Saturday, January 21, 2006

Hey, Let's Go Back To When Babe Ruth's Salary Was $80,000 [More Than Hoover], And He Said, 'I Had A Better Year' Than the President

Mark Robinson, a former Iowan now living in California, weighs in on the obscenity of the silly Iowa Cubs' management inviting Reggie Jackson to Des Moines and letting him charge fans $75-per-autograph:

"Hi, Ron,

"I just read your post regarding this weekend's event that features, among other things, Reggie Jackson and the $75 autograph.

"I agree with you and the fellow who sent the e-mail, but not because Iowans are perceived as suckers. I don't think so. I do think management should be ashamed. Management lives in a different world.

"It is symptomatic of a larger problem with major league sports.

"The St. Louis Cardinals [you know, Ron, my team] just signed pitcher Jason Marquis to a one-year, five-and-a-quarter-million-dollar contract. This is the guy who had a mediocre record, although he finished strong, and lost his only outing in the playoffs last season. The guy is a better hitter than pitcher.

"For the Cardinal brass to award him such a contract after such a performance is symptomatic of professional sports. Five-and-a-quarter-million dollars, just to avoid arbitration? Yes, if they couldn't come to terms, it was headed to arbitration, and the Cards' brass backed down.

"Sad to say, it's all about money, and that includes those players who make millions in the after-market.

"Reggie Jackson and the other baseball retirees must feel they were short-changed by today's salary standards, thus charging fees for their signature based upon something they did years ago. Reggie probably demands more cash because he was a Yankee and hit three homers in one important game.

"He was a good one, for sure. Perhaps 75 bucks is chump change in New York or the bay area, where his career began. Perhaps his legacy in those locales warrants such a fee. It would pale in comparison with the price of housing in those places.

"It's just my opinion, but I would only offer 75 bucks for an autograph from Roger Maris or Stan Musial, and only Musial still lives.

"As far as I know, Maris never asked such a price for an autograph, and I'm not sure about Musial, but Musial would deserve any price.

"Keep writing,

"Mark Robinson"

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Just think, Mark, I go back far enough that I thought $100,000-per-year contacts were big deals when talented guys like Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams were getting them. I wasn't around in 1930 when, after a long holdout, Babe Ruth [right] was paid a then-ungodly salary of $80,000, which was $5,000 more than President Herbert Hoover [left] made. When asked about it, Ruth delivered his famous quote, "I had a better year than he did." The Babe led the American League with 49 home runs. With bums like Jason Marqus making millions for piss-poor seasons, it's sickening, and it's just as sickening to see the I-Cubs bring clowns like Jackson to town so they can charge $75 per autograph].


Speaking of salaries, I'm guessing the ridiculous 3 percent pay raise received by David Skorton had a hell of a lot to do with why he's leaving as president of the University of Iowa and heading to Cornell University.

At the same time Skorton was given the embarrassing 3 percent raise, the presidents at Iowa State and Northern Iowa were receiving 5 percent raises.

By the way, it's been a long time since I've seen reporters get blindsided the way they were by Skorton's exit.

At the same time newspaper, TV and radio reporters were so worried that Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz might bolt for a job in the NFL, Skorton obviously had to be traveling around the country interviewing at Cornell and perhaps other universities in search of new employment.

Reporters in this state didn't have a clue that Skorton was going after other jobs.

Talk about people being asleep at the switch -- this was a classic case.

And then the Des Moines Register had the balls to put a copyright on the Skorton story it carried on its website yesterday.

Totally idiotic.


Something at the Register that "Mystified in Mystic -- Not Her Real Name" is wondering about:

"The movie critic announced on his blog -- or whatever the hell something that nobody reads is called on the newspaper's website -- that he's no longer reviewing movies for the paper," writes 'Mystified' in an e-mail.

"'Newspapers are things that are constantly in change and one of those changes will take place next week, when the Register moves to wire reviews and discontinues having a local film critic,' the critic wrote. 'Newspapers are constantly juggling resources and it’s been decided that having a full-time film and theater critic is no longer a priority.

"'After four years as the newspaper’s film critic I’ll miss reviewing movies —- well, the good ones at least —- as well as writing the Reel World page each week in Datebook. But I will be staying at the newspaper, working mostly as a copy editor but also continuing to review Des Moines theater. And that means we’ll continue to have fun discussions about why 'Rent' is or isn’t a great musical and other burning questions of the day.'"

Back to the e-mail from "Mystified in Mystic -- Not Her Real Name":

"Usually when a reporter is moved back to the copy desk, it's considered a demotion, and people in the newsroom know it's a demotion.

"Moving the movie reviewer to the copy desk is like moving sportswriter Randy Peterson to the copy desk or humor columnist Ken Fuson to the copy desk.

"Until the Register's new editor does a tell-all column and explains her reasons for doing it, I'm guessing she (a) wasn't happy with the critic's reviews; (b) wasn't happy with something the critic did; (c) decided giving two thumbs-ups to syndicated reviewer Roger Ebert was a better idea than giving any thumbs-ups at all to her own critic; (d) dumped her critic so the multi-talented Joan Bunke could come out of retirement and do the reviews again until she turns 150 years of age; (e) dumped her critic in favor of a $10-an-hour intern from Des Moines Area Community College, who will take over the job next month [after all, the editor will do anything to save a buck or two].

"Where's Jane Burns when we need her?"

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: "Mystified In Mystic -- Not Her Real Name" -- obviously minces no words in her e-mail. For an old girl in a town of 588, she definitely has a way with words. Actually, I'm glad "Mystified" wrote because I haven't had much time to pay attention to the movie scene lately. Now that they're making movies about cowboys who kiss each other, I might be giving up on Hollywood completely. Hell, I don't even know the local movie critic's name. I knew it once, but when I heard from people who were acquainted with him that he wore a bow-tie so he could dress like his boss, that did it for me. Anyway, I've been too busy reading every word in the Register that farm editor Jerry Perkins has been cranking out and seeing all the unexciting stuff that readers are missing by not checking out Randy Brubaker's blog. My advice to you, "Mystified," is to look on the bright side. Maybe the ex-movie critic writes good headlines. The copy desk can always use a good headline-writer in this era of people constantly asking, "What's wrong with my paper today?" And, man, that bow-tie will go over real big on the copy desk. By the way, "Mystified," Jane Burns -- another former Register movie critic -- now lives in Wisconsin and is happy there.]