Saturday, July 14, 2007

Sheffield: Yankees Treat Black Players Differently

Gary Sheffield no longer plays in New York, but he is still causing headaches for the Yankees. This time, Sheffield told HBO's "Real Sports" that Yankee's manager Joe Torre treats black and white players differently.

Sheffield says in the interview that Derek Jeter "ain't all the way black," referring to the fact that Jeter's father is African-American and his mother is white.

During the interview which will air Tuesday at 10pm, Sheffield goes on to tell Andrea Kremer that he did not think Torre was racist, only that he treated black and white players differently.

Isn't that the definition of a racist? I am certainly not accusing Torre of being a racist, but it sure sounds as if Sheffield is.

from By RICHARD SANDOMIR of The New York Times

Gary Sheffield, who is known for making candid and controversial comments, said in an HBO Sports interview that Yankees Manager Joe Torre treated black players differently from whites during Sheffield’s three seasons with the team.

“When I was there, the couple of blacks that was there, every one of them had an issue with the organization,” he told “Real Sports” for its July 17 program. “They had an issue with Joe Torre.”

He added, “They weren’t treated like everybody else.”

read more ...

Friday, July 13, 2007

NHL 'Ice Bowl' Game may be Played in February

It looks like NBC is thinking twice about televising an outdoor NHL game against the college football bowl games on New Year's Day. They are probably right. It would be embarrassing for the league and NBC to schedule a much-hyped outdoor game on New Year's Day, only to have the ratings show that nobody watched it. The game may now be moved to February 17, when there will not be as much sports competition.

from Rob Rossi of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Penguins and Buffalo Sabres could be played Feb. 17, 2008, rather than New Year's Day. The Penguins are scheduled to play twice in Buffalo this season, once Jan. 1 and again Feb. 17.

Each game is scheduled to be played at HSBC Arena and start at 1 p.m., but the Feb. 17 contest will be played on a Sunday -- an ideal slot for NBC to televise an outdoor game, given that major sporting competition would be limited to the NBA and college basketball.


Odds & Ends: Cubans and Blacks in Baseball

  • According to multiple sources, Mark Cuban has submitted an application to purchase the Chicago Cubs. I wonder where someone gets one of those applications.

  • Chris Isidore of CNNMoney discusses why there are so few black baseball players. Interestingly, the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros have no black players on their rosters. Isidore attributes much of the problem to two trends: 1) More players are being drafted out of college rather than high school, and 2) Teams are signing more players than ever from outside the U.S..

NFL Network Cuts Comcast Deal

In big blow to the NFL Network, their new deal with Comcast will see the fledgling network carried on a little-subscribed-to digital tier. After the NFL granted their own network a package of 8 regular season games, they had hoped to be added to basic cable. It could be worse though. They could be on Versus.

from Braodcasting & Cable

The three-year-old NFL Network has quietly cut a deal for this season with Comcast Corp., the largest U.S. cable operator, to carry its controversial package of eight live football games on terms far weaker than the league is seeking.

Meanwhile, the NFL Network will go dark on Time Warner Cable systems recently acquired from Adelphia Communications in a bankruptcy sale.The Adelphia dispute is part of a larger duel in which the No. 2 cable operator is resisting paying the NFL network's high license fee and carriage demands. Time Warner has said the NFL is looking for a 250% increase in those fees.

When the NFL Network’s new eight-game, Thursday-Saturday package kicks off on Thanksgiving, Comcast will air the games on a digital tier available to fewer than one third of its subscribers. The league has been seeking carriage on basic cable, which would be available to nearly all of the operator's 23.3 million subscribers.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Reason for Pujols All Star Benching Possibly Uncovered

Chris Russo of the Mike and the Mad Dog Show today quoted "reliable sources" as telling him that Tony LaRussa did not bat Albert Pujols in the ninth inning of the All Star Game because Pujols had already undressed. Russo did not name his sources, and the story has not been confirmed by a second independent source. I am very curious if there is footage of the dugout during the ninth inning, and if so, whether Pujols appears in it.

Dan Patrick To Launch Syndicated Radio Show

from Robert Feder at The Chicagio Sun-Times

Also on the ESPN beat, Dan Patrick, who's leaving the network after 18 years as one of its biggest stars, soon will announce his new deal: He'll continue in radio and launch a new nationally syndicated program via Chicago-based Content Factory.

read entire article ...

According to this report, Dan Patrick has already signed a deal to launch a new syndicated radio program. I haven't seen this reported anywhere else, and it has not been confirmed. I had previously speculated that Patrick might be leaving ESPN to take over the Don Imus radio show. Neil Best of Newsday is reporting that this will not be the case.

UPDATE - Read the official press release: Dan Patrick Adds ''Mo'' to ''Big Show"

Alex Rodriguez: The $30 Million Man

The New York Yankees are reportedly breaking their own team rule, and negotiating an in-season contract extension with Alex Rodriguez. As amazing as it may sound, Rodriguez may opt out of his current contract even though he has approximately three years and $81 million left on the 10-year, $252-million deal he signed with Texas before the 2001 season.

Wallace Matthews of Newsday argues that not only do the Yankees have little chance of renewing A-Rod's contract, they risk upsetting their longtime stars Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada, with whom the Yankees will not discuss new contracts until the season is over.
read article ...

Joel Sherman of The New York Post claims that even if Rodriguez does not opt out of his contract after the season, stipulations exist in his current deal that guarantee Rodriguez's salary will climb to $32 million the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

read article ...

"The Cheater's Guide to Baseball," and Bonds/Steroids Evidence?

This article is a review of Derek Zumsteg's book, "The Cheater's Guide to Baseball." Zumsteg discusses some of the more famous incidents of cheating in baseball, such as the steroid scandal, the 1919 Black Sox , Pete Rose's betting, and the Twins experiment with the Metrodome ventilation system, getting air currents to blow out when the Twins were batting, and blowing in when the opposition was at bat. Also included are lesser known tactics, such as the Indians watering down the infield when they had a a ground-ball pitcher on the mound, so that opposition balls would die in the infield.

Zumsteg quotes various sources who estimate the number of games won as a result of their cheating.

-- Lou Boudreau said "I wouldn't be surprised if [Bossard's groundskeeping] helped us win as many as ten games a year."

-- Earl Weaver argues that groundskeeping increased the Orioles' batting average by "more than 30 points."

-- Zumsteg himself argues that exceptional grounds crews "might be worth a few games a year."

-- And George Steinbrenner argued that Earl Weaver gained "eight or ten games a year" through intimidation of umpires.

Zumsteg also includes a study that he claims proves when Barry Bonds was on steroids. Phil Birnbaum of Sabermetric Research, runs his own simulations which he claims disproves Zumsteg's argument.

read article...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Breaking News: NHL "Ice Bowl" Update - Crosby's Opponent Revealed

Earlier today I wrote about the NHL planning an outdoor game on New Year's Day in 2008. According to sources, the Penguins would be the visiting team in the game, which would be hosted by either the Red Wings or Sabres.

Well, the NHL just released its 2007-2008 schedule at 2:00pm today. Taking a quick look at the games scheduled for January 1, I see that the Penguins are playing the Sabres at 1:00pm EST.

So, although this has not been officialy announced by the NHL, it looks like the 2008 New Year's Day "Ice Bowl" will feature the Penguins and Sidney Crosby versus the Buffalo Sabres on NBC.

Should the MLB All Star Game Determine World Series Home Field Advantage?

The winner of the MLB All Star Game determines which league gets home field advantage in the World Series. But if the All Star game is going to count, shoudn't it be managed that way? And should Tony LaRussa, who's team is under .500 and 7.5 games out of first place, be making the decisions that affect World Series home field advantage?

There has been a lot of debate on the topic of whether the MLB All Star Game should determine home field advantage in the World Series. Critics of this policy believe that something as potentially crucial as home field advantage in game seven of the World Series should not be determined by what is basically an exhibition game. What these critics have to keep in mind is that previously, before Bug Selig decided that the All Star game “should count”, World Series home field advantage alternated between the AL and NL every other year. At least this way, it is determined by the winner of a contest that includes the best players from both leagues.

The one change I would make to the format, is who manages the All Star Game. If the game is going to count, then it should be managed that way. Currently, the teams are managed by the skipper of the two teams that played in the World Series the previous year. The problem is that these teams may not be in contention for the World Series this year. And when that is the case, the manager does not have the proper incentive to try to win the All Star game. If your team is not going to be in the World Series anyway, then why would you care who gets the home field advantage?

Take Tony LaRussa and the Cardinals as an example. The Cardinals played in the World Series last year, so Tony LaRussa got to manage the NL squad in this year’s All Star Game. But the Cardinals are under .500 and 7.5 games out of first place at the break. So where is LaRussa’s incentive to win this game to get home field advantage for the NL?

Instead, the team should be managed by the skipper of the teams with the best record in either league as of June 15. These managers would then gave great incentive to win the game, since it could potentially give them home field advantage in game 7 come October. And if Padres manager Bud Black or Mets skipper Willie Randolph were managing this years’ NL team, do you really think Albert Pujols would have been sitting on the bench in the ninth inning while Aaron Rowand was flying out with the bases loaded to end the game?

Networks Take Bold Steps to Offer All-Access Viewing

from Michael McCarthy at USA TODAY

Over the last two nights, we've seen Fox contributor Eric Byrnes and ESPN's Kenny Mayne paddle around McCovey Cove in kayaks in search of home run balls at Major League Baseball's Home Run Derby and 78th All-Star Game from San Francisco.

In the future, ESPN would like to have one of its reporters ride along during an actual NASCAR race. NBC wants to put a cameraman in skates on the ice during NHL shootouts. It also wants to add tracking devices to horses in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes so viewers can better gauge their speed and position in the race.

The suddenly gonzo correspondents of TV sports are showing up with their mics and cameras in unexpected places. It's a smart idea. In a world of 24/7 sports coverage, networks have to provide viewers with access to areas that used to be off-limits. Or get left behind.

Sidney Crosby to Play in Outdoor NHL Game on New Year's Day

from Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The league reportedly desires at least one U.S. team involved in "Ice Bowl," which would be a spin-off to the Heritage Classic that took place in November 2003 between the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens. That game, played at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium, drew a crowd of nearly 60,000 and was played in sub-zero temperatures.

The Heritage Classic was the first NHL game played outdoors and attracted the largest live audience to watch a league contest. However, it was not televised live in the United States.


According to multiple sources, the NHL will stage an outdoor game involving Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins on New Year's Day in 2008. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that the Penguins have agreed to be the visitors in the outdoor game, which will be hosted in either Buffalo or Detroit. The game would be marketed as the "Ice Bowl", and would air on NBC on January 1, 2008 opposite college football bowl games.

Talks of a planned outdoor NHL game started last year. Those plans reportedly had the Rangers playing the Islanders in an outdoor game on New Year's Day at Yankee Stadium. Those plans never materialized, but the NHL remained interested in playing a outdoor game in 2008 to help increase the league's exposure. NBC is interested in televising the event, as it looks to add sports programming on New Year's Day after losing its college football bowl game rights.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Penguins Sign Crosby to Five-Year Extension

from Dave Molinari at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Penguins have signed center Sidney Crosby to a five-year contract extension.
The deal is worth $43.5 million, an annual salary-cap hit of $8.7 million. It will take effect in the 2008-09 season.

The contract breaks down this way:
2008-09 -- $4 million salary plus $5 million signing bonus.
2009-10 -- $9 million.
2010-22 -- $9 million.
$2011-12 -- $9 million.
2012-13 -- $7.5 million.

read more ...

NFLPA Leader Gene Upshaw’s Compensation at Least $6.7M

from Daniel Kaplan at Sports Business Journal

NFLPA Executive Director Gene Upshaw earned at least $6.7 million in compensation in the year ended Feb. 28, 2007, according to the union’s annual report filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. That amount was more than double the prior year’s pay for Upshaw, who ranks consistently as sports’ highest-paid union chief.

NFLPA Executive Director Gene Upshaw The increased compensation came as the union negotiated a player-friendly labor deal with team owners. At the same time, however, the union and the executive director personally have been undertremendous public fire from retired players on issues ranging from pensions and disability benefits to licensing income.

read more ...

The timing of this story could not be worse for Gene Upshaw and the NFLPA, which is the target of a class-action lawsuit for failing to pay benefits to retired players. According to Forbes, only 317 out of more than 10,000 eligible players are getting disability payments out of their own fund. (Read my two previous posts on this lawsuit.)

But the NFLPA apparently has the funds to pay their employees. According to the Sports Business Journal, Upshaw is the highest-paid union chief in sports. Billy Hunter, the National Basketball Players Association executive director, earned $2.1 million in the 12 months ended June 30, 2006. MLBPA boss Donald Fehr takes in $1 million salary.

Furthermore, in a recent amendment to their lawsuit, the retired NFL players allege that, “Players Inc. has ... diverted millions of dollars from Players Inc. to the NFLPA in order to support the overhead, substantial salaries and perquisites of NFLPA management and employees.”

Richard Berthelsen, the NFLPA’s general counsel, had this to say about Upshaw's salary, “If anything, he is underpaid."

The UFC: A Case Study of Why Monopolies are Bad

from WCK at 100percentinjuryrate

Mixed martial arts is a pretty rough sport. You've gotta train hard for months on end and all that hard work can vanish in one quick bloody mess.

But you get paid reasonably well if you're appearing in big events and facing top-tier competition, right? Right?

Wrong. As it turns out, most MMA fighters - even those on the pay-per-view card - get paid practically nothing for fighting in what are incredibly lucrative events, even if they win.

read more ...

On July 4, I commented on how the UFC is quickly becoming a monopoly in mixed martial arts fighting. The UFC recently purchased competitors PRIDE and WEC. While this consolidation of talent will allow fans to watch the best fighters go head to head with each other, it also gives the combatants less and less options.

UFC 73 seemed to prove this point. In the marquee matchup, Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans fought to a draw. While Ortiz earned a somewhat respectable $210,000, Evans earned only $16,000. Considering UFC brought in about $1.5 million in gate receipts and another $10 million in pay per view profits for the night, $16,000 for a headline fight is pathetic. As corrupt as boxing has become in recent years, even undercard boxers make more than this.

In another main card bout in UFC 73, Kenny Florian defeated Alvin Robinson. Florian earned $16,000 while Robinson earned a measly $3,000. Unfortunately for them, as the UFC gobbles up more and more of it's competition, these fighters have less and less options to turn to.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Spike TV Looks to Gobble Up Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest from ESPN

from Richard Sandomir at The New York Times

ESPN started carrying the Nathan’s event in 2004, and it drew 926,000 viewers. In 2005, it dipped to 860,000, but it leaped to 1.46 million last year, a level it probably reached on Wednesday.

“We’ve done other competitive eating contests,” said David Berson, an ESPN executive vice president. “But we focus on the hot dog. It’s the marquee event.” But with ESPN’s deal now expired, Spike wants to take gluttony (not entirely a male pursuit, as the M.L.E. star Sonya Thomas shows) to its male-focused network as a companion to its Ultimate Fighting Championship franchise. Spike has shown one Major League Eating event (the St. Patrick’s Day corned beef and cabbage, jalapeños and green doughnuts show from Savannah, Ga., attracted 739,000 viewers) and is scheduled to carry three more.

“We want to be known as the home of competitive eating,” said David Schwarz, a spokesman for Spike.

read entire article...

Last year the Nathans hot dog eating contest drew 1.46 million viewers, a total that was probably surpassed this year. On May 30, Anaheim's 3-2 victory over Ottawa in the opener of the Stanley Cup finals was watched in 523,000 households. Ouch.

Overnight Sports Nielsen TV Ratings: 07/02/2007 - 07/08/2007

  1. 3.2/9 NBC SUN Wimbledon final on NBC, Federer/Nadal
  2. 2.9/7 CBS SUN PGA AT&T National Final Round
  3. 2.8/8 NBC SAT Wimbledon final, V. Williams/Bartoli
  4. 2.8/7 FOX SAT MLB Angels/Yankees
  5. 2.0/5 CBA SAT PGA Tour AT&T National Third Round
  6. 1.2/3 NBC SUN U.S. Senior Open Final Round
  7. 1.1/3 NBC SAT U.S. Senior Open Third Round
  8. 1.0/1 ABC SUN IRL Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix
  9. 0.9/2 FOX SUN F1 Santander British Grand Prix
  10. 0.6/2 CBS SUN American Le Mans Series, Northeast Grand Prix

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.

Dan Patrick Announces He is Leaving ESPN

Dan Patrick has just officially announced he is leaving ESPN on August 17th. He did not elaborate on why he is leaving, or where he will be going to. He did say that he will be a "free agent", suggesting that he has not yet agreed to take another position.

The one hint Patrick dropped was that he "hopes to remain in radio." This would seem to rule out Fox Sports as a possible destination. The most likely possibilities now include Sporting News Radio and, as I previously speculated, the old Don Imus radio show on WFAN and MSNBC.

I think today's announcement supports the Don Imus theory. If Patrick was to take over the high profile Dom Imus show, his new bosses would not want him to announce it on rival ESPN radio. They would want to hold their own press conference to gain as much publicity as possible. Similarly, his current bosses at ESPN would not want him to promote his new show on ESPN radio.

Dan Patrick Leaving ESPN?: Announcement at 2:00 PM

During Dan Patrick's opening monologue on his radio show today, he said that he will be making his big announcement at 2:00PM EST. Dan, however, strongly hinted that he will be leaving ESPN. He said that while he his "happy" with his decision, he is not without "mixed feeling." I am not sure what else that could refer to, other than him leaving the network. Patrick did confirm that he did not audition for The Price is Right. (For the record, he also confirmed that he is not the father of Nicole Richie's love child.)

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Let the Dan Patrick Countdown Begin

The countdown to the "Dan Patrick leaving ESPN" announcement on his radio show tomorrow has officially begun. There are plenty of rumors going around that Patrick will announce his departure from ESPN during his Monday radio broadcast. Various rumors have him leaving ESPN for Fox Sports, Sporting News Radio, satellite radio, or even to host The Price is Right.

On July 5th, I speculated that Patrick may leave ESPN to take over the Dom Imus show on WFAN and MSNBC. Patrick is exactly what they are looking for -- a recognizable name that can talk knowledgebly and with humor about sports, news, and pop culture. But here is another possibility: Dan Patrick flees to the flegdling Versus network to immediately become their most recognizable name and host a daily SportCenter-esque show. Sound crazy? Well, actually it has been done before by Patrick's good friend Keith Olberman, who once left ESPN for Fox Sports to host his own daily sports news show. (Which was trounced by SportsCenter.)

One interesting fact, reported by Sports Business Radio, is that the ratings of Patrick's radio show trail those of ESPN's other primary radio properties, Mike & Mike in the morning and "The Herd" with Colin Cowherd.

Why Do Baseball Players Make So Much?


Baseball plays out from one end of the country to the other — from one end of the lifespan to the other. It’s a game, a sport and a pastime.

But at the highest levels, it is a $6 billion a year business where the extraordinary skill and talent of the best reaps once unimaginable rewards. The minimum wage in major league baseball is almost $400,000 more than half the players make $1 million or more. New York Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez takes in $25 million — some 500 times what a teacher or a cop or a paramedic makes.

“My wife’s a school teacher, and she works 12 hours a day, 10 months a yearand she doesn’t make a whole lot of money," baseball fan Tom Nighe told CBS News correspondent Jeff Greenfield. "And it is sort of disheartening to see a ballplayers make the kind of salary they do when a teacher doesn’t make what they really deserve.”


Why does Alex Rodriguez make 500 times what a teacher makes? The last time I checked, no one was willing to pay $100 to watch a teacher do her job for 3 hours.