A couple thousand years ago, Julius Caesar victoriously returned to Rome after his conquest of Gaul. Last weekend I returned to my keyboard from a river cruise in southern France. Caesar used his trip to set himself up as Emperor of Rome. I used my trip to celebrate my 50th wedding anniversary with my long-suffering wife. You have to look very carefully to see any real parallels there…
Lots of stuff happened while I was gone and I really did not pay that much attention until I got home last weekend. But I did notice that the American League won the All-Star Game meaning the AL champ will have home field advantage in the World Series. For the first time that I can remember, it might actually be appropriate. It has never made much sense to me use the All-Star Game in this way. However, this year might find the Royals in the World Series again and two of the Royals’ players hit home runs in the All-Star Game to provide the margin of victory. At least for once, the outcome of the All-Star Game can possibly have direct ties to some sort of accomplishment by members of the team in the World Series. As of this moment, I am rooting for the KC Royals to make it to the World Series for that reason alone.
[Aside: Do not take the above to mean that I think Bud Selig did a smart thing or a useful thing linking the All-Star Game outcome to the World Series. I have said that was a dumb move since the day it was announced. However, this year I can root for a serendipitous ending to the AL season by having the Royals in the World Series – and then go back to saying this is a moronic linkage.]
I also noticed – thanks to an e-mail from a reader with a link in it – that Dwayne Wade expressed feelings of remorse about having to leave Miami to sign with the Chicago Bulls because of the “business aspects” of the game. It seems that the Heat offered him 2 years and $40M to play in Miami at age 35 but “business aspects” demanded that he take the Bulls’ offer of $43M for 2 years. At least he did not sink to Latrell Spreewell levels and declare that he had a family to feed as a way to denigrate the Miami offer.
At the same time, Tim Duncan retired from the San Antonio Spurs in a most understated way for a player who will surely go into the Hall of Fame down the road. His retirement announcement is perfectly in character for him. If you listed all of the adjectives in the English language in order of relevance to Tim Duncan’s demeanor and carriage over the past 20 years, I think it would take you a week to get down to “flamboyant” on that list. He is the most understated superstar I can recall in the NBA since the league started marketing its stars.
NBA Commish, Adam Silver, expressed some concerns/reservations about the trend to form “super-teams” in the NBA. The league had a “super-team” in Golden State last year until the NBA Finals and that season produced the biggest TV ratings ever. At first, some may think that the Commish is out of touch. I think over the long haul he has reason to be concerned.
There are 30 teams in the NBA. I am certain that there are die-hard fanboys in every one of those cities who are convinced that their guys have what it takes to be NBA Champs next season. Those fanboys are living in a delusion…
Absent crippling injuries or disasters like fatal plane crashes, there are only a half-dozen teams who have a prayer of making it to the NBA Finals let alone winning it all. That is reality…
Over the long haul, without competitive balance the league will not continue to flourish and grow. There are CBA negotiations upcoming for the NBA and the NBPA and it will behoove both sides to figure out how to keep money flowing to the enterprise so that it can be divvied up equitably between owners and players. Here is the outline of one idea to accomplish that end; clearly, it will need meat put on the bones:
1. Fix the percentage of revenue coming to the league that is assigned to player salaries and divide that number by 30 (teams in the league).
2. Make that number a hard salary cap for each team for each season.
3. Get rid of the “maximum contract” concept. If the hard cap for a season is $100M (just to make math easier) and a team wants to spend 75% of that money on a superstar player, they should be allowed to do so and then fill out the team with 14 other guys who can divide up the remaining $25M.
In that system, the players get paid in aggregate the same as they would with the “max contract” in place but it would make it more difficult to assemble a 4-player “super-team” without all four of the players making the conscious decision to take tens of millions of dollars less to play together than they could make playing against each other.
Just a thought…
To give you an idea of NBA revenue streams, I ran across a report about the potential value that might accrue to teams by selling those “company logos” on their uniforms next season. Recall that the league decided that they would allow each team to sell one 6.25 square-inch patch on the uniform for next season. The Golden State Warriors have evidently let it be known that they are looking for somewhere between $15M and $20M from a sponsor for that privilege. The Warriors are going to be on national TV a lot next year; you can count on that. To some extent, the market for these company logos has been set from the lower tier of the league.
The first team to sell advertising rights on the uniforms for next year was the Philadelphia 76ers. You can be relatively certain that they will not be on many national telecasts next year unless there is some clause in the TV contracts mandating that every team must have some minimum exposure in such games. The Sixers logo for the next 3 years will be StubHub – the ticket reseller – and the revenue to the Sixers will be $5M per year. Here is a link to an espn.com report with details on this
Phil Mickelson finished second in the British Open yesterday at the age of 46. Recall that he won the British Open in 2013 at age 43. I want you to take yourself back to 2006 and think about how you would have answered this question:
Which golfer – Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson – will be the bigger factor in major golf tournaments ten years from now?
Remember, back then, Tiger Woods was the fitness and conditioning freak and he is 6 years younger than Mickelson. Back then, the only thing anyone ever mentioned about Mickelson’s physique were his “man boobs”. Well, here we are in 2016 and Mickelson came within 3 shots of the winner, Henrik Stenson, and he was 11 shots ahead of the third place finisher. Meanwhile, Tiger Woods last win in a major was 8 years ago in 2008 and his last win in any tournament was in 2013.
Finally, here is an observation from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:
“Bartolo Colon looks like the first runner up in a Fred Flintstone lookalike contest.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………