Better The Devil You Know Than The One You Don’t Or Is It ?
Better the devil you know than the one you don’t….. they say and in many ways that might just be true. Given the fact that we’re now seeing a great deal of unrest within the NFL and quite possibly the NBA in its imminent future . I’ve got say that I’m completely surprised with the ease at which MLB is now transitioning itself from Spring Training to the commencement of its regular season on the 31st March , 2011 . I suppose we’ve all got to grateful and thankful for MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and the somewhat smooth transition for the situation ?
Slide show for your perusal.
We’ve all seen for ourselves the unrest now taking place between the NFL and the game’s players represented by the NFLPA . And with there now being a league enforced work stoppage and the impending litigation process to take place within the US Federal Court System it has me wondering where are the current leaders of tomorrow for the respective sports that we’ve all in some ways either come to love or hate ? NBA Commissioner David Stern has been in place the NBA’ commissioner for twenty five years and having come from a legal background as a lawyer it’d be only natural to think that any successor to Stern might from within the league’s own hierarchy or a prominent lawyer from inside the beltway with known connections to Stern and quite possibly members up on Capitol Hill. That was most certainly the case with Roger Goodell when he succeeded Paul Tagliabue as NFL Commissioner. Goodell and the league NFL President and present Chief legal counsel Jeff Pash are protege`s of Tagliabue while he was commissioner of the NFL and also when he was first a practicing lawyer with the law firm Covington &Burling LLP . Tagliabue a founding partner in the firm has since returned to his old stomping ground to practice law on a somewhat limited basis with the firm.
Goodell for his part after his initial first two years in office he now seems to have hit a brick wall in his dealings with the union and in doing so he’s coming across as something of a bumbling idiot whereas his opposite number with the NFLPA , Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has been able to articulate the union's points with clear clarification leaving no one with any doubt that they’re not the culprits here but it’s the league and the owners who are trying to paint a very different picture of the stance being taken by the players. Personally I’m not about to take sides on the issue , except to say that the childlike immaturity that has been shown by those sides during the negotiations borders on being downright infantile and totally below anything I’d have expected from either party ! But that’s what tends to happen when you have a bunch of multi-millionaire players and multi-billionaire owners fighting like rabid dogs over the scraps left at the dinner table. Only the scraps isn’t in fact leftovers from a meal but how to split $ 9 billion ($ 9,000,000,000) evenly amongst the two sides . Have you ever seen or heard anything so ridiculous in all of your life ?
Now when it comes to David Stern you either love him or hate him . He’s something of a chameleon as to the way he wants to be perceived by the fans and public alike and when it comes to the photo-op whereby he can even outshine the elite players within the NBA , let’s just say that is when the commissioner is at his very best it’s very difficult to actually ignore him . Twenty five years as commissioner of the league has seen expansion , as to the number of the teams within the NBA and the gross revenues of the league as business concern. And that could not have been done without the ascension of Michael Jordan and his becoming the face of the NBA globally and still being a marketing phenomenon to this day even after his retirement almost a decade ago . The league hierarchy under Stern’s tenure has shaped the league and its brand not just domestically but also on a global scale . And it might just be next to soccer the most popular sport on the planet and that is with due respect to baseball .
From a league whose revenues could be counted in the tens of millions each year____ the NBA is now a $4.5 billion —- $6 billion ($4,500,000,000 —- $6,000,000,000) a year enterprise that is still growing globally but if anything it may well have hit its saturation point within the North American market. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that even with introduction of the D League or Development League as it is more commonly known , David Stern has hinted that he’d some day like to see an expansion franchise outside North America , either in Europe or South America. Pardon me , for saying this but as popular as the sport may well be , and the fact that the league though headquartered in New York City , any thought of adding a franchise in either of the two regions mentioned would not only prove costly but somewhat of a gamble on the part of the NBA. Both Europe and South America already have an established presence of professional leagues and teams albeit that the players there see the NBA as their envy and a professional wish to play in the most competitive and athletic league on the planet. But the risks for them don’t outweigh the rewards whereas for the NBA that would clearly be the case in setting up a fledgling franchise anywhere around the globe. And what the NBA hierarchy may not have also taken into account is that soccer as such is very much the predominant pastime of many sport’s fans within the regions mentioned. As I alluded to earlier the risks outweigh the advantages and with there being a great deal at stake monetarily any plan put into operation would have to thought out and enacted.
We saw the death knell given to the NFL’s decade plus long experiment in Europe with NFL Europe, which is said to have cost the league in excess of $100 million and at the end of the day it simply had nothing at all tangible to show for it. Remarkably though the NBA hasn’t set its sights that high but what it has done is to have offices in Europe , the Far East , and in South America, working in conjunction with numerous partners in those regions to get the game more widely accepted and established. Is it any wonder during the Beijing Olympics Team USA was the talk and toast of the town as its litany of NBA stars were accepted by the masses and wherein audiences for their games during the tournament were in front of sold-out crowds ? Albeit that the NBA worked in conjunction with USA Basketball and the association’s director Jerry Colangelo to establish a real presence and resurrect the appeal of the team after their most recent disappointments on the international stage competitively.
Perhaps it’s too early to talk about David Stern stepping down as NBA Commissioner and though he hasn’t stated when he’s likely to step down from the position as the game’s highest ranking official. It has to be said that he hasn’t groomed an heir apparent nor has he suggested who he’d like to see succeed him in that office. I’d dare say that’d be a decision left to the owners within the league who will likely search for someone with a similar vain to succeed Stern at the time he chooses to step down. From my own perspective while I’ve admired David Stern’s business acumen I’ve got admit I do not admire his autocratic style of running the NBA . Granted , he’s made the league a great deal of money over the years but at the same time he’s made a number of mistakes that at one time or another have come back to bite the league in the proverbial ass, much to the annoyance of the fans and the journalists who cover the NBA. His adoption of a code of conduct and dress code was one of the many things he’s done right but at the same time he stooped to the lowest common denominator in trying to make the league on appearance seem ethnic in terms of marketing it to a wider demographic , particularly amongst young African American males and other ethnic minorities. It may well have been one of the biggest faux-pas on Stern’s part during his tenure. And his intransigence in not wanting to adopt a much sterner drug policy within the league while all the while trying to use the league’s selling point that at the time it had one of the sternest testing policies within all of major sports. Players weren’t being tested for marijuana , but were being tested for certain opiates, iliecit narcotics and steroids. Do I need to go any further with this ? Or is it plain to see who held the upper hand with regard to that specific issue ? It …… certainly wasn’t Stern or the owners ! The players obviously balked at that idea and may have made their feelings felt through the their union the NBPA and their Executive Director Billy Hunter
Then you also had the image policy as it related to the players’ conduct. The very fact that David Stern has been so inconsistent there as to the punishment at times meted out , that it certainly had me believing that not unlike the NCAA and its own idiotic policies as it relates to meting out what’s deemed appropriate punishment , here too the NBA picks and chooses who they necessarily want to make an example of as a deterrent to others. And perhaps another of Stern’s biggest flaw is the fact that he believes implicitly in the officials who officiate the games in the regular and NBA postseason. As we’ve all seen over the years their mistakes during and in the postseason have become not merely a talking point amongst the fans but a complete embarrassment to the league when it’s clear that they’ve done an abysmal job of officiating a game. Stern simply cannot accept that they are flawed individuals in terms of their on-court performances and any public criticism of the officials is often followed with a hefty financial punishment of the critic in question. .
Should the NBA commissioner choose to step down in the imminent future then I’d like for the person who succeeds him to use due diligence when it comes to all matters and simply not laud of the league as if it were their own personal fiefdom . That clearly has been the case with David Stern as he ruled the NBA , where from his early days of running the league , as he saw his influence grow and the money that was to be made he certainly made sure nothing stood in his way even if it meant having to turn a once trusted ally into an enemy. There may well be a number people around the league who’ve a great deal of admiration for the commissioner and many of them may well have some very flattering and reverential things to say about him . But I can only assume that neither Mark Cuban or Stan Van Gundy would be atop of that list in their view of Stern as an executive who’s said to be impartial.
Of all the high ranking officials within the four major sports I don’t know if anyone has alienated and has been more disliked by the fans than Bud Selig. From interim commissioner to now having held the position full time , Selig has managed to assume the role of class clown and idiot without ever having to bar an eyelid . It was if he were in character right from the start. And the very fact that he was once a team owner before succeeding Faye Vincent has me believing that the owners didn’t really cast their net all that far or wide in looking for a successor . All they seemingly wanted was someone who’d be at their beck and call as and when needed _ and who would try to put the Players’ Union (MLBPA) in its place. Which is akin to saying that we’ll hand a child a box of matches and see what happens next . You simply know that no good can from those actions.
As many of you know I think that Bud Selig is to baseball what the Congress , Senate and present administration are to the economic health of this country ……….. a complete and utter failure when it comes to dealing with its most inherent and acute issues. Selig for his part along with league hierarchy , owners and the union were complicit in covering up the steroid issue , and that’s even light of the statements made by Jose Canseco and the subsequent book published by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams (co authors of Book of Shadows) . As I said at the time when those 105 names came up on the list of then alleged steroid users and the fact that the union and hierarchy were under the impression that the list once in their possession would be destroyed as they were essentially were the ones who requested the testing of the players. Instead they chose to retain those records and when supoenaed by the Justice Department cried foul as the agency used that information to try and make its still ongoing case against Barry Bonds . At what point does the idiocy stop with Bud Selig and the game’s hierarchy and common sense begin to set in and prevail ?
Beyond the steroid issue and the very fact that as a financial concern the game of baseball has some major imbalances that it seemingly doesn’t know how to handle or that they may well choose not to out of sheer ignorance. It’s extremely hard to envisage how the MLB commissioner can repeatedly state that the game is in a very healthy state when for years it has had to assist many of its small market teams merely stay afloat from a financial standpoint . In his almost two decades of holding the game’s highest executive position Bud Selig has brought being a simpleton and an idiot to an art form that could be only admired by the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton were they alive !
Not only content with that issue Selig also looks to enforce his will on a team such as the Tampa Bay Rays by suggesting that they will never be able to stage an MLB All Star Game unless they have a new stadium built . But at no time has he or anyone within the game’s hierarchy come to their assistance in dealing with the politicians within the community at the municipal or state level to provide any type of input that would be of benefit to the organization and its owner Stuart Sternberg . Not only that Selig has also made a point of now pushing the issue to where it has now become something of an all consuming battle between the city of St Petersburg where the team resides at Tropicana Field and the organization (front office) itself. There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel on this issue but and Selig continues to keep fanning the flames that has provided the discontent between the two factions on the matter.
What might be even more surprising in the midst of this all , while many teams within the league are suffering financially , the commissioner has been so well compensated over the last four years that he’d prove to be the envy of any senior banking executive on Wall Street. From 2006 to 2009 , Bud Selig earned in excess of $65 million accumulative in that span and it begs the question if he’s earning that much then why all the furor by St Louis Cardinals’ manager Tony La Russa belly aching over the team’s slugger Albert Pujols wanting to be well compensated for his productivity and what he means to the team and organization ?
It’s from the sublime to the ridiculous in all things related to Bud Selig and the game of baseball . Many have suggested that by initiating the wildcard system within the game it made it all the more suspenseful in terms of the postseason. And with the added incentive that whomever won the All Star Game between the AL and NL would gain home-field advantage throughout the postseason . True enough , that has been the case but all of that pales into comparison with Bud Selig’s inconsistencies and decision making on so many levels in terms where has gone wrong with many issues concerning the game . The negatives have far outweighed the positives in my belief and will continue to do so until he actually steps down from his role as commissioner.
The decision making as and when it starts prior to Bud Selig’s departure as to the list of candidates quite possibly interviewing for the position and then assuming the role may well be not necessarily a large one . But I’d like to think that whoever is chosen will be a vast improvement upon the present incumbent .
Picture gallery for your perusal.
At the time of either Bud Selig and David Stern stepping down from their respective positions do you believe that of their legacies will be well respected in terms of their overall achievements ? Or do you feel that the sooner their departure the better off both sports will be , no matter who assumes their roles as the respective commissioners of MLB and the NBA ? Merely leave a comment as to your thoughts on the topics raised in this piece.
Alan aka tophatal ……………………….
Picture and slide show details .
(1) Commissioners Of Major Sport Leagues Attend Hearing On Capitol Hill L-R) National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman, National Football League Players Association Executive Director Gene Upshaw,(now deceased – succeeded by DeMaurice Smith) National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell, National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern, Major League Baseball Player Association Executive Director Donald Fehr (who now holds a similar position with the NHLPA ) and Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig testify before the US House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection about the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports on Capitol Hill February 27, 2008 in Washington, DC. The subcommittee also heard testimony from officials from the US Olympic Committee, National Thoroughbred Racing and the US Anti-Doping Agency. Chip Smodoville /Getty Images North America ……….
(2) Team representative Tommy Losorda of the Los Angeles Dodgers and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig speak during the MLB First Year Player Draft on June 7, 2010 held in Studio 42 at the MLB Network in Secaucus, New Jersey. Mike Stobe /Getty Images North America ……
(3) John Wall of Kentucky stands with NBA Commissioner David Stern after being drafted with the first pick by the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden on June 24, 2010 in New York City. Al Bello /Getty Images ………..
(4) (L-R) Sports Illustrated Group Editor Terry McDonell, Sports Illustrated Writer Tom Verducci and Commissioner of Major League Baseball Bud Selig attend the 2009 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year Celebration at The IAC Building on December 1, 2009 in New York City. Theo Wargo / Getty Images North America ……………
(6) Jeff Pash (background), NFL Executive Vice President and General Counsel, left, and Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner, leave after negotiations with the NFL Players Association involving a federal mediator in Washington, Tuesday, March 8, 2011. AP Photo/ Alex Brandon …..
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