Writing in the Post, the redoubtable Troy E: "...Monfort told me recently that it's unlikely Colorado will keep its kids beyond arbitration, replacing the most pricey with a new wave of Toddlers. In Oakland, this is known as the Menudo rule. When guys get a certain age, they have to leave the band." That's what I'm worried about. When I was in college I followed the A's very closely and it was a little disheartening to see all of these excellent players (particularly Miguel Tejada) leave all the time. But Oakland has uncommonly good judgement about when to let go of guys. The Rockies on the other hand haven't had many guys who were good enough to resent losing. It's not like Preston Wilson and Shawn Chacon are tearing it up for other teams now. That's changing, which is a good step. Better to have good players and lose them than never have good players at all. But the issue is whether the Rockies can ever hold on to enough good players at any one time to win a substantial number of games. It's possible to win on the Oakland/Minnesota model of constantly cycling out older, expensive players and replacing them with younger, cheaper ones but it allows for a rather small margin of error, one the Colorado franchise has never quite shown the cleverness at which to operate.
Should I be worried that my favorite English soccer team is being bought by the same knucklehead who engaged himself in a ruinous bidding war with...himself before finally signing Alex Rodriguez? It's too late, I already am. In Dallas the spin is about how Hicks' third major sports franchise purchase won't effect the Rangers or Stars, but it might be better for them both if he got real interested in looking for the next A-Rod contract in European football. From a Liverpool perspective, the new ownership could either be disastrous or a lamentable but necessary evil.
Liverpool hasn't won more Premiership titles than anyone else, as the Morning News article linked above erroneously claims. In fact, they haven't won any. (The Premiership has only been around since 1992. Liverpool has won 18 Football League First Division titles, which I'm sure is what they meant, but details count.) In any event, they're the Yankees of English soccer, until as of late when they've been more like the Blue Jays. That's the catch with Tom Hicks and co-owner George Gillett Jr.'s purchase of Livepool FC. Liverpool has been subject to a lot of third- and fourth-place finishes in recent years with the out-of-control spending binges the foreign owners of Chelsea (Russian Roman Abramovich) and Manchester United (American Malcolm Glazer) have brought to the league. It's harsh to compare Liverpool to the Orioles, but Arsenal, the other major player in the EPL, competes more consistently in a similar financial situation. Both teams are willing to spend what it costs to win championships and expect to do so, but within budget constraints. Think of the Braves or the Cardinals. Manchester United is more like the Mets or Red Sox, who might have theoretical limits but are constrained by them quite loosely. Chelsea on the other hand spends with complete illiberal glee, assembling fabulously costly, inefficient but monstrously effective rosters of pedigreed superplayers. I can't think of an MLB comparison for them.
In order to compete with the financial head starts Man U and Abramovich's goofy fantasy league team get and Arsenal's better management and coaching (and presently, talent), Liverpool needs more cash, and the North American guys clearly have money to burn. The team has been disproportionately successful in tournament play in the last few years, winning two major cups in as many years, but the real prize is a Premier League title, and there's no shortcuts to those. Brutally but elegantly, the EPL has no playoffs -- the team with the best regular season record wins. You have to have both frontline talent and extreme depth to grind out the lengthy, 38-game Premier League schedule, especially when your season is regularly interrupted by another dozen or more games in league and European cup tournaments. The club's recent strategy has been to concentrate on winning the less depth-taxing tourneys, but if the Hicks group wishes to win over Liverpool's fanbase quickly, the best thing they could do would be to win the league next year. They have some problems right now but it's nothing $252 million or so can't fix, I'm sure.
I know I often get cynical about all of the spin every party involved in every major sports story puts on...well, everything, but sometimes legalese can be music to my heart. Check out what Tyrus Thomas is quoted as "saying" by the ESPN article regarding his large team fine for his ill-judged comments about participating in the slam dunk contest just for the money. The writer obviously is quoting the press release that Thomas's representatives have composed on his behalf, but it's still funny to visualize Tyrus Thomas actually verbalizing the following: "I truly feel honored to be invited to participate in this year's slam dunk contest...I regret the extent to which my comments indicate otherwise." I regret the extent to which my comments indicate otherwise! There's a neck tattoo for you!