Archive for the ‘Major League Baseball’ Tag

NBA Labor-Owner Battle

A few good sources on the details behind the NBA struggle.

Are there ten teams losing money as the players say, or 22 out of 30 losing money as the owners say? The total revenue that the league makes is $4 billion. They have to get together to decide how to split that much money up. The only group more pathetic is the NFL which can’t decide how to split up $9 billion. Greed is good????

Does the NBA need all these teams and does it need to have an 82 game season. Fans get bored and the players do too. But the owners say they need all the games and teams to make as much money as the league does. Ever hear of too much of a good thing? Players don’t want to cut the number of teams because they would lose jobs. Still, who wants to pay $150 for a ticket to see two teams sleepwalk through a game?

Players, whose average salary is around $5 million, currently get 57 percent of the annual revenue; the owners want to increase to $900 million the amount they get off the top and a 50-50 split of the remainder. This would reduce the players’ share to about $2 billion or nearly $100 million less than now.

Stephen A. Smith notes:

The players are interested in giving back $100 million in salaries over the next five years, not $800 million annually over the next 10 years. They’re interested in reducing their level of basketball-related income from 57 percent to 54.3 percent, not giving back 25-40 percent of revenue yearly over the life of the agreement.

Like any players’ association, NBA players are not interested in entertaining a hard salary cap. Nor are they interested in listening to league officials who call it a Flex Tax. And they’re not interested in having the maximum limit on guaranteed deals reduced from 5-6 years to three years, either.

“We’re not the ones who have a problem with the agreement we presently have,” Hunter said. “We’re sensitive to what league owners are telling us. We understand we’re living in a different time and we hear what they’re saying about adjustments that need to me made. But when you’re approximately $7 billion apart, when you haven’t moved for months, and you’ve spent years threatening to take us to this point, it is what it is.

Jason Whitlock argues intriguingly the following:

The game of professional basketball is strong. The product is good. Other than the tatts, the players have done an excellent job of repairing their image.

The owners have not handled their business. They want to take money back from the players and lock them into a bad long-term deal to pay for the league’s failing business ventures such as the WNBA, NBDL, NBATV, Eddy Curry, Gilbert Arenas, etc.

If players gave and make concessions these need to come with some guarantees on the owners’ side. Such as making sure that the money is spent on the team and not put into owners’ pockets. Just ask baseball owners where they are putting the monies that they got from big spending teams through the luxury tax.

Giants and Dodgers Show the Way

You’ve heard put a ring on it. Try put a Band Aid on it.

Last night, the two baseball teams with one of the most intense rivalries hugged and tried to show that there is no bad blood between them. They were trying to set an example for their fans.

Dodger owner McCourt is spending a ton of money on security in order to address the insane act done by at least two men last week. The men beat a Giants fan outside the parking lot of Dodger Stadium, causing the man to suffer brain damage.

The teams engaged in a nice gesture. Their act would work on rational people. Anyone who would beat another person senseless is not a rational person. Major League Baseball has just experienced the thuggary of international soccer with its hooligans.

Ironicly, a feature writer for Bleacher Report posted an article:

MLB Power Rankings: Analyzing All 30 Fanbases To Find the Most Emotional One

Why now? He ranks Dodger fans number 4. The description:

The Dodgers have had quite a few different names over the years – many of them unofficial. The Bridegrooms, the Superbas, the Robins, the Grays. The one that everyone remembers? ‘Brooklyn’.

When the Brooklyn Dodgers moved across the country to California, there was outrage, protesting and grieving on such a scale, you would not think it was about a baseball team. There are still people who want the Dodgers to move back to the East coast. Now that’s loyalty.

Basketball, NBA, New Business

Last week, Jason Whitlock  predicted a housing-bubble-type collapse for the NBA if the league doesn’t enact dramatic changes to the basic rules governing player compensation and the structuring of rosters.

He thinks the four major professional sports leagues — NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB — would benefit from a player-compensation system that tied a significant portion of player salary to wins and losses. The NBA, because the league is dogged by the perception its players do not compete hard in the regular season, would benefit the most from this radical change.

Also, because the NBA is composed primarily of African-American players, many of whom have embraced the style, demeanor and flamboyant lifestyle of hip-hop artists, the league is most vulnerable to an unforeseen, rapid decline in popularity among its primarily middle-aged, white paying-customer base.

Here’s my take: what about the new fan: the one who doesn’t care much about nor root for a team but instead roots  for that ultra cool player. Or they are a fantasy sports guy and they root for individual players on their team to tote up the points so that they win their league? What sport fan is paying to go see these games at the arenas?

In this new era of enormous contracts, limitless access and analysis of athletes’ personal lives and the methods (performance-enhancing drugs) they use to soar to new heights, there is a love-hate tension between fans and professional athletes.

The love-hate tension is at its highest in the NBA. Other than loving hoops, the paying customers believe they have almost nothing in common with the tattooed millionaires who entertain them. Many fans believe they care more about winning and the team than the players do.

This perception — fair or not — can’t go on forever. There’s going to be a breaking point.

Last week, the Detroit Pistons pretty much quit on their coach, John Kuester. Rip Hamilton and Tracy McGrady allegedly arranged a protest that led to close to half of the roster skipping or being late to a shootaround practice. During the subsequent game, several Pistons were shown laughing when Kuester was ejected.

The whole ordeal was a black eye for a once-proud franchise. And it underscored an obvious point: Pro athletes are spoiled.

Brett Favre hated training camp, so he skipped it. Roger Clemens didn’t have to travel on selected road trips. Allen Iverson hated to practice. After having his every whim, including roster moves, catered to, LeBron James decided he’d rather be in South Beach than Cleveland. Carmelo Anthony’s wife wanted to live in New York. Farve certainly tainted his career with his egomanical behavior.

The attitude at the top of the athlete food chain eventually filters down to the rank-and-file millionaires. It’s human nature. The players are not bad people. They’re reacting the way you or I would if we were coddled throughout our teens, undereducated and showered with millions of dollars and a thousand sycophants by age 21.

Rip Hamilton can’t force a trade or take his talents to South Beach. He doesn’t have that kind of juice. He does have enough to undermine a guy he believes is a bad coach. Spoiled, wealthy famous people are going to act like spoiled, wealthy famous people. Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s couch begat Charlie Sheen sitting across from Piers Morgan on CNN. Jumping on that coach really hurt Cruise’s career, didn’t it? Mission Impossible III grossed less than its production costs of $150 million. Then Lions for Lambs made $15 million.

Lions for Lambs Poster

Stars can get their careers damaged if they act too much like a jerk.

The rules governing the games must be changed to restore the integrity of the leagues.

There are idiots who believe there should be equality between the owners and the players. These idiots love to say: “Why is everyone upset because LeBron and other black men are taking control of their destiny and playing where they want to play? It’s OK when the owners trade or cut a player.”

These idiots do not grasp the big picture. These idiots likely have never owned anything in their lives.

Owners and employees are not equals in America’s capitalistic system. They can be partners. We should demand fairness between employer and employees.

But it is foolish and bad business for David Stern to allow a system that gives the players as much leverage as ownership and management.

It is appropriate for players to look out for their own best interests. It is appropriate for ownership to look out for the best interests for the teams and the league as a whole.

The overall health of the league is what allows LeBron James to make $15 million from the Heat and untold millions from Nike. He’s young. He can’t see it. Like most 25-year-olds, LeBron just wants to do what’s best for LeBron.

And I’m not arguing his move to Miami was bad for the league. In the short term, his Decision has been good for the league.

It’s what he set in motion that is the problem. “The Decision” was Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s couch. Carmelo, Deron Williams, the Pistons and God knows what’s next is Charlie Sheen.

The players are tweaking the razor-thin, love-hate line between themselves and their paying customers.

If the customers believe the players have too much power and they’re using that power to sabotage the home team or the coach, the thin line between love and hate is going to be crossed with damaging impact.

For mainstream America, its passion for sports is fueled by the games’ connection to traditional values such as discipline, order, patriotism, sacrifice, unity, team and gambling. Mainstream America won’t pay $2,000 to sit courtside and watch Hot Sauce and the And1 Tour. Won’t happen.

The players don’t want to play for And1 Tour money. But that’s what the league would look like if the players were in control.

Ownership must think big picture and institute dramatic rules changes. The time is right. Sports fans are frustrated with the NBA, its impact on college basketball and NCAA hypocrisy. American basketball is broken. With the NBA collective bargaining agreement set to expire, why not pursue radical change?

What I’m going to suggest will sound crazy. Staying the current course is crazier.

1. Come up with a pay system that is 60 percent controlled by the individual teams and 40 percent controlled by the league. Teams would control a player’s base salary. The league would dispense money based on team and individual performance. This makes the NBA even more like the National Football League with centralizing finances. It does what major league baseball needs to do with its revenue tax, and that is to reward teams that actually play well by giving out the money based on performance not some other wacky criteria.

2. Reach an agreement with the NCAA that allows the top 100 college players/prospects to play in the NBA summer league. Pay the players as interns. Freshman get $25,000, sophomores $50,000, juniors $75,000 and seniors $100,000. Structure the summer league as a playing and educational experience. Teach the players about the history of the league and their responsibility to take care of the league and represent it in a way that grows the value of the league. Always a great idea to teach history, manners and both self respect and to respect others!

3. Register and monitor high school prospects, give them a standardized academic test upon graduation that — depending on the score — would qualify them for a financial boost should they later earn a spot on an NBA roster. This would provide an incentive for kids (and their parents) to compete academically.

4. Devise a first-four-years pay scale that pays a player extra money based on how many years of college he completed. A boy enters the league at 18, fresh out of high school, he earns less than a 22-year-old man with a college degree or even a 21-year-old who developed in college for two or three years. A kid can enter the NBA straight out of high school, but there are financial consequences for the decision. This offers athletes an incentive to stay in college and to earn a degree. However, how are athletes supposed to earn a degree when so much of their time is taken up playing and practicing the sport.

5. Develop a compensation system that slots players 1 to 20 on the roster. Stick with me. I know the roster limit is 15. The team-controlled portion of player salaries will be fixed on a 1-to-20 basis. The No. 1 player on a roster (Kobe Bryant, for instance) would receive a base salary of, let’s say, $10 million. A player slotted at No. 2 would earn $8 million. No. 3 $6 million. If you’re the Sacramento Kings, you might not have a player worthy of a No. 1 contract. The Kings’ top player might be slotted at No. 4 and be assigned a base salary of $5 million. Maybe the Miami Heat don’t have players worthy of being 5, 6 or 7. The Heat might slot Mario Chalmers and Juwan Howard at 17 and 18, which would qualify them for base contracts between $400,000 and $750,000. Also, maybe Dwyane Wade and LeBron James won’t want to play alongside each other if one of them is going to have to settle for being a No. 2. This is a great idea. It is similar to what is done with rookies in the NBA already. See the salary chart below. Then know that the NFL spent $160 million more on its draft choices!

1st Year: Guaranteed
2nd Year: Guaranteed
3rd Year: Team Option
4th Year: Team Option
Qualifying Offer

This kind of system is coming to the NFL once they eventually agree to a labor contract. In a year probably. And it makes sense that a guy who plays longer in the league deserves to be paid well, probably better than  a person who has not proved their self in the league yet.

6. This might take a team of MIT graduates, but figure out how to cut up the league-controlled portion of player salaries based mostly on regular-season wins and then on playoff success. If Kobe leads the Lakers to 65 victories and the title, he should earn approximately an additional $6.5 million in bonuses. Pau Gasol, the Lakers’ No. 2, would earn an additional $5.5 million. I’m not smart enough to tell you how much Kobe should earn per regular-season victory or playoff series win, but there are people who can do the math. The league-controlled victory bonus would be slotted, too.

7. I’d come up with a no-tattoo bonus. Yeah, I know that ticks some of you off. Basketball is the ultimate television sport. Tattoos are not TV friendly. I’d give young players an incentive to not graffiti their bodies before entering the NBA.

8. I’d contract two to four teams. I’d make the remaining teams play four games per season in a satellite home city. The Lakers would partner with Las Vegas. The Clippers would partner with San Diego. The Pacers could play in Cincinnati, the Cavaliers in Columbus.

What teams are going to be contracted? Remember that MLB wanted to get rid of the Minnesota Twins and the Expos, who became the Washington Nationals and now both teams are doing very well. Are you going to take the bottom teams in the conferences or are you going to look at finances of the teams, the ownership? Cleveland, Toronto and Washington are the bottom feeders in the Eastern Conference and Minnesota and Sacramento and the bottom in the Western Conference. Each of these teams serves a unique market with no other team particularly close to their area. Would the other owners be willing to pay the $300 million a piece to the owners of each contracted team?

Implement these suggestions over a five-year period and the NBA is fixed and challenging the NFL for supremacy by 2017.

Pro Sports Live

Who goes to see professional baseball, football, basketball and hockey? Remember when LeBron James joined Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh and there were hundreds of empty seats? How many teams can afford the big salaries of these stars if they do not but fans in the seats?

The National Football League (NFL) owners are sending out season ticket purchase orders only one month after the season ended. As one columnist said, who gives their money away to buy something half a year before they are going to use it? Expedia and other websites are trying to teach consumers to wait until the last minute before they purchase hotel or airline tickets.

These days there are similar websites, like StubHub, for tickets to pro sports. Fans know this so they know that the value of having to have a season ticket has dropped a lot. You can get in to most games. Particularly here in Washington, DC for the Redskins have a 91,000-seat stadium and the Wizards have sold 80 percent of their home games seats, good enough for the last one-third of the league.

There may not even be an NFL season this year with the collective bargaining agreement needing to be renegotiated. Imagine if you bought tickets only to see replacement players like in 1987. Will fans even watch that on their televisions, particularly with all the HD, wide-screen plasma televisions?



Local Sports

Earlier in June, I saw a celebration of good sportsmanship, athletics and academic achievements.

The Alexandria Sportsman Club met and awarded several baseball, track and soccer boys and girls for their ability to successfully balance these attributes.  Seeing their smiles as they posed with plaques for photographs made me feel happy.

Sportsman’s Club has been around since 1947 and believes in practicing civic virtues.

The group also invites guests to talk local sports. Ryan Zimmerman, the Nationals’ third baseman and slugger and others have come to the monthly meetings and answered a wide range of questions.

I spoke about Capital Sporting Grounds and the issues of local governments playing for the construction of sports stadiums. Many people are fond of Nationals Park but the $650 million dollar cost is outstanding in bonds that are being very slowly paid off. Intriguingly, had the city been able to build the park only a few years later they would have gotten a better deal.

Target Field cost Minneapolis : $392 million from a 0.15 percent sales tax in Hennepin County, The Twins put up $152.4 million.

Cowboy Stadium cost  $325 million Bonds, approved by Arlington voters, being repaid by a half-cent sales tax$25 million Tarrant County $113 million  Private bonds, not city-funded, that will be repaid with a 10 percent ticket tax and $3 parking fee. Ownership of the team is likely to contribute $261 million.

As always, real estate is contingent on the market and how desperate the landowner is to have a tenet.

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Celebrity and Athletes

After weeks of running Tiger Woods stories on its front pages, the media has realized the gold mine of revealing the sex lives of athletes. Here comes TMZ.

As Tony Kornheiser said on ESPN Pardon The Interruption (PTI), athletes are physical people. It’s likely that there are many stories to be told that will rivet audiences. If people want to know about actors and actresses and they find out about politicians then of course they would want to hear about sports stars.

When Mets Manager Bobby Valentine said that Major League Baseball would be ready for a gay player, speculation ran rampant for days. Mike Piazza announced that he was not gay. Years later, the media ran the story of the accusation that Roberto Alomar had AIDS and the media recalled the Valentine statement and wondered if the Met he might have been talking about was Alomar.

Will this exposure hurt all athletes. As Sally Jenkins reminds us in her Tiger Woods piece, athletes are often spoiled and thought that they are invisible. A true recipie for exposure of their foibles.

There have been athletes that have relished exposure of their private lives. My top dog is Joe Namith, who enjoyed bachelorhood in New York City during his time with the New York Jets football team in the late 1960s. While it helped that Namith was a bachelor, the positive exposure might have also been because of the heyday of free love.

Titillation and scandal has always sold. There are more outlets for displaying this now. Gossip comes to sports on a regular basis—watch out everyone!

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Parade Magazine’s Cowboy Stadium

Woke up this weekend and saw the article in Parade magazine on the cost of sports. Thought the piece was either about the high risk of injury or focused on the economics of professional sports.

The writer focused on the cost of attending a football game. Fair enough. Who can afford to get a good ticket for a NBA game ($150 face value). Even a good ticket for a MLB Baseball game runs ($40-60) and there are 81 home games a year!

The prices are amazing for a NFL game. “The average cost of attending an NFL game for a family of four is $412.64, it’s a staggering $758.58 to watch the Cowboys.” While mentioning that the new Cowboy stadium carries $1.15 billion price tag, the writer doesn’t mention who paid for that.

Just like I describe in Capital Sporting Grounds for Washington, DC, it’s the taxpayers. The total cost of Arlington’s share of the stadium bond debt, including interest, is expected to be $502.9 million. That’s about $44 million more than the city initially expected. At least in this case the team paid about half of the cost!

In the current economic times, who has the disposable income to attend games? Presumably only the top salaried individuals while everyone has to pay for the actual stadium.

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Depression, Love Life and Male Culture

Recently I received news that a person who I worked with died at 48 years old. It shocked me.

Then I discovered that they had ridden their bicycle into a local woods and took a boat load of pills. The suicide made me wonder if working for the federal government could be so stressful. Then I learned of the split in his marriage.

There are many more men that face dark moments in their lives and men in this culture does not provide an effective answer, except suck it up or deal with it.

I found this article on a major league baseball player from the Oakland A’s fascinating because it discusses some of these issues.

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