Welcome back for another edition of News and Views. This week, we ask the question: What do the World Series chances of potential National League pennant winners Philadelphia, Los Angeles and St. Louis have to do with San Diego pitcher Heath Bell? Ask Bud Selig.
But first: What’s up in Flowery Branch?
♦ News: Arthur Blank sells shares in the Falcons to four minority owners.
♦ Why should you care: Because it reaffirms that even your favorite self-made billionaire owner is having some issues.
♦ Views: There’s no reason to disbelieve Blank when he says he remains committed to the Falcons and has no interest in selling the team or even a controlling interest in the franchise. But the economic problems in pro sports are real, even if they exist on a different level in the NFL. Owners’ fortunes have been dented by the stock market and revenue streams have dried up because of decline in the retail industry, gas prices and Joe and Fred losing jobs. Blank also has dug into his own pocket for years, improving the area around the Georgia Dome and upgrading the Dome
itself. I’m not asking you to hold a canned food drive for the man, but he needs money. He needs liquid. Somebody else’s liquid. There have been layoffs and budget cutbacks within the Falcons’ organization just like everywhere else. The Arena League (where he owned/owns the Georgia Force) is all but officially belly up. He withdrew his bid for a Major League Soccer franchise. What Blank feels he really needs — and certainly wants — is a new stadium with built-in revenue that he can’t get at the Dome (which he doesn’t own). As our Darryl Ledbetter reported, Forbes magazine valued the Falcons’ franchise at $872 million, which ranks 29th out of 32 teams. If Home Depot ranked 29th out of 32 hardware stores, Blank wouldn’t be here.
♦ News: American League 4, National League 3.
♦ Why should you care: You shouldn’t. The problem is …
♦ Views: Because of arguably the dumbest rule in professional sports — no, not arguably; it IS the dumbest rule in professional sports — the result of an exhibition game again determines home-field advantage in the World Series. Here’s something for the Dodgers to think about if they go on to finish with the best record in baseball. Should L.A. face Boston in the World Series, the Red Sox would have home-field advantage because a Baltimore outfielder (Adam Jones) hit a sacrifice fly to score a Detroit outfielder (Curtis Granderson) off of a San Diego reliever (Heath Bell). Once again, with feeling: All-Star Games are not meant to be taken seriously. They are exhibitions. They are not staged or framed or managed or played like real games because if they were you wouldn’t have the starting pitcher go two innings and the two teams using 36 different batters for a nine-inning game. To try to artificially create some drama by saying the winning league will have home-field in the Series doesn’t add anything — other than mocking. And so, I mock.