Reds, Rays and Bears, Oh My!
First up is the the Cinncinati Reds, once a proud franchise, captured its first playoff spot in 15 years on Tuesday after defeating the Houston Astros 3-2. After nine straight losing seasons, most casual fans will talk about Dusty Baker and speak about how he became the ninth manager to take three different franchises to the playoffs. I look at it a bit differently. While I am happy for Dusty, I see scouting Director Terry Reynolds and former Seattle Mariner and Los Angeles Angel Billy Bavasi back in the post-season. I am really happy for Guys like PR Director Rob Butcher, who I had a chance to chat with during this year’s All-Star game in Anaheim.
Sure I have fond memories of the 1970′s Big Red Machine with Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Pete Rose and Davey Concepcion. These days however, I root for friends in the business. Guys who have put more than their fare share into working for an organization night and day, often waiting years for a chance to go or return to the playoffs. In sports management, we do not control what happens on the field. That is left to the players. So management’s fortunes ride on the players and after all the hard work, a few executives get to enjoy working a bit longer. Some may even be rewarded with a ring come the end of October.
Then there’s the Tampa Rays, who under former Angels coach Joe Madden have the best record in baseball as of tis morning. The club is also one of eight teams working to win the world series, but not without a bit of controversy.
Earlier this week, Rays pitcher David Price used his Twitter account @DAVIDprice14 to express his frustration that the team has been playing to more empty seats than fans down the stretch. He used the 140 characters to say “Had a chance to clinch a post season spot tonight with about 10,000 fans in the stands….embarrassing.”
He quickly learned the power of Twitter and that the medium is like a microphone as he was blasted from media and fans alike for the comment. Within an hour, it seems someone for to him sin e the follow up message by Price read, “If I offended anyone I apologize I did not think it was gonna turn into this…”
He has not Tweeted since.
My take on this? Mr Price is a passion athlete who is competitive and wants to win. He certainly wants a home town crowd behind him. However, I suggest Mr. Price open his eyes to the real world and maybe read this month’s news release by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It said, in part,
the unemployment rate was about unchanged at 9.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Government employment fell, as 114,000 temporary workers hired for the decennial census completed their work.
The number of unemployed persons (14.9 million) and the unemployment rate (9.6 percent) were little changed in August. From May through August, the jobless rate remained in the range of 9.5 to 9.7 percent.
If that were not enough, this unemployment graph, dated through June delivers the message as well.
Hopefully enough said and lesson learned.
Meanwhile on the college circuit, there will be at least one less division I baseball program next year. The University of California Golden Bears, that’s Berkeley to those of you from the East Coast and around the world, announced they are slashing baseball and a few other sports from their intercollegiate roster as the school (and the entire California University system) continues to deal with shortfalls in budgeting.
A quick check of Cal’s Athletics web site and the news release section did not list a thing, but I did find the story within the main college web site. Along with baseball, gymnastics will get the ax as will in budgetary cuts that will reportedly save the University four million dollars.
The number of varsity sports at UC Berkeley will be reduced from 29 to 24 under the new plan. A total of 163 student-athletes of the more than 800 currently participating are directly impacted by the decision – 38 in baseball, 19 in men’s gymnastics, 15 in women’s gymnastics, 30 in women’s lacrosse and 61 in men’s rugby – as well as 13 full-time coaches.
Loved the headline of the news release. It began with: University of California, Berkeley, Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau announced today (Tuesday, Sept. 28) a comprehensive plan for the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics that will result in a broad-based yet sustainable program that continues to support the campus’s commitment to excellence.
Last time I checked commitment to excellence did not mean displacing college students as well as coaches. The PR people could have done a better job with their messaging. However, with the economic climate still dismal, especially on the West and East Coast, it is understandable.