Thursday, August 05, 2004

A Dumb Idea If I Ever Saw One

Principal Park?

You’ve got to be kidding.

Renaming the ballpark that has been called Sec Taylor Stadium since 1969 is the dumbest thing that’s ever happened in Des Moines baseball history.

It’s the move of owners who continue to urge fans of the Iowa Cubs to “come closer so we can get our hands in every one of your pockets.”

The I-Cubs’ cheapskate owners, whose philosophy is to spend money only as long as it’s someone else’s, are already charging big-league prices for beer, hot dogs and popcorn, and now they even want an insurance company to start paying some of their Triple-A bills.

Changing the name of Sec Taylor Stadium to Principal Park is as stupid as it would be to change the name of Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City to Casey’s General Stores Stadium and Jack Trice Stadium in Ames to Blue Cross-Blue Shield Stadium.

Whenever I go to an I-Cubs’ game, I feel like I’m being held up every way possible—starting with the $4 parking fee. That’s why I limit my trips to the park to whenever my grandchildren want to go, which, thank goodness, is once or twice a year.

Sec Taylor, longtime sports editor at the local paper, wasn’t the kind of man who would have wanted a ballpark named after him in the first place. But it was nice that it happened, and I’m sure ol’ Sec was feeling pretty darned good up there in heaven when someone told him that the Triple-A club was playing ball in a place called Sec Taylor Stadium.

Now, though, I’m sure Sec is rolling over, wondering what in hell he did wrong to be replaced by something called Principal.

Sec Taylor was a classy man. What the owners of the ballclub are doing is totally classless.


Bryce Miller—surely you remember him, don’t you?—will be the reporter covering the Olympics in Athens for the local paper.

If you think that’s an odd staffing move, you’re not alone. When Miller came to the paper a few years ago, he took a job that involved more editing than writing.
Maury White and Marc Hansen, both of whom were lead sports columnists for the paper, were assigned to cover previous Summer Olympics. You’d think it would follow that Sean Keeler, who is supposed to be the paper’s No. 1 sports columnist now, would cover the 2004 Games.

But that’s not the case.

It would appear that Keeler is still being punished for whatever it was he did last winter to get suspended. Keeler was abruptly pulled off the Super Bowl coverage and was out of the paper for several weeks early in 2004.

One report circulating through the newsroom at the time was that he had been fired and had cleaned out his desk.


I was disappointed with how the local paper handled the news that Sec Taylor Stadium is being renamed Principal Park. The paper swallowed the owners’ story hook, line and sinker. No news-side editorial, no sports opinion piece. Shame on the editors and writers at 8th and Locust for not raising hell with the owners of the ballclub for what they did to Sec Taylor’s memory.


I received this e-mail the other day from my friend Gary Snell of Des Moines:

“Years ago, I followed the Register’s circulation. I had not looked at it for at least 10 years, but I think it was running about 190,000 for the daily. Although many of the losses were not significant, I seem to recall that their circulation had declined every year for approximately 20 years. Recently I heard Steve Deace say that they were now requiring employees to subscribe so they could get the circulation up!

“Is my recollection of the history correct? What about what Steve Deace said?”

[NOTE: Gary Snell is right about circulation at the paper steadily declining for 20 years or more. Sadly, that’s been the case with most of the nation’s daily papers, which have been victimized by TV and the Internet. Young people have all but abandoned newspapers as their source for news. I don’t doubt that Steve Deace, now of sports-talk radio station KXNO and a former Register sports department part-timer, is correct when he says the paper is requiring employees to subscribe. Deace still has friends who work there. In recent years, the paper has tried just about every phony trick possible to raise its circulation totals. That includes giving away the Sunday paper on Tuesdas, giving away the paper at the Iowa-Iowa State football game and giving away the paper when people buy gas at a convenience store. Pitiful stuff, really].


Sandy Madden is a frequent contributor to this column. Here’s her latest e-mail:

“Ron, I would like you to settle a discussion that my son-in-law and I had. He is a football coach, so far be it for me to question his motives. But I say that you build a football team around your quarterback, and he says you build it around the line. Now, my reasoning is this: If you have a good quarterback that can zig and zag like Seneca Wallace, they can beat the line most of the time. He says you need a good line to protect the quarterback. What do you think? Thanks.”

[NOTE: Well, Sandy, every football team needs both a quarterback and a line. One can’t succeed without the other. Seneca Wallace, the former standout quarterback at Iowa State, wouldn’t have been the standout threat he was without a talented offensive line, and the Cyclones wouldn’t have won as many games without Wallace at the controls. So you and your son-in-law are both right. By the way, Sandy’s son-in-law is the varsity football coach at Webster City].

Vol. 4, No. 247
Aug. 5, 2004