Boston arena was totally wrong to take away eBay winner's right

February 27, 2005|By PETER SCHMUCK

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - It probably won't go down as an important moment in the history of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, but it was my favorite sports story of the week until good sense and a spirit of compromise came along and ruined everything.

Manhattan lawyer Kerry Konrad bid $2,325 in an eBay charity auction for the one-day naming rights to Boston's FleetCenter, but the arena balked at his desire to rename it "Derek Jeter Center" in honor of the popular Yankees shortstop and frequent Red Sox nemesis.

Konrad eventually agreed to call the arena "Jimmy Fund Center" after a Boston friend ponied up another $6,275 for charity to avert the sacrilegious name change. The charity got more money and the honor of FleetCenter was preserved, so everybody's happy, right?

Not exactly.

Where I come from, a deal is a deal. If you can't make the top bid on eBay and expect it to be honored, doesn't that undermine the Internet economy, and - by extension - call into question our entire free-market system?

I already was a little skeptical of eBay (did you know it won't allow you to auction off one of your kidneys?), and I've always been a little iffy on the whole Massachusetts thing (Pilgrims, Witch Trials, The Boston Tea Party, Ted Kennedy ... you can't make this stuff up). Now this.

The FleetCenter controversy is a matter of particular concern to me, because I was planning to shame Blast owner Ed Hale into donating 24-hour naming rights to 1st Mariner Arena for a similar charity auction, then I was going to solicit enough pledges to get the place renamed the Schmuck-O-Drome for one day.

News item: Temple University coaching legend John Chaney may be forced into retirement after his decision to send a "goon" into Temple's game against Saint Joseph's left an opposing player with a broken arm.

My take: I guess we really don't miss the NHL.

Speaking of hockey (and who isn't these days?), New York Mets pitcher Tom Glavine thinks that the NHL is going to have much more trouble regaining public confidence than Major League Baseball did after its disastrous work stoppage in 1994-1995.

"Hockey's going to have a tougher time," Glavine told reporters at the Mets spring training facility at Port St. Lucie. "It doesn't have the fan base that baseball does. But we were lucky, too.

"We were lucky we had some things going on when we came back with [Cal] Ripken. Then we had the [Sammy] Sosa thing going on with [Mark] McGwire. We were fortunate we had a couple of events like that that helped us get through it. I don't see hockey having any of those things to latch onto."

It's tough to argue with that, since it's the same thing just about everybody except Gary Bettman has been saying for about a year now.

News item: Best-selling author and science experiment gone horribly wrong Jose Canseco has received a death threat in the wake of his allegations that several well-known baseball players used performance-enhancing drugs.

My take: I hope he doesn't offer to let the guy stalk him on pay per view.

Former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett wasn't particularly impressive during yesterday's workout at the NFL scouting combine, which could push him way down in the coming NFL draft.

In fact, there has been speculation that he'll end up being paid far less than he was in college.

News item: The Miami Dolphins announced Friday that they will raise ticket prices an average of 7 percent after a 4-12 season.

My take: With a salary cap of $86 million and only $85 million coming from the national television contract this year, they had to do something to bridge the gap. Raising the price of lower end zone seats to $59 should do the trick.

Final thought: The Orioles announced their 2005 promotional schedule last week, and once again the team has ignored all of my suggestions for potentially popular new giveaways.

"Peter Schmuck Bobble Stomach Doll Night" would have been a huge hit, but the team opted for the more traditional bobblehead design featuring Miguel Tejada.

Contact Peter Schmuck at peter.schmuck@baltsun.com.

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