Quick Take: Michael Eisner

          Michael Eisner, the proclaimed genius of the Walt Disney Company, recently opened up this bag of worms; I am merely going to let those worms out of the bag. Eisner was in Hong Kong for the opening of a Disneyland park. He was asked by the Associated Press to name his worst mistake during his reign as CEO of Disney. This is where Eisner made his comments suitable for framing as a sports article. He called the signing of Mo Vaughn by the Disney-owned Anaheim Angels after the 1998 season “the worst personnel move I’ve ever made or approved.”  

          No it isn’t!  Michael Eisner has a convenient memory, otherwise known as selective amnesia. His worst blunder was the naming of Michael Ovitz as Disney president in 1995. It ain’t close!! Let’s look at the numbers.

          Mo Vaughn was signed to a six-year contract for $80 million. After three years, he was traded to the Mets. So Vaughn cost Disney $40 million for three years; I’m making that assumption without looking at the structure of the contract. Vaughn’s production as an Eisner employee for the Angels:

YEAR           GP               BA               HR               RBI

1999            139              .281             33               108

2000            161              .272             36               117

2001            Vaughn was injured. He did not play.

          Michael Ovitz spent a whole 15 months as Disney president. Boys and girls, are you sitting down? Ovitz received a severance package estimated at $130 million for those 15 months, a package obviously authored and approved by Eisner. Vaughn’s numbers were quantifiable. I welcome Eisner to tell me what Ovitz did for the Disney Company that justifies a brain-challenging $130 million for 15 months of whatever. (As a then-shareholder of Disney, I wrote a letter to Eisner asking him to justify the 24k golden parachute to Ovitz; I never received a response. Sooooooo, I will send him a copy of this article, and I can only assume that he’ll remember Michael Ovitz.) 

          As far as I’m concerned, it’s not Donald and Daisy. Nor is it Mickey and Minnie. It’s absolutely Goofy!  (I thought that was damn clever actually.)


Quick Take: Paul Tagliabue

          Let’s suppose a guy cheats on his wife. He has a one-night fling. His wife finds out and asks him about it. “Honey, she meant nothing to me. And besides, when we were in the sack, I called her by your name.” The wife replies, “You called her by my name? Well, if you called her by my name, then it’s alright.”

          The NFL commissioner challenged the intelligence of the New Orleans Saints and Saints fans everywhere, myself included. He had the Saints play a “home game” in Giant Stadium on Monday night against the Giants. A home game!  The Saints were permitted to wear their home uniforms. The stadium had the Saints logo in one end zone. And about 2,000 of the 65,000 fans in attendance were actually cheering on their “home team” Saints.

          That game could have been played in Baton Rouge or San Antonio, the Saints’ two adopted homes for 2005. The telethon to raise money for the Katrina victims could have been held anywhere, so that wasn’t a factor at all, unless of course Tagliabue thought the NFL could get more PR mileage out of the telethon being staged in New York. If Tagliabue has a New York bias, or if he wanted the Giants to have an extra home game this year, or both, done! But what he did was a very smelly and sticky crock o’ crap period! Sooooooo, I will send Paul Tagliabue a copy of this article as well.

          Cheers to the Saints head coach, Jim Haslett, for letting the media know exactly what he thought of the situation; he didn’t mince his words either. No doubt Haslett will be fined by the NFL for his honesty. Well, Tagliabue can’t fine me, but even if he could, this article would still appear.



           I get so damn tired of people who think they're the only ones with brains, and everyone else is too gullible to see through them. That premise opens the door for people like Michael Eisner and Paul Tagliabue who apparently are quite familiar with the following practice as observed all too often in our everyday lives: If you can’t dazzle ‘em with brilliance, then baffle ‘em with bullshit! 


Story of the Week


          He was as imposing as it gets. When Willie McCovey strode to the plate carrying that heavy piece of lumber, it certainly wasn’t a sight opposing pitchers cared to see. He was appropriately nicknamed “Stretch.” The guy was menacing at the plate, not just because of his size, but also because he could flat-out bomb the baseball.

          Ala Tony Bennett, Willie left his heart in San Francisco following a brilliant career there. After three seasons in San Diego, and 11 games in Oakland, Willie returned to the Giants on opening day in 1977 and received a standing ovation that moved him to tears. He responded to the fans by hitting 28 homers at age 39, and was named Comeback Player of the Year.

          The love affair began on July 30, 1959 when McCovey made a debut to be remembered. Called up from Phoenix, where he’d been tutored by none other than the great Ted Williams, Willie went 4-for-4 against Robin Roberts with two singles and two triples. But there was a problem. The Giants already had a first baseman, Orlando Cepeda, who had been named Rookie of the Year the season before. McCovey won the same honor in 1959, hitting .354, and the two see-sawed back and forth between first base and the outfield. Cepeda got the first base job until he was injured in 1965, and was then traded to the Cardinals, fortunately for St. Louis I might add.

          By that time, McCovey was a star, having led the league with 44 homers in 1963, that number matching the one he wore on his uniform. (Just a little bit of trivia.) He had stellar seasons in 1968 and 1969, and was voted league MVP in 1969.

Willie McCovey was an offensive menace to opposing pitchers. Those NL pitchers, rather than pitch to Willie in 1970, decided to walk him instead. He walked a league-leading 137 times, including a record 45 intentional walks. “Stretch” still had 39 home runs, and led the league in slugging for the third straight year. A series of injuries plagued him in the 70’s, and when he did play, pitchers continued to pitch around the slugger. The Giants traded him, and he played for a total of three teams without leaving California.

When he retired in 1980, McCovey had played in four decades and hit 521 home runs to tie his idol and former mentor, Ted Williams. He also set the NL career record for grand slams (18). Along with those 521 homers during his 22 year career, Willie accumulated a .515 slugging percentage, and although his batting average of .270 was not that prolific, we must not lose sight of the fact that he was a slugger first (with a great big swing that was not exactly conducive to high batting average), and obviously an accomplished one. He also was a superior defensive first baseman with a career fielding average of .987.

          Willie McCovey was elected to Cooperstown in 1985.


Last Week’s Trivia

          What player holds the NCAA record for most rushing yards in a single game? In a 1999 game while at TCU, the great LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 406 yards against UTEP. It was clearly a sign of things to come in the NFL; he’s the best running back in the league today.


Trivia Question of the Week

          Who was the first player cut by the expansion Los Angeles Angels in 1961? Note………..he went on to great success in another field of endeavor. This one will surprise you. See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.