Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year, New NFL?

Happy New Year! Hopefully everyone had a safe and enjoyable night.....

And are feeling OK today...

Nothing better to cure a little hangover than a short read on I-95 SportsBiz.

On this first day of 2013, I am going to take a little turn away from typical sports business writing.

With the NFL playoffs set to begin, it had me thinking of how the league has changed. The biggest change that I have seen this year was the role of a rookie quarterback. Quarterback may be the most significant position in all of team sports. The quarterback leads the offense and is responsible for making sure everything is running smoothly. In past seasons, veteran quarterbacks were always looked at as being able to lead the team better than younger quarterbacks because they are more experienced. 

This season, the notion that a veteran is needed to be a great leader has been thrown out the window. Three outstanding rookies have stood up to lead an NFL team to the playoffs. Russell Wilson may be the most underrated of the bunch. Wilson lead the Seattle Seahawks to a 11-5 record and a playoff birth. Andrew Luck, the number one pick, has lead the Indianapolis Colts to an 11-5 record after a dismal season last year for the Colts. Robert Griffin III lead the Washington Redskins from 3-6 to start the season, to win the last 7 games and finish the season at 10-6. Griffin beat the Dallas Cowboys the last game of the year to clinch the NFC East and a playoff birth for the Washington Redskins. The most remarkable part about Griffin's success has been the obvious impact he has had on the team. As a rookie, Griffin was voted a team captain after starting the season 3-6.

It is possible that these quarterbacks are just special. That this type of success from rookies will not be seen again. That their is no way rookie quarterbacks will be able to step in the NFL and be great. It is possible, but not the way I see it.

I think this is the start of the NEW NFL. Where it is possible for rookies to come out of college and lead teams in the NFL. The reasoning for the change could be the new rules that are used to protect players (specifically the quarterback) help offensives have success. Or it could be a miscalculation by NFL teams thinking that rookies cant be great, when they can.

Final Thought
I am not sure the reason for the change in the NFL. I am also not suggesting that the emergence of the rookie quarterback is the only change in the NFL this year, it is just the only change that I care to talk about. Have a great NEW YEAR.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dollars & Sense - Bad Sports is a Must Read

If you know me, then you know that I spend a majority of my time reading, writing, and generally thinking a lot.  I always try to use any and all of the channels of communication at my disposal to get people to think.  If people think, read, and educate themselves, then they are in prime position to make meaningful and positive change.

When I read a book, I read to find out if it is a book that does just that.  Does it make you think?  Does it challenge the current way of doing things?  I recently finished Bad Sports by Dave Zirin, and it is a book that surely makes you think.  It is certainly a must read for anybody in or looking to break into the sportsbiz.

Bad Sports takes you through various examples of destructive and incompetent ownership, sports welfare through stadium/arena building, and offers one underlying solution to these two huge issues.  Zirin, currently writing for The Nation, does a fantastic job taking some of the most gruesome examples of ownership debauchery and brings them to light.  The way he outlines the rich-get-richer scheme that sports is currently modeled as is truly maddening.

Before you read this, especially if you are simply a sports “fan,” you probably do not see many issues.  You may see some things here and there that bother you, but nothing that requires a complete changing of the current system.  This book shows that there is not only a problem with ownership but perhaps an epidemic of bad ownership. 

The thing that really caught my attention was the fact that in American sports, the players are always blamed.  I never really thought about it before, but it is true.  Sure we blame owners a little bit, but the players are always the ones that carry a bulk of the burden.  It was interesting to see this in contrast to the ownership-fan relationship that the Tom Hicks and Liverpool had with their fans.  The fans hated him virtually from the beginning and even tried to band together and buy the team from Hicks. 

It all brings you to Zirin’s solution to the problem which is public ownership of sports franchises.  This would give the people a say in the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on lavish renovations and brand new facilities.  Does it really make sense for a multi-billionaire to rely on tax-payer dollars to fund a stadium project especially when it comes at the expense of infrastructure, schools, and anything else requiring immediate public funds?  Though it seems like a logical and feasible solution, both the National Football League and Major League Baseball have all but outlawed this as an allowable ownership structure.  The Green Bay Packers, the only publicly owned team, were essentially grandfathered in and until there is a change, will never be allowed again.

I highly suggest Bad Sports by Dave Zirin to anybody looking to get into the sports industry.  The book may make you think twice about the industry you think you know and love.

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Bills Not Moving Anytime Soon

Although Buffalo Bills fans have not had much to cheer about in recent memory, they now have something. Although the good news is not related to play on the field, at least the fans will have a team to cheer for. The Bills have agreed to stay and play in Ralph Wilson Stadium for another 10 years. Although this agreement does not guarantee the Bills will stay in Buffalo, costly penalties for relocation almost assure they will not be going anywhere.

If the Bills backed out of the deal within the first seven years they would have to pay a penalty of $400 million. The penalty decreases dramatically in the last three years of the deal. The Bills will be charged a penalty of $29 million if they were to leave in the last three years. Although the fee decreases significantly in the last few years of the deal, the fee is prohibitive enough that it is highly unlikely the Bill will leave within the 10 year deal.

The deal also includes $130 million worth of improvements to the stadium. Of the improvement revenue, the Bills will be required to pay $35 million and the state of New York and Erie county will pay for the remaining cost.

Final Thought
It's about time for some good news for Buffalo Bills fans. The 10 year deal should provide fans with some security knowing that the team will not be going anywhere. Stadium improvements should allow for a better viewing experience for fans who attend the games. The Bills have been the center if potential relocation talks, now those talks can be on hold for a little while.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Because You Miss Baseball

It's the MLB offseason and YOU miss baseball!
The Dodgers shocked (but didn't shock) you by signing Zack Greinke, you followed the RA Dickey saga until he got deported and you have stayed up nights hoping Michael Bourn will roam the (insert your team's stadium here) outfield in 2013 and beyond.

If you are a Pirates fan, you grimace at the thought of Joel Hanrahan being shipped off for questionable return. If you are a Phillies fan, you (for some reason) see Michael Young as a top of the order savior. If you are an Angels fan, God bless you and God bless Mike Trout.

Jon Heyman, Ken Rosenthal, Jon Morosi, Danny Knobler and the rest of the breaking news guys feed your need to have every single rumor spewed on your timeline. Whether it is a potential signing, trade or roster move, these writers want to report everything that tickles their ears; AND YOU LOVE IT! At this point, you know SOURCE better than you know yourself.

You hear rumors that don't come to fruition. You hear reports from 100 different people once a transaction is completed. You hear things that ruin the element of surprise. But you don't unfollow these guys because you miss the game too much. It's mid December and there are still five major holidays between you and Spring Training.

The game you love isn't happening every night. Your (insert your beloved NHL team's name here) is locked out, you can't find yourself to watch the NBA under any circumstance and there are just too many days between Sundays. You long for more fulfilling times, when turning on the TV at 7:05 meant something other than missing the first five minutes of a Seinfeld rerun.

Once March comes around, you'll welcome the annual return of America's Pastime. But until then, you NEED the scoop on every single roster move, because you sure as hell aren't getting scoops from your local ice cream place (run by jerks) that closed in October.

You hear things and get worked up, but you can't live and die on every single rumor. Thoughts like "Is (insert your team's General Manager here) gonna sign any free agents?" and "Will (insert your team's beloved player here) gonna get traded today?" get you on pins and needles all day and night.

You should absolutely appreciate the offseason news, because it's a way to stay connected to your team during the four dark months. But, in all seriousness, cool your jets. Unless your NFL team is the Jets. Which sucks. In that case, you probably like the Mets. Which also sucks. Quite honestly, your time might better be served ringing the bell for the Salvation Army or something. Get to that.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dollars & Sense - Capitalizing On The End Of The World

The sports industry as we know it is as opportunistic as industries come.  There is never a dull moment, and just about any event that garners media and consumer attention can be utilized.  Whether it is a tragedy turned to charitable initiative and public relations masterpiece or a consumer-made ploy that at times can seem more whimsical than real deal, the sports industry can do it and more than likely has probably done it. 

What better to capitalize on than the biggest and baddest of them all: the end of the world.  The world is supposedly going to end tomorrow, so what better time to spend all of your hard-earned cash on some team licensed merchandise.  The end of the world paired with the continuing holiday season of shopping has consumers in a frenzy that looks more like a supermarket bread aisle the day before a Weather Channel-hyped blizzard super storm than your typical Friday, December 21. 


It could be fun.  A team could offer between 12% and 21% off on specific items in their online store.  They could even offer the discounts on their whole online merchandise store if they’re feeling particularly scared about ending the world with a warehouse full of unpurchased merchandise.  Teams feeling especially up to the task could even have a fun, end-of-the-world themed layout on their online store for the day.  Since nobody really knows what the end of the world looks like – I contacted the agent for the dinosaurs, he never got back to me – it could be interesting to see how individual teams interpret the ending of our beings.

Of course the deal could only run on Friday because, well, there aren’t supposed to be any more days after Friday.  However, since we are going to live – err at least I think so – teams could also use Saturday to capitalize.  Since it wouldn’t be the end of the world sale any more, teams could run a “We Survived 12/21/12” sale.  With this they could do whatever time they wanted on Saturday or if they were feeling ambitious, they could extend it the entire weekend.  The same 12% to 21% would suffice for this as well.

A deal like this would play on the heightened consumer interest around the “event” while also in a time of the year when consumer interest is already at its pinnacle.  Teams that do not at least attempt to capitalize on the end of the world this Friday are missing out on a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Literally.

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cy Young Award Winner on the Move

The Toronto Blue Jays continued a dramatic offseason of improvements by agreeing to a trade with the New York Mets. The most prominent player in the deal is Cy Young winner, R.A. Dickey. Dickey had an impressive year last year with 20 wins and an ERA of 2.73. The Blue Jays are hoping to see some of his impressive play this year and beyond.

R.A. Dickey was looking for an extension in order for the trade to be completed. The Blue Jays agreed to extend his contract for two years at a value of $25 million dollars. The specifics of the trade have the Blue Jays receiving Dickey and Josh Thole. The Mets will be receiving Travis d'Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, John Buck and potentially more prospects in return. Travis d'Arnaud is a catching prospect that is highly regarded throughout the league.

The Blue Jays have really made a push to be relevant next season. The starting rotation for the Jays looks quite impressive after this offseason of moves. The rotation will include R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Brandon Morrow, and Rickey Romero. The Blue Jays should have a chance to compete in the very competitive AL East next season with a starting rotation and starting lineup with great potential.

The benefits for the Blue Jays in the deal are obvious, I do believe the Mets also did great work making this move. I do not think that this deal will help the Mets win next season, but it is good for the future. It is tough to say now, but if catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud plays to the potential that he is expected to have, the Mets may have a catcher for the long term. Pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard also has great potential to be a front end starting rotation player. Although R.A. Dickey had a magical season last year, he is 38 years old and is unlikely to see that type of success again.

Final Thought
The Blue Jays are making the necessary moves in order to compete next season. They have dramatically improved the pitching staff and made improvements to the starting lineup. I believe they will compete for the AL East title if they stay healthy and perform up to potential. Although this was a good move for the Blue Jays, this was a great deal for the New York Mets. They got great value off a 38 year old Cy Young Award winner and set up a team that can have great young players in the near future. Rarely do I see a trade that I believe greatly benefits both teams, but I believe this deal may do just that.


Friday, December 14, 2012

The Day After Triple 12

I can't believe it's over...

12/12/12 was the other day zomg. What even happened? It was a Wednesday. I went to breakfast with my grandma at Eat n' Park. Then I came home and my mom made me read a book. This tweet by awesome dude @neiltyson made me feel a little more meh about the 12/12/12 and a bit more positive about the following day, the following hour, minute, etc. I'm deep?

That's why I woke up on 12/13/12 to take an online exam at 8 AM and vegged on the worn leather chair in my living room all day watching Forrest Gump, 30 Rock reruns and ugly Eagles football.

The Eagles fumbled in public for a few hours and I set up an Ikea TV stand for my mom. Unlike the Eagles, Ikea products are usually pretty reliable once you figure out how to construct the damn thing.

My dad watched Sopranos reruns because why the hell not, he's a straight thug. A man of 60 years and a Catholic school graduate. He's been a Big East basketball fan since he went to Pitt law school in the 70's and even he's dismissed the conference at this point.

Georgetown, St. John's, Seton Hall, Villanova, Providence, DePaul and Marquette were sick of being basketball only schools pushed around by a wannabe football conference. I feel like I should have realized Georgetown, Seton Hall and Marquette were Catholic schools before today. But I didn't, and I don't feel bad about it.

Now that Josh Hamilton is off the table, the Big East defectors might be the top free agents in the country. Hell, with $125 million in his pocket, Hamilton might start his own conference and morph it into a baseball/basketball hybrid sport. That's not a thing, that won't happen.

Los Angeles teams have unlimited money and resources, apparently. And by "Los Angeles teams" I mean the Dodgers. Maybe the Lakers. Can't be talking about the Angels because they are in Anaheim. 30 miles southeast of a city doesn't mean you're all about that city. Tell that to people in the 724 who think they're from the 412.

Good for the Angels though, the top of their lineup shouldn't be allowed to be legal. And by "the top of their lineup" I mean Mike Trout. He's a freak. Not quite Bo Jackson, but don't put it past Trout to pick up football as a "hobby" in the coming years if he wants to.

Rob Parker might need a new "hobby" after he gets fired from ESPN. Maybe he could be a consultant on Maury to judge the overall blackness of the guests. Are they a "cornball brother?" Are they married to a white girl? Are they... A REPUBLICAN?! God forbid a person has a strong sense of self and is comfortable with their own qualities. Life is life, people do things and they are who they are. Deal with it, idiot.

You know something else? The Boston Beaneaters were the original team in the current Atlanta Braves franchise. Look it up, I read it in a book with limited pictures.

What a day.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dollars & Sense - MLB Renews Stubhub Deal

Sports Business Journal reported earlier in the week that Major League Baseball has renewed its deal with Stubhub as the official secondary ticket market of the MLB.  The deal is said to be for five years (2013-2017) and worth more than the old deal that was estimated to be worth $60 million per year.

An interesting note in the agreement is that the MLB and Stubhub have agreed to a $6 price floor on all tickets (apparently due to electronic delivery fees).  This will help to quell some of the criticism that Stubhub has received for advertising tickets that are well under the market price and face value price. 

Stubhub (and the secondary ticket market as a whole) has become an interesting case study in unintended consequences of decisions.  The secondary ticket market poses a lot of pros and cons.  Obviously the revenue from a deal with a ticket resale website like Stubhub brings in an instant boost.  But is the extra revenue good for the business overall?

The secondary ticket market affects both the good and bad teams.  First for the bad teams, the secondary ticket market essentially represents a team’s ticket sales staff worst nightmare.  It is extremely difficult to sell tickets for a bad team.  We all know that.  It’s even harder to sell tickets for a bad team when ticket purchasers are turning around and selling their tickets to your games for well under the price that you’re looking for.  Sometimes the resale prices can dip below $1.  Not the ticket sales staff’s job just got infinitely harder in trying to deal with the sometimes ruthless relationship between supply and demand.

Good teams, however, are not immune to the wrath of the secondary ticket market either.  Say a team is very good for a very long time.  Demand for tickets is larger than the stadium capacity, and the team sells out most if not all of their games.  This is great.  It’s every ticket sales staff’s dream.  Here is where the unintended consequences come in though.  If all of the games are sold out, then fans are going to be indirectly trained to simply look at the secondary ticket market as their first option for tickets.  So when the team starts doing poorly and tickets are flying into fans’ pockets as quickly as they were before, then how will a team convince the fans to stop using the secondary market?  It’s something that teams deal with every single year. 

Not everything in the world is as straight forward and as great as they seem on the surface.  Sure the pairing between the MLB and Stubhub is a good match, but it’s not perfect.  Teams, good and bad, feel the pressure and deal with it on a yearly basis. 

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Greinke's Pay Day From Dodgers

Zack Greinke just received the highest contract given to a right handed pitcher. It is not surprising that the contract was given to Greinke by the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers have not been shy spending money this off-season.

Greinke's deal is for six years and $147 million. The previous highest contract for a right handed pitcher belongs to Matt Cain who signed an extension with the San Francisco Giants for six years and $127.5 million. As a part of Greinke's contract the Dodgers would not give Greinke a no-trade clause. This is not something new for the Dodgers. In previous contract negotiations with Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier the Dodgers also refused to give a no-trade clause. Greinke does have written into his contract a clause that would allow him to become a free agent at the end of a season if the Dodgers were to trade him. In addition to that clause, Greinke received an opt-out clause similar to that of Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia. CC was able to opt out of his contract and then resign with the Yankees for even more money.

Soon after the Dodgers locked up Greinke, they added to the rotation by signing Ryu Hyun-jin. Hyun-jin received a contact of six years worth $36 million. As I previously wrote, the Dodgers already had an investment in Ryu because they had to bid just to have the opportunity to talk with him.

Final Thought
It should be a very exciting time to be a Dodgers fan. The willingness to spend money has been clearly shown by the Los Angeles Dodgers owners and front office. Greinke is a great pitcher who will certainty help them win games. The contact value may be questionable but if Greinke continues to pitch with success, the contact will be well worth it. If Dodgers fans think they are still missing some assets needed to make them a great team, they should not worry. The Los Angeles Dodgers have shown no signs that they are going to stop spending the big money anytime soon. The only real question for the Dodgers is... Who is next?


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dollars & Sense - Twitter and its Trolls

Look at the events from this past weekend.  Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Javon Belcher murdered his girlfriend and later took his own life in front of Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli and head coach Romeo Crennel.  Saint Louis University head men’s basketball coach Rick Majerus passed away due to ongoing heart problems at the age of 64.

Both of those events ranged somewhere in the spectrum of tremendously sad to horrendously tragic.  Both also required an inherent element of care and soul.  Social media, however, shows that many people don’t see stories in that light.  People see these stories as a way to take a cowardly and ignorant shot at an undeserved target behind the protection of a computer screen and an identity unknown to 99.99% of the world.

The positive uses of social media are always in the spotlight. The way that social media can connect people anywhere in the world is unparalleled.  The versatility for business and personal use is being further discovered every single day.  But the negatives can sometimes be forgotten in all of the positives.  And even though social media has done countless good for news stories such as the aforementioned, social media also shows a side of people that would best be never seen.

Twitter in particular is an interesting tool.  In 140 characters or less, people can get a glimpse into the soul of any user.  Sometimes it can be quite pleasant.  Other times it can be downright horrifying. 

All it takes is a simple search on a topic to see the reaction. Take Rick Majerus’ death for example.  He was considered one of the great guys in the college basketball game, but some people still find it alright to comment on his weight (see below).

Should we even take the time to acknowledge this sort of comment?  Maybe not.  But it should serve as a moment to learn about mankind. It should serve as a reminder this is the way some people think.  These are the types of people that are in this crazy world of ours.

In times like this, Twitter can also keep the trolls honest.  CBS Sports, a fine news outlet in many respects, had the gall to post about the fantasy impact of Jovan Belcher’s murder/suicide as details were still being discovered.  As George Okuhara points out below, there should not be a place for this in the world (and we all know that CBS handled the situation poorly during their coverage on Sunday as well).

Of course these are some of the most emotional of situations, but it can be seen even in what is a much more trivial situation.  We know that the Philadelphia Eagles are in the midst of a less than stellar situation to say the least. Leading up to the season, tragic news came out of Eagles training camp at Lehigh that head coach Andy Reid’s son had died in what was later confirmed as a drug overdose.

In two events that are not relatable, fans still take their hatred of Andy Reid to new heights.  Fans constantly attack Reid on the basis of his weight, which is so incredibly superficial it almost pains me to admit that I share the same favorite team as some of these people.  His weight and poor win/loss record this season has prompted an internet movement, “Trim the fat, #FireAndy.”

If that isn’t bad enough, fans have found a way to take this to a new level.  Though the exact tweet in my mind could not be located, I specifically recall one saying in summary that Reid should go die and join his son in hell.  I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

The statement is horrifyingly eloquent in a way of insensitivity and ignorance.  A better explanation of Twitter trolling could not be thought up by the best of us.

What it truly shows though is that the lines of fanhood have been blurred.  Love and hate for a team and its players has gone well beyond the boundaries of the playing field.  It has spilled over into life itself and Twitter gives us a window into how ugly it can truly be. 

I’m not necessarily talking about how these trolls affect the business of sport (although in the case of CBS Sports’ miscues we can see how the business of sport can corrupt some minds).  What I’m talking about here is one of the unintended consequences of the business of sport.  Shedding more and more light on the business has increased fan need for information, and the past examples of Twitter reactions shows the blurring of fanhood and ignorance.

There’s no way to control the trolls. The trolls will always be there. There’s no way to shut the trolls out.  But what we can do is use the trolls as a reminder.  It’s a reminder that we can all be better, and if we’re all trying to better ourselves, then we can make a difference in this world. 

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Stern Fines the Spurs

Everyone by now knows that David Stern fined the San Antonio Spurs $250,000 for sitting key players against the Miami Heat on national television. The Spurs decided to sit Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Danny Green against the Heat. This is a typical move for the Spurs in recent years as they have aged as a basketball team. Stern was highly upset by the decision made by coach Greg Popovich. Stern said that the Spurs, "did a disservice to the league and our fans." He apologized to the fans and said that the "substantial sanctions" would be handed down to the Spurs.

It is easy to understand the anger by Greg Popovich over the fine. Coach Popovich said, "I think the league operates from a business prospective. And I think thats reflective in the action that they took." Popovich is worried about the long term success of his team and showed little concern for how the fans would view the decision.

It must be remembered that the NBA is a business. There is not a better person to remind us of this then Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban. Cuban came out to say that David Stern and NBA were completely right to fine the Spurs. Stern publicly made it seem that he was upset for the fans, but Cuban states the real reason for Stern's frustration. NBA TELEVISION CONTRACTS.

It is all about the money, as usual.

Cuban calls the television contacts the "money train." Cuban says that without the huge contracts from television, the league would not be profitable. The relationship between the league and the networks is vital and must be kept strong. Cuban said about resting the key players, "Resting the stars for the long haul one game earlier, one game later, sure. Resting when you've got our biggest costumer at stake, that's a whole different animal." Cuban later went on to say that he believes the Spurs should have received a more punishing fine.

Final Thought
I understand both points of view in this situation. The Spurs are in the midst of a demanding schedule and needed to give aging stars a night off. The NBA makes its money on television contacts and they do not want to risk that relationship. I believe Greg Popovich was right to sit the players if he believed it would be better in the long run. I also believe the fine was warranted. It is an unfortunate situation, and it would have been more ideal for the Spurs to sit the players for a game that was not nationally televised but Popovich made the move that he thought was best and Stern replied with what he thought was necessary.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dollars and Sense - Potential UFC Super-Fight and Fighter's Union

After beating Carlos Condit in a bloody five round battle on November 17 at UFC 154 in Montreal, Georges St. Pierre had proven that he is unbeatable in the UFC’s welterweight division. That fight was St. Pierre’s first fight since tearing his ACL, and he still looked like his same dominant self especially when the fight went to the ground. 

Photo via

So what is next for the 31 year old Canadian?

St. Pierre’s next fight could very well come in a super-fight against current middleweight champion Anderson Silva. St. Pierre and Silva are arguably the top two fighters in the world. Being that they come from different weight classes (St. Pierre is a 170 lb. welterweight while Silva is a 185 lb. middleweight), the fight would probably be fought as a catch-weight bout somewhere in between. The significance of that is there would not be a title on the line.

Even in the catch-weight scenario where there would be no title up for grabs, a fight between St. Pierre and Silva would be huge for the UFC. Though it’s just speculation, it would most likely break the UFC pay-per-view buys record currently held by UFC 100 (Lesnar vs. Mir) with an estimated 1.6 million buys. It would also have the potential to break the gate revenue and attendance held by UFC 129 (St. Pierre vs. Shields) with over $12 million in gate revenue and attendance over 55,000 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. UFC President Dana White says that St. Pierre and Silva are the two biggest drawers.

Nothing official has come out yet, but the St. Pierre versus Silva super-fight scenario is worth monitoring going forward.

Information from


In individual sports, there is a constant chatter about a player’s union. However, because the players are less organized than team sports and individual sports take on more of a survival of the fittest mentality, the organization of a union becomes quite an involved process.

The rumors have swirled in the UFC about a fighter’s union, but early last week President Dana White squashed pretty much all of that. In an ESPN SportsNation chat White said, It's going to be tough to see a day with Silva or GSP is giving up big chunks of their money to guys who won't make two fights in the UFC."

What White said makes complete sense. The UFC is very much a top heavy organization in terms of the top fighters earning the most money by far. It really doesn’t make any sense for the top guys to give up money for guys that will fight maybe one time and then be forgotten before they were even known.

It is also worth noting that Dana White is the one that negotiates contracts with the fighters for the UFC, so he can control where the money goes and who has it all.

The next UFC event will be UFC on Fox 5 on Saturday December 8 in Seattle where Benson Henderson will defend his lightweight title against Nate Diaz.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fox Sports BIG Attempt to Lock Up Dodgers

Currently the Los Angeles Dodgers have one year left on a contract with Fox Sports for television rights. The current contract has Fox paying the Dodgers $350 million over 12 years. The final season of the contact will be next year which the Dodgers will collect $39 million. Fox Sports and the Dodgers are looking to renew the contract. The rumored terms of the contact would pay the Dodgers at least $6 billion over the next 25 years. You did read that correctly. $6 BILLION....

Thats a lot of money.

If Fox Sports were to pay the Dodgers $6 billion over 25 years, that would be an average of $240 million per year. Next year they will make $39 million. For some comparison of television rights, the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Lakers also make quite the sum of money. The Lakers are in the first year of a 20 year deal with Time Warner Cable. They are making $120 million this year, which will be the least they make in the deal. The deal escalates, and will average $180 million per season. The New York Yankees have a deal with the YES network. They will make $85 million next season, but this contact is long term. In the year 2042, the contact will pay $300 million.

The contact between the Dodgers and Fox must be completed by Friday. If the contact is not completed, the Dodgers will have the opportunity to offer Fox a final offer by the following Friday. Fox would then have 30 days to decide if they want to accept the final offer. If a deal is not reached, which is not likely, the Dodgers could make a deal with Time Warner Cable or start their own cable channel.

When the Dodgers were recently purchased for over $2 billon last spring, the new owners were hopeful that a bidding war between Fox and Time Warner Cable would bring significant revenue for the team. They were right.

Final Thought
The purposed deal between the Dodgers and Fox involves a large amount of money. Although this contact may seem absurdly high, it is probably fair. The business of sports is huge and growing. The future values of television deals should follow the upward trends that we are seeing.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Dollars & Sense - Philly Fed Up

Over the summer, the hopes and prayers of Philadelphia 76ers fans were finally answered.  The fan base hasn’t seen a solid center in years, but in a part of the mega-trade that sent Andre Iguodala packing for Denver and Dwight Howard headed to Hollywood, the Sixers finally brought aboard a top NBA center.

Andrew Bynum was what Philly fans had been waiting for all these years. A 7-footer, young, supremely talented, Bynum is a true center in a time when true centers are becoming a dying breed of sorts.  Fans were eager to see what Bynum could bring to the younger yet promising Sixers team.

In his tenure thus far, Bynum has yet to see the court and seems to be bringing a somewhat negative impact to the organization.  How has he managed to do that? 

There seems to be some constant controversy swirling around Bynum’s knee injury.  Management has lied to the fan base on a fairly consistent basis. First he’s going to be back in November. Then he’ll be back in December.  Then he has a secret minor procedure. Now fans won’t be seeing Bynum’s debut in red, white, and blue until 2013. Nobody is really sure what the motivation was to lie about the injury, but what’s done is done.

Next Bynum made a change in hairstyle.  The media chose to blow Bynum’s hair out of proportion which turned the situation from an innocent whimsical rouse to a thorough distraction to the struggling team. In this day and age when the media will jump on anything they can, even something as irrelevant as hair, it’s better to play everything safe. Given the fact that the media spotlight has shown pretty bright on Bynum of late, it would have been nice if he could have just blended in until he finally sees the court.

via TheBigLead

In the latest development of the Bynum saga, news came out last Saturday night that he had hurt his knee bowling.  Yes, bowling. Why was he bowling with his already injured knee, I don’t know. How do you get hurt bowling, I don’t know that either.  No matter how you look at it, it happened and it continues a drama that shouldn’t even be occurring.

Of course, Bynum can make it all up if he plays and plays well. When that will happen remains to be seen. In the meantime, Bynum needs to quit making headlines for all the wrong reasons.  It is becoming a public relations nightmare on a team where their early season struggles aren’t helping them out much either. Philly is fed up with Andrew Bynum.

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Marlins Jays Trade Becomes Official

It is official, Commissioner Bud Selig has approved another Marlins fire sale. Not many could see this coming. Although the Marlins have notoriously had fire sales soon after winning, this time is different. This past season the Marlins moved to Miami and spent significant money for a new stadium. Well, the public spent significant money for a new stadium...

The 12-player deals sends Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio and some cash to the Blue Jays. In return the Marlins received Yunel Escobar and six other players that most have never heard of. The reason for this trade is simple. Salary dump. The Miami Marlins had $163.75 million in guaranteed salary to the players that were traded. The Marlins will see $154 million in net coming off the books, this does not include the cash involved in the deal. Clearly the Marlins are saving a lot of money by making this deal. The obvious downside for the Marlins is they will lack performance on the field.

From the Blue Jays prospective this is a significant move. The Blue Jays play in one of the most difficult divisions in Major League Baseball and are constantly battling for position within the division. This move makes the AL East an even more difficult division. With teams that include the Yankees, Rays, Orioles, and Red Sox the division will still be quite difficult to win, but this move gives them a chance to really compete. The ownership group of the Blue Jays, Rogers Communication, have proven a true financial commitment with this trade. The Blue Jays ranked 23rd in MLB with a $75 million payroll, after the trade the payroll will increase to over $120 million. This will be the first time in franchise history that the Blue Jays will pay over $100 million in payroll for a season.

Final Thought
Bud Selig made the decision to approve the trade but not without serious thought. After approving the trade Selig said, "I am sensitive to the concerns of the fans of Miami regarding the trade, and I understand the reactions I have heard since Tuesday. Baseball is a social institution with important social responsibilities and I fully understand that the Miami community has done its part to put the Marlins into a position to succeed with beautiful new Marlins Park." Selig later said that he will monitor the situation and believes the Marlins ownership is committed to long term winning.

This situation disgust me. The Marlins moved to Miami and had the public mostly fund a baseball stadium for the team to play in. After the Marlins took the money and built a beautiful stadium, the fans assumed they would be committed to winning. The Marlins then proceed to trade away the team to save some money. I hope that the rebuilding of the Marlins happens sooner than later because those fans deserve it.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dollars & Sense - Poynter Done at ESPN

This week, the Poynter Review Project ended at ESPN with their final post on Monday. 

The final Poynter post coming from Kelly McBride and Jason Fry, readers were given six takeaway lessons from the 18 month review project.  The six takeaways were: 1) ESPN isn’t a monolith 2) Repetition is method as well as madness 3) We get the ESPN we deserve 4) The Bristol bubble 5) The numbers game 6) The big picture.  ESPN announced that they would not be renewing Poynter’s contract and that although the search is on for the next ombudsman, there are no imminent plans to fill the void. 

Throughout the time that Poynter spent critiquing ESPN’s practices the company was met with critical and mixed feedback.  Many sports media experts, like SI’s Richard Deitsch, criticized the work of the Poynter Review Project at ESPN.  Criticism wasn’t necessarily for the work that actually got done but more based on the fact that there simply wasn’t a lot of work done. 

Deitsch looks specifically at the lack of work produced by Poynter saying in his weekly media review column that “they lacked the metabolism of what the job demands today: a near-daily look at the many issues that filter though ESPN’s properties.”  He is exactly right.  In the final Poynter column, McBride and Fry cite that “posts more than 800 new items a day.”  If that is true, then that is over 24,000 new content items between October 10 and Monday’s final column.  That’s a lot of content to not touch on.
I have been very critical of ESPN on I-95 SportsBiz.  Although I think that my criticism is warranted because ESPN was built on the premise of the avid sports fan and has virtually abandoned the avid fan in its marquee programming, Poynter looked at ESPN through a more journalistic lens. 

Perhaps the biggest point that Poynter made in their final column that all consumers of ESPN content should take a look at is the “We get the ESPN we deserve” point.  This section touches on the reasons why ESPN loves their debate shows even when public opinion of them may not fare so well.  Poynter reminds us that “television is a hits-driven business” and that if viewers don’t want more debate shows, then “they need to vote with their remotes.”

As much as I (and I’m sure some others) would love for it to be ESPN’s duty to give the people quality and relatively educational content, ESPN is simply giving the people what they want.  Even if the people watch First Take to see how ridiculous Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith are acting on any given day, they are still feeding the ESPN beast.  It’s just like anything that works on supply and demand principles: if the people want it, then they gon’ get it. And a lot of it I may add.

Paul Pabst, producer of the Dan Patrick Show, joked on Twitter that ESPN should hire two ombudsmen and have them embrace debate.  Come on, mocking ESPN is always funny!

The “Repetition is method as well as madness” point that Poynter makes is also a big takeaway especially for avid sports fans and ESPN-watchers.  One of the big backlashes against ESPN is that they talk about the same things all day even if the show has a different name.  Poynter is correct in pointing out that “wall-to-wall ESPN watchers are outliers.”  As tough as it may be for some of us to accept that notion, it is true.  They did mention that ESPN has gone a bit overboard in their excessive Tebow coverage, something that we can all agree on.

Maybe the Poynter Review Project at ESPN did not have the scope that we had all hoped for, but there is plenty that can be learned from it.  Keeping the giant of the sports world relatively in check is not a bad idea.  Will it ever change how they do business?  Probably not.  It will be interesting to monitor the search for the next ombudsman going forward and to see if the next (if there is a next) embraces the criticisms of Poynter.  

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ryu Hyun-jin Worth It?

The Los Angeles Dodgers have bid $25.7 million for a CHANCE to to sign Korean pitcher, Ryu Hyun-jin. Ryu is a 25 year old that has a career ERA of 2.80. He is a seven time All-Star left handed pitcher for his team the Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization. The Dodgers will pay the $25.7 million bid to the Hanwha Eagles only if they are able to negotiate a contract with the pitcher. It is believed that Scott Boras will represent Ryu Hyun-jin in his negotiations.

The posting system has cost some major league teams a lot of money in recent years. The Texas Rangers bid $51.7 million to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in order to negotiate with Yu Darvish. They then had to pay Yu's former team when they came to an agreement on a six year contract worth $56 million. In addition to Yu Darvish, the bidding system has brought Ichiro Suzuki and Daisuke Matsuzaka to the MLB.

The Dodgers will only have 30 days to negotiate the contract for Ryu Hyun-jin. There may be a sense of urgency for the Dodgers. General manager, Ned Colletti, said, "We have watched Ryu pitch for a long time and he is another option to consider as we look to improve our team in 2013 and beyond." The Dodgers have not been shy when it comes to international players. In June they agreed to a seven year $42 million dollar deal with Cuban player, Yasiel Puig. The Dodgers have also talked to Japanese high-school pitcher Shohei Otani.

Final Thought
Although there is obvious risk in signing a player to a long term, high value contract when they have no Major League Experience, it could be worth it. When signing international players, there is an added value to having them on your team outside of the talent they bring. International players have been known to bring a following with them. This following is the country that they come from. Many players are representing their country when they play in the Major Leagues. It can be very valuable for teams to acquire international players because of the extra attention that they can get. It is not likely that high value bids for international players will go away any time soon.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Dollars & Sense - Nike Signs McIlroy and PGA Schedule Announced

For years, the top golfer at Nike was Tiger Woods.  Now after last week’s slew of signings, Nike may not have found a name that’s bigger than Tiger Woods, but they sure opened their checkbooks.  Nike signed a trio of PGA Tour players last week: Kyle Stanly, Nick Watney, and Rory McIlroy. 

Given McIlroy’s current position in golf, he garnered a good deal of media attention with his move from Titleist to Nike.  Many were skeptical of the move away from the Titleist brand that McIlroy has seen some much success with over the past few years, but a reported $200 million-plus payday is hard for anybody to pass up. 

The McIlroy deal with Nike represents a changing of the guard on the golf scene.  Tiger may be the biggest name in the game, but McIlroy is sneaking up there.  Tiger is aging and may never win another major, while McIlroy is still only 23 and entering the prime of his career with two majors already under his belt. 

Signing Stanley and Watney can also benefit the Nike brand.  Watney has shown flashes with two wins in 2011 and one in 2012, and he is only 31 years old.  Stanley is another up-and-comer who is only 24 years old.  He got his first win on the PGA Tour in 2012 and also showed some flashes of being able to win some smaller tournaments.


The PGA Tour has also recently released their 2013 schedule. New Years Eve will mark the start of the Tour’s schedule with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Kapalua, Hawaii.  Tour majors will kick off with the Masters from Augusta National on April 8 and then continue with the US Open on June 10 from Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, PA right outside of Philadelphia.  Players will travel across the pond to Scotland for the Open Championship (British Open) starting on July 15.  The final PGA Tour major of the year, the PGA Championship, will be start on August 5 from Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, NY.  

New Nike signee Rory McIlroy will look to repeat at the PGA Championship and also at the Honda Classic (Feb. 25 – Mar. 3), the Deutsche Bank Championship (Aug. 26 – Sep. 2), and the BMW Championship (Sep. 9 – Sep. 15).

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Monday, November 5, 2012

14 Year Old to Play at the Masters

When I heard the possibility that 14-year-old, Guan Tianlang, had a chance to qualify for the Masters I did not believe it. 14. That is hard to believe. Guan's win at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship qualified him for the Masters. The age of players playing professional golf keeps getting younger and younger but it is unexpected to most that an eight grader would have the opportunity to play in one of the most prestigious golf tournament in the world.

Guan Tianlang
Guan will be the youngest player to play in a major by a month. Last summer at the US Open, Andy Zhang who was also 14 teed it up with the best in the world. The youth in golf is hard to believe but it is a good sign for the game. Many wonder where the future of golf is heading especially with recent struggles of Tiger Woods. The more talented youth in the game will make the sport more competitive and keep viewers watching.

Andy Zhang
Tiger was the clear catalyst for the popularity in the game of golf. With young talented players coming into the game, it is difficult not to watch them on TV. For many who play golf recreationally, it is nearly impossible to image someone at the age of 14 being able to compete with the best golfers in the world. That fact will make people want to watch.

Another positive from young golfers playing professionally is the impact on the demographics of the game. Many consider golf to be a sport that is only played recreationally by older individuals. If kids have golfers they can look up to that are only a few years older than them, they are more likely to go and try to play the game themselves.

Final Thought
For all the positives that come out of young talented golfers, we must be careful on possible negatives. Guan is obviously extremely talented, but he is only 125 pounds. Therefore he can drive the ball only a mere 250 yards. At many challenging professional golf course, that will cause trouble. The last thing that golf wants is to put young men on national TV on the biggest stage and embarrass them. Although these golfers must have extreme confidence to make it to the point where they are, it is difficult to imagine what one horrendous tournament can do to someones confidence. That being said, I can't wait to watch Guan at the Masters.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dollars & Sense - Athletes and Epidemics

In America people tend to hold athletes up as role models. Somebody to look up to.  Somebody that’s a larger-than-life superhuman.  We have seen how this can be detrimental and create much more bad than good.  We have also seen how this can be used for good, but not really on a widespread level.  Is there a way that this power over society can be harnessed to reverse an epidemic?  If athletes fully bought into the cause, could we turn the tables on obesity?

Last week Adam Schefter tweeted that Peyton Manning signed on with Papa Johns to own 21 stores in the Denver area.  A profitable business venture I’m sure and a trend that is quite common among professional athletes. 

Of course we all know the lack of positive nutritional benefit from a Papa Johns pizza.  Although America is not obese solely because of the mass produced excuse of pizza that Papa Johns produces, it is simply a cog in the entire problem.  It is companies like Papa Johns that value the dollar over the customers that are the problem. 

We generally feel like the situation is out of our control.  The people that think that way are dead wrong.  The customer is in complete control.  If people take a stand and refuse to buy a product, then that company won’t last very long selling an unsellable product.  It’s supply and demand.  If the customer doesn't demand a product, then why would a company supply it?

For some reason, people don’t feel this way.  Either they don’t have the discipline to follow through with their beliefs or they are simply uneducated about the other options out there.  This is exactly where an athlete endorser comes in.

Say Peyton Manning invested in 21 natural food stores or 21 vegan restaurants.  Is it fair to say that the same people who would be inclined to try Papa Johns because of Manning’s influence would also be inclined to try any healthy option that were endorsed and owned by Manning?  I think to some extent it would be although it’s tough to say how much.

Maybe my view is a little too idealistic.  I think that a widespread change in mentality and thinking is possible with the proper public relations.  It would take dedication and a complete buy-in from the opinion leaders (in this case the athletes).  If enough of the right people preach it, then anything is possible.  As a society we need to be more disciplined and not let the dollar dictate our every move.  You have to be blind to not see what kind of corruption the dollar has created.

Basically we have seen athletes fuel the corporate culture of greed for too long.  We need big time influential names to pass along the new messages and reroute the nation’s thinking. Their messages put us here in the first place, now it’s time to turn it around.  It's time for athletes to see more than the dollar figure in their endorsement contracts; they need to look at the values and beliefs of the companies as well.  We need our game-changers on the field to be game-changers off the field too.