Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Universal Utah

Rick Majerus went from the Land of Mormon Nutjobs to St. Louis, where the American Phalange has a strong presence. Or, from one Talibangelical center to another; the sects are different but the attitude's the same:

Archbishop says Majerus should be disciplined
By Deirdre Shesgreen and Tom Timmerman

St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke said this morning that St. Louis University basketball coach Rick Majerus should be disciplined over his public comments supporting abortion rights and stem cell research.

Majerus made his comments at a campaign appearance for Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday night during an interview with KMOV (Channel 4).

During an interview with the Post-Dispatch today in Washington, where Burke is attending the March for Life, he said the coach should be disciplined.

"It's not possible to be a Catholic and hold those positions," Burke said. "When you take a position in a Catholic university, you don't have to embrace everything the Catholic church teaches. But you can't make statements which call into question the identity and mission of the Catholic church."

The archbishop declined to offer specifics of what discipline Majerus should face. "I'm confident it (the university) will deal with the question of a public representative making declarations that are inconsistent with the Catholic faith."

Majerus made his comments to the TV station at the rally at McCluer North High School.

Burke declined to say if he thought Majerus should be fired, but added, "You can't have a Catholic university with one of its prominent staff making declarations" that are in conflict with the church.

A spokesman for the university, Jeff Fowler, said Majerus' comments were not related to his role at the university.

"Rick's comments were his own personal view. They were made at an event he did not attend as a university representative," Fowler said. "It was his own personal visit to the rally. The comments were his, he was not speaking for the university in whatever comments he made to Channel 4."

Last year, St. Louis U. celebrated a legal victory that affirmed it is not controlled by the Catholic church or by its Catholic beliefs.

The Missouri Supreme Court agreed with the school in handing down a decision that the city of St. Louis did not violate state and federal constitutions by granting the university $8 million in tax increment financing for its new arena.

Opponents of the $80 million arena sued the school in 2004, halting construction.

The Missouri Constitution prohibits public funding to support any "... college, university, or other institution of learning controlled by any religious creed, church or sectarian denomination whatever."

The debate came down to two words: "control" and "creed." Does the guiding mission of a Catholic university align with the specific system of religious faith espoused by the Catholic church? And if so, does that system of faith control the actions of the university?

In a 6-1 decision, the court said SLU "is not controlled by a religious creed."

Majerus, one of the winningest coaches in college basketball, was hired by SLU with much fanfare on April 30, 2007, as the school indicated an increased commitment to the program as it prepares to move into its new on-campus arena next season. Majerus is making $650,000 this year, a hefty sum by SLU standards.

His team, which has a record of 10-8, has struggled at times this season as it has made the transition to his style of play. SLU recently set an NCAA record by scoring just 20 points in a game against George Washington, the fewest points a Division I school has scored since the shot clock was installed in 1986. But a week later, SLU upset 23rd-ranked Rhode Island.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Charlie & the Nickname Factory

From Whitey Herzog's White Rat, pgs 72-73:

Scouts are a little like fishermen; every scout has a story about the one who got away. In my case, the one who got away was a young man named Don Sutton, who has now won more than 300 ball games in his major-league career. When I first saw him, he had two years of college under his belt and was a terrific semi-pro pitcher. I scouted him hard, and at the 1964 National Baseball Congress tournament in Wichita, Kansas, I had him in my hotel room, ready to sign an A's contract for $16,000. What a bargain he would have been.

But Finley wouldn't go for it. He'd already signed three pitchers that year for more than $75,000 each: he had given Catfish Hunter and Blue Moon Odom $75,000 each, and Skip Lockwood had signed for a hundred grand. Finley knew that the rules then required all of the big bonus babies to be protected on the big-league roster, or else they could be drafted by another club for $8,000. And Charlie knew he couldn't protect them all.

I knew that Hunter, Odom, and Lockwood were all good prospects -- they all become fine big-league pitchers, with Hunter as one of the finest of his era -- but I thought then that Sutton had a chance to be better than all of them. I figured we could give Donnie his $16,000, take a look at him, and even if we lost him in the draft, we'd still get back $8,000. I told this to Hank Peters when I called him from my motel room.

"Charlie won't go over $10,000," Hank told me. I'm sorry."

"Listen," I said. "This guy's got two years of college, and he's got as good a chance to be a big-league pitcher as anyone I'd ever seen. Let me talk to Charlie, will you?"

Finley called me, and I begged him. I knew he was crazy about nicknames -- he loved Catfish and Blue Moon and Skippy, and he almost took a flyer on a kid named Soprano Crawford, who later signed with the Dodgers. Later on, he tried to get Vida Blue to change his name to True Blue -- that's how crazy Finley was. So when I got him on the phone, I asked him to hang on a minute, and I turned to Sutton.

"Goddamn, Donnie," I said. "Don't you have a nickname? I could get you the money if you had a snappy nickname."

Sutton shrugged and said, "Heck, I don't care. Tell him anything you want. Tell him my name is Pussyface Sutton if you want, just get me the money."

I said, "Charlie, I've got a kid here named Pussyface Sutton you can get for $16,000."

But not even Charlie Finley was that crazy, and I lost Don Sutton. I went out and told Burt Wells of the Dodgers that he ought to sign him. It took Burt two weeks to get the money from his front office, but they eventually signed Sutton, and he became a great one."

Saturday, January 05, 2008


KTVI exec who oversaw Pujols coverage leaves
By Joel Currier

Kingsley Smith, the KTVI (Channel 2) news director who devoted the bulk of a newscast to a false rumor that Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols would be named in the Mitchell report on performance-enhancing drugs, is leaving to run the news department of the Fox affiliate in Philadelphia.

Channel 2 also is a Fox affiliate and when the rumor broke, Smith said, "the Fox (network) brand allows us a little more latitude'' to cover a rumor in depth. "There's a certain sense of edginess and aggressiveness."