Cash Casualties at The Ballpark
Trae's Time; Must Read On NFL Scouts; Shea's Big Arm
I can get out now and talk to folks around Atlanta about Sports and some of those folks I am talking to are concession workers at sports venues. Feel for them.
They are distressed.
Truist Park is the latest venue to go cashless. It is card-only to pay for beer, dogs, popcorn, and other food. Vendors pulling levers on beer taps, ripping tops off beer cans while standing in 90-degree heat with a heavy tub, and scooping nachos onto a paper tray are getting stiffed by the fans.
Swipe and skate.
“They hurry off quickly when they press zero (in the tip screen box),” said a concessions worker. “They don’t think we can see their side of the screen, but we do.”
She shook her head from side to side and said, “Cashless is hurting us. We would make change and they might leave a $1 on the counter. We don’t get many tips now.”
It was the same way at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the Falcons in the 2019 season. Tips are down. Now the concession workers are staying home.
The Braves’ vendor, Delaware North, had to bus in workers from Jacksonville because they couldn’t find workers here. I wonder why? They were paying concession people a whole $10 an hour to stay on their feet 4 1/2 to 5 hours. But you get tips! the company declared.
“What tips?,” said a worker.
They are not allowed to put a cup on the counter for tips to entice an extra buck. After paying $10 for a can of beer most fans simply refuse to tip.
Delaware North has $3.2 billion in yearly revenues. They can pay these people more. But they don’t. They likely supported state legislatures cutting off pandemic-related benefits to force people back to work.
I’ll tell you this. I can get a tin can and a monkey and make more on a street corner in five hours than what these people are being paid for 5 hours.
Some cities have outlawed cashless business because millions of underpaid people in this country are unbanked. They are paid a pittance by overlords at hotels (maids) and restaurants and cleaning services or lawn care businesses and on and on. What do they need a bank for? They do not get a credit card because their check disappears quickly for rent and food. Bank fees just eat into their meager wages.
These days, across the country, professional teams are using non-profits to work concession stands. The teams give the non-profits a certain percentage of what they bring in at the concession stand. It would be difficult to get a peak at the books of the teams to see just how much money they are saving with non-profits, instead of paying decent wages to stadium workers.
One man, several years ago at Turner Field, who was a concession stand worker, told me he was homeless. Then a non-profit told him he could get room at their boarding house and meals for working at the stadium, plus some cash. He worked eight hours and got $32. The non-profit kept the rest of his earnings to pay for his room and board.
The lines for concession stands at Truist Park during the three-game series with the Pirates last weekend were brutal. One issue was there were no beer hawkers going through the stands. If you wanted a beer you had to get up and stand in line—for two innings—and get it.
If you go to a game at Truist, please carry a buck or two and leave it on the beer counter.
This Week Is Where Trae Young Becomes Elite
There has been a little too much Napoleon complex from Hawks’ star Trae Young. You know what I mean. The short guy who feels dishonored. We’ve heard it from him all season. He is usually talking about his team being disrespected, but you know he is talking about himself, too. The 2021 All-Star Game snub was particularly cruel for him.
He didn’t deserve the pedestal. You don’t get to elite status until THE PLAYOFFS! and only if you play well once there and your team advances. Young is playing well and the Hawks are up 2 games to 1 against the Knicks.
Trae Young is teed up to join the elite of the league.
The playoffs are the proving ground. It is physical and the defense is cold, and so are the refs. If you are elite, you either score against grabby defense, or make plays for your teammates to score. And when the game is on the line, you win it. That’s how you get to elite status.
Young won Game 1 with a last-second shot and in Game 3 Friday night when the Knicks double-teamed him, he dished out 14 assists and made his teammates better.
And have you noticed his defense? No, right? That’s the point. He is erasing that stigma, too.
Young is averaging 27.6 points per game through three games. He is making 43 percent of his 3s and 48.6 percent of his field goal attempts overall. Young had just two turnovers Friday night in a team-high 36 minutes, 53 seconds.
He has to keep it going. The playoffs are where you are stamped as legit. And that goes for coaches, too.
Atlanta coach Nate McMillan was fired in Indiana in 2020 because the Pacers made early exits in the playoffs in back-to-back seasons (0-8 in two series).
In Game 2 of this series on Wednesday, it looked like he was going to get stamped again as a “playoff” bungler. The Hawks gave up a big lead when McMillan did not not keep enough offense on the floor when he started subbing in the third quarter. Atlanta lost momentum and the game.
Friday night, when Young came off the floor, Bogdan Bogdanovic stayed, hit a 3, and the Hawks maintained a double-digit lead and cruised. Nate learned how to keep momentum. I don’t know if he has to win this series to keep the job for next season—he might already have it— but if the Hawks do eliminate New York, he is the coach in 2021-22.
NFL Scouts Dish
The appeal of BYU quarterback Zach Wilson was that he can throw and complete the most significant pass play in the West Coast offense designed by 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan: Run Pass Zone Read Option. You fake and hit receivers in stride. Some scouts said Wilson hits that slant pass 100 out of 100 times. They loved him after his Pro Day.
Accuracy trumps arm strength in the NFL and Wilson’s accuracy was off the charts. The Jets covet a quarterback in their West Coast Offense who can hit a receiver in stride. No college quarterback in the country threw the Zone Read RPO slant better than Wilson, one scout said.
I believe if he was there at No. 4, the Falcons June 1 would be trading both Matt Ryan and Julio Jones and we would have started the Zach Wilson Era.
*The system for scouting and developing quarterbacks in the NFL is busted. I don’t blame new general manager Terry Fontenot for not sticking his neck out and drafting a quarterback, any quarterback. It is the second most important thing a GM does—hire a QB—after managing the relationship with the owner.
From 2009-2016 there have been 94 quarterbacks drafted. Just three are still with the team that drafted them. That is abominable. David Carr, Russell Wilson, and Dak Prescott are the only three.
The league fails, big time at its most important position.
You can’t win in the league without the right quarterback. Fontenot was just not ready to make his first big….mistake.
*The NFL is waiting to see if some star players, like LSU cornerback Derek Stingley opt out of the 2021 season. I think it is a possibility. The NFL made itself flexible last season because of the Pandemic and didn’t hold it against players who decided not to play. Scouts are not sure how lenient the league is going to be on rising juniors deciding not to play because they fear injury.
My feeling: I would question how much the player loves the game. What kind of teammate is he going to be if the club is losing? But the fact is a player like Stingley is hands down the best at his position. If he doesn’t play, some team will be more than willing to draft him.
It is all about the money now for the top talent, in any sport. They see how much Live Sports is raking in and they are cashing in.
*NFL scouts know this: players with low IQ just don’t get better. They are simply not smart enough to figure out their mistakes and improve. They might have great athletic ability, but they can’t learn from mistakes. It’s why they test and ask questions about Xs and Os in pre-draft interviews.
*At one school, if you were a scout who showed up early in the morning to watch video of a player, you better have a box of donuts for the college coaching staff. Price of admission.
Not The Last Word. The Last Video.
The Braves’ rookie catcher William Contreras is having trouble with glove. He better watch out for Shea Langeliers, the catching prospect in the Braves minor league organization. Langeliers didn’t just throw this runner out; he picked it, then made the throw.