Monday, September 30, 2013

Yankees May Have to Say No to Cano

Rumors have been circulating about Robinson Cano and the new contract he may be seeking. The almost 31 year old Cano is a free agent and is reportedly seeking a contact of ten years and roughly $300 million. Although Cano denies these rumors, his representation of CAA and Jay-Z have reason to push the Yankees for the monster deal.

Robinson Cano has had a very productive career. He has a career batting average of .309 and has averaged 107 RBIs in the past four seasons. Although impressive statistics, alone they would not warrant a $300 million contract. The current state of the Yankees gives Robinson Cano the best chance of getting a mega deal. The Yankees are saying goodbye to legend Mariano Rivera and long time Yankee Andy Pettitte this season. The Yankees are also dealing with the Alex Rodriguez situation which currently is in arbitration.

All these factors make for a Yankee organization that is desperate to keep the brand of high profile players that they have become known for. The problem for the Yankees is they have had to learn a difficult lesson about long term big money contracts. Before the 2008 season, the Yankees made Alex Rodriguez the richest player in the history of the league by giving him a ten year contract worth $275 million. With Rodriguez's current on field production (or lack there of) and his off the field issues it is likely that the Yankees are regretting the enormous contract they gave him.

Final Thought
It has been rumored that the Yankees have offered Cano an eight year contract worth $138 million and a six year contract worth $144 million. Either of these contracts would make Cano the highest paid second baseman in baseball. I think the contacts offered by the Yankees are risky considering the age of Cano. Hal Steinbrenner has said that he wants the Yankee payroll to be $189 million or less for the 2014 season. Good luck. It will be interesting to see what the Yankees do. If they give in to Cano's request they may be making a long term mistake (again).


Monday, September 23, 2013

Henrik Stenson Wins FedExCup

I wrote earlier this month about the money behind the FedExCup. Now we know who won the big money that the FedExCup can offer, Henrik Stenson. Stenson became to first European player to win the Tour Championship and the ultimate goal of the FedExCup.

Winning the Tour Championship by Coca-Cola won Stenson $1.44 million. This added to his season earnings giving him $6,388,230 made in 2013. Stenson's first place finish in the final tour event also gave him the the FedExCup title. The big bonus for winning the FedExCup is $10 million. Stenson's total 2013 season earnings are $16,388,230.

The FedExCup winnings drop dramatically after the first place prize. The second place winner receives $3 million and third place winner takes home $2 million. What makes this drop off more dramatic is the fact that the difference between millions of dollars can come down to a simple shot. One stroke. The entire PGA season is played and a player can lose a million dollars by making a par instead of a birdie on one hole. This was exemplified Sunday with Steve Stricker.

Stricker knew his position in the Tour Championship and he realized that for him to win the tournament, he would need to make birdies on holes 17 and 18 and hope for a bogey from Stenson. Stenson did not make a bogey. Stricker had birdie opportunities on both 17 and 18 but failed to make the putt on either hole. The result was Stricker winning third place in the FedExCup that was worth $2 million. What he may not have known at the time was if he was able to convert on either birdie putt, he would have finished in second place in the FedExCup and won an additional $1 million. Tiger ended up in the second place position.

Final Thought
I think the PGA did a excellent job setting up the FedExCup. The dramatic prize value differences makes each shot really worth something. Stricker knows this all too well. Stricker had a million dollar putt on the 18th hole.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Dollars & Sense - Federal Court Says No to Sports Betting in New Jersey

Is there really anything in America as hypocritical as sports betting?

"Well, you can do it in Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana, but everywhere, yea, sorry about that," they say.

New Jersey is the latest state to feel the hypocritical wrath of America's stance on sports betting.  On Tuesday, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 against legalized sports betting in the state. Governor Chris Christie has made the legalization of sports betting in the state a priority, citing increased revenue.

According to an article on, casinos in the state of New Jersey brought in $1.77 billion. In 2008, the effective New Jersey casino tax rate was 9.5-percent, thus giving the state a large chunk of change when it comes to taxes.

After losing the judgement, New Jersey can appeal further to either a different U.S. Court of Appeals circuit or to the U.S. Supreme Court. New Jersey is trying to amend the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act that bans sports betting in all but four states.

Opponents to legalized sports betting often cite famous examples of game/match fixing and point shaving scandals as a reason to keep the practice illegal.  Perhaps the most famous example of fixing is the 1919 Black Sox Scandal where eight members of the Chicago White Sox purposely threw games so that the Cincinnati Reds would win the MLB World Series and the gamblers would cash in on big bets.  Pete Rose has been famously banned from the MLB and the Hall of Fame for their roles in gambling with the game of baseball.

Match fixing has been a prominent topic in tennis, recently. Star players like Nikolay Davydenko have been caught up in major betting scandals.  According to a recent ESPN Outside the Lines report, Bobby Riggs allegedly threw the "Battle of the Sexes" in 1973 against Billie Jean King.

Those in favor of legalized sports betting often cite the increased economic benefit to the increasingly cash-strapped state governments and that legalizing the action will allow the states to benefit from the illegal black market that exists.  Job creation can also be cited, though on a lower level relative to other gambling outlets like, say, casinos.

Delaware legalized sports betting in 2009 to the heavy opposition of the four major sports leagues and the NCAA. Since then, though, it does not seem that the sports world nor the state of Delaware has been torn apart by any scandals relating to the legalization.  The simple fact is, what can be done in any newly legalized state can already be done in any previously legalized state.  Perhaps the most logical opponent to that fact would be that the sports books can be more easily monitored and policed if they are kept in only select few states.

Either way, no matter which side of the sports betting argument you are on, the hypocritical law continues on. No worries, though, did you see the MGM Mirage has the San Francisco 49ers favored by 10 over the Indianapolis Colts this week?  The Colts just got Trent Richardson from the Browns!  I'll see you in Las Vegas.

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Money Mayweather Cashes In On Saturday Night

Floyd Mayweather Jr. is not shy when it comes to his money. He does have plenty of money to flaunt. Mayweather added to his bank account on Saturday night after his fight with Canelo Alvarez. Mayweather earned a record for guaranteed money and likely a record for total money earned in a fight.

The terms of the fight guaranteed Mayweather $41.5 million. Although Mayweather set a record for guaranteed money, this is only part of what he will make for his fight on Saturday. The big money for Mayweather will come from his cut of the pay per view money. In addition the live gate receipts for the fight will be around $20 million.

In total it is projected that Floyd Mayweather Jr. can earn up to $100 million for fighting Canelo Alvarez. After factoring this fight into Mayweather's career earnings, he is likely to surpass $350 million.

If the ridiculous earnings were not enough to make Mayweather happy, he was also able to beat Canelo to retain his undefeated career record.

Final Thought
The popularity of boxing around the country is not as high as it once was. Even with that fact working against the sport, player earnings are still incredibly high. Many casual boxing fans are willing to spend the $60 or $70 to purchase a fight of high magnitude. The smaller fights with less known boxers, are the fights that tend to receive low television ratings. Personally I really enjoy watching the sport of boxing. I am one who is willing to pay to watch the larger fights, but many are not willing to do so. If boxing found a way to allow big fights to be seen on cable, it could mean a dramatic rise in popularity of the sport. It is highly unlikely however that boxing would be willing to give up the big dollars on pay per view.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Broken News - Olbermann a Game-Changer at ESPN

Late night television is awfully crowded. David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, Jay Leno, Jimmy Fallon, Craig Ferguson, Conan O'Brien, Arsenio Hall (again), soon-to-be Seth Meyers, and those are just the hosts!  There is probably an awful reality show or 100.  If you're a food fan, there are re-runs of Diners Drive-Ins and Dives.  There are Law and Order re-runs and Shawshank Redemption is probably playing somewhere.

For sports fans, though, options are relatively limited. There is always SportsCenter and other watered-down highlight shows and, if you're lucky, a game that is running inexplicably late.

Now, and for the two weeks leading up until now, Keith Olbermann has been able to fill the void left for sports fans. The former SportsCenter anchor that left Bristol in the most unceremonious of ways is back with the network and heading his own late night show on ESPN2 aptly named Olbermann.  The show debuted to 317,000 viewers on August 27th.

Olbermann is undoubtedly one of the polarizing figures in the media.  Some people refuse to watch him because of his time in politics with MSNBC and Current.  Some people simply cannot stand his personality.  Then again, some people could care less and just love the snark and nostalgia of the days of SportsCenter past.

There is one thing, however, that Olbermann has never lacked, and that's honesty.  Brutal honesty.  The kind that makes a made figure so polarizing.  He will always say what is on his mind, and, in this media climate that is dominated by public relations and "no comments," that kind of honesty is incredibly refreshing.  So refreshing, in fact, that it is becoming more and more obvious that ESPN needs Olbermann.

Remember his exit from the network way back 16 long years ago?  He was painted as the bad guy.  His pursuit of "hard news" during his time in politics with his honest attitude to boot?  Further painted him as the bad guy.

Then consider that ESPN has a brand to protect.  One large $40 billion brand.  They are the PR dog in the fight.  Maybe they want to investigate further into head trauma in football and the NFL.  Maybe they want to stop calling the football team in Washington by their racist nickname.  Maybe they want to call the NCAA immoral, monopolistic money grubbing corporate suits.

ESPN cannot say any of that.  But Olbermann can.

Olbermann is safe from ESPN's PR.  Why?  Because Olbermann is a classic case that goes something like ESPN can tout him when he does well, but if things go wrong -- and things almost always go wrong at some point when Olbermann is around -- ESPN can simply blame Olbermann for Olbermann and remove themselves from harm's way unscathed.

It's that exact kind of media magic that allows Olbermann (and ESPN by association) to blast CBS Sports columnist Pete Prisco for a column that said the players that settled with the NFL in the concussion lawsuit were only in it for the cash grab.  It also allows him to blast a writer at the New York Daily News for sourcing his own tweet in a story about the New York Jets.  Olbermann can lay how he really feels out on the line more so than just about any other personality at ESPN.  And he can do it without repercussion.  Even the seemingly invincible Bill Simmons has been suspended for some rather inconsequential tweets.

The fact that Olbermann has been painted as the bad guy (which he very well could have been, but that's irrelevant to this case) has actually aided him in his return to Bristol New York.  For now he is benefiting from the ability to be honest and tell the viewers how he really feels.  Now, Keith Olbermann's Olbermann is making noise in the crowded late night television space.


Best of Olbermann (so far...):

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Scoring a Ticket to the Super Bowl

On February 2nd, MetLife Stadium will host the Super Bowl. It would be no surprise that ticket prices for the game in New York would be more expensive than past Super Bowl's simply because it is in New York.

ESPN's Darren Rovell wrote an article detailing the prices that are being discussed for suites in MetLife for the Super Bowl that I could not believe. One big factor that makes suites more valuable in MetLife than in other typical Super Bowl destinations is the potential for bad weather. The game will be held in early February in the northeast part of the country, it would be no surprise for the game to feature adverse winter conditions.

In a typical Super Bowl, the best suite available can be bought for $175,000. This season's Super Bowl in MetLife has suites listed as high as $945,992 on a ticket buying website. That price can buy you a suite that can hold up to thirty people and provides food and an open bar.

For the average fan that will not be going to the Super Bowl in a suite, a ticket to the game will still certainly not be cheap. The face value for the tickets have not been released yet, but as a comparison last years ticket pricing in New Orleans ranged from $850 to $1,250. A number that can be better predicted is the number of tickets that will be sold for the game.

MetLife can hold 82,500, but typically a Super Bowl will make that capacity less due to the need for cameras and media. With this in mind, the breakdown for the ticket distribution is interesting. The National Football league will have roughly 20,000 tickets. The New York Giant and the New York Jets will each receive about 2,500 tickets, the AFC and NFC champions will each receive about 14,000, and the remaining teams will each get about 1,000 tickets. The NFL also reserves about 500 tickets for the general public lottery.

Final Thought
Although the NFL season just started, the Super Bowl is already being talked about. I expect ticket prices to be much higher than normal when they are released. The face value of the tickets end up meaning very little. I will be interested to see what the prices are on the secondary ticket market.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dollars & Sense - The Man Behind The Winning Pirates

How bad is your favorite team? Maybe they are really bad or, if you are lucky, maybe they are really good. They could also fall somewhere in the middle – like toiling between the eighth and ninth spot of the NBA playoffs every year middle – but fans are too emotional to ever admit being in the middle.

For years the Pittsburgh Pirates were one of those teams that were really bad. Really, really bad. Just ask Bryan Fyalkowski who used to write the Route 30 Detour for us. A tortured Pirates fans for all of his years on earth, the years of losing certainly got to him.

But now, as of this very week, the Pirates are winners. After 20 straight losing seasons, the beloved Buccos have reached 81 wins meaning that no matter what they do the rest of the way they will finish .500. Just talk to a Pirates fan and you will see what it feels like to get a monkey the size of an entire city off your back.
The greatest news of all is that the Pirates have the framework in place to keep winning. Last year looking like the year that they were finally going to do it until a wretched final month and a half of the season derailed their chances. This season they finally did it, and they can do it again going forward.

At the core of the Pirate’s recent success is All-Star outfielder Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen is only 26-years-old and is working off of one the most team-friendly contract in all of baseball after signing a6-year $51.5 million extension prior to last season. “Cutch” has also been able to keep his name in the National League Most Valuable Player discussion for the last two years, going for 31 home runs, 96 RBI, and a .327 average last year followed by 18 home runs, 75 RBI, and a .320 average through 135 games this season.

Even though he plays in Pittsburgh, McCutchen is marketable as well. He has a notable endorsement with EvoShield, a company that makes protective athletic gear such as McCutchen’s shin guard. He is most known, though, for his appearance on the cover of the popular video game MLB 2013 The Show.

Most importantly, in this day and age when the actions of athletes are often overblown, McCutchen has managed to stay away from it all. Keeping a clean image in the current social media ultra-microscopic climate is essential and something that McCutchen recognizes which helps to boost his approval amongst fans and endorsers alike.

It is difficult for an MVP caliber player on-the-field to be just as effective off-the-field, but McCutchen is doing just that. Now that the Pirates have broken the 20-pluc year curse, McCutchen’s marketability will continue to climb and he will continue to put Pittsburgh on the baseball map.

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Money Behind the FedExCup

In 2007 the PGA Tour implemented the FedExCup. The FedExCup takes place throughout the entire golf season and concludes with the FedEx Cup Playoffs. The playoff system consist of four different tournaments in which the number of golfers participating in the tournament is decreased after each tournament. The cuts are made after each playoff tournament based on a points standing.

This season's FedExCup Playoff started with the Barclays in which the top 125 players were entered into the tournament. After the Barclays, only the top 100 players advanced to the Deutsche Bank Championship. The third stop for the playoffs is the BMW Championship, only the top 70 players will be invited to play. After the BMW, the top 30 players will compete for the Tour Championship by Coca-Cola in Atlanta.

The players are not just competing for the pride of being named the FedExCup Champion. The four playoff tournaments will offer a purse of $8 million each for a combined $32 million in prize money. Although the purse money for the tournament is quite lucrative, the most potential money to be gained is through bonus money.

The PGA Tour offers $35 million of bonus money for the top 125 players in the FedExCup standings. The winner of the FedExCup will receive $10 million. Second place will receive $3 million and third place gets $2 million. The winnings trickle down to 125th place who receives $70,000.

Final Thought
The FedExCup Playoff has been a big success since its implementation in 2007. Once the four majors in golf are complete, it is difficult to get the big name players to want to continue and compete. The FedExCup Playoff has made golf meaningful well into September. As a golf fan, it is a great to have the golf season extended for the players I enjoy watching. The players are now starting to view the FedExCup not only as a way to earn more money, but as a tournament that they want to compete in and win.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Broken News - ESPN and NFL Falling Together?

All good things must come to an end.  We know that, even if we are in denial.  That's why Hannah Montana came to an end and gave us Twerkin' Miley Cyrus.  Or at least that's why I think it happened.

Anyway, the NFL and ESPN are both monsters at the top of their industries.  The NFL tops sports leagues and ESPN tops sports media.  It just so happens that the two are also partnered in the top sports media rights deal on the planet with nearly $2 billion of ESPN's hard-earned cash going straight into Roger Goodell's deep pockets for Monday Night Football rights.  Though the cash is going out, it's also coming back in as MNF is ESPN's highest revenue generating property.

Convenient, eh?  ESPN's parent company, Disney, must be so proud.

Both ESPN and the NFL have risen to their seemingly unreachable heights over the past 40 years or so.  I know, it's hard to remember a time when the NFL wasn't king.  Same with ESPN.

Although ESPN and the NFL may be at the top of their industries, both are deeply flawed properties.  ESPN -- who controversially pulled out of a collaboration with PBS Frontline that tackles the concussion issue in football -- has struggled through a bipolar relationship with entertainment and journalism.  They are only solely one when it's inconvenient to call themselves the other which is the case with their now severed relationship with PBS.  Their journalism has taken a major step back, so they're claiming entertainment.

Aside from that, ESPN is dealing with more pressure from viewers than ever to show more highlights and less useless B.S. (note: not referring to Bill Simmons).  Regardless viewers feel like they're getting more B.S. than ever.  So as they try to keep their journalism from butting heads with the properties they hold rights to, their entertainment may actually be struggling too.  Did Aaron Sorkin write this script?

The NFL has issues of its own.  And we're not talking about potentially having pressured ESPN out of the PBS documentary.  We're talking about concussions.  Head trauma.  A lawsuit with nearly 5,000 former players over issues with concussions.  The more you read the more bleak it looks for the NFL as settlement day will eventually come.

It all makes me wonder, will the inevitable fall of the NFL be tied to the inevitable fall of ESPN, or vice versa?  This may sound crazy, but remember, all good things must come to an end.  Nothing lasts forever.  I'm not saying that the NFL or ESPN will be gone tomorrow.  They will likely last far past the rest of my lifetime.

Think about it, though.  Take a moment to think about where ESPN and the NFL will be in the year, say, 2113?

When there are issues to be investigated, people tell you to follow the money.  In the case of the NFL and ESPN, the money leads directly to one another.  The issues are already present and the dots are already being connected.  Will ESPN and the NFL eventually fall together?  It's an answer that may not be so much good as it is true.

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi

Monday, August 26, 2013

McGrady Retires.... From the NBA

After a sixteen year NBA career, Tracy McGrady has decided to retire from the NBA. It is important to make the distinction between retiring from basketball and retiring from the NBA. McGrady is keeping his options open when it comes to playing basketball again. After announcing his retirement on ESPN's "First Take," McGrady was asked if he would consider returning to China to play. McGrady responded "Officially retired from the NBA. Door's still open."

Tracy McGrady had a long and very successful career in the NBA. McGrady who was drafted out of high school played for seven NBA teams that included Toronto, Orlando, Houston, New York, Detroit, Atlanta and San Antonio.

McGrady was an NBA all-star every season from the 2001 season until the 2007 season. He averaged 19.6 points per game for his career, but that doesn't truly describe how good Tracy was in some seasons. In the 2002-2003 season while playing with the Magic, McGrady averaged 32.1 points per game. McGrady's success on the court paid off for him.

During his NBA career, McGrady's career earnings in salary totaled nearly $163 million. McGrady's single season high salary was $23,239,562. He earned this in the 2009-2010 season while on the Knicks roster. McGrady not only earned significant money through playing contracts, but he also was the beneficiary of endorsement deals. When first entering the league, McGrady signed a six year, $12 million dollar contact with Adidas.

Final Thought
Tracy McGrady should be known as a great NBA player. Unfortunately McGrady never had real team success. McGrady also unfortunately had to deal with injury problems, especially late in his career. If McGrady can stay healthy, I hope he can continue playing basketball wherever that may be.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Broken News: Former NFL Player Davis to Head You Can Play

There was some news that came out earlier this week that you may not have heard about, or cared about.  Sports news, that it.  This news is unlikely to have popped up on your score ticker and unfortunately did not break through A-Rod’s stranglehold on the media spotlight.  No, you probably missed it.  But it is important – very important – news that you need to know.

Wade Davis has been named Executive Director of You Can Play.

Davis played in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans and Washington.  After struggling to make it through training camp and off of the practice squad, Davis retired due to injury.  After his playing career was over, Davis came out publicly that he is gay.
Even though he was finished with the NFL, he did not let the status of being a former professional athlete go to waste.  Davis started a media company, InMotion, and has enjoyed a career as an LGBT activist.  He has had work published on websites like Outsports, Huffington Post, and New York Times.  Davis has spent nearly three years working with inner-city LGBT youth.

Patrick Burke is the brain behind You Can Play.  Burke, a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers, put the idea into motion in 2011 after his openly gay brother, Brendan, was killed in a car accident.  Burke wanted to continue the legacy that his brother had begun.

Since 2011, You Can Play has become one of the most well-known activist organizations for the LGBT community in sports.  They counseled Toronto Blue Jays’ shortstop Yunel Escobar after he wrote a homophobic slur on his eye-black.  You Can Play has also begun a groundbreaking partnership with the NHL to provide training and seminars in various LGBT related areas.

Over the past year, You Can Play has been linked in a mentoring role to a group of potentially four professional athletes that were planning on coming out at the same time. 
Although he is stepping down as the public head of You Can Play, Burke will remain heavily involved in the organization’s planning and vision.  Davis, Burke says, is the only man he would trust in the position.

The news may not have made your radar, but it should have.  It’s important – very important – news.  What Burke has accomplished in a little over two years is remarkable and the room for growth is still tremendous.  In order to continue improving the climate for the LGBT community in sports, groups like You Can Play are invaluable.  Like it or not, with leagues partnering with LGBT activist groups, the conversation is here to stay.

Now it is up to Wade Davis to continue the conversation that Patrick Burke started.

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Dollars & Sense - Will Washington Ever Change Their Nickname?

The football team in Washington has a racist nickname.  Really there's no way around it.  Well, of course, it's only racist if you think about it.  And when you think about it, you probably have an image of the skinned skull of a Native American or of the outwardly racist former owner, George Preston Marshall, or some combination of both.  Yes, this is the same Marshall that was the last owner to integrate his football team in 1962 and only did so because the league stepped in.

Some contend that the nickname is to honor the Native Americans and their fighting attitude.  This seems to be a bit disillusioned and a Hail Mary pass to save the name in the face of public outrage.

Hail to the Pigskins!In Dan Snyder's defense, it's tough to toy with a brand that was recently valued at $1.7 billion by Forbes.  But, you know, sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same. 

Either way, tough decision or not, the name is racist.  The name needs to change. Let's be honest with ourselves; enough is enough.

Enough is exactly what many mainstream media outlets are saying to Washington's nickname.  Slate is the latest media outlet to join in a a boycott on using the nickname.  The New Republic and Mother Jones also followed suit.  The team will now be known as "the football team from Washington."  Heck, the nickname is even on the list of words band from the National Scrabble Championship that used to air on ESPN. 

So how much is a team's nickname -- their brand, if you will -- really worth?  ESPN's Peter Keating recently wrote about this, and below is a quote from his article:

It might seem that the Redskins, who have represented our nation's capital for nearly 80 years, have a uniquely powerful brand. But pro football teams get most of their value from the sport they play (62 percent, Forbes says) and the market they're in (17.4 percent). Just 6.5 percent, on average, comes from their brand equity -- the value teams get from fans being able to identify with individual franchises. Put an NFL team in DC and it would be worth more than $1 billion even if you called it the Washington Smallpox.
This is pretty major research considering how much emphasis we put on the importance of a team name (Exhibit A: New Orleans Pelicans). But, nonetheless, it shows that there are much much bigger factors into a team's value.

Many people shy away from talking about changing the name because, well, that means they need to come up with a new one.  Everybody is trying to avoid a Pelicans-esque catastrophe.  Personally, I think that Pigskins is a viable candidate.  It's a perfect candidate at least until Liberals start trying to protect pigs (Hint: If you are trying to argue for or against something, never bring up Liberal or Conservative agendas.  It makes you look like a conspiracy theorist and lose all credibility.)

So as owner Dan Snyder continues to live in his money-filled bigoted world -- "you can use caps" -- it may be coming time to change the name.  The financial hit won't be as big as Snyder or his supporters "estimate" in the press.  Changing the name is a long-term move for society and for the team.  As the number of media and people refusing to use the nickname grows, the number will sure exceed the number of those refusing to continue supporting the team if the name changes.

The time is now to change the nickname of the football team in Washington.

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Dollars & Sense - Numbers Don't Add Up For NCAA

I know, I know. This is usually a space reserved for professional sports, not "amateur" sports. However, some of the so called "amateur" sports make money. A lot of money, to be somewhat exact. But happens when you try to up the jig when the jig is already up? Well, you get this little organization called the NCAA.

Throughout the offseason, the media has become fixated on Johnny Football. Really it's quite graphic. They seem more willing to talk about Johnny's tendency to sip a Stella Artois than Johnny's tendency to win football games and, you know, the Heisman trophy. It doesn't even matter that Johnny's last name is actually Manziel - errr, I think - and that Johnny Manziel is human being.

Nope, he's just a recently felled carcass ripe for the feasting.

That's why when paired with his recent run-in with the egregiously overbearing NCAA rule book, I still kind of feel bad for Manziel.  Yes, he broke a rule (read: a stupid rule) by allegedly accepting money for autographs. And yea, breaking rules is bad.  But sometimes it takes somebody of Manziel's stature to show us how bad the rules really are.

(Related: No matter your view on Manziel, Wright Thompson's take on Johnny Football is worth your time.)

One of the angles that has been taken by some, ahem, journalists has been focused on Manziel's family money. Why does Manziel need the money if his family is already filthy-oil-rich? [*Checks current location; still in America*] If the same, ahem, journalists are so outraged by Manziel's greed, then maybe they need to take a quick look around our countries landscape and realize greed's prominence in our culture. Whether you believe that to be right or wrong, it's omnipresent nonetheless.
Johnny Manziel is only eight months removed from taking home the
Heisman Trophy, but his world has been turned upside down. (ESPN)

Anyway, back to the real point here. Manziel's alleged actions show a major injustice within the NCAA rules. Sure, many of us knew that these injustices existed, but maybe some of us needed a little reminder by perhaps the most famous and polarizing college athlete of right now getting caught in one of those infamous unjust NCAA scandals.


How much longer can the NCAA hang on to its profit-mongering ways? The O'Bannon case is in full swing, and the case by the current and former players involved is looking stronger and stronger by the day. Certainly not helping the NCAA's case is that the public perception of the organization tanks every time it goes after a player or botches one of its one investigations.

Perhaps one of the most obvious examples of NCAA profiteering is in its jersey sales. Year after year, the NCAA sells jerseys from each of the schools and with certain numbers and no names (obviously).  However, the numbers just so happen to match the numbers of the prominent and most popular players at each school. Hmm, something seems a bit too fishy here. Do you really believe that the No. 2 Texas A&M jersey hanging in the window of your local sporting goods store isn't Johnny Manziel and it just so happens to be a randomly selected number?

Right. It almost feels like our intelligence is being insulted.

Well, ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas was tired of his intelligence being insulted by the all-to-convenient jersey numbers (he's a lawyer too, so we know what happens when you insult them).

On Tuesday he took to Twitter and  Over a series of tweets throughout the day, Bilas tweeted out screenshots of what comes up when you search certain players in the site's search bar.  Needless to say, the results were astounding.

You can check out his timeline to see for yourself. My personal favorite was when he search for former LSU safety Tyrann Mathieu, the same Tyrann Mathieu that had been SUSPENDED by the NCAA last season for failed drug tests, and his jersey still came up.
Later in the day, the NCAA disabled the search feature on the site.

Bilas's work completely undermines the NCAA's spoken stance on the issue.  They are defending themselves in the O'Bannon suit partially under the idea that a No. 2 Texas A&M jersey is simply a No. 2 Texas A&M jersey and not a Johnny Manziel jersey.  Getting off on the technicality that there is no name on the back looses its footing when you can find a No. 2 Texas A&M jersey on by entering "Johnny Manziel" in the search bar.

As the NCAA continues investigating the case against Johnny Manziel, remember that the NCAA has also racked up quite the case against themselves.  The hypocrisy is as transparent as ever and widespread change seems to be on the doorstep of college athletics.  If there's one person that knows all about the NCAA hypocrisy it's Johnny Manziel because we all know that he didn't earn the nickname Johnny Football by going to math class.

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Alex Rodriguez Set To Lose More Than Salary

Major League Baseball handed down some impacting punishments for many players on Monday stemming from the Biogensis performance-enhancing drug scandal. The biggest name being suspended was Yankee third baseman, Alex Rodriguez. After frequent denial of drug use, Rodriguez was suspended for the remainder of this season and all of the 2014 season. It is likely that he will be able to play some more games this year as the appeal process takes time to complete.

If the suspension is upheld Alex Rodriguez will lose considerable dollars in salary. It is projected that Rodriguez is set to lose anywhere between $30.6 million and $32.7 million. Although this is a significant loss for any person, Rodriguez will be able to handle the financial hit better than most people.

Alex Rodriguez will lose more than just his salary with his suspension. Rodriguez was not a well-liked athlete before the scandal broke. In fact, Forbes magazine ranked Alex Rodriguez in the top ten list for most disliked athletes in 2013. With the news of the suspension, fan support for Alex Rodriguez will be expected to fall further. For a player that has already made hundreds of millions of dollars, image must mean something.

Final Thought
Alex Rodriguez has proven that his image as a player and a person are important too him. If Rodriguez willingly took a risk by taking performance enhancing drugs, he clearly cares what others think of him. Rodriguez has a guaranteed contract and he knew how much money he could potentially be risking by trying to remain a dominant player in baseball.

I believe that performance-enhancing drugs provided Major League Baseball with years of success. Exciting players appeared all around the league and they were able to set records that previously seemed untouchable. Rodriguez was a part of this exciting era in baseball and I honestly can't blame him for using the drugs. The unfortunate decision for Alex Rodriguez was the continual denial of his use of the drugs. Had Rodriguez stopped using PEDs once baseball started to get serious about the situation, many fans around the league would have better understood the situation. Alex Rodriguez now faces over a year suspension that could potentially cost him a lot of money and any brand equity that he had left.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Broken News - NASCAR Leaves ESPN for NBC Sports

A lot of people love NASCAR.  A lot of people really don't understand the point of watching cars drive in circles.  No mater which end of the straightaway that you stand on, all you need to know is this: half of a NASCAR season is worth a 10-year $4.4 billion television contract.

Yes, that's right.  $440 million per year for the second half of the season's races.  That's what NBC is paying NASCAR.  The first half of the season isn't cheap either; Fox has those rights wrapped up for eight years and $2.4 billion.

However, the focus has been on the recent deal with NBC.  Amazingly, the focus isn't (or at least shouldn't) be on the incredible price tag.  Live sports rights have been ballooning for years.  We're used to that by now, I think.

The focus should be on with whom the deal was made.  Making a deal with NBC Sports Network, the same NBC Sports Network that has had well-documented issues growing since its inception, is a curious decision.  Even more curious is the fact that NASCAR is leaving ESPN to do so.

Sure, the deal allowed NASCAR to increase its media rights dollars by nearly 30-percent.  But what about the lost value in media attention.  ESPN is the chief provider of said media attention.  Why jeopardize that valuable media attention for the sake of a cash-grab?

According to Deadspin, NASCAR garnered 2.1-percent of Sportscenter's coverage last year. That places NASCAR ahead of soccer's 1.3-percent and behind the NHL's 2.7-percent.  We have watched the NHL's coverage on ESPN outlets diminish year by year since the league left ESPN for NBC.

Could NASCAR be headed down a similar path as the NHL?

Scary is that it very well could be, and it's already near the bottom.  With soccer growing, it is conceivable that NASCAR's coverage could fall and soccer's could rise.  Trending downwards coming off of record television deals is not a territory that any league wants to find themselves in.

There are still 14 Nationwide races and three Spring Cup races left in NASCAR's inventory arsenal.  Of course, third place is likely not where ESPN would like to find itself behind NBC and Fox, but a consolation prize could potentially become very important to the long-term health of NASCAR.  Keeping ESPN in the action, as little as it may be, would be the best way to begin to mitigate the potential media loss that NASCAR could face.

A saving grace for NASCAR on the media front could be the level of success that Fox Sports 1 attains.  If FS1 is able to put a chink in ESPN's overpowering armor, then the move may not end so poorly.  Also, this could be the deal that puts NBC Sports on the map, though I wouldn't hold my breath.

Simple fact is that ESPN does not need NASCAR, but NASCAR may very well need ESPN.  The calculated risk that NASCAR is taking to speed past ESPN to a new co-home at NBC Sports just does not seem to add up.  NASCAR still has a chance to keep ESPN in the picture, and they would be wise to do so in order to keep their name in the mouths of the most dominant media outlet.

The caution flag is out on NASCAR, and they would much rather see the green flag in the media than the red flag.

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Brewers Giving Back To Fans

This season has been nothing short of a disappointment for the Milwaukee Brewers. Not only have the fans had to deal with a team that is nearly twenty games under the .500 mark, but they are now dealing with the loss of their star player. Ryan Braun recently was suspended for the remainder of the season for what Major League Baseball called "violations of the Basic Agreement and its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program."

Although the Brewers have been struggling this season, fan attendance has not struggled. The Milwaukee faithful have averaged about 31,000 fans this season despite lackluster performance on the field. Brewers owner, Mark Attanasio, knew that the organization needed to do something to give back to the fans.

For the month of August, each fan that attends a game at Miller Park will receive a $10 voucher that can be used for tickets, food, beverage or merchandise. With the average attendance and twelve home games in August, the vouchers are expected to cost the Brewers organization about $3.6 million.

The cost of the voucher program is mainly offset due to Braun's suspension. With Ryan sitting out the remainder of the season without pay, the Brewers will save about $3 million that would have been owed to Braun had he been playing.

Final Thought
When I first heard of the voucher program that the Brewers were offering, I thought it was an excellent idea. Not only will the program not cost the team too much additional money, it is great for publicity. It shows that the Milwaukee Brewers organization truly cares about the fans. It will be interesting to track how well Brewers games are attended in the month of August.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Broken News - Fox Sports Must Improve Web Presence To Compete

The launch of Fox's 24/7 sports network, Fox Sports 1, is now less than a month out from its August 17th date.  Many experts believe that the new network will be the biggest competition that ESPN empire has ever faced.  Fox Sports 1 certainly has the financial backing and the upfront live sports rights to make a splash.  They have also been acquiring big name talent, especially some recognizable names to their direct competition to ESPN's Sportscenter in Fox Sports Live.

As much as Fox Sports 1 may be a viable competitor to ESPN, there is one glaring hole that Fox Sports will need to rework to become an even bigger threat.  Their website.

Powered MSN,'s clear strength is their coverage of Major League Baseball.  With respected veterans Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi on the beat, Fox Sports is to keep their name in the news-breaking mix.  A close second is their NFL coverage with highly respected NFL insider, Jay Glazer, breaking the news (aka "Sources" if you only follow ESPN coverage).

But that's just about it... The rest of  Fox Sports' beat are covered by good journalists, but not names that you will be citing to your friends as the original news-breaker when you share your daily sports musings.  Being good is never a bad thing, but if the goal is to keep up with ESPN, coverage will need to improve.

Perhaps the most glaring area that will need improvement is with their national columnists and commentary.  ESPN has both Bill Simmons (with Grantland) and Rick Reilly heading this department.  As ESPNW continues to grow, more writers will have a chance to showcase their talent.  Grantland has an impressive list of contributors with names like Zach Lowe, Brian Philips, Andy Greenwald, and my personal favorite Charles Pierce.

Fox Sports has, er, Jason Whitlock.

We all know my thoughts on Whitlock, who if anything, may be the most polarizing writer in sports.  That's worth something right?

And let's not forget the leaps and bounds that ESPN has on all of the competition including Fox Sports in terms of original content, journalism, and just straight stranglehold on the complex sports media industry.  When a new opponent enters the ring, it can be easy to overplay their hype.  Fox Sports is promising.  But is has a damn high mountain to climb if it wants to be at ESPN's level.

For now, it seems that Fox Sports' focus is on the television side with Fox Sports 1 and the preliminary talks of a Fox Sports 2.  And that's fine.  Just remember that when to comes to taking down an empire, Fox Sports has a long way to go.

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Monday, July 15, 2013

MLB All-Star Game Viewership

Tonight's MLB All-Star Game will determine which league has home field advantage for the World Series. Will this be enough of an intrigue for fans to watch? Major League Baseball sure hopes so. Mixed reactions are still felt today after the MLB decided that home field advantage would be determined via the All-Star Game starting in 2003 to make the game more competitive.

Many fans liked the idea because it was an incentive for players to "play harder." The plan was also devised to help the problem of declining television viewership. The plan initially worked in 2003. Although viewership did not rise from the previous year, it did stay the same. Major League Baseball was satisfied with this result but expected increases in the years to come.

The prevailing trend since the change when it comes to television viewership revolves around the quality of the game. If the game is interesting in score, more viewers have tuned in. Unfortunately for Major League Baseball, the 2012 All-Star Game was anything but a close game. The National League beat up on the American League 8-0. This lead to the lowest-rated and least-watched All-Star game since they started keeping track of television data.

Final Thought
Hopefully for Major League Baseball the game tonight is competitive. It is difficult to determine prior to the game how close it will be because the game features the best players in all of the sport. For the All-Star Game to be viewed more heavily, MLB had to be hoping for Yasiel Puig to be voted in by the fans. If he were to have been voted in, he would have been a major attraction to the game. It will be interesting to look at the television viewership for tonights game!