As they say in the square dancing and calendar business: “Circle the date!”
May 14 in Yankee Stadium will be “National Shameless Greed Night,” otherwise known as the Derek Jeter Jersey Retirement game. A greater salute to runaway greed once could not have been imagined.
On May 14, four major elements will join hands to provide proof that what they have in common more than baseball is avarice, the relentless desire to suck every last nickel from the pockets of those foolish enough to remain fans.
1) Derek Jeter will return. When last regularly seen in the Stadium, he and business partner Steiner Collectibles were in the latter stages of selling everything Jeter might’ve touched or brushed against while he continued to be blindly heralded as the classiest of Yankees captains.
Even for the dark, dubious and often criminally scandalized memorabilia and autographs business, it got ugly. Having been paid more than $265 million to play for the Yankees plus tens of millions more in product endorsements and appearances, it wasn’t enough for Jeter.
The ugly spike hit its peak Sept. 22, the afternoon before a Yankees home night game and a week before Jeter’s final game, when a Manhattan theater was rented to hold a “Meet & Greet Farewell Luncheon” in “honor” of Jeter. It was one of the last acts in the everything-must-go liquidation sale as conducted by Steiner’s Derek Jeter Consignment Shop.
For $4,500, a fan could exchange a few words with Jeter in a side room then leave with one “limited-edition Jeter-signed item.”
A secondary sell allowed a quickie photo with Jeter and an autograph for $2,500.
Throughout that Farewell Tour summer we heard reminders that Jeter was far too modest and classy to be comfortable as the focus of so much attention.
Was he modest or aloof? Was he classy or just couldn’t be bothered unless there was money in it?
2) The game after the ceremonies, against Houston, could have been, and should have been, a fabulous family/working-folks/sensible-fan Sunday afternoon game. But MLB, having pimped its scheduling authority to TV’s highest bidders, soon allowed the expected: ESPN tabbed the game for a late Sunday night start, thus a finish near midnight.
3) Regardless of when the ceremonies and game were to be held, the Yankees immediately jumped to try to out-scalp the scalpers. Bleacher seats, normally $16 each, were raised to $150. Faraway seats the Yankees usually sell for a swallow-hard $90 were hiked to $210, and so on and so up.
Only those with money to burn and choose to be bludgeoned can claim to be a genuine I-was-there Jeter fan.
4) This has all gone down — and continues to go down — on the watch of Yankees’ president/crown prince Randy Levine, who delivers arrogant lectures on good baseball business while, from Day 2 of the new Yankee Stadium in 2009, thousands of the park’s best, second-best and third-best obscenely priced seats have gone conspicuously empty as the Yankees announce laughable attendance figures.
With Levine at the wheel, unfiltered, untreated greed has turned new Yankee Stadium into an echo-canyon, a monastic, one-and-done curio that brings to mind the old joke about the grasshopper that tells the bartender, “And at these prices I can see why.”
And on Sunday night, May 14, Shameless Greed Night, it all comes together.
What young Winston Churchill wrote his mother from Khartoum about Britain’s war in Sudan also applies to such greed: “You can not gild it; the raw comes through.”
What makes commercial network TV news, when and why?
Thursday evening, CBS News presented a report on the diminished attendance and TV ratings of the Daytona 500, scheduled to appear Sunday on FOX.
Hmmm. CBS held Daytona 500 rights from 1979-2000. Think CBS News even would have assigned this story if Daytona were still a CBS property?
Not a chance. It more likely would’ve presented something to promote it.
From 1992-98, CBS held Winter Olympics rights. Though it was long and widely known that International Olympic Committee czar Juan Antonio Samaranch was a bad guy — an unrepentant World War II fascist who did Olympic business with crooks, bribe-takers, bribe-givers and murderous totalitarian governments and governors, including bestowing Olympic honors on since-convicted and executed Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu — CBS News, in those years, never got around to reporting that story.
Then, one Sunday evening, CBS News’ “60 Minutes” presented a full-blown piece on Samaranch, strongly suggesting he heads a corrupt international enterprise known as the IOC.
That “60 Minutes” piece was produced and presented just after CBS lost Olympic rights to NBC.
What does it take to make the NCAA Tournament? Well, bad coaching helps.
Should Syracuse, now 17-12, make it, note its Feb. 1 game at North Carolina State. The Orange trailed 87-84, 10 seconds left, when N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried allowed Syracuse guard John Gillon to dribble 12 times, into and around the perimeter, choosing not to foul him.
With 1.8 seconds left Gillon hit a 3. Syracuse won in overtime. What sensibly should have been an Orange loss became a win. And 17-12 sure seems a lot better than 16-13.
Abbott and Costello, meet Homer Simpson.
One of the most memorable “Simpsons” among scores is the 1992 episode in which Mr. Burns recruits Ozzie Smith, Ken Griffey Jr., Wade Boggs, Don Mattingly and Darryl Strawberry — among other then-active MLB notables whose voices were used — to play for the Springfield Nuclear Plant in the softball championship against Shelbyville. That episode soon will become an exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame in salute to the show’s 25th anniversary.
Machiavellian plant owner Montgomery Burns, very old age unknown, first plots to recruit Cap Anson, Honus Wagner, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown and Nap Lajoie … until assistant Waylon Smithers tells him they’re dead.
Perhaps my sense of what a college coach should be and do is antiquated. Perhaps I read too many of Clair Bee’s Chip Hilton books as a kid. But when did a record winning streak absolve coaches of doing wrong?
UConn’s women won their 102nd straight, Wednesday on SNY, beating Temple, 90-45. It was an early blowout, with UConn up by as many as 47.
Still, Geno Auriemma played guard Saniya Chong the entire 40 minutes. He sent in a senior guard, for the first time, with four minutes left. Temple coach Tonya Cardoza was worse. She played one sub for two minutes, another for one.
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