Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Different approaches to ownership

One of these things is not like the other.

Would you rather have the best players on your team, or the most marketable ones?

It sounds like a stupid question, mostly because it is. Any fan worth their water doesn't give a crap what the general public thinks about the players on their team. As long as they are winning, that's all they care about.

It's an interesting question to ask, however, because many owners probably try and balance this in some way. When it all boils down, there are two worlds that sports owners live.

Revenue-driven owners look out solely for the bottom line.

Competition-driven owners want to win over all other things.

Although not mutually exclusive, the thought process for these two worlds is different. Owners like Mark Cuban and George Steinbrenner, despite their pitfalls, ultimately just want to win. It consumes them. They know that if they win, the money will come. And ultimately, they will spend whatever is within their power to get to that point. Losing kills them inside. They can't sleep, their stomachs hurt. Don't get me wrong, they want to make money, but they would never sacrifice the product they put on the field if it means some lost revenue.

Given, all owners would like their teams to win, but when you break it down to pure motives, most owners fall into one category or the other. Given, I have no problem with the revenue-driven owner. After all, it's usually the real reason anyone who has enough money to buy a professional sports team is rich in the first place. You want a return on your investment. And if that is your main prerogative, that's fine. I just think that owners who aren't passionate about their team's on-field or on-court success don't care about or realize that their earning potential is exponentially higher when the team is successful.

Take the Los Angeles Angels for instance. Their owner, Arte Moreno, realizes that spening money on salary and putting the right players on the field will make his team successfull (obviously). He has also taken steps to cater to the fans by renaming the ballpark to a non-corporate name (branding for the Angels), and lowering beer prices. He takes the fans into consideration and watches his bottom line in the process. It's really a brilliant, not-so-crazy concept that somehow doesn't catch on.

Given, team situations are different. But there are teams that have the opportunity to create an atmosphere of winning that fans love to be around. The Angels built themselves up the right way. Many do not.

My point in all of this rambling is that there are owners like Moreno who consider success primary among the concerns of fans, and sprinkling it with some other incentives helps. Then, there are those who are fine with rolling out a mediocre-to-bad product just because they'll continue to make acceptable profits. Instead of producing a winner, they cover the team with unhealthy toppings instead of building the actual product. New York Knicks owner James Dolan is obviously fine with doing this every season. Because of television contracts and the city they play in, the Knicks will probably always sit atop the revenue hill among NBA teams. What Dolan needs to finally acknowledge, is that rebuilding would ultimately earn him even more money in the long term. Owning a sports franchise is about long-term revenue performance, right? Instead, he keeps pulling in players who he feels the city of New York will embrace...Stephon Marbury and Larry Brown's acquisitions being the biggest offenses among them all. Of course, Brown didn't last. But the Knicks still have Marbury, a New York guy who the fans supposedly like having. But, going back to my initial question...which would fans rather like? A well-built team that can compete, or a team with guys they like personally? I'm imagining they choose the former every time.

Reasonably yours,

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Three leagues can thank the others for screwing up

A perfect storm of bad behavior is keeping the three main leagues from buckling under their own mischief.

With the recent outbreak of ne'r-do-wells in sports, it makes one wonder if any one sport will fall in popularity for the transgressions of the people involved with each sports.

What everyone refuses to recognize among the overreaction is that each one of these seeming horrid events benefits the other two leagues.

Right now, the biggest three stories/controversies are split among the United States' three major sports league. Michael Vick's dogfighting charges, Tim Donaghy's betting scandal and Barry Bonds' imminent breaking of the all-time home run record are dominating headlines, causing some to declare that everything sucks.

But, because these three events are culminating at the same time, each sports league is getting a small reprieve. Every league right now has a great argument that the other league is worse for their transgressions.

The NBA can look at the NFL and MLB and say "Hey, at least none of our superstars are accused in this betting mess. At least our players have some integrity, unlike a certain cantaloupe-headed slugger and that animal-murdering demon."

Major League Baseball can look at the NBA and NFL and say "Nothing has been proven about our supposed bad guy. He doesn't murder animals, and he doesn't bet on games. He plays his games and does not break the rules."

And finally, the NFL has a very strong statement: "At least the integrity of our actual sport hasn't been compromised. Zing."

If these events were happening at separate times, I imagine fans would likely be in more of an uproar toward that particular sport. But, because all three of the sports are in the middle of a perfect storm of misbehavior, each one is let off the hook a little bit. In the end, nobody will stop following sports because of all this mess. Animals lovers who like the NFL will still follow the NFL. People who follow the NBA will still follow the NBA and have more interesting speculations about refereeing. And nobody will care about Bonds breaking the record when A-Rod laps him.

In the end, the respective commissioners for each of these leagues is likely thanking the other two leagues for crapping the bed at the same time.

Scooter's signature:

Reasonably yours,

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

See who likes what, when and where

A stat dork's wet dream.

I don't try and keep my love for Google a secret.

I convert as many people as I can to using Gmail. I use Google Maps religiously. If Google has a product, chances are I find a way to use it. And now, Google has allowed me to see what people are interested in.

Spending hours and hours on Google Trends, cross referencing what people search for in relation to other similar topics is endlessly entertaining.

For instance, more people seem to care about the NBA draft than the penultimate ultimate contest in the NBA, the Finals. Also, more people in the Philipines seem to care about the Finals than Americans do. Greeks seem to love the All-Star game and the Finals, but could care less about the draft. Is any of this beneficial to the average person? Probably not. But if you're a giant dork about this kind of stuff like I am, it's incredibly interesting.

Some more obvious ones show that Americans care more about football than any other sport. Duh. However, what is interesting is that the top five cities that search for "football" the most are all in close proximity to major college football centers. Birmingham AL; Columbus, OH; and Omaha, NE; Columbis, SC and Austin, TX are interested in football more than any NFL city. New Orleans is the NFL city closest at ninth overall. With the overwhelming popularity of the NFL, you would imagine that more people would be searching in NFL cities. I do acknowledge that these results aren't necessarily 100 percent accurate since many fans search for specific players and teams as their entry points to finding information. For that reason, it fascinates me that college football fans would be venturing forth with less specific searches. Again, I am a dork.

To vary from the beaten path for a bit, do some non-sport-related searches. One really obvious one is sex vs. love, with sex obviously winning hand over fist (no pun intended). Also, it should be noted that Pakistanis and Egyptians love them some sex. I imagine the United States is nowhere to be found on this list as we all have weird-ass specific searches for the kind of sex we want to see. We're very specific like that.

Other searches can be a bit more disturbing. Some are probably on their way to aligning a bit more evenly of late.

Reasonably yours,

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