The future of Cal athletics, or lack thereof

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USATSI

The future of Cal athletics, or lack thereof

Your education dollars are always at work, so it is with pride and bewilderment that we report that the University of California’s incoming class (2021, for those few who can get out in four years) marched to Memorial Stadium and formed the world’s largest human letter.
 
It was . . . wait for it . . . a “C.” A 7,196-person-strong “C.”
 
But the school, as it occasionally does, missed a golden opportunity to seize a golden opportunity. All they needed to do was have a quick whip-round, get $55,586.44 from each and every one of the captives . . . er, students, and they could have wiped out their entire athletics deficit in one night.
 
You see, while forming gigantic letters is always fun (or as the kids used to say when double negatives didn’t mean voting, never not fun), Cal is staring at quite possibly the bleakest future a major athletic university ever has. The athletic department, whose chief officer, Mike Williams, has just announced his intention to quit, is over $400 million in debt between construction costs, ambition, shrinking allegiance and the absence of a Phil Knight-level sugar daddy to buy the pain away.
 
And before you blame Williams, he inherited this indigestible planetoid from his predecessor, Sandy Barbour, who grew it from her predecessor, Steve Gladstone, and hastened it from . . . well, you get the drift. 
 
Cal’s been blowing through money it hasn’t been taking in for years upon years, didn’t realize the deficit-cutting benefits of the Pac-12 Network (because they largely don’t exist), and the day of reckoning looms closer and closer, especially now that new chancellor Carol Christ (no apparent relation) described the deficit as “corrosive” and has insisted that the athletic department have a balanced budget by 2020.
 
In short, the school may only be able to afford a lower-case “C” before too long. Maybe in comic sans. 

Giancarlo Stanton to Giants? Upside vs downside from Marlins perspective

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USATI

Giancarlo Stanton to Giants? Upside vs downside from Marlins perspective

Because we are too cool to allow the games to sustain us and because we all think the purpose of sports is actually not to be the best player but the general manager, the new item on the baseball menu is not the pennant races but “Where should Giancarlo Stanton go?”

The usual suspects are listed – the Yankees, the Giants, the Chunichi Dragons, Real Madrid – and the $295 million still on his contract is not considered an impediment.

But the logic behind the Marlins keeping him is just as clear and more pressing. Namely, Bruce Sherman, the incoming owner, and Derek Jeter, the designated face, did not buy this team and promptly try to make themselves detested by the few people who still care about it.

So far, we know that the monstrous thing in center field (no, not Christian Yelich) is likely to be torn down, and that Stanton is don’t-go-to-the-bathroom-during-his-half-inning entertainment. Beyond that, we know only that the Marlins draw when they win a lot and barely at all the rest of the time. They are clearly a distant third in a four-team race with the Dolphins and Heat for people’s hearts, and now that hating Jeffrey Loria’s living guts are off the table for the fans, there really is no there, there.

So what’s the up-side of moving Stanton (and before we go any further, the Giants don’t have nearly enough assets to make that work, so calm the hell down) for the Marlins? Prospects, the dark hole that makes a three-year plan a six-year plan.

And the down-side? Sherman may as well move the team for the level of fun he’ll get from it, and the only reason to buy a team looking at a $60 million loss is for the fun. Besides, onlky a very few owners have ever made the full turn from villain to hero – the first impression almost always lasts forever.

So while Stanton may create immediate wallet relief for this aggressively average team (their current record of 57-61 is the 12th best in their 25-year history, and they’ve only had eight winning seasons ever), they also have nothing to sell the fans that they have to live with every day. And if they don’t have enough fans . . . well, I hear San Jose is always hot for a mediocre franchise that lurches between spending money and hoarding it.

 

Rick Barry doubles down on the divine right of kings

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AP

Rick Barry doubles down on the divine right of kings

Rick Barry surprised nobody with his analysis of the criticism of the Trump Administration. He showed his general view on dissent five years ago at the Chris Mullin jersey retirement ceremony.

You remember that bright spot in Warrior history. New owner Joe Lacob, who was already paying for the sins of his predecessor Chris (The Hologram) Cohan and had traded the popular Monta Ellis to turn his backcourt (and his fabulous future) over to the upstart W.S. Curry, was uproariously booed as he stood on a stage at center court in Oakland.

That’s when Barry grabbed the microphone and lectured the rabble.

“C’mon people, show a little bit of class,” he said. “This is a man, that I’ve spent some time talking to, he is going to change this franchise. This is crazy. seriously. C’mon. You’re doing yourself a disservice. All the wonderful accolades being said to you, for you to treat this man, who is spending his money to do that best that he can to turn this franchise around, and I know he’s going to do it. So give him the respect he deserves.”

It is important here to keep his comments within the timeline, as neither he nor anyone else knew what would become of the Warriors three years hence. But it is also to be noted that he dismissed long-suffering customers who had endured decades of rancid basketball since he retired in 1980. They were more than entitled to vent their collective spleen.

But Barry is a man who, rightly and wrongly, believes in the divine right of authority to be treated as authority, which is why what he told USA Today sounds so much like what he told the Coliseum Arena audience that night.

“It’s a disgrace to the world, to our country, what they’re doing,” he said. “The scrutiny that he’s going under is absurd. It’s ridiculous. Politics has always been horrible and it’s even worse now than it was. What’s going on now is reprehensible.”

We now follow with the requisite caveats. He is entitled to his view, as are we all. He is also entitled to express it, as are we all. But his world view is not the issue here as much as his intolerance of people who loudly object to the powers that be by loudly objecting on the behalf of the powerful. It is very much a case of “I’m talking now to tell you to stop talking,” and less explicable, it says that in his world view, respect should automatically be granted to the powerful rather than earned. And when it comes to being a president, or even an NBA owner, it has to be re-earned constantly.

Lacob has managed to do so, a remarkable effort by any metric. Trump is well on his way to failing completely, but that remains an open debate.

Either way, Rick Barry is as Rick Barry has been, and as we suspect he will always be – deferential to the powerful, dismissive of most of everyone else. It’s not a course for the timid, and certainly not for those who wish to, well, be respected.