Yes I Went There: Are Donald Sterling and Jim Crane Cut from the Same Cloth?


Maybe everyone is already tired of the Donald Sterling story – but since Bryant Gumbel painted Jim Crane with the same brush as Sterling and since long time blog contrarian, Bopert, has a giant “I told you so” hanging over our heads – I think it is a reasonable thing to discuss.

As a reminder – Sterling was just banned for life by the NBA for telling his mistress that she should not be hanging with people of color in public or be seen with them in publicly published Instagram pictures. Sterling had previously battled through a number of discrimination suits and accusations in the past and apparently behind the scenes has treated African American employees with an almost plantation mentality.

Flash to yesterday and Bryant Gumbel sent this cannon shot across Jim Crane’s bow.

“I don’t want us to sit here, singling out the NBA, because they are not necessarily the exception to the rule,” Gumbel said. “I mean baseball, for example, has an owner down in Houston who has kind of the same tortured history as Donald Sterling, in that his company was sued for discrimination and wound up paying a settlement, and has said some things attributed to him that are inopportune.”

Note – In the late 1990s, Astros owner Jim Crane’s company Eagle Global Logistics faced claims of discrimination by minorities and women. A review found that only 203 out of 2,073 claims had any merit, and employees and applicants were awarded around $900,000 in the resulting settlement.

The Astros published an immediate long rebuttal of the Gumbel quote that included the following wording.

The judge stated that the EEOC was “relying on third-rate gossip in order to impugn” EGL and Jim and they were “taking positions that have no factual or legal merit.” In order to avoid the high cost of litigation, EGL agreed to set up a settlement fund that was used to investigate and pay claims. Almost 90% of the funds were eventually returned to EGL because of the lack of valid claims. Not one of the plaintiffs who made the inflammatory allegations ever received a penny.

So, there are some parallels between Sterling and Crane in previous litigation – though Sterling’s were against him personally, while Crane’s were against his former company. On the other side of the coin – there has always been bad talk about Sterling as a vile person, while many folks who know him have been very supportive of Jim Crane.

While Donald Sterling’s permanent ban from the NBA is the equivalent of an ownership death penalty, it is not without precedent in sport.  In Feb. 1993, Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott was suspended for one year and fined $25,000 after a series of racist and insensitive comments. In 1996, she was suspended for life after stating her support for Adolf Hitler – he “was good in the beginning but went too far.” Duh – ya think so?

So we know that along with Marge Schott, there might have been a few other racist owners in the past – like the ones who decided that no black player was good enough until Branch Rickey forced the issue with Jackie Robinson. And there is a good chance that removing Donald Sterling probably does not remove the last of the existing racist owners in major American sports. But is Crane one of those folks?

Personally, I do not think that Jim Crane and Donald Sterling have very much in common other than a lot more disposable income than the average Joe. I also think that Bryant Gumbel should be a man and admit that he went too far with his accusations. But where do you fall in this discussion?

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90 comments on “Yes I Went There: Are Donald Sterling and Jim Crane Cut from the Same Cloth?

  1. For me, I would have do to a ton of research to be able to have any opinion on Crane as a person and his past and present business practices. . However, I have quit caring at all about anything Bryant Gumbel has said about 10 years ago. He is nothing more than a hot bag of worthless opinion. IMHO

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    • I have to agree with you that Gumbel has not been a worthwhile commentator for a long time. He has an ego that is on steroids. Too preachy and judgmental for my taste. (Says Dan as he is being judgmental about Bryant Gumbel).

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  2. Well no one in their right mind wants to wade into this water. So I feel qualified. Dan, I find it strange the word “only” precedes 203, but lets not quibble. As one having been a victim of discrimination, and as one that sat with my 1 attorney, facing a table with 5 – $300+ per hour attorneys – it is most difficult to prove and I know the sting of defeat in the face of reality. That does not mean that any of the three mentioned are guilty, or not. So that being said, it would appear that all three suffer in public for what we do in private all the time (me included). Not necessarily about race, but maybe politics, or weight, or religion. There are far worse crimes than being a trash mouth, but when you put those thoughts into action against an individual, I for one, am glad that it is now against Federal law.

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    • There are often more questions than answers when looking at these types of things. If you are in charge of a large company you are financially liable for everything that happens below you. But does it reflect on an individual if they never directed the action that caused the problem or even knew it was occurring?
      I know that I have been involved with situations where an individual complained about her supervisor making her feel uncomfortable. She did not want this to be a legal situation. The supervisor had to be sat down and told to change or be gone. Now that supervisor was going against company policy, going against training they had received on this exact subject. So is the CEO responsible for that?
      We don’t know anything really about people. I remember the NFL giving their Man of the Year to one of the Atlanta Falcons who was then caught with a prosititute the night before the Super Bowl. We can think so and so is a great progressive owner of a team (obviously not Sterling) but that person could easily be perverted or racist or sexist or whatever behind the scenes.
      It is all difficult to prove and to know.

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    • “Only 203” had cases that could not be summarily dismissed. Rather than face expensive trials proving their innocence, Crane’s company decided to pay some money and end its problem.

      Again, this is about Crane’s company, not Crane.

      Of course, if you’re going to put it on Crane’s practices, how about these practices. Crane has hired one of three black managers in baseball. Porter has coaches of color on his staff.

      And my favorite, Crane stopped holding fancy parties with his team — Bow Ties and Ballcaps — and has focused the Astros’ charitable efforts on refurbishing youth ball fields in poor (minority) areas of Houston.

      I don’t know Jim Crane. And about the last thing I would ever do is defend a racist. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Crane isn’t one.

      But I’m pretty sure Bryant Gumbel is an unmitigated ass, so I think we’ve got our problem solved.

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      • Brian T – You are being sued by the Unmitigated Asses Association of America for defamation of their characters.

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  3. Liver, Bryant Gumbel, wasps, IRS, France, snakes, eggplant, millionaire preachers, working with a shovel. horror movies, Barby Pelosi, bad coffee, vacation slideshows and people who pretend to be working with a shovel.
    Now, if I could get a Rapper to sing about these things, that would be a perfect Bundle.

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  4. Here I am living in a hovel
    While some guys pretending to work with a shovel
    Some 14 year old was sleeping with his teacher
    And Jesus is crying about a millionaire preacher

    I really don’t like itchy tight pants
    And I can’t stand those snobs in France
    Politics seems full of corruption and greed
    And boy I hate Pelosi and Reid

    I fear bees, wasps, spiders and snakes
    And please don’t show me a vacation slideshow of lakes
    So many sports commentators tend to bumble
    Especially that jerk named Bryant Gumbel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh Fields looked good at the end of last year,
      But lately he acts like a headlighted deer.
      We thought he’d be one of our young guns,
      But in the last 3 games he gave up 9 runs

      Maybe the league has just caught up,
      And lately he looks sad as a hounddog pup.
      I hope he gets back to retiring them 1-2-3 –
      Or his next cup of coffee will be in OKC.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t think its a matter of the league catching up to him. Its location. He doesn’t throw hard enough or have a devastating breaking pitch that would allow him to miss his spots (or the strike zone of late) so badly.

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  5. I’m on the fence here. Accusations are damaging. Even when nothing tangible is found they will follow a person. My belief is that those with a voice (gumbel) should tread carefully and do their due diligence before opening their voice. Painting Crane as a possible racist does nothing to further the discussion. We know there are racist players, owners, fans, executives, and even beer vendors involved in our favorite sports. Unless Gumbel fully believes Crane is a racist/misogynistic/*ist individual I Have trouble believing this was anything more than being an opportunist. Since I don’t know either individuals, I can only make assumptions, and we know what they say about those.

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    • My belief is guys like Gumbel get pompous and lazy as journalists. They get listened to no matter whether what they are saying is researched or vetted so why “waste” the effort and their all so valuable time.

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  6. I don’t know Jim Crane, or Donald Sterling, so to add a comment about them would only put me in the gutter with every other know-it-all in America.
    I look for our friend Bopert to write a novel on this blog, as soon as he sees the subject matter. I have 9 grandchildren, and my hope for them is to see racial discrimination die. Just my thoughts on a subject that has GOT to stop. As for Bryant Gumbel……..yawn.

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    • While some folks look at the Sterling situation as proof that this type of thought is pervasive in America – but what warms my heart is the almost universal censure towards this type of abhorrent behavior. The vast majority of Americans do not accept this crap anymore and that is a very good thing.

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    • Here’s my novel: my friends on Chip’s BLOG must know by now, or within 5 years or so, that Crane is no good for this franchise. I know already, and my warning remains constant.

      Regarding the rampant discrimination in HIS company, it’s a clear pattern. No matter how you flower it up.

      Moreover, and this is what make my hair stand on edge, I have a friend that was a logistics officer in Iraq for two years. He was privy to He told me that he experienced, FIRST HAND, soldiers getting killed as a direct result of bogus, empty convoys being run, repeatedly, multiple runs, day after day, so that Crane’s company could enrich itself at the taxpayers (and soldier’s families) expense.

      This I believe. Why? Because, my friend, EH, is a reputable dude. And he had a leadership role and was privvy to this information.

      Comparing Donald Sterling to Jim Crane is askew. You should compare Sterling to Marge Schott and/or Archie Bunker.

      Crane is not only a bigot, he is evil.

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      • PS — EH was adamant that the four judgments against the company for war profiteering didn’t really touch on the heart of the problem. “Overcharging for shipments” and sending out empty convoys, and the lives put at risk, are two different things.

        In other words, the language in the four settlements was tepid and inaccurate. And I believe him. And my warning remains constant…

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  7. Back to on the field stories, the Astros are switching from tandem to 6 man rotation at OKC. This is due to losing Harrell by trade and Seaton to injury, as well in part because pitchers complained of fatigue. Luhnow insisted they will return to the tandem in some form though.

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  8. And relative to a question asked earlier int he week and I ‘m not sure ever answered – Carlos Correa was missing time due to a sore throwing arm – not thought to be serious.

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    • So why not DH him to keep him sharp? And why is Wates still not showing in the line up? Why can’t we have a Chronicle sportswriter that actually asks these questions and gets answers? it doesn’t really take a special still set. Any high school journalism student could take on the role.

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    • Correa missed his fifth game in a row last night and Wates hasn’t played and is still listed on their website as being on the DL, as of this am.

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      • I’m thinking they are going to be sent to extended ST so they can learn how to play 4 innings and then go sit on the bench. It will help them adjust to professional baseball.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. So let’s see if I get this all correct. Our minor league pitchers are fatigued from pitching half as many normal innings with one day less rest and our everydays are playing full games and getting hurt.
    So obviously we need to start having the every days play 4 innings of every game so we don’t wear them out….

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  10. I was at the park and left early tonight. I don’t do that. It looked like a club playing out the string. Only two errors in the box score, but there were at least five mishandled balls on the field. Castro looked absolutely terrible at the plate. Like he didn’t care. I’m almost thinking that sending Springer up to play in this environment with this batch of players and this manager was a disservice to him. How do you explain 5 errors in 14 games? He made 3 total errors in 275 minor league games over parts of four seasons. Something is very wrong with this baseball team.

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    • Could it be they suck AND have no support? daveb, if you’re disgusted, what about all the rest?

      Of course they’re playing out the string. They are the worst team on the planet. And of course the players know it too.

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    • Technically the D’Backs are 1-1/2 games worse than the Astros – but not for long if they play more like last night’s game.

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      • op, I’ll be heading back next week. I can take this present operation in small doses. But I’m always relieved to step back on island. No reason why you shouldn’t make a visit. I’ll even buy the first round!

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    • Daveb, based on the crowds shown on TV the last two nights perhaps Crane should start an image rehabilitation program where he shakes everyone’s hand as they come through the turnstiles.

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    • Old pro – don’t we all picture daveb filming Corona beer commercials on the beach while keeping up with the Astros on his ipad?

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      • Personally, I like to picture him in a hammock with a cold Carib during the game. I think its after the game that he strolls down the beach to the tiki bar.

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      • The beer of choice in my locale is called Carib. Nice locally brewed lager. The Corona drinkers would be immediately be determined to be tourists. And they don’t seem to mind paying twice or three times for an inferior product! Maybe we should play guess the island to take our minds off the present Astro woes!

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      • Long term readers may remember the name of the island, as you have mentioned it before. I’ve been to the Four Seasons there, but otherwise have not spent much time off the beach. I’ll leave out the name as the guessing game may be more fun than watching the games right now…

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    • I get as much upset about the non-errors that could be called errors that cost them a lot of plays also. And thought the hitting has been better lately – that has meant it has not been quite so putrid.

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  11. Entering tonight’s debacle against Washington, the Astros had a cumulative 0.0 offensive WAR.

    It’s tough to see anything meaningful in the data other than that our guys stink right now. However, the following are batting averages for our players (Dingo = Dominguez in my shorthand) when ahead in the count, even, and trailing in the count, respectively:
    Castro: .286 / .296 / .083
    Krauss: .176 / .211 / .000
    Altuve: . 242 / .289 / .303
    Villar: .231 / .318 / .161
    Dingo: .235 / .293 / .129
    Grossman: .235 / .133 / .000
    Fowler: .385 / .257 / .074
    Springer: .200 / .125 / .200
    Carter: .516 / .167 / .143
    Presley: .111 / .278 / .308
    Guzman: .313 / .200 / .100
    Hoes: .353 / .200 / .125
    Corporan: .286 / .214 / .000
    Marwin: .250 / .222 / .300

    I was wondering just how “not afraid” the opposing pitchers are of the Astros right now. Ignoring any plate appearance that ended on one pitch, here are how many times the Astros got into 0-1 counts:
    Castro 46 / 88
    Krauss 29 / 56
    Altuve 48 / 100
    Villar 37 / 77
    Dingo 48 / 81
    Grossman 26 / 54
    Fowler 44 / 87
    Springer 28 / 49
    Carter 48 / 86
    Hoes 26 / 44
    Presley 32 / 56
    Guzman 34 / 50
    Corporan 11 / 22
    Marwin 12 / 20

    To clarify, Castro saw 46 0-1 counts out of 88 plate appearances that lasted more than one pitch. This kind of surprised me. I expected, based on our futility at the plate, that pitchers must be getting ahead early at a much higher clip.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for all the work this took Devin. Perhaps what it means is that the pitchers are not a bit ambivalent about the 0-1 count with the Astros – they can get them out even when they are not 0-1 on the batter.

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  12. Two days in a row CC relievers have turned 3-run leads in the ninth inning into one run walkoff losses. That’s what happens when you have eight starting pitchers pitching every four days and not enough relievers on a team.
    Lancaster had a closed door meeting yesterday for players only. What I got from the article is that there is dissention in the locker room amongst the players and some guys on the team don’t like some of the attitudes of some of the other players. In the meantime there is the Appel fiasco and the non-injury to Carlos Correa which has him not in the last six games. Quad Cities loses first game of DH and is behind in the second.
    Jake Buchanan and OKC lose to Round Rock 5-2 tonight.
    Taking a Center Fielder and moving him to RF without ever playing there seems to be working well for Springer and the Astros.

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    • Not as worried about minor league losses as I am with the overall effect on psyche or what is going on.
      Good point on Springer and RF – both oldpro and Devin.

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    • I think Krauss and Carter have the same problem right now. They might both benefit from n ‘injury’ that gave them a few games to clear their heads. Alternately we could trade them…and likely see them immediately turn it around. Strom is on the clock and has to be pretty nervous. His hitters are not giving him any job security.

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  13. Something is VERY wrong right now, and since we only see the guys play, we don’t “hear” what’s gone south with this club. Folks, there HAS got to be a problem in the clubhouse, or a problem with the manager, and Luhnow. The comments made last night by Oberholtzer, and Castro made me wonder. SOMETHING ain’t right in that clubhouse.

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    • Well – the way I read things – they not only are lacking the talent of the opposition – they don’t seem able to make up for some of that gap with intensity and preparedness.
      And so it points to daveb’s favorite manager….

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    • Becky, I am with you. Those comments sure sounded strange for a major league player. And I live “in the blackout” but what causes a decent outfielder in the minors to be a “Villar” in rightfield.

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  14. Speaking of daveb – what island do you folks think daveb is living on.
    Let’s see – Galveston Island, Devil’s Island, Australia (can a continent be an island?), the Isle of Capri, Coney Island, Fantasy Island (“the plane, the plane”), Long Island or Easter Island?

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    • Ok, googled Carib Beer and there are three breweries. Trinidad, Grenada and St Kitts and Nevis. Anyway, Nuttin’ but luv, daveb, nuttin but luv!

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      • One of those three oldpro. Good investigative work. One bit of additional information. Carib is brewed into brown bottles on only one island. It seems to taste better than the stuff in clear bottles distributed widely. I drink the brown bottle version.

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      • St. Kitts

        High Island – I guess the only bad history might be due to hurricanes and resulting deaths?

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  15. Time to lock and reload guys………..May is here, and I don’t like the way this team is headed. Chip is outta town so one of you guys is gonna have to think up another
    topic. Who needs to go ASAP, and who gets called up!!
    Since ya’ll are so interested in where dave_b is from, why don’t you get yourself
    a hut next to his! Everybody needs a vacation………..

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    • Becky, your suspicions of something going on in this organization are right. Astros minor league teams lost all five games again tonight. The only thing the Astros could brag about was their minor leagues and not one of them is playing close to good baseball. No Correa, Wates, Fontana, Rollins or Appel and pitchers on all of our teams are walking lots of batters and getting hammered.
      Something is going on.

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