business news in context, analysis with attitude

Regular readers of MNB won’t be surprised to find out that I am a baseball fan and a Mets fan. But watching last Sunday’s Mets game, I found myself annoyed and actually offended – and it had nothing to do with the actual game.

No, it had to do with the pre-game proceedings, during which pitcher Tom Glavine was feted for his 300th win, which took place less than a week earlier when the team was on the road. Now, I’m all in favor of celebrating achievement (at least, non-steroid enhanced achievement). And Glavine’s milestone was certainly worthy of note, even if in my mind he will always be an Atlanta Brave and probably would have preferred to pitch his 30th win for the Braves.

During these proceedings, Glavine and his family were given inscribed golf balls, a pair of jet skis, and even a car. And all I could think of was how preposterous it is to give these kinds of gifts to someone who already makes more than seven million dollars a year, who certainly can afford to buy a car or jet skis or golf balls if he needs them. It was the curious spectacle of rich people giving presents to rich people.

Baseball, unfortunately, increasingly is seen as a sport for rich spectators. Ticket prices are astronomical (especially in the newer ballparks, which tend to have fewer seats and therefore higher demand), player autographs actually cost money, and playoff games are played so late at night that little kids – especially on the east coast – can’t stay up to see them. As much as I love the sport, these trends are awful for baseball … and perhaps are as bad in their own way as some players’ use of steroids.

It would have been nice if, during the Glavine festivities, someone had stood up and said that the team was endowing a golf scholarship for inner city kids, sending poor kids to camp where they could learn to water ski, and donating the car to some charity that actually could use it. (And maybe, just for the hell of it, the car could be a hybrid, instead of some gas guzzler?)

Back in the old days, when I was a kid, players sometimes were given cars – but that was because they didn’t make much money and often held down second jobs during the off-season. A free car was a big deal. But those days are gone forever, and I think it is time the powers that be in baseball start recognizing that they have a responsibility beyond lining their own pockets.

By the way, one of the now-retired 300-game winners who came back on Sunday to help celebrate Glavine’s win was Tom Seaver, who also spent a couple of innings in the TV broadcast booth. During his time on the air, Seaver did nothing to change my already deeply held opinion of him.

I hate him. I’ve always hated him. And I wish nobody would ever put him on the air again.

There is nothing that Tom Seaver likes to do more than talk about Tom Seaver. Even when talking about Glavine and the Mets, it always was about Seaver’s career and achievements. He is unctuous in the extreme, and from everything I hear, he isn’t even supposed to be that nice a guy when encountered in real life.

It is heresy for a Mets fan to hate Tom Seaver. But I do. I can’t help it. And I just wish he’d shut up and go away. Forever.

To those of you who hate it when I write about things other than retailing, by the way, I offer my apologies for the above rants.

But I can’t help myself.

There was a story in the news this week about how the US Mint is hoping that its new series of presidential dollar coins will help to increase Americans’ knowledge of their own history, especially the presidents – who they were, when they served, what they stood for.

And according to a Gallup poll, only 30 percent of Americans questioned knew that Thomas Jefferson was the nation’s third president…and that was pretty good, considering that even fewer people knew about the other people who held that high office.

While I agree that we need to have a better sense of our own history, I’m not convinced that a coin is going to do it. Especially since I’m not sure how many people know that much about Sacagawea, much less have even held the dollar coin that bears her likeness.

I went with one of my sons to see “Rush Hour 3,” mostly because we saw and enjoyed the first two together and because he was home from college for a couple of weeks, it seemed like a good thing to do.

Sad to say, we hated it. A lot. It is a badly made movie punctuated by a few – but not nearly enough – laughs. I’d suggest you stay away.

From the ridiculous to the sublime…

I also watched an old John Ford movie the other night – “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” perhaps the second-best western ever made. (After “The Searchers,” which is easily the best…not to mention one of the best movies ever made.) One of Ford’s last movies, it starred John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart, and is a black-and-white paean to the changing of the old West. Stewart plays a tenderfoot attorney who comes to a western town that is being terrorized by the evil Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin, a hoot in this role); Wayne plays Tom Doniphon, a rancher who understands better than Stewart that sometimes a gun works better than the legal system, even in a west that is changing and becoming more civilized.

Plus, it has one of the great lines in movie history: “This is the west, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

This is a wonderful movie, worth renting and watching.

The western seems to be making a mini-comeback, by the way. “3:10 To Yuma,” a new version of the old Glenn Ford western, comes out in a couple of weeks, starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale…and it looks terrific.

And production is about to start on “Appaloosa,” a film version of the excellent Robert B. Parker western novel, to star and be directed by Ed Harris.

This is all good news. It’s generally been my feeling that almost any movie is better when there are horses involved.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday.

KC's View: