sorry to say baseball purists, this is not your father’s game anymore. Money talks and Zell has the legal rights to sell the name however he pleases. And somehow, I don’t think he cares about the public relation ramifications.
Me? I am walking a fine line here. I sort of feel it is inevitable that it will happen. Don’t get me wrong I feel the goosebumps when I walk up the steps to my seat for a game. I love watching batting practice in June when the ivy is finally green. The thing is, all that will happen if it is called Wrigley Field or International House of Wing (well maybe not, but you get the point)
Last time I checked, according to a Sun-Times poll, 67 percent of Cub fans said they would not attend another game if Sam Zell changes the name. Do you really think a name change will cause fans not to support the Cubs? You are talking about fans that blew up a silly Bartman ball in effort to get rid of a curse. Fans who watched Lou Brock get traded for Ernie Broglio and Greg Maddox defect to the Atlanta Braves. They’ll come back, they always do.
I am also not naïve enough to believe Zell will take the $500 gazillion plus he makes off the naming rights and use it towards a World Series or more importantly developing a consistent contender. He is going to take the money, put it in his pocket and get the hell out of dodge.
Or at least he better.
In shocking news, He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, 10-year personal services contract with the Astros could be affected by a possible perjury investigation into whether he lied to Congress about using steroids. On Wednesday, Congress asked the agency to investigate whether Clemens “committed perjury and made knowingly false statements.”
Astros owner Drayton McLane said Thursday he might reconsider the deal — which kicks in when the pitcher officially retires — in light of Clemens’ legal issues. McLane said he’ll also wait before deciding if he’d want Clemens to play for the Astros again if he decided to make one more comeback.
“We’re going to have to wait and see what happens,” McLane said. “The last year, he didn’t make his decision until May. The year before, it was about May before he made a decision. This is still cold February. Hmm, the real question here is not whether he lied or not (he did) but what gives him the right to decide every year when to come back, how to come back and what team to come back to? That hardly seems right.
Finally, Barry Bonds remains unsigned, despite his remarkable résumé. (You didn’t think I would leave Barry out did you) Pending legal issues aside, he still posted a 1.045 OPS last season. Play GM for the day, would you sign him?