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Savran: 'Woe is me' idiocy from Steinbrenner

Saturday, June 07, 2003

If ever there was an illustration of the saying "a picture is worth 10,000 words," this is it. There's a famous drawing, originally published in a magazine, I believe, that depicts the skyline of Manhattan in the upper-right-hand corner. The rest of the picture is nothing but flat land and tumbleweeds. The caption: A New Yorker's view of the United States.

Never have truer words been spoken, never have truer images been drawn. To New Yorkers, anything West of the East River is desolate wasteland. They cannot comprehend why anybody would want to live anywhere else.

George Steinbrenner, a Clevelander who lives in Tampa, Fla., but operates his evil empire in the Big Apple, is upset over the vagaries of interleague play. Of course, because George lives in a vacuum, his myopic New York view of the world doesn't allow him to understand that interleague play has deteriorated because of him and those of his ilk.

Major League Baseball has made sure that the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and all the big-market, big-money boys have been accommodated by annual scheduling of home-and-home series with the crosstown Mets, Anaheim Angels, and White Sox.

Because of those guarantees, it throws everything else off kilter, and kept slugs such as the Milwaukee Brewers and Pirates playing their American League counterpart Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals year after year.

It's why some teams are playing 18 interleague games and some play only 12, which clearly distorts the competitive balance within a division.

But George doesn't see that, or he chooses to ignore it. The special treatment he has demanded and received is a big reason interleague play has turned a well-intentioned idea into one gone bad.

But for the Boss, like any egomaniac, it's all about me. What have they done for me lately?

If memory would serve George, just about everything.

Speaking of evil empires, the Disney Corporation is all about entertainment. Professional sports are all about entertainment. But sometimes one and one doesn't equal two. Disney/ABC/ESPN is trying to put on its best face in broadcasting the Stanley Cup final. But Disney's classic Hollywood mentality of having a "star" presence -- Chris Berman in this case -- is overkill.

He adds nothing to the telecast and actually ends up interfering with the excellent duo of John Saunders and Barry Melrose, devouring clumps of time that could be allotted to analysis. His hackneyed French faux of the 1950s Montreal Canadiens just isn't funny. His hockey material cries for a Zamboni to run over it to freshen it up. His presence is superfluous.

The same was true when Al Michaels was propped up to front ABC's hockey presentation for no apparent reason other than he was their top guy. It's like grafting the arm of a chimpanzee onto a human body: It just doesn't belong. They would have been better served to leave Gary Thorne and Bill Clement alone, put John Davidson alongside Saunders and Melrose and leave out the "stars" who might have watched two hockey games all season. Stature is of no value if you have nothing to say.

Game 5 notwithstanding, if you like hockey, if you "get" the Stanley Cup playoffs, then no apologies are necessary for the style of play employed by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and New Jersey Devils. If you don't appreciate the game, like the overwhelming majority of folks south of Saskatchewan, the soccer-like scoring and scoring chances are suicide as a showcase for the sport.

On my radio show this week, former Penguin Pierre Larouche said it best: "These teams' top priority isn't to score, it's to not get scored upon."

They don't even take a risk on a power play! Adding Mickey Mouse, Pluto, and Andy Sipowicz to the broadcast team wouldn't make that brand of hockey entertaining. You do what you have to do to win the Cup, but you sure don't win over any potential fans in the process.

If there's one group whose arrogance rivals that of many baseball players, it's baseball's umpires. The umpires' total disregard for the fans and what the Pirates were trying to do Tuesday night was reprehensible. And they should be called on the carpet for it.

Paul Silas has a credible and commendable resume as an NBA coach, so his hiring in Cleveland doesn't need to be defended. However, if Cavaliers' management mandated that the coach they hired had to agree to play LeBron James a certain number of minutes per game as a condition of employment, isn't that a road map to failure?

Making such concessions undermines a coach's ability to coach his team. Isn't basketball still a "team" game? Maybe not in the NBA.

If it's true that Jaromir Jagr can be had in a trade, do you suppose the Washington Capitals would send him back here in exchange for Kris Beech, Ross Lupaschuk and Michal Sivek?

Stan Savran is the host of a sports talk show weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m. on WBGG-AM (970).

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