Sandy Helps Billy Wagner

Guy Conti was a lifer with the Dodgers minor league coaching staff until he got his chance at the big leagues as bullpen coach for th New York Mets. Lifer Dino Ebel, the longtime Dodgers player, coach and manaer, who got his big league chance as Mike Scioscia's third base coach in Anahem, Conti and Ebel had to figure, as Ike Ikuhara always said, there ain't nothing like the big leagues.

But Conti still had a lifetime of friendships and one of those was with the estimable one, Sandy Koufax.

Conti called  Koufax and said Mets closer Billy Wagner sure wished he could get a tutorial from Koufax. Koufax, semi-recluse that he is, is, if anything, a generous guy to a fault (except when he was bumming my smokes).

So Koufax dutifully appeared at the Mets Complex down the road in Port St.  Lucie and did his thing with Wagner, surely remembering that it was a tip from Dodgers catcher Norm Sherry that turned his own career around from hard thrower into a genius IN the strike zone.

The New York press picked up the story and it was THE baseball news Sunday in Gotham.

The picture of Sandy with Pedro Martinez showed two slightly built guys with giant hearts and gaudy resumes - showing that baseball is still as much between the ears as it is in physical size.

The Koufax visit had all the earmarks of a Barrack Obama political rally, there was magic in the air.

For many years, we earned our living as a public finance officer (so we could spend precious hours following baseball and  the Dodgers). We belonged to a group  called The National Association of Public Finance Officers.

The Chicago based group once did a study of every city in every sport that sought and received some form of public subsidy (money) for their facility, either at the big league or minor league level.

Do you know what the impartial study showed? NEVER, NOT ONCE did the public ever get its full investment back!

For sure, there are plenty of "economists" for sale who anybody can hire to show that sports,or other, investments yield multiples in return in "tourism" dollars.

None of these bought and paid or economic consultants have ever had their assumptions fully tested. The government finance officers punctured their balloon.

Of course, p.r. always wins over fiscal sanity and the blockbuster study was soon consigned the the circular file. But as sports teams continue to pursue public dollars, they continue to seek Cadillac benefits.

In Florida, the Marlins have sought for years to get state financing for a new indoor stadium. And the state has turned them down year after year after year. Now he Marlins seem to be getting from the city and county what they couldn't get from the state.

They have resorted to the tack of we will leave  town if you don't come  up with the dough.

As the Dodgers braintrust meets some partial resistance in their negotiations with Arizona, this background may put some of the discussions in balance.