In 1999, ESPN did this very cool “SportsCentury” series, where they counted down the top 100 athletes of the last 100 years.
If they had extended that list to the most important people in sports from 1900-99, one man would definitely have been in the Top 5, if not No. 1.
He didn’t play one down in the NFL, hit one jump shot in the NBA, or drive in any runs on the baseball field.
But I would argue Marvin Miller, who died Tuesday at 95, was more important than any athlete. Miller was the skilled lawyer who, in the late 1960s and early 1970s became a powerful force in baseball, unifying the players and taking on the owners and changing sports forever.
Before Miller, there was no free agency. Players were bound to their teams until the teams traded them, or cut them. Salaries were a joke; ownership had complete control.
Miller changed all that, first with Curt Flood and the reserve clause, then with free agency’s fight.
He made the baseball union so powerful that it was a model for other unions in America, and strengthened core values for America’s working class.
It’s a disgrace that Marvin Miller isn’t in the Baseball Hall of Fame; he fell one vote short of induction in 2010. Obviously the powers that run baseball are still a little angry, or maybe forgetful, at how important Miller was in the sport’s history.
Marvin Miller changed the world, and every sports fan in America today ought to be thankful he did.
Two really well-written appreciations of Miller are here, if you’d like to learn more about him: Jon Wertheim’s piece on SI.com is here, and Joe Posnanski writes about Miller’s achievements, and his feistiness to the end, here.
**Kyle Singler is a former Dukie so of course I love him, and always will be a fan of his.
But even if you hate Duke and all that it stands for, you have to admit this is pretty cool. Singler, now with the Detroit Pistons, put together this terrific trick-shot video shot in and around Detroit.
I don’t know how many tries that last shot took, but it’s different than anything I’ve ever seen.
**Finally, this story just made me smile Tuesday. I love Krispy Kreme donuts, as all red-blooded Americans who have tried one also do. Haven’t had one in years, but this story made me want one. Or at least, made me want to meet one of their employees, Jackie.
The story is this: A Texas man named Jia Jiang has a serious fear of rejection. So he’s trying to overcome that by spending the next 100 days making “crazy requests” of random strangers, so that they’ll say no, and he’ll get used to being rejected.
OK, I agree it’s nuts, but hey, strange people make our world interesting. So anyway, on his third day Jiang walks into a Krispy Kreme store in Austin, Texas and asks for a five-donut combination display that are colored and shaped like Olympic rings.
Ninety-nine store managers out of 100 would tell him no and then call the police or something. But not Jackie; she actually came through and worked her tail off to make Jiang happy.
Check out the video below… Krispy Kreme needs to give this woman a raise.