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Why I’d back the National Grid share price after the its latest move

first_img Image source: Getty Images Our 6 ‘Best Buys Now’ Shares I’m sure you’ll agree that’s quite the statement from Motley Fool Co-Founder Tom Gardner.But since our US analyst team first recommended shares in this unique tech stock back in 2016, the value has soared.What’s more, we firmly believe there’s still plenty of upside in its future. In fact, even throughout the current coronavirus crisis, its performance has been beating Wall St expectations.And right now, we’re giving you a chance to discover exactly what has got our analysts all fired up about this niche industry phenomenon, in our FREE special report, A Top US Share From The Motley Fool. Enter Your Email Address Simply click below to discover how you can take advantage of this. I would like to receive emails from you about product information and offers from The Fool and its business partners. Each of these emails will provide a link to unsubscribe from future emails. More information about how The Fool collects, stores, and handles personal data is available in its Privacy Statement. Click here to claim your copy now — and we’ll tell you the name of this Top US Share… free of charge! See all posts by Rupert Hargreavescenter_img The National Grid (LSE: NG) share price is a staple of UK income-based investment portfolios. The company is one of the top dividend stocks in the FTSE 100, thanks to its stable cash flows and near-monopoly of the UK electricity network. And the company announced today it has struck a deal that should consolidate its formidable position in the UK electricity market. 5G is here – and shares of this ‘sleeping giant’ could be a great way for you to potentially profit!According to one leading industry firm, the 5G boom could create a global industry worth US$12.3 TRILLION out of thin air…And if you click here we’ll show you something that could be key to unlocking 5G’s full potential…National Grid share price outlookToday, the company announced that it has agreed to buy the holding business of Western Power Distribution, the UK’s largest electricity distribution business, from PPL WPD Limited, a subsidiary of PPL Corporation, for £7.8bn. According to the company, this deal will strengthen National Grid’s long-term growth outlook by “ensuring a significant scale position in electricity distribution.” As part of the deal, National Grid is selling the Narragansett Electric Company to PPL for $3.8bn. This business is part of the group’s US division. A sale of a stake in National Grid Gas plc, the national gas transmission system owner, is also in the works.These three deals will “strategically pivot” National Grid’s UK portfolio towards electricity. The group’s share of assets in electricity will increase from 60% to 70%. At the same time, the company’s international diversification will fall modestly.In recent years, the share of the group’s assets in the US has crept above 50%. Following the Rhode Island business sale, the percentage of US assets will fall to 40%. I think that still provides a high level of geographic diversification for the organisation. Management also believes that with increased exposure to the UK’s electricity sector, the group will accelerate the country’s transition towards net zero. Business growth Overall, this selection of deals has ignited my interest in the National Grid share price. The company’s growth has come under pressure recently as investment returns have been falling. This has led some analysts to express concern about the group’s long-term dividend plans.However, according to management, this deal will “underpin” National Grid’s 5-7% asset growth target. This should help the firm meet its dividend policy of increasing the payout in line with inflation over the long run. The stock currently offers a dividend yield of 5.8%.Of course, these are just targets at this stage, and they could be upset by any number of factors. The electric market is highly regulated. If regulators try to cap the amount of profit National Grid is allowed to make, it may have to re-think its dividend plans. The firm may also suffer if a natural disaster strikes its network, incurring significant repair costs. These are the company’s biggest risks. However, it may also be exposed to other unforeseen challenges, such as competition concerns. National Grid operates a near-monopoly and if that’s challenged, it may be forced to break itself apart. Still, despite these risks, I think today’s deal is broadly positive for the group. With that being the case, I would buy the stock for my portfolio today. Rupert Hargreaves | Thursday, 18th March, 2021 | More on: NG Why I’d back the National Grid share price after the its latest move Rupert Hargreaves owns no share mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Renowned stock-picker Mark Rogers and his analyst team at The Motley Fool UK have named 6 shares that they believe UK investors should consider buying NOW.So if you’re looking for more stock ideas to try and best position your portfolio today, then it might be a good day for you. Because we’re offering a full 33% off your first year of membership to our flagship share-tipping service, backed by our ‘no quibbles’ 30-day subscription fee refund guarantee. “This Stock Could Be Like Buying Amazon in 1997”last_img read more

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HOUSE GOP REJECTS HATFIELD’S PROPOSAL TO PROVIDE INDEPENDENT, NONPARTISAN REDISTRICTING

first_imgHOUSE GOP REJECTS HATFIELD’S PROPOSAL TO PROVIDE INDEPENDENT, NONPARTISAN REDISTRICTINGINDIANAPOLIS – Indiana House Republicans today prevented a vote on a proposal from State Rep. Ryan Hatfield (D-Evansville) that would have given an independent, nonpartisan commission the power to draw districts for the Indiana General Assembly and our state’s congressional delegation.House Republicans voted down Hatfield’s attempt to place the independent commission in Senate Bill 417. If the measure had been approved, the nonpartisan commission would have been in place to draw new legislative and congressional districts after the 2020 census.“The people of Indiana want election reform,” Hatfield said. “There is an increasing belief that elections for the Indiana House and Senate and the U.S. Congress are non-competitive, and the result is voter turnout numbers that are among the worst in the nation. Hoosiers feel that the system is rigged, and there’s no reason to keep taking part.”A bipartisan study committee that has examined redistricting reform the past two years recommended creation of an independent commission to take over the task, but legislation outlining that change died in the House Elections and Apportionment Committee when the committee chairman (State Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus) refused Hatfield’s call to take a vote on the bill, despite the measure drawing resounding public support at a committee meeting.“Right now, there is no vehicle for the type of election reform that has been demanded by the people of this state,” Hatfield said. “The study committee went out of existence earlier this year, and there is no way to implement its ideas unless we amend the idea into an existing bill. My amendment would have enabled the House to make a clear statement that this body believes an independent redistricting is needed, and it would have given lawmakers another two years to figure out the make-up of that commission.“Now we have nothing, and the people of this state have a right to feel cynical about these actions,” he noted. “Do the people in charge of the Indiana House really want election reform through independent redistricting, or are they simply willing to pay only lip service to the idea? Folks deserve action, not just more political talk. I hope we have many more opportunities to continue this debate before the 2017 session ends next month.”FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img read more

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Misty Copeland Begins Performances in On the Town

first_img View Comments Show Closed This production ended its run on Sept. 6, 2015 Related Shows On the Town Misty Copeland starts performances in On the Town on August 25, stepping in for Georgina Pazcoguin as Ivy Smith in the revival. Copeland is making her Broadway debut in the tuner, which is set to shutter when her limited engagement at the Lyric Theatre ends on September 6.Copeland became the first African-American prima ballerina at the American Ballet Theatre earlier this summer. Named as one of this year’s 100 most influential people in the world by Time, her recent ballet credits include Coppélia, La Bayadère, Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet. First seen on Broadway in 1944, On the Town features music by Leonard Bernstein and a book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. It follows the adventures of three sailors on leave in New York City. Based on the ballet Fancy Free by Jerome Robbins, the musical’s toe-tapping numbers include “New York, New York,” “I Can Cook Too,” “Lonely Town” and “Some Other Time.”The new production, directed by John Rando, also currently stars Tony Yazbeck as Gabey, Jay Armstrong Johnson as Chip, Clyde Alves as Ozzie, Alysha Umphress as Hildy, Elizabeth Stanley as Claire, Jackie Hoffman as Madame Dilly, Michael Rupert as Judge Pitkin and Allison Guinn as Lucy Schmeeler.last_img read more

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What we learned from Syracuse’s 70-55 win over Miami

first_imgSyracuse can actually defend against an ACC opponentThe notion that SU could stop a legit opponent was in doubt after the Orange allowed 96 points to Boston College on Sunday. The Eagles were projected as the worst team in the conference and ranks 226th in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency, per Kenpom.com. Entering SU’s matchup with Miami on Wednesday, one thing was clear: Syracuse’s 2-3 zone had to tighten up if it wanted to beat even better conference opponents.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Our defense was just better tonight,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “We gave up some open 3s but we did a better job. It wasn’t as good as we need to do but we did a better job and we were more efficient on offense.”The Orange was quicker on the defensive end against the Hurricanes. Despite giving up 11 3-pointers, Miami was still held to a 38.9 overall field-goal percentage and shot just 10-of-28 on 2-pointers. Only one Hurricanes player scored in double figures, Dejan Vasiljevic, who had 18 points on six 3s. UM’s Ja’Quan Newton (15.8 points per game), Davon Reed (14.6 points per game) and Bruce Brown (11 points per game) were held to eight, six and nine points, respectively.“Limited guys getting into the paint, limited layups … I think that was the key tonight.”Tyler Roberson is back as a major contributorAfter playing a combined 26 minutes against Connecticut, St. John’s and Georgetown, Tyler Roberson’s spot in SU’s rotation was in doubt. But an effective 22 minutes at BC and a season-high 35 minutes against Miami on Wednesday showed he’s back as a key contributor.After nonconference play wrapped up, Boeheim was asked if Roberson would be a part of the rotation going forward. He said if he could score effectively and provide a boost on the boards, he’ll play. He’s done that of late and racked up nine points on 4-of-5 shooting and six rebounds against the Hurricanes.Five players played 35 minutes or more while no one else played more than five. Boeheim said he’ll keep doing it if Syracuse keeps winning.“Tyler Roberson’s our best defensive forward,” Boeheim said. “So it was just a defensive maneuver.”Andrew White didn’t want to be a party pooper but was one anywayAs Syracuse walked off the court excited about its first ACC win, Andrew White had a message for his teammates. He needed them to stay focused and recognize that it’s just one win.And if the Orange wants to climb back into NCAA Tournament contention, it’ll need a lot more than just one.“I just walked off the court and everybody was excited. I didn’t want to poop the party, I was just saying, ‘one down,’” White said. “You hope get two in a row, three in a row. Keep it rolling. I’m pretty mindful and thoughtful of what’s going on, I keep the big picture in perspective and it felt really good to win that game and you would think let’s keep doing it, let’s not be satisfied with this.” Comments Published on January 4, 2017 at 11:50 pm Contact Paul: [email protected] | @pschweds Syracuse (9-6, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) picked up its biggest win of the year so far, a 70-55 victory over Miami (11-3, 1-1) on Wednesday night in the Carrier Dome. The Orange picked up the defensive intensity, settled on just five main contributors and used an 18-5 second-half run to secure its first ACC win.Here’s what we learned from the game.MORE COVERAGETyler Roberson stifles Miami inside, scores 9 points in season-high 35 minutesSyracuse’s zone works like it should in 70-55 victory over MiamiJohn Gillon puts stranglehold on point guard spot in Syracuse’s best win of season, 70-55 over MiamiSyracuse fans react to SU’s big 70-55 win over Miamicenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

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Are baseball players happy? A personal memory of Marvin Miller

first_imgMajor League Baseball is undergoing a revolution. As more and more teams embrace sabermetrics as a way of life, club owners are casting a jaundiced eye at longterm contracts for players in their thirties. This, in turn, has led to a ripple effect on salaries across the board. One wonders what Marvin Miller would think of it all.Miller is a towering figure in sports history. In 1966, when he was elected executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, players were bound to their club by a “reserve clause” that precluded free negotiation. Pensions were negligible. Most labor issues were resolved by club owners in a dictatorial manner. Are baseball players happy (or were they happy in 1982)? The responses we got seemed to indicate that players have more highs and lows than the average person; a greater sense of opportunity, but also a sense of how fragile that opportunity is.I also know that some of the comments we received from players were particularly well-thought-out and seemed to come from special people. I’m sorry that we never had an opportunity to get to know them.Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at [email protected] The above article appears in “Thomas Hauser on Sports,” published by the University of Arkansas Press. (Courtesy of Thomas Hauser) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/74/58/mlbplayersurvey2-hauser-ftr-031119jpg_1e4beemh3dhx11jgnqs1ynl0x8.jpg?t=1848811489&w=500&quality=80 A psychological survey of MLB players in 1982 was cut short before meaningful conclusions could be drawn. (Thomas Hauser)MORE: Babe Ruth’s daughter dies at 102One of the questions we asked was, “Do you ever get depressed about your professional career? If so, what causes it?”Most of the players acknowledged having been depressed at one time or another. Injury was a common cause of depression. Other causes were a lack of playing time, poor performance on the field, and a lack of job security. “I’m trying never-endingly to fill the void whenever I get depressed,” one player wrote. None of the respondents said that they got depressed because their team was losing.Quite a few of the players had considered quitting baseball at one time or another, usually when they were mired in the minor leagues or were sent back down to the minors after a stint in the big leagues. One player (who ultimately had an eleven-year major league career) admitted that he’d been very close to quitting. “Never played much, was shown up by manager,” he wrote. “I didn’t [quit] because it was just one man’s judgment.”The thing that players seemed to dislike most about major league ball was the travel. They found it tiring and anxiety-provoking. “I don’t fear flying,” one player told us. “But everyone in the back of their mind thinks about crashing.”Questions about fans elicited a range of responses. One question we asked was, “Do you feel that the fans understand and fully appreciate your skills?”“The true fans understand,” one player responded. But other players answered ”no” followed by comments such as, “They don’t realize how complicated and demanding the job is. The game looks too easy from the stands . . . They don’t know what it takes to be a player. They think it’s easy because they’ve seen it been made to look easy by great players.”Another question (“Do you feel that the fans understand and fully appreciate your problems?”) evoked a passionate response. At one end of the spectrum were players who answered, “The fans shouldn’t have to understand my problems . . . I don’t expect them to. I would rather the fans not know my personal problems.”But most players answered “no” followed by thoughts like, “No way . . . All the fans see is the good times . . . They only see the glamour of playing in the big leagues . . . They don’t know the everyday pressure of playing . . . They don’t realize the pressures involved . . . Very few fans have any idea what a ballplayer goes through . . . Fans don’t realize the feeling you have when you go 0-4 that day . . . Most fans don’t comprehend what being a professional athlete is all about. They view it with rose colored glasses and envy . . . They make us out to be more than we are. After all, we are just people with the ability to play baseball . . . They think life in the big leagues is all fun and games. They don’t realize the hardships and that this is more than a game. It’s my job . . . Most fans don’t feel the players are human. We’re supposed to be at our peak all the time . . . Most people don’t realize how hard a 162-game season is. Travel, sickness, family problems. There is not a player in either league that feels 100% for every game. Some days, you only have 80% in you but you give that full 80%, not 70% . . . Fans seem to think this life is one of only glitter and gold. How could anyone making a lot of money have any problems? We’re normal people. We have normal problems . . . There’s no way a fan who attends a baseball game can understand what’s going on in my life.” (Courtesy of Thomas Hauser) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/f0/60/mlbplayersurvey-hauser-ftr-031119jpg_1wrqi5w2ywsle1dikrmt51xn6x.jpg?t=1829232785&w=500&quality=80 MORE: A history of MLB work stoppagesIn 1968, Miller negotiated the first collective bargaining agreement in the history of professional sports. The agreement raised baseball’s annual minimum salary from $6,000 to $10,000. More significantly, it began the process of laying a foundation for an effective labor movement. The tide turned irrevocably in 1975, when an arbitrator (and later, the federal courts) upheld a challenge to baseball’s reserve clause. Free agency for players with six years’ service in the major leagues was incorporated into the next collective bargaining agreement. In 1970, the average salary for a major league baseball player was $29,303. In 2018, it was $4,095,686.Miller’s creation became the standard that other sports unions aspire to. He formally stepped down as executive director of the MLBPA in late 1982. One of his last acts of leadership was mean-spirited and destructive. I know, because I was on the receiving end of it. And I think it constituted a disservice to the players he served so effectively for most of his reign.Let me explain.As a child, I was a passionate baseball fan. I went to doubleheaders regularly at Yankee Stadium and knew the names of virtually every player in the major leagues.Fast-forward to 1982. I was 36 years old. Five year earlier, I’d left my job as a litigator with a prominent Wall Street law firm to pursue a career as a writer. I was no longer a passionate baseball fan but still followed the sport with interest.Baseball in 1982 was in a state of transition. A 1981 strike had led to the cancellation of 706 games (38 percent percent of the season) and engendered considerable public resentment toward the players. Times are different now. The public is used to astronomical salaries for athletes. But in 1982, $241,497 (the average player salary) struck many as an exorbitant amount of money for “playing a game”.I had a friend (a professor of psychiatry named Bill Hoffmann) who dabbled in sports psychology. Bill and I were of the view that a baseball player’s life was harder than it seemed. But could we quantify that notion?In September 1982, Dr. Hoffmann and I proposed an article to Sports Illustrated. The first paragraph of our proposal read, “Countless articles have been written about what makes professional athletes win, but little has been said about what makes them happy. The popular perception is that ballplayers have a great life – good pay, lots of adulation; they don’t even ‘work’ for a living. But scratch the veneer of a professional athlete and two demons surface: fear of failure and the fear of growing old.”We then proposed putting together a psychological testing questionnaire and sending it to every member of the Major League Baseball Players Association as the foundation of our research, analyzing the results, conducting follow-up interviews with players, and writing about our findings.Sports Illustrated found the idea intriguing and asked us to prepare a draft questionnaire. If it was satisfactory, the magazine would pay the cost of copying and postage. Once the data was in, SI would decide whether or not it wanted to commission the article. If it didn’t, Dr. Hoffmann and I would be free to sell our work elsewhere.At that point, I telephoned the Major League Baseball Players Association and was referred to Peter Rose (associate general counsel for the organization). I asked him if the MLBPA would cooperate by making mailing labels available. Rose said he liked the idea but that an updated list of players’ addresses would not be compiled until sometime in November. He also told me that the MLBPA had a policy against releasing the home addresses of players but that, if I brought the stuffed envelopes to MLBPA headquarters, mailing labels would be affixed to them and they could be mailed from there.MORE: Opening Day schedule for all 30 MLB teamsThereafter, Dr. Hoffmann and I prepared a seven-page questionnaire with 61 questions. Some of the inquiries asked for basic biographical data. Others delved more deeply into likes and dislikes, hopes and fears, how the individual player’s happiness was affected by on-field performance, personal and professional relationships, salary, the media, fans, off-season activities, education, religion, and numerous other variables. Sports Illustrated approved the questionnaire with minor changes, and I telephoned Rose to ask how much advance notice would be needed prior to mailing. He said that 48 hours would be adequate.On the first Friday in December, I telephoned the MLBPA to advise Rose that the mailing would be ready in three days and was told by a secretary that he was at the winter meetings in Hawaii and would not be in the office until Monday, December 13. After several more calls, the same secretary told me that I could pick up the labels and mail the letters myself if I promised that I would make no copies of the labels and show the addresses to no one. I agreed and kept that promise. The questionnaire was sent to 894 players (814 in the United States and 80 in foreign countries).Then we waited. And the questionnaires began flowing back. The respondents ranged from career utility players to future Hall of Famers. We’d hoped for a cross-section of the baseball community, and we got it. Some of the names were familiar to me. Others meant nothing until I began reading their answers and then they became flesh and blood.The overwhelming majority of players said that their happiest moment in baseball was their first major league game. Others mentioned their first major league hit or first major league home run. Playing in the World Series and winning the World Series were also cited by those who’d had that experience. Pitchers frequently referenced their first major league win, although one hurler noted a bases-loaded double against Nolan Ryan as his happiest moment and another wrote, “striking out Reggie Jackson.”On the opposite side of the coin, when players were asked about their most unhappy moment in baseball, the most common answer was “being sent back down to the minors.” Others cited the first time they were traded, although most saw trades as part of the game. The consensus was that it was a lot better to be traded to a first place team than to a lesser club. Other unhappy moments derived from a poor individual performance such as “giving up five home runs in a game” or “striking out four times in one game.” Another player’s most unhappy moment was “when we were in the World Series and I didn’t get into a game.”When asked to identify their greatest professional fear, players overwhelmingly cited the fear of a career-ending injury. “Pitchers never know when their arm is going to blow out,” one respondent wrote. “It’s just a matter of time.”Were players worried in general about their career coming to an end?“The worries began on day one,” one player answered. “It’s a fact of life.”Quite a few voiced regret that they weren’t better educated so that their career options would be more varied when their playing days were over. “It’s a fantasy world, and you have to prepare for when you are out of it,” one player wrote.Fear of failure in single-game situations wasn’t as pronounced as we’d thought it would be. Professionals understand that losing is part of the game. We also hadn’t expected the response of a pitcher who told us that his greatest fear was “someone shooting me when I’m on the mound.” Questions and answers from the 1982 survey. (Thomas Hauser)Suspicion of the media was a repeating theme. Comments included, “Most media people just want to sell papers or fill air time and don’t care about hurting someone . . . They understand our problems, but I don’t think they sympathize with us because of the money . . . Most writers are frustrated jocks, who second guess you and cannot appreciate the dedication or hardships that playing professional athletics involves . . . Most don’t care unless you are a star . . . The media is disappointingly ignorant about sports and they have no desire to improve.”MORE: Five bold predictions for the 2019 seasonA majority of players voiced a preference for radio or television over print interviews because they couldn’t be misquoted. A sampling of responses on that issue included, “On TV or radio, you say what you say, not what some reporter thinks you should say . . . On television or radio, what I say can’t be turned around. It’s easy to ‘misquote’ in print . . . On radio or television, what comes out of my mouth is what I want people to hear. Print never comes out the same . . . On radio or TV, if I am misrepresented, it’s nobody’s fault but my own.”However, one player preferred print interviews, saying, “It gives you time to think.” And another answered, “Radio and television can’t really get the whole story right in five minutes. But print is only better when the story is printed as the player said it, not the way the writer heard it.”The feeling across the board was that Spanish-speaking players had an extra set of problems because of language barriers. Remember; in 1982, there were far fewer Hispanics in the major leagues than there are today.Another question we asked was, “Are your reasons for continuing to play ball different now from when you started?” Representative answers included, “When I played in little league and high school, we had a lot of fun. In the pros, it’s serious business . . . At first, I played to satisfy my dream and to make it to the big leagues. Now I play to support my family and set up my future financially . . . I started for fun. Now it’s a business . . . When I started in the game, it was for fun. The older I got, the fun went away and the business took over . . . The fun is slowly being taken out of it. It’s a job now.”Clearly, money was a major incentive. But virtually without exception, the respondents said that they’d rather play regularly and make $200,000 than sit on the bench for $300,000. Although one player noted, “If I’m playing regularly, I’ll get to $300,000.” And another observed, “You can’t renegotiate your contract while you’re sitting on the bench.”“Do you think you’ll be more or less happy than you are now when you’re no longer playing?”“Less happy,” one player answered. “I’ll always miss not being able to play. Not everyone can make 50,000 people stand up and cheer.” But another player answered, “More happy. All the pressures will be over.”And there were numerous nuggets of information.“How did you feel when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record?”“It made me proud to be a part of a profession that produces these types of people.”“Do you like giving autographs?”“Not to adults. Yes, to little kids. You really make their day.”“What do you like most about playing major league ball?”“The way little kids look up to you.”Another question we asked was, “If you could change places with any player, who would it be?”Most players said that they were happy being who they were. But pitchers entertained the fantasy of changing places more often than position players. And the player they most often wanted to change places with was Steve Carlton (“He has been the best pitcher in both leagues for the past ten seasons . . . He has one of the best mental attitudes in the game . . . He does his job as well as anyone and works hard at it . . . He has changed with the game and has an awesome pitch and he can hit too . . . I think he’s the best”).Other pitchers on the list included Tom Seaver (“because he has done everything in his career that I hope to accomplish in mine”), Gaylord Perry (“for his consistency and accomplishments”), Phil Neikro (“class and money and fame”), Jim Palmer (“he is my idol”), Storm Davis (“has great attitude and talent and is 20 years old”), and Nolan Ryan (“I just want to make what he pays in taxes each year”).Rod Carew was the only position player with whom multiple respondents said they’d be willing to change places.One player wrote, “With the wife and kids I have and the close friends who live near, nobody could have it any better than I do. If I did [want to change places], it would be with a player whose career is so fantastic that the players he played with and against would say he was the best ever at that position. Not the media or fans, but the players. They are the ones I would want the respect from. The one man would be Johnny Bench.”MORE: 19 storylines to watch during the 2019 MLB seasonMany of the players said that their happiness sprang from a belief in God. Their religious faith was extremely important to them. Another wrote, “The luck factor in baseball and all sports puzzles me.”One comment that I found thought-provoking was, “I think every player should have one great great year just to see what it feels like. Both individual and team-wise, very few do.”Significantly, a dominant theme in the responses was a love of the game.“Baseball has been in my life since I was six years old, and I enjoy it as much now as then. I wish I could give baseball as much as it has given me . . . I’m doing what I’ve wanted to do since I was a little boy . . . I’m doing something that every kid dreams of doing . . . I like the fact that I’m playing at the highest level of competition there is in my profession . . . It’s a hard road. But if you make it, it’s very rewarding . . . I’m 38 and still in love with the game . . . All I ever wanted was to play baseball. My goal was to make it to the major leagues. Now that I am here, it makes all those sacrifices worth it. I would not change my nine years of pro ball for anything . . . Baseball is a beautiful game that’s been changed by modern science and media types and aluminum bats and gloves with flashing lights. It’s hard to concentrate on just the game sometimes, but that makes me love it that much more. I hope I never stop playing baseball.”But the most gratifying thing about the responses was the way that many players reacted to the project itself. Some acknowledged having sought help from a psychiatrist or other psychotherapists in the past, and all but one considered it to have been a worthwhile experience.Beyond that, we got comments such as, “Your questions show thought and much deliberation. It is a good questionnaire . . . This sounds interesting. I would like to see the finished product . . . This is good. People might start realizing that ballplayers have emotions and feelings and aren’t just a baseball card . . . Baseball is strenuous, both physically and mentally. If there’s anything to take a little of the stress off of us by filling this out, I’m all for it.”The final question on the questionnaire was, “Would you be willing to discuss any of these issues further? If so, how would you like us to contact you?”More than half of the players answered “yes” and wrote in their home address or telephone number.“If you want the actual truth,” one player told us, “several times I was tempted to withhold something because it was insulting or something that could be used against me later. All the issues are open. Please call.”We never got the chance.The questionnaire had been mailed to players on the second weekend in December. On Friday, Dec. 17, Marvin Miller telephoned me. He was not a happy camper.Miller told me that he had never been informed of the project and asked for a chronology of what had occurred. I explained the undertaking and recounted the events that led up to the questionnaire being mailed to members of the MLBPA. Miller’s comments and tone of voice made it clear that a hard road lay ahead.”Is there any way we can salvage the project?” I asked.“That’s my decision, not yours,” Miller answered.Then the steady stream of responses stopped. A few more filtered in, but not many. Finally, we received one last questionnaire from a player who wrote on the last page, “I got a letter from the players association regarding your questionnaire. However, I think it is a worthwhile survey so I filled it out anyway. Call me.”The player gave us his home telephone number. He also enclosed a Dec. 21, 1982, memorandum that had been sent to all members of the MLBPA by Marvin Miller.MORE: 19 reasons baseball will be great in 2019Miller’s memorandum began as follows: “Early this month, two writers, Thomas Hauser and William Hoffmann, sent a letter and a questionnaire to all major league baseball players. The letter stated that the purpose of the questionnaire was to obtain material for a proposed article in Sports Illustrated.”Miller went on to state, “The questionnaire, with its 61 questions, was never seen by me or any staff member of the Players Association prior to its being sent to players.” Miller’s letter further advised recipients that the secretary who had given us the addresses had been fired, and closed with the suggestion, “If you have not yet responded to the questionnaire, you may wish to consider whether you should ignore it in light of what has happened.”Miller’s letter was carefully worded. Without directly saying so, he was telling the players to not respond to the survey. I telephoned him. He wouldn’t take my call. I wrote him a letter voicing my displeasure. He sent me back an unpleasant response. That was the end of communication between us.The project was dead. Eighty-four players had returned the questionnaire. That wasn’t enough for a valid statistical study. And there was no way our research could proceed to stage two; follow-up interviews with the players who’d indicated a willingness to talk with us.There was a glimmer of hope in 1983, when Miller was succeeded by Kenneth Moffett as executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association. Later that year, I telephoned Moffett, explained what had happened, and broached the subject of trying again. Moffett asked me to send him copies of the questionnaire and related correspondence, which I did. Several days later, he telephoned and said, “I’m sorry. I’d love to help you on this. It seems like a worthwhile study, but my hands are tied. I’m in a very difficult position here. Marvin would never allow it.”Two months later, Moffett was dismissed as executive director of the MLBPA. Miller returned to serve as interim executive director until a replacement was named.And that was that. I put the questionnaires in a closet and went on to other things. Time passed. Bill Hoffmann died of cancer in October 2000. His death was a tragedy and a terrible blow to all who loved him. Recently, on a whim, I decided to look at the questionnaires again. Decades had passed since I’d first seen them.“Baseball is a great game and it’s a great profession if you can keep everything in perspective,” read the first questionnaire I looked at. “Ballplayers are normal people, and we encounter many of the same problems most people run into.”Why did Miller do what he did? I think he was angry that the questionnaire had been sent out without his knowledge. Would he have approved the project if it had run through him? I don’t know. It might be that the information we were gathering would have made him nervous. After all, Miller served his players brilliantly on economic issues. His legacy failed when it came to illegal drugs, which continue to endanger the health of union members. And he could have done more to make the players better understood and more sympathetic figures in the eyes of fans.last_img read more

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