Column: Knicks Most Valuable & Most Dysfunctional NBA TeamFebruary 23, 2017

The New York Knicks are the most valuable team in the NBA, worth $3.3 billion according to Forbes’ latest estimate. They’re also the most dysfunctional team in the league, if not all of professional sports. Most dysfunctional is a difficult low bar to reach, considering that the competition includes MLB’s Miami Marlins and the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. While other teams have given the Knicks a run for their dubious title over the years, New York has earned its reputation as the team at the bottom of the heap. The Knicks are a bumbling, incompetent franchise. They have gone nowhere for the better part of two decades – only one playoff series victory in 17 years – and are heading nowhere but down in the foreseeable future. The team lost 50 games last year and has a good chance of duplicating that inglorious record this year having lost 24 of their last 33 games prior to the All-Star Game.

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Column: MLB Serves Up... SoftballFebruary 16, 2017

As owner of the Kansas City/Oakland Athletics from 1960-80, Charles O. Finley had more creative ideas than all his fellow owners combined. He outfitted his teams in colorful uniforms and tried to convince his fellow owners to adopt orange baseballs and bases. Finley was roundly criticized by fans, media and players for confusing baseball with softball. Decades later, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is impersonating Finley. In an effort to speed up the game and save pitchers’ arms, MLB plans to test a rule change this season in the Minors that would place a runner on second base at the start of each extra inning. Different rules for extra innings are not without precedent. A similar rule has been used in international baseball for nearly a decade and will be implemented in the World Baseball Classic this spring. Putting a runner on second for extra innings has also been used in softball.

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Column: Cyber-attacks Exist In Sports TooFebruary 9, 2017

Cyber-attacks have become all too common in the United States. Millions of Americans have been victims of identity theft after their personal information was accessed. The most frequent targets of criminals are databases of financial institutions, hospitals and retail outlets, although Ashley Madison also comes to mind. Unfortunately, the sports world is not immune from such illegal activity. Last week MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred issued a decision in a hacking case involving the St. Louis Cardinals and the Houston Astros. St. Louis was ordered to forfeit two second round draft picks in this year’s draft, numbers 56 and 75 overall and pay $2 million to the Astros.

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Column: NFL Parity Is A MythFebruary 2, 2017

The NFL loves to portray itself as the league with the most parity. On any given Sunday – which in reality is now Monday, Thursday and, depending on the time of the year, Saturday – any team can win. Of course, that’s true. Upsets in sports have existed as long sports itself which dates back to at least ancient Greece. But cream always rises to the top. In the NFL, that means the teams that end up in the playoffs year after year have familiar names: New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Green Bay Packers. Are there commonalities among the three teams that other teams should emulate? You bet there are.

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Column: Hall of Fame Voting Falls ShortJanuary 26, 2017

The highly anticipated and always controversial voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame is in the books for another year. Members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) elected three players – Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Pudge Rodriguez – for enshrinement in the Hall’s plaque room. But it’s who wasn’t elected that drew the most attention. Barry Bonds, the greatest hitter of his generation and arguably the third greatest hitter of all time behind only Babe Ruth and Ted Williams, remains on the outside looking in. Ditto for Roger Clemens, winner of seven Cy Young awards and perhaps the greatest pitcher of all time. While both men increased their vote total substantially in their fifth year on the ballot, they still fell 20 points shy of the 75% required for election to the Hall. With five years remaining on the ballot, unless the Hall’s Board of Directors or MLB change the rules of eligibility to exclude them, it is expected that both players will take their rightful place among the all-time greats in Cooperstown.

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Column: Chargers Flee San Diego For LaLa LandJanuary 19, 2017

The lessons I learned from my grandfather have stuck with me. One in particular came to mind when I read the announcement by San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos that the team would dessert a loyal fan base in San Diego for Los Angeles. Maine was once home to a number of smelly, toxic-spewing paper mills. One day as my grandfather and I were traveling through a mill town I made an unflattering comment about the putrid stench. My grandfather opined that the workers in the mill were able to support their families with their hard-earned paychecks and to them, the money didn’t smell. He counseled me that money is money, regardless of where it comes from, a fact that also applies to the Chargers’ move.

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Column: The Dangers of Specialization in Youth SportsJanuary 12, 2017

In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell suggested that 10,000 hours of quality training in a specific discipline could, in most cases, turn anyone into an expert, even an elite level athlete. Unfortunately, a number of coaches and parents too eagerly embrace Gladwell’s theory when it comes to youth sports. Most of us recognize the many potential benefits of participating in sports at a young age. Sports give kids the opportunity to enhance self-esteem, socialize with their peers, learn discipline and improve their health and fitness. The latter benefit is more important today than it’s ever been, given the sedate nature of today’s lifestyle.

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Column: Some Key Sports Business Stories In 2016January 5, 2017

This is the time of year when I offer my predictions for the biggest sports business stories of the next 12 months. I’m happy to say I’ve had my share of winners over the years – one notable exception being the Red Sox would not finish last in their division two years in a row! Although I did bat 1,000 last year, there were a number of important stories that were either omitted due to space limitations or I flat-out missed. In a reversal of form, instead of looking ahead, let’s look back at some of the 2016 stories I overlooked.

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Column: Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria About To Cash InDecember 29, 2016

Move over Ozzie and Daniel Silna. The brothers parlayed a $1 million investment in an American Basketball Association team in 1974 into an estimated $800 million return from NBA television rights over a period of 40 years. That deal is considered by many to be the greatest sports investment of all time. Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is about to trump that. In 1999, Loria, an art dealer who was educated at Yale and Columbia, purchased a 24 percent stake in the Montreal Expos for a mere $12 million investment, also becoming the team’s managing general partner. At the time, Loria was viewed by the locals as the savior of baseball in Montreal. Little did they know that he was really a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Loria quickly proved to be a deft opportunist and a master at taking advantage of fortuitous circumstances.

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Column: Vegas Golden Knights Not So GoldenDecember 22, 2016

One of the most ballyhooed – and important - events in the birth of a sport franchise is the public unveiling of a team’s name and logo. The adage, “you only get one opportunity to make a great first impression” applies. Unfortunately, the Las Vegas expansion franchise in the National Hockey League (NHL) couldn’t have bungled that opportunity more if they had tried. On November 22, Bill Foley, the owner of the team, unveiled the nickname and logo to a group of media, fans and dignitaries. To say the name “Golden Knights” received a lukewarm reception would be an understatement. Sin City’s first Major League team in any sport made no effort to identify with the locals. The name has absolutely no connection to Las Vegas. In addition, the name is hardly unique. The U.S. Army quickly expressed concern based on their use of the name for their Parachute Team.

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