Monday, May 18, 2015
Oh, yes, it was one big looney-tunes adventure in Atlanta. After the eighth straight loss, Bristol gulped: “I’m doing all I can. I just don’t know what else I can do.”
After the 10th straight loss, Turner was admonished by — of all people — George Steinbrenner. “Nobody forced Ted Turner to buy the Braves,” Steinbrenner said. “We’re all over legal age and of reasonable intelligence. And when we bought these teams, we knew what the rules were.”
After the 14th straight loss, Turner said this: “I’ve got a cocked pistol in my hand. Who can I give the Braves to in my last will and testament?”
Turner then skipped out on a sailing vacation to join the team in Pittsburgh and see what the heck was going wrong. He sat behind the Braves dugout and watched his team lose a doubleheader. That made it 16 losses in a row. “I’d do anything to help us win,” a beleaguered Bristol told the press after the game.
Turner could not hold back now. He called Bristol into his hotel room the next day. Bristol fully expected to get fired. But Turner did not fire him. Instead, he told Bristol to take 10 days off, do a little reflection and maybe go scout the minor league teams.
“Who is going to manage the club?” Bristol asked.
“I will,” Ted Turner said.
“He owns the team, that’s his prerogative,” Bristol told reporters after the meeting. “I tried to talk him out of it. It puts a man in a strange position. I must be doing something wrong. I’m going home for a couple of days to take a long hard look at Dave Bristol.”
Turner made it clear from the start — he would be manager in name only. He planned to let his coaches, Vern Benson and Chris Cannizzaro, make most of the baseball decisions. But Ted Turner felt like he knew people, and he wanted to understand what was happening with his players. He was coming to the rescue.
“It seems like I had done all I could sitting up in the stands,” he told reporters. “I wanted to see what it’s like down in the trenches. … When you’re setting records for losing streaks, it doesn’t hurt to change things.”
And then Turner offered another one of his classic quotes: “If things get sour in your love life,” he said, “you go get a new hairdo, don’t you?”
Thursday, May 07, 2015
His name was Michael Burke, and, as should be plain by now, he was not your typical baseball executive. He stood apart from the blah collection of moneymen known as the “Lords of Baseball,” and not just because of his unusual career, which also included pit stops in the circus, Hollywood, and broadcasting. Burke was stylish, learned, and amiable, but neither his background nor his demeanor helped the Yankees accumulate many victories…
Burke was a drinking man, a soldier, and an athlete, so naturally he palled around with Ernest Hemingway, whom he met in an Irish bar during WWII. The two remained friends long after the war. Hemingway’s chosen biographer, Carlos Baker, wrote about Burke juking Hemingway out of his fisherman’s sweater in a game of touch football. Burke traveled to Cuba near the end of Hemingway’s life and deduced what was at hand. “(My wife and I) discussed the possibility he might kill himself,” Burke later wrote. “A message in some silent cipher foretold that he would rather be dead than incapacitated.”
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Intentional or not, MLB’s steroid policy has been a massive money-saver for owners. In the Biogenesis case alone, $31 million in salaries were saved by teams. MLB even went so far as to threaten Alex Rodriguez with a lifetime suspension from the game, which would have saved the Yankees at least another $60 million on top of the $22 million the club retained in 2014—all before potential eight-figure luxury tax savings are accounted for. While suspensions without pay are far easier to justify for performance-enhancing drugs than they are for drugs of abuse, MLB and the Yankees attempted to go above and beyond the joint drug agreement in an attempt to bilk Rodriguez out of money he’s contractually-owed.
MLB needs to fix its incentives. It shouldn’t be hard. Just look at what the rest of the major sports leagues do with their suspension and fine money. Section 6 of Article VI of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement lays out a policy in which all fines and pay lost through suspensions are channeled to charity, with one half going to charities selected by the NBA Players Association and the other half going to charities selected by the league. The NHL directs its player fines to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund, with a mission to help former NHL players who have fallen into poor health or dire financial straits. Similarly, all NFL on-field fines go to the NFL Player Care Foundation.
As for how things work in baseball? After 60 days in the drug program—according to the Los Angeles Times, it’s unclear if Hamilton exhausted these 60 days during his time with the Devil Rays in the early 2000s or not—a player is no longer entitled to salary retention even if he is in treatment. As such, a year-long suspension for Hamilton would save the Angels anywhere from just under $17 million to the full $23 million if MLB determines his treatment days have already been used up.
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