By Bill Campbell
Donovan McNabb and Jayson Werth were two of the most prominent competitors on the Philadelphia sports scene. Who would have believed that in the same calendar year, both would transfer to Washington, D.C., of all places? McNabb was traded last Easter Sunday to the Redskins, while Werth came closer to being a Christmas present to the Nationals.
McNabb came here at age 22 in 1999 and will earn $78.5 million over the next 5 years. Werth came to the Phillies at age 27 in 2008 and will earn $126 million over the next 7 years. By the time they reach the ripe old athletic age of 38, they should have their finances fairly well organized.
Phillies general manager, Ruben Amaro, says he wasn’t surprised at the Werth deal. If he was speaking truthfully, he might have been the only guy who wasn’t surprised. Certainly he had to be surprised at the length of the deal particularly since the Nationals had just lost Adam Dunn.
Without divulging any figures, Amaro said that the Phillies made a “significant offer” to retain Werth though it probably wasn’t close to $126 million. And Werth is reported to have felt that he wasn’t totally wanted here.
McNabb hasn’t set any worlds on fire in Washington in this his first season. He has been benched, criticized by his coach, endured a 5 and 7 season and, last Sunday, was routed by the New York Giants, 31 to 7.
It’s to be hoped that Werth experiences happier days in the nation’s capital. He leaves Philadelphia as the recipient of the 13th richest contract in the history of baseball. He will average about $18 million per season – which should get him off to a pretty good start.
There are other interesting moves on today’s sports blotter for multiple reasons. The election of Pat Gillick to the Baseball Hall of Fame, for one. He received 13 of 16 votes, one more than needed, from the special expansion-era veteran’s committee. There’s no question that Gillick was deserving. He has been a winning general manager wherever he’s worked and becomes the first general manager elected to the Hall of Fame since Lee MacPhail in 1998.
But the omission of Marvin Miller is simply inexcusable. The 93-year old Miller, former head of the major league Baseball Players’ Association, missed election by one vote. Perhaps the explanation lies in the fact that 4 of the 16 committee members who did the voting were club owners, including the Philllies’ Bill Giles.
The committee also failed to elect George Steinbrenner, who owned the Yankees.
But the omission of Miller defies explanation. He simply changed the face of the game. His creation – the Players’ Union – ushered baseball into a vibrant, entertainment industry, leant much to the progress and development of the game, introduced free agency which led to expansion and, obviously, bolstered revenue for the players. They no longer had to work during the winter at part-time jobs to support their income. Marvin Miller changed the game completely. Some believe that the baseball writers have no business controlling the vote for the Hall of Fame but, personally, I would rather have the writers doing it than the veteran’s committee — and there is no more glaring example than the omission of Marvin Miller.
Also in the sports headlines this week were a few sad items like the passing of former football great and broadcaster, Don Meredith, once the “Dandy Don” of Monday Night football, at age 72.
One of my favorite baseball guys, also a great competitor and broadcaster, Ron Santo of the Chicago Cubs, passed away at age 70. Santo was a diabetic who lost both his legs below the knees and spent 21 years behind the microphone as an analyst for the Cubs.
And right here in our area a brilliant and respected sportswriter, Phil Jasner of the Daily News, died. Phil had a life filled with tragedy, none of it of his making. But he never let it interfere with his integrity and work ethic – and he never complained.