Let’s Make A Deal

The SEVEN
30 March 2014
As free agents hit the market in the NFL, and NBA & NHL teams attempt to fortify themselves for the stretch run, here is a listing of (some of the) best deals in history.

I. New York Yankees: Acquiring Babe Ruth

The Boston Red Sox traded P/OF Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in 1919, undoubtedly unaware that he would wind up as an American icon with 714 home runs. In the eyes of some Boston fans, that trade brought into effect the Curse of the Bambino, the curse which allegedly bedeviled the Red Sox from that point until 2004, when they won their next World Series title after an improbable playoff comeback from three games down against the Yankees.

II. Brooklyn Dodgers: Moving to Los Angeles

The Brooklyn Dodgers were looking to build a new stadium…and ironically, the area they wanted is the very same land on which the Brooklyn Nets are playing at the Barclays Center.

Unable to get what they wanted at home, they took a sweetheart deal 3000 miles away in which they got gifted the land on which Dodger Stadium was built.

III. Yankees beat Indians

No, not on the baseball diamond, at least this time. Dutch settlers purchased the island of Manhattan from Native Americans for what has traditionally said to have been twenty-four dollars. Even if a more recent analysis is correct in pricing it closer to a thousand dollars, it was still a steal – on several levels.

IV. Philadelphia ’76ers: Acquiring Julius “Dr. J” Erving

After the NBA-ABA merger in 1976, New York Nets owner Roy Boe was strapped for cash – and sold the merged league’s greatest gate attraction, Dr. J, to the Sixers.

With Erving, the Nets had won two of the last three ABA titles…but have not won since. The Doctor became the centerpiece of the Sixers franchise for over a decade, and helped lead them to the NBA Championship in 2003.

As an addendum, the worst decision ever made was by the New York Knicks, who turned down a similar trade for Erving.

V. Spirits Owners: Acquiring Future Assets

As the aforementioned merger was taking shape, Ozzie and Daniel Silna, owners of the ABA’s Spirits of St. Louis – yes, that was their name – took a buyout as opposed to joining the NBA. Their deal entitled them to 4/7 of a team’s TV revenue in perpetuity, a deal that wouldn’t seem like much with a league that showed playoff games on tape delay in that era.

Since then the popularity of players from the Doctor, Bird and Magic, and Jordan to King James and Durant have catapulted the league to new heights of popularity…and this deal has been worth up to $300 million…plus the $500 million the NBA recently paid to end the arrangement.

VI. Toronto Blue Jays: Trading with the Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics: Trading with the Toronto Blue Jays

Danny Ainge, a college basketball hero, was playing for the Blue Jays, where he batted .187 in 1981. When he decided to leave baseball for the Celtics, it set off a legal dispute between the teams, with the Celtics ultimately paying somewhere in the neighborhood of $500,000 to the Blue Jays.

The Jays got much more than they probably could have from any baseball team, while the Celtics got a guard that helped them win championships in 1984 and 1986.

VII. Dallas Cowboys: Trading Herschel Walker to Minnesota

Herschel Walker was an incredible back, from college to the USFL to the NFL – but his biggest NFL impact was probably as a result of his trade to Minnesota largely for 13 players, some of which helped fuel the Cowboys’ success for years to come.

 

 

 

My Piece I Give Unto You

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The SEVEN
10 March 2014

I. Another View of The Greatest Generation

Tom Brokaw has written extensively about the World War II era having produced “the greatest generation,” and now another writer has come out with her take on her country, her generation, and her life therein. That would be my mother, Winnie Williams, whose memoir, “WWII Diary – Travels and Experiences of a Black Soldier’s Wife,” is now available. By the time you read this you should be able to find it on Amazon…and soon also available on Kindle. I would be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to get a copy…and I guarantee you you’ll enjoy it!

II. Farewell To Arms

If you go into a bookstore, especially a Christian bookstore, you may find numerous Biblical translations which all have their own linguistic interpretations of the words of the Bible. In almost all of these instances the differences are nuanced and are in the spoken and written style of language used, but I guess there may be some where the differences may be more pronounced.

So when I saw that Troy, New York pastor Rev. John Koletas is going to raffle off an AR-15 assault rifle at his church service in two weeks, I was led to chalk this up to him having bought some different translation – and wanted to find it. After an exhaustive search I think I located it, and turned right to an appropriate passage, where it read “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not a rifle, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.”

Jesus must be rolling over in his grave…except my translation says he’s gone.

III. Guns Don’t Shoot People…

…people do, I say, as I reflect on my recent visit to a gun shop, where I touched a gun for the first time since my sixth-grade trip to the Police Academy. But it’s just that much easier for something to go wrong when a gun is around if you’re not careful. Just ask Raymond Felton.

IV. Bad Luck

Even when Gov. Chris Christie tries to do good, it doesn’t work out. A few days ago, in anticipation of a predicted massive snowstorm, Gov. Christie declared a state of emergency in New Jersey. Unfortunately – well, fortunately for everyone else – it didn’t snow.

If there’s anyone that can relate to Christie now, it may be NBC’s Matt Lauer, who was alleged by some to have had a hand in the dismissal of Ann Curry from the Today show. Both men deny having any involvement in their respective controversies, but few people really believe them.

V. Let’s Go Tupac

Were someone to call the ’80’s, and tell them that the Philadelphia ’76ers, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, and Los Angeles Lakers – the four NBA teams that won championships during that decade (Lakers – 5, Celtics – 3, Sixers & Pistons – 1 apiece) – are about to be in the lottery this June, the ’80’s wouldn’t believe that at all. One example of how bad things have gotten: when fake Tupac – a fan who resembles the late/great rapper – is a big attraction at Celtic games, you know all is not well on the parquet floor.

VI. Because I’m Happy

So glad that things have worked well for Jason Collins, that he’s about to sign for the rest of the season, and that his #98 jersey was number one in sales.

VII. Memories

I’ve seen this movie before, like when Dr. J retired, and even last year as Mariano Rivera retired. Now here it is again, as Derek Jeter is approaching his final season. Why the sadness? It’s not like the Yankees won’t get another shortstop, another captain, or that they won’t have good and entertaining teams.

The sadness – at least for me – comes as a result of an association with a corresponding period in your own life. With Dr. J it was a ceremonial ending of “youth.” With Rivera and Jeter, it’s that their careers occurred during the years that my son grew up, a period that many share with similar memories. So enjoy this year (and Chicago area fans can particularly enjoy May 20-25, when the Yanks visit the Cubs for two games and the White Sox for four), and cherish your memories for a lifetime.

On The Left Side

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The SEVEN
1 March 2014

I. KJ

Kevin Johnson had a great NBA career with the Phoenix Suns, and some great hops – google his Cleveland dunk if you’ve never seen him – but his greatest performance in an NBA city will probably be as Mayor of Sacramento, CA. The former superstar has the support of much of his city, especially sports fans who are grateful for him investing his personal NBA capital in saving the Sacramento Kings from being moved. Meanwhile, on the court…

2. Jimmer

The still-struggling Kings and guard Jimmer Fredette have parted ways, as the Kings have bought out his contract. Another example of how NCAA and NCAA tournament heroics do not necessarily translate into NBA stardom.

3. Darnell Kendricks

Unfortunately it was where and when it was, but with that said, I had the honor of accompanying superb vocalist and Sacramento native Darnell Kendricks at his grandmother’s funeral. Music heads, if you’re not up on him, check him out.

4. Turn The Beat Around

Not exactly a bucket list item, but it’s pretty cool to watch the world famous San Francisco cable car come to its final stop near the intersection of 5th and Market…because the operators have to get off and manually turn the car around in order to place it in position for the trip in the opposite direction.

On another San Francisco note, I wonder if old New York Giant fans would take kindly to the fact that one of the businesses that has emerged across the street from AT&T Park is called Polo Grounds.

5. Chavez Ravine

Maybe not a bucket list item either for most people…but last fall I saw a game at Dodger Stadium, made all the better by virtue of its being at the end of the summer, enabling me to see the mercurial Yasiel Puig. If only I could have been there that night in ’85 when the Dodgers had the bases loaded with no outs, and Dwight Gooden ended the threat without yielding any runs by striking out the next three batters on three pitches apiece….

6. LA Sunshine

The rain was just beginning to hit Southern California as I was leaving, but the previous day it was interesting to see LA folks walking around with coats zipped to the top and scarves wrapped tightly around their necks. Guys, this weather was not cold…See East Coast for further information!

7. Twice A Day or Dick Gregory

I received an email…don’t know how I got on this mailing list…telling me that the Official Countdown to CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) has already begun. This came at about the same time Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the Republican-passed “no gays served” bill. As for Gov. Brewer and her history, the saying that even a broken clock tells the right time twice a day is most apropos – and as for the Republicans, the best advertisement for the Democratic Party is the Republican Party.

The Arizona no-gays “religious freedom” bill led me to think of a book written by activist/comedian Dick Gregory which was entitled “N-Word.” (Well, not exactly that…but you can get yourself a copy of the book to find out the correct title and get his perspective on the era of the civil rights movement.) In the book he mentions an incident in which he went into a southern restaurant and sat down, only to be told by the waitress that they didn’t serve “N-Words.” Gregory responded that he didn’t eat them, and that he wanted fried chicken. The owner or manager came out with the chicken, saying “N-Word, whatever you do to that chicken we will do to you.” Gregory proceeded to kiss it.

Hopefully this type of incident will not have to be re-enacted in the near future.