Archive - March 2016

  1. Column: Baseball Dipomacy on Display in CubaMarch 31, 2016

    Baseball diplomacy was on display last week as the Tampa Bay Rays traveled to Havana to play the Cuban National Team in an exhibition game, the first of its kind since the Orioles played there in 1999. The audience – including yours truly – witnessed a truly historic event. President Barack Obama entered the stadium with his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro. The two leaders sat side by side during the game before exiting after the third inning. It’s been 88 years since the last sitting U.S. president, Calvin Coolidge, visited Cuba, a country that’s been mostly off limits to U.S. citizens for 55 years.

  2. Column: MLB Trying to Attract New GenerationMarch 24, 2016

    Baseball has an age problem. According to data collected by Sports Media Watch, half the television viewers during the 2013 World Series were 55 or older. Those numbers are consistent with the age of viewers of all nationally televised games on FOX, ESPN, TBS and the MLB Network during the entire 2013 season, giving baseball the oldest television viewing audience of any of the four Major League team sports. And the 2013 season wasn’t unique. For the five year period leading up to 2013, the median viewing age increased by one year annually, which suggests to some observers that baseball is a dying sport. To counter that trend, MLB has made it a priority to reach out to younger generations in a number of ways. The goal is to introduce baseball to kids as early as possible, and for good reason. According to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, research shows that “The biggest and strongest indicator of fan affinity as an adult is if you played [the game] as a kid."

  3. Column: Sharapova Tests Positive For Banned SubstanceMarch 17, 2016

    As drugs go, this one was at least easy to spell and easy to pronounce: Meldonium. But it is no less dangerous to an athlete than a drug that is difficult to pronounce and impossible to spell, like tetrahydrogestrinone, a drug that many athletes have been accused and/or convicted of taking, including former track star Marion Jones. If you don’t believe that, just ask Maria Sharapova. Last week Sharapova called a press conference to announce that she had failed a drug test for meldonium at the Australian Open. Meldonium, which was developed in Latvia decades ago, is used to treat ischemia, a lack of blood flow to an organ, and neurodegenerative disorders. Sharapova said she had been using the drug - with a doctor’s prescription - for over a decade to treat a magnesium deficiency. She also said her family had a history of diabetes.

  4. Column: Commish Manfred Makes A StatementMarch 10, 2016

    The Times They Are a Changin’ Robert Zimmerman, a/k/a Bob Dylan When MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Yankees’ reliever Aroldis Chapman he made a statement that resonated throughout the sports world. Chapman was suspended without pay for 30 games for violating Major League Baseball's new Joint Policy on Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse which had been negotiated with and agreed to by the players’ union. The suspension was unprecedented and it may be just the beginning of a crackdown on player misbehavior, or rather, to call it what it really is, criminal activity against another human being. Any time someone – anyone, not just an athlete – physically abuses another person it’s a crime.

  5. Column: Becoming an NBA Agent Now More Difficult and ExpensiveMarch 3, 2016

    Becoming an NBA agent just got more difficult, and more expensive. Anyone who represents an NBA player must register with the union that represents the players, the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA). During the NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto player agents approved a number of changes to the agent certification process that had been under discussion since last summer. The new NBPA rules haven’t been widely disseminated but the union provided summaries to current agents. Among the changes were increases in yearly dues, limitations on the use of third parties for recruiting purposes, disclosures on referrals to financial advisors, and a new entrance exam for those hoping to represent NBA players.