The View From Wisconsin
Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Well, here's five suggestions on how he can get off on the right foot with fans:
- SPEND MONEY ON PLAYERS. Heaven knows the Brewers are in need of quality major league players, not 4-A level players who are just hanging in there, trying to avoid being sent to the Expos. By the way, this means keeping our own players, like Geoff Jenkins. Lock him up and give him the ego strokes to stay a Brewer for the rest of his career. If it means you have to ego-stroke him and tell him that the number 5 will be his forever, do it.
- KEEP NED YOST AND DOUG MELVIN. They have shown that they know what they're doing, and Ned is really that link to our team's past that we need. I'm sure that when you were talking to the owner of the Rangers, Tom Hicks, he told you that Doug was a bright man who really knew his talent. Give these guys some money that they can play with, and watch your investment grow.
- BRING OUR HEROES HOME. There are these two guys, one in Arizona and one in Minnesota. They're both going to be looking for work soon. Do everything you can to get them to be something in your new front office, or in the clubhouse. Because the fans here will think you're the greatest if you can get those two guys who've got their names and uniform numbers up on the roof rails back in Brewer uniforms - even if it's just as a coach or assistant to the GM.
- CUT PRICES AT THE BALLPARK. Prices for Brewers games are pretty reasonable, as it goes. But all those seats up in the Terrace are going unsold and unused. Here's a plan: Knock the price of Terrace Boxes down to $10 a game, and the reserved seats down to $8. Make the Bernie's Terrace seats (right behind his Dugout in LF) $2.50 instead of $5. Add a season ticket plan for the Family Section of the Loge Bleachers in Left. Keep the "Beer Pen" idea for the RF loge bleachers - make it an all-weekend thing. And speaking of beer, talk to your friends over at Miller and see if we can cut the price of beer at the game. That includes the vendors - who you might want to drop the prices of their bottles by a half-dollar, to encourage tipping. And, the most important thing you could do, Mr. Attanasio:
- BRING BACK THE BALL-IN-GLOVE LOGO. You don't have to trash the Brewers script, or completely get rid of the M script. Save it for the warmups or the jackets. But put that "mb" back on the caps where it belongs. Fans relate to that logo; it symbolizes to them a winning team. Using the Navy and Wheat colors would update the logo while making a mint for you in the Fan Zone.
There are other things, sure, that he can do. A big one would involve bringing Harley-Davidson back as a sponsor. Another will be doing some sprucing up of Miller Park - though I really don't think that bringing back Bernie's Barrell and Mug is such a great idea. But the biggest thing he can do is put some money into this club and get it back to where we're actually thinking about playing in October, instead of thinking about the Packers' next opponent.
Friday, September 24, 2004
- Teams in small markets will, in all likelihood, never have the largest payrolls in any of the four team sports. No one who is a fan of a small-market team in MLB, the NHL or the NBA should expect to have the highest paid player in their sport playing for their team anytime soon.
- A bad baseball team is the hardest of all team sports to turn around. For example, it will probably take the Expos franchise anywhere from six to 10 years to become a respectable franchise, once the team is sold and moved to a new location. The next hardest is the NHL, then the NBA, and then the NFL.
- Salary caps are good ideas for team sports - in theory. As good as the idea of a salary cap is to team sports, it's virtually impossible to get it to work in the real world. The reason for this is simple: there is no honor among thieves. All of the major pro sports teams have only themselves as the bottom line, and therefore are always looking for a way to get around the rules to their advantage. Thus, show me a salary cap and I'll show you at least five ways of getting around it.
- Players do not make good owners. In general, if players are inclined to become team owners, your sport is not in good health. Players do not generally make very good owners (just as most owners do not make very good players – or coaches).
- The Designated Hitter is not going to go away completely. There may be talk of abolishing it, even if MLBPA says they don't mind it going away. However, there are too many financial reasons why there should be a DH rule. In fact, it is more likely that the rule will be changed, within a generation, to apply to all of baseball.
- Artificial turf won't be disappearing anytime soon, either. Though there has been limited success in growing grass indoors, there will come a point in time when it will be cheaper to put a safer, realistic, life-like surface down instead of constantly replacing dead or dying grass.
- Cities that don't currently have a major league franchise aren't likely to get one anytime soon. Each of the four sports are happy with the places they have their teams right now, and unless there are extenuating circumstances, they aren't going to move to a city that's never had major league sports.
- It is only a matter of time before advertisements appear on player uniforms. Revenue streams will be such a large part of a franchise's continued success that this one won't be ignored in North America much longer. Don't anticipate seeing the Addidas logo overshadow the NY and the pinstripes, however.
- Ticket prices will continue to rise until they meet demand. And when demand is met, teams will start moving in to smaller facilities to increase demand before deciding to lower ticket prices. Oh, and variable rate ticket pricing - based on opponents and/or days of the week - will more than likely be the norm within a decade.
- The Internet has had a dramatic impact on how fans follow and support their teams. A fan of the Miami Dolphins can follow his team's exploits in Anchorage, Alaska - and the growth of fantasy sports makes fans more knowledgeable about players on teams other than his or her hometown teams.
- Women's pro sports leagues cannot survive in the long term. Anyone who anticipates women's professional team sports, or women playing in existing male leagues, lasting for more than a short period of time is dreaming. Yes, people like Mia Hamm, Rebecca Lobo and Diana Taurisi are admirable in their performances. However, few people actually want to pay money to go see them play on a continuing basis.
- Viable alternatives to the existing major sports leagues are highly unlikely - thanks to Vince McMahon. The failure of the XFL basically ended any and all serious attempts at creating viable alternatives to the existing major pro leagues (MLB, NFL and NBA). The reason, of course, is that all of the major TV networks saw how the league's ratings eroded so quickly, making the televising of any similar endeavor seem suicidal. The WHA, which has yet to prove it can even sign players to play in its league, let alone start competing, doesn't really count at this point.
- No non-Major League team sport will retain its popularity for as long as the "Big Three" of baseball, basketball and football. As popular as NASCAR and golf are now, the cycle of popularity will eventually swing away from those sports to either the three sports that were first turned pro in the US, or to other sports.
- The only way that any Major League sport will go out of business is if people stop coming to games. The "SEW" principle is the primary reason why baseball came back from the strike, the NFL survived the player strike in the 1980's, and basketball has weathered its labor strife: if you decide to stop going to games, someone else will buy your ticket and go. Until such time as people decide, en masse, to stop going to games, there will be an NFL, an NBA, MLB - and even a NHL.
- It is a matter of time before one of the major pro sports leagues loses an entire season due to a labor dispute. And it's looking more and more like it will be the National Hockey League. Egos, stubbornness, and the sports mentality of "winning is everything" will do more than just cause a league to lose its championship game.
- Money can't buy you championships. However, put the money in the hands of people who know your sport, and it can move mountains. The equation is essentially money plus knowledge of the sport equals success. This explains the New York Yankees as much as it does the New York Rangers.
- The National Football League is in a class by itself in comparison to all other team sports in North America. No other team sport should even think about comparing itself to the NFL, whether it is for a salary cap, revenue sharing or other forms of business operations. The NFL is on a level that no other sport, save perhaps baseball in the first half of the 20th Century, has ever achieved in its existence in North America. There are so many exceptions and "onlies" surrounding their operations that it would be pointless for any other league of any other sport to try to be like them - completely.
- ESPN should be careful that they do not allow the "E" in their name to outweigh the "S". As the "Worldwide Leader In Sports" tries more original programming and movies, they are moving dangerously away from being a Sports network towards an Entertainment network. They should remember that the four major sports are the reason why they exist in the first place - or they won't make it to their 50th anniversary.
- Gambling will destroy a sport if it is allowed to permeate the game. The primary reason why players, owners, coaches and officials gambling on their sport is bad for the game is very simple: their own self interest of their wagers overrules the interest of their team or their sport. Even if a player is betting on his own team, it overrules the concept of being a "team player" because the player is trying to win more than just a game. Thus, it is for this reason and this reason alone that any athlete, official, owner or manager who is caught gambling on his sport should be suspended from the game indefinitely.
- The law of averages suggest that even the worst team in a given sport will eventually win a championship. Someday, the Cincinnati Bengals will win the Super Bowl; the Memphis Grizzlies will win the NBA title; the Phoenix Coyotes will win the Stanley Cup, and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays will win the World Series. It might not happen in our lifetimes, nor may it happen while the team is playing where they are now - but it should happen.
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
I just hope he doesn't get 700 until Friday, the 17th.
Monday, September 13, 2004
- Is it just me, or is Howard Baldwin trying to bring the Mighty Ducks to Kansas City?
- I am currently reading Unfit For Command by John O'Neill and Jerome Corsi. It's an interesting read, and it makes me more convinced that we should not be electing a seditious SOB like Kerry to the highest post in the land.
- This is the week that those of us in the world of hockey have been dreading for about three years now. The Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL and the NHLPA expires Wednesday night at 11:00 PM CT. It is highly unlikely, at this point, that the league is going to allow training camps to remaing open if a new agreement - and one that has a hard salary cap - is not in place. Which means that there won't be any hockey for quite some time.
- Can we in Milwaukee do better than Bill Stewart? Isn't there someone in the three-state area that is interested in buying a minor-league hockey team?
- On the other ownership front, it looks like the Brewers have a choice between a telecom financier, an online loan specialist (who happened to have a large stake in a sporting goods firm), and a beer distributor from Northern Illinois. There's some comedian somewhere that's trying to come up with a good joke out of that one.
I'm in four different fantasy football leagues, all on Yahoo. Three of them were "auto-drafts" - you give the computer a list of players you want it to draft, and it does an automatic draft based on random draft order of the league. Well, in those three leagues, using essentially the same list, I drafted three separate teams (with not much similarity, other than I have Brett Favre in two of them). The fourth one was the subject of a live draft via an online Java chat program - which took an interminable amount of time because one owner was a no-show, a second one got disconnected halfway through the draft, and two owners were basically clueless about their teams. I walked away from that draft with a bad taste in my mouth, and not entirely sure I had a very good team.
That is the one league where I am winning, going into the Monday Night game between the Pack and the Panthers.
In the other three leagues, I'm no less than 20 points down with Monday Night to go. How many times this has happened to me in the past (being down so far going into the MNF game) is beyond me.
The problem with being in so many leagues is that the player who you need to have a big game in one league is the guy the other team has going for them in another league. That is definitely the case in two of the leagues: I have the Carolina defense as a "hedge" against getting "Favred" in one leauge, while in my Public league my opponent has the Carolina defense.
By the way, the term "Favred" is a Fantasy Football term coined in the oldest-running of the leagues that I'm in, the Not Quite Ready For Prime Time Football League. Our beloved Brett Favre, who has had days where he has stunk up the joint in terms of Fantasy Football, has frustrated many an owner who has drafted him. I myself have benched him one week in frustration, only to have him turn in a 30- or 40-point masterpiece that would have won me the game the following week. He's never been released as a FFL player, though.
Monday, September 06, 2004
As the NHL and NHLPA continue their never-ending quest to completely ruin hockey, I stumbled upon a proposal made by Jeremy Roenick that could be a theoretical "compromise solution" to the bargaining stalemate.
Now, I have as little hope of this agreement being approved as I do of winning the Powerball lottery jackpot, but here goes my take on the so-called "Roenick Plan":
- Top salary for any player - adjusted to include bonuses and incentives, as would be agreed upon by the league and the players - would be set at a particular level for a given year, based on average salary. For the first year, this amount would be $7 million.
- No more than three players would be allowed to play at this top salary level for any one team.
- A second-tier "cap" would be set at an amount below the top salary level of about $2 million, or the amount of the average player salary in the league. For the first year, this amount would be set at $5 million.
- No more than three players would be allowed to play at this salary level for any one team.
- Teams would not be required to have any of their players in either of these top tiers in salary.
- The six lowest-paid players on each team could not exceed a set amount, which would also be based on the league minimum salary. The total would be no more than twice the league minimum, times five. This would be set at $5 million for the first year.
- Rookies and first-year players could not make more than the league average salary in their first two years, including all bonuses and incentives.
- Bonus numbers would be pro-rated over the term of a contract when determining a player's cap number (i.e., a $1.2 million signing bonus on a three-year deal would be pro-rated at $400,000 in year one, $400,000 in year two and $400,000 in year three, unless specified in the contract).
- Incentives would be figured by the attainability of the incentive. Appearance and/or minute incentives would be figured on a dollar-to-dollar basis (That is, every dollar of the incentive would count towards the cap number). Statistical incentives would be figured based on the player's last three years in the NHL; if the amount is at or below the player's established levels, the amount would be figured on a dollar-to-dollar basis. If the amount was up to 5% above the player's established levels, the amount would be figured at a 75% basis (3/4ths of the incentive amount; if it was 5-10% above, it would be figured at 50%. 10 to 20% would be figured at 25%; while anything over 20% would not be counted towards the cap. Example: if player A had an incentive of $10,000 for 50 goals, and the goal totals from his last three NHL seasons were 49, 50 and 51, the entire $10k would be counted towards the cap. If player B had the same incentive, but his goal totals were 39, 40 and 41, none of the $10k would be counted towards his cap number.
- Player award incentives may not exceed a set amount, regardless of the player. Such amounts are not counted towards any cap.
In theory, the highest a team's payroll could be for the first year of this plan would be $94.9 million. If a team chose not to have any "capped" players, the maximum would be $88.3 million.
Conversely, a team could be put out on the ice for "only" $15.2 million (six bottom players at $5 million, plus 17 others at $600k).
A team with 17 players at $2 million each would have a payroll of around $39 million.