Archive for the ‘Economy’ category

The New York Yankees are Good, Rich, and Lucky

August 31, 2011

This is a great article by Grant Brisbee of SB Nation regarding baseball and the luck the Yankees have had. Not to mention how much payroll leads to success in the MLB. Check it out…

The Yankees are leading MLB in payroll. Again. Silly Yankees. Don’t they know that money can’t buy championships? Of course not. Money can’t buy anything. It’s an inanimate object. It can’t even buy a bag of FunYuns if the dollar is too wrinkly.

Teams can use money to buy players, but the teams who spend a lot of money on payroll aren’t even guaranteeing wins, much less championships. Here are the twelve teams who will spend more than $100,000,000 on payroll this year: 

1. New York Yankees $201,689,030
2. Philadelphia Phillies $172,976,381
3. Boston Red Sox $161,407,476
4. Los Angeles Angels $138,998,524
5. Chicago White Sox $129,285,539
6. Chicago Cubs $125,480,664
7. New York Mets $120,147,310
8. San Francisco Giants $118,216,833
9. Minnesota Twins $112,737,000
10. Detroit Tigers $105,705,232
11. St. Louis Cardinals $105,433,572
12. Los Angeles Dodgers $103,788,990

The top three are three of the best teams in baseball, of course. But of the nine teams that follow, only one is likely to make the playoffs. The Angels have a decent chance, and the Giants technically aren’t out of it, but the teams who spent more than $100 million in 2011 had just as good of a chance at finishing under .500 as they did of making the playoffs.

One of my biggest pet peeves in baseball today is a reductive haves/have-nots discussion. That sort of thing makes baseball seem predictable, which it most certainly isn’t. Yes, the Yankees have a substantial, irrefutable advantage as the only team willing to spend $200 million. They can afford players like Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett, and when the latter started to stink, they offered to throw sacks of doubloons at Cliff Lee. The Yankees are rich, and that helps them greatly.

When people focus on what the Yankees spent this year, though, it’s irritating. Not because I’m some radical laissez-faire fetishist, but because it ignores how lucky the Yankees have been this year.

Bartolo Colon 8-9 24 21 1 1     138.2 138 65 56 17 34 116 3.63 1.24


Freddy Garcia 11-7 22 21 0       128.1 125 48 44 10 38 85 3.09 1.27


Ivan Nova 14-4 24 22 0       131.2 136 64 58 12 45 81 3.96 1.37

The Yankees have gotten 64 starts out of those three pitchers. Two of them might have been dead before this season started, I haven’t checked their Wikipedia pages yet. The Yankees entered the season with three known quantities in the starting rotation. After that, they were just hoping to patch things up until the trading deadline. And of those three known quantities, here’s how they’ve done this season:

  • One was the ace he was supposed to be
  • One has continued to pitch far below expectations
  • One completely disintegrated

It should have been a complete disaster. It should have been “Sabathia and Sabathia, and pray for Sabathia.” Instead, the Yankees found three good pitchers by putting an ad on Craigslist. Other teams spend millions internationally, in the draft, and on the market looking for pitchers like Colon, Garcia, and Nova. Like, oh, the Yankees, for one. And after all of that, the Yankees rotation is being held together ably by two minor-league deals and a semi-prospect.

Don’t let the word “luck” irritate you, Yankees fans. All sorts of credit goes to the Yankees’ scouts, coaches, and front office for correctly predicting that they could find a couple of useful players out of the group they invited to camp. But for all three of them to hit in the same season with barely a hiccup? That’s not how any pitching staffs are supposed to work, much less pitching staffs cobbled together in January.

Colon hadn’t pitched since 2009, and he hadn’t pitched a full season since 2005. Garcia hasn’t stayed healthy for a whole season since 2006, and he was merely decent when he has been healthy since then. Nova’s career strikeout rate in the minors was 6.4 — that’s a hard strikeout rate for a right-hander to thrive with in the majors, and that was his career mark in the minors. And that’s before accounting for the fact that young pitchers are all weirdos whose performances are usually impossible to predict.

Yet here the Yankees are, ready to make the playoffs again, behind a ridiculous offense and a lot of good pitching. A ton of that has to do with money (and talent evaluation), don’t get me wrong. But don’t ignore the good fortune that the Yankees have enjoyed, either.

I know what you’re thinking now: “Finally. Finally the Yankees catch a few breaks.” Yep. It’s about time.

This is perfectly argued and perfectly said. As a New Yorker and a guy who follows the Yankees, I don’t even know how they have won as many games and are even in contention for first place. I guess when you have the big bucks, there are no whammies…

The NBA expects no 2011-2012 season

August 8, 2011


Players Association executive director Billy Hunter says the 2011-12 NBA season will likely be canceled entirely because the commissioner’s negotiating leeway is in danger of being undermined by a group of hard-line owners.

“The circumstances have changed among [David Stern’s] constituency,” Hunter told a group of lawyers Wednesday, as quoted in the Baltimore Sun. “In the last six or seven years, there is a new group of owners to come in who paid a premium for their franchises, and what they’re doing is kind of holding his feet to the fire.”

Hunter told an American Bar Association conference that if he “had to bet on it”, he would wager that there will be no NBA season.

“We’re $800 million apart per year,” Hunter said Wednesday, adding, “something has to happen that both of us can use as leverage to save face.”

NBA owners and players held a formal collective bargaining session for the first high-level negotiations in a month Monday but after nearly three hours of discussions the sides emerged as far apart as they were when the day began. Stern said the sides were “at the same place” as they were when the lockout began July 1 just before the old collective bargaining agreement ran out.

Owners are seeking significant changes to the league’s salary structure, claiming $300 million in losses last season and hundreds of millions more in each year of the previous agreement, which was ratified in 2005. Players have acknowledged the losses but disputed their size, and they’ve balked at the league’s push for a hard salary cap and reduction in salaries and maximum contract lengths.

The union has encouraged players to find work rather than give in to the owners’ economic demands, with the hope that owners would offer better proposals if they see their players have other options. Hunter recently sent a memo to all players endorsing locked-out players to consider playing overseas.

Nets All-Star Deron Williams agreed to an overseas deal with Besiktas of Turkey, the only superstar with an overseas deal thus far, though some lesser players have one. Many elite players say they are keeping it as an option.

…While this is some big news, I am not surprised. This lockout is going to be ridiculous because it could be even worse than the year 1999. The NBA makes so much money and now that this news was announced I am sure more and more players are going to sign overseas to play in other countries for the season. That is depressing to hear but at the same time it means that college basketball will be the most loved sport this winter and I think that is going to be a lot of fun because they won’t talk about contracts or money but play for the name on their shirt. I am excited to watch that style of basketball than one that cares about money more than success. Let’s see how far this goes…

VCU Rams basketball plans to increase student fees next season

May 26, 2011


Virginia Commonwealth University plans to increase student fees so it can give $733,000 more to the basketball program, including for coaches’ raises.

Head coach Shaka Smart was given a $1.2 million contract after taking the Rams to the NCAA Final Four this past season.

According to VCU’s budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, the school plans to increase its mandatory university fee by $50 per student to raise about $11 million for intercollegiate athletics, an $875,000 increase.

VCU figures show that 37 percent of the $1,637 per-student university fee for 2011-12 will go toward intercollegiate athletics. That includes salaries, scholarships, and sports-facility repairs.

Spokeswoman Pam Lepley said Tuesday that private donations and ticket revenue, along with the university fee allocation, fund VCU athletics programs.

This is smart for the VCU basketball program, excuse my pun. However, should money be spent on athletics in the NCAA? And, should the students be responsible for providing salaries for coaches and programs? Economists keeps saying that no one has money to spend in the United States but we are spending money on athletics left and right. I have spoken to a few studnets from VCU and they like that the program is going to get more recognition from their Final Four run but they don’t think it is worth the extra money. Honestly,  I agree with them…

…I go to a college basketball school in Marquette and I will say that they are very dedicated to spending money on the team. When I was there as a freshman, season tickets were $75 a student and that wasn’t a bad price. Now over the last two years, they have been raised to $100. It is worth it because our team is always very good and we play in the Bradley Center, an NBA arena. However, besides the Wisconsin matchup and the Big East games we had to see the likes of Prairie View A&M and Centenary. Is it worth all that money? Some students say yes and some say no. I love college basketball and would spend the money for the games but some don’t believe their money should go to athletics. It’s a big debate around the college sports world. Would you spend the money? Isn’t it all about education…

What are the average players in the NFL doing with their life?

April 20, 2011


You might be thinking: I’m on the owners’ side in this lockout mess because NFL players are all spoiled, hat-backward millionaires who will no more miss a year’s salary than they’ll miss their eighth Lexus.

OK, but maybe you should meet …

Brian Schaefering, Cleveland Browns defensive lineman.

He has a wife, three kids — all 8 and under — and a rented house. He doesn’t have a shoe deal or a Lloyd’s of London policy or a super agent willing to float him till this is over.

Yeah, he’s got a safety net — himself.

“I’ll do anything,” says Schaefering, 27. “If I have to work for UPS, I will. I got a family to feed. I’ve paved roads, fixed roofs, done landscaping. I’m not better’n anybody else. I don’t want any handouts. I’d be happy with $12 an hour if I could get it.”

You hear anything about Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wanting to run a road paver lately?

“The problem is,” Schaefering says, “who wants to hire a guy who may have to pack up and leave [for the NFL] a month or two into it?”

So Schaefering and his wife are cutting back. They slashed their cable and cell phone bills and chopped their weekly date nights considerably. They used to get a babysitter, then catch dinner and a movie. “Now, it’s put the kids to bed and slap in a DVD.”

You might be thinking: What the hell has he done with his money he has made so far in the NFL?

Well, he went undrafted in 2008, barely made the practice squad in ’09 and finally started nine games for the Browns last season, making $395,000. He says he netted just over $200,000 after taxes. And he had plenty of bills to pay going into last year.

“I hear people joking around about this thing, but it’s no joke,” he says. “If this goes into the season, my wife might start panicking a little.”

You might be thinking: What about these $60,000 checks that went out this week to the players from the NFLPA’s lockout war chest? That should pay for a few babysitters, right?

True, but maybe you should meet …

… former Air Force star Chad Hall, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver.

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America)

Hall, 24, isn’t getting any $60,000. Since transforming himself from an F-16 mechanic into a modern-day “Invincible” with the Eagles, 5-foot-8 Hall hasn’t exactly hit the Lotto. He was on the team for only 11 games, so he got the minimum salary, prorated. The most he’ll get from the lockout fund is “about $10,000,” he says.

Now, he’s training friends’ kids for whatever they want to pay him — “I don’t really charge a set fee” — and trying to open a wings restaurant in Atlanta with his sister’s boyfriend, Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford.

“If we don’t have a season, I’ll be waiting tables and bartending there,” he says. “Plus, my uncle says he has a plumbing job for me. Pays $15 an hour, so that’s not bad.”

You think Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen will be asking “BBQ or teriyaki?” anytime soon?

You might be thinking: I’m supposed to feel sorry for these guys? At least they had a year of making $400,000. Try making $40,000!”

I guess so, but maybe you should meet …

… University of Wisconsin All-American lineman John Moffitt.

(Matt Fleming/2009)

Moffitt is a projected early- to middle-round draft choice, a can’t-miss NFL starter who “will make plenty of Pro Bowls once he’s signed,” says his agent, Mike George.

The problem is, what if he never gets signed?

“I saw some Girl Scouts selling cookies the other day,” Moffitt says. “Maybe I could try that?”

Moffitt’s got no job and no endorsement deals — “Nobody wants to see my face on anything,” he says — and “my parents stopped sending my allowance.” So George is paying for training and living expenses until something breaks.

After that?

“Well, my dad paints houses in Guilford, Conn.,” he says. “I think he’d maybe take me on doing that. But it’s kind of hard right now. I hope it doesn’t come to that.”

You hear anything about any NFL owners hitting up their dads lately?

Plus, staying in top physical shape is a full-time job. “It’s not like they can do that and work at Macy’s at the same time,” George says.

They might have to. Eagles lineman Winston Justice has opened a coffee shop. Teammate Owen Schmitt might student teach. Browns backup WR Rod Windsor is playing for the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League, where some players are making as little as $400 per game. That barely covers the Advil.

And then there’s this: recently reported that an estimated 180 NFL players might have signed for “lockout loans,” at rates that can climb over 30 percent upon default, to make ends meet.

Not just dumb, desperate.

You might be thinking: So throw these guys a freaking telethon! I don’t care. Tell them to stop bitching. The rest of us have real jobs!

I guess. But remember, the players aren’t the ones bitching. Among the four big pro sports in this country, these guys picked the one that pays the least money, lasts the fewest years and wrecks the most bodies. They’re fine with that.

It’s the owners who have taken the football and gone home. It’s the owners who want a billion dollars back from the deal they have now. It’s the owners who want two more games from the players for nothing. And not a single owner is contemplating roofing at $12 an hour.

So, if you’re still thinking you’re on the owners’ side in this?

Then you’re not thinking at all.

This is the most interesting thing I have read all week because it speaks about how much the NFL Labor union is going to affect the younger, no name players in the NFL. Just because you play in any sport doesn’t make you a multi-million dollar player and I think that conception of fans needs to change. There are so many players who have off-season jobs coaching, teaching, and working in shopping stores just to make money to provide for their family. It’s just sad to see this happening because you have players like Matt Stafford and Jamarcus Russell who are making bank and have only played 2 years in the league. These other guys are playing their hearts out and won’t make the money they have until their 5th or 6th season. So in the end, this article is to prove to the American population that not everyone in football makes the big bucks and a lot of the players are struggling to make money and support their families in this time of struggle around America. Hopefully this lockout doesn’t last any longer…

Fear the Deer??? Maybe not in such a small market

April 9, 2011

Via ESPN’s J.A. Adande:

When John Hammond really gets going he talks as rapidly as an auctioneer. He’s at the podium and he’s cranked up right now. What he’s selling is the concept of the Milwaukee Bucks.

“We still like our team,” the Bucks’ general manager tells a group of season-ticket holders before a game at the Bradley Center. It’s been a season filled with injuries, yet Hammond continues to find reason to believe. The more he talks, the more animated he gets.

He starts describing how effective Corey Maggette is on isolation plays, then he drops into triple-threat position and imitates Maggette’s jab step.

Hammond’s a salesman, all right, but he’s also an honest man. He tells the truth about his product.

“We’re not built around a star, per se,” he says.

In other words, the Bucks aren’t championship contenders. Because in the NBA, championship teams are built around stars. And does anyone believe a marquee free agent will ever come to Milwaukee?

“I think it is feasible,” Hammond says in an interview later. “But more than likely, it’s probably going to come to us through the draft. Maybe we make a right move and hit the jackpot. It could maybe come through a trade … probably — honestly and realistically — less likely through free agency. But why not through the draft?”

It’s what they cling to, hoping that the draft can deliver once again the way it did in 1969, when the No. 1 overall pick brought them Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor) fresh out of his dominant tour at UCLA. (The same draft also netted Bobby Dandridge, who went on to become a four-time All-Star.)

But the Abdul-Jabbar saga in Milwaukee is bittersweet. Yes, he commenced his run to the NBA all-time scoring record by averaging 28.8 points per game in his rookie season and won the league’s Most Valuable Player award three times with the Bucks. When Oscar Robertson arrived in a trade the next year they went on to win the championship. But Abdul-Jabbar also created the template for the migration of superstars from small markets. In 1975 he wanted to be in a bigger city, a more diverse city, a coastal city. He forced a trade that sent him to the Los Angeles Lakers.

There are some mitigating factors. It didn’t drag out as long or as publicly as Carmelo Anthony‘s longing for a trade to New York. Abdul-Jabbar’s departure didn’t create as much lingering resentment as LeBron James leaving Cleveland.

“While it was painful at the time, in retrospect what I remember is the class and integrity that both the franchise and Kareem showed in arriving at a solution,” said Bucks vice president of business operations John Steinmiller, who has worked for the team in various capacities for 40 years.

And you won’t hear any anti-Kareem sentiment from longtime fan Doug Dorrow.

“He gave us a championship,” Dorrow said. “He got us to the Finals in 1974. We could’ve won that one, too. We were there for like five or six years with that guy.”

And while they never quite got “there” again, at least the players the Bucks received in the trade (Brian Winters, Elmore Smith and draft picks Dave Meyers and Junior Bridgeman) helped them stay on a tier just below the Celtics and 76ers in the Eastern Conference during the early 1980s.

But Abdul-Jabbar stays with the franchise as the standard of excellence and the example of exodus. None of the three subsequent No. 1 overall picks the Bucks have drafted — Kent Benson, Glenn Robinson and Andrew Bogut — produced at a Hall of Fame level from the outset. And if they do land another player as transcendent as Abdul-Jabbar there’s a nagging doubt that they can keep him.

“Milwaukee isn’t No. 1 on a lot of guys’ hit parades, OK?” Dorrow said.

“Maybe if a great player that we trade [for] comes in, we get him, he plays a couple of years here, but he’s from New York or the Philly area …

Dorrow shrugged, and offered a few understanding words.

“Heck, I came home after college,” he said. “It’s not for everybody.”

Believe it or not, Abdul-Jabbar also serves as an example for my belief that small markets should have the ability to overpay players. The only reason Kareem came to Milwaukee in the first place was because of money. He was also drafted by the New York Nets of the ABA, and the thought of playing within sight of the Manhattan skyline he grew up in appealed to him. But, surprisingly for an upstart league trying to snare talent from the established league, the Nets came in with a low offer, so Abdul-Jabbar chose the Bucks’ higher salary.

Now where’s the money going to come from? The Bucks remain at the absolute bottom of Forbes’ NBA franchise valuations, worth $258 million with annual revenues of $92 million, according to the magazine.

The Bucks’ arena, the Bradley Center, opened in 1988 — before the colossal, luxury-suite-laden modern NBA buildings. Steinmiller calls it a “middle-aged star.”

 “The bone structure’s fantastic,” he said. “But the revenue streams have changed.”

There’s no momentum for a new building, and Steinmiller isn’t waiting on another $90 million private donation similar to the one the state received from the Bradley family.

Steinmiller and Hammond cite the team’s high payroll (10th in the NBA at $69.7 million), despite its limited income, as evidence that owner Herb Kohl is committed to putting a winning team on the court. They’ll have payroll flexibility next year when Michael Redd‘s $18 million salary comes off their books. Hammond said he can get authorization to pay someone “an extraordinary number” if warranted. But who would take it?

“They’re never going to get a LeBron,” Bucks fan Joe Neuberger said. “Dwyane Wade went to school in town [at Marquette] and they’re never going to get him back. The one guy you’d think you’d have a chance at and you’re never going to get him back.”

Some teams merely have to wait for one of those players to arrive. Most, like Milwaukee, have to hope.

The harsh reality is, “They don’t have a shot to compete year-in and year-out,” Neuberger said. “In a given year they have a shot to compete, but not year in, year out.”

He hopes they can make a run once every three or four years.

“It turns out to be once every nine or 10 years,” he said.

Indeed, it’s been 10 seasons since the Bucks last made the Eastern Conference finals, and lost a Game 7 to the 76ers when Ray Allen‘s shot missed. Since then the Bucks haven’t advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs.

So why does Neuberger keep his season tickets? His kids love coming to the games. He still enjoys the athleticism of the NBA. And let’s face it …

“You’re in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,” Neuberger said. “You’re in the middle of winter. You come here on a Saturday night. Not a lot of options. I think that’s why people come here.”

And it doesn’t take a championship contender to get them in the building. That’s actually a hidden advantage to playing in a smaller market. In Los Angeles, the Lakers need to compete for a championship every year or they’ll quickly become an afterthought, no longer in favor with the in crowd.

“I think Milwaukee’s such a blue-collar town that they just want to see good, hard work,” season-ticket holder Dorrow said. “Trying all the time. Not giving up. If we get a 50-win season, man, we’re happy. We don’t need a championship; that’s icing on the cake for us. We just need a good, strong, competitive group that might stick around three-four years that we can relate to, that we can bond to.”

The Bucks turned last season’s playoff appearance into a 90 percent season-ticket renewal rate, in addition to about 2,000 new ticket packages, good enough to earn a commendation from the league. The Bucks are 22nd in attendance this season, averaging 15,303. You can still find large blocks of empty seats in the arena on a typical night. Most of the crowd’s enthusiasm comes from a rooting group Bogut started and funded known as Squad 6. Their cheers and taunts reverberate through the arena.

The Bucks try their best to involve and reward their fans. One promotion tries to turn the chilly weather into a benefit and sells selected tickets to an upcoming game based on the current temperature. On this night the chilly 16 degrees means $16 seats. Another promotion seems to summarize the plight of the team even as it attempts to create interest in the team. The winner of a contest gets a chance to see a Bucks game … in New York.

I feel bad for the Milwaukee Bucks. They are trying so hard to be competitive and win games for the present instead of the future or three years down the road. They locked up John Salmons last off-season and they were scared of losing Michael Redd back in the day, so they locked him up too and it has hurt them. Milwaukee Fans have to think, “Where is Brandon Jennings going after his contract is up?” Well let me just say that it is not Milwaukee. He is going to want to go to a bigger market with a better city and a better basketball team. You rarely see the Reggie Miller’s of the world or even the Durant’s of the world because they want to make superstar teams or try to make more money in a better town. That is why I respect those guys tremendously for their effort and love of the game of basketball and not the business that is the  NBA. Everyone knows that it is a big business and if the Bucks can’t even sell out a few games a season, then it is hard to keep your franchise competitive. I think the Milwaukee Bucks will be fine but I look more to the teams like the Charlotte Bobcats, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Minnesota Timberwolves of the world.  In the end, this gives every fan a reason to cheer on the small markets. They are not superstars, just a bunch of scrappy players playing to win championships not check books…

New York Knicks beat out Lakers as NBA’s Most Valuable Franchise

January 30, 2011

Via ESPN and AP:

The New York Knicks have overtaken the Los Angeles Lakers as the NBA’s most valuable franchise, and 17 of the 30 teams are estimated to have lost money last season, according to Forbes.

The Knicks’ value rose 12 percent from $586 million to $655 million, the magazine said Wednesday in its annual evaluation. The rise was attributed to increased ticket sales and sponsorships at Madison Square Garden.

The Lakers went up 6 percent from $607 million to $643 million.

Chicago was third at $511 million, followed by Boston ($452 million), Houston ($443 million) and Dallas ($438 million).

After signing LeBron James, the Miami Heat had the biggest percentage rise, a 17 percent increase to $425 million, good for seventh place. Following the loss of James, Cleveland dropped a league-high 26 percent to $355 million.

The average value of a franchise increased 1 percent to $369 million, down from $379 million two years ago.

Forbes estimated teams averaged $6.1 million in operating income. It said the total of teams that lost money is the most since the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season.

Can you believe the numbers on this page? 600, 500, 400 million. That’s not too much. It’s just a MILLION dollars. I love sports, which is why I want to make a living out of it but I don’t think an NBA organization should be worth that much. Are you serious? Do you know how many people are unemployed? How many are starving and are sick? Does basketball mean this much to be worth this kind of money? These are the questions I ask myself when reading the article and the numbers. I finally understand and realize how much money and greed has taken sports over the edge. I understand the NBA has NBA cares and they are trying to do good things for the people but when I was reading this article I was imagining Amare Stoudemire flying in for a slam dunk over millions of American citizens…

Car salesman fired in Illinois because of Packers tie

January 25, 2011

OAK LAWN, Ill. — A car salesman in suburban Chicago has been fired for refusing to remove a Green Bay Packers tie that he wore to work the day after the Packers beat the Chicago Bears to advance to the Super Bowl.

John Stone says he wore the Packers tie to work Monday at Webb Chevrolet in Oak Lawn to honor his late grandmother, who was a big Green Bay fan.

The sentimental gesture did not impress his boss, Jerry Roberts.

Roberts says the dealership has done promotions involving the Bears and he was afraid the tie could alienate the team’s fans and make it harder to sell cars.

Roberts adds that Stone was offered five chances to take off the tie but he refused.

Wow! Bears fans are taking this one game and blowing it out of proportion. I went to my internship at CBS 58 and even they were all mad at each other. One of the women I work with who is a Packers fan couldn’t sleep over at her boyfriend’s house because he was a Bears fan and they lost. She didn’t even rub it in about them going to the Super Bowl. Now people are getting fired for it? It’s one thing to be mad, but it’s another to fire a person from a job in a bad economy for a tie. This is ridiculous…