One week from today is the 50th anniversary of “The Day The Music Died”. Prepare yourselves to recall the names Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper (the decedents) and Don McLean (the chronicler). Remember the song That’ll Be The Day?
By now, you must have heard about the Texas girls’ high school basketball game about two weeks ago that ended with a score of 100-0. The headmaster of the winning school apologized for the score; the coach of the winning school took exception to the apology by the headmaster and said that his girls played the game the way it was supposed to be played. The coach of that team has since been fired by the school over his comments about the apology offered by the school administration. I have no interest in trying to assess whether or not the school took a correct course of action in firing its coach; that is a decision that the school can – and properly should – make on its own.
The losing school in this game, Dallas Academy, engages in educating children with “learning differences”. That is their terminology; I intend no snarkiness here. The school’s girls’ basketball team has not won a game in the last four years. None of the losses has come close to the 100-0 debacle of a couple of weeks ago, but they are reportedly winless for four years.
I am a strong proponent of athletics in schools; team sports in particular teach valuable life lessons to participants about achievement in group settings. Nonetheless, the folks who run Dallas Academy really do need to think about what might be the “learning experiences” that their students with “learning differences” might take from four seasons of winless endeavors. It would seem to me as if “futility” is not one of the things that Dallas Academy wants to instill in its students as an experience that necessarily comes with life.
Last week, New Jersey Institute of Technology broke a 51-game losing streak. The Mercy College Mavericks – in NYC – are looking for a way to win a game this year. As of this morning, the Mavericks are 0-17 on the season and some of their losses have been truly ugly. They have lost by 62 points and by 59 points and by 44 points this season. Their closest game was a 6-point loss a week ago. They have scored more than 60 points six times all season long and only once have they scored 70 in a game; on the other hand, they have given up more than 80 points nine times and more than 100 points 3 times. Mercy College appears poised to set a futility standard for the 2008/09 basketball season.
In case you missed this news, Mark McGwire’s brother, Jay McGwire, is seeking a publisher for a “tell-all book”. Reports are that Jay McGwire – a former bodybuilder – will refute José Canseco’s allegations that Canseco was injecting Mark McGwire with steroids as early as the late-1980s. According to reports, Jay McGwire says this is not correct because it was he, Jay, who introduced Mark McGwire to steroids in the early-1990s and that Mark McGwire was a steroid user in that time frame based on Jay McGwire’s opening that vista for him. The working title for this book is: The McGwire Family Secret: The Truth About Steroids, a Slugger and Ultimate Redemption.
Forget the pretentiousness of the title. Ask yourself this question:
Would you be able to cut the atmosphere at the McGwire Family Reunion Picnic next summer with a knife? Or, would you need a fire axe?
It looks as if the Tribune Company has found a buyer for the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field. The price tag is reported to be $900M. It was less than two years ago when one of the financial mags estimated the value of the Cubs and Wrigley Field at $1.3 – 1.4B. So with all the delays and falderal, it seems as if the Tribune Company in its bankruptcy status found a way to get about $400M less for one of its assets than it could have had a year ago. You know when you lose out on a hundred million dollars here and another hundred million dollars there, pretty soon, that adds up to real money…
Frankly, I do not understand the financial merit of the deal as it exists now. I have asked several people to help me out with it but no one has explained it to me in terms simple enough for me to understand. Let us review the bidding:
Cost of Cubs + Wrigley Field = $900M
Renovations to Wrigley = $250M (estimate by current CEO of Cubbies)
Total cost of acquisition = $1.15B
Cubs’ Payroll = $140M
Cost to operate team = $160M (estimate)
If the new owners want to realize a profit of 5% on their investment, that means they need to make a profit of $57.5M over and above the cost to operate the Cubs annually. That means revenues have to be $217.5M and I just do not see where they are coming from. Remember, the TV rights have already been sold to one of the local broadcasters for the next several years. Oh, and I have not considered any tax that the new owners might have to pay on their profits from running the team either.
If the Cubs sold out every game at home – they should come close to doing that – they would draw 3.25M fans. As someone pointed out to me, if the average ticket cost $50, that would bring $162M through the turnstiles. While that is a nice chunk of change, it does not tell me where the other $55M or so is going to come from. Oh, by the way, for the majority of games next year, the average price of a seat is not $50; so Cubs’ fans should be ready for a significant rise in ticket prices in the 2009/10 season.
Finally, here is a comment from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald about a small market baseball team and its expenditures:
“The penny-pinching Marlins have been active in free agency as well, signing [note to self: look up name of that journeyman middle reliever] and securing future rights to a bucket of sunflower seeds.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…