Money Talks

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Money Talks

This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and this is The Score.

I felt a disapproving scowl come across my face this week when I saw the headlines about Yankees owner George Steinbrenner meeting with Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez. Why should the Yankees pursuing their arch rival-s big gun pitcher bother me? Am I really na-ve enough to think those Red Sox, after finally winning the World Series, would feel such enormous team pride that they-d want to stick together, the very same guys, and go after the ring again next season? This is big business. Money talks. A player who has detested the boys in pin stripes and everything they stand for, a player who has taken the mound in long red sox for seven years and hurled his best stuff for his rabid Boston fans, can pack his bags and slip into a New York uniform with apparent ease, even delight. Because money talks. And why should I imagine the Red Sox will feel slighted if Martinez jumps ship to join the enemy ranks? For all I know, Red Sox management are licking their chops in anticipation for what they might get in return for trading their ace who isn-t quite what he used be. If they can sell Babe Ruth to the Yanks, they can surely sell Pedro Martinez.

The sports business columns report buys and trades every day and even you die-hard fans have to suck it up and remember the business factor when your favorite player packs up his locker and suddenly appears in a uniform you have hated since you were a kid.

Yes, money talks and since all these trades are in the name of building a better team, positioning for a championship season, we accept the deals as simply part and parcel of the territory of pro sports.

But the fans of the New Jersey Nets are hopping mad at the trades they-ve seen go down this year and I don-t blame them. One of the few teams in the East with the talent to make a run at the stronger Western division of the NBA has been totally dismantled, not in the name of winning, but for personal business outside sports and the transactions have been a travesty. The new owner of the Nets, Bruce Ratner, is a real estate mogul who has several holdings in Brooklyn. His fantasy is to expand his Brooklyn investments into an ego empire, all centered around a state-of-the-art sports arena. He spent $300 million on the Nets and has already contracted famous architect Frank Gehry to design a $500 million future Nets stadium along Flatbush Avenue, which will be surrounded by new apartment buildings, restaurants, retail stores-all Ratner properties.

Bruce Ratner may have some vision of the Brooklyn Nets as NBA champions twenty years from now. But he has trimmed the payroll of today-s team, a team that has taken years to develop, built around star Jason Kidd, and sold it down the Hudson River. Ratner made good money selling the heart of the team, including Kidd-s three go-to guys, Kenyon Martin, Lucious Harris, and Kerri Kittles. Jason Kidd is furious that this Ratner guy has killed all the momentum they-ve carefully mounted over the last three years. Alonzo Mourning, after undergoing a kidney transplant a year ago, made a heralded comeback and chose the Nets as the last stop of his career, a place he believed he might have a chance to win an NBA championship ring. But Ratner has crushed those dreams. And while the NBA is very healthy all around the league in terms of filling their arenas to around 90% capacity, the Nets ticket sales are currently 60% of a year ago. The fans have turned their backs on a greedy owner who goes to bed with visions of skyscrapers dancing in his head. Just as the fans of soccer-s Manchester United are marching and protesting vehemently against being bought by American billionaire Malcolm Glazer, who reportedly has no interest in soccer whatsoever. At least Steinbrenner-s greed points in one and only one direction-the Yankees.

This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and that-s The Score.



Diana Nyad