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.