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Sports Commentary: What a Pirate!

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The money mania continues

By Mike Forster

  Just when I thought the well o’ rants had run dry, along came my father-in-law.

No, I’m not going to pillory him (though there are, no doubt, many in the family who would enjoy that).

No, this rant is in response to a message he left for me about Russ Ohlendorf.

Who’s Russ Ohlendorf?  Well, he’s not my brother-in-law, thank goodness.

That’s because there is an old saying:  Consider yourself successful if you make 50 bucks a week more than your brother-in-law.

In this case, I’d come many, many thousands of dollars short of that measure.

That’s because Russ Ohlendorf has just won his arbitration hearing with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

His new salary:  $2,025,000 per year.  That’s two million dollars, plus what you or I might consider a decent salary.

The wife’s father asked me, what has happened to any modicum of sanity in sports?

OK, we all know that ballplayers make a lot of money.  Here, though, is the kicker:  Ohlendorf’s record last season was 1-11.

He garnered that one win over the course of 21 starts, giving him a winning rate of under 5% for games he started.

Oh, yeah.  The reason he only started 21 games is that he hurt his shoulder in August, sidelining him the rest of the year.

Nonetheless, in arbitration the Pirates were willing to offer $1.4 million, but Ohlendorf went for the brass ring, and the arbitrator saw things his way.

Now, there are a couple of things I’ll grant in Ohlendorf’s favor.  First, his ERA last season was 4.07, which is pretty solid, by any measure.

Second, 2011 should be only his third real season of baseball.  He’s got a serious upside potential, which is bolstered by a 6’5” frame.

Third, he plays for one of the worst-performing franchises in baseball, one that will pin a lot of losses on your record. The Yankees or Phillies could probably throw any jamoke out to the mound, and he’d pick up some wins.  They are that good.

The Pirates, on the other hand, could dig up Cy Young, clone his bones into a five-man rotation, and still have a losing record.  They are just that bad.

Wait a minute.  I’m painting with too broad a brush.

The Pirates are bad, except when they are playing against my Cubbies.

Last year, the Pirates consistently took the Northsiders to the woodshed, running up a remarkable 10-5 mark.

The Pirates went 57-105 for the year.  That’s a winning percentage of .352.

Yet, against the Cubs, they managed to win at a clip of .667.

Remarkable.

What’s even more remarkable is that Ohlendorf’s sole victory didn’t come against my team.  It actually came against the respectable Phillies of Philadelphia.

So, while the fan of the game in me is outraged at the payout that this guy is getting, the Cub fan inside me is snidely comfortable with it.

And, best of all?  My sister is married, so I don’t have to worry about Ohlendorf as a brother-in-law.

*****

News from the Cujo front.

Scott “Cujo” Sigmon tells me that his Feb. 25 fight at Dover Downs will be carried on streaming video.

It seems you can watch the entire card, which will include Cujo’s bout, for $19.99.

Go to www.doverdowns.com/entertainment.

From there, follow directions to Friday night boxing.

Dover is a good trip.  Checking it out online might be a less expensive option.