Twenty years ago this week, Pete Rose received the harshest of all of baseball’s penalties: a lifetime ban for betting on games while managing the Cincinnati Reds, the team that brought him fame as a player and infamy as a manager.
It’s one thing they can agree on… baseball.
Major League Baseball is bringing all five living U.S. presidents together at next week’s 80th All-Star Game.
The deference once shown to the stars of America’s favorite pastime has given way to widespread cynicism when records are shattered, especially since Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa engaged in a spirited race in 1998 to break Roger Maris’s single-season record of 61 home runs, a chase that gripped the country with excitement.
And it's not even the dog days of August, when pennant races heat up.Talks to sell the storied Chicago Cubs baseball team have reopened with a rival bidding group even as negotiations continue with the Ricketts family, tapped in January as the winning bidder with a $900 million offer.Cubs owner Tribune Co, which filed for bankruptcy in December due to its heavy debt load and the weak publishing sector, is now also negotiating with private equity investors Marc Utay and Leo Hindery, three sources familiar with the situation said.The National League team, popular for its "lovable losers" image and national following, as well as its iconic home park Wrigley Field and a stake in a local sports TV network, have been on the block since April 2007, when Tribune Co agreed to an buyout led by real estate magnate Sam Zell.Some of the sources, as well as analysts, believe by adding Utay and Hindery's group to the mix, Tribune Co is seeking to pressure the Ricketts family to settle at terms desired by the media company. Sources had previously said the Ricketts family wanted to mark down the value of the Cubs' broadcast contracts.But the Cubs are used to pressure. After all, their fans have been waiting for a World Series title for more than a century and this year has not gone according to plan as the team has struggled to a losing record.(Reuters photo)
The owner of the Chicago White Sox chided the baseball players’ union for blocking efforts to rid the sport of performance-enhancing drugs, even making a play on words on a famous presidential quote related to the union chief.
Jerry Reinsdorf, speaking at a sports law conference in Chicago, said the important topics facing Major League Baseball have not changed since he last spoke to the lawyers’ group in 1983, but the drugs used by those players who do break the rules have changed from cocaine.
“Now we have steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs,” he said, adding that such drugs give users an unfair advantage over clean players, put users’ health at risk and their use sets a bad example for children.
Despite improved drug testing, Reinsdorf, who also owns the National Basketball Association team in Chicago, said baseball still must deal with human growth hormones, which current tests cannot track.
For that reason, blood tests are likely needed, but the Major League Baseball Players Association union has resisted that approach, he added.
“I believe the game needs to be cleaned up or we’re going to lose fans,” Reinsdorf said.
Walt Disney is turning to baseball to hype a 3-D movie about secret-agent guinea pigs.Walt Disney Pictures has signed a deal with Major League Baseball for undisclosed terms under which the entertainment giant will give away 1 million tickets to the movie "G-Force," scheduled to open nationwide on July 24, if a grand slam home run is hit at the sport's All-Star game on July 14."G-Force" is a comedy adventure about a covert government program in which guinea pigs are trained to work in espionage. "Armed with the latest high-tech spy equipment, these highly trained guinea pigs discover the fate of the world is in their paws," says Disney.Under the program, a grand slam at baseball's mid-summer classic means a free ticket for the first million people to register at Disney.com between April 22 and July 14, as well as the more than 46,000 fans attending the game in St. Louis.If no grand slam is hit, no free tickets. In 79 previous MLB All-Star games, the only grand slam was hit in 1983. (Thank you, Fred Lynn).Most U.S. sports have been hurt by consumer and corporate spending cutbacks in the recession. Major League Baseball officials expect attendance to fall as much as 10 percent this season, but that still translates to more than 70 million people at the games. And companies are still drawn to the sport as recent marketing deals have shown.The last movie to use the MLB All-Star game to promote its debut was Disney's "Angels in the Outfield" in 1994."G-Force" also will be part of the All-Star voting, appearing on more than 20 million ballots distributed at the 30 MLB ballparks, more than 100 minor league parks, and through in-stadium messages and announcements.The Jerry Bruckheimer-produced movie stars the voices of Sam Rockwell, Tracy Morgan, Penelope Cruz, Nicolas Cage, Jon Favreau and Steve Buscemi.Hey, it may be guinea pigs, but check out Bruckheimer's track record. His credits include such hits as "Flashdance," "Beverly Hills Cop," "Top Gun" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" in theaters, as well as "CSI" and "The Amazing Race" on TV.Baseball is careful about how it ties into movies, however.You will see no "G-Force" logos on any bases. In 2004, baseball officials scrapped plans to promote the "Spider-Man 2" movie on its bases after a major public outcry.