A Broad Mix Today …


Arcangelo won the Belmont Stakes on Saturday; the winning time was 2:29  1/5.  In handicapping terms that is a mere 26 lengths behind what Secretariat did in the Belmont Stakes 50 years ago.  Secretariat won the Triple Crown in 1973 and set the record for all three races in the Triple Crown then; those records in all three races still stand in 2023.

Moving on …  Andrew Brandt has had a long and diversified career in sports and sports law, if you Google “Andrew Brandt” you can find his bona fides very easily.  He has a Sunday Newsletter – – the “Sunday Seven” – – that I get via email.  Here is what he had to say yesterday about the LIV/PGA merger:

“My sense is that the PGA Tour knew or was advised that: (1) The LIV Tour, funded by the $600 billion Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), was not going away, and (2) The mutual antitrust lawsuit, not scheduled for trial until at least 2024, had some potentially uncomfortable discovery issues, such as how the PGA Tour magically finds money for $20 million purses and escalating legal fees. Faced with these realities, the PGA Tour took the money and merged. PIF will now be the sole investor and have a right of first refusal on any future investors. In simplest terms, they bought golf.”

He makes three points here that always “gave me pause” when thinking about this mess:

  1. From where did that extra $20M in purse money materialize overnight?
  2. The PGA was not a mortal lock to prevail in the lawsuit
  3. The PIF could bankrupt the PGA with legal fees but not the other way around.

Professor Brandt had another interesting item in his missive yesterday:

“There is a bigger picture here. Saudi money—along with Qatari money and other Middle Eastern investment—is coming to bigger American sports. They have invested in the English Premier League and Formula 1 Racing; it is naive to think they won’t do the same in other American sports. They have bought golf, and that gives their money some legitimacy. The ‘Core Four’—the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL—are next.

“The price of entry into these leagues is becoming too high to rely on a cadre of multi-billionaires to purchase them. Josh Harris, one of those billionaires, owns the NBA’s 76ers and the NHL’s Devils but is still struggling to secure proper financing to purchase the NFL’s Washington Commanders for $6 billion. Institutional investment such as that of PIF would alleviate some of those issues. The NBA has just loosened investment restrictions to allow for sovereign wealth funds; other leagues will soon follow.

“LIV Golf is now part of the PGA Tour in a yet-to-be-named entity. This is an inflection point for sports finance. Human rights issues and politics notwithstanding, Saudi money is coming to American sports leagues. Maybe not this year or even next year, but soon. Count on it.

His point about the values of NFL franchises is on point.  The NFL’s current rules do not allow for “sovereign wealth” or “Institutional investment ownership”; while that tends to keep the playing field relatively level, it also puts a “soft cap” on how much a franchise can sell for.  The Commanders price is reported to be $6.1B and there is a limit on the percentage of the price paid that a new owner may present as borrowed money.  I don’t know the details in all of this but assume that percentage is 25%.  That means the new owner – – and his minority partners – – must come up with almost $4.6B in “cash”.  [Aside:  If the percentage allowable here is higher than 25%, then the “cash requirement” is smaller.  Forget the exact numbers and focus on the magnitude.]

The US has lots of rich people but if you held a meeting of all the folks who could “write a check” for $4.6B or so I don’t think you would need to rent out Lambeau Field.  So, the fact that there are only a few qualified bidders for an NFL team under the current rules means that price increases for franchises might not be as explosive as in recent years where the Panthers sold for $2.2B and then the Broncos for $4.6B and now the Commanders presumably for $6.1B.

Next up … Barry Sverluga hade a column in Saturday’s Washington Post under this headline:

  • LSU ace’s 124 pitches illicit groans around MLB

LSU is in the College World Series tournament and their star pitcher just won a complete game.  He is touted as – possibly – the overall #1 pick in the MLB Draft this year and scouts worry that he is being over-used.  When I read about their concerns, it sent me to the Internet to recall the details about a specific baseball game that I remember from my youth.  I was not there to see it in person, nor did I see it on TV – – but I remember that it happened because it was so different.

In September of 1952 – – I was 9 years old – – Phillies’ pitcher, Robin Roberts pitched a complete game that went 17 innings.  Here is his pitching line for the game – – MLB did not keep a pitch count stat back then:

  • 17 innings, 6 runs on 16 hits 3 walks and 5 strikeouts {Aside: More than likely in excess of 124 pitches …]

The Phillies won 7-6 and that complete game – – actually, almost two complete games in one outing – – came in the middle of a complete game streak for Roberts.  Between August 1952 and July 1953, Robin Roberts threw 28 consecutive complete games.

Baseball is played differently in 2023 than it was in 1953 …

Finally, just because I like this quote, let me finish today with H. L. Mencken:

“Morality is the theory that every human act must be either right or wrong and that 99 percent of them are wrong.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………




4 thoughts on “A Broad Mix Today …”

  1. Yes, baseball is played differently, but it seems to me that pitchers sustain more arm injuries than ever. I am not sure there is much science behind today’s pitch limitations.

    1. Gil:

      One variable is that many pitchers today throw harder than pitchers in the past. Nevertheless, that does not account for the fastballers of the forties and fifties like Bob Feller who pitched hard every 4th day…

      1. I believe it’s not just velocity. The strain of each pitch is much higher today than in the past, for multiple reasons. One reason is the desire for high spin rates (on fastballs and breaking pitches). Those are harder on the pitcher’s arm.

        A second reason is the strength of batting lineups, from top to bottom. Pitchers cannot “relax” against the weaker hitters in the opposing lineup, because all the hitters are relatively good (compared to the past). Universal DH has extended this, since the opposing pitcher is now eliminated as an “easy out”.

        Net result: Pitchers are doing things (more frequently) that are more likely to injure them.

        1. Daryl Orts:

          Good points. I think your recognition of more emphasis on spin rates is particularly important here.

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