Monday, March 30, 2009

On the Tunney Side of the Street #222, March 30, 2009

On the Tunney Side of the Street #222, March 30, 2009

After Further Review … During Major League Baseball spring training this year, they played a thing called the “World Baseball Classic” at Los Angeles’ Dodgers Stadium . It featured teams from all over the world (of course), and did have a classic final game finish. Japan beat South Korea 5-3 on a two-run single in the 10th inning by Ichiro Suzuki, who, incidentally, plays for the Seattle Mariners in the American League . The interesting aspect of that final game was that the United States T.E.A.M. wasn’t in it!

The U.S. team had lost in the semi-finals to Japan, who had 16 players from U.S. Major League rosters. What happened to the great MLB stars that we watch from April to November each baseball season? Well, most of them didn’t show! Our “superstars” didn’t care much for this game and declined to participate.

Japan had 3 MLB players and South Korea had only 1 MLB player. One Major League manager said, “Most of these teams have players that probably could play in the big leagues.” Some major league scouts feel that more than a few Japanese and Korean players could – and should – be playing in the “big show.” One of the Korean players said, “Korean and Japanese players are excellent and, perhaps, have better skills than some of today’s Major League players.”

Where were the MLB stars? Well, most were with their teams in the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues, getting ready for the 2009 season . Why do they play this game now and why title it World Baseball Classic? The All Star game played mid-way through the regular MLB season is always a classic The players selected want to play, not just for the “honor,” but because if their League’s All Star team wins, that League’s team gets home field advantage in the World Series – a worthwhile endeavor! While this World Baseball Classic drew a crowd of almost 55,000, it makes little sense to play now. Maybe $$$, but not much sense.

The National Football League used to have a college all-star football game played in the pre-season between the previous year’s NFL champion vs. a collection of college all-stars, but that was discontinued in the early 1970’s. Many teams felt the NFL players and coaches involved needed to be working with their teammates to get ready for the season.

Will you support All-Star games that don’t include the top players?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

On the Tunney Side of the Street, #221, March 23, 2009

On the Tunney Side of the Street #221, March 23, 2009

After Further Review … “Collapse of Distinction” is a new book by colleague Scott McKain, subtitled “Stand out and move up when your competition fails.” While this book is about the business world – NOT sports – the title and its impact are intriguing. I thought about the “collapse of distinction” when I learned about the impasse between first year Denver Broncos Head Coach Josh McDaniels and Broncos star quarterback Jay Cutler.

The Denver Broncos have always distinguished themselves as an outstanding NFL franchise. However, the firing of Head Coach Mike Shanahan by Broncos owner Pat Bowlen at the end of the 2008 NFL season, did not sit well with the Broncos players and/or fans. Shanahan, whom I’ve known since he was hired as Broncos Quarterback Coach, has distinguished himself as a top NFL Coach. He is only one of six NFL coaches to win back-to-back Super Bowls (XXXII and XXXIII); but when the Broncos went 7&9 (2007) and 8&8 (2008), Bowlen believed a change was needed.

Enter McDaniels, who inherited Cutler as his starting quarterback. Cutler is rated by most experts as a quarterback with a strong arm, but, coming from Vanderbilt University, had not much big-time experience. This issue, however, is not about how Shanahan and/or Cutler performed. This is about new Coach McDaniels arriving on the Broncos scene and wanting to trade Cutler. Cutler’s feelings were hurt.

McDaniels wanted New England Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel, but he was quickly snapped up by the Kansas City Chiefs The “hurt” Cutler failed to report for a voluntary program, which McDaniels asked of all current Broncos players. Cutler then expressed his unhappiness to the press, and asked to be traded. None of this is unusual in the business of Pro Football -- business is the operative word. Professional sports are in the business to win. One NFL Head Coach said to me, “As Head Coach, you don’t get paid to coach, you get paid to win.” McDaniels came to the Broncos to win, and thus was taking charge to resurrect the Broncos winning record.

Trade issues happen on every team on a regular basis. What is important is that when issues like these occur, they need to be resolved internally, and not in the press. Neither side wins in the press. Issues debated in the press, collapses the distinction of the T.E.A.M. Let’s hope McDaniels and Cutler can resolve their family squabbles by settling them in one-on-one meetings.

Will you strive to resolve disputable issues internally to keep distinction from collapsing?

For more information about Jim Tunney, please visit his website:, or if you would like to respond to this message, please send your email to

Saturday, March 14, 2009

On the Tunney Side of the Street #220, March 16, 2009

After Further Review ...“They almost like handed him crumbs. It’s almost like a slap in the face,” said the mother of a prominent National Football League player. That player is reported to have a contract through 2011 that would pay him $24 million. The team for whom he is under contract wants to renegotiate his contract that would pay him $6.725 million for the 2009 season, “Handing him crumbs?” Hardly! In the interest of fair play, I will not mention the team, the player or his mother’s name, because this is not so much about this player – it’s about the whole concept of professional players’ salaries.

In today’s (2009) stressful economic times, offering a player a salary at or about $6+ million per year would be tempting to many NFL players. While the player in question remains nameless, it is important to note that he has been invaluable to his T.E.A.M. In the several seasons he played he was, without question, largely responsible for his T.E.A.M. making the playoffs and is regarded as one of the NFL’s marquee players. Further, he has done much for the community in which he resides; you can’t fault a mother for sticking up for her son.

Salary issues are always difficult to address, particularly when the NFL has established each team’s salary cap for 2009 at $127 million (for players) per team. As the NFL continues to grow in popularity, the money is there. With the current economic meltdown affecting individuals and businesses in all walks of life, will the NFL have a financially successful year in 2009 as it had in 2006, or 2007 or 2008? Major League Baseball is currently experiencing a decline in their ever-popular Grapefruit and Cactus League attendance. Some Major League baseball teams are offering a “free ticket on your birthday” or a “buck-a-game” ticket for regular season. If attendance falters, teams will need to revisit players’ salaries.

Corporations have already pulled back their financial support for stadium naming rights. Further, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has voluntarily cut his salary 10-20% and NFL headquarters has reduced staff, as well as have many NFL Clubs’ office staff Unfortunately, there is little evidence of players or coaches stepping-up to cut their salaries. That being said, it must be noted that many of them donate monies and do enormous charity work in their communities.

It has long been advocated in these writings that IF all NFL players would voluntarily cut their salaries 10% (many variations are possible), and pass those savings onto the fans so that parents can take their families to the games, the NFL would encourage a friendlier and more widespread fan base.

Will you continue to support your favorite T.E.A.M. regardless of players’ salaries?

Friday, March 6, 2009

On the Tunney Side of the Street, #219, March 9, 2009

On The Tunney Side of the Street, #219, March 9, 2009

After Further Review … “Got milk?” We have all seen that slogan/advertisement over and over. The Milk Industry pushes its product by using dozens of superstars with their upper lip coated with milk. They pay big bucks to professional athletes encouraging the public to drink more milk. But - have you seen the Milk Industry’s latest gimmick using high school kids to coat their upper lip with that white stuff? “Do you want your high school senior to star in a milk mustache ad?” says the ad now running on the front page of the sports section of USA Today. The question asks high school seniors, “Think you have what it takes to be a SAMMY award winner?” SAMMY, is Scholar Athlete Milk Mustache of the Year award.

SAMMY is in its 10th year of these scholar-athlete awards. Twenty-five student athletes can win a $7500 college scholarship – and ... and… “Your very own milk mustache ad (picture, of course) in USA Today.” PUHLEESE! You kiddin’ me? High school seniors in a national milk mustache ad? Leave the kids alone! While I applaud the Milk Industry for encouraging high school seniors to excel in “academic, athletics and community involvement” and, of course, for drinking milk, let’s not make national celebrities out of kids. In today’s fast-paced society, we move young people along too quickly.

This is also evidenced as high school football players are now being awarded “Heisman” trophies, which traditionally have been reserved for the outstanding collegiate football player each year. John Heisman, for whom the award is named, was a prominent college football player and coach (circa late 1800’s and early 1900’s), yet never wanted a trophy named for him, but allowed his name to be used for this collegiate award. To give “The Heisman” to high school players diminishes that distinction. Let’s keep this recognition for the award it was intended. Let kids grow up without this type of superfluous adulation.

Scholarships are always needed and wanted, especially in today’s economic times. Having been a Director on the National Football Foundation’s local chapter for 20+ years, we proudly recognized scholar-athletes with a financial scholarship and a banquet, announcing their achievements to their local community. There are 120 chapters of this Foundation throughout the United State who give these scholarships annually.
SAMMY blows the whole idea of scholarships out of proportion. Oh, BTW, the 2009 SAMMY award applications are due tomorrow!

Will you encourage students to seek scholarships without becoming “superstars” too early in life?

For more information about Jim Tunney, please visit his website:, or if you would like to respond to this message, please send your email to