A GRIP ON SPORTS
It's a number that's hard to comprehend. Two billion dollars. It sounds almost like a laugh-line in a new Austin Powers movie. Two billlllion dollars. But it isn't a joke. Not really. It's the amount of money former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has available to spend for a sports franchise. Something about that just doesn't seem right. Read on.
• When the news leaked concerning Donald Sterling's racist tendencies some, I don't know, 15 years ago, no one cared. Then an audio tape was plastered all over the airwaves, and federal lawsuits and housing discrimination be damned, it was time for the old guy to get the hell out of the NBA. Get out now. And while you are leaving, will you take this nice parting gift? More money than most people in the state of California will see in their lifetime, combined? When the news started to emerge yesterday Ballmer, one of the bigwigs behind the aborted attempt by some Seattle folks to buy the Sacramento Kings last year, was willing to shell out $1.6, then $1.8, then $2 billion, it just seemed odd. Think how much money that is. Stack two billion one-dollar bills on top of each other and there wouldn't be any trees left in Washington. Put them end-to-end and they would stretch from here to eternity. Two billion dollars for a sports franchise? Are we getting silly or what? It's a business, sure, but it's a business that's never going to make the return needed to make a $2 billion bid profitable. Yes, I know, Steve Ballmer has the money. He's worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 billion, which might be even more than his former boss, Bill Gates has these days. Maybe it's because Gates keeps giving away his money to help fight hunger and illiteracy and the like. Now I'm no Subaru-driving liberal – just using the word "liberal" in context with me around some of my friends and former co-workers would entice a laugh or two – but it sure seems to me Gates has the brighter idea. Helping your fellow man build a better life seems a wiser use of all that money than buying Donald Sterling's chick-magnet franchise. A lot of people in Seattle are outraged Ballmer isn't holding on to his money, waiting for the day he can buy a team with Chris Hansen and move it to a new multi-million dollar arena south of town. I admit, such a thought has made me happy in the past as well. But now Ballmer has decided to move south and become another immigrant to Los Angeles. And as I began to examine the money involved here, and even the money involved with Hansen's plans for Seattle, it began to hit me. We can't keep our bridges from falling down. Most of us know kids who can't afford to go to college. People are struggling to feed their children. And a donkey like Donald Sterling is going to be walking around with a few hundred million dollars in his pocket? All because he owned a professional sports team that he operated somewhat like an 1840's cotton plantation? A badly run 1840's cotton plantation? Somewhere our priorities got out of whack.
• The Father's Day memories are rolling in. Good. Share with us your memories of your dad and sports. Of times good – and bad – you spent with your father playing catch, watching golf, running Bloomsday. Whatever. The time he yelled at an umpire or told you he was proud of you or embarrassed the heck out of your brother. We'll put them together and run them in their entirety here on SportsLink. Some might even be featured in the Review. Don't worry about polish, just share what's in your heart. Send them to me at email@example.com. I'll take care of the rest. Make sure to include your name, as the newspaper needs it for confirmation purposes.
• WSU: The Pac-12 announced a whole bunch of football starting times yesterday and, as can be expected, the number of late-night kickoffs elicited outrage. Jacob Thorpe covered the news with this blog post. But think about this. If you are a Rutgers fan living in New Jersey, the 7 p.m. kickoff in Seattle on Thursday night, Aug. 28 is actually a 10 p.m. kickoff for you. Now 7 p.m. doesn't look all that bad, does it? ... "We're No. 56" just doesn't have a real ring to it, does it? But it's what Athlon has WSU ranked right now.
• Preps: The State playoffs are really in full swing, with golf finishing yesterday. Mt. Spokane's girls won the 3A title and the St. George's boys and girls swept the 1B/2B titles. ... The track meets started yesterday and Greg Lee has the coverage along with a feature on a local star. ... State softball is scattered throughout the state, with the 4A actually in Spokane. Chris Derrick has an advance – focused on U-Hi's Hannah Wesselman (pictured) – of all the state tournaments. ... Mt. Spokane will be trying to win its first state 3A baseball title this weekend. Tom Clouse has an advance.
• Shock: The Shock have lost three consecutive games and that isn't sitting well. So the team has made a bunch of roster moves in preparation for tonight's Arena visit by Portland. Jim Meehan has the advance.
• Seahawks: Doug Baldwin wanted to get paid. He will. By the Seahawks. The former Stanford receiver, who signed with the Hawks as an undrafted free agent, is now among the best-paid alums of his class. ... Even with the new contract handed Baldwin, the Hawks are still doing OK with the salary cap.
• Mariners: We've sort of already established Brandon Maurer isn't the answer for the Mariners' rotation, but if you needed anymore convincing, last night's 7-5 loss to the Angels probably was enough. Maurer wasn't sharp and had another bad inning. ... Maybe there is help in the wings. Maybe. ... Robinson Cano didn't play after being a late scratch when he didn't feel well. ... Felix Hernandez used his fastball more in Wednesday's start, mainly because it, as we used to say, had some hair on it.
• Sounders: The Sounders' back line hasn't always been the most stout this season and some news that emerged yesterday won't help. Defender Djimi Traore has an injury and will be out a while. That won't help. ... Real Salt Lake will also be missing a key player Saturday when the teams meet at CenturyLink – and long afterward. And the official? You won't be happy. ... The Sounders were disciplined by the MLS for some actions against Vancouver last week. ... Brad Evans still has questions about not being selected for the U.S. World Cup team.
• And that's our report for today. But not our work for today. We'll be on the radio from 3 to 6 p.m., joining Dennis Patchin and Rick Lukens for a live broadcast from a local golf course. I guess you can call it work. Anyhow, you can listen here if you like. And, no, I won't forget my sunscreen. Thanks for reminding me. Until later ...