By Bill Campbell
Sports & Big Bucks
I think I’ve spent some time on this subject in the past: money. With each year, it becomes clearer that almost everyone who is involved in sports is in it for the money. Since the money is so plentiful, I thought it was worth at least one more commentary.
Recently I came across a list of some of the best paid college basketball coaches and I couldn’t believe the salaries to some of our local coaches. Did you know that Jay Wright at Villanova makes $2,290,346 a year and is 10th among coaches who managed to make the NCAA tournament this past season? Or that Temple’s Fran Dunphy earns $724,557, placing him at 40th on that same list? John Giannini at LaSalle is 17th at $426,230 a season. It’s a mighty profitable job. Running down that same list, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski is first nationally at $7,233,976 followed by Louisville’s Rick Pitino, earning $4,078,327, Kansas’ Bill Self at $3,663,000, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo at $3,598,700 and Billy Donovan who’s paid $3,639,200. USA Today reported that it obtained these figures from 62 of the 69 competing schools. These are college coaches’ figures, not pros. They say that Sam Hinkie, the new 76ers general manager, is more than just a numbers guy. He’d better start looking at some of these numbers if he’s thinking about getting a college coach to take a shot at the Sixers.
There are exceptions to this in-it-for-the-money rule, of course. There are some guys who are in it just to win it at whatever cost. Guys like Dallas Mavericks’ forward, Dirk Nowitski, who said the other day that he would be willing to take a pay cut if it would enable the team to sign a free agent who would help them return to the playoffs. You don’t hear that kind of thing much these days. The 34-year-old Nowitski has been with the Mavericks his entire 15 years in the NBA. He’ll make $22.7 million in the first year of his latest deal. I guess he’ll be able to get along on that for a while. “At this point of my career, it’s all about competing and winning. [Owner] Mark Cohen took care of me for a long time. I have always tried to pay him back by playing hard and being here for him. I don’t think we’re ever going to fight over money,” said Nowitski. Maybe that’s why he offered to kick in something for a free agent. It takes all kinds to play – and coach – basketball these days.
But then there are guys like Jaws.
It’s been close to 30 years since we read and talked about Ron Jaworski in his role as quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. Most of the publicity about Ron these days has to do with his charitable golf tournaments. One was just held at the Atlantic City Country Club with tremendous success. When I think about Jaworski, I have to conclude that he wasn’t and isn’t in it just for the money.
Over the years, Ron Jaworski has helped raise over $4 million for the JAWS Youth Playbook which goes to help at-risk youth in the Greater Philadelphia Area. It’s quite an accomplishment. Remarking up the growth of the charity and the success of the tournament, Jaworski recently said, “I would never have imagined it would be running this long or had this much impact.” He ran the first one at the old Eagles Nest Golf Club and the beneficiary was the charity Eagles Fly for Leukemia. That tournament raised somewhere in the area of $7-8,000. Now it’s raising sums up to $300,000 and sells out every year. I remember 15 to 20 years back when I played in some of them and I still have some of the golf shirts and caps to prove it. It’s always a great event. The thing Ron finds most gratifying is that people keep coming back to play each year, bringing friends and clients with them. They do it for him. Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco was there this year as were Gale Sayers, Julius Erving, Herm Edwards and many other celebrities from almost all of our major sports. They bring in the corporate foursomes and everyone contributes their money to this tremendous effort. Ron Jaworski deserves a lot of credit for his dedication, getting sponsors and celebrities involved in this worthy cause year after year. He never has ducked the work involved – only the praise.
Jaworski also is very involved in the golf course business and last year added Blue Heron Pines to his stable of good, playable courses. In addition, a big project this year is an association with Michael Vick, who contributed toward the costs of improving a field in Hunting Park for kids to use to play football. He does all of this while continuing his career as a football commentator, which keeps him close to the game. It gives me real pleasure to talk and write about Ron Jaworski, who works hard and fills his free time with great causes and charitable endeavors. He’s a good guy who knows he’s been fortunate and uses his good fortune to help others. Kind of restores your faith in the professional athlete.
The DL in Baseball
A few days ago, the Yankees put their 13th player this season on the Disabled List. It was pitcher Andy Pettite, who had a strain of the left trapezius muscle in his upper left-side, principally in the upper back. Those 13 inactive Yankees account for $97 million in salary this year. The thought occurred that if you totaled the collective sum being paid by baseball teams to all the guys who can’t play, you could support a small country or at least a state somewhere.
As far as the Phillies go, the mere thought of having Roy Halladay on the DL should be enough to swallow considering that he makes $20 million a year and is likely out for the rest of this season. From my seat, this stuff that he will resume throwing in August and September is just hogwash. Halladay is 36 years old now and, no matter how hopeful his surgeon may be, Doc may have made his last appearance in a Phillies uniform. When you consider that the disabled Halladay continues to be paid along with the struggling Cole Hamels, who signed a $144 million contract last year, you see a lot of money spent for little result, whether the guy’s on the DL or not.
Last week, the Phillies team physician, Dr. Michael Ciccotti, fielded two questions at a press conference with the same answer. He was asked, “Is it reasonable to expect Roy Halladay to be back on a major league mound this season?” and “Would more time to recover, like at least the rest of this season, help Halladay in the long run?” In response to both questions, the doctor replied, “It could be very possible.” I ask you, What did that mean? I think it means Doc’s entire future is a huge question mark.
With the Phils managing to eke out a win or two these days to keep their flickering pennant hopes alive, they keep struggling players around which indicates they aren’t sure who they really want on the roster. Their latest moves still don’t clarify the direction they want to go in either. They’ve sent Raul Valdez to the Iron Pigs and recalled right-handed pitcher, B.J. Rosenberg. He was called up 3 times last year and even he was surprised that he got a call while admitting he was excited to get a chance to pitch in the majors again. Rosenberg is just shy of 28 and has been used as a starting pitcher at Lehigh Valley this year. He didn’t expect to be used in the bullpen. He’s had an ERA of 4.30 and a 1-3 record this season at Lehigh for 7 starts, where he has been groomed as a starter. His most recent start on May 12th was his best, pitching 7 shutout innings, allowing 4 hits and getting a win over Durham. Last year Rosenberg pitched for Reading, Lehigh Valley and the Phillies. In 22 games for the Phils, he was 1-0 with a 1.26 ERA in 14 1/3 innings. “That experience from last year definitely helped me and helped my confidence,” he said. We’ll see how that works out.
Meanwhile, after shagging a fly ball in Arizona last week and hurting his back, Mike Adams underwent an MRI saying he did so for his peace of mind. “If I twist on the right side, then I feel it. Everything else is normal. I can lift my kids up and feel nothing.” But he was concerned. GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. told the press that the MRI showed a mild back strain and that Adams would be day-to-day. Adams is 1-3 with a 3.00 ERA in 17 games with 19 strikeouts and 6 walks. Opponents are hitting .240 against him. Looks like he could help if he stays healthy and avoids the DL.
Reading left-hander Jesse Biddle merits mention this week as well. Left-handed hitters are hitting .034 (1 for 29) against him. The highest ranked Phillies pitching prospect has fanned 13 left-handed hitters. He’s also holding right-handed hitters to a 168 average. Biddle is 2-3 with an ERA of 2.95, tossing 51 strikeouts and 20 walks in 42 2/3 innings. There’s some hope there in the minors and the Phillies may be needing it.
The Phillies major acquisition for the 2013 season was an outfielder named Ben Revere, who had never hit a home run in his major league career. Since such a feat never had happened, it was somewhat amusing listening to Revere talking about his “power stroke” a few days ago. He hasn’t been in the starting line-up for Charley Manuel for some time now – at least 4 straight games – though he has been working with hitting instructor Steve Henderson at getting that power stroke going. In his first 2 years in professional baseball, Revere produced 10 triples each year in the Gulf Coast and Midwest Leagues after the Minnesota club took him with their 28th overall selection in 2007. This is what Revere refers to as his “power stroke”. I think he has a way to go. He has never felt the thrill of putting wood to a ball that ultimately leaves the ball park. They review file and tape in search of that valuable power stroke but, thus far, Revere has to settle for 20 triples. So do the Phils.
The Philadelphia Soul defeated the Orlando Predators 61-51 for the second time this season at the Wells Fargo Center. Two touchdowns by Derrick Ross, one receiving and one running, highlighted a 14-0 second quarter for the Soul who led 20-19 at the half. Orlando pulled to within three, 42-39, late in the third period but the Soul managed to pull away when quarterback Dan Randabaugh completed a 38-yard TD pass and James Romain returned an interception for another score, giving the Soul a cushion for victory. The Soul QB was 21 of 27 for 251 yards and 6 TD’s. The team is now 4-4.
I can’t forget that Dawn Staley recently was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. She grew up in the Raymond Rosen projects in North Philadelphia at 25th and Diamond to become one of the city’s most decorated athletes. From Dobbins Tech, Staley went to the University of Virginia where she played in three Final Fours, received 2 National Player of the Year Award and participated in 3 Olympics where she was on 3 gold-medal teams. Staley played in the ABL, the WNBA and went on to coach women’s basketball, first at Temple and now South Carolina. Saying that she played the game “because I loved it,” Staley regards basketball as “the gift that keeps on giving.” The game has loved her back. Dawn Staley is one of the greatest players in the history of the game and more than deserves this latest honor.