Couch Slouch learned a long time ago – I believe I was 3 years old – that, in America, money talks and poverty walks. My mother and I used to take the bus a lot, which put us squarely in the middle of the class struggle.
Anyway, while on a Los Angeles metro bus myself the other day – the 33 line, which goes from the bowels of the city to the beach – I wondered about the seeming incongruities of certain people getting certain jobs:
Mets owner Fred Wilpon is the chairman of Major League Baseball’s finance committee. If you found a guy who was an investor/victim in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, who cut team payroll drastically because of debt issues and who, faced with a cash shortfall, had to secure a $25 million loan from MLB – would you want that guy to oversee budgetary matters for your business?
Wilpon running a finance committee makes about as much sense as Madonna emceeing a chastity ball.
“I understand the whole Madoff thing,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said, “but before and since, Fred Wilpon was an extraordinarily successful businessman.”
That’s like saying, “I understand the whole lavish-spending-leading- to-the-French-Revolution thing, but before and since, Marie Antoinette was an extraordinarily popular monarch.”
The NCAA hired Oliver Luck for the recently created post of executive vice president for regulatory affairs. Luck, athletic director at West Virginia for 4½ years, now oversees all NCAA regulatory functions. He’s an enforcement poo-bah.
Curiously, two months after Luck accepted the position, the NCAA placed West Virginia’s athletic department on two years’ probation for recruiting violations involving illegal text messages and phone calls in 14 sports – violations that came under Luck’s watch.
The breaches occurred while the school was already on two years’ probation for transgressions involving out-of-season coaching and the use of non-coaching staff to work with players – infractions that also occurred under Luck’s WVU stewardship.
I’ll say this:
1. Luck certainly knows his way around the NCAA offices in Indianapolis already.
2. There’s that old expression, “You can’t kid a kidder,” so don’t expect any future NCAA scofflaws to get anything by a sly fox such as Luck.
Manny Ramirez was brought on by the Cubs as a hitting consultant. Yes, Ramirez was suspended 50 games in 2009 and 100 games in 2011 for performance-enhancing drugs. But I am sure he has a whole slew of batting tips for young hitters who choose to come to the plate without the aid of performance-enhancing drugs.
Even if he hasn’t had a non-PED-aided at-bat in nearly a decade, I’m almost certain Ramirez can recall his non-PED teenage days when he could slap the cover off a baseball with no pharmaceutical assistance stronger than a Cherry Slurpee.
Besides, Barry Bonds – a first-ballot PED Hall of Famer – was in Giants camp the last two springs as a special hitting instructor. And Mark McGwire – another first-ballot PED Hall of Famer – has been the Dodgers’ batting coach the last three seasons.
Isiah Thomas, implicated in an $11.6 million sexual harassment lawsuit while president of an NBA team, was just named the president of a WNBA team. This is beyond the pale and has left me speechless; I actually assume it might be a reality-show prank to spike ratings.
Here’s an eye-popping stat: More than half of the members of Congress who have left since 2010 have lobbying-related jobs. Hey, sports merely reflect the culture at large. In my erstwhile hometown of Washington, D.C., public officials follow the money to more lucrative work lobbying public officials. Thus, it’s no surprise that former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke just went from regulating Wall Street to joining Wall Street.
Or years ago there was John Pemberton, former chief of staff in the Environmental Protection Agency’s air-quality division. One week after the agency eased regulations on air pollution controls, Pemberton became a lobbyist for a utility that operates coal power plants.
At least he did it PED-free.
Ask The Slouch
Q. Reading the news reports, I can’t determine if the NFL nailed the Patriots and Tom Brady or had nothing on the Patriots and Tom Brady. (Sean O’Hara; Atlanta)
A. Well, I recall Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart’s obscenity-case opinion that pornography is hard to define “but I know it when I see it.” Similarly, while it’s hard to determine with certainty the chain of events here, I know Golden-Boy- deflated-football treachery when I see it.
Q. ESPN fired Bill Simmons in a cost-cutting move last week. Aren’t you worried that you’re next? (Scott Jamison; Arlington Heights, Illinois)
A. Worried? Why? My weekly ESPN paycheck – after taxes – is roughly equivalent to Keith Olbermann’s monthly Uber costs.
Q. I was watching ESPN the other day and they were showing Major League Soccer highlights. Isn’t that an oxymoron? (K.W. Hemphill; South Riding, Virginia)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.