TELANDER: A decade later and no disaster relief for Cubs
BY RICK TELANDER firstname.lastname@example.org March 30, 2013 12:42AM
The Steve Bartman-Moises Alou mishap was 10 years ago this fall, and the Cubs haven’t gotten anywhere close to a World Series since. | AP
Updated: May 1, 2013 3:05PM
Remember 2003, Cubs fans?
I do. It was — don’t laugh — 10 years ago. Like, yesterday. Tempus fugit, my friends.
Fans said, Wait til next year! No question the Cubs will win the 2004 World Series. There will be no real or symbolic Bartmans, no Alou meltdowns, no errors, no arm problems, no nothing. Just victory.
People were dreaming of a Cubs-Red Sox rivalry. That never happened, either. The Red Sox did win the World Series in 2004 and 2007. Then boy-genius executive Theo Epstein left the team in a mess and came to the Cubs to fix matters here.
Result? The Cubs lost 101 games last year. The Red Sox lost 93. It was the Red Sox’ first sub-.500 season in 15 years. For the Cubs, it was only the third 100-loss season in team history.
And now? We have wreckage in both places. The Cubs appear no better than last year. And the Red Sox, owners of the longest consecutive home sellout streak in Major League Baseball history — 793 — do not look to make it past Opening Day with the streak intact.
The Red Sox are even reducing draft beer from $7.50 a cup to $5 and selling hot dogs two-for-one in April in hopes of drawing people to Fenway Park.
Amazing what a decade can do.
◆ Think ballplayerS are overpaid? I know you do.
But let’s check out another group of guys who make ballplayers seem like slackers in the money department: CEOs.
We all know the game is rigged for those who are in the game — that being the game of high-stakes capitalism, which includes huge corporations, banks too big to fail and anything hinting of Wall Street, hedge funds and the like. Most of us are not exactly in that game, though we are at the bottom of the game’s food chain, like sparrows that nibble the random seeds that pass through the donkeys on the roadway.
The scandalous financial crisis of recent years was supposed to change matters of grievous financial inequity, but it did no such thing.
Check it out: In 2012, the CEOs of Standard & Poor’s top 500 companies had a median pay of $9.7 million, up 8 percent from 2011.
According to USA Today’s analysis, the 25 CEOs at the top made a minimum of almost $17 million in 2012. And remember, that’s just for one year. These dudes keep packing it in year after year. And then they parachute out with gazillions more. Yes, the stock market is up, but most people’s pay isn’t, and unemployment is at a sad 7.7 percent.
So you have Tyco’s Edward Breen making $24 million, Abbott Labs’ Miles White making $19 million, Occidental Petroleum’s Stephen Chazen making $28.5 million, Viacom’s Phillipe Dauman making $33.4 million, and — ta-da! — Disney CEO Robert Iger raking in $37 million.
My favorite, though, is Meg Whitman of Hewlitt-Packard, whose pay package was more than $15 million, even though investors lost 46 percent on their returns and the company announced plans to lay off 27,000 workers.
Not picking on you because you’re a woman, Meg — a rarity in this rarified climate. Just picking on you because you make Justin Verlander’s seven-year, $180 million deal with the Tigers seem reasonable and just.
◆ A kid nameD ANDREW Wiggins, a 6-8, 215-pound senior at Huntington (W.Va.) Prep, was just named the Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year. The award recognizes academic achievement and character both on and off the court, as well as basketball skill. Wiggins must be all that. He averaged 23.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 2.5 assists this season. He also is rated the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2013 by Rivals.com, Scout.com and ESPN.
Fine. But I thought Simeon’s Jabari Parker — a studious lad of high character and great hoops skills — was the best ball-playing senior in the land. Shows what I know.
◆ High pay iN COLLEGE basketball has trickled down to the women’s game from the men’s. Geno Auriemma, the Connecticut women’s coach, just signed a new, five-year contract for $10.86 million.
Yes, that’s chicken feed compared to, say, eBay CEO John Donahoe, who made almost $30 million last year, but it’s a start.
What it says is: Just as in the men’s game, there is no salary cap for NCAA coaches. It’s the free market, the Wild West. There only is a salary cap for the players — the workers — and that is, as ever, $0.00.
◆ For all you NATURE geeks, I would like to remind you that I am one of you. And therefore I present to you the life of the mayfly, that mysterious winged creature that rises each spring from its nymph stage in lakes and streams and becomes the desired food for all kinds of fish, including lovely rainbow trout.
Mayflies don’t eat as adults, and some live only a few hours. They swarm upward, fertilize multiple females attracted to the swarm and then die.
A good life?
You be the judge.