Good luck, Greinke
How many times throughout the history of sports — particularly in the era of free agency and ever-expanding TV rights deals — have we seen money bring undue pressure and poor performance?
Get ready to see it again.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are closing a deal with starter Zack Greinke that will pay him $145 million over six years. That’s about $24.5 million per year. It’s an insane amount of money for any other franchise. For the Dodgers, currently negotiating a new television deal that is expected to be worth between $6 billion and $7 billion — and quite possibly more — the Greinke payout is chump change.
But with it comes a price. Greinke has suffered in the past from an anxiety disorder, which suggests that the remedy isn’t a massive contract in the second-biggest media market in the country on a club under new deep-pockets ownership. All eyes in baseball will be on the Dodgers this year. They’ll be scrutinized more than the Yankees. They’re the new faces of excess in sports.
And Greinke is the shiny new Ferrari in the driveway — except he’s more of a pickup truck kind of guy. Is he really a good fit for L.A.?
Also, money doesn’t buy chemistry. It’s awesome when a team spends money; it suggests that it’s serious about winning. But throwing high-priced individuals together without any regard to whether they’re compatible, and whether they will complement each other, is foolhardy.
I’d love to see Greinke succeed. A pitcher overcoming a social anxiety disorder and depression to reach the game’s loftiest perch is an inspirational story. But I admit to some anxiety in seeing him try to achieve that under the harsh glare of the national media. He probably would have been better off in Milwaukee or Seattle.
Reportedly he has an opt-out clause in his deal with the Dodgers after three years. By that time he would have made about $76 million. Let’s hope that, at that juncture, he has earned kudos rather than catcalls.
No NHL outrage?
You can tell the popularity of a sport by the roar. Or the silence.
In July of 2011, the NFL and its Players Association finally came to terms on a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement. There was a great deal of acrimony and haggling. But in the end, I believe what brought the two sides together was the deafening din from the fans.
People who follow the NFL — and that’s fans, media and gamblers — demanded an agreement. The two sides in the dispute could feel the pressure every day. Finally, they caved to it, and came together.
The National Hockey League just announced that it has canceled its games through the end of the year because of a continued stalemate in labor talks with its players. Comparatively speaking, you can hear a few grumbles out there. But that’s it. No sustained outrage. No anguished cries.
Obviously there is a much smaller fan base associated with the NHL than there is with the NFL. Therefore, little pressure is being generated on the two sides to reach an agreement. As a result, it looks like the season will probably be lost.
Fans don’t just cheer AT games. They cheer FOR games. So no one around the NHL should be surprised that, when there are no cheers, there are no games.
A game of pepper
Judging by the direction this Saints bounty case is going so far, I think the end result will see NFL commissioner Roger Goodell giving back rubs to all the accused players.
A photo has emerged of Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne wearing footie pajamas. Aside from any ribbing, one aspect of this item has been overlooked: He plays in Florida. Does he really need footie pajamas?
I like the New Orleans Pelicans. I’m also eager to someday see what gambling lines will look like if another NBA franchise changes its name to the Fish.
Tennis star Novak Djokovic bought up the entire supply of the world’s most expensive cheese, a Serbian variety that sells for $585 per pound. If he has trouble jumping over the net from now on, you’ll know why.
Kevin Garnett was upset with the stat keeper after a recent Celtics’ win over the Sixers in which he was credited with zero rebounds. That’s odd. Garnett usually gets at least a couple of rebounds a game by just glaring at them.
Michael Ventre is a regular contributor to NBCSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelVentre44
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