Column: Deflategate a Tempest in a TeapotJanuary 25, 2015

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a tempest in a teapot is “a great commotion over an unimportant matter.” So far, that’s the best way to describe Deflategate, which is perhaps the worst word ever created. The whole did-they-or-didn’t-they – Coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady, or another member of the New England Patriots – intentionally let air out of the footballs used during the first half of the Patriots’ thrashing of the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game has already taken up more time and space than it warrants. And unfortunately, we haven’t seen the end of the soap opera yet.

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Column: NCAA Admits Defeat in Restoring Paterno WinsJanuary 19, 2015

The biggest news emanating from the recently concluded NCAA annual convention wasn’t the new rules enacted by the Big-5 Conferences, which further distances themselves from the realm of amateurism. As significant as that news was, it took a back seat to the agreement by the NCAA to restore 112 wins to the Penn State University (PSU) football team, 111 of them by legendary coach Joe Paterno. Paterno’s record reverts to its legitimate total of 409-136-3 and restores him to his rightful place as the winningest coach in major college football history.

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Column: NCAA Drug TestsJanuary 13, 2015

The short-handed Oregon Ducks lost to Ohio State 42-20 in Monday’s first ever College Football Playoff (CFP) national championship game. Two Oregon players, wide receiver Darren Carrington and running back Ayele Forde, were forced to sit out the game after failing drug tests mandated by the NCAA. Carrington tested positive for marijuana although Forde’s specific violation is unknown. The players were tested prior to the Ducks’ victory over Florida State in the CFP semifinal game the previous week. As with most things involving the NCAA, their role in the drug testing process is controversial.

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Column: College Football Like NFLJanuary 5, 2015

With the first ever Division 1 – Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) – playoff currently underway, perhaps it’s appropriate to ask the question: Is college football now just like the NFL? The answer is… yes and no. No doubt there are similarities between the two. Each strives to maximize revenues but overall the NFL has done a much better job of that than college teams. This year the NFL grossed $10 billion in revenue compared to approximately $3.2 billion by the 120 FBS teams according to the website The Business of College Sports. The figure for colleges is decidedly understated as not all schools report financial data and others don’t include revenue from all sources. Service academies and private schools are not bound by disclosure requirements. In addition, revenue used for college athletics may be intertwined with other University revenue – such as student athletic fees - and some athletic revenue, especially for football, is independent of the University.

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Column: Sports Business Stories to Watch in 2015December 29, 2014

It’s the time of year to trespass into the unknown and predict the biggest sports business stories to watch in 2015. Last year I should have played the lottery, hitting on all six predictions: The continuing saga of concussions in football and all of sports; Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s return to relevancy in NASCAR and what it meant to the sport; the O’Bannon Case; the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia; the continued expansion and cost of sports programming; and the growing backlog of worthy candidates for the Baseball Hall of Fame and its impact on the Hall’s business. There’s no way I will be as prescient this year…is there?

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Column: MiLB System Under Attack - AgainDecember 22, 2014

Major League Baseball’s Minor League system is under attack - again. In early December four former Minor League Baseball (MiLB) players filed a lawsuit claiming that MLB is in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act for conspiring to suppress MiLB salaries in a variety of ways. The suit, known as the Miranda case, follows on the heels of the Senne case filed last February. In Senne the Plaintiffs claim that MiLB players are paid less than the minimum wage in violation of the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA). MLB countered that MiLB players are seasonal workers; they are apprenticing for a job in MLB; some of the hours devoted to training are for the players’ own benefit; and the players should be classified as interns. If any of those scenarios apply, MLB may be exempt from the provisions of the FLSA.

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Column: Hall of Fame Voting Should be RevisedDecember 15, 2014

It’s the time of year when 10-year members of the Baseball Writers Association of America – some 600 at last count - elect former players to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Ballots are due by December 27 and the results will be announced on January 6. Unfortunately, the Hall’s rules limit the number of worthy candidates that get elected every year. The voting rules are both simple and complex. Candidates must receive 75% of the votes cast to gain election. Beginning this year, players will remain on the ballot for ten years, down from fifteen in prior years. However, any player receiving less than 5% of the vote falls off the ballot. Players who aren’t elected by the baseball writers may be considered by the 16-member veterans committee. Writers are allowed to vote for a maximum of ten candidates. That’s the simple part.

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Column: Five Takeaways From the Ray Rice Arbitration DecisionDecember 7, 2014

U. S. District Court Judge Barbara S. Jones’ decision to overturn Ray Rice’s indefinite suspension by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell came as no surprise to most observers. The former Baltimore Ravens’ running back won his appeal against the NFL for all the right reasons. Here are five takeaways from Judge Jones’ ruling. 1. Ray Rice wasn’t found “innocent” of committing domestic violence. The arbitration hearing was neither a civil trial to establish liability nor a criminal trial designed to determine guilt or innocence. The sole issue was whether Goodell abused the powers granted to him under the Collective Bargaining Agreement by punishing Rice twice for the same offense, first when he imposed a two-game suspension in July followed by an indefinite suspension in September. Judge Jones confirmed what Rice and everyone in his camp – his wife Janay, his attorney, the NFLPA and Baltimore Ravens’ General Manager Ozzie Newsome, all of whom were present during the initial hearing with Goodell in June - has been saying all along: Rice admitted to striking his then fiancé Janay in an Atlantic City elevator prior to the release of the incriminating video.

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Column: The Six Most Important People In Baseball HistoryDecember 1, 2014

Several websites have recently come up with a list of the twenty-five most important people in baseball history. I’ve decided to compile my own list but in the interest of space, I’m limiting myself to the top six, which complicates matters exponentially. Among the candidates are the more than 18,000 players and hundreds of managers and executives who worked in baseball. Also considered were outsiders who had an impact on the game, like union leader Marvin Miller and Dr. Frank Jobe, the surgeon who pioneered the operation known as Tommy John surgery after the first – and most famous - patient.

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Column: MLB Teams Hire Multiple GM'sNovember 24, 2014

“I am in control here.” General Alexander M. Haig, Jr. March 30, 1981 The Los Angeles Dodgers are known for fetching the highest price ever paid for a Major League Baseball franchise, at $2 billion. After going on a front office hiring spree this fall, the Dodgers laid claim to one other record and possibly a third: The highest salary ever awarded a MLB General Manager and having the most current or former General Managers in a team’s employ. First, the Dodgers kicked their incumbent GM, Ned Colletti, to the curb, creating a new position and assigning him the title of Senior Advisor to the President, Stan Kasten. During Colletti’s nine years as GM, the Dodgers made the playoffs five times. But they never played in a World Series and in sports, the bottom line is winning. Kasten could have fired Colletti but that would have been interpreted as unsentimental and crass for a team with unlimited resources.

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