Monday, December 10, 2018

Why Soccer's Popularity is Growing at Such a Fast Clip in the United States

There are so many reasons:


1.  You don't have to be a giant to play the sport.
2.  More kids play soccer than football or baseball.
3.  Soccer is easier to understand than football or baseball.
4.  Climate change has made watching baseball difficult given the length of the game.
5.  Commercial breaks have made football and basketball much less watchable than they have been in the past.
6.  Kids play the FIFA Soccer video game, which is the best team sports' video game out there. 
7.  You can get most major European leagues' games live in the U.S.
8.  Those games require a time commitment of less than two hours.
9.  It is a global game.  The winner of the World Cup is the best in the world; the winner of the World Series is the best in the U.S.
10.  Baseball's post-season games usually go past most people's bed times and sometimes start after potential young fans' bed times.
11.  The violence within football that potentially maims the participants for life is disturbing and not a positive factor for the NFL.


There are many other reasons.  The average age of a fan of MLB is 55 years ago.  My family went to one game this year -- to say goodbye to Chase Utley -- whom we watched in his prime -- in July.  My 19 year-old son says that baseball was the game that I went to with my father; he goes to basketball and soccer games with me.  My 21 year-old daughter likes baseball; it's a dad-and-daughter thing, and we go a couple of times a year.  We like the sounds, the smells, the sight lines, and all of the things that go into the atmosphere of a baseball game.  Besides, with the ball's being in play for only 15 minutes out of the three hours plus you are at the stadium, you can catch up on life.


And soccer is diverse.  The fans are diverse. and what a better way to bring people together than to celebrate a truly international game?  Basketball at times can come close, but you cannot make the same arguments about football or ice hockey. 


Baseball and football have serious issues.  Their leadership should remember that about 45 years ago among the most popular sports were boxing and horse racing, the latter because the track was the only place one could place a bet legally outside Nevada.  Fast forward to today, and whither boxing (a shadow of its former self and suffering in comparison to MMA) and horse racing (you can bet anywhere, and tracks are fewer and farther between; the sport lives for its major events)?  This is not to argue that football and baseball could suffer the same fate, but it also is not to argue that such a fate is impossible.  Baseball should consider shortening its games; football should consider all sorts of technology to protect its participants.  And both should do it fast.


Just look at Atlanta -- the soccer team there is more popular than the Braves, and the Braves had a great season with some of the game's rising stars.  And yet. . .


Pick a soccer team, learn the game, relate better to your neighbors and co-workers, and your kids.  You will be glad that you did.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Kaep

Mark Sanchez. 


The Redskins signed Mark Sanchez to back-up Colt McKoy after Alex Smith broke his leg.  They also signed troubled and perhaps felonious linebacker Reuben Foster after the 49ers released him owing to additional charges of domestic abuse.  Sanchez has participated in most teams' rodeos, that is, teams looking for insurance QBs have thought of him, worked him out, or even signed him.  He has become the Harry "Suitcase" Simpson of the NFL.


The reason that teams sign him is that they believe he is predictable (sure he is -- he has thrown as many interceptions in his career as touchdowns) and accepts the role of a backup quarterback.  That and he is still young enough to function but old enough to have more reps as a starter than anyone else available. 


The problem is that he is not any good.  Teams keep recycling him, but he just does not play any better than his past statistics suggest he would.  They sign him because he led the Jets to road playoff wins -- plural -- when he was their starter.  But he is no longer that quarterback, and when he was that quarterback he wasn't THAT good.


Last night, Mark Sanchez was thrust into action after McCoy broke his fibula against the Eagles.  What also exacerbates the Redskins' situation is that their offensive linemen seem more injury prone that octogenarian widows walking to the corner store for bread during an ice storm.  Sanchez, well, looked like Sanchez and not, say, Frank Reich off the bench for the Bills (you can Google what he did), and the Redskins lost.  He is not even as good as the proverbial "replacement player" anymore.


Which brings us to Colin Kaepernick.  In golf they have a saying that someone is "the best player never to have won a major."  Right now, Kaep is the best available QB who does not get signed.  Remember, he did QB his team to a Super Bowl (even if his performance in a subsequent season or two was among the worst in the league).  By the logic that gives Mark Sanchez additional opportunities to play quarterback in the league, teams should be shoving each other out of the way to sign Kaep.  But they don't.


Why not?  Is it because he is a run-pass-option quarterback and some teams don't run that offense?  Is it because his last body of work was not good?  Is it because of his role in leading NFL players in kneeling to protest racial injustice?  Is it because he once wore socks that portrayed policemen as pigs?  Is it because of the looming media feeding frenzy that might ensue if a team signs him?  (Some respected pundits suggested that this was the case with Tim Tebow -- that teams refrained from looking at him because they did not want a media circus -- that is, until Tebow proved that he could not play quarterback well in the NFL).  Some say it's because management won't want to be called racists if they sign Kaep and then bench him or let him go.


It could be a little of all of the above.  If you want a pure dropback passer, Kaep probably is miscast.  If you base it on his recent body of work, you have a point, but remember, the question is not one of whether he can start for your team as the #1 quarterback for a full-season, but whether he might be able to vie and hold a back-up's job (with the possibility -- perhaps -- of someday becoming a starter again).  Many back-ups are back-ups precisely because they did not fare well as starters; Kaep is no different.  The kneeling?  For me, this is a serious issue -- as the President of the United States threw down a gauntlet to the NFL about saluting the American flag.  Some owners will not want to draw that criticism; others must disagree with Kaep's point of view and just wouldn't want him around.  The socks?  They are a corollary to the kneeling, go hand in hand.  The feeding frenzy?  Another compelling reason. It's hard enough to coach an NFL team let alone field endless questions about a back-up quarterback.  Typically, in a league as conservative as the NFL, the back-ups are expected to be seen and not heard.  Draw too much attention to yourself for non-football reasons, the argument goes, and they will find someone who is lower maintenance.


With all that said, the Redskins are desperate.  Kaep has shown he can run and at times pass very well.  Who are the alternatives?  The team was willing to take a chance on Reuben Foster, so why not be willing to take a chance on Colin Kaepernick.  The Redskins are well-equipped to handle all the attention from the media -- after all, they are in Washington.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Princeton's First Undefeated Football Season Since 1964

Okay, so truth be told I wasn't planning on going.  Yes, it was Penn, and yes, Penn had a winning record and if you live in the Philadelphia area one of life's pleasures is to beat Penn, which has many more alums than your school.  Penn alums abound, not as much as the "We are Penn State crowd," but they do make their presence known.  Your own school rose to the top ten in the FCS rankings, somewhat meaningless in that football is the only sport where the Ivies forbid teams to compete in the post-season.  The reasons are hard to fathom, but as with legislation, once a group makes up its mind, it's hard to get them to change it.  The "they' in this case, of course, are the presidents of the Ivies, who, perhaps when pushed hard, would tell you that the lobbying they receive on sports issues at allegedly some of the most prestigious schools in the country is a royal pain in the posterior.  But I digress. . .


A good friend called on his ride home the night before and thought it would take a lot of convincing for me to go to the game.  Quite frankly, I hadn't thought about it, what with Thanksgiving coming up and both kids away at college.  And it was going to be cold, and I thought that I had sworn off cold-weather events since going to many football games as a kid with my dad and then through college, watching my kids play spring sports in February and going to the Eagles' parade last winter.  Then again, I had watched Arsenal in North London at night a few weeks ago in 45-degree weather and the forecast was for about 46 degrees and sunny at game time.  My friend thought it would take more convincing; I said yes in a heartbeat.


I mean, we had to go watch some history, right?  We were at the best game played at the prior stadium, Palmer Stadium, in the fall of 1981 when  Yale marched into Tigertown undefeated and ranked 19th in all of Division I (there was no BS about FBS and FCS then) and Princeton scored with 4 seconds to go to upset the Elis 35-31 and end a 15-game losing streak to Yale.  We were at the Palestra in the mid 1990's when Penn went up 29-3 with a few minutes to go in the first half and was up 40-15 with about 15 minutes to go, only to have the Tigers storm back and silence the red-and-blue faithful with a 50-49 victory that marked at the time the fifth-best comeback in NCAA men's basketball history.  This time, though, the Tigers were the favorites.


They had not always fared so well as favorites, and in the Ivies for the most part any team can beat any other on any given day because, well, that's what usually happens.  Okay, except this year when the Cornell Big Red came to Central New Jersey and lost 66-0; it would have stood to reason that Cornell did not have much of a chance going into the contest. as 66-0 is usually a score one associates with Alabama when it plays its cupcake pre-season schedule, paying half a million to some mercenary school without a chance in heck to win in Tuscaloosa, so as to give a chance for the first three units to get a tuneup and the alums to tailgate.  Was that game evidence of the gridiron hegemony of Princeton this season?  Or did they just beat a bad Cornell team?


I don't know why I am so focused on that game given that it was lopside and Cornell was the worst team in the league.  The Tigers scored at will as if the Ivies were Madden Ivy 2018, throwing, running at will and doing much more on defense than a depleted squad last year could do.  They beat Dartmouth in a battle of wills, a game which Dartmouth led most of the way before Princeton scored late a few weeks early to pull out a 14-9 win at home, the type of game that the Tigers had trouble closing out in some prior seasons.  The week before they could have scored 85 on Yale before they took their foot off the pedal, only to have the Yale QB have a memorable day where he looked like Dan Fouts from the old Charger Air Coryell days and racked up 460 yards passing despite throwing four picks.  This after the Tigers led 21-0 four minutes into the contest.


Tiger fans tailgated, donned their orange and black, some beige, and wondered whether the Tigers could close out the season in fine fashion.  Penn needs no extra motivation to beat Princeton and to ruin any opponent's undefeated season, but it turned out to be not much of a contest.  The Tigers went up 14-0, then were up 21-7 at the half before Penn scored on a long play at the beginning of the second half to make it 21-14.  But then Princeton scored three unanswered touchdowns to make it 42-14 in a game where the defense forgot the troubles of the prior week against Yale and the offense showed that the QB could run well and that the star wide receive could run by and behind the Penn secondary.  That receiver -- Jesper Horsted -- also a fine baseball player -- set the Tigers' career record for receptions in a season, breaking a 34-year old record held by a crafty, wonderful receiver named Kevin Guthrie, who did not play varsity ball his freshman year because back then freshmen were not eligible to do so.  Guthrie was in the end zone, and friends joked that with the offense that head coach Bob Surace has deployed he might have had 250 catches in his career; as it was, he had 194 in three seasons.  The crowd in the end zone -- always the heartiest of fans -- gave him a rousing ovation for his accomplishments.


And then it ended.  The Tiger players and staff fan onto the field, sang the alma mater, "Old Nassau," in front of the Princeton band near the tunnel leading out to the stadium, and the players, their families, the coaches and alums partied into the evening.  The last time Princeton won the league while going undefeated was in 1964, when Lyndon Johnson was President and before things like personal computers, the internet and smart phones were on the scene.  Many seasons and good memories have come and gone for Princeton football, but this season ranks among the finest accomplishments since that year.


It would be nice to say that the sun shone brightly, that the stadium was packed, that the crowd was loud, that the home fans wore only orange and black, but that is not the essence of Ivy League football.  There are no "card alignments" in the stands, no 350-piece synchronized marching bands (although I do love Ohio State's and Bethune-Cookman's) no "orange outs," no "Game Day" from ESPN (although the fellahs once covered Amherst-Williams and Harvard-Yale).  My guess is that more than half the students did not go to this game, because the Ivies being the Ivies they got in because of their unique talents that require them to spend time elsewhere on Saturdays (after all, as some Ivy snoot once said, you don't get offered admission being a spectator).   I don't know what to think of the overall lack of student support, save that the kids so have a lot more to do while aging alums look for comradery in the stands (and perhaps at some point in life it is okay to watch and not to participate).  Beside which, with all of the discussions regarding joint replacements, sitting in the standings offers a better alternative for most than over-50 sports leagues.


Again, I digressed, as when you have something to celebrate one is wise to remember all that was right about the day -- a nice, innovative coach, a team that dusted its opposition this season and rose to the occasion against its toughest opponent (okay, not a dusting, but a true revealing of character), bantering with friends in the end zone and enjoying a crisp day.  It really doesn't get much better than that, and if you wear warm socks, bring a good pair of gloves and hat the weather actually can be quite enjoyable.


Tiger, Tiger, Tiger! as they say on campus to start the "locomotive" cheer that Princeton alums are so fond of.  To seal the championship at home, in front of friends, family, classmates, alums, to win convincingly, to leave no doubt. . . a very memorable day.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Naming Rights for the Palestra

It is as silly as it sounds.  An Ivy League school, has tons of money, home to THE iconic arena in college basketball.  Sorry, Dookies, but this is so.  And what does Penn do?  It sells the naming rights to the court at the Palestra to an Australian investment firm named Macquarie. 


A few things jump out.  First, what the heck are the Aussies thinking?  Who in the Palestra will care one iota about this naming event, except for those who are offended that Penn decided to sell the naming rights to a sacred place?  Will anyone be influenced to park his nest egg with this group?  If I were a shareholder of Macquarie, I'd grill the management team hard as to why they ponied up monies to name the court at the Palestra.


Second, it could be worse for Penn alums, Penn fans, hoop fans.  Oh, yes it could be.  Given that universities tend to name buildings after famous people, it could have been the case that a certain real estate conglomerate in New York wanted to pony up the bucks to name the facility after its organization or the 45th President of the United States.  Think Trump Court at the Palestra.  Has a certain ring to it, doesn't it?  That would not have been beyond the realm of the possibilities, even if the President probably has a popularity problem in University City.  The possibilities there would be endless.  Would recruits turn down the Quakers because of the naming rights?  Would players want their teams to play Penn on the road so that they could take a knee during the national anthem? 


The Palestra is iconic, classic, a great place to play and to watch a game.  Why on earth did Penn go out and feel compelled to sell naming rights to the place?  Even its rival Princeton, which seems to sell naming rights to everything too (and let former eBay CEO Meg Whitman pay a paltry $35 million or so to name a residential college after herself when it could have gotten more), named the basketball court at Jadwin Gym after legendary coach Pete Carril.  So why couldn't Penn have gone that route and named the court after one of Dick Harter, Chuck Daly or Fran Dunphy? 


The naming rights and commercialism surrounding all things sports remind me of a scene in the movie "Wall Street," which is an apropos reference because of Penn's highly regarded Wharton School of Business.  There is one scene where Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas) and Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) are talking, and Gekko says to Fox, "It's all about the bucks, kid." 


Touche.  Nothing more, nothing less.


It could have been Dunphy Court at the Palestra.  Instead it is Macquarie Court at the Palestra.  What's next, the Aeroflot Penn Relays?

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Wallace Loh Should be Your University's Next President if There is an Opening

He has made mistakes; people at the top of the leadership pyramid frequently do. 


But when it came to investigating the death of Eric McNair this summer at a pre-season football practice, University of Maryland's President, Wallace Loh, went by the book.  He placed his athletic director and head football coach on administrative leave.  He compelled the severing of the university's relationship with the school's strength and conditioning coach, for it seemed that even a preliminary investigation demonstrated that the coach should not be working at Maryland any more (that is a polite way of saying that the coach's behavior at a minimum left a lot to be desired and at a maximum was grossly negligent).  He hired investigators to dig deeply into the death of a 19 year-old young man, the types of investigators who know that you keep turning over rocks until there are no more rocks to turn over.  Those investigators provided a 192-page report that expressed reservations -- some serious -- about the culture within the football program at Maryland.


Loh, displaying an appropriate sense of, if not adherence to, good university governance, shared the report with the Board of Regents, and the inference here is that he intended to fire the football coach.  That led to a donnybrook apparently with the Chair of the Board, who ostensibly told Loh that he couldn't do that.  Loh perhaps said, "well, if that's the case, let's negotiate my exit from the university.  I cannot work here anymore."  (Whether because he thought his authority was undermined or because the Chair's judgment was so poor remains an open question to me).  So, the Regents and Loh put together a statement that said the A.D. and Durkin would be reinstated, and that Loh would be leaving in say eight months.  Put differently, Loh probably thought, "This is bleep, and if that's how they want to run this place, I'm out of here."  Both the Regents and Loh put as good a face on his exit as they could have, motivated, perhaps, by Loh's desire to get good severance from the university (in other words, he had motivation not to torch the reputation of the place).  That's how these things work.


What Wallace Loh did was speak truth to power.  What Wallace Loh did apparently was stand up for the harder right decision.  What Wallace Loh did was make a statement that character matters in the short and long runs and that a student's life is more precious than winning a football game or games with a certain coach.  What Wallace Loh also did was ensure that if a university employee created a culture that led to a death under these circumstances, he/she would not have a job with the university.  Wallace Loh did the right thing.


And it cost him his job.  That said, who would want to work for a Board of Regents or a Chair who felt so compelled to restate D.J. Durkin that he put the university's relationship with its president on the line?  Who would want to work at a university where the football coach's future was more important than straightening out a culture that he perpetrated than a young man's life.  Of course, no corrective action will bring back Jordan McNair.  But what it can do is set an ironclad tone that will ensure that players are cared for on and off the field, in real time, and are not bullied or shamed.  Challenging them is one thing, but mistreating them is another.


Wallace Loh can work at my university, were I to work at one.  He can be its president because what he did was to take a stand for doing the right thing over, well, the omnipotence of the football program, a football program that struggles almost yearly and is an arms race to be a championship team with little chances of doing so.  It is about time that a university president focused on character and integrity at the expense of a revenue-producing program.  And that's a Division I problem.  You know, in Division III, the coaches don't make a ton and they certainly don't make more than the college president.  But where you pay them millions in Division I, they own the school (like the old banker's line -- "lend someone $100 dollars, you own them; lend someone $100 million, and they own you).  Loh said enough is enough. 


Okay, it wasn't perfect.  Why didn't he stick with his plan to fire Durkin the day before, consequences with the Board chair be darned?  Only he can tell us that.  And, yes, there was a huge outcry from students, faculty, alumni about Durkin, mostly totally negative.  Even some players refused to meet with the reinstated coach, and some walked out of the meeting.  So you can argue that he watched the wind and blew with it.  Mostly a fair point, except that he did not rescind his agreement to resign, which is telling because it means that Loh had little to gain by sticking to his principles a day late and terminating Durkin. 


But he reclaimed his conscience and the moral authority of the President of the University of Maryland to have one of the last words, if not the last word, on matters of principle that matter the most. 


Wallace Loh did the right thing.  So will another university when they hire him as president.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Maryland Debacle

University with a spotty football history (perhaps attributable to Bear Bryant's leaving the place over 60 years ago) and an unquenched thirst to hit the bigtime. 


Hires aggressive young coach with pedigree.  University hires aggressive strength and conditioning coach.  All universities do it -- musclehead motivators who are employed by the athletic department and can have contact with the players all year round.  In contrast, team coaches have limits as to when they may be in contact with players.  Strength and conditioning coaches are well paid; I would submit that there are a few out there who make more than their university presidents.  They have a lot of power, in essence serving as the eyes and ears and factotums for the head coaches when the head coaches are not permitted to be in contact with players.  These strength and conditioning coaches are not shrinking violets.


Young kid is big, gets a reputation for being able to move opponents around against their will on a football field.  Many coaches sweet talk his parents.  If the parents have been around the block, they realize that their kids' reality will change markedly once they join a football program.  They will go from the romanced to bound by a strict regimen, a class schedule that must not conflict with football and a commitment to be on campus year-round so that they can benefit from the oversight of the nutrition and fitness efforts of the university.  They get a full scholarship for this commitment, a laughably tiny stipend for incidentals, all the while the head coach makes millions, the assistant coaches make very nice livings and at times the kids don't have money for pizza.  Each recruiter, including many a head coach, promises the parents -- and at times there is only one in the picture -- that he will take care of their son and help him grow into a better person through the development of strong habits and character.  So goes the story line.


Jordan McNair died on a practice field in blistering Maryland summer heat in the summer of 2018.  He was 19 years old.  He wasn't feeling well in practice.  Instead of adhering to protocols to make sure that he was not suffering from dehydration or an overly high body temperature, the athletic trainers were absent and the strength and conditioning coach bullied him.  He died a few weeks later in a hospital.  The university suspended the head football coach, head athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach.  They subsequently let go the strength and conditioning coach, paying him a settlement to take his talents elsewhere. 


Yesterday, the University of Maryland shocked the world.  The university president wanted to terminate the athletic director and head coach after a 192-page report that the board of  regents had commissioned painted a dire picture of the culture within the football program at Maryland.  The board of regents felt otherwise.  Perhaps because they love the head coach and think he is a good fit and that what happened was a lamentable aberration.  Perhaps because they got legal advice that they do not have a case for terminating the head coach for cause and that they would have to pay him over $10 million to part company were they to want to negotiate a settlement.  Perhaps because in this day and age they figure that the next scandal will eclipse this one, everyone will forget about their decision and the storm will pass and that they have enough power and support to weather it.  Perhaps because, while football parents protested and several players walked out of a meeting with the newly reinstated head coach, a larger core threatened to pull their kids out of school and off the team if the head coach were not reinstated.  It is hard to know.  The university president, by the way, lost the political and was forced out, announcing his retirement at the end of the year.  He should have quit on the spot and sued the university for everything it has.


This episode further buttresses my long-standing maxim that I never wanted to send my kids to a school where a coach has too much power and makes more than the university president.  Universities are supposed to educate kids meaningfully and to set standards for good behavior and the building of better character.  What happened yesterday with the decision of the board of regents abandoned those lofty goals and revealed that the board of regents does not have much character at all.  The death of a player -- in a toxic culture -- happened on the watch of this athletic director and this head football coach.  It should not have happened.  The entire football program owes a responsibility to all its players and it let not only the family of the deceased player down, but also the players who remain and their families.  How can they trust this athletic director, this coach, this board of regents? 


The answer is that they cannot.  The University of Maryland has made a mess of this situation and has demonstrated that something is rotten within it and its culture.  They should have cleaned house, they should have read the report more carefully and they should have realized that the culture this head coach created was so bad that someone died.  Yes, this coach is worth a second chance somewhere in some type of job -- he made a grave mistake, many grave mistakes.  Just not at Maryland and not right now.


The very sad truth right now is that had the head football coach put his hand on the breast of a cheerleader he would have lost his job.  But create a harassing culture that causes a death? 


He gets to keep it.


How does that make any sense at all?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Gabe Kapler Should Hire a Lawyer; Phillies Should Be Worried About Future of Their Skipper

The Department of Justice is conducting an extensive probe of international activities of Major League Baseball teams.  You can read one report on that probe here.  You can ready another report on the alleged activities and what has prompted DOJ (as those in the legal biz refer to the Department of Justice) to investigate heavily, this one from Sports Illustrated. 


Here are some things to think about:


1.  DOJ turns away prosecutions in 80% of the matters that it looks into. 


2.  Allegations are, just that, allegations.


3.  Shady and unethical behavior does not make it criminal.


4.  The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act came about in the late 1970's after a bunch of international scandals involving U.S.-based companies (somehow the name International Telephone and Telegraph comes to mind).  Essentially, it makes it a felony to provide anything of value to foreign governmental officials to enable your company to get business.


5.  It is unclear to me right now how the FCPA could be implicated in the signing of Latin American baseball players, unless teams offered payments to government officials to enable them to sign certain players.


6.  The information that has emerged from the Dodgers is particularly troubling.  My guess is that the Dodgers have lawyered up and are cooperating with Federal prosecutors to avoid a subpoena and to respond to whatever questions the government has at this time.  Where it will get tricky for the Dodgers is the line between good cooperation designed to gain favor with DOJ when it comes to a remedy (that is a fine, a consent decree, a corporate integrity agreement, etc.) versus asserting the attorney-client privilege and ceasing their willingness to cooperate.  That said, internal documents and e-mails that the business people created are not privileged, including the document in which someone in the Dodgers' front office assessed the ethics and compliance of various of the international operatives.  Some of what is contained in that report should have prompted those executives to elevate the problem to senior management and the team's general counsel.  (Of course, perhaps a reason for not doing so was that whoever created the report was worried that had he reported the concerns, he might have been terminated for hiring too many rogues or for not running a tight enough ship).


7.  Gabe Kapler was the head of player development for the Dodgers for a few years, and perhaps for during the years that the DOJ is looking into.  If that's the case -- or if he had anything to do with the assessment of the compliance and ethics of his colleagues -- at a minimum the DOJ will want to talk with him.  My guess is that the Dodgers will offer to pay for his counsel and indemnify him up to a point, but there could be a point where the Dodgers give him the corporate version of the Miranda warning and advise him to get his own counsel (whether the Dodgers ultimately pay for that counsel could depend on whatever written agreement they have with Kapler about such things, if any, or what their policy is about such things, if any).  All of this assumes, of course, that Kapler was in the middle of the alleged conduct.


8.  The DOJ will dig in hard on matters like this.  The more time it spends on this investigation, the greater the likelihood that it will want to come away with a settlement.  And with MLB it could be easier pickings, because if they find violations of the FCPA it strikes me that they also could find that no team has an effective compliance program when it comes to its foreign business practices.  And, if this is the case, it could be hard for MLB or its teams to try to isolate the behavior to a few rogue individuals because the teams themselves lacked policies, auditing, training, oversight.  These, again, are big assumptions; it could be that MLB teams do all of that and that a few rogues "left the reservation" and behaved badly.  But it also could be that the teams had an attitude of "get it done, beat the competition, just don't tell us how you got it done."  The documents uncovered in one of the linked articles suggest a rather loose culture.


9.  So, circling back to the focus of the investigation, or the apparent focus, the Braves and the Dodgers.  Both teams should be worried, as should the individuals who ran the operations within those teams that are under scrutiny. 


10.  And if you are the Philadelphia Phillies, trying to rebound from many years of sub-.500 performances, you want to make sure that you have a manager with a clean record and without any distractions.  Again, allegations are just that; we do not try people by newspaper on FCPA matters.  The distractions, though, are another thing.  Then there is the waiting -- the teams will turn over information to the DOJ and, mind you, this matter is far from the only one the Assistant U.S. Attorneys on the matter are involved with.  It will take them time, along with their staffs, to review information.  Then they will go back to the teams with questions and requests for more information and keep on turning over rocks until there are no more to turn over.  They will interview many people in and outside baseball, mainly without the knowledge of the teams.  And it will be a long and expensive process; it will not conclude until the DOJ is done.


At many levels this is a sad state of affairs for Major League Baseball.  Latin America historically has been like California during the beginning of the Gold Rush, lots of activity, not a lot of rules, and now MLB has a big mess on its hands, at a minimum in terms of publicity and at a maximum if teams are charged and individuals indicted.  MLB has an opportunity to clean this up and put in much more structure in this area.  Whether the owners are willing to do so remains to be seen.


As for the Phillies and Kapler, well, neither need this problem at this time.  The Phillies were about 15 over .500 on August 5 and had the worst record in baseball after that, a complete collapse that makes fans wonder whether the team can improve on a 78-win season or whether the team is a bucket of average players with a superstar pitcher atop the pecking order.  Kapler presided over the good and, at the end, the bad and the ugly.  That should be enough to worry about.


And now there is this.