Thursday, August 9, 2007

EBTG on Hiatus

EBTG will be taking summer vacation from August 10 - 19. The weather is supposed to be beautiful this week, so I thought I'd take some time off and curl up with the NFL Network for some pre-season football.

Odds to Win the 2008 Super Bowl

I just turned on the TV, fully expecting to flip around and settle on some sort of game show featuring either Drew Carey or Jeff Foxworthy. Instead, I found pre-season football on FOX. I love the NFL, but I have a hard time watching football when its 95 degrees outside. Anyway, it got me thinking about the upcoming season, and what the odds were that my Jets would win the Super Bowl.

Here are the up to date odds to win the 2008 Super Bowl according to

Win Odds Team
5.00 New England Patriots
8.00 Indianapolis Colts
8.00 San Diego Chargers
15.00 Chicago Bears
17.00 Baltimore Ravens
17.00 Cincinnati Bengals
17.00 Dallas Cowboys
17.00 Denver Broncos
17.00 New Orleans Saints
17.00 Philadelphia Eagles
23.00 Seattle Seahawks
26.00 Carolina Panthers
26.00 Pittsburgh Steelers
34.00 Jacksonville Jaguars
41.00 New York Giants
41.00 New York Jets
41.00 San Francisco 49ers
41.00 St Louis Rams
51.00 Arizona Cardinals
51.00 Atlanta Falcons
51.00 Green Bay Packers
51.00 Miami Dolphins
51.00 Tennessee Titans
51.00 Washington Redskins
67.00 Buffalo Bills
67.00 Kansas City Chiefs
67.00 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
81.00 Minnesota Vikings
101.00 Cleveland Browns
101.00 Detroit Lions
126.00 Houston Texans
126.00 Oakland Raiders

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Bond's Elbow Armor: A Hitting Machine

Everyone knows that Barry Bond's elbow protector gives him an advantage by allowing him to lean over the plate without fear of being hit. Michael Witte of Editor and Publisher says that is not the only advantage of the armor. Witte claims that the protector is literally a "hitting machine", hinged at the elbow, that allows Bonds to release his front arm on the same plane during every swing. Witte concludes that Bonds' armor "may have contributed no fewer than 75 to 100 home runs." Unfortunately, no evidence or reasoning is provided for this conclusion, and the total of 75 to 100 home runs appears rather arbitrary to me.

As a student of baseball – and currently a mechanics consultant to a major league baseball team -- I believe I have insight into the Bonds "achievement." I have studied his swing countless times on video and examined the mechanical gear closely through photographs.

For years, sportswriters remarked that his massive "protective" gear – unequaled in all of baseball -- permits Bonds to lean over the plate without fear of being hit by a pitch. Thus situated, Bonds can handle the outside pitch (where most pitchers live) unusually well. This is unfair advantage enough, but no longer controversial. However, it is only one of at least seven (largely unexplored) advantages conferred by the apparatus.


More Evidence NHL Salaries are Just Fine

Despite the fact that NHL salaries seem to be out of control, franchises are worth more now than ever before. The NHL's salary cap has risen to $50.3-million a team, an increase of $11-million in just two years. This is bad for the owners, right? Wrong.

In a previous post, Allan Muir argued that NHL salaries are fine, and teams are now paying for how players will perform during their contract years, and not for how they performed in the past. Allan Make of The Globe and Mail now provides further evidence that Gary Bettman knows what he is doing.

It seems the only thing that is skyrocketing faster than NHL salaries, is NHL franchise values.

If you scribbled "The end is near" on a placard and paraded it outside the National Hockey League's head office in New York, some hockey people would understand why.

They've watched teams being sold in furious fashion these days. They know that Craig Leipold couldn't wait to unshackle himself from the Nashville Predators after losing $70-million (all currency U.S.) in nine years. They know that Bill Davidson has lost more than $70-million since buying the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1999.

They may even know that Alan Cohen and his partners have lost $90-million in their six-year association with the Florida Panthers, and that the Atlanta Thrashers are
looking for fresh cash. The Phoenix Coyotes, too.


NHL Salaries Out of Control or Just Fine?

Dustin Penner: five years, $21.5 million. Pavel Datsyuk: seven years, $47 million. Patrice Bergeron: five years, $23.75 million. It's easy to point to these contracts and conclude the the NHL's CBA contract is not working the way the owners had expected. However, Allan Muir argues otherwise in his piece in SI. Muir says that these salaries are just fine, and teams are finally paying for what a player will perform during his contract years, and not what they performed in years past.

from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated

I'm not sure about your neighborhood, but there have been no signs of plagues, pestilence or frogs raining down from the sky in mine. Maybe I'm just spending too much time indoors listening to talk radio or reading through my mail because going by all that, it sounds like some fans think the hockey world is rapidly heading toward end times.

In the wake of the Dustin Penner deal (five years, $21.5 million), I'm repeatedly hearing phrases like "rampant salary escalation" and "two-tier league" and "can another lockout be far off?" I haven't seen this kind of panic since the Tim Horton's at Air Canada Centre ran out of maple donuts midway through the second period.

It's time to tap on the breaks there, sports fans. The Penner signing was not the seventh sign of the impending apocalypse. In fact, we're not seeing salary escalation so much as salary re-allocation.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

TNA Announcers Reading off Script?

This sure looks like a video of TNA announcers reading off a script. Its possible that they are looking at an off-screen monitor, but it doesn't look like it. You be the judge.

NHL and Versus Each Can Opt Out of Deal

Both the NHL and Versus have options to opt out of their current rights deal, Multichannel News is reporting. Versus has already exercised an option to extend their deal through the upcoming 2007-08 season. They still have an option to extend the deal three additional years.

The NHL can also opt out of the deal at the end of this season if Versus does not meet certain subscriber benchmarks. It is not known exactly what these benchmarks are. However, Versus has increased its subscribers from 63 million in 2005, when it carried the NHL for the first time, to its current 72 million-subscriber mark.

If either party opts out of the contract, or if NBC decides not to renew after the 07-08 season, that would open the door for the NHL to return to ESPN. NBC says it is making money on their NHL contract, but the NHL has approached ESPN about securing NBC’s package. Another possibility is Versus renegotiating their deal and allowing some games to move to ESPN. The attractiveness of a renegotiation for Versus would be a lower rights fee, and cross-promotional exposure on ESPN.

from Thomas Umstead of Multichannel News

Versus can ice its National Hockey League deal after the upcoming season, a move that could allow ESPN to skate back into the pucks sport.

The Comcast-owned service has the right to end its NHL deal after the 2007-08 campaign, according to league deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who also said the hockey circuit can pull out of the deal based on whether Versus reaches certain distribution thresholds.


NBC to Offer Live Streaming Olympic in 2008

NBC will be presenting 3,600 hours of coverage of the 2008 Olympics. Interestingly, they will be offering approximately 2,200 total hours of live streaming broadband video coverage on That's 2,200 more hours we can goof off at work.

Other highlights include:

  • 3,600 HOURS: Over the 17 days of the Beijing Games (Aug. 8-24, 2008), NBC Universal will present more than 3,600 hours of coverage highlighted by NBC in primetime which will feature live swimming, gymnastics and beach volleyball, despite the 12-hour time difference from the U.S.'s eastern time zone to Beijing.
  • SURPASSES COMBINED TOTAL OF ALL PREVIOUS SUMMER OLYMPICS: The 3,600 hours is 1,000 hours more than the total coverage for every televised Summer Olympics in U.S. history. Note: Dating back nearly 50 years to CBS in Rome in 1960 (20 total hours) through NBC in Athens in 2004 (1,210 total hours), the 12 Summer Olympic Games broadcasts have totaled 2,562 hours.
  • 212 HOURS A DAY... OR 8 DAYS A DAY: NBC Universal's coverage will average nearly 212 hours per day for 17 days - more than eight days of coverage during every single day of the Olympics.
  • TRIPLES ATHENS 2004... 20-TIMES ATLANTA 1996: The more than 3,600 total hours of coverage from Beijing triples the previous record of 1,210 total hours of coverage on NBC from Athens in 2004, is 20 times more than the 171 total hours on NBC from Atlanta in 1996 and 180 times greater than the 20 total hours for the inaugural U.S. Olympic broadcast on CBS from Rome in 1960.
  • ON-AIR: NBC Universal's NBC, USA, MSNBC and CNBC will all provide coverage from Beijing with high definition coverage on NBC's HD affiliates, USA HD and Universal HD. Spanish-language Olympic coverage will be seen on NBC Universal's Telemundo.
  • ON-DEMAND: In addition to the 3,600 total hours of coverage mentioned above, also will feature approximately 3,000 hours of Highlights, Rewinds and Encores.
  • ON-THE-GO: On-the-Go (wireless) coverage will be detailed in the coming months

Fastest Growing Brands in Sports

Forbes has published a study in which they determined the fastest growing brands in sports. They calculated the brand value of the 122 teams in the NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB by adding up their revenues from sponsorships, naming rights, local media, tickets and merchandise not attributable to demographics. Since their study focused on growth rather than absolute value, that most of the teams on our list are turnaround situations.

According to Forbes, the fastest growing brands in each sport are as follows:

  • MLB: Toronto Blue Jays
  • NFL: Philadelphia Eagles
  • NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers
  • NHL: Buffalo Sabres

from Peter J. Schwartz of Forbes

There's more competition than ever before when it comes to vying for the entertainment dollar, making a powerful brand a top priority for many professional sports teams.

No American sports team has done this as well as the New York Yankees, who are worth $1.2 billion and have set themselves apart by establishing their own cable TV network and forging a $95 million partnership with German apparel maker Adidas. Parent company Yankee Global Enterprises has also reached player development and sponsorship agreements with Chinese and Japanese companies in hopes of broadening its reach.


Tiger Woods and Amex Part Ways

After a 10-year partnership, Tiger Woods and American Express have parted ways. Woods' second of two five year deals ended recently. Woods and AMEX decided not to sign another deal, thus ending the partnership. This story was reported by Sports Business Radio.

American Express will still be very much involved with golf though, as the company signed a deal with the PGA of America. Amex vice president Rich Lehrfeld told the AP that while the relationship with Woods was strong, the company's marketing strategy has shifted to become even more geared toward consumers.
"He brought a lot of value to Amex. He's an incredible athlete with an incredible work ethic, and that runs well with what our brand is all about," Lehrfeld said. "Sometimes strategies change. We wanted to move our dollars to build a broader base of consumer experiences."


Nielsen Ratings for Glavine's 300th Win

The ratings for ESPN's coverage Sunday night of Tom Glavine's 300th victory have been released. Neil Best of Newsday is reporting the game was seen in 3% of the 94 million homes with ESPN. The total estimated audience is 2.89 million households and 3.83 million viewers. It was the biggest viewership for a Sunday night game since 1998, when the Braves faced Mark McGwire and the Cardinals.

How Much is Your Favorite Sport Covered in the News?

During the month of May, over 37% of ESPN's SportsCenter was devoted to covering MLB. The NBA playoffs took up 25% of the coverage. The NHL playoffs: less than 5 percent. Even the NFL offseason received more coverage than the NHL at 7%.

Street and Smith's Sports Business Daily has put together a chart detailing how much coverage each sport received from 5 major outlets during the month of May. The five outlets are the USA Today, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, SportsCenter, and FSN's Final Score.

In another interesting comparison, coverage of Boxing exceeded that of MMA events in 4 of the 5 outlets. The only outlet that gave more coverage to MMA was FSN Final Score. Coincidentally, FSN has the television rights to the IFL.

Just How Much is A-Rod's 500th Home Run Ball Worth?

The baseball Alex Rodriguez hit for his 500th home run may be worth as much as $100,000. Rodriguez is the youngest player to ever reach this milestone, and is a certain future Hall of Famer. The Yankees media relations director so far has been unsuccessful in his negotiations to get the ball back for Alex. His first offer included memorabilia from high-profile Yankees.

If the ball is valued at $100,000, one of those Yankees better be named Ruth or Gehrig.

from Jim Baumbach and Anthony Rieber of Newsday

Walter "Sonny" Kowalczyk awoke yesterday with an interesting and lucrative question to ponder: What should he do with the valuable baseball that Alex Rodriguez hit for his 500th career home run?

The 6-4, 230-pound Rutgers graduate student, who emerged from the scrum with that ball Saturday, could keep it for his own collection. He could sell it to one of those memorabilia collectors undoubtedly waving blank checks in his face. Or he could work out a deal with the Yankees on behalf of Rodriguez.

And A-Rod has made it clear he wants that ball.


Sunday, August 5, 2007

Will MMA Lead to the Death of Boxing?

The rise in popularity of MMA is undeniable. The drop in popularity of boxing is undeniable. But are the two linked, and if so, can MMA's rise lead to the fall of boxing?

MMA leagues such as UFC, WEC, and IFL are competing with boxing for both talent and on-air exposure. And it can be argued that MMA is winning. While boxing is rarely seen on TV these days, MMA events are on all the time. The UFC is televised on Spike, WEC on Versus, and IFL on FSN. MMA is also getting coverage in daily newspapers, when just a few years ago it was only covered on the web.

Perhaps boxing's biggest challenge will be convincing young talent to join its leagues, rather than one of the MMA leagues. Boxing sorely needs a new big star along the line of Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Mike Tyson. UFC's top star, Chuck Liddell, is more recognizable than any of the boxing's four heavyweight champions, Wladimir Klitschko, Oleg Maskaev, Ruslan Chagaev, and Sultan Ibragimov.

Personally, I think that boxing and MMA can co-exist and thrive, even. But first, boxing needs to clean up the corruption that make its title fights almost impossible to take seriously.

from Robert Cassidy of Newsday

Hall of Fame trainer Angelo Dundee has a saying for times like these: "Someone always comes along."

His theory has rung true for decades. Each time boxing fell out of the mainstream, a star emerged to make the sport matter again. Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Mike Tyson and Oscar De La Hoya were all viewed as boxing saviors. They possessed that blend of talent, toughness and charisma that enthralled not only boxing fans, but casual sports fans as well.

But what about now? With De La Hoya's talent waning and his career coming to a close, from where will the next star emerge? It may not be easy. Controversy has long courted boxing and it has become increasingly harder to bounce back. To the mainstream media, it has become a niche sport. Thus, the vehicles that once allowed the aforementioned stars to rise - daily newspaper coverage and network television exposure - are scarcely available to boxing.

Yet, someone always comes along, right?


Manchested United Signs 9 Year Old

The Manchester United has signed its newest star, Rhain Davis of Australia. In case you haven't heard. Rhain is 9 years old. He was brought to the United's attention after the boy's grandfather sent the team a DVD of his play.

The club said the signing is not unusual, "Manchester United signs up to 30 boys aged nine for the under-10s of its academy in line with the rules that govern Premier League academies."

It is believed there is no truth to the rumor that the United has also signed their first fetus to play in their upcoming preemie league.

If you haven't seen Rhain's video, you have to check it out.

Tennis Match Investigated After Suspicious Wagering

Tennis has been just about the only major sport to avoid a scandal his year. Until now, that is.

ATP officials are investigating suspicious betting over No. 3 ranked Nikolay Davydenko's defeat to 87th-ranked Martin Vassallo Arguello last week. Betting on the match was 10 times the usual amount, at around $7 million. Vassallo Arguello was heavily backed, and won when Davydenko, coincidentally, left with an injury in the third set.

from The Toronto Star

Officials are investigating suspicious betting patterns in a tennis match involving top seeded Nikolay Davydenko of Russia, who retired with an injury against a low-ranked opponent at an ATP tournament in Poland.

In an unprecedented move, British online gambling company Betfair voided all bets yesterday placed on Thursday's second-round match at the Prokom Open in Sopot between the defending champion and No.4-ranked Davydenko and No.87-ranked Martin Vassallo Arguello of Argentina.

Betfair said it received about $7 million (U.S.) in bets on the match – 10 times the usual amount – and most of the money was on Arguello to win, even after Davydenko won the first set 6-2.


Friday, August 3, 2007

Lovitz Beats Dick and Bud

First Jon Lovitz beats up Andy Dick, and now he beats up Bud Selig. At least this time Lovitz only used his words.

Erin Andrews interviewed comic Jon Lovitz during last night's Giants-Dodgers game on ESPN. (Why, I have no idea.) Speaking of the Barry Bonds-steroids scandal, Lovitz said that if Selig claims that he didn't know steroids existed in the game, he is 'full of crap".

Now maybe it's just coincidence, but that's two times that Lovitz has been in the news since he signed his lifetime contract to perform every Wednesday night at the Laugh Factory. For those of you keeping score, that's two more times than he's been in the news the last ten years. It looks like the publicity machine is in full motion.

Here is what "funny"-"man" Jon Lovitz had to say about Bonds. (Thanks to Neil Best of Newsday for the transcript.)

"I think he's the best hitter ever. All this talk about steroids is a bunch of crap. About seven years ago I was talking to a major baseball player in the league and I said, 'How many players take steroids?' And he said, '40 percent.'

"I'm not saying whether he took them or not, all I'm saying is the league totally allowed it, and anyway, whether he took it or not, out of all those players, three guys hit a lot of home runs - three. So obviously that's three out of 300 taking it. That's not the difference.

"The guy's just a great hitter. How many people get that many walks? He works the pitcher. Usually the pitcher is ahead of the batter, but this guy, he's ahead of the pitcher. He's unbelievably great. He was taught by his father, Bobby Bonds. He was taught by Willie Mays. Willie Mays was maybe the greatest player ever. Now he's the greatest player ever. It was Willie Mays himself who said he could be one of the greatest ever. If you've got Willie Mays saying you could be the greatest ever if you take it seriously, that's what happened and he started taking it seriously.

"The league is complaining about it and yet, you know, attendance is way up, a lot of it because of Barry Bonds. Wherever he plays, he sells out the stadium. So it's completely hypocritical.''

"Bud Selig, if he says he didn't know, is full of crap. If he didn't know he should resign, and if he did know, he should say, 'Yeah, I allowed it, so what?' But for him to say he didn't know, how did I know seven years ago and he didn't? Hello? Thank you.''

"I think he's one of the greatest hitters ever and I think it's fantastic. I think it's a shame he's getting booed everywhere. I think it's a wonderful thing to see. It hardly ever happens. And Hank Aaron is still as great as ever and Babe Ruth still is as great as ever. It's no reflection on them at all. It's another great guy. It's fantastic. If it wasn't for Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron, those guys set the bar. Everyone shoots for that. You can't take it away.''

Michael Vick Inspires Minor League Promotion

It didn't take long before someone found a way to profit off the Michael Vick dogfighting scandal. While other companies (Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Topps, Upper Deck, Donruss) are all separating themselves from Vick, one minor league team is using Vick's dogfighting indictment to increase attendance.

The St. Paul Saints will be giving away a Michael Vick chew toy before their game on August 21. The toy will be shaped like the Falcons quarterback, clad with a black and red jersey with the number seven on his chest. The first 1,500 fans who enter the ballpark will receive the chew toy.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to charity. The key word here is "portion", meaning that the Saints will be keeping the other, presumably larger, "portion".

Thursday, August 2, 2007

ESPN and ABC Release 2007-08 NBA Schedule

ABC and ESPN released their 2007-08 NBA schedule today. The schedule features a total of 90 games, with 18 on ABC and 72 on ESPN. The NBA finals will be broadcast exclusively on ABC. Overall ABC will broadcast six NBA Sunday doubleheaders. Both ABC and ESPN will feature a flexible schedule.

ABC and ESPN will combine to present a Christmas Day tripleheader. It will open at 2pm on ABC with the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James versus the Miami Heat with Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal. The game will be followed by Phoenix and Steve Nash visiting the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant. The nightcap moves to ESPN, where the Portland Trail Blazers’ and Greg Oden face the Seattle SuperSonics’ Kevin Durant at 8 p.m.

ABC highlights:

  • 18 exclusive broadcasts;
  • a flexible schedule allowing for the best possible matchups throughout the season;
  • a Christmas Day doubleheader with Miami at Cleveland and Phoenix at the L.A. Lakers with coverage beginning at 2 p.m.;
  • a NBA Sunday regular-season schedule from Jan. 27 through April 13;
  • multiple appearances from several of the league’s top teams, including defending NBA Finals champion San Antonio and runner-up Cleveland, along with Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, L.A. Lakers, Miami and Phoenix;
  • two games between the Miami Heat, with Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal, facing the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James – Christmas Day at 2 p.m. and April 13 at 1 p.m. (both games at Cleveland);
  • Cleveland and LeBron James will host Denver and Carmelo Anthony Feb. 10 at 1 p.m. The matchup will be followed by the Lakers and Kobe Bryant visiting the Miami Heat and Shaquille O’Neal at 3:30 p.m.;
  • 2006 NBA Finals rematch with the Miami Heat hosting the Dallas Mavericks March 16 at 3:30 p.m.;
  • a Texas showdown with the San Antonio Spurs hosting the Houston Rockets and perennial

YES Network for Sale

The New York Yankees' cable network, the YES Network, is for sale, Fortune has learned. And some baseball insiders and Yankees limited partners are wondering whether the team itself might be next. This story was written by Jon Birger and Tim Arango of Fortune.

The highest-rated regional sports network in the country and the cable home of the Yankees and the NBA New Jersey Nets, YES is jointly owned by the Yankees, investment bank Goldman Sachs & Co. (Charts, Fortune 500) , and former Nets owner Ray Chambers. Goldman and Chambers would like to cash out, YES and Yankees insiders say, and one source says to expect a deal by summer's end. Some possible bidders: Cablevision, Comcast (Charts), News Corp. (Charts, Fortune 500) and Verizon (Charts, Fortune 500).

Publicly, Yankees and YES officials are noncommittal. "Absolutely not," Yankees president Randy Levine replies when asked whether YES is for sale - though not before acknowledging some "testing of the market." Gerry Cardinale, a Goldman managing director and YES board member, is more forthcoming, conceding that YES is in fact being shopped. "We're testing the waters with a limited universe of quality buyers," says Cardinale. "We would consider selling only if we receive a full and fair price."

And what might a "full and fair" price be? Try a cool $3 billion to $3.5 billion. At that price, one could argue that the true gem of the Yankees business empire isn't the team itself but YES.


Odds to Win the World Series

Now that the MLB trade deadline has passed, and rosters are mostly set, I thought this would be a good time to check out the latest odds to win the World Series. According to, the Red Sox are the clear favorites at 4.25 to 1. The Sox certainly did not hurt themselves at the deadline, adding yet another quality reliever. Rounding out the top five are the Tigers, Angels, Mets, and Indians.

I find it surprising that the Braves and Phillies, only 3.5 and 4 games behind the Mets for first place in the NL East respectively, are so far down the list. The Phillies are at 26 to 1 and the Braves 21 to 1. It should also be noted that the odds on the Braves did not change after the deadline, despite the fact that they are much improved with the addition of Teixeira.

The following is the complete list of odds from to win the World Series.

Odds Team
4.25 Boston Red Sox
7 Detroit Tigers
8 Los Angeles Angels
8 New York Mets
10 Cleveland Indians
11 New York Yankees
13 Los Angeles Dodgers
13 Milwaukee Brewers
15 Chicago Cubs
15 San Diego Padres
21 Arizona Diamondbacks
21 Atlanta Braves
21 Seattle Mariners
26 Philadelphia Phillies
67 Colorado Rockies
67 Minnesota Twins
67 St Louis Cardinals
126 Toronto Blue Jays
151 Florida Marlins
201 Oakland Athletics
501 Houston Astros

Evidence World Cup Quidditch Game was Fixed

I found this disturbing article today on Phil Birnbaum's Sabermetric Research blog. If a Quidditch game can be fixed, a World Cup Quidditch game no less, what chance does society have?

There's been a lot written about game-fixing in basketball lately, but not much about an obvious game fixing episode in World Cup Quidditch.

Quidditch is played on flying broomsticks by two opposing teams of seven players. There are two ways to score. A goal counts as 10 points, and is achieved by putting a soccer-ball sized "quaffle" through the other team's goal hoop. Meanwhile, a magical golden ball with wings, called the "snitch," flies throughout the area of play, trying to elude the players. Catching it scores 150 points, and ends the game.

In Harry Potter's fourth year at Hogwarts, the Quidditch World Cup pits Ireland against Bulgaria. Ireland takes a commanding 170-10 point lead. Then, Bulgaria's Viktor Krum catches the snitch, ending the match. Ireland wins, 170-160.

Why did Krum throw the game by catching the snitch?


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Group with Kansas City Ties to Buy Predators

The good news for Nashville Predator fans is that it appears very unlikely that their team will be moving to Hamilton. The bad news is that doors may just have opened for a move to Kansas City.

from Randy Covitz of the The Kansas City Star

A Nashville group planning to sign a letter of intent to buy the Nashville Predators today is expected to include William “Boots” Del Biaggio, who also has a contract to own an NHL team for Kansas City’s Sprint Center.

Del Biaggio could not be reached for comment today, but was in Nashville for the announcement.

The Predators have been on the market since the end of the 2006-07 season, and owner Bruce Leipold had negotiated an offer, reported to be for more than $190 million with Del Biaggio, a San Jose, Calif., businessman, after talks were suspended with Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, who had offered $220 million.


NHL talking to ESPN about replacing NBC

It's looking more and more as if NBC will not be renewing its contract with the NHL when it expires after this season. Heading into the final year of their contract, NBC is cutting costs every way it can. Instead of covering 3 regional games per week, there will be only one national game. Also reduced is the number of on air personalities, with Brett Hull, Bill Clement and Ray Ferraro gone this year. In their place, Pierre McGuire will perform double duty as both game analyst and "studio" host. Note that "studio" is in quotes, because NBC has also dropped its entire NHL studio at Rockefeller Center.

The good news is that if NBC does not renew its contract with the NHL, that will open the door for the league to go back to ESPN and ABC.

from William Houston of the Globe and Mail

The online publication SportsBusiness Journal reported this week that the NHL has started preliminary talks with ESPN about replacing NBC as a television partner in 2008-09.

In response, an NBC spokesman said it was premature to speculate on what the network will do with its 2008-09 option.

What's more, NBC will employ a flexible NHL schedule in 2007-08, from which it will pick the best matchup — a move that should push up ratings.


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tony Gwynn's Strikeout Rate

This morning a friend emailed me Tony Gwynn's career stats. He had highlighted some of his single season strikeout totals, which were ridiculously low considering the number of at bats. So I did a little research, and found this article which graphs Gwynn's strikeout rate throughout his career versus the league average.

Gwynn had a tremendously low strikeout rate throughout his career. Just as interesting, however, is what happened to the major league rate at the same time. It trended steadily up. As I’m sure you remember, these were the days of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Everyone was swinging harder, trying to hit the ball over the fence. But not Tony Gwynn. He resisted the trend and still wound up in the Hall of Fame.


Overnight Sports Nielsen TV Ratings: 07/23/2007 - 07/29/2007

Overnight Nielsen ratings for selected sporting events. One rating point equals 1% of the USA's 77 million overnight TV homes in Nielsen Media Research's 56 selected major markets. Cable rating converted to broadcast equivalent.

  1. 4.1 ESPN SUN NASCAR Allstate 400 at the Brickyard
  2. 2.2/6 FOX SAT MLB Regional action
  3. 1.7/4 NBC SUN PGA Tour Canadian Open, Final round
  4. 1.1 ABC SUN Senior British Open Final round
  5. 1.1/3 NBC SAT PGA Tour Canadian Open, Third round
  6. 0.9 ABC SAT NTRA Breeders' Cup Challenge
  7. 0.9/2 CBS SUN Tour de France
  8. 0.9 ABC SUN AFL ArenaBowl XXI
  9. 0.8/2 CBS SUN World Series of Video Games
  10. 0.8/2 NBC SAT Tennis Indianapolis Tennis Championships, Semifinal
  11. 0.7 ABC SAT Senior British Open Third round
  12. 0.6/1 NBC SUN Tennis Indianapolis Tennis Championships, Final
  13. 0.5/1 NBC SUN Championship Off Road Racing

Research: NBA Scores Consistent with Occasional Point Shaving

With the NBA point shaving scandal front and center in the news, a senior thesis paper by Jonathan Gibbs of Stanford is getting a lot of attention. In his thesis, Gibbs found that the betting line does seem to have an effect on the final margin in games with large point spreads. And if you are going to fix a game, the easiest way to do it is to make sure the heavily favored team fails to beat a large spread.

Gibbs found that teams beat the Las Vegas sportsbooks' spread almost exactly fifty percent of the time over the 16,000 games in the study (7,802 compared to 7,855). But in the games where point shaving would seem to be most likely, where the spreads were 12.5 points or more, the betting lines were not accurate.

Gibbs and others have looked just at the games where point shaving would seem to be most likely -- the games with spreads of 12.5 points or more -- and a really weird thing became clear. Suddenly the betting lines were not accurate. Favorites fell way short of the spread at a normal rate, and beat it by a long shot at a normal rate. But if the score was close to the spread -- in short, if it was a game that would be easy to shave points in the final minutes -- then the favorite fell short of the spread more often than they beat it at a significant rate.

That means that if the spread closed at, say, 13, the favorite tended to win by something like 11 or 12 more often than they won by 14 or 15."


Monday, July 30, 2007

Overnight Ratings for ArenaBowl XXI

The overnight ratings for ArenaBowl XXI, broadcast in HD on ABC Sunday afternoon, are in. The game, featuring the San Jose Sabercats versus the Columbus Destroyers, earned a .9 overnight rating. To put that in perspective, the World Series of Video Games on CBS Sunday afternoon, earned a 0.8.

NHL and ESPN Talking

Street and Smith's Sports Business Journal is reporting that the NHL and ESPN are having talks about bringing the league back to the World Wide Leader in Sports. The league may be back on ESPN, ESPN2, and ABC as soon as the 2008-09 season.

Sources also say the league is negotiating its planned NHL Network with cable and satellite operators. The NHL is taking a page from MLB by tying carriage of its planned channel with the renewal of Center Ice. The U.S. channel will have a look and feel similar to the Canadian version, and will have 50 live games in 2007-08. Most of the content will be identical to what appears in Canada, although repackaged with some U.S.-based programming.

The NHL and ESPN are in discussions about bringing the league’s games back to ESPN2 as soon as the 2008-09 season.

Multiple sources described the conversations as preliminary. The two started talking the week of July 16 when the NHL approached ESPN about NBC’s nine-game regular-season schedule, plus the playoffs. NBC holds the rights to air the coming season as part of a revenue-sharing agreement, and the network holds a one-year option for the 2008-09 season.

It’s not certain that NBC would exercise that option, given the sport’s tepid ratings on the network. Regular-season ratings on NBC averaged a 0.9 during the 2006-07 season and a 1.0 during the 2007-08 season over nine telecasts.

The key to this whole scenario is Versus, which holds cable exclusivity to all of the league’s games through 2011 and is paying the league a rights fee in excess of $70 million annually. Sources close to the Comcast-owned network, however, indicated that Versus would be willing to waive that clause, but only if it gets something in return — either a lower rights fee, a stronger schedule or a deal extension.


Poll Results: What will be the next sport dragged into the steroids scandal?

The issue of steroids in sports was all over the news in July. From Barry Bonds, to golf, to the UFC, to the Tour de France, it seemed as if not a day went by when the topic didn't come up at least once. So last week, EBTG offered an online poll, asking you, "What will be the next sport dragged into the steroids scandal?"

The people have spoken and the results are in. Oddly enough, 12% of the voters said that the Bassmaster Tournaments will be the next sport dragged into the steroids controversy. I am not sure how steroids can give you an edge here, but perhaps if the fish were given steroids all sorts of weight records would be broken.

The largest percentage of votes went to the AFL, which just celebrated ArenaBowl XXI. Personally, I find this hard to believe. If these guys were taking steroids, wouldn't they be in the NFL?

Soccer 6 (24%)
Arena Football League 10 (40%)
Lacrosse 4 (16%)
NASCAR 5 (20%)
Bowling 2 (8%)
Bassmaster Tournaments 3 (12%)

Boomer Esiason to Replace Don Imus on WFAN

Although not yet official, Newsday is reporting that Boomer Esiason will be taking over the Don Imus show on WFAN. The format of the new show is unclear. It is expected that Boomer will continue his work for CBS on their NFL studio show, as well as his show on the MSG network. However, he might have to cut back his "Monday Night Football" radio schedule.

from Neil Best at Newsday

CBS Radio and Boomer Esiason are close to an agreement to have Esiason become the morning host on WFAN, according to a person familiar with the talks, who last night said a deal is "imminent."

Esiason has been on the short list since Don Imus was fired April 13, but the situation has been muddled by Imus' legal status.

CBS Radio is expected to reach a settlement with him that would avoid litigation and allow him to leave for another station.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Strikeout Homerun

Of course, you've seen a batter strikeout and get to first base safely when the catcher drops strike three. You might even have seen a batter or two get to second when the ball is thrown past the first baseman. But I am pretty sure you've never seen a batter strikeout and come all the way around to score. While the other team is in the dugout. Well, now you have.

Online Poll: Should Sports Gambling Be Legalized?

Basketball has the Tim Donaghy point shaving scandal. Baseball had the Pete Rose and Black Sox scandals. Football had the Paul Hornung and Alex Karras scandal. College sports has suffered multiple gambling scandals. So what's the best way to prevent gambling in sports? Some say by legalizing sports betting.

By legalizing sportsbooks throughout the country, and not just in Vegas, all odds makers will be on alert whenever games look suspicious. After all, MLB already monitors baseball gambling trends to look for irregularities.

David Stern argues that, "By making it legal, you're going to encourage more people to bet." True, but as long as we know the games themselves are not corrupt, how is that a bad thing? And from the league's point of view, legalized gambling will only help falling TV ratings. The more people that have a stake in the game, the more that will watch.

Perhaps legalized sports betting is the best thing that could happen to sports leagues in the U.S.

Place your vote now, in the upper right hand corner of this page.

from Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post

The integrity of the NBA is broke. Don't worry. Somebody will fix it.

Wanna bet?

Thank you, Tim Donaghy. Do not collect your $260,000 salary as a referee with an apparent gambling itch. Proceed directly to jail, where a new uniform will be waiting. Maybe something in zebra stripes.

It took this rogue ref to blow the whistle on a harsh reality that won't go away, no matter how sternly commissioner David Stern covers his eyes.

There are two great guilty pleasures in the United States.


And gambling.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Mets Present Top Ten List on Letterman

Ten Mets presented the Top Ten list on the Late Show with David Letterman Friday night. Here are the "Things You Never Knew About the New York Mets."

10. Paul LoDuca: “Team forfeited Sunday’s game because we were all reading ‘Harry Potter.’”
9. Shawn Green: “Mets is short for metrosexuals.”
8. Carlos Delgado: “We all carry Blackberries so we can blog on the field.”
7. Jose Reyes: “During month of May, all we did was bunt.”
6. John Maine: “Proud to be in the same city as our favorite talk show host, Conan O’Brien.”
5. Aaron Heilman: “We always give 110%, except on Tuesdays, when we give 111%.”
4. Lastings Milledge: “For one season in the ‘80s, every player on the team was named Mookie.”
3. Marlon Anderson: “Our stadium nacho cheese is made with pine tar.”
2. Tom Glavine: “Blew entire budget signing David Beckham.”
1. David Wright: “We’ve really bonded since watching Oprah as a team.”

Nike, Reebok, Donruss Sack Vick

Yesterday was a bad financial day for Michael Vick, and it had nothing to do with the falling stock market. Nike, Reebok, and Donruss all took action against Vick, bowing under the pressure from animal rights organizations to stop doing business with Vick after his indictment last week for dogfighting charges.

Nike has suspended Vick's endorsement contract without pay, and Donruss has removed Vick from all future 2007 packs. In the biggest surprise, Reebok, the maker of the official NFL jerseys, will pull Vick’s jersey from shelves. A Reebok spokeswoman told the A.P. that the company had never taken this action before.

from Judy Battista of the New York Times

The groundswell against Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is about to reach his wallet.

Yesterday, Nike announced that it had suspended Vick’s endorsement contract without pay and would not sell any more Vick-branded products.

Vick, who has been indicted in federal court on charges of running a dogfighting ring, has had an endorsement deal with Nike since entering the National Football League as the first overall draft pick in 2001. While Vick’s name will all but disappear from the shoe racks, his contract has not been terminated because, a statement released by Nike said, Vick “should be afforded the same due process as any citizen in the United States.”


Friday, July 27, 2007

Clement Out as NBC Revamps NHL Studio Show

Bill Clement is out as host of NBC's revamped NHL studio show. It was previously announced that Brett Hull had also left the show to take a front office position with the Dallas Stars. This season, NBC will abandon its set at Rockefeller Center and take its studio show on the road. The show will feature Pierre McGuire and the outspoken Mike Milbury, who is essentially replacing Hull. McGuire is expected to also continue his "Behind the Glass" segments of the telecasts.

When Milbury, who previously worked at ESPN, was asked why he is returning to television, he said, "You only have to work 25 days out of the year. It's kind of like stealing money."

Are Other Sports Leagues Safe from Gambling by Officials?

In wake of the NBA referee gambling scandal, questioned other sports leagues to ask what they do to protect against gambling in their sport. In NCAA basketball, for example, all officials eligible to be selected to work the championship are subject to random, thorough background checks. Furthermore, the NCAA does not bring the referees who work the national title game into the city until the day of the game. MLB, which previously experienced both the Pete Rose and Black Sox scandals, monitors baseball gambling trends to look for irregularities.

At his televised news conference on Tuesday, NBA commissioner David Stern presented a lengthy list of safeguards the league had in place to prevent the sort of disgrace brought on in the last week by a federal investigation of suspected gambling by a referee.

The safeguards, clearly, weren't fail-safe.

"I can't believe it's happening to us," Stern said about the alleged gambling by referee Tim Donaghy on games he officiated.

Among other firewalls the NBA thought would protect it from gambling scandals are the presence in the league office of security representatives with experience in the
FBI, the Secret Service, the U.S. Army, the New York Police Department and New York State Police Investigation. The league, Stern said, maintains constant communication with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. It subjects its referees to extensive security checks, and it retains a security rep in Las Vegas to monitor unusual movements or trends on betting on NBA games in that city's legal sports books.

It wasn't enough.


AFL Nielsen TV Ratings on ESPN

from Neil Best of Newsday.

It's been five months since ESPN detonated its new Arena Football League deal with hype that included an ESPN Zone bash in Times Square attended by everyone from Jon Bon Jovi to John Elway.

With the Arena Bowl scheduled for Sunday on ABC, how has it worked out so far? The ratings suggest not so great.

The season-opening regional coverage on ABC drew 1.0 percent of all U.S. households, but 16 regular-season games on ESPN2 attracted an NHL-like 0.2 percent of the 94 million homes that have ESPN. (The playoffs have performed somewhat better.)

That is far behind the 0.8 percent of all U.S. homes the AFL averaged on NBC in its last season in '06, which itself was that network's lowest figure to date.

Leah LaPlaca, a VP for programming, said the ratings "are about what we expected them to be for this first season" and added ESPN - which owns 10 percent of the AFL - sees vast growth potential.

ESPN had better hope so.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wild Canucks Arrested after Bachelor Party

Carolina Hurricanes star Eric Staal and his younger brother Jordan, along with a number of their cousins, were arrested Saturday morning in Minnesota. They were charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process. Jordan Staal, the 18 year old rookie with the Penguins, was also charged with consumption of alcohol while under 21 years of age. The arrests came after the 20 or so men at Eric's bachelor party grew rowdy and were warned "multiple times."

Luke DeCock of the News & Observer reports,

"After leaving the property, the group gathered on Highway 61 and began harassing passing motorists," the Sheriff's office said, at which point 14 members of the group were arrested at approximately 4 a.m.

Read more…

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

SaberCats Versus Destroyers In HD! Huh?

If I were to tell you that the SaberCats were playing the Destroyers on TV this Sunday, would you have any idea of what sport I was referring to? Here's a clue, it is broadcast on ABC. Need another clue? The two teams are from San Jose and Columbus, and the game is being played in New Orleans. Give up? It's ArenaBowl XXI, the championship game of the Arena Football League, played Sunday at 3 p.m. EST.

According to ESPN, the production highlights include the following:

  • Game broadcast in High Definition on ABC HD
  • SkyCam -- overhead remote-controlled camera will provide unique aerial views
  • Cameras inside locker-rooms during pre-game and halftime
  • Players and coaches (three per team) wearing live microphones, offering in-game audio inside the huddle as plays are called and conversations with ESPN commentators;
  • Possible booth visit by Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Joey Galloway, co-owner of the Columbus Destroyers.

Wow, a possible visit from Joey Galloway! We don't want to take a chance of missing that.

Kazakhstan Rider Latest Tour de France Drug Suspect

Yawn. Another day, another sports scandal. The LA Times is reporting that yet another Tour de France cyclist, Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan, has tested positive for blood doping. As a result, Vinokourov's team, Astana, has withdrawn from the Tour.

Somewhere in the distance, Borat sheds a tear.

from Diane Pucin of the LA Times

It is as if this Tour de France is being competed in clown cars instead of on bicycles.

Tumbling out of that crazy car Tuesday came swashbuckling fan favorite Alexandre Vinokourov, the blond from Kazakhstan who had won two of the last three stages while riding bandaged and bloodied from a first-week crash.

Vinokourov had a positive test for blood doping on his first, or "A" sample, after his inspiring victory in Saturday's time trial. The story first appeared Tuesday on the website of the French sports newspaper L'Equipe and was confirmed by Tour officials at a news conference in Pau during the three-week Tour's second rest day.


Don Imus Not Returning to WFAN

Despite the persistent rumors, Don Imus will not be returning to his morning show on WFAN. Boomer Esiason is now the leading candidate to take over the morning drive slot. Insider thinking is that Boomer would be a better fit than Imus on the all-sports station. Neil Best of Newsday is reporting that Imus may show up elsewhere on radio after securing a contract settlement with CBS.

David Beckham’s Debut – Most-viewed MLS Telecast on ESPN and ESPN2

The final Nielsen ratings are in for David Beckham's MLS debut on ESPN. The game, broadcast on Saturday July 21 at 9 p.m. ET, was seen in an average of 947,000 television homes by almost 1.5 million viewers. According to Nielsen Media Research, the game was the most-viewed Major League Soccer telecast ever on ESPN or ESPN2. It was also the most-viewed and highest-rated program of the night on ad-supported cable networks among Men 18-49 and 25-54.

According to an ESPN press release:

The match beat the previous most-viewed telecast – DC United vs. San Jose Clash on April, 4, 1996 – seen in 681,000 homes (1.092 million, P2+), based on a 1.0 rating. The DC United vs. San Jose Clash was the first match in the League’s 12-year history.

David Beckham’s MLS debut also beat the most-viewed U.S. Soccer National Team match (excluding FIFA World Cup tournament) on ESPN or ESPN2. Previously, the most-viewed U.S. National Team telecast was seen in 680,000 homes (915,000, P2+) and 0.9 rating for the Oct. 3, 1997, World Cup qualifying match between Jamaica and the U.S. on ESPN.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Mike Milbury to Replace Hull on NBC

With Brett Hull leaving NBC to take a front office job with the Dallas Stars, NBC will be replacing Hull with Mike Milbury. Milbury was previously head coach, GM, head coach again, and Senior Vice President of the New York Islanders. The outspoken Milbury should be as good a replacement for Hull as NBC could have hoped to find. Milbury was outstanding in a previous stint at ESPN, which helped him land the head coaching job of the Islanders in the first place.

It is also being reported that NBC will drop it's NHL studio show, which is a shame since it's live segments on the ice at The Rock were some of the best parts of the broadcast.

Mike Milbury, in addition to ruining the Islanders through a series of ill-conceived trades, is best known for two incidents. 1) Speaking of Ziggy Pallfy's agent Paul Kraus, Milbury once said, "It's too bad he lives in the city. He's depriving some small village of a pretty good idiot." 2) In 1979, Milbury went into the stands a beat up a heckling Ranger fan with his shoe.

New San Jose Sharks Logo Revealed


The new look of Sharks Territory was unveiled at a 10 a.m. press conference by Sharks President and CEO Greg Jamison, Executive Vice President of Business Operations Malcolm Bordelon, defenseman Kyle McLaren and logo designer Terry Smith. The re-branding included the unveiling of the updated Sharks logos, the re-launch of and the re-opening of the Sharks Store.

The new San Jose Sharks Primary Crest, joined by eight supporting marks, is both a re-imagination and a tribute to the original triangle logo used since the team’s inception in 1991. The updated crest incorporates more Pacific Teal, the primary color of the Sharks, and emphasizes speed, strength and determination. Smith, the designer of the original Sharks logo, created the new marks over an 18-month period in conjunction with Sharks players and front office.


A Scandal for Every Sport

In the past few weeks, there has been a major scandal in almost every major sport. The NFL has the Michael Vick indictment, the NBA has the referee point shaving scandal, MLB has the Bonds steroids issue, the UFC lightweight champion tested positive for steroids, and the WWE is dealing with the Chris Benoit tragedy. The PGA even got into the action last week when Gary Player said that golfers are taking steroids.

The only sport that is missing a major scandal is the NHL. Oh, that's right, it was only a couple months ago that Chris Simon used his stick to try to take the head of off Ryan Hollweg of the Rangers. It's funny how quickly we forget these things.

Freddy Adu To Leave MLS

Just as the MLS gained one star player, they are losing another. The Washington Post is reporting that Adu is leaving the MLS to play in Portugal. Adu never lived up to the high expectations of becoming the first truly great American soccer player. He joined the league as a 14 year old, and was never able to handle the tremendous amount of pressure that was put on him.

Freddy was also to blame at times, often acting his age, pouting or quitting in games due to frustration. Perhaps he was too young.

Perhaps he was too young? He was 14! The MLS handled his career terribly, and is at least partly to blame for not being able to develop his talents further.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Minor League Coach Dies After Being Hit by Ball

from Teddy Kider of The New York Times

A foul ball jumped off the bat of Tino Sánchez on Sunday night in North Little Rock, Ark., then took a hard and straight path down the first-base line. At first glance, it might have seemed like a routine line drive, but the ball crashed into the head of the first-base coach Mike Coolbaugh, knocking him to the ground at Dickey-Stephens Park.

Coolbaugh, a 35-year-old coach for the Tulsa Drillers, was pronounced dead at 9:47 p.m. Central time, according to a Pulaski County Sherriff’s Office report, about an hour after he was hit and knocked unconscious.


NBA Referee Scandal: Several Suspicious Games Discussed

In his article in today's Newsday, Ken Berger discusses several examples of games officiated by Tim Donaghy that appear suspicious. Berger points to the high percentage of games officiated by Donaghy in which the point spread changed as possible evidence of tampering. Berger also notes that there were 16 games Donaghy officiated in the last two seasons in which the home team shot at least 14 more free throws than the visitors.

Of the 139 games officiated by Tim Donaghy during the past two NBA seasons, the opening point spread moved at least two points in 28 of them, or 20 percent, according to a source within the Nevada sports betting industry.

The trend, along with dramatic free-throw differentials in several of Donaghy's games, could provide important evidence to the NBA and federal authorities investigating whether the referee bet on games he officiated or furnished information to bettors as part of a possible point-shaving or game-fixing


Overnight Sports Nielsen TV Ratings: 07/16/2007 - 07/22/2007

Overnight Nielsen ratings for selected sporting events. One rating point equals 1% of the USA's 77 million overnight TV homes in Nielsen Media Research's 56 selected major markets. Cable rating converted to broadcast equivalent.

  1. 4.1/12 ABC SUN British Open Final round
  2. 2.7/8 ABC SAT British Open Third round
  3. 2.5/6 FOX SAT MLB Regional action
  4. 1.9/5 ABC SUN IRL Honda 200
  5. 1.2 ESPN SAT MLS David Beckham Debut
  6. 1.1/3 ABC SUN British Open Highlights
  7. 1.0/3 ABC SAT British Open Highlights
  8. 0.9/2 NBC SAT AVP Bud Light Long Beach Open Women's Final
  9. 0.9 NBC SUN AVP Bud Light Long Beach Open Men's Final
  10. 0.8/2 NBC SUN AST Dew Tour Right Guard Open
  11. 0.8/2 FOX SUN MotoGP Red Bull Grand Prix
  12. 0.8/2 CBS SAT NTRA Grand Slam of Grass Virginia Derby
  13. 0.7/2 CBS SAT LPGA Tour HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship Third Round
  14. 0.7/2 CBS SUN LPGA Tour HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship Final Round
  15. 0.6/2 CBS SUN Tour de France Highlights
  16. 0.6/2 NBC SAT AST Dew Tour Right Guard Open
  17. 0.5/1 CBS SUN American Le Mans Series Acura Sports Car Challenge of Mid-Ohio

Despite all of the hype surrounding David Beckham's MLS debut on ESPN, it's interesting to note that it was not the highest rated sporting event of the week. It's not surprising that it was beat by the British Open. However it was also surpassed in the ratings by both a regular season MLB game on FOX, and the IRL Honda 200 on ABC. Yes, those two events were both shown on broadcast networks, rather than cable TV. But the MLS game was heavily hyped, and shown in prime time on the popular ESPN.

Beckham's Overnight Nielsen Ratings on ESPN

David Beckham's MLS debut for the Los Angeles Galaxy earned a 1.2 overnight Nielsen rating on ESPN. The game was broadcast live on Saturday night, July 21. Beckham's first game was the highest rated MLS telecast ever on ESPN.

Why Vick’s Indictment is Good for the NFL

After reading the heinous charges against Michael Vick, my initial reaction was that this story was a nightmare for the NFL. But after considering it some more, I think it will actually be good for the NFL.

How can it be a good thing to have one of your star players accused of operating a brutal dog fighting operation? Because it will increase ratings! After all, who would not want to watch Vick’s first game of the year? There will be so many interesting components. How will the announcers handle it? Will they condemn him, or say that he is innocent until proven guilty? Will they ignore the issue completely? It will be fascinating.

It will also be interesting to see how Vick and his teammates handle the situation. Will Vick crack under the pressure? Will the mob of press be such a distraction to the team that they cannot play well? The telecast will be such a train wreck, and so fascinating on many levels, that you will have to watch. And after all, that is why the networks are paying the NFL billions of dollars – to get people to watch.

The only way the Vick situation will be bad for the NFL is if PETA and other organizations can affect the NFL’s sponsors. If they can cause sponsors to drop out of the sport, that will hit the NFL where it really hurts – the bottom line. What good are ratings, if you can’t sell the ad space?

But that won’t happen. First of all, sponsors will not leave the NFL in mass. The ratings are too high, and the NFL’s product reaches all the right demographics. And even if some sponsors do leave, so what? There will be a line of new ones to take their place.

And if you’re thinking that this whole situation will be avoided when the NFL suspends Vick, think again. They have absolutely no incentive to suspend him. For starters, the product on the field is better when Vick is playing than when he is not. Vick has to be better than any replacement, or he wouldn’t have been starting to begin with. The other reason, again, is ratings. More people will tune in to see Vick play than to see his replacement play. And the NFL can easily defend a decision to not suspend Vick. Despite the mountain of evidence against him, the NFL can always hide behind the fact that he is “innocent until proven guilty.”

So get ready for September 9. Atlanta vs. Minnesota will be must-see TV.

Serena Williams to Pose Nude

Serena Williams will be posing nude this month, along with seven other "famous faces", in Jane magazine. Actually, in this photo of Serena, we barely see her face at all. Serena is facing away from the camera, holding a flower to cover her "bootay". For a sneak preview, check out

Saturday, July 21, 2007

NBA Referee Scandal Nothing New For League

The allegations that veteran NBA referee Tim Donaghy may have shaved points in games he officiated the past two years has rocked the sport. In her column today in Newsday, Johnette Howard points out that conspiracy theories have been around the NBA for years. For example, she tells of two star players back in the 1980's who charted the point spread versus final game score for every league referee because they had some suspicions back then. Other whisperings include the so-called "frozen envelope" that Stern picked out of a bin to give the Knicks the right to draft Patrick Ewing in 1985, and rumors that Michael Jordan's father was killed by the mob because of some Jordan gambling incident gone awry.

from Johnette Howard of Newsday

Back before his own players started attacking him as racist, before his spats with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and the brawl at Auburn Hills, before the dress-code flap and the on-court behavior crackdown and the TV ratings flops for recent NBA Finals -- in short, before the NBA descended into the sort of trouble it knew when David Stern first took over a few decades ago -- Stern used to be known as the "genius" of pro sports commissioners.

Stern will need to channel the old David, the Other David, now that his league has been rocked with the darkest incident in pro basketball history -- an ongoing FBI investigation into a possibly mobbed-up referee, 13-year veteran Tim Donaghy, who may have shaved points in an unspecified number of games the past two seasons, allegedly because of gambling debts he couldn't repay.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Potential Evidence NBA Referee Bet on Games Uncovered?

NBA referee Tim Donaghy is under investigation for allegations that he bet on games he officiated. By analyzing Donaghy's profile on gambling site, Matt Watson of The FanHouse has uncovered some very interesting facts about the games Tim Donaghy officiated last year.

Donaghy officiated 74 games last year, and out of 60 referees, he ranked third in the league for officiating the most games where the final score topped the projected over/under. In addition, the home team's record against the spread in games he officiated was just 30-41-3, which ranks 52nd out of 60.
Bear in mind that by themselves, these rankings don't mean anything -- after all, someone has to rank high or low in these categories -- but it's certainly interesting that he ranks among the extremes in these categories instead of in the middle of the pack. I'm sure it'll be just a matter of time before we can point to specific calls in specific games, but astute gamblers already knew that most of the games Donaghy officiated were high-scoring affairs in which the home team lost by more than expected.

NBA Referee Under Investigation for Betting on NBA Games

NBA referee Tim Donaghy is under investigation by the FBI for allegations that he bet on games that he officiated over the past two seasons and that he made calls affecting the point spread in games, multiple sources told ESPN.

Donaghy, a 13-year veteran of the league, is aware of the investigation and resigned from the NBA recently.

The NBA issued a brief statement Friday, saying: "We have been asked by the FBI, with whom we are working closely, not to comment on this matter at this time."

According to a law enforcement official, authorities are examining whether Donaghy -- whose identity was not revealed until Friday afternoon -- made calls to affect the point spread in games on which he or associates had wagered.


UFC Lightweight Champion Tests Positive for Steroids

A day after Gary Player accused fellow golfers of taking steroids, it was announced that UFC Lightweight Champion Sean Sherk has tested positive for steroids. Sherk's opponent at UFC 73, Hermes Franca, also tested positive.

Now that Golf and MMA have been dragged into the steriods scandal, what will be the next sport to take the fall? See our poll in the right hand margin of Everything But the Game.

Nike Delays Vick's Shoe Release

After initially planning to release Michael Vick's new shoe as scheduled, Nike has now announced they will delay the debut of Air Zoom Vick V after all. Although Vick has only been indicted and not convicted, and in this country you are innocent until proven guilty, this was the right move. Nike also had endorsement deals with Kobe Bryant (accused of sexual assault) and Justin Gatlin (accused of using an anabolic agent ) and does not need the bad publicity of yet another scandal.

from Nicholas Casey of The Wall Street Journal

Nike Inc. suspended the release of a shoe endorsed by Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, the second time in about a year that the athletic-footwear giant has taken the unusual step of cracking down on one of its star endorsers after alleged misbehavior.

Mr. Vick, who has been under contract with Nike since 2001, was this week indicted on federal charges for his alleged involvement in a dogfighting ring and is scheduled for arraignment next week in Richmond, Va. The Beaverton, Ore., company won't release Mr. Vick's fifth signature shoe, the Air Zoom Vick V, which was set to be released on Aug. 23, a Nike spokesman said. Mr. Vick's four previous shoe models will remain in stores.

"Nike is concerned by the serious and highly disturbing allegations made against Michael Vick and we consider any cruelty to animals inhumane and abhorrent," the company said in a statement yesterday. Nike added that it believes Mr. Vick should be "afforded the same due process as any citizen" and hadn't yet terminated its relationship with the athlete at this time. Mr. Vick's agent, Joel Segal, didn't return a call for comment.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Gary Player Claims Golfers Taking Performance Enhancing Drungs

Gary Player, in an interview with the BBC, revealed that he knows of fellow golfers taking performance-enhancing drugs, and called for random drug testing in the sport. In fact, Player claims that two golfers told him personally that they are taking drugs to enhance their performance.

"I know for a fact that some golfers are doing it," said the South African, who won nine majors in his career.

Player goes on to say that he himself had rejected offers from doctors to take Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Player has been told that by taking HGH, he can expect to hit the ball 20 to 30 yards further.

It is now naive to think that only football players and bulky home run hitters are taking steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. If drugs are part of golf, can we assume that any sport, other than perhaps bowling, is drug free?

Nike to Release Michael Vick's New Shoe as Planned

Despite Michael Vick's recent indictment by a grand jury on charges of operating a dogfighting operation, Nike plans on going ahead and releasing his new shoe as scheduled. The Vick V shoe, which retails for $100, will go out on shelves on August 23.

When Darren Rovell of CNBC spoke to Nike chief marketing officer Jeff Hennion, he was told,

"What’s going on with Michael Vick doesn’t change our merchandising marketing plan. The shoe is obviously a small component of the overall marketing initiative with Nike."

When I first heard that Nike will be releasing Vick's shoes as scheduled, I admit I was surprised. After all, the indictment against Vick alleges that he was actually involved in the execution of dogs that did not perform well. But then I realized that, sadly, Vick's indictment will probably result in an increase in shoe sales. Sigh.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dan Patrick to Debut New Show September 9

The Sports Business Daily is reporting that Dan Patrick's new radio show, distributed by The Content Factory, will debut on September 9. The show is being offered to terrestrial, satellite, and HD radio stations. Patrick's new show will touch not only on sports, but also entertainment and politics. There is no word yet on which specific outlets will carry the show.

The Star of David Beckham

When the Los Angeles Galaxy signed David Beckham to a contract reportedly worth $250 million, they did so with the ultimate goal of increasing revenue and establishing a worldwide brand. In a matter of months, the Galaxy are on their way to achieving that goal.

To establish a worldwide brand, the first order of business was to create a new logo that would be instantly recognizable throughout the world, much like the interlocking NY of the New York Yankees. Done.

To increase revenue, the Galaxy has done everything from the obvious (increasing ticket prices) to the creative (signing new sponsors to a series of exhibition games). A big piece of the financial puzzle was selling sponsorship on the front of the team's jersey. Herbalife outbid other potential sponsors, including Citibank, with a $20 five year deal -- better than some MLS stadium-naming-rights. The deal also gave the Galaxy a chance to sell more than 75,000 jerseys to Herbalife product distributors and included a commitment to back other AEG Sports.

It will be very interesting to see if the Galaxy can recoup their investment. The Beckham publicity machine is in full motion, but hype can only get you so far. In two years, when the hype has died down, the Galaxy and MLS may find themselves back in the obscurity from which they started.

from Tripp Mickle of Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal

Alexi Lalas’ family vacation disintegrated last January. What was supposed to be a quiet week away from work in Palm Beach, Fla., turned into a week of nonstop, international phone calls and e-mails

Is it done? Lalas, president of the Los Angeles Galaxy, would ask every few hours.

We’re close, AEG Sports President Shawn Hunter would say. Still no signature.

But late on the night of Jan. 10 that all changed when Lalas got word that David Beckham had signed to play for the Galaxy. He immediately got on his computer to e-mail his staff the good news. After labeling the subject, “The Star of David,” Lalas wrote:

It’s a go. Let’s have some fun.

He hit send and felt a mix of pride and excitement as he thought about the historic significance of the signing. But those feelings quickly faded under the weight of his new responsibility.

The team had just signed the world’s most iconic soccer player to an unprecedented contract reportedly worth $250 million. It was a deal he would have to help make work not just for the Galaxy but also for all of Major League Soccer.


Spike to Pay $100 Million to Keep UFC

Multiple sources are reporting that Spike TV will renew their rights deal to continue carrying the UFC for over $100 million. According to Multichannel News, the pact will give Spike more live UFC events than the previous agreement. The deal will also allow Spike to continue running it's Ultimate Fighter reality series. Executives from Spike would not comment, and UFC executives could not be reached for comment at press time.

For those of you keeping track, that is $100 million more than Gary Bettman and the NHL received from NBC in their last rights deal.

Falcons' Vick Indicted by Grand Jury in Dogfighting Probe

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and three others were indicted on charges of operating a dogfighting operation on property owned by Vick in southeastern Virginia. If convicted, Vick could face up to six years in prison and $350,000 in fines. Purses for the fights ranged from hundreds of dollars to thousands. According to the indictment, Vick was highly involved in the operation, attended the fights, and paid off bets when his dogs lost. The indictment also alleges Vick was involved in the executions of dogs that did not perform well.

NFL star Michael Vick was indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday on charges of sponsoring a dogfighting operation so grisly the losers either died in the pit or sometimes were electrocuted, drowned, hanged or shot.
If convicted, many are calling for the same punishment for Vick.