The Mets Trade Max Scherzer

The MLB trade deadline is upon us but before the last-second drama hits, the Mets and Rangers made what could be an important trade.  The Mets appear to have thrown in the towel for 2023 and perhaps the Mets have abandoned their philosophy for building a championship contender.  Recall that the Mets chose to enter 2023 with a payroll that dwarfed every other MLB team in history; they had guaranteed contracts to players totaling more than $350M and more than a handful of those players were long in the tooth.  Over the weekend, the Mets traded away one of those big contracts (to 39-year-old Max Scherzer) and received in return a top minor league prospect from the Rangers.

On the surface, this deal is very simple to assess.  Here is the deal:

  • Rangers get Max Scherzer – – owed about $57M through the end of 2024.
  • Mets get Luisangel Acuna – – younger brother of the Braves’ Ronald Acuna, Jr.
  • Rangers pay Scherzer $22.5M.
  • Mets pay Scherzer the rest of what he is owed.

The easy way to look at this is that the Rangers have committed to “win now”; they lead the AL West Division this morning by 1 game over the Astros with the Angels and the Mariners lurking only about 5 games off the lead.  The Rangers have had some pitching injuries and need to bolster the starting rotation; Scherzer is a sure-fire Hall of Famer, so he fits in there like a glove.  If Luisangel Acuna turns out to be as good as his big brother, then the Mets will have won the trade over the long haul, but that remains to be seen.  MLB has a robust history of siblings who have played in the major leagues where one sibling is significantly better than the other:

  • Greg Maddux and Mike Maddux
  • George Brett and Ken Brett
  • Gaylord Perry and Jim Perry
  • Henry Aaron and Tommy Aaron
  • Joe DiMaggio and Dom DiMaggio and Vince DiMaggio …

That the Rangers have committed to winning now is confirmed by another trade they made over the weekend with the Cardinals.  In that deal:

  • Rangers get pitchers Jordan Montgomery and Chris Stratton
  • Cards get reliver John King and two minor league prospects.

That the Mets may be changing their approach to team building might be confirmed later today if the rumors that Justin Verlander is also available for a trade materialize into another deal.  Another signal could show itself based on how the Mets position Luisangel Acuna in their minor league system.  The younger Acuna is a shortstop and a center fielder; the Mets are paying Francisco Lindor about $34M per year through the end of the 2031 season to play shortstop.  Hmmm …

Mets’ owner, Steve Cohen is purportedly the richest of the MLB owners; Forbes says his net worth is $17.6B.  Is he adjusting his approach to team building or is he merely shedding some big contracts that he does not think have paid off properly?  As far as I am concerned, the answer to that question is as interesting as the answer to the question:

  • Can Luisangel Acuna live up to his brother’s example?

Cohen bought the Mets after the truncated 2020 season paying $2.4B for the club.  At the time he said his goal was to have the Mets “win the World Series” sometime over a “three to five year” time span.  This year marks the third year of his ownership and the Mets have yet to win the NL East let alone the World Series.  Cohen made his fortune managing hedge funds so the idea of changing one’s strategy/tactics as new information becomes available is certainly something he is familiar with.  I will be very interested in watching Mets’ personnel moves over the next year or two.

Moving on …  The US economy runs on capitalism.  You can like that or decry that, but you cannot deny that.  One of the foundation pieces of capitalism is the Law of Supply and Demand.  The tenets of that law are intuitively obvious, and they hold sway in the marketplace.  Here is the latest example.

Last month, the baseball fans in Oakland staged a “reverse boycott” where they organized to show up en masse at an A’s game seeking to demonstrate that there is indeed “fan interest” in Oakland in MLB and to urge the current owner, John Fisher, to sell the team to someone who would keep the A’s in Oakland.  A little more than 28,000 people showed up for that game in June.  The A’s average attendance is not quite 10,000 fans per game absent that anomalous game.

Organizers are doing an encore performance.  The A’s will host their area rival SF Giants on August 5th and the hope is that there will be a large and raucous audience for that game at whatever they are calling the Oakland Coliseum these days.  John Fisher paid attention in his Economics 101 course to realize what he should do for that game on August 5th.  There will be greater demand than usual; so, he raised the prices for tickets since the supply remained the same.  Brilliant!

Reports say that the cheapest seat in the house – – the house being the single worst MLB facility of them all – – will be $44 on August 5th.  For the other games against the Giants in this series, the cheap seats cost $27; soon after this encore “reverse boycott”, the cheap seats for game against the first place Rangers will cost $10.  No mystery here …

Finally, since capitalism has been part of today’s rant, let me close with two observations about that system:

“The only trouble with capitalism is capitalists; they’re too damn greedy.”  [Herbert Hoover]

And …

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”  [Sir Winston Churchill]

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



Mish-Mash …

Recall that ESPN fired – or did not renew contracts – with 20 of their on-air personalities about 2 weeks ago.  Most of the folks cut adrift by ESPN remain in that status but Steve Young has gotten himself a new job.  Young will be an assistant coach for a girls’ high school flag football team in California.  Young has two daughters on the flag football team at Menlo HS in California and his assistant coaching duties are expected to be on the “offensive side” of the game.  The head coach at Menlo HS for girls’ flag football is another former Niners’ QB, John Paye whose football career is sort of interesting.

Paye graduated from Menlo HS as a multi-sport athlete and was the QB at Stanford in the mid-1980s and he had the “honor” of following John Elway into that position.  When he graduated from Stanford, Paye was drafted by the Niners in the 10th round of the NFL Draft and spent two years with the Niners but never saw the field in a real game.  Two QBs ahead of Paye on the Niners’ roster at the time were Joe Montana and Steve Young.  John Paye was a QB – – but more importantly, he was around a bunch of really good QBs who kept him on the bench.

Next … Last winter in the MLB offseason, there was a bit of drama surrounding the free agency of Carlos Correa.  The Giants had him signed but then he failed their physical.  He had a lower leg injury several years ago and that seemed to bother the Giants’ medical folks, so Correa was a free agent again.  There was a similar flirtation with the Mets that did not stand up to scrutiny for very long.  In the end, Correa re-signed with the Twins where he had played in 2022.

Weep not for Carlos Correa; he is making $36M to play baseball this year for the Twins.  But at age 29 – – next month – – he should be at or near the peak of his career and this year’s offensive numbers belie that status:

  • Batting average = .228
  • On base percentage = .304
  • OPS = .705

Those are not “shameful numbers” except when they are juxtaposed with a salary of $36M for 2023 and he will also make $36M in 2024 and 2025.  I am too lazy to track down where his current salary ranks among the top earners in MLB, but I will guess that at $36M for 2023, Correa certainly ranks in the Top 20 earners and maybe in the Top 10.  So, the question now is:

  • Were those medical folks in SF and NY correct in having Correa “flunk a physical” – – OR – –
  • Is this just a down year for Correa whose career OPS is .119 higher than this year’s figure?

Moving on …  The owner of the Tottenham Hotspurs in the EPL is in a bit of hot water.  Joe Lewis – – neither the boxer nor the comedian, both of whom are dead – – has been charged with insider trading here in NY.  US Attorneys there have alleged that Lewis shared inside corporate information with “friends, associates and romantic partners” over a three- year period that overlapped COVID times.  Tottenham refused to make any comment on the matter, saying that none of this affected the club or the team as is likely the case for now.

However, the former owner of Chelsea in the EPL was ultimately forced to sell his club based on international sanctions related to the Chelsea owner’s “close ties” to Vladimir Putin.  When Chelsea was on the market, there was plenty of interest in acquiring the team which ultimately sold for $5.4B.  I don’t have any idea what the Tottenham club might command on the open market, but if the “Middle East Money Men” take a shine to the club, the price could be stratospheric.

Switching gears …  In news that is clearly less economically uplifting, I read a report that the XFL lost $60M in the course of its season.  Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson acquired the XFL from Vince McMahon when the league folded for the second time during COVID.  The good news is that the league made it through to the end of its season without bouncing checks hither, thither and yon and that its TV deal with ESPN remains intact.

The XFL – – call this XFL 3.0 – – projects that it will take in $100M in revenue in the 2024 season which would be a great success for this twice-failed league.  The problem I have with the projection is that only 20% of that projection is going to come from the TV deal with ESPN.  Seeing how XFL 3.0 is going to make up $80M in things like live gate and local partnerships is not an easy thing for me to do.

Let me be clear … I hope that XFL 3.0 and USFL 2.0 both succeed and continue to provide pro football events for fan consumption on a continuous basis.  But that sort of revenue projection from XFL 3.0 requires some heavy lifting by the league.  At least they have a physical specimen like “The Rock” to help with that heavy lifting.

Switching gears … I mentioned earlier this week that Saquon Barkley had $900K of incentives added to what he would have earned by signing the franchise tag that the Giants put on him.  If I understand the reports on the details of those incentives that have been appended to the deal, here is what must happen for Barkley to earn the full $900K:

  • Rush for 1350 yards or more (80 yards per game)
  • Catch 65 passes (4 receptions per game)
  • Score 11 TDs – – AND – –
  • Giants make the playoffs.

Finally, let me close today with two observations by George Bernard Shaw that seem eerily appropriate in 2023:

“Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.”

And …

“We all profess the deepest regard for liberty; but no sooner does anyone claim to exercise it than we declare with horror that we are in favor of liberty but not od license, and demand indignantly whether true freedom can ever mean freedom to do wrong, to preach sedition and immorality, to utter blasphemy.  Yet this is exactly what liberty does mean.”

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



The Dawn Of A New Movement ?

Perhaps we are witnessing the birth of a new social movement analogous to the #meetoo movement that seeks to empower sexually harassed/assaulted people to make known their abusers and the abuses they have suffered.  Call it the #ustoo movement and let the movement represent college football players who have suffered hazing and torment as the form of abuse.  The ongoing saga at Northwestern that I wrote about earlier this week could be example number one in the #ustoo movement and yesterday news came of example number two.

Former players and former staff members at the University of Minnesota allege that head coach PJ Fleck is running the team as a “cult” and that the locker room is filled with “intimidation and toxicity”.  One former player said that Fleck interfered with standard medical protocols trying to get players back from injury sooner than normal by “minimizing the seriousness of some pretty horrendous injuries”.  In addition, there are stories of something called the “Fleck Bank” whereby players could earn brownie points they could use later to offset discipline for things like a failed drug test or some other violation of school or team rules. had a report on this yesterday.  That report said that CBS Sports had received a memo from a former football staff member back in 2018 saying that the team medical staff was illegally prescribing a powerful anti-inflammatory/pain reducer and that the team medical staff routinely circumvented the best practices laid out by the NCAA Independent Medical Care standards.  Here is a link to that report from yesterday.

Interestingly, the school did not issue a statement saying they were going to investigate these assertions.  Instead, this is what Minnesota’s AD said:

“P.J. and our program are unique.  They put themselves out there in new and different ways — but always in a first-class manner — and after nearly seven years, it is clear to me, that is what makes P.J. and our program so successful.”

Two comments here:

  1. “Unique” is not a synonym for “good and proper”.  Ted Kaczynski was unique.  Charles Manson was unique.  Vlad the Impaler was unique.
  2. As to Minnesota football being “so successful”, they have not been to a meaningful bowl game since the Gophers won the Rose Bowl game in 1961 and that includes the 6 seasons under PJ Fleck.

The other big news from yesterday related to college football was that Colorado was leaving the PAC-12 to join the Big-12.  This is sort of a “back to its roots” move by Colorado in that the Buffaloes were members of the Big-12 and its predecessor, the Big-8, from 1948 to 2010.  Colorado has not set the world on fire in its time in the PAC-12; its cumulative conference record since joining has been 27-76.

Colorado will transition its schedule by 2024, so this is not looking like a long and drawn-out process.  The Big-12 has already added 4 teams for the 2023 season:

  • BYU
  • Cincy
  • Houston
  • UCF

The addition of Colorado will put 15 teams in the Big-12; odd numbers in conferences make for difficult scheduling problems so do not be surprised to read about the Big-12 courting some other school – or maybe 3 – in the near future.

Colorado has gotten some national attention in the last several months by putting Deion Sanders in charge of the football program there, but Colorado football has not been anything special on its own for decades.  So, I don’t want to imply that the PAC-12 losing Colorado is a mortal blow to the stature of the PAC-12.  But it may just be a tipping point.

I said above that the Big-12 might be interested in expanding by another 3 teams to make it an even 18 teams in the conference.  Imagine for a moment that is the case and the Big-12 begins to schmooze the other 3 so-called “Four Corner Schools” – – Arizona, Arizona St. and Utah.  If all the “Four Corner Schools” – along with the already departed “So Cal Schools” – defect, the entire South Division of the PAC-12 will have jumped ship.  And that would be the de facto demise of what Bill Walton likes to call “The Conference of Champions”.

Moving on …  The Boston Celtics just gave Jalen Brown a super-max contract worth $304M over 5 years.  The payout breaks down like this:

  • 2024-25: $52.4 million
  • 2025-26: $56.6 million
  • 2026-27: $60.8 million
  • 2027-28: $64.9 million
  • 2028-29: $69.1 million

Here is what I do not understand.  Jalen Brown is a really good player – – but he is NOT the best player on the Celtics’ roster.  That would be Jason Tatum who will be playing out his contract next season and will be looking for a huge payday next summer.  Can the Celtics afford to have two players on the roster making $60M per year – roughly.  And if they can afford the cost, what does that mean about the efficacy of the NBA’s salary cap rules?  The NBA salary cap for 2022-23 was $124M.

Finally, here is an entry from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

Amish:  A sect of self-sustaining people whose way of life is so different from the current ideological mainstream that it’s a wonder nobody’s bombed them yet.”

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



Football Coaches In The News Today …

I mentioned yesterday that the NFL has suspended its 10th player this year for violating the NFL’s gambling protocols.  That player was Eyioma Uwazurike, DE, Broncos.  Yesterday, Broncos’ head coach Sean Payton said the NFL bears some responsibility in the slew of suspensions because its messaging to the players is confusing.  According to a report at, here is how Payton explained the policy in less legal terms to his players in the Spring:

“You can’t bet on NFL football, ever, ever, ever.  I don’t give a (expletive) what it is. The other thing is, it’s the same as the gun policy. You can’t bet on nothing if you’re at your facility, your hotel, your airplane. So, wherever you can’t carry a gun, you can’t place a bet.”

Crystalized simplicity there.  That is an important coaching skill – – taking a complicated thing and making it into a simple thing.

Speaking of football coaches, Deion Sanders had a scheduled procedure to remove blood clots from his right leg and to straighten toes on his left foot last week.  Reports say he is recovering and will be back on the job next week.  With Sean Payton on the job with the Broncos and Deion Sanders leading the Colorado Buffaloes up the road in Boulder, CO, football fans in that region should have plenty of news to chew on once the season kicks off…

A little to the east in Michigan, the coaching news is a bit less positive.  Reports yesterday said that Jim Harbaugh might face a 4-game suspension this year for either lying to or purposely misleading NCAA investigators who were looking into possible recruiting infractions that happened during the “dark period” back when COVID imposed additional recruiting limitations.  Harbaugh has said he did not lie, nor did he intentionally mislead anyone but that he gave some wrong answers to questions because he did not know the details of what had happened.  This does not even rise to the level of a tempest in a teapot because if indeed Harbaugh must sit out the first 4 games of 2023, he will miss being on the sidelines for four home games in Ann Arbor against:

  1. East Carolina
  2. UNLV
  3. Bowling Green
  4. Rutgers

If the NCAA wanted to punish him in something that was even marginally meaningful, they would suspend him for the final four games of 2023 as follows:

  1. Purdue (at home)
  2. At Penn State
  3. At Maryland
  4. Ohio State (at home).

And staying with the thread of football coaches in the news today, the floodgates have opened in terms of lawsuits related to the hazing scandal at Northwestern that saw Head Coach, Pat Fitzgerald lose his job there.  I am sure that I have not included all the specific defendants in the myriad lawsuits here, but I am sure the following folks have been named so far:

  • Coach Pat Fitzgerald
  • Northwestern President Michael Schill
  • Northwestern AD Derrick Gragg
  • The Northwestern Board of Trustees

I asked a friend who is not a litigator but a tax attorney how and why the Board of Trustees were named as defendants in some if not all the suits.  My question assumed that the members of the Board were not likely to be present in the football locker room after practices such that any of them might have been aware of activities that are clearly improper and are in fact criminal in some states.  His explanation demonstrated my lack of legal training.

He said that the objective of the lawsuits is to get money for the plaintiffs as recompense for the plaintiffs’ suffering and degradation during the hazing periods.  There is no way to undo what happened to them, so “punishment” in this matter comes down to guilty parties exchanging money with the victims to “right the wrongs”.  Since this whole matter has become an economic one, the strategy on the plaintiffs’ side is to get at the endowment fund for Northwestern University because that is where the BIG money resides in this case.  [Aside:  A quick Google search reveals that the current size of the Northwestern endowment is $14.1B].

He also said that most if not all these suits would be settled without a trial for several reasons:

  • Privacy:  There would be embarrassing information revealed in an open trial affecting both sides so there is motivation to settle and to put non-disclosure agreements in place.
  • Risk:  Juries are unpredictable both in terms of the verdict they present and then in the amount of damages they award.  Remember that the USFL won a suit against the NFL in the 1980s and the jury there awarded the USFL one dollar in damages.

Finally, since today has been about football coaches, let me close with a quote from Spike Dykes, former head football coach at Texas Tech, after his team lost a game and did not play well:

“Oh, we played about three tons of buzzard puke this afternoon.”

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



Not A Lot Of Good News Today …

Picking up on yesterday’s rant about the “devalued running back” in today’s NFL, the news this morning is that Saquon Barkley will sign a 1-year deal with the Giants and will not be a holdout in training camp or in the regular season.  There is an element of face-saving to the reported terms of the deal, but to me, the Giants are the clear winner in this negotiation.

  • The deal is for one year only.  Barkley wanted a longer-term deal and reportedly wanted more than $20M guaranteed.  Barkley’s agent can say that they were forced to take a 1-year deal because of a provision in the CBA involving players who have a franchise tag that they refuse to sign by a certain date.  The net result is that the Giants did not accede to player demands.
  • Under the franchise tag, Barkley would have made $10.1M guaranteed.  Under the deal signed today, he will make $10.1M plus $900K in incentives meaning he could make as much as $11.0M.  Two million of that total goes to Barkley immediately as a signing bonus.

That leaves the Raiders’ and Josh Jacobs as the remaining team/running back battleground.  Like Barkley, he can sign his franchise tag and make $10.1M guaranteed this year; also, like Barkley, he has said he will not report to training camp and has contemplated sitting out the entire 2023 regular season.  I think there are two circumstances in the Jacobs/Raiders negotiations that are unique:

  1. Last year, the Raiders chose not to pick up Jacobs’ fifth-year option on his rookie contract.  Had they done so, he would be under contract this year for a little over $8M and none of this would be in play.
  2. Raiders’ head coach, Josh McDaniels, had success in New England running an offense that did not use a “featured running back”.  His offense with the Pats was basically “running back by committee”; so, Jacobs and his agent may be trying to get McDaniels to behave contrary to the way he did in the past that was successful for him.

Stay tuned here …

Moving on …  The NFL has suspended another player for the 2023 season due to gambling infractions.  The NFL simply said that the suspension was based on the player betting on NFL games.  That such behavior would be contrary to NFL policy as set forth in the CBA should be patently obvious to anyone with two motor neurons close enough to play pickleball with each other.  And yet, here we are …  The player cannot petition for reinstatement until next July meaning that he will not be able to take part in any off-season/free agent/trade situations until then.

Next up …  Disney Corp CEO, Bob Iger, has said that there can be major restructuring of assets within the company; everything is on the table including possibly selling off part of ESPN to “strategic partners”.  [Aside:  I would not take that literally; I doubt Disney would sell off all or part of the Mickey Mouse brand.]  Normally, news like that tends to get traction on the “Financial Pages” of your morning newspaper and would have no place here until and unless a deal is made whereby ESPN is bought out by National Veeblefetzer.  But this story took an interesting twist early out of the gate.  I ran across a report with this headline:

  • Disney Reportedly Talked To NFL, NBA, MLB About Equity Partnership In ESPN

As of this morning, Disney owns 80% of ESPN and Hearst Communications owns the other 20%.  So, there is plenty of room for any or all those sports leagues to jump in and become a strategic partner with Disney.  And if that were to happen, it would be such a bad turn of events.

Look, the major sports leagues already have their own TV networks on cable.  MLB Network is the best of the lot by a mile, and it is NEVER the first thing I tune in to see what’s going on.  NFLN and NBA TV are virtual wastelands of saccharine-sweet babbling and fawning over anyone associated with those leagues.  ESPN is certainly not perfect as a programming entity, but is that what sports fans want ESPN to become?

The state of “real journalism” at ESPN is on life-support.  But there is more there than at any of the league-owned networks.  Take the Daniel Snyder situation.  If there ever was a network that had access to people knowledgeable about the situation, it would be NFLN.  Is that where stories broke or where reports advanced the process that led to what amounted to a forced sale of the Washington Commanders?  No, all that impetus came from reporting at ESPN and at The Washington Post.  Any “investigative journalism” that might survive at ESPN if a sports league “buys a piece” would surely focus on some other sports league(s).  The precedent and the example for this already exists in full view.

In addition, when leagues negotiate with ESPN for media rights or media rights renewals, that would put the leagues on both sides of the negotiation table.  Can anyone spell “awkward”?

This is such a bad Idea that I think it has a better than 50/50 chance of happening.  If the NFL – for example – bought a 35% stake in ESPN, it could fold or at least drastically contract NFLN meaning cost savings.  Moreover, when ESPN takes in advertising dollars involved with NFL games, 35% of those dollars are essentially revenue to the league.  It would open another revenue stream and the NFL has never been averse to such a turn of events.

Finally, let me close today with these words from Casey Stengel:

“A lot of people my age are dead at the present time.”

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



Rest In Peace, Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett – the singer, not the UVa basketball coach – died las week at age 96.  He was an infantryman in Europe in WW II, he sang duets with Pearl Bailey, Aretha Franklin and Lady Gaga and he marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Famously, he left his heart in San Francisco.

Rest in peace, Tony Bennett.

One of the current sports refrains deals with the “devalued running backs” in the NFL.  Three RBs were saddled with a franchise tag over the off season meaning that they will make “only” $10.1M if they sign that offer and play in 2023.  Tony Pollard (Cowboys) signed his tag; Saquon Barkley (Giants) and Josh Jacobs (Raiders) have not signed, and both have threatened to sit out the 2023 season.  Lots of commentators have offered up opinions as to why this is the case and why teams are wrong in devaluing the position of running back.  I think the reason behind the devaluation comes down to elementary economics and I am not so sure that the idea of devaluating the position of “running back” is a bad idea.  Let me explain.

For the last 20 years or so, every time the NFL made a rule change, the new rule favored the offense.  In particular, many of those rule changes favored the passing portion of the offense.  Therefore, tight ends and wide receivers became bigger contributors to total offense thereby commanding higher prices as free agents.  The same dynamic applied to QBs who could reliably get the ball to those newly valued tight ends and wide receivers; so, wage demands for “elite” QBs skyrocketed.

At the same time, the NFL has a salary cap.  That salary cap brings into play a fundamental principle of economics:

  • You cannot spend the same dollar twice.

Another way to state that economic principle is that asset allocation in a system where assets are capped becomes a zero-sum game.

With rising costs for QBs and pass catchers, teams have had to make decisions about how to allocate the remaining dollars constrained by the cap limits.  So, let me go through one logic chain that leads to the conclusion that “running back” ought to be devalued as a position on an NFL team in 2023.  Please note, I am not saying this is the only way to think about roster structure or cap spending models; I am saying that maybe Barkley and Jacobs should think very hard about sitting out the 2023 season á la LeVeon Bell.

  • The added value placed on QBs means that it makes sense to invest resources in protecting QBs.  Hence, the percentage of cap money devoted to offensive tackles should be increased too.
  • Because opponents will likely seek to exploit the current rules that favor the passing game, defensive resources also must slant toward stopping the passing game as best one can.  Therefore, teams put a premium on “edge rushers” and “cover corners” – – to the detriment of inside linebackers and safeties by the way.
  • Punters should become more valuable under the new rules because when an offense is forced to turn over the ball, a punter who can reliably give his defense advantageous field position is important.  The defense is fighting an uphill battle to begin with; it can use all the help it can get.
  • So, since you cannot spend the same dollar twice and there is a limit on how many dollars one is allowed to spend, there needs to be diminished allocations for the other generic positions on the team such as interior defensive linemen (unless they excel at pass rushing), interior offensive linemen, kickers and running backs.

[Aside:  One of the best interior offensive linemen in the league, Zack Martin (Cowboys), is also unhappy with his contract and has declared that he is “underpaid”; Martin will make $13.5M in 2023.]

The running back position also suffers from a supply/demand problem.  The “devaluation” of the position means that teams will look for bargains in the marketplace rather than look for gaudy acquisitions.  That means teams can choose – – and have chosen – – from a plentiful supply of young, inexpensive running backs coming out of college every year.  The Chiefs’ leading rusher last year was Isiah Pacheco; he was a 7th round draft pick, and he signed a 4-year deal with the Chiefs in May 2022 for a total of $3.74M.

  • Is Isiah Pacheco as good or as productive as either Saquon Barkley or Josh Jacobs?  No.
  • Is Isiah Pacheco “good enough” for the Chiefs?  Well, the Chiefs are the defending Super Bowl champs, so the answer must be that he is.
  • Isiah Pacheco will make $870K in 2023; Barkley and Jacobs want more than $10.1M; are they worth 11.6 times more than Pacheco?  I don’t think so.

I am not an NFL GM, and I certainly would not assert that my reasoning here is the only smart way to come at this conundrum.  However, I do not think that I would be particularly motivated to accede to the contract demands made by either Barkley or Jacobs.  Late last week, Melvin Gordon was signed by the Ravens; his contract there is for 1 year at $2.5M.  Still out there on the market are veteran RBs including:

  • Dalvin Cook
  • Ezekiel Elliott
  • Leonard Fournette
  • Kareem Hunt

If NFL GMs take Gordon’s deal with the Ravens as any sort of benchmark for the “going price of a veteran RB”, Barkley and Jacobs are going to be more than frustrated with any sort of negotiations for a long-term deal with guaranteed money in the eight-figure range.

Finally, Andrew Brandt is a former assistant NFL GM, a lawyer, a former agent for athletes in various sports and – – you get the idea.  Someone posed a question to him on Twitter, and I want to close today with his response:

  • Q:  Now that Snyder is gone, who is the worst owner in the NFL, Bidwell?
  • A:  George Santos

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



Correcting the Record …

Whenever a Congressthing stands up to speak on a subject, he always asks unanimous consent to “revise and amend” his remarks.  I will not ask for unanimous consent here – – because I know there will be objections just for the fun of objecting – – but since this is my rant, I will simply declare that I am going to revise and amend remarks from recent rants.  As is often the case, my revisions arise from information that arrived in my inbox from the “reader in Houston” – – the maven of sports stats.

In an email earlier this week, he added to the information that Doug found about the team with the worst run differential in MLB history.  Doug’s citation of the Boston Red Sox in 1932 is correct for the so-called “modern era” of baseball, but the “reader in Houston” pointed out that the thoroughly rancid Cleveland Spiders were worse in 1899.  That year, the Spiders’ record was 20-134 and posted a run differential of minus-723 runs.  The Spiders lost by an average of 4.7 runs per game.

Just for fun, the ‘reader in Houston” included another Spiders’ stat that is interesting.  In 1899, the Spiders team batting average was .253 and the “reader in Houston” pointed out:

  • “That is higher than 17 MLB teams are currently hitting.”

And then, two days later, I received a second email from the same source pointing out that the Minnesota Twins had lost 18 consecutive playoff games not the 17 that I mentioned yesterday.  I had the right data; I made a math mistake.  Mea culpa and thanks again to the “reader in Houston” for the clarifications.

I mentioned yesterday that there would be celebrations in the DC area commemorating the removal of Danny Boy Snyder from the local sporting scene.  One such celebration “sponsored by” one of the local radio stations was cleverly dubbed:

  •  “Burgundy and Sold”.

In the lead story of the day on the front page of the Washington Post there is a report about the findings in an investigation of Snyder and the franchise carried out by Mary Jo White.  Here is the lead paragraph from that report:

“Outgoing Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder will pay the NFL $60 million as part of the closing of the sale of his franchise after a league investigation conducted by attorney Marry Jo White concluded that the team withheld revenue it should have shared with other franchises and that Snyder sexually harassed a former team employee.”

I will now demonstrate my to-the-core-curmudgeonness with the following assertion – – for which I have exactly NO evidence.

  • I believe that the owners were more inclined to rid themselves of Snyder because he withheld revenues that he should have passed along to them rather than the fact that he sexually harassed a former team employee.

Moving on …  Earlier this week, Yahoo! Sports reported that San Diego State University (SDSU) would stay in the Mountain West Conference after announcing its intention to leave that conference about 6 weeks ago.  That previous announcement started two things:

  1. It fired up legal wrangling between the school and the conference about how and when the departure might occur.
  2. It fired up speculation that SDAU would join the PAC-12 as a way for the PAC-12 to reestablish a presence in Southern California with the imminent defection of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten.

According to the most recent statements from the school and the conference, SDSU withdrew is letter informing the conference of its intention to resign from the conference and the conference informed the school that it could still be welcomed as a member of that conference.  I believe that is the legal equivalent of “lets kiss and make up” …

SDSU never said where it intended to go once it had seceded from the Mountain West; all that business with the PAC-12 was speculation that made sense at the time.  And because it made sense at the time, I think it makes sense to keep that thought in mind.  There is a huge disparity in college sports when it comes to the media rights fees that the various conferences can demand from broadcasters/streamers.  That disparity is the basis of the decision by USC and UCLA to abandon the PAC-12 for the Big Ten.  And when you consider how small by comparison the TV deals are for Mountain West schools as compared to the so-called Power 5 conferences, it makes sense for the upper tier schools in the minor conferences to aspire to Power 5 status.

Since 2010, SDSU football has been to bowl games in eleven consecutive years – – remember there were no minor bowl games in 2020.  Over the period from 2010 through 2022, SDSU football has posted an overall conference record of 67-26.  I think it is reasonable to label the Aztecs as an “upper tier” school in terms of Mountain West football.  And last April, SDSU made it to the Final Game in the NCAA basketball tournament losing there to UConn.  So, it will not shock me to learn that SDSU examines its options and compares long-term existence in the Mountain West versus “other venues”.

Finally, lest anyone thing that I take too much pride in my “to-the-core-curmudgeonness”, let me close today with a few notes from the Gold Standard Curmudgeon, H. L. Mencken:

Conscience:  The inner voice which warns us that someone may be looking.”

And …

Immorality:  The morality of those who are having a better time.”

And …

Lover:  An apprentice second husband; victim no. 2 in the larval stage.”

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



A Day Of High Anticipation Here …

Here in the DC area, today is one of great anticipation.  Unless there is a snag that derails about six months of momentum, today is the day that Daniel Snyder will let loose the reins on the Washington franchise in the NFL.  If there are Commanders’ fans out there who will be sad to see him go, I have not run across any of them.  The team’s fanboy websites are preparing to sing the song from The Wizard of Oz with these final lyrics:

“Ding-dong! the merry-o sing it high, sing it low“Let them know the wicked witch is dead.”

There are two categories of people around here, however, who might actually miss Snyder’s presence as the owner of a local pro franchise:

  1. The two other owners of pro franchises in this area might miss him because as long as he was around, those folks looked better by comparison.  Now that he is gone, some may start to wonder about the local baseball franchise who gave up on and could not sign Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto and Trea Turner.  Now that Snyder is not around to pollute the air, some may look at the owner of the Wizards and the Capitals and wonder what he has done so positively over the last 20 years or so.
  2. The sportswriters at the Washington Post and the Washington Times might miss him because his arrogance, ineptitude and sleaziness always provided material for a report or a column for the day.  It was never really a slow news day with Snyder in town.

Notwithstanding the possibility that those two groups of folks might wish Danny Boy was around occasionally, there will be generalized joy around here later today.  Unless, of course, at the eleventh hour and fifty-ninth minute …

Speaking obliquely about other franchise owners in this area, the Wizards and the Capitals are owned by an entity called Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MS&E) headed up by Ted Leonsis who made his fortune as part of the senior leadership of a little company known as AOL.  Recently, MS&E took on a minority partner; it sold a 5% share of the enterprise to the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) for a reported $200M.  So, the situation now is that the Saudis “own” golf and the Qataris now have a piece of the action in the handful of sports franchises contained in MS&E.

For the record, QIA has owned the French soccer team, Paris-St. Germain, for about 10 years and has partial ownership of a Portuguese soccer team too.  QIA is said to be interested in buying Manchester United in the English Premier League if the current ownership puts the team up for sale; so, there is plenty of history of QIA being involved in sports ownership.  And with the deal between MS&E and QIA, the so-called sovereign wealth from the Middle East has a toehold in ownership of professional basketball and hockey here in the US.

The NBA and the NHL obviously permit sovereign wealth/institutional wealth investors to purchase minority shares of their franchises.  Currently, the NFL forbids either type of investor in its ownership groups.  I believe the NFL will “come around” on this issue purely for economic reasons.  Sovereign wealth funds and large hedge funds here in the US have the wherewithal to bid up the prices of franchises they are interested in joining.  When franchise prices go up, the owners of every franchise see their bottom line increasing.  Connect the dots here…

Moving on …  Don’t look now, but the Baltimore Orioles are in first place in the AL East by .005 in win percentage over the Tampa Bay Rays.  And, the NY Yankees are alone in last place in that division 9 games behind the O’s.  Who had that as a prediction back in March?  Not I.

And speaking of MLB, let me present you with information I received from a former colleague who is never as happy as the times when he can present someone else with baseball trivia.  We were speaking on the phone about a week ago and he gave me two gems:

  1. The Minnesota Twins have lost 17 consecutive playoff games.  He posed the question by asking me for the longest current losing streak in playoff games and I guessed it was 6 thinking that a team that got swept in a World Series might have then lost a couple more playoff games in a row.  I was incredulous at the number 17, so I went to verify and indeed the last time the Twins won a playoff game was in 2004.
  2. The Pittsburgh Pirates had the overall #1 pick in the MLB Draft this year.  To put the futility of the Pirates in perspective, my friend had me guess how many times since 2000 the Pirates have had a pick in the Top 4 of the MLB Draft.  My guess was 5; the answer is 10.  I have said here before that I think baseball scouting is a VERY difficult endeavor.  The Pirates’ record over the past couple of decades juxtaposed with the number of high-level picks they had would seem to confirm that assertion.

Finally, here is a remark made by humorist, Tom Lehrer, about 40 years ago which has relevance today:

“In my youth, there were certain words you couldn’t say in front of a girl; now you can say them, but you can’t say ‘girl’.”

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



Women’s World Cup Starts Tomorrow

The Women’s World Cup begins tomorrow at 3:00 AM EDT when New Zealand as a co-host for the tournament takes on Norway and then at 6:00AM EDT the other co-host team from Australia plays Ireland.  The field consists of 32 national teams and the finals will happen on August 20 in Australia.  There will be plenty of focus on the US team here because the US women have won the last two Women’s World Cups and that has elevated that team and some of its players to a celebrity status here that is not matched by the US Men’s team.

Such is not necessarily the case in other parts of the world.  And the fact that men’s soccer is valued more highly in other parts of the world – – particularly in Europe – – can be shows by this information I found in a report at

“FIFA reportedly fell roughly $100 million short of its goal for Women’s World Cup broadcast rights fees ahead of the tournament’s kickoff in New Zealand on July 20.

“The organization aimed to sign deals to value the WWC’s global broadcasting rights at $300 million, but it will instead settle for closer to $200 million, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. FIFA is on track to bring in about $50 million in new broadcast rights sales since last year’s men’s World Cup—about a third of the $150 million new fees it hoped to secure.”

At one point in the negotiations the European broadcasters put forth such a lowball offer that FIFA president, Gianni Infantino threatened to black out European countries entirely.  That broke the logjam, but still the revenue that FIFA anticipated from this tournament will fall short of the goal.  This all needs to be put in perspective, however.

This is the first time that FIFA has sold media coverage rights for the women’s tournament.  In the past, any broadcaster who bought rights for the men’s tournament was given the rights to the women’s tournament as a “freebie”.  [Aside:  Sort of like those infomercials at two in the morning … “But wait!  There’s more…]  So, if you look at the revenues from this year’s women’s tournament, it is a huge revenue increase for FIFA.  But in terms of the size of this revenue stream, consider these data:

FIFA reached agreements with the five biggest TV markets in Europe bringing in $65M – – but that is less than half of what FIFA had projected as the price for those media rights in Europe.

I think that FIFA should also consider that media rights for programming that will take place in the early morning hours in Europe and/or the US will be less desirable for broadcasters.  I will make time to watch some of the games in the tournament, but I will not be setting my alarm for 2:45AM tomorrow so I can see the initial kickoff in the tournament; that is less than merely inconvenient.

Moving on …  In other soccer-related news, Lionel Messi is now officially a member of Inter Miami in US Major League Soccer.  This carries on a longstanding tradition of GREAT players coming to the US as their playing careers were coming to an end.  It began with Pele in 1970s when he left Brazil to come to play for the NY Cosmos in the now defunct North American Soccer League.  Other notables are:

  • Franz Beckenbauer
  • David Beckham – – now an owner of Inter Miami
  • Johan Cruyff
  • Thierry Henry
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic
  • Wayne Rooney

If the signing of Pele is a guide, MLS teams will sell out their stadia when Messi and Miami come to town; there won’t be any “walk-up tickets” available for those games.  Once the game kicks off, I think some fans are going to be surprised by Messi’s play with a not-very-good MLS team.  Messi is as much a facilitator on the pitch as he is a scorer – – and he is a prolific scorer.  But for him to facilitate others, they need to play a game that can be orchestrated and not a helter-skelter game.

Switching gears …  I read an announcement that Golden Gate Fields – the last remaining horse racing facility in Northern California will shut down after this racing season.  Bay Meadows and Golden Gates Field were the two major facilities in that part of the country and now both will be shuttered at the end of 2023.  As I have noted before in these rants, the horse racing industry is on a slow and tortuous death march.  Fifty years ago, every major newspaper in every big city in the US carried racing news.  They published the results of yesterday’s races somewhere nearby and had a list of entries for today’s races too.  Many papers had writers who used horse racing as their beat and that job was highly desirable among the sports staffs of the day.  Not nearly so anymore…

Horse racing is an “important story” for a couple of days leading up to the Kentucky Derby and then for a couple of days leading up to the Preakness – – because if the Derby winner can win again, that sets up a Triple Crown possibility.  Only if there is a Triple Crown possibility is there any buzz around the Belmont Stakes.  The Breeders’ Cup races were once a big thing but even those races have receded from view over the past decade or so.

Horse racing is probably going to go away.  Most sports fans will hardly notice its absence.

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

Some Strange Stuff Today …

          Yesterday, I said that I could not find the MLB record for the worst run differential by a team in a season.  Soon after I posted the rant, Doug put this in the comments section:

“Worst ever: 1932 Boston Red Sox at – 349

“Best ever: 1939 NY Yankees at +411”

Thanks to Doug.  I am honored to have a cadre of smart and interested readers here.  Moreover, Doug’s data show that the 2023 Oakland A’s are still on track to make history.  Not good history, mind you; but history.

This year’s Oakland A’s are on pace to have a minus-442 run differential which is almost 100 runs worse than the record now held by the 1932 Red Sox.  At this rate, the A’s might blow by the old record sometime around Labor Day with maybe a couple dozen games left on the schedule.  Yowza!

Moving on …  Forbes is often useful as a data source for these rants when I need information about someone’s personal wealth or an estimate of a sports franchise’s value.  However, today I want to provide a quote from Forbes about BetOnline – – one of the companies that offers Internet based sports wagering:

“BetOnline is the brand behind the bold move to offer the first-ever Special Olympics odds. Operating globally in the online gaming sector for more than 25 years, BetOnline is known for setting the industry bar when it comes to creativity and innovation.”

I will stipulate that the good folks at Forbes know lots more about international companies in that business sector than I do, and I take at face value their assessment that BetOnline is the creative/innovative genius in that sector.  Having said that, I think it is just a bit sleazy to take bets on the Special Olympics AND I think that anyone who “gets down” on an event in the Special Olympics needs an intervention from his/her family and friends.

Next up …  In the regular Olympics – – the games that will take place in Paris in 2024 – – the Associated Press reports that a new competition will take place there and then.  The event will be called “Artistic Swimming”; for those wondering what that might be, you can think of it as “Men’s Synchronized Swimming”.  The AP report quotes one of the men who will try to qualify for the Olympics in Artistic Swimming saying:

“I think it’s a huge opportunity for the sport to grow and attract more men.  By keeping men out you’re limiting the sport. By including men you’re going to see an upshift in the popularity and the numbers.”

I agree with that statement simply because I think it would be very difficult to create a situation where I would see a downshift in “popularity and the numbers”.

Switching gears …  With Shannon Sharpe having abruptly left FS1, the network has not been able to come up with a “debate opponent” for Skip Bayless on the show Undisputed.  So, the show has gone into a two-month hiatus and is scheduled to return around the end of August.  While I am not a regular viewer of contrived sports debate programs like Undisputed and/or First Take over on ESPN, I am a bit surprised that a sports network would not be able to find a temporary fill-in while it searched for a permanent presence on the show.  I am interested, however, in speculative reporting that appears sporadically about who might be in line to take Shannon Sharpe’s place.  So, far, I have seen these five names floated:

  1. Richard Sherman:  He has the requisite level of bombast for the job and can certainly handle “debates” involving football.  Does he know enough/care enough about other sports?
  2. Michael Irvin:  Ditto everything I said about Richard Sherman above…
  3. Stephen A. Smith:  The thinking there was that Smith is unhappy at ESPN because Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Pat McAfee all make more money than he does, and he would jump to FS1 to rejoin Bayless as an on-air tandem.
  4. LaVar Ball:  Wow!
  5. Jay Mariotti:  If FS1 wants the “debate topics” to be “hotly contested”, this is a pairing that would achieve that end.  Mariotti was the most combative of the panelists on Around the Horn when he was a staple on that program.  Moreover, there was a time when Bayless and Mariotti were lead columnists at rival newspapers in Chicago.  I would surely tune in to see some of the confrontations staged by these two guys.

One more thing …  I read a report that Netflix is going to do another one of its docuseries programs on – – wait for it – – Jerry Jones.  Ten each one-hour episodes on Jerry Jones.  If you forced prisoners of war to watch that in its entirety, I think you would be in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Finally, I shall close today with an item from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

Karaoke:  A once-in-a-lifetime chance for lonely untalented people to be even more sad and pitiable than they are in everyday life.”

[Aside:  I believe the word “karaoke” derives from a Japanese word that means, “No, you can’t sing either.”]

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