Looks like the American Pastime Sport may not die out after all. Africa may provide an entirely new market wich revitalizes the sport.
KAMPALA, Uganda – Unlike in most of Africa, soccer is not the top sport at the Rev. John Foundation School in Uganda’s capital. Instead, a fairly foreign American game is No. 1 and catching on quickly.
“Baseball is our main game here,” head teacher Emmanuel Bazannye said of his school. “Even the girls love it. The girls want to participate after seeing the boys doing it. We say that what the boys can do, even the girls can do.”
Baseball is not widely played in Africa, but Uganda looks poised to be the launching pad for the game’s entry into this soccer-dominated continent.
Last year a team of young Ugandan ballers made international news in heartbreaking fashion. They qualified for the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa., but were denied travel visas by the U.S. State Department because of a lack of documentation.
“We cried for two good days,” said George Mukhobe, the coach who would have led the team to America. “It meant a lot for those kids.”
Augustus Owinyi was the team’s first baseman. Although now too old for Little League, he still shows up during practices, pleasing coaches who see it as a sign of his commitment.
Owinyi wants to be like Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins. The 13-year-old Owinyi met Rollins when the American visited Uganda in January and that memory makes him dream of playing Major League Baseball someday. His hopes for a career in baseball made the State Department’s visa denial especially painful.
“I felt very sad,” he said. “They gave us back our passports and said we were not to go. Some of us cried. I love this game. I see my future in this game.”
Ugandan sports followers say the school’s success in international competition has contributed to baseball’s popularity among schools that once were skeptical about the American game.
The school is preparing for a national baseball competition, where the winner will travel to Poland in July. It’s the first international opportunity for Ugandan youngsters following the failure to go to the Little League World Series.
The visa refusal spawned a wave of sympathy, but also inspired a fundraising drive that raised enough money to bring to Uganda a team from Canada that the Ugandans would have faced if they had competed in South Williamsport.
In January, the Ugandans beat the Canadians 2-1. Coach Mukhobe said that the win was more proof that Uganda had baseball talent.
Baseball still lags behind soccer across Uganda. But it’s catching on among schools attracted to its relative novelty and the government now backs the game’s introduction in schools.
About 60 schools encourage baseball, Mukhobe said, and this year a national baseball league was launched after it was endorsed by sports authorities. The baseball season started in mid-March.
There are good investments…and bad. Paying out $2 billion for a Sports Franchise in a sport which is on the way down – is definitely one of those “bad” investment ideas. Seems to me $2 b could be better spent buying a NFL Franchise (Several of which are actually worth $2 B or more) or investing in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), which is about the fastest growing professional sport out there right now. The list of the Top 50 Professional Sports Franchises in the World looks like this.
So… Why but the Dodgers?
I hope Magic hasn’t lost his business “magic”!
In a quick, dramatic end to the year-long financial crisis of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team’s owner, Frank McCourt, agreed to sell the team Tuesday night for $2.15 billion to a group headed by Magic Johnson, the Lakers’ Hall of Famer.
The Johnson group’s deal, financed largely by Guggenheim Partners, a Chicago-based financial services firm, includes $2 billion for the team (minus $412 million in debt) and $150 million to create a joint venture with McCourt on the parking lots and land surrounding Dodger Stadium. The deal is valued at $2.3 billion.
If the all-cash deal is approved by the judge overseeing the Dodgers’ bankruptcy, the price will be the most ever paid for a professional sports team.
The most ever paid for a franchise is at least $1.4 billion for Manchester United. The Miami Dolphins were sold for $1.15 billion and the Chicago Cubs were acquired for $845 million. McCourt, who bought the team in 2004 for $421 million, had resisted selling the real estate, preferring to rent the lots for $14 million a year to the team’s new owner. But the Johnson group suggested the joint venture on the land, said a person briefed on the sale but not authorized to speak publicly.
The deal will let McCourt repay a $150 million loan made to the team last year by Major League Baseball and his $130 million divorce settlement to his ex-wife, Jamie.
The winning bid defeated one by Stan Kroenke, the billionaire owner of the St. Louis Rams, Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets, and a second from two other billionaires: Steven A. Cohen, the hedge-fund manager who recently bought a small share of the Mets, and Patrick Soon-Shiong, who made his money in pharmaceuticals.
The final steps in the process came rapidly. McCourt’s investment banker, Blackstone, asked each bidder to raise their offers Monday night.
Baseball owners approved all three bidders Tuesday afternoon and later in the evening McCourt selected on the Johnson group. An announcement was made shortly after 11 p.m. eastern.
In addition to Johnson and Guggenheim Partners, the winning group includes Stan Kasten, the former president of the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, and Peter Guber, the film producer and head of Mandalay Entertainment.
The agreement to sell the Dodgers to Johnson’s group appears to end an extraordinary year for the team. It filed for bankruptcy last June after Selig blocked a new, long-term billion-dollar cable TV deal between the Dodgers and Fox Sports. Selig had sharply criticized McCourt’s management of the team — in particular his use of team money for his and his ex-wife’s personal use — and installed a monitor to oversee the team’s operations. McCourt called that a hostile takeover.
A collective sigh from local sports fans…
Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was found safely after he was kidnapped earlier this week in Venezuela.
Venezuelan police rescued Ramos on Friday, two days after he was kidnapped, officials announced.
Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said on state television that Ramos was “safe and sound” and that he was rescued by police. He said the circumstances weren’t immediately clear.
Information Minister Andres Izarra initially announced the news on Twitter, saying: “The baseball player Ramos found alive by security forces in mountainous zone.”
Ramos was found in the mountains near where he was abducted, according to NBC sports.
Adam Kilgore, a Nationals beat write for the Washington Post, also wrote on the social networking site that Ramos agent, Gustavo Mercado, confirmed Ramos was found safe. Mercado was with Ramos family, Kilgore said. Ramos was “on his way back home,” he wrote on the Washington Post website.
One of the things you have to deal with when working in certain parts of the world is kidnapping. This is particularly prevalent in Central and South America, and has even begun happening in Mexico and several Caribbean countries. There actually is “kidnapping insurance”, but that is little consolation as the kidnappers may or may not return the victim alive even if paid off.
Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was abducted by gunmen Wednesday from his home in his native Venezuela.
Ramos, 24, was taken away in an SUV by four armed men in Santa Ines in central Carabobo state, Kathe Vilera, spokeswoman for the catcher’s Venezuelan League team, said through her official Twitter account.
“This is sad, worrisome and true that Wilson Ramos has been kidnapped,” she said. Ramos was playing winter ball with the Aragua Tigers.
She said the rising Major League Baseball star was kidnapped at 6:45 p.m. local time (2315 GMT) and that police have been notified. Santa Ines lies about 150 kilometers (95 miles) west of Venezuela’s capital, Caracas.
A person close to Ramos’ family, who asked not to be named for safety reasons, said the catcher was at home with his father and brothers when several men “entered the house and took him away.”
“As of this hour, there has been no contact” between the kidnapper and Ramos’ family, the person said.
Ramos is considered one of the Nationals’ young building blocks as they try to become a contender in the National League East. As a rookie in 2011, he hit .267 with 15 homers and 52 RBIs in 113 games. He also threw out 19 of 67 runners attempting to steal a base, a 28 percent success rate that ranked third among qualifying catchers in the National League.
On the heels of Herman Cain’s Tomming display that racism has ceased to exist in America – here is a very real case of how racism, on the part of a New York Cop who is now in jail, impacted the life of a future star Baseball Player…
Williams’ field of dreams ended on an October night in 2005 when he and two pals were arrested by the officer – falsely, he insists – outside a Staten Island bar.
“I feel he [Daragjati] racially profiled me,” Williams told the Daily News Tuesday.
There was a fight, he said, and “I feel we were the first black people he saw and we got pulled over.”
The criminal case was tossed out by a judge, and Williams later would receive $12,500 from the city to settle a federal lawsuit.
But his life was changed forever when he was disqualified from the baseball draft for not playing his senior year.
Williams said he was not shocked to hear that Daragjati was arrested this week by the feds for allegedly fabricating criminal charges against a black man last April on Staten Island.
The cop wanted to punish the man for mouthing off about being stopped and frisked, according to court papers.
Daragjati was later caught boasting on the phone that he had “fried another n—-r.”
“I was completely innocent,” Williams said.
“He [Daragjati] said I fit the description of someone involved in an assault.”
Defense lawyer Duane Felton poked holes in the cop’s account of how a witness had fingered Williams as an assailant.
“I believe he [Daragjati] fabricated the identification,” Felton said yesterday.
Williams went on to play for the Florida Redfish in the independent South Coast League, but a major-league career was not to be.
Today, Williams teaches fourth- and fifth-grade special education students in a Washington elementary school.
“I’m a Christian, so I’m forgiving, but I believe he [Daragjati] should be punished for his actions,” he said.
“It breaks my heart that someone who took an oath to protect and serve is doing this.”
Say it ain’t so, Herman – You Uncle Tomming sack of isht.
An amazing and heart warming story of a Coach committed to his players –
College coaches in all sports like to talk a lot about creating family atmospheres for their players, but it never really seems like that matters as much as winning and promoting their own careers on the backs of 19-year-olds.
Tom Walter does things a little bit differently. He actually acts like a father in the hour of greatest need. The coach of Wake Forest’s baseball team donated a kidney to freshman outfielderKevin Jordan on Monday. Jordan got sick last year and his kidney function gradually got worse and worse until they were only functioning at 8 percent of their ability. No members of his actual family were compatible matches, but his coach was a good match, which led to what Walter called a “no-brainer decision.”
“I would do anything to help any one of my players or any of my family members-anything in my power to help them have a better quality of life is something that I want to do,” Walter said. “Maybe it’s something as little as helping mentor them in their academic pursuits, or helping them choose a major, or something of a greater magnitude like this. My No. 1 priorities in life are my family and my team and I’ll do anything to help any one of those people.”
You hear words like that all the time. Rarely do you see people back them up so completely. The surgery was deemed a success and you can check out the full story at Baseball America for more from Walter, Jordan’s father and others about this heartwarming gesture.
Note to Baseball fans – Kevin is the son of former major leaguer Brian Jordan, and was drafted from High School by the New York Yankees last year in the 19th Round. He opted for Wake Forest.