Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Baseball's Huckster

Baseball's Huckster

He was once a used car salesman...then team owner, turned baseball boss.
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's been a master salesman generating revenue and securing top dollars for franchises. Even franchises in the less attractive markets of Florida, Arizona, Seattle, San Diego to name a handful.

When Selig was named Commissioner in 1992, baseball's revenue was $1.2 billion. For 2010-2011 seasons it's increased five-fold to $70 billion. Based on those figures alone, it's no surprise owners are happy with his work.

Under Bud Selig's leadership baseball's changed dramatically. Here's some changes.
  • Realigned teams into 3 divisions per league - introduced playoff wild-card teams (1994)
  • Interleague Play - (1997)
  • Added two ML franchises - Arizona Diamondbacks - Tampa Bay (1998)
  • Transfer of Montreal Expos franchise to Washington,D.C (Washington Nationals - 2004)
  • Adopted stricter drug testing - (2005)
  • Introduced World Baseball Classic - (2006)
  • Introduced instant replay used by umpire crews to review disputed home runs - (2008)
Under Selig's leadership 20 new baseball stadiums have been built. Most built with tax-payers dollars. In fact, prior to 1953 only one major league park was built with tax-payers money, Cleveland's Municipal Stadium. Since then 82% of the 20 new MLB stadiums have been built by tax-payers. Bud Selig's been a "master" at conning local politicians into using tax-payers money to build new stadiums. His latest victims, politicians, tax-payers of Miami. The Marlins spent millions signing "A" list free agents while claiming they were financially poor. "BROKE" Several days ago they shed $38 millions from their payroll by shipping star infielder Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers.
Trades have always been a major part of baseball's strategy. But I believe its taken an entirely new direction. I've believed for several years now that trades are not being made between one GM to another. I believe trades today are "league approved" and "league financed." Player trades used to off-set franchise short-comings. Being used to shore up sagging attendance in markets losing fans. Trades being used to generate larger fan reaction, interest. Sure clubs want a trade to help their roster. "BUT,"I believe its not the number one consideration today. They trade today based on what's best for the "franchise." Tell me how a team like the Los Angels Angels can give a 10 year $254 million dollar contract to a 31 year old Albert Pujols? How the Angels can give a five year deal for $77.5 million to pitcher C.J.Wilson? Pujols deal calls for a full no-trade clause. To add some perspective to the Pujols signing, Angel owner Artie Moreno bought the franchise in 2003 for "$184 million." You really want me to believe "one player" is more valuable than an entire franchise?

Tell me how a franchise like Detroit can come up with $214 million to pay Milwaukee (Selig's old team) for Prince Fielder? Sure it's home-coming for Fielder since his Dad was a major star for the Tigers, but how valuable is sentimentality? I believe players are being traded, offered large sums as free-agents, not by individual clubs any more but backed by MLB owners as a group. In simple terms I believe its MLB, Commissioner Bud Selig, orchestrating today's trades. Player moves that keep franchises interesting, keeps fans buying tickets. Trades that benefit "BASEBALL" first and foremost. Not any one team.
Bud Selig's learned it's much easier selling baseball than used cars. The games glamor has blinded politicians nation-wide and they vote to build new stadiums with tax-payers money under threat of, "don't build-it, and we'll leave town."

MLB as a "group" are moving players from team to team to keep baseball interesting. I'll tell you whats funny. The old Negro League of the 1930's used the very same marketing ploy to keep their fans buying tickets. At one time or another the great Negro league legendary pitcher Satchel Paige pitched for every Negro League team. When a club needed to sell tickets, needed a "sell out" crowd ,they called in "Satch" to pitch. It was a "League" decision. Gate receipts for that game could keep them operating for several weeks. "Satch" received a percentage of the gate. Not different from MLB revenue sharing plan of today.
Bud Selig - "Baseball's Huckster"" dusted off an old idea that continues to work today...

Larry Upton
"Upton on Sports"-source:usatoday/yahoosports/espn/
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NBA D-League vs. European Basketball

NBA D-League vs. European Basketball: Why don’t more players go to Europe?

The following article is a guest contribution by Benjamin Haynes, Esq.   Haynes is a former Division 1 Basketball Player at Oral Roberts University and currently practices law in the State of Florida.

Many current and former college basketball players all have the same goal, make it to the NBA. Many players will play in the NBA Developmental league in order to have the potential chance of being called up to the NBA. While the 2011-2012 NBA season saw the most D-league call ups in the history of the league, the number was still only 50. And while 50 might sound like a large number of players who have been called up, it is a misleading figure. Of those 50, there are regular NBA players who have been injured or are struggling with their performance and are sent down to the D-league in order to get back in the flow of the game. Once rehabbed and healthy, or producing at an efficient level, the then D-league player is called back up to the NBA.  This figure is included in the 50. Further, some of these players included in the 50 statistic are players who have been signed to a ten day contract. Once that ten day contract is up, they are sent back to the D-league only to try and earn their way to another ten day contract to try and prove their worth. Of the 50, only a minimal amount actually stay put in the NBA.

The worst part about basketball players staying in the USA and playing in the D-league is the fact that most D-league salaries range from only $12,000 to $24,000. Average overseas players can get a $65,000 contract with ease.  Depending on the league that players get into in Europe, salaries can start as high as $100,000. Not only is there a big discrepancy between the salaries, but the money made in Europe is typically tax free. The club oftentimes will pay your taxes to the country you are playing in. That American who is playing overseas may also receive credit with the United States government for paying their taxes. Further, most European clubs commonly pay for a player’s living expenses. That includes providing a player with a car and lodging. So the player in Europe can be saved from taxes and the more expensive living expenses.

Even with knowledge about the above discussion, players are still set on staying in the D-league and waiting for their small chance of being called up to the NBA. There are various reasons why players do stay, but one thing is for certain, the majority of these players are losing a very large amount of money by the end of their career. While I am not one to shoot down anyone’s ambitions or dreams, I do believe it is important for players to look at the statistics. The chance of a D-leaguer getting called up and staying in the NBA for the rest of his career is extremely slim. The fact is that there are a lot of good basketball players out there, and only so many slots on an NBA roster. However, there are a lot of opportunities overseas. I know a good amount of average basketball players making great money in Europe.

My advice is go to Europe. Make around a $100,000 a year for ten years and then retire and come back with a substantial amount of money heading into life after basketball. Don’t fall into the trap of being stuck in the D-league until you are 30. By that time you will most likely not even have a slot on a D-league roster, with a younger crop of players coming in. Think about the difference in salary. Here’s a hypothetical: A player spends ten years in Europe making $100,000 a year. After ten years that is a million dollars.

Compare that to a D-leaguer who spends ten years in the D-league at $24,000 a year. The D-league player makes $240,000 total during that ten year career. A difference between the European salary and the D-league salary is $760,000. That is a life changing amount of money. I am not saying that money is the only thing a player should focus on when looking at where to play his professional career, but it is definitely a very important aspect of a player’s decision.

There is also a myth that these players who go overseas will never have a chance to get seen by the NBA ever again. That is false. I know plenty of players who are overseas during the professional season and then come back during the summer and play in the NBA’s summer league. That is a great opportunity to potentially get seen by an NBA general manager and get a contract. If a player does not get a contract offer, then the good news is that the player still has a great salary waiting for him in another country.

There are players who have families and they don’t want to leave the United States. There are also players who just don’t want to go live in a different country and adapt to another culture. For those players, I would say the D-league is a good situation. For the players who do not have families and are not opposed to living in another country, weigh the facts and make an educated decision on where to spend your professional career.

NBA D-League vs. European Basketball: Why don’t more players go to Europe? from Sports Agent Blog - Sports Business, Sports Law, Sports Negotiations, NCAA Rules

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Is Jerry Jones the Kim Kardashian of Sports Owners?

Since the beginning of Jerry Jones’ 23-year tenure as owner of the Dallas Cowboys he’s gone out of his way to make his presence felt. From the unceremonious ousting of both Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson, to crowning himself as General Manager and all out ‘H.B.I.C’ Jones has carried the task of being the target of disgruntled Cowboys fans’ ire with a snark sense of arrogance and all out stubbornness. As the seasons continue to pass by and more and more playoff trips (yet alone wins) slip from their grasps, despite Jones’ blowing money fast financial strategy it’s looking more and more that it is Jones’ mere presence that’s hindering the Cowboys.

23-years of hands on ownership has yielded 3 championships from 1993, 1994 and 1996 and since then it’s been 15 years of just one playoff victory. Over the span Jones’ involvement with the team as only increased, from ostentatious spending which resulted in a $1 billion stadium which hasn’t even hosted a playoff game yet. The personal connection Jones has to the team goes way beyond personal investment, anyone can sense that Jones is living the NFL career he never had vicariously through his ownership duties. Seeing Jones operating one on one with his players is almost akin to seeing an episode of ‘Dance Moms’ where over controlling parents essentially try to live out their dreams through their children to the extreme. But in Jerry’s case, he’s a lot more coddling of his players and hence the crux of the undisciplined nature of his teams and overwhelming air of culpableness that the team reeks of. In a way, due to his seemingly dire need to stick his hands into every single facet of any and everything Cowboys related, and his grandiose attempts to get the team mentioned Jones is very much hurting more than helping.

No better example of this came than in Superbowl XLV where Jones seemed more preoccupied in actually hosting the Superbowl than getting his team there in the first place. He put a premium on breaking the all time attendance record to help christen in what he was hoping would be a blazing start to his billion dollar palace. The quest proved to be quite the fail with snow (yes, snow in Dallas) dashed away all hopes of accomplishing the ‘feat’ and even a taxi strike going on that weekend just added to the rain the pelted down on Jones’ proverbial parade. It a way it almost felt like an excellent microcosm of the Cowboys’ current predicament, the more involved Jerry is and more lavish he gets the more damage he ends up doing. Jones has taken on a double life as a ‘player’s owner’ who despite his elderly age and billion dollar net worth could relate to his players. And to the dismay of Cowboys fans Jones is in every way eating up the heaps of publicity he gets despite his team’s lack luster effort year after year.

Today’s Dallas Cowboys are living off glory days from years long passed, and had they not have such a controversial owner they probably wouldn’t even be discussed with any sense of seriousness yet alone picked year after year to somehow win the NFC East despite the mediocre blob that has become Tony Romo. The micro/lasssez-faire bipolar management style of Jones is enough to make Cowboys fans world wide want to rip out chunks of hair, but if there is one bright side it’s that no one can deny that Jones loves this team to death and unlike most owners it’s not just another tax write off or splurge, his heart and soul is on that field right there with the players. But sometimes you have to concede into the cliche of if you love something or someone it’s best to set it or them free…maybe Jerry should consider drastically limiting his everyday involvement, after all something has to give, right? While maybe it’s a stretch to call Jones the ‘Kim Kardashian’ of sports owners–in that he craves media attention despite not having the merits of late to have earned such attention the fact remains that the antics mixed with the extravagance needs to stop.

Plus this video doesn’t really help either

Be sure to check out other great articles at BlackSportsOnline.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Top 5 Most Surreal Sports News Stories

The Top 5 Most Surreal Sports News Stories

by Howard Alperin

The recent Penn State football scandal has so rocked the sports world and regular news world that there have been moments when it seems this case is the most surreal the sports world has ever known.

Surreal in sports happens often on the field and in between the lines.  Recently, there was last year's World Series-Game 6, when one more out would have made the difference, or this past Super Bowl rematch when it came down to a last play.

Also, the explosion of Tebow mania and Linsanity had its surreal moments, as they led their teams to unlikely victories.

Record-setting moments like Usain Bolt in the 100 meters at the 2008 Olympics capture the public's attention and create an aura of unbelievability, too.

Surreal is most bizarre, though, when not even a screenplay for a movie could have been written to match what actually happened.

Sometimes, the outside of the arena or off the field stories seem to be the most compelling and hardest to fathom.  Which ones over the last 25 years or so have most affected American culture and have been the ones most difficult to accept?

#5) Magic Johnson contracting the AIDS virus.  When it happened, it was like a death sentence as Magic confirmed in the recent documentary from ESPN.  What made this story so surreal was that Magic was arguably the best basketball player in the world.  The virus has not been recorded to have been contracted by any other players and very few athletes overall.  He was the best of his craft and one of the best of all time in the history of basketball.  He was also the most popular player with the biggest smile and engaging personality.  What a surprise, so many wondered if he was gay or how he got it.  He had to retire from basketball.  He did come back though for the 1992 NBA All-Star game and 1992 Olympic Dream Team.  This story has had a decent ending, as Magic has brought more attention to the disease and has helped to improve the lives of many who have had to deal with it.

#4) Pete Rose getting banned for life for gambling on baseball, starting in the late 1980's, gaining more steam in 1989 and with a decision in 1991.  He's the only living player on the ineligible list for baseball's Hall Of Fame.  Pete Rose is the greatest hitter of all-time.  He holds the record for most hits.  His nickname is Charlie Hustle because he played the game harder than just about all other players.  That was his reputation.  He was baseball's coverboy for years because of what he meant to the game.  He was a manager for the Cincinnati Reds when he was found to have made his bets.  Though, he argues he never bet against his team, he admits to the bets.  This is so hard for so many sports fans because Pete meant so much to them.  What's rare about this and similar to Magic and others in this Top 5 is that he was the only one caught doing this.  No other players have been involved with betting on the sport since him.  Before Pete, there was the Black Sox scandal close to 70 years earlier in history, but, no other gambling scandals have really occurred with major star athletes since (Paul Hornung did gamble when he played, but admitted it and ceased to do it-Pete didn't admit to it for a long time).

#3) Tiger Woods getting caught having sex on the side with close to a dozen girls while married with young children to raise.  Starting late in 2009 with a car accident/rift with his wife over the Thanksgiving holiday and lasting all of 2010 and into parts of 2011, controversy swirled over the richest athlete and one of the richest celebrities in the world. This was a shocker because Tiger was not only considered the greatest golfer at the time, but many sports pundits considered him the greatest athlete of his generation.  He had a string of years ranked number one in golf.  He lost his wife in a divorce, custody of his kids, dozens of sponsorships and his golf game.  He was the butt of jokes around the world because most of the girls were floosies.  He risked everything for quick sexual encounters.  Give him credit as he admitted to his mistakes and has since tried hard to make amends to his family, fans and to himself.  His game has recovered some a few years later, but, he continues to go winless in majors.  The stories still remain salacious and fodder for pop culture junkies.

#2) Joe Paterno completely losing his reputation in 2012 over the Penn State football cover-up for Jerry Sandusky, the child molester.  The once winningest coach in college football history is no longer the winningest and died before he had to face this fact (He had more than 100 wins taken from him and the school by the NCAA).  Sandusky took children onto the Penn State campus repeatedly and molested them repeatedly.  He did so off the campus as well.  It was discovered in 2011 that for decades Sandusky did this under the nose of head coach Paterno, who was most known for his integrity and his ability to coach the right way, following the rules and having esteemed ethics.  The story involved a trial, a cover-up, many victims and sadness for one of America's sports legends who fell completely off the pedestal and into mud.  Paterno's statue came down and his community was left devastated.  It was so hard to believe all of this because this is the greatest coach, the one who always did things the right way and yet, he had his faults, nobody saw them, but they were major faults.

#1) Once considered the greatest running back in the NFL, O.J. Simpson led the police on a low-speed chase after he murdered his ex-wife and her friend in 1994.  He was found not guilty in a 1995 criminal trial, but later found guilty in a civil suit.  The criminal trial was the Trial Of The Century for many media outlets.  It was so popular because O.J. was so popular.  After his successful career in the NFL, he did lots of acting, commercials, hosting on sports shows and appearances on talk shows.  He was a major celebrity and a major figure in popular culture, appealing to all ethnic groups.  Essentially, it would figure that he had everything any person could want, but, this was far from the truth.  He was a jealous man with low self-esteem who wanted to control others.  Eventually, he got caught up in a Las Vegas robbery and now sits in a prison cell in Nevada.  It is hard to compare any sports news story to the O.J. story, but Penn State came close this year.

There have been many other popular surreal sports news stories over recent history, including the Bobby Petrino and Ozzie Guillen stories from this year.  The rape cases of Mike Tyson and Kobe Bryant were also big stories to cross over from sports to news.

Michael Vick doing hard time for sponsoring a dog-fighting ring may well deserve consideration for this list.  Vick was at the top of his profession as an NFL quarterback and then gets busted for setting up dog fights for him, his buddies and others to gamble on.  Dead dogs were found hanging from limbs of trees.  According to many in the media and large amounts of citizens across the country, he had lost all sense of right and wrong.  The shock was the dogs element because America is such a dog-loving country.  Ultimately, this case was determined to have too much racial and ethnic bias and was not put on the list.  

Overall though, these five above stand out and make the list as major, surreal, significant sports news stories for their surprise and for the personalities involved.

Be sure to check out other great articles at AmericanizeSoccer.com.

The human side of a tough guy

Carolina Panthers WR Steve Smith Donates $100,000 to Aurora, Colorado Shooting Victims

While NFL fans know Steve Smith as a fierce, ruthless competitor on the football field, the Carolina Panthers wideout revealed a gentler, more compassionate side on Thursday. In a selfless act of kindness, Smith – according to ESPN – donated $100,000 to help the victims of last week’s tragic movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado.
Twelve people were killed and 58 were injured during the shooting, which occurred when 24-year-old James Holmes opened fire at a sold-out midnight premier of the new Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises last Friday. Wearing a ballistics helmet, a bullet-proof vest, bullet-proof leggings, a gas mask and gloves, Holmes – a  graduate student at a nearby college – walked into the auditorium and detonated several smoke bombs before unloading four weapons full of ammunition into the crowd.
With 70 casualties, the incident is the largest mass shooting in the history of the United States.
 According to the Charlotte Observer, Derrick Fox, Smith's agent, said Smith felt compelled to help the victims after hearing about the tragedy.
“As a father and husband I cannot imagine the pain and suffering the victims are going through,” Smith said in a statement. “My family’s hearts and prayers are extended to theirs, and I hope this contribution might assist in paying some of the medical bills that will help allow these families to move forward in this tragic circumstance. Hopefully this helps a little bit. From one NFL city to another, God bless.”
Smith’s donation will help defray the medical expenses of the victims and their families.
Pro athletes are often criticized for being selfish, but this classy move by Smith proves that's not always the case. This tremendous act of compassion trumps any accomplishments No. 89 has made on Sunday.
Today, more than any other day, I’m proud to be a Steve Smith fan.
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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Best Olympic Ad ever

This video, launching the advertising for the Paralympic games really stirred something inside me.

These people are bastions of strength, and shoudl serve as an example to all of us.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Team USA whips Spain 100-78 final Olympic Tune-up

Team USA whips Spain 100-78 in their final exhibition match before the London games.

BARCELONA, Spain –Of all of the “friendly” exhibition games that have led up to things getting real at the London Olympic Games, Tuesday’s matchup against Spain was said to be Team USA’s truest challenge.
The Spaniards are ranked second in the world and they also host a roster full of NBA-caliber talent.

This was considered to be a gold-medal preview matchup and if that proves to be indeed the case, the United States sent a message that they are not resting on their hype.

The first period saw center Tyson Chandler get in early foul trouble which threw the Americans off their stride.

Spain’s Serge Ibaka was ruthless in the first period as he savagely threw down hammer after hammer until the U.S. had to call a timeout to get it together.

As soon as the second period was underway, it was Spain’s turn to figure out a way to stop the bleeding and they could not find a tourniquet.

Carmelo Anthony scored 27 points, LeBron James put down 25 points, and Kevin Durant chipped in 13 points.

Durant scored 10 of his points as he went on a tear in final minutes of the third quarter.

Spain’s Marc Gasol commented on how they could have performed better.

“Well, it was definitely a game that we would have loved to play better as a team,” Gasol said. “We made too many mistakes which they capitalized and they played their game. They’re a quick unit, very athletic and once they were able to convert a few fast-break opportunities due to our turnovers, it was hard for us.”
It certainly was not made easier by the absence of Ricky Rubio who perhaps would have helped the game remain more competitive throughout.

Both PG Chris Paul and James understood the value of this game and what lies ahead of them.

“We knew that this was a big game,” Paul said. “When Coach K talked to us, he told us this was probably the biggest game here in Barcelona since the ’92 team was here, so we approached it like that and it was a good win for us.”

“It was a good test for us tonight, but the exhibition games are over, the friendlies are over and we look forward to the real challenge of going to London,” James said.

Kobe Bryant feels that this team is battle-tested and ready to take it all.

“We played against two very tough teams in Argentina and Spain, so I think it made us a better team,” Bryant said. “I think it showed us some things that we want to do differently, some things that we’re doing right, and I think because of it we feel pretty good about our chances.”

I don’t think Kobe is the only one that feels that way.
Be sure to check out other great articles at Players View.

Are Dana White's Expectations Too High?

Are Dana White's Expectations Too High?

By: Rich Bergeron
Recent weeks have revealed that multiple UFC events left the president of the league deeply disappointed in the performance of his fighters. Dana White is not only the president of Zuffa, LLC, though. He's also a minority owner of the world's most popular MMA fighting franchise.
What Dana White isn't... is a fighter himself. His limited experience as a boxer did not include any documented bouts to speak of, and it culminated in him teaching "boxercise" classes in Las Vegas. He would later become an MMA agent and go into business with the Fertitta family when he convinced them to buy the UFC for a cool $2 million.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Considering White's lack of any serious combat sports background, his often critical analysis of the fights he promotes rings hollow. Despite his personal interest in the outcomes of the bouts he promotes, his recent ripping of how his employees do their jobs in the cage is downright disrespectful. Apparently White does not believe in the mantra "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."
Though some might think White's tell-it-like-it-is bravado is admirable, others would argue it's rude and uncalled for. Many experts even caution that the president's unprofessional attitude is sure to stunt the growth of MMA, if it hasn't already done so. Whatever camp you may be in as far as your own feelings about White, it's hard not to see him as a polarizing figure. All too often, his commentary makes the story all about his own lofty expectations rather than about the realities of the sport.
White's negative rants at the post-fight press conference for UFC 149 are a perfect example of him expecting epic battles to unfold each time the company promotes a major event. "I said this the other day and it's true: we make money. This company makes money, and I like breaking records," said White. "We broke the gate record tonight, and I'm embarrassed by it. I was excited when I heard, and now I'm embarrassed. The undercard delivered--they were awesome--and the main card did not."
The fact is mixed martial arts is a constantly evolving sport. Excitement is not a guarantee no matter who fights who. Styles clash, techniques adapt, and defensive tactics often make fights seem flat. White may complain that a fight does not "deliver" just because nobody gets knocked out or the fans offer a chorus of boos upon watching the lack of major action between the combatants. That doesn't change the fact that these fights that leave White with a sour taste in his mouth are still extremely taxing on the bodies of the fighters competing. This is a brutal sport, and fighters risk their health every time they step into the cage. The object for each participant is not always to go in with reckless abandon and stand toe to toe with a dangerous opponent. To have a long career in this sport, a mixed martial artist must employ smart strategy and avoid getting seriously hurt while simply trying to please the crowd.
Still, even crowd pleasing efforts are not always enough to make White give credit where it's due. Forrest Griffin and Tito Ortiz put on an incredible show at UFC 148. Griffin won the fight with superior boxing in a bout that was full of toe to toe slugging. Ortiz carried himself well in his last official bout in the Octagon. The crowd was not raining boos down because of any lack of action, but Dana White said both fighters "looked old."
Forrest Griffin is 33 years old and began his MMA career with an amateur bout in March of 2001. Tito Ortiz is 37 and fought his entire 28-fight career in the UFC, beginning a few years before White and the Fertittas bought the league and refined the rules. When Tito started his pro career, Dana White still had hair. These two legends of the UFC have a combined 26 years of experience in MMA and a combined 54 total pro fights, which is 26 more years and 54 more fights than Dana can claim for himself. So they didn't go into the Octagon looking like spring chickens. Is that really such a huge surprise to "The Baldfather?" These are two guys who helped put the UFC on the map so White could line his pockets off the dividends from their blood, sweat, and tears. For him to make a crack about how "old" they looked is just plain stupid. Ortiz was fighting his last fight and admitted to himself and the world that he was ready to retire. Obviously he already felt old enough without White having to rub salt in the wound.
MMA is what it is, and to expect every fight to be a non-stop slugfest is totally unrealistic and ignorant on White's part. Even with the company's hefty bonus structure for knockout of the night, fight of the night, and submission of the night, boxers still enjoy much heftier paydays for major fights. If he wants his main event fighters to step up and put themselves at greater risk in order to put on a more entertaining show, he and his business partners will need to step up the base purse amounts considerably.
It would also make sense to institute more lucrative submission and knockout bonuses that might inspire competitors to keep the fight away from the judges. As it stands, the major bonuses typically only reward four fighters per card. There are win bonuses, of course, but no huge extra incentives for knocking an opponent out or submitting him. If a fighter does win by stoppage, he simply has to hope that it was dramatic enough to earn the distinction of being the best knockout or submission of the whole card. Even then, it's a very subjective decision made by White and his inner circle.
The fact is White is not doing the sport any favors by continuing to ridicule competing fighters just because they don't bring down the house in a particular bout. He should be more humble and shoulder some of the blame himself for not putting his money where his mouth is. Most MMA fighters aren't really in it for the money, because often they lose money on the way up through the ranks. They sacrifice tons of hours in training, pay most of their own expenses, and typically rely on big ticket sponsors to make ends meet. At the UFC level they shouldn't have to accept meager paychecks while working for a guy who doesn't seem to have any appreciation for how hard they've worked to get so far in their careers.
Until White steps in the cage himself and puts on a real show for the fans in a fight against an evenly matched opponent, he should have more respect for his employees and explain to the press and the fans that MMA is a complicated sport. It's not always predictable, not always exciting, and not always entertaining. The same can be said for any sport, though. Certain match ups just fall flat, and nobody's to blame for that. It's not like these guys go into the cage saying to themselves, "I'm gonna go in there and put on the worst fight I can." White should spend more time telling fans and media pundits that they can't always get what they want when it comes to MMA.
Just once it would be nice to hear "Uncle Dana" respond to criticism about a particular card by saying, "You think you can do better? Sign up for The Ultimate Fighter and prove it. Until you do, why don't you shut up and enjoy what these guys are working so hard to give you." It's advice that also applies to White himself, but it's not likely he'll ever take it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The best and worst of NBA free agency.

The best and worst of NBA free agency.

Now that NBA free agency is for all intensive purposes over with by way of the major moves, it’s time to look at which GMs made the best and the worst moves overall.

Best Overall: Miami Heat

The Miami Heat’s front office learned from the mistakes of the Dallas Mavericks and got stronger by adding instead of subtracting and juggling.

To win multiple titles in the NBA, chemistry is the key and where the Mavericks decided to tinker with their core by shipping Tyson Chandler to New York and in other moves, the Heat continued to build.

They played with the psyche of their arch-nemesis the Boston Celtics by talking Ray Allen out of a Boston return and into a Miami debut.

Allen ‘s one of the greatest sharp shooters of all time and as we saw in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, the Heat are deadly when they can start getting production from beyond-the-arch.

Rashard Lewis brings the benefit of size and shooting ability to the table and although some (myself included) have said that they Heat needs a big man to anchor their efforts, it’s starting to look like they only care about creating their own thing…which for now is working.

Best Adjustments On The Fly: Boston Celtics

Speaking of Ray Allen, Celtics GM Danny Ainge did not waste a whole lot of time crying over the old days and time spent with Allen after he headed south.

He picked up the phone and immediately went to work on finding not one but two guys that can fill Allen’s shoes.

Using their midlevel exception, Ainge first brought in sixth man Jason Terry on a three-year, $15 million deal.

“Jason is one of the best sixth men in the NBA and his versatility in the backcourt is a great addition to our roster,” Ainge said last week.

Terry like Allen is a veteran that won’t buckle under the pressure that comes with being a Celtic.

“The Celtics have such a great tradition of winning and it was something that drew me to the team right away,” Terry said. “I look forward to getting out onto the court and helping this team in its pursuit of another banner.”

However it was the addition of Courtney Lee that could prove to render Allen as something of an afterthought.

Lee is on the upswing of his career and if he gels with Rajon Rondo, Ainge and Coach Doc Rivers may send Allen a thank you card for forcing their hand.

The Celtics were sure of their position with Allen going into this thing but when all seemed to be lost, Ainge made the adjustments and turned sour into sweet.

Smartest Plays: Brooklyn Nets & New York Knicks (Tie)

The pursuit of a ring and public support has made many a franchise do stupid things. As they both do battle over brand support and face time in the biggest market of them all both the Nets and the Knicks held strong and refused to set themselves up for long-term failure.

The Nets opted to sign Brook Lopez to a four-year $ 60.8 million deal instead of giving in to the insanity that the Magic demanded in exchange for Dwight Howard.

Howard for the moment could easily be the best big in the league yet his back injury could end up rendering that observation moot.

As bad as Howard may have wanted to play with Deron Williams and vice-versa the Nets decided that Lopez is a solid piece in an inaugural puzzle in their new digs.

With his free agency looming after this season, Howard could still land in Brooklyn but if so the Nets are making a statement that they won’t shoot themselves in the foot to get him.

Williams, Lopez, former Atlanta Hawk Joe Johnson and the newly re-signed Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries at forward have the Nets feeling pretty good about where they are at.

“We haven’t looked this good on paper in a long time,” Coach Avery Johnson told the New York Times.

As crazy as the Dwight Howard situation is and continues to be, that would almost pale in comparison to Houston’s decision to give point guard $25 million for three years of service.

There are arguments on both sides of the table in regards to whether or not Lin did the smart thing.

One thing that is pretty factual is the by not bowing down to Lin’s escalating price as he negotiated with the Rockets, the Knicks did not overpay for a PG that is still proving himself.

It does not matter that the Knicks decision could be based on pride and bruised egos.

What matters if that they recognized that at this stage of the game, they still have more to offer Lin than in has to offer them.

It was time for Lin to get paid just not overpaid.

Be sure to check out other great articles at Players View.

How Kevin Durant Stacks up with the All-Time NBA Scorers

How Kevin Durant Stacks up with the All-Time NBA Scorers

As soon as Kevin Durant steps one foot in the gym, he becomes the most lethal offensive weapon in the building. On the heels of his third consecutive NBA scoring title, Durant is continuing his assault with Team USA basketball as they prepare for the 2012 London Olympics. He has become USA's offensive focal point on a team with the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Lebron James, and Kobe Bryant. Surprising to the casual NBA fan? Maybe. Surprising to the diehard Thunder fan? Not at all. 

I'm sure all sports fans have been there before. You're sitting around the poker table or at the bar when a heated debate breaks out over which player or team is historically better than the other. There is usually no give and take to these conversations as both parties will argue until they turn blue in the face over which player was a better scorer, rebounder, or defender. These conversations typically end with no decided winner, and opinions are merely reinforced. However, statistics provide particular bench marks that allow debates to take shape based on particular advantages and disadvantages with regard to numbers. If only it were that easy.

In his rookie season with the Seattle Sonics, Durant showed the type of potential that if tapped, could open the box for one of the most prolific offensive players in basketball history. As the second overall pick in the 2007 draft, Kevin entered the league with massive expectations after being named the first ever freshman AP College Basketball Player of the Year. In his only season as a Sonic, KD averaged 20.3 PPG in 80 games. Over his next four seasons, Kevin averaged 25.3, 30.1, 27.7, 28.0 for a career average of 26.3 PPG in just five total seasons. In total, this equates to 9,978 points. He has done all of this before the age of 24. That one tiny piece of information is something that should not be overlooked. Durant scares the hell out of every NBA coach or opposing player that draws the assignment of Durant. The fact that Durant has not even touched his prime yet should scare them to the point of running in the opposite direction.

Analysis of the top-5 scorers all time will help Oklahoma City fans predict or project where Durant may land on that list once his illustrious careers comes to an end. As of 2012, the current top-5 stands as follows: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points), Karl Malone (36,928), Michael Jordan (32,292), Wilt Chamberlain (31,419), and Kobe Bryant (29,484). Durant, as mentioned before, sits just under the 10,000 point mark with a total of 9,978 heading into the 2013 season. By adding up the total number of points these Hall of Famers have amassed over their first five years in the league, it may become easier to see how prolific Durant actually is.

Adbul-Jabbar spent his first six seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, the first five of which he totaled 12,262 points. Kareem averaged 30+ plus points in three straight seasons from 1971 to 1973, his highest average coming by the tune of 34.8 PPG. The runner-up to the all-time scoring leader, Karl Malone, amassed 10,116 points during his first five seasons in the league.  Comparatively, Malone was off to a slower start, averaging just 14.9 PPG in his rookie year and topping the 30-point average mark in just one of his first five seasons. Michael Jordan, the most iconic figure the NBA has ever seen, took a slightly different path to his stardom. The third overall pick in the 1984 also came in with high expectations as the best wing player. In his second season, Jordan went down with a foot injury that sidelined him after just 18 games. However, the following season would allow fans to see the type of career Jordan aspired to have. He averaged a ridiculous 37.1 PPG, scoring 3,041 points in 82 games. His five-season total would end up being 11,257 despite missing almost an entire season. When looking at Wilt Chamberlain's first five years, it is hard to believe that any player in the history of the NBA would ever be able to touch these marks. In his first five years, Chamberlain's averages are as follows: 37.6 PPG, 38.4, 50.4, 44.8, and 36.9 for a whopping total of 16,303 points. Most would ask why, then, is Chamberlain only fourth on the all-time list. Wilt only played 14 NBA seasons, the last two being below average according to his standards. Finally, the only player currently playing in the NBA that makes it on the list is Kobe Bryant. NBA fans know that Bryant loves to rip the heart out of opposing fans. If you're a Lakers fan, you love him. Everyone else, not so much. Kobe's path to this list was akin to most other players of the NBA. Bryant had to take his fair share of lumps early on, but most were aware of his enormous potential as a prolific scorer. He averaged 7.4 PPG, 15.4, 19.9, 22.5, 28.5. Bryant made steady improvements to his scoring from year to year, perfecting different aspects of his game every summer. His total number of points scored turned out to be 6,178.

Now, after digesting all of those numbers, the final step is to look at how Kevin Durant has progressed offensively through his first five years in the league. Durant has never finished with an average below the 20-point mark, even as an 18-year old rookie. He has racked up 9,978 points. This total puts him fourth among these players, just out of the reach of Malone. Obviously, Durant has some work to do if he wants to reach the pinnacle of scoring in his profession. KD, however, has a slight advantage over these prolific players in that his game has the potential to become more well-rounded than any of the previously mentioned. Durant is deadly from beyond the arc. He can shoot the midrange shot in his sleep. His ability to slash to the rim is made available by his length and superior athleticism. He has the knowledge, length, and high release point to become an excellent back-to-the-basket player as well. However, it will be no easy feat.

Historical context must be taken into account when considering this argument. Durant is developing his game during a time in which the popularity of basketball is at at all-time high. Recent years, and close calls during international play, have shown that the rest of the world has caught up to the skill-level and talent of the NBA. Instead of being the only shark in a tank full of goldfish, Durant has grown up in a time where you have to duke it out with fifteen other hammerheads. The two players that represent the first scenario are Abdul-Jabbar and Chamberlain. They played during a time in which basketball was not very popular. The simple fact of being an exceptionally tall player would be extremely beneficial during this time. Couple that with superior athleticism, and you get absurd numbers like that of Chamberlain. Durant is also fortunate enough to be able to develop his game in a time where strength and conditioning has pushed itself to the forefront of athletics. It will be an extremely daunting task to top Chamberlain, Malone, and Jordan. But, if KD can stay healthy and continue to polish his offensive game, there is little reason to think he won't push his way near the top of the list.

Most importantly, however, is the fact that four out of the five players that top the all-time scoring list have something in their bag of accolades that Durant wants more than becoming the all-time scoring leader. An NBA title. Durant would throw all of these numbers out of the window in a heartbeat at the chance to reach the mountain top of an NBA championship.

Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Did the NCAA do enough?

The NCAA has weighed in on the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

There were concerns going into their announcement. 

1. Do they have the right to apply punishment for a situation that did not directly effect the field of play.  That is to say, Jerry Sandusky's actions did not give the Nittany Lions an advantage on the field like a recruiting violation would have.

2. With the acts being well into the criminal realm of things, should the NCAA leave the punishments up the criminal and legal systems now that the involved people are no longer employed by Penn State University?

3. The NCAA response came very quickly, relative to their past action.  This was a matter of days from the release of the Freeh report, as where it was years after the Reggie Bush scandal that USC got their punishment.

In response to these items, would say that the NCAA can not let this pass without making a statement.  They need to make it clear to their member universities that they will not abide the utter disregard for basic human rights by the groups that reside under their umbrella and banner.  As for those who are concerned that they are rushing, I would say that if you look at the start of the discovery of items as the beginning of their process, that there has been plenty of due diligence done.  After all, the Freeh report was commissioned by Penn State and in now disputed prior facts, which makes it fair for the NCAA to take it as a confirmation of those facts.  This is especially true, when you take Mr. Freeh's reputation and professional experience into account.

So, now the question is, are the punishments the right thing?  Are they enough?  Are they too much?  Now, I recognize, that from some people's POV, there is not enough punishment short of the permanent abolition of the sports programs at Penn State University.  I beleive that is an emotional argument though.  Not that emotion has no place in this kind of situation.  I would exect that all of us felt a visceral response to this scandal, especially those of us who have been a parent or caregiver at any point in our lives.  The concept that these boys were singled out for having no protector in their lives and were brutalized and used like they were by someone purporting to fill that role for them, is beyong despicable.  As far as I am concerned, Jerry Sandusky should be placed in general population.  He does not deserve the protection of the state.  But I digress

Here are the punishments that were handed down by the NCAA.

1. A 60 Million Dollar sanction to be used to fund an endowment to fund programs working to prevent abuse and/or assist victims.  It was also a point in this that the programs would be entirely external to Penn State University.  This number represents an entire years income for the football team.  It is important to recognize that this is a fine of the size that the enrire school will feel the affects.  The team is used to fund many other programs and teams.  This is not a slap on the wrist.  It could likely be a decade before the effects of this fine are overcome.

2. The 4 year football post-season ban will do a few things.  It will prevent Penn State from playing any bowl game.  It will prevent them from playing in any conference championship game.  It will also prevent them from gaining the income that comes from those contests.  These payouts are regularly in the 7 figures as well as providing one of the major recruiting tools.  These first 2 punishments will have a synergistic financial effect on the University, and the football program especially.  It should, in short order, vastly weaken the program that Joe Paterno and his overseers were trying to protect. 

3. All wins will be vacated back to 1998.  It is a major point of pride in Happy Valley that Joe Paterno was the all-time Division 1 wins leaders

4. 10 scholarships will be immediately lost and 20 total each year for 4 years following from the football program.  This will weaken the team on the field, which is the source of any ability the program has to recover.

I look at these punishments as being a legitimate attempt to do 3 things. 

1. Try to make some good of this terrible situation by turning one of the biggest offending entities into one of the biggest funders of those working to eliminate this particular type of abuse.

2. Take away any benefit that was gained from protecting the Penn State program above these children.  Your sainted coach's sterling reputation is forever tarnished, at best.  Said coach is not only no longer the all time wins leader, he is not in the top 10, having lost every win since the first proven report.  I like this point because had it come out that his trusted assistant was a pedophile at the time, it would very possible ended his career.  It was hidden to protect him and his program, so any benefit of that protection should be stripped away. 

3. Specifically, the program was put above all else, so the program should be purposefully weakened.  The fine, the shot to the public reputation, and the combined hit to recruiting from the lack of scholarships and postseason play, will cripple this program.

I think this is a fine approach. 

No punishment will heal the damage, but the point here is to show that no benefit will come of protecting the evil in our world.  It will not overlooked.  The best thing for everyone involved is to do the right thing, immediately. 

Do not trust that someone else will make the hard choice for you. 

Do not leave it to someone else to do the heavy lifting. 

If you do, things are just going to be thrown back on  you. 

And they should be.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Army in NASCAR?

Wednesday, July 18th 2012: The House of Representatives votes to continue spending millions of dollars for our our military to back sports in order to attract recruits.

What this means is that when we have a deficit and billions of dollars of military spending, they are going to spend 72.3 Million dollars to plaster their insignia on top of race cars.  They are doing this in order to encourage people to volunteer.

The other advertisers are doing this in order to get people to spend money.  That spent money which is then used to fund the advertising.  You know who is funding this advertising?   Yup, that would be us.  There is no monetary benefit to this advertising, and do they really believe that it matters to people who want to serve our country whether or not Jr. has NATIONAL GUARD on his hood?

You couldn't cut that in half to run the ARMY OF ONE commercials a few more times?

Throw in that they did this when the Army is targeted to shrink by 100,000 over the next few years?

Do you know why they are doing this?  They are doing this becuase it is political suicide to appear to be unsupportive of the military and these politicians are more interested in keeping their jobs than they are in doing the right thing.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Manchester United still the world’s most valuable sports franchise

Manchester United still the world’s most valuable sports franchise

Article by Ian Palmer

Whenever the value of sports franchises and player salaries is concerned, people always look to Forbes Magazine as the be all and end all of information.  According to Forbes, English Premier League soccer club Manchester United is again ranked as the world’s most valuable sports franchise at $2.23 billion. Another European soccer team, Spain’s Real Madrid comes in second at $1.88 billion.

Manchester United fans may also be able to own a piece of the action soon as its owners, the Glazer
Family, are planning on listing the club on the New York Stock Exchange in the near future. The Glazers are an American family who also own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL. The family paid about $1.47 billion and took it off of the London Stock Exchange in 2005.

The Glazers will retain control of the franchise after it goes public by utilizing dual-class shares. The team has a $663 million debt and selling shares is seen as a good way to reduce it. United has several lucrative sponsorship deals and that’s one of the reasons it’s worth so much. For instance, Aon is paying the club $31 million each year to have its name placed on the front of the squad’s shirts and DHL Express is shelling out approximately $62 million over four years to sponsor their practice shirts. In addition, Nike takes care of the club’s merchandise sales which sees United rake in at least $39 million more each year.

But while soccer teams may be the most valuable individual franchises, all of the 32 NFL clubs make Forbes list of the top 50 with the teams being worth an average of $1.04 billion. The Dallas Cowboys lead the way as they’re valued at $1.85 billion and are tied for third place on the overall list with Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees. Many NFL teams could see their value rise soon since the league’s new 10-year collective bargaining agreement was signed and more money is being made on television broadcasting rights.
Players will be receiving just 48 per cent of total revenues with the new deal while they were previously earning 54 per cent. In addition, the broadcasting rights pay about $5 billion per year for the next nine seasons, which is about a 62 per cent increase from the previous deal.

There are seven MLB franchises in the top 50 while there are just two NBA franchises and no NHL clubs.

There are two Formula 1 racing teams on the list though. The Los Angeles Lakers top the NBA clubs as they’re worth $900 million which is good for number 35. They have increased in value by 40 per cent and jumped up 13 spots from last year. This is mainly due to a huge increase in broadcasting deals. The New York Knicks are listed at number 43 and are worth $780 million. The Ferrari F! team was rated at $1.1 billion and 15th while McLaren is worth $800 million.

But while soccer, baseball, football, and Formula 1 teams make up the list of top 50 most valuable sports franchises, boxers Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao were the top-paid athletes of 2011. Mayweather made $85 million over the last 12 months with none of it coming from endorsements while Pacquiao cashed checks for $62 million, with $6 million being for endorsements.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The new era of NBA basketball: Big Threes

The new era of NBA basketball: Big Threes

After the Boston Celtics created what was the original Big Three with Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce, other teams have followed suit.

The Miami Heat assembled one of the more controversial Big Threes (LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade) and the Los Angeles Lakers nearly had Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, and Andrew Bynum donning the purple and gold together.

With Dwight Howard perhaps nearing a deal with the Brooklyn Nets, it looks like the latest Big Three (Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Howard) could eventually join forces in the NBA. Of course, the Oklahoma City Thunder have a star-powered squad in Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden.

That means half of the top 20 in player efficiency rating are on five teams.

The culmination of all these factors leads NBA fans to take a stance similar to that of the Occupy Wall Street Movement that protests the so-called "one percent." Fans of teams that dwell in the cellar of the NBA are not happy because they have virtually no chance of making a championship run.

They aren't crying out unreasonably, either. In the past 28 seasons not including the Mavericks 2011 championship, only seven different teams have been crowned kings of the NBA (Lakers, Heat, Bulls, Spurs, Piston, Celtics and Rockets).

So while there may be a dramatic concentration of talent in the NBA, there has always been an exclusivity in winning championships. With that in mind, what should be taken away from the trend toward Big Threes?

Put simply, it is good for the NBA and basketball fans. It creates fan bases in populous cities (New York, Boston, Los Angeles) and that provides obvious financial advantages for the NBA. Moreover, it provides a surplus of what I call "secondary teams" for NBA fans.

For fans of the Bobcats, Warriors and Kings, the season has ended in May. But the basketball fanatics don't stop watching basketball then. Late May and June are when stars are born and legacies are created.

So those fans latch onto a perennial playoff contender or particular player they like. And that makes things interesting. LeBron, Kobe, and Durant all have fans outside of their city because of this effect. What's so bad about that? Everybody likes rooting for a good player and once the Davids are out of the contest, it is only natural to choose a Goliath.

And fans don't root for all of the big names simultaneously—they choose one. Each elite player has their own characteristics: Kevin Durant is the likable scoring machine, LeBron is the polarizing all-around great, Kobe is the shoot-first Black Mamba and Dwight Howard is the monster in the middle.

All of these greats have intricacies in their game that contrast one another which leads to the creation of rivalries within the NBA's elite. Kobe fans are generally the most vehement LeBron haters and vice versa.

The reality is that 30 teams can't compete for a championship every year. In fact, 30 teams can't compete for a championship every decade.

Modifying the salary cap isn't the answer. Baseball, for example, has the New York Yankees and their 27 championships but small market teams like the Florida (now Miami) Marlins have taken home the World Series trophy in recent memory. So while it may seem intuitive that a salary cap increases competition, it depends on the strength of the team. Baseball is much less based on the individual because a great batter is diluted by the other eight players that are in the lineup. A great pitcher only pitches every five days.

Baseball may not have a salary cap and basketball might, but the wealth of talent is actually spread more evenly across baseball than it is basketball.

Part of that is due to basketball being much more based on the individual. Only five players on a team are on the court at a time which puts a much brighter spotlight on each player. So the great players will take over games more often.

And they will win more championships.

It's just a matter of what team they are on and if they join forces, so be it. Magic Johnson had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird had Robert Parish and Kevin McHale, and Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen.

All it means is that the dynamic duos have added a piece to become the big trios.

So let's watch to see how the newer Big Threes perform against the defending champions. And more team-oriented squads like the Pacers and 76ers will give everybody a run for their deep pockets of money.

The NBA will still undoubtedly be exciting—and what's so wrong with that?
Be sure to check out other great articles at FreeTheSportsman.

Surprise! The National League is Better

Surprise! The National League is Better

The American League has better hitting and pitching.  The National League sucks!  How many times have baseball fans said this (Or at least the first half of that statement)?  For a while now it has been widely assumed that the AL is the better league, even with the NL taking the last 2 world championships. 

But that assumption is wrong, and there has to be something that helps people begin to realize why the league that lets pitchers hit is the MLB’s better half.

So how in the world did I find this groundbreaking revelation?  Let’s start with last week’s all-star game.  The AL had their powerful lineup all set and ready to put on a show, one that would basically extend the previous night’s home run derby.  Before they even had a chance to do so, the NL had gone completely through the batting order and scored 5 runs on Justin Verlander.

If you ask me, the AL should have called it quits when bowling ball-shaped Pablo Sandoval hit a bases-clearing triple.  The NL would go on to use all 11 pitchers to combine for a 8-0 shutout.  Despite having such a loaded lineup and the supposed best pitcher in the league (Verlander), the AL managed to find one thing in common with the Kansas City Royals, whose stadium was hosting the All-Star Game:  Even when playing at home, they get destroyed.

There’s probably already one person reading this who wants to say, Hey, no fair!  You can’t judge them based on one game.  And only 2 AL pitchers allowed runs in this game!
Yes.  That is true, it was only one game.  Take out Verlander and Matt Harrison, and it’s a 0-0 ball game.  That still doesn’t help the argument for the American League being better.

The stats also don’t help the AL’s argument. 

Consider this: The National League uses pitchers, who take up roughly 60% of the at-bats for the 9th spot in the batting order.  The rest are from pinch-hitters, who mostly aren’t every-day starters.  Conversely, the American League has the Designated Hitter, who gets more than 1/9 of the team’s at-bats, and is usually good enough of a hitter to be in the top half of the lineup.  The American League’s DH should provide much more offensive production than the average 9th hitter on a given NL team.

The stats disagree here.  If you average the batting statistics of all teams, and compare the two leagues against each other, the batting averages are virtually equal (AL .255; NL .254).  In the other major categories (RBI, runs, total bases, on-base %, slugging), the AL’s stats are less than 5% better than the production of the NL.  The average Designated Hitter should easily create that small margin.  Even if American League teams end the season with 10% more runs than their National League counterparts, that wouldn’t be anything real impressive- Especially when you consider that we’re putting the batting stats of Billy Butler and David Ortiz up against the numbers from NL pitchers and 5th outfielders.

Unless the AL and NL are relinquished and all teams are free to play each other under the same rules, we’ll have no exact way of comparing all 30 teams.  With that said, the small statistical margin despite the handicap advantage of having a DH in no way supports that the AL is a better hitting league.  At best, the two teams are dead even.

As far as pitching goes, look no further than the all-star game.  Out of the 9 guys with 20+ home runs, and the others who are hitting well over .300, the AL was loaded with sluggers.  Worst case scenario, they struggle but one of them manages to hit a home run or something.  With a lineup that good, somebody’s guaranteed to produce a run or two, right?

Nope.  The National League shut them out.  There was clearly depth on the pitching staff, too, as all 11 pitchers played, and no runs were scored.  Beyond that, there were numerous National League pitchers having all-star caliber seasons that weren’t selected to play.  Maybe after this all-star game, guys like Jose Bausista, Josh Hamilton, and Curtis Granderson will be thankful that they don’t have to face National League pitching every day.

We’re well into the season now.  The National League has proven that its players are just as good as, if not better than, the American Leaguers at hitting and pitching.  The NL also dominated the All-Star Game.  What other evidence is needed?  Do fans need ESPN to leave the love affair with the Red Sox and Yankees, and do a 3 hour SportsCenter special on the National League’s recent success?  The Senior Circuit is back in business, and has young teams like Washington, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh on the rise, so it’s only getting stronger.  And guess, what?  The American League gets to have the Astros, starting next year!  Hope the AL has fun with that.

Friday, July 13, 2012

2012 MLB First Half Surprises

Pittsburgh Pirates, Washington Nationals Lead Slew of First Half Surprises

Well well well, who woulda thunk it. It's the All-Star break, the Pirates and Nationals are in first place, the Phillies in last, the Orioles are actually in contention, and "The Freak" is pitching like, well…a freak. These are among the leading surprises as we take stock of the first half, causing us to ask, "What's going on here?" After all, this is baseball, where most teams perform pretty much the same, year in and year out. Not this season.

Let's start in the nation's capital, where the Nats have never even had a winning record since moving there from Montreal in 2005. Not only are they in first place, but their impressive 49-34 mark is the best in the NL, and one of the best in baseball. And that's without one of their best hitters, Jayson Werth, out since May, and their closer Drew Storen, who has yet to play this season. This from a team that last finished with a winning record in 2003, when they were the Montreal Expos. With some of the brightest young stars in the game like Ian Desmond, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, and Bryce Harper, the future looks more than promising for the Nats.

Then there's the Pittsburgh Pirates. See photo for the last time this team actually made the playoffs. Ok, it hasn't been quite that long, but still, this team has not even had a winning record for 20 years. Yes, that's right, 20 years. In fact, in all those years they only even came close once, when they finished four games under in 1997. You have to go back to 1992 to find their last winning season and playoff berth. This is apparently the longest consecutive losing- seasons streak of any pro team in any sport. Not only that, but they haven't won a postseason series since winning the 1979 World Series. Anyone remember Sister Sledge and "We Are Family?" Willie Stargell, Dave Parker, and Kent Tekulve? You say you weren't even born yet? Oh. Never mind. You get the point. These guys are in first place about as often as our nation's economy is in the black. Could this be the year the Bucs finally pull out at least a winning season? At 48-37, they have a great shot at it, if they can find a way to avoid a repeat of last season's second half collapse.

Speaking of the 1979 World Series, the Orioles are the team the Bucs beat, and they haven't fared much better than the Pirates since then. The O's currently stand at 45-40, good for second place in the tough AL East. Why is that surprising? Understand that these guys went 69-93 last season, have not had a winning season since 1997, and have not even so much as won 70 games in a season since 2006. At seven games out of first, can they give the Yanks a run for their money in the second half?
So what's going on in Philadelphia? The Phillies in last place at a miserable 37-50? They come limping in with their worst record at the break since a 24-61 mark in 1997. True, the injury bug has not stayed away, as Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Roy Halladay have all been stung by it, but lack of production seems to be an even bigger culprit. Jimmy Rollins is hitting just .256, Shane Victorino .245, and John Mayberry .232. And Cliff Lee, 1-5 with a 3.98 ERA? Huh? All is not well in Philly-Town. Can they right the ship in the second half?
Finally, that brings us to "The Freak," Giants' ace Tim Lincecum. You know, the four -time All-Star and two-time Cy Young Award winner, the guy with long hair and a career 72-51 record, 3.27 ERA. The guy who is currently 3-10, 6.42. Could it be his freaky clone? Is the real Tim Lincecum kicking back on a beach somewhere in Tahiti sipping Pina Coladas? Maybe he figures the Giants are doing well enough without him. At only a half game behind the first-place Dodgers, where would the Giants be with a strong "Freak?"
Well baseball fans, we still have a long second half to look forward to, let the races begin!

Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

Move over LeBron, There’s a New Bad Guy in Town

Move over LeBron, There’s a New Bad Guy in Town

Dwight Howard Flying his way out of Orlando

We all remember the televised “Decision” a few summers ago. After LeBron James announced that he would be “taking his talents to South Beach,” instead of staying at home with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he became the most hated player in the NBA. For a while, he tried to embrace the villian role, but that was not a part of his personality. Two seasons removed from “the Decision,” the hate for LeBron has subsided. It also helps that someone else might have replaced him as the most hated player in the league.

One thing that you can say about LeBron, no matter how much you hate him, is that he never held the Cavs hostage. People would not have been upset with him if he did not have an entire show surrounding his free agent decision. He was a free agent after all and played out his entire contract with the Cavs, never once demanding a trade. The same cannot be said for Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard.

For two years now, Dwight has demanded that the Magic trade him. With his contract ending after the 2013 NBA season, the only team he said he would sign an extension for if he was traded where the Brooklyn Nets. This greatly limits the trade options for the Magic, as they do not want to lose Howard for nothing as they did with Shaquille O’Neal. Because of Howard’s refusal to sign with any team other than the Nets has greatly limited the options for the Magic, and greatly reduces the potential return that they could get.

Before the trade deadline this past season, Howard tried to force his way out of Orlando, but the Nets could not work out a suitable trade, and no other team was willing to do so. Then, Dwight accepted this and told his team that he would play out the remainder of his contract. He flipped his decision once again and has been requesting a trade since Orlando’s season was over.

The Howard story has been going on for too long. For a guy that wants to be liked, and the supposedly wants to win, he is doing everything he can to get on everyone’s bad side. Handcuffing the team he was drafted by the way he has cannot have a positive impact. He is a great player and will drastically improve any team he goes to, but his image around the league has been tarnished the past two years. It would be even worse if the allegations that he had forced the Magic to fire Stan Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith in order to be able to secure him long term.

LeBron might have enjoyed the type of recruiting from teams that high school football and basketball are afforded from college teams, but he did it after he was a free agent. Howard on the other hand is forcing the Magic to make a trade that might not be in their best interest. Howard definitely replaces LeBron as the most hated player in the NBA.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Not another word.

Well, the results of the Freeh Report are out.

Here are some Excerpts.

"The most saddening finding by the Special Investigative Counsel is the total and consistent disregard by the most senior leaders at Penn State for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims."

"Four of the most powerful people at the The Pennsylvania State University - President Graham B. Spanier, Senior Vice President-Finance and Business Gary C. Schultz, Athletic Director Director Timothy M. Curley and Head Football Coach Joseph V. Paterno - failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade."

"The individuals, unchecked by the Board of Trustees that didnot perform its oversight duties, empowered Sandusky to attract potential victims to the campus and football events by allowing him to have the continued, unrestricted, and unsupervised access to the University's facilities and affiliation with the University's prominent football program.

"The avoidance of the consequences of bad publicity is the most significant, but not the only, cause for this failure to protect child victims and report to authorities.  The investigation also revealed:
  • A striking lack of empathy for child abuse victims by the most senior leaders of the University.
  • A failure by the Board to exercise its oversight functions in 1998 and 2001 by not having regular reporting procedures or committee structures in place to ensure disclosure to the Board of major risks to the University.
  • A failure by the board to make reasonable inquiry in 2011 by not demanding details from Spanier and the General Counsel about the nature and direction of the grand jury investigation and the University's response to the investigation.
  • A President who discouraged discussion and dissent.
  • A lack of awareness of child abuse issues, the Clery Act, and whistleblower policies and protections.
  • A decision by Spanier, Schultz, Paterno, and Curley to allow Sandusky to retire in 1999, not as a suspected child predator, but as a valued member of the Penn State football legacy, with future "visibility" at Penn State and ways "to continue to work with young people through Penn State," essentially granting him license to bring boys to campus facilities for "grooming" as targets for his assaults.  Sandusky retained unlimited access to University facilities until November 2011.
  • A football program that did not fully participate in, or opted out, of some University programs, including Clery Act compliance.  Like the rest of the University, the football program staff had not been trained in their Clery act responsibilities and most had never heard of the Clery Act.
  • A culture of reverence for the football program that is ingrained at all levels of the campus community."
So, to make it short.  I don't think I can stand to hear another word about Joe Paterno's Legacy.

The man who was lauded for helping men make the hard, right, choices couldn't practice what he preached.  That's all that matters.

Not. Another. Word.

A List of All-Time Mashers

A List of All-Time Mashers

During the Baseball All-Star break we’ll be reposting some of our “All-Star” articles. This is a repost of an all time list written by Dixon. There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun, is there?

Nothing in this world beats a masher. Nothing is more attractive, but nothing can get you into more trouble.
Just to be clear about something, a masher is not someone who hits a lot of home runs. Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron hit a lot of home runs, but they were good all around hitters. No, mashers are people that live and die by the long ball.
This list is simple. We’re going with the best masher seasons of all-time. Every one of these guys is identified purely by the long ball. They have all had many good seasons, but these are the best seasons for these mashers and all of their mashiness.
The criteria for the different teams will be different. But since this is an all-time team, you are eligible for this team if each of the following applies to you.
1.In the season listed, you had to have struck out at least 100 times.
2.The season listed can’t be a .300 season.
3.You can not have logged more than one complete season where your batting average was better than .300. If you do that, you exit the masher realm and become a good hitter. Frankly, we can’t have any of that.
Todd Hundley (1996)C85140/540.259411121146
Ryan Howard (2008)1B105153/610.251481461199
Dan Uggla (2009)2B84137/564.24531902150
Harmon Killebrew (1959)3B98132/546.242421053116
Jay Bell (1999)SS132170/589.289381127132
Dave Kingman (1984)OF68147/549.268351182119
Bo Jackson (1989)OF86132/515.2563210526172
Reggie Jackson (1982)OF92146/530.275391014156
Adam Dunn (2004)UT105151/568.266461026195

I would call this pretty close to a dream team. Bo Jackson’s 26 steals is a little excessive, but this is otherwise a stellar masher season. The shortstop position was a little hard to draw from. It’s not a position that’s lends itself to a lot of historically mashing players. The poster boys for this team are Harmon “Killer” Killebrew and Dave “Kong” Kingman, although Ryan Howard is well on his way. But Kingman and Killebrew gave plenty of quality seasons to choose from.
Feel free to offer any suggestions on how to make this team a little more one dimensional.
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