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.