While baseball fans prepare to celebrate the 74th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking MLB’s color barrier on April 15, 1947, few people know of another rumored to beat Robinson to it 42 years earlier.
Almost 90 years before Martin Luther King Jr. made his five-day, 54-mile trek from Selma to Montgomery, William Clarence Matthews made his.
Born in Selma on January 7, 1877, Matthews lived with his two siblings, Fannie, the oldest, and Walter (or Buddy), the second oldest. His father died in the 1890s, and his family moved to Montgomery, Alabama.
Where did this rumor start?
In his seminal “Only the Ball was White” in 1970 on the Negro Leagues, Robert Peterson described Matthews as a great college player at Harvard in the first decade of the century and cites his rumored entry into the National League.
Sol White’s book “History of Colored Baseball” – published in 1907 – referenced this note on Matthews
“It is said on good authority that one of the leading players and a manager of the National League is advocating the entrance of colored players in the National League with a view to signing ‘Matthews,’ the colored man, late of Harvard.”
Most thought that manager was Giants legendary manager John McGraw, an enormous believer in the talent residing in anyone who could help his team win. McGraw, in 1901, tried to sneak Charlie Grant, second baseman of the Columbia Giants of Chicago, a black team, onto his roster as Tokohama, a full-blooded Cherokee Indian. McGraw also employed two black stars, Rube Foster and Jose Mendez, to coach his pitchers.
Article in “The Boston Traveller“
On July 15, 1905, local paper “The Boston Traveller” (some sources reference the spelling with one L and others with two) – one of nine local Boston papers and known to stretch the truth sometimes for sales said this.
“It is very probable that [Matthews] will become a member of the Boston Nationals very soon.
It has been hinted at for the past few days. Now it is rumored that it will transpire.
A person ‘on the inside,’ one who generally knows whereof he speaks, has this to say: ‘Captain Tenney has long been hunting for a lively second baseman to strengthen his infield. On hearing of Matthews’ remarkable ability, and after following the career of the young negro collegian-professional while at Harvard and Burlington, (he) decided that William C. was just the laddy buck he needed.’
The source “on the inside” then offers a rationale for Matthews’ acceptance where others would fail:
“As Matthews is a Harvard man, he should prove a great attraction… Matthews is a well-educated, gentlemanly fellow, as well as a clever ballplayer.
If Harvard men do not object to associating with and idolizing the negro, certainly none of the National IJeague players will object to breaking bread with him.”
The article refers to player/manager of the Boston Beaneaters (became the Boston/Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves) Fred Tenney (fellow Ivy Leaguer from Brown and off-season teacher at Tufts University).
Boston was awful – middle infielders Ed Abbaticchio and Fred Raymer had combined to commit 80 errors by mid-July on a team that finished 51-103. Would Boston’s futility open the door for talented players like Matthews?
He enrolled at the Tuskegee Institute from 1893 until 1897, where he graduated second in his class Tuskegee (was first football coach). Booker T Washington arranged for him to continue his study in the north, first at the Phillips Andover Academy, where he was the only African-American in his class of 97 students. Then, in the fall of 1901, at Harvard University.
Aaron Molineaux Hewlett & William Henry Lewis
While few schools provided opportunities for African-Americans, Harvard broke ground in many categories. Aaron Molineaux Hewlett, hired in 1859, became the first physical culture teacher in the nation. Hewlett also taught physical education, sparring lessons and coached baseball and rowing from 1859-71.
One of the foremost football minds of any generation, William Henry Lewis earned All-American honors at Harvard (the first African-American to do so), then coached the Crimson from 1895-1906. Harvard won over 85 percent of their games under Lewis (114-15-5).
Standing at 5’8″ 145 pounds, Matthews gained popularity with his classmates after arriving on campus in the fall of 1901. Under Coach Lewis’ guidance, his “wonderful quickness and pertinacity” helped him succeed playing QB.
Baseball Career and Racism from Opponents
During his Freshman season, Matthew’s hitting coach was Wee Willie Keeler, while Cy Young coached the pitchers (both HOF).
While Harvard initially sat Matthews when opponents like the University of Virginia refused to play if he was in the lineup, they eventually stood behind him. Georgetown and West Point considered forfeiting but relented after Harvard declined to accommodate their threats.
Despite playing with future MLB players Eddie Grant and Walter Clarkson (combined to play 15 MLB seasons), Matthews was Harvard’s best player (2B-SS).
He led the team in hitting his final three years (he hit .400 and stole 25 bases during his senior year). During his four years at Harvard, the Crimson won 81 percent of their games (76-18).
Breaks Northern League Color Barrier
On July 4, 1905, Matthews became the starting second baseman for the Burlington, Vermont team in the Northern League. Matthews became the only African-American playing in white professional baseball leagues at the time. He got three hits in his first game and fielded excellently. He played well for the whole season, with the Burlington team taking second place and narrowly missing first place.
Matthews was one of only four players who played the entire season for Burlington. 1905 was his only year in professional baseball as he entered Boston University School of Law to work on his law degree in Fall 1905.
Matthews other accomplishments
married wife married Pamela Belle Lloyd from Hayneville, Alabama, in 1908.
Replaced his mentor at Harvard, William Henry Lewis, as the Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Boston area.
Named chief legal counsel for the Marcus Garvey founded Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League.
named the Head of the Colored Division of the Republican National Committee in 1924. (Matthews’ position was the first time a major U.S. political party put an African-American in charge of organizing the African-American vote).
Following the 1924 election, Matthews delivered a list of seventeen demands to improve African-Americans’ position in the Coolidge administration.
Under Coolidge, Matthews became U.S. Assistant Attorney General.
Matthews died on April 9, 1928 (51 years old) of a perforated ulcer.
Obituaries for Matthews ran in most of the major newspapers in the country. The New York Times called him “one of the most prominent Negro members of the bar in America.”
Over 1,500 people attended his funeral in Boston, with William Henry Lewis serving as an honorary pallbearer.
He’s buried in the Cambridge Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Negro Leagues historian Larry Lester
We have to look at this in the context of history; America during that period was under the separate but equal doctrine, upheld by the 1896 Supreme Court decision [in Plessy v. Ferguson, which allowed state-sponsored segregation]. The most visible Black athletes at that time were jockeys. The Black athlete was not acceptable in mainstream society and especially not in the most popular sport in America. That tells me that William Clarence Matthews must have been one hell of a shortstop.”
Boston Globe (1905 quote concerning Matthew’s ethics)
“For seven years, Matthews could have earned much money by playing for semi-professional teams, but this he has refused to do … Here is a man who, to maintain his amateur standing, has repeatedly refused offers of $40 a week and board to play semi-pro baseball in the summer. He had the example of many contemporaneous college ballplayers who were accepting ‘indirect’ compensation in an underhanded way, but he has kept his record clean, and his, it is sad to say, is an exceptional case.”
William Clarence Matthews
“I think it is an outrage that colored men are discriminated against in the big leagues. What a shame it is that black men are barred forever from participating in the national game. I should think that Americans should rise up in revolt against such a condition. Many negroes are brilliant players and should not be shut out because their skin is black. As a Harvard man, I shall devote my life to bettering the condition of the black man, and especially to secure his admittance into organized baseball”.
A way back in July I had written an article called “Wrong on Brodie,” where I said it was too soon to judge the job BVW has done building the New York Mets in his image, and asked fans to have patience by waiting to see what Brodie Van Waganen will do with his year two before determining if he’s a failure as a GM.
Well, I waited. And it only took a mere three more months to see that as a GM? He’s a failure.
What made me change my mind in a mere three months?
It probably started with the roughly one week span where Yoenis Cespedes decided to quit baseball rather than be paid a paltry few million dollars for two months of work. This was predictable based on the renegotiation of the contract Cespedes signed and never lived up to, up to the end.
The Cespedes situation was a debacle, from the Mets announcing during a game against the Atlanta Braves that Cespedes was missing, as they knew entirely where he was. It was a weird way to throw a player under the bus, and will probably affect how free agents see the Mets organization.
A few days later Marcus Stroman had earned enough service time to be a free agent, and was suddenly afraid of COVID 19 and left the Mets for free agency. Which made me think of Anthony Kay, who is 3-0 in the majors for the Tornoto Blue Jays, and Simeon Woods Richardson, who is working towards the Toronto rotation for 2023. Specifically I was thinking about who Stroman would be pitching for that aren’t the Mets while those two guys were playing for other teams that also aren’t the Mets in the majors.
Edwin Diaz was inconsistent, untradable at the deadline, and is eligible for arbitration next year, and free agency two years after that. Yes he showed improvements over the course of the short season, so I guess we wait another year to see what the Mets have on their hands. And the Seattle Mariners are waiting to see what they have in their hands with 21 year old Jared Kelenic. They already see what Justin Dunn can do as he’s already on their roster.
The Mets moved young pitcher Jordan Humphries for base stealer Billy Hamilton. Hamilton hit an amazing .054 before the Mets waived him. The Chicago Cubs picked him up, where he promptly hit .300.
The Jed Lowrie contract wasted tens of millions of dollars for what, 7 at bats? Who the fuck was his agent?
The mishandling of the Zach Wheeler contract situation ended up really biting the Mets on the ass. Man, wouldn’t Wheeler have looked good instead of the Wacha/Porcello experiment? And who didn’t even give him the respect of giving him a call to discuss the Philadelphia Phillies offer?
There’s also the situation where he threw the Commissioner of Baseball under the bus for suggesting the Mets and Miami Marlins play a game despite the players wanting to join the growing “Black Lives Matter” protests in all of sports. BVW later found out that it was the owners’ idea to take the field, walk off, then take the field and play, when the owners put out their own statements, including misspelling the name of the GM.
The Atlanta Braves released many of their scouts. It would seem that if Brodie was doing his job, they would be working for the Mets already, as the Braves player development is light years ahead of the Mets, and having weapons from a rival organization would be a smart move. Smart move and Brodie? Pfft.
The significant regressions of JD Davis and the often futile at bats of Pete Alonso makes me wonder if going with Carlos Beltran or Luis Rojas as a rookie manager was the best move a team looking to contend for playoffs could have made.
But I guess the coup de grace, at least for me, are results. This roster was constructed by BVW over two years. In a shortened sprint of a season, half of the entire sport made the playoffs. Then there’s Brodie’s Mets. Come get us? More like come on us.
Clearly Brodie needed seasoning somewhere else before he took the reins in a major market like New York. I know the new Mets owner, Steve Cohen, has deep pockets, but I’m sure he doesn’t want to waste millions of dollars by just letting an asset go to waste.
So how can the Mets be creative on the two years left on Brodie’s deal? The organization can demote him, maybe to an assistant to the general manager. Kind of like a secretary. Treat him like Islanders General Manager Lou Lamoriello treated Generally Useless Garth Snow? BVW’s draft philosophes aren’t exactly crazy despite no results so far, but is it a case of a guy who thinks he’s the smartest in the room always taking high school kids and injured college arms? Can he be a subordinate with an ego that attacks the Commissioner of Baseball? Would he be content with negotiating contracts against other agents in the second half of his Mets career?
The Mets have experienced in house candidates. They can easily promote Omar Minaya as GM for a year or two. Minaya has a proven record with attracting free agents, of which there are some quality ones coming up for 2021, such as J.T. Realmuto, Trevor Bauer, Liam Hendriks, and Alex Colome. Minaya has had success in the past with free agents, especially ones with Latin surnames, so that’s something to seriously consider.
The Mets have already begun reshaping their front office. Sandy Alderson is already slated to come in as team president. And time may be on the Mets side as far as potential culture changes? Why? Because BVW’s remaining two years match up with two extremely interesting replacement candidates.
Rumors are Theo Epstein may be done in Chicago. Epstein is in the last year of his contract as Team President and at $10 million for the year, the Cubs may be willing to let him go, as it’s rumored that current Cubs GM Jed Hoyer is ready to step in as his replacement. Even if they let his deal ride, it’s over by October 2021. The question here would be if Epstein would take a GM job, or would he want organizational power that Alderson already has, unless Alderson is a placeholder and a move to get owners approval, as some have suggested. That would mean that roughly by this time next year. Theo needs a job. He sure has one hell of a pedigree in ending title droughts.
Across town, Brian Cashman has 2 years left on his deal at $5 million per year. I assume Cashman will want to complete the deal which would make him the longest tenured Yankee General Manager in the teams’ history. This would also make him a free agent around October 2022, and due for a huge raise above that $5m he makes. Cashman as Mets GM would create a more accountable culture than the Mets presently have, and is a very hands on GM, almost making the coach an unthinking position.
Maybe the Mets go for both? Neither? Only time will tell. Whatever their plans were, I’d strongly recommend that those plans involve removing Brodie Van Waganen from his current job as general manager. He has shows us who he is, and what he does. It’s unimpressive. It’s not what New York deserves. It’s certainly not the results that a guy who just dropped two and a half billion dollars on a team should want. And even if his draft picks hit? It’ll be 2024 before that happens. You want to wait around for that?
And more importantly, do you want to wait around for success? The Wilpons were able to deliver 3 successful teams in the last 18 years. Do you trust their judgement in who they hired that got the Mets and their fans to that point? I was OK saying I was wrong on Brodie after last season. And I’m OK saying that I was wrong at being wrong now. Brodie Van Waganen needs to be removed as General Manager of the New York Mets.
As the MLB postseason moves along, here are some streaks that extended already or can extend or end on Thursday.
Twins postseason losing streak
After losing both games against Houston, the Twins have now lost 18 straight postseason games. The last time Minnesota won a postseason game was October 5, 2004.
Braves postseason series losing streak
As a result of their 13-inning, 1-0 victory over Cincinnati on Wednesday, the Braves can end their streak of losing postseason series/Wild-Card games at ten. The last time Atlanta won a postseason series was defeating Houston in the 2001 NLDS.
Most Consecutive Series Lost
MLB Postseason History
>>Last win: 2001 NLDS
A’s losing winner-take-all games
Going back to the 2000 ALDS, the Athletics are winless in their last nine winner-take-all series games. They play the White Sox in another winner-take-all game on Thursday. They last won a winner-take-all game back in 1973.
Oaklad A’s, Since 2000
Winner Take All Results
2019 Wild Card
2018 Wild Card
2014 Wild Card
L, 9-8 (12)
2013 Game Five, ALDS
2012 Game Five, ALDS
2003 Game Five, ALDS
vs Red Sox
2002 Game Five, ALDS
2001 Game Five, ALDS
2000 Game Five, ALDS
Last Win: Game 7, 1973 World Series
Marlins Perfect Postseason Series Record
With their 5-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs in Game 1 of their Wild Card series, the Marlins can extend their perfect postseason series record to 7-0.
In 1997, the Marlins defeated the Giants in the NLDS, Braves in NLCS, and Indians in the World Series. In their second postseason appearance in 2003, Miami (then Florida) defeated San Francisco again in the NLDS, Chicago in NLCS (thank you, Steve Bartman), and Yankees in the World Series.
Yankees set postseason record for most runs in first two games
On Wednesday, the Yankees completed their two-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians in the AL Wild-Card Round. After winning Game One 12-3, the Yankees defeated the Indians in Game Two 10-9. The 22 runs scored set a postseason record for a team in their first two postseason games.
It’s impossible to be a New York Mets fan and not have heard the good news. The Wilpon family-who have been majority owners of the New York Mets since 2002 and part time owners for years before that- sold the team to billionaire investor and probably criminal Steve Cohen for a sum reported to be $2.4 billion dollars. Can you imagine buying a car and spending three years cleaning it, while the other fifteen years you spend your time shitting in that same car?
To think, back in 2002 the Wilpons said “For $400 million we can buy this team, do a horrible job managing it, have three decent seasons over 18 years, and we can sextuple our money when we sell it. During a global pandemic. While all the while we draw income from the team for ourselves, and also get ourselves a new arena paid for by the public AND get ourselves a TV channel so unpopular that no other regional area sports team wants to play on it, largely because they know we won’t pay them.”
We’ve all read about the winding down of the Wilpon Mets era. Well, the winding down of the majority of ownership. They’re still 5% owners of the team, meaning they still have an over $120 million share of the organization, and will partake in 5% of profits, assumedly. Nice pay out for failing.
But this isn’t meant to rehash stuff you’ve read about the sale or the team or anything else. Until Major League Baseball approved the sale of the Mets- and yes, the owners will approve the sale of the Mets because it makes all of their franchises more valuable because major sports teams only gain and never lose value – this is all conjecture. But I expect one thing to happen after the sale of the NY Mets: the sale of SNY.
SNY is the cable channel you can find the Mets on. And that’s about it. It’s one of the shittiest channels on TV, hands down. What brings me to that conclusion? Let me share with you what would happen if I watched SNY from the time I’m writing this through the next roughly 24 hours. Would you find the following programming captivating?
Amateur boxing from 9 to 11 pm
The same 30 minute long sports show from 11 pm until 2 am. One debut with 5 identical repeats.
Paid infomercial- 2:00 am to 2:30 am
Air fryer infomercial- 2:30 am to 3:00 am
Infomercial on medicine- 3:00 to 3:30 am
Different Infomercials 3:30 to 4:00 am, 4:30 to 5 am, 5 to 5:30am, 5:30 to 6 am
Condensed Mets game (they lost by 10) 6 am to 7 am
7 am to 9 am- the same 30 minute highlight show from the night before run four times in a row. Disgusting.
Four 30 minute infomercials 9 am through 11 am
Condensed Mets game (they lost by 10, but at this point it feels like 30) until noon
ANOTHER HOUR of the 30 minute sports highlight show. So far that’s 12 shows of that shit in 16 hours.
1 pm- 3pm Mets Yearbook, for the 1962, 1963, 2015 and 2018 seasons. Three of those years were washouts.
3 pm to 6 pm- A Mets game.
6 to 6:30- Game recap
6:30- 7:30 Documentary on the 2015 trade deadline. They’ve easily shown this shit 400 times
7:30 -8:00pm. Documentary on baseball in the Dominican Republic.
8:00 to 11pm- a replay of the entire game where Wilmer Flores hits a game winning homerun after he was traded and rescinded, but before he was released a few years later.
This is some shit. Who the fuck would buy this? 6 hours of informercials? 25% of the days programming are fucking infomercials. 6 hours of the same 30 minute sports show. Another 25% of the day repeating itself.
3 hours of historical shows. I’m fine with that, actually. 2 hours of replaying a beating they took at the hands of a better opponent. 3 hours of a new game, and 30 minutes of new discussion on the probable loss. 3 hours of a 5 year old game that was a turning point that the team almost didn’t have. And a 30 minute documentary that I’m sure has been repeated 200 times itself.
17% of the day has new material. 25% of the day are infomercials. How is it that Cohen would have to pay for this? You’d think that the Wilpons would have to pay him for taking a pile of shit off of their hands.
And yes, of course the Wilpons are in debt on the TV channel. Allegedly those infomercials and the lack of original content bring in $150 million a year of revenues. I’d bet the largest part is from being packaged as part of a basic cable package, a thing the Mets were 20 years behind the 8 ball in doing. You’d think if you own the team and bring in $150m in revenue you’d be ok? Nah. AMNY reports that the Mets are $850 million in debt in SNY. Meaning gthat the Wilpons are bleeding money out of the TV channel.
Understand that the Mets are partial owners of SNY. So the Wilpons are dragging other people down with them. This matters. SNY is valued at a billion dollars, but has $850m in debt. Mathematically, SNY is worth $150m. Which is more than what Cohen should be paying for a money loser that’s going to perpetually bleed as less and less people watch sports via a cable package and turn to the internet instead.
The Mets are unique at how late into the game they arrived for getting their own channel, and how late into the game they are at content, and how amazingly unprofitable they are at TV, but most of all, they’re just fucking stupid at running a business. Why?
Compare the 26 hour SNY TV schedule with any other viewing option you have. Are you tuning into the same 30 minute talk show 5 or 10 times a day? To the point, lets look at how other local teams handle this same scenario.
The Yankees share their channel in the offseason with the Brooklyn Nets. There are multiple MSG channels for the Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, and Devils. NO LOCAL CHANNEL HAS JUST ONE PRO TEAM. You would think the Mets would say “Jets Islanders Mets fans should have a home…let’s go get the hockey team with our colors for the winter and have a connection with the team we used to share a stadium with, so we’re not running so many shitty infomercials!” But that would mean the Mets would have to top the $25-30 million that the Islanders get for showing up on MSG Plus 5. And when you lose money at every turn because you suck? Well, you’re probably just going to lose more because you suck.
Cohen doesn’t seem to mind spending money. Allegedly he spent as much on a single piece of art as the Wilpons did on the entire Mike Piazza contract. Let that sink in as to what this would mean for the Mets. So while I make it a habit of telling others how to behave professionally in order to look, you know, professional? And I get how Mets fans are so Stokholmed Syndromed to accept losing that everything I write has the impact of a genocide? Yeah, it’s time to expect more. Actually, that time was back in 1988. Like SNY becoming a channel, you’re late to the game for Mets fans who enjoy losing, but it doesn’t mean that you’re losers.
In the end, Cohen will be in negotiations for SNY. That’s great, I guess. I know my cable bill will go up for it. But Cohen needs a separate negotiation first. He needs another pro team, and I have just the one for him: The New York Islanders.
The Islanders have a nice deal from MSG because the Islanders Rangers rivalry was so hot in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s that at that point the 25 year old channel of MSG (told you the Mets were late to the game) gave the Islanders a very rich TV deal. The Rangers owners expected the Islanders to continue being competitive, and that never happened, so the Islanders were using that TV money to prop up a team that was so underpaid that the NHL instituted a salary floor to try to guarantee a product for the fans despite the owners being terrible. Looking at you, Charles Wang. Tim Thomas was an awesome Islander…cap hit.
You do know that at one point under Wang the Islanders had a national TV deal for $13 million and a local TV deal of $25 million on a team payroll that was $43 million and claimed a $20 million loss. If you’re bad at math I’ll help. $38 million of TV money, $43 million of payroll. This NOT considering advertising, the Canadian TV deal, parking lot revenue, T shirt sales, hot dog sales, beer sales, and OH YEAH ticket sales. But if all those streams never existed? $38m is NOT $20m less than $43m. Oh, and then with the NHL adding $5m to the Islanders budget for being a small market team? $43m is the same as $43m. And the Islanders had phantom cap hits not being paid. If you’re concerned with a Cohen organization being fined for insider trading, understand that the Islanders were 20 years ahead of the curve. And the owners got approved, even with one headed to jail.
Oh, does that Wang era and those statutes of limitations! How far we’ve come. There’s even rumors that if the Cohen- SNY negotiations somehow fall apart, the New York Islanders are looking to buy the channel. How far they’ve come.
But with Cohen? He can say to the Islanders- “We make $150 million a year. You can be $50 million of that revenue. It’s nearly double the MSG deal. You stop being on MSG 5 or C-SPAN. You get a home so that no channel surfer has to guess what channel the game is on every night. We get winter ratings without having 5579987 reruns of the David Wright story- which I am certain has been shown more times than we have viewers. And we can sell advertising at higher rates while having live sports, so it won’t actually cost us $50 million. Plus, we look like a legitimate sports channel.”
A second team a must. Lets face it, the Knicks and Rangers ARE MSG network. The Yankees have made the low rent Nets their 5 boroughs partner. The Jets and Giants are major channel properties and unbiddable as a headliner. So what’s left? The orphaned franchise with the same color scheme playing 10 miles away from the newest mess that needs cleaning up.
And the Islanders absolutely need their own TV identity and home. It’s a no brainer.
Cable TV is a changing climate. Thanks to the Netflix model, channels will continue to go ala carte. SNY with one sport can not be a subscription service. SNY needs the Islanders- and probably more than amateur boxing- because the 45 actual classic Mets games will not fill another winter.
And a channel maybe losing money? That may actually help Cohen. For instance, say Cohen’s capital gains and taxable income is $300 million a year. But the Mets lose $300 million in that same year. Well, Cohen is effectively paying no taxes. The Mets can be a cost sink and Cohen will actually make more money from it. Also, sports teams themselves do not lose value, so even if Cohen somehow lost every dollar he has, he’s still a multi-billionaire.
This idea only works if Cohen gets SNY for pennies on the dollar. I’d think assuming the Wilpon debt may be enough to get the deal done. That type of thing never happens you say? Hmm. Didn’t the Islanders buy their practice rink for15% of the cost of actually building it? Yes, yes they did. Sometimes when people are desperate, you take advantage of it. The Wilpons are clearly desperate. They quibbled over keeping a $120 million stake of the Mets, which tells me $120 million means a lot to them. And it may be more than enough cash Cohen may need to buy a TV channel.
Want to make sports more exciting? Welcome to Playoff Drafts!
COVID brought all sorts of new ideas to sports. It may be the ultimate legacy to a botched public response to a global pandemic- new sports rules. Like? A baseball double header lasting 14 innings. If it goes extra innings? The inning starts with a guy on 2nd base. Everyone gets a DH, like the games are played in Oprah’s studio.
As a sport, baseball was way ahead of its rivals. They made fundamental short term changes to the game in order to have something that looked like a season. Football? Showed its true mentality. “SMASH! RUN!” was the Commissioners reaction grunt to how football would deal with fans and corona.
Two sports thought of a bubble. One thought of one without prostitutes, which may speak to the long run difference of being raised with one parent versus two.
But there was one change I would have liked to have seen be introduced in every sport. And not just this year, but going forward forever. That idea? Playoff drafts.
What’s a playoff draft? I’m not sure it even exists, so I get to totally create this new and brilliant idea. In theory, a playoff draft is a way to make playoff sports more interesting and exciting. How does it work? It goes like this:
Team A beats Team B in the playoffs. Fuck you, Team B, you pieces of shit! After A dispatches B, depending on the sport, Team A can harvest players off of Team B’s roster. How many players? Easy.
A smart team would select other players to cover for weaknesses. Is your running back average? Steal the better one! Did a star player get hurt? Take the equivalent?
Think back to when the Jets beat anyone in the playoffs. In 2010 Tom Brady would have been a Jet. That’s a big wow factor, no?
The player additions are also a per round total. If your baseball team wins the play in and the wild card? You have 4 new guys on your team.
Forever? No. You get the player back on your team after the postseason.
Do you have to take other players? No, its up to your GM and coach.
You may say “Since we won, why would we take a player from the other team?” The better question is- Why wouldn’t you? What, you think by sharing how you’re coached a guy or two will have the keys to your weaknesses? They just lost to you, so if they couldn’t figure it out then, one player wont break a code in an extra week or two. The only thing he may figure out is that his regular coach sucks.
No, this is about rewarding winning. About adding excitement for the fan. About offering the best product that you possibly can. Plus now you get multi city appeal. Derek Jeter on the 2004 Red Sox? New York will be watching that World Series.
For the players, it’s like a free agency window. You get to check out other teams operations first hand. Players should love that because it will push wages up when they jump ship for teams that they liked.
What if there is an upset? Holy cow is that a game changer! Say The LA Lakers lose in the semi finals. Suddenly you have LeBron James or Anthony Davis coming off of your bench in the next round. That’s sudden interest in an underdog team. And the more LeBron, the more ESPN exists.
What about the guys that they replace? Those guys get put into suspended animation on your roster. New guy gets injured? Fuck off. You’re down one. You have to give the suspended animation list a positive sounding name so it doesn’t sound like a punishment. Call it the “Recent Reserves” list.
The 2020 New York Islanders and their awful power play beat the Capitals. Top 5 bust Michael Dal Colle goes on the Reserves list, add Alexander Ovechkin to your lineup. Power play issues solved, maybe the Islanders beat Tampa Bay and add Braden Point to their team at forward, and Victor Hedman on defense. But Tampa won….bet Josh Bailey wouldn’t be in their top ten players to poach list.
Reunited with Trotz? Power play solved.
Players you take in a playoff draft? They get playoff money shares, a title ring, but their name isn’t added to your team history or on the Stanley Cup. Their stats however are added to their personal history. Say Pete Alonso is taken by the Braves and hits 4 playoff home runs? That’s all Alonso stats, not the Braves.
The Celtics beat the Sixers? Suddenly backing up at point for the Celtics? Ben Simmons! Makes the game more interesting, and the team stronger. This year in the NBA Kawai Leonard would have been picked up by Denver. How would that change their approach in the next round?
Plus, the selection process itself would be super exciting. All sports leagues make a big deal about amateur drafts. Imagine the headlines of a professional draft? It would be interesting to see who would get picked. Sorry, choking ass Clayton Kershaw!
And if you chose a player who was a bum? The second guessing would make a whole new world of sport talk what if’s. “Imagine how it would have turned out if the Yankees took Ichiro, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito in 2001? They win 6 World Series in a row!”
Think about the revenue opportunities available for sports teams. Sport leagues keep making money off of TV ratings. Why would they want to water down a product?
Could players throw games? Absolutely. That makes the selection more exciting- it’s the chance you take as a franchise. Plus, couldn’t a player throw a game in the playoffs anyway, or was John Starks that god awful bad versus Houston?
This idea is most definitely outside the box, and will insult sports purists. However, if would create dream teams in each sport, and that’s what fans want to see, right? So come on big leagues, time to grow a pair and start the playoff draft!
Yesterday, Major League Baseball celebrated the 100 anniversary of the first viable Negro League, the Negro National League.
Rube Foster’s first name was Andrew, named after his father, who was a preacher. He received his nickname after defeating Rube Waddell in a postseason exhibition game played sometime between 1902 and 1905. Foster’s career participating in barnstorming leagues saw him post records of 25-3, 20-6, and 13-2 and playing on a team that finished its season 123-6.
According to legend, John McGraw hired Foster to teach Christy Matthewson the screwball. He played for teams in Chicago, Philadelphia and the “Cuban” Giants. Foster formed a venture with Charlie Comiskey’s son-in-law, managing the Chicago Leland Giants.
Foster’s vision grew into reality as eight teams participated in the inaugural season of the NNL. The teams were: Foster’s Chicago American Giants, the Indianapolis ABCs, Chicago Giants, Kansas City (Missouri) Monarchs, Detroit Stars, St. Louis Giants, Dayton (Ohio) Marcos, and the Cuban Stars, who had no home city.
The early years saw financial problems due to the discrepancy in talent, inconsistency of umpires (the home team had the responsibility of hiring them), and availability of ballparks.
Foster often faced accusations of favoritism towards his Giants team, which scheduled a disproportionate number of home games. That led to some accusing Foster of forming the league to help fund the Giants by reaping the rewards of consistent home games. His teams also regularly took the best players from other organizations. Other problems included teams choosing non-league barnstorming teams due to an increased payday. Owners in cities featuring major and minor league teams made access to those stadiums difficult.
By 1923, a rival league, the Eastern Colored League (ECL) formed, after pulling out of an agreement with the NNL. When the ECL began raiding his players’ roster, both leagues formed an alliance respecting players’ contracts and facing off in a championship series. In 1924, the first Nergo World Series saw the Kansas City Monarchs of the NNL defeat Hilldale (ECL) five games to four.
The NNL finally fell apart in 1931 under the economic stress of the Great Depression. As for Rube Foster, psychological problems that saw him grow increasingly paranoid led to extreme delusions, including believing he would be receiving a call to pitch in the World Series. He was hospitalized later in 1926 and never recovered his sanity, dying in a mental institution in 1930.
Foster’s legacy grew through the years, and in 1981 he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He was the first representative of the Negro leagues elected as a pioneer or executive. Without his sacrifices and vision, Jackie Robinson might never have broken the color barrier. MLB owes a great deal of gratitude to Foster.
PLAYERS OF NOTE
Andy Cooper – the left-hander won 95 games for the Detroit Stars and Kansas City Monarchs from 1920-31. Member of both MLB and Negro League Hall of Fame.
Pete Hill – The player-manager of the Detroit Stars drew comparisons to Ty Cobb. In 1952, the African-American weekly Pittsburgh Courier named him the fourth-best outfielder in Negro League history, behind Oscar Charleston, Monte Irvin, and Cristobal Torriente. Member of both MLB and Negro League Hall of Fame.
Oscar Charleston – Legend has Charleston with just under 3,000 hits in his Negro League career. Many consider him the greatest player in league history. Member of both MLB and Negro League Hall of Fame.
Other greats included Turkey Stearnes, Martin Dihigo, Pop Lloyd, Smokey Joe Williams, Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Cool Papa Bell, Judy Johnson, and eventually Jackie Robinson.