Sports Outside the Beltway

The NHL Lockout is over

The most idiotic labor dispute in sports history appears to have ended. From ESPN-

A tentative agreement has been reached between the NHL and the players’ association.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr stood side by side in the early hours of Sunday morning to announce there was a framework in place for a new collective bargaining agreement.

Bettman and Fehr didn’t join hands and sing Kumbaya together.

The deal still requires majority approval from both the board of governors — as early as Tuesday — and the NHLPA membership before it can become official.

The tentative agreement is a 10-year deal with a mutual opt-out clause after eight years and includes contract term limits at seven years (eight years for a team to re-sign its own players), a source confirmed to

“I am happy deal has been reached and excited to get back to playing hockey,” Penguins star Sidney Crosby said in an email.

For the first year, the salary cap is $60 million but teams can spend up to $70.2 million in the transition period, while the floor is $44 million.

Sources said the 2013-14 salary cap, a very divisive issue, will be $64.3 million, while the floor will remain at $44 million.

Contract salary variance is capped at 35 percent from year to year, with the provision that the last year can’t vary more than 50 percent from the highest-salaried year, a source told

Revenue sharing will spread $200 million, with a $60 million NHLPA-initiated growth fund included.

The players did well after the last CBA was agreed to, and I expect the same result this time around. I think some owners may benefit also but the NHL has at least one team with severe financial problems and a couple more possibly waiting in the wings. This labor dispute cost the team owners millions and I wouldn’t be surprised if there is fallout from it.

Why did this dispute take four months to resolve? It came down to personalities, the owners don’t like Fehr and both sides complained and whined about the other instead of playing hockey. I’m a die hard Florida Panthers fan who can count the televised games involving the cats over the last five years that they have missed watching on one hand. Right now I have very little enthusiasm for a shortened bogus season.


NBA suspends training camps indefinitely

File this under not surprising news-

NEW YORK — The lockout has started doing real damage to the NBA’s calendar.

Players won’t report at the usual time. The preseason won’t start as scheduled.

And more cancellations could be necessary without a new labor deal soon.

Out of time to keep everything intact, the NBA postponed training camps indefinitely and canceled 43 preseason games Friday because it has not reached an agreement with players.

All games from Oct. 9-15 are off, the league said. Camps were expected to open Oct. 3.

“We have regretfully reached the point on the calendar where we are not able to open training camps on time and need to cancel the first week of preseason games,” deputy commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “We will make further decisions as warranted.”

The players’ association did not comment.

I don’t expect their to be another NBA game this year. This kind of labor conflict is usually protracted and nothing will get done till the season is on the verge of being lost. As NHL fans know from 2004-2005, even then the dispute can go over the cliff taking a whole season with it.

I have no sympathy for either owners or players. The players are rich and overindulged, the owners of small market NBA teams had to know when going in that they had little chance of making the franchise they were purchasing into NBA Championship contenders/moneymakers.


Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd: Progress Stopping JAGs

In a post titled “If you’re keeping the best players, Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd stay,” DMN’s Todd Archer makes a passionate plea for keeping the two veteran receivers on the Dallas Cowboys roster.

And as the final cuts come down this weekend, you’ll hear teams talk about “keeping the best players.”

Sorry, not true. Even in a season without a salary cap.

If it were true we wouldn’t be talking about the Cowboys thinking of cutting or trading Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd. If you keep the best 53 players, they are in that group. There can be no discussion.

It’s all about economics. I’m not saying it is right or wrong. It’s just the way it is.

Crayton will make $2 million this season. Hurd will make $1.759 million. Hefty pricetags for backup wide receivers, but there is a peace of mind about having them around. You know what you’re going to get from Crayton. You can’t say that about every other receiver on the roster. Hurd is one of the best special teams’ players on the roster.

Remember Bill Parcells’ axioms about “progress stoppers” and “JAGs.” Crayton and Hurd are very solid players but, ultimately, both are “just a guy.” They’re never going to be any better than they are now. So, I can certainly see trading or releasing one of them to give the spot to a younger, cheaper player with more upside.

Recall, too, that Crayton was given the WR2 spot clean last year and had it taken away from him by Miles Austin. And was arguably outplayed by Michael Crabtree. Guys like Crayton and Hurd become progress stoppers, making it impossible to develop your future stars.

Of course, you’re not going to win a Super Bowl with nothing but superstars and rookies.   There aren’t enough of the former to go around and the latter aren’t going to pan out at high enough rate.   But Parcells was right:  If a guy isn’t showing you something by their 3rd year in the League, they’re likely not going to do it.   And it just doesn’t make sense to keep a lot of older, expensive players on your bench.


College Sports Costs Most Schools Money

Despite raking in billions of dollars in television, ticket, and licensing revenues, all but 14 of the 106 schools in the NCAA’s top athletic division (FBS, formerly IA) lost money in 2009. The median loss was over $10 million.

Jon Soloman of the Birmingham News summarizes the results:

[A] new NCAA report that shows fewer schools are making a profit on college sports during a down economy and increased spending. The result: Athletics departments rely more than ever on institutional subsidies.

The NCAA reports only 14 athletics departments from the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) made more money than they spent in 2008-09, down from 25 in each of the previous two years. The average institutional subsidy for athletics in the FBS rose from $8 million in 2007-08 to $10.2 million in 2008-09, the most currently available year of data.


The NCAA study shows that the growth of average revenue generated directly by FBS athletics departments slowed to nearly 6 percent from 2008 to 2009, down from 17 percent growth from 2007 to 2008. Meanwhile, the growth of total athletics expenses ballooned to 11 percent from 2008 to 2009, nearly double from the previous year.


The gap between the “haves” and “have-nots” continues to grow considerably. The highest athletic revenue produced by one school was $138.5 million, yet the average FBS school produced $32.3 million. Similarly, the most money spent by one school was $127.7 million, compared to the average of $45.9 million.

The state of Alabama has at least four FBS programs: Alabama, Auburn, UAB, and Troy. South Alabama is trying to join them. Only Alabama is making money.

Given the ridiculous amounts of money football and basketball generate, how are these people managing to lose money? Basically, they’re spending it faster than they can bring it in:

Another view:

How are they spending so much? The chart on page 21 of the report, too large and detailed to usefully reproduce here, gives some insights. 34.2% is going to salaries, 17.9% to coaches and 15.6% administrators. Scholarships are 16.1%. Game expenses account for another 20.5%. Facilities management, 15.0%.

In terms of revenues, a whopping 45.8% is generated by football and 13.3% from men’s and women’s basketball, combined. Men’s sports generate a median $22.56 million; women’s sports, $836,000.

The numbers are staggering.


LPGA Tour to add Taiwan tour stop in 2011

This news isn’t very surprisingly in light of these facts

1- Yani Tseng is at present holder of two of the tour’s major championships and ranked as one of the top five rated players in the world. Tseng is from Taiwan
2- The increasing popularity of golf in Asia.

Of course people continue to grumble about the lack of United States based tour stops on the LPGA Tour. These people are being short sighted.

1- Any tournaments for the tour is good news

2- The LPGA could be close to bankruptcy at the moment. When a tournament is played, the tour takes a cut of the purse for operating expenses. I heard from a reliable source that the LPGA needs 30 tournaments a year to stay solvent. At the moment the LPGA schedule for next year looks like it will be under 30 events like it has been since 2009.

The LPGA is losing at least one United States LPGA event for 2011, the Jamie Farr, as it goes on hiatus for a year. Also CVS will no longer sponsor a California tour stop. That leaves 12 LPGA events in the United States, plus the foreign events. As it stands, the tour will visit Singapore, Thailand, Mexico(at least 3 times), Canada, England, France, Taiwan, Malaysia, Japan, and South Korea next year with possible additions of Brazil and China.

The LPGA is in trouble right now. Nationalistic based pride and Asian paranoia need to be shelved.

Hat tip- Ryan at Waggle Room who apparently hasn’t gotten the memo about CVS not renewing its sponsorship.


Was there race fixing at Hazel Park?

Last week I blogged about police and regulators in Michigan looking into whether races were fixed at Michigan area horse tracks. ESPN’s Bill Finley has an interesting take on the subject.

The thought of race fixing conjures up images of bad guys sitting in smoked-filled rooms deciding which horses are going to be stiffed, how they’re going to bet the bogus races and how they’re going to divide up the huge loot they’re going to make. It’s the last part that is the key. Race fixing involves greed and greed involves making money, usually lots of it. In Michigan, anyone in the race-fixing business would be lucky to make minimum wage.

Harness racing in Michigan is small-time stuff and the pools at the state’s track are pathetically small. The feature race Saturday night at Northville Downs, the only track currently racing in Michigan, was a conditioned race with a $5,600 purse. The best race on the biggest night of racing during the week, it attracted all of $8,782 in wagering in the win, exacta, trifecta and superfecta pools. After the takeout, roughly $6,800 was returned to winning bettors.

In order to fix a race, you’d have to have at least three drivers in on the scam, not to mention some gamblers and maybe even a trainer or two. At the very minimum, five people would have to be involved. Much of the pool would be taken down not by the race-fixers, but by gamblers who honestly stumbled onto to the winning numbers. Whatever the exact math is, there’d be nothing but a few crumbs left for the five or so bad guys after they divvied up their winnings. Anyone in on a fix would be lucky to walk away with a couple hundred dollars.

The betting figures out of Northville last Saturday were not an aberration. Hazel Park handles the most of any Michigan harness track. It averaged $89,612 per card in handle for 2008, according to the most recent Michigan Gaming Control Board report to be released. The average daily handle at Sports Creek in 2008 was $24,238, which comes out to about $2,000 per race. Imagine making your living fixing races at Sports Creek. You’d be on food stamps.

Would anyone fix a horse race, risk their career and jail time, for, at the most, $200 or $300? I suppose it’s possible, but it’s hard to believe anyone could risk so much for so little.

Finley goes on to wonder if investigators really understand horse racing.

If the take numbers Finley cites are accurate, I don’t see how fixing would be on these tracks for the same reason he does. That goes my usual inclination to believe if an investigation is under way in sports, that there has to be substance to it.

I grew up being taken from one Midwest race track or county fair to another*during the years 1971-1974. In late 1973 over 20 people(including some of the country’s most famous drivers) were arrested in the New York area for fixing superfecta races. I remember this huge scandal very well but it is almost forgotten today. The handles in 1973 by the way were many times bigger then today. Most of those arrested were found not guilty in court, but this and some of my father’s stories about drivers holding back, I’ve always taken a jaundiced rule when the possibility of race fixing surfaces. This time I want to see more and won’t jump to conclusions.

*- I grew up on Long Island but my father’s horses raced out of tracks in New Jersey, Ohio, and the Chicago area. New York city are tracks had strict rules about minors attending the races. In fact I can count the times I saw races at Roosevelt and Yonkers on on hand. Whereas I been to Freehold, Atlantic City, Brandywine, Scioto, Sportsmans Park, and a couple other tracks probably 200 times all combined.


Hoosier Park owner files for bankruptcy

It isn’t Centaur’s only filing in the last six months. From

Centaur LLC, owner of Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, announced Sunday, March 7 that the company has filed for bankruptcy in an effort to restructure and emerge with less debt. According to a company press release, Centaur and its subsidiaries, which include Hoosier Park, Fortune Valley Hotel & Casino in Central City, Colorado, and Valley View Downs & Casino, elected to file a voluntary bankruptcy petition under Chapter 11 to ensure that operations continue without interruption. Hoosier Park is slated to kick off an 80-day harness meet beginning March 25.


This is not the first bankruptcy filing for Centaur. The Indianapolis-based company missed a scheduled $13.4 million interest payment on a $400 million-plus loan in October 2009. At the time, two of the company’s affiliated entities in the Valley View Downs project, Valley View Downs LP and Centaur PA Land LP, filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy to help retain a racing permit in Pennsylvania.

I don’t know what else to say about this news except that its consistent with the current trend in horse racing. The industry isn’t profitable any more on a stand alone basis,


Parting gift- Montana State basketball program gets bequeathed $170,000

It was given by Ellen Kreighbaum who was instrumental in starting Women’s Sports at the University. From AP-

Montana State University’s women’s basketball program and the Bobcat Club are the beneficiaries of a $200,000 estate gift.

The MSU Athletics Department announced Friday that the gift was made by Ellen Kreighbaum, a pioneer in Bobcat women’s athletics.

The women’s basketball team will get $170,000, while the remaining $30,000 will go to the Bobcat Club for student-athlete scholarships.

Kreighbaum was instrumental in starting the MSU women’s basketball program in the late 1960s. She also helped establish the women’s athletic department at MSU.

Ellen Kreighbaum’s affiliation with Montana State began in the mid-1960′s. Prior to 1968 the school didn’t have a women’s athletic program.

The Florida High School I attended was bequeathed money to build its own swimming pool. It was still held up in probate at the time of my graduation.


Boomeranged- Miami makes a waiver mistake on LB Joey Porter

Porter, who is in Coach Sparano’s dog house at present, was being let go due to salary cap considerations. From the Miami Herald-

The Miami Dolphins did Friday what many figured they would do even before Joey Porter made a mini-campaign for it last week — they released the outside linebacker with two years left on his contract.

Then, Porter boomeranged back onto the Dolphins’ roster.

“The release of Joey Porter was determined to be an invalid termination,” the Dolphins said in a statement. “Therefore at this time, Porter reverts back to the Miami Dolphins roster.”

Releasing Porter now accelerates certain contract monies against the 2009 salary cap and the Dolphins don’t have enough room for that acceleration. They have to hold on to Porter until March 5. Which means, unless they trade him before then, Porter will get his $1 million roster bonus due March 1.

I get a good laugh out of this. Miami can’t even waive a player properly. How will they do NFL draft time? The team has had just two Pro Bowl 1st rounders in the last 15 years. Wide Receiver Chris Chambers and OT Jake Long.


Where are my earplugs?- Anaheim beats Florida 3-0

I attended the game in person tonight but I’ll use the AP article to lead off this blog post.

It took a swing through the Sunshine State for the Anaheim Ducks to salvage a 13-day road trip.Ana-FL

Jonas Hiller made 33 saves to earn his second shutout of the season, and the Ducks beat the Florida Panthers 3-0 on Monday night.

Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne and Corey Perry each scored for the Ducks, who wrapped up the six-game trip and snapped Florida’s five-game winning streak at home.

Hiller’s other shutout this season came on Nov. 5 in a 4-0 win over the Nashville Predators. Hiller, who has six NHL shutouts, was coming off a 30-save effort in the Ducks’ 2-1 shootout victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night.


Florida’s Tomas Vokoun stopped 22 shots. Vokoun was coming off his seventh shutout of the season, a 33-save performance in the Panthers’ 2-0 win over the New York Islanders on Sunday.


The Ducks went ahead 3-0 on Perry’s goal at 17:18 in the third. He scored with a slap shot from the right circle after taking a pass from Getzlaf from behind the net.

Selanne gave Anaheim a 2-0 lead with a power-play goal in the final second of the second period. James Wisniewski’s shot ricocheted off the left post and hit Vokoun in the back, and Selanne then tipped in the loose puck.

After a scoreless first period, Getzlaf netted an unassisted goal at 15:17 into the second. He picked up the puck on a turnover by Keith Ballard and scored with a wrist shot from in front, beating Vokoun on his stick side.

Corey Perry scored the final goal of the game with under three minutes to go in the game. I was already out of my seat and getting ready to leave but saw the goal go in the net. Just prior to this the Panthers had two consecutive power plays, which overlapped one another for about 30 seconds resulting in a 5-3 for the cats. The score of the game tells you how Florida fared with those advantages.

Florida got thoroughly outplayed tonight. This was one of their worst home efforts of the 2009-10 season.

Now some random comments and occasional barbs related to my night out at the Bank Atlantic Center.

*- Tonight was my first visit to the BAC. In fact, I haven’t seen a professional team sporting event in person in almost 20 years.

It took me a while to find my way around the parking lots on arrival but did ok. On the way out, I found my car with ease and got out of the parking lots but headed in the wrong direction on the Sawgrass Expressway. South instead of north to Palm Beach County.

*- Food prices at sporting events is ridiculous. $6.00 for a hot dog. I can buy a package of buns and a 8 pack of hot dogs at the grocery store for less. 20 oz. Coke was a ‘cheap’ $5.50. If sodas were priced were priced the same amount times over hot dogs were, they would have been $10.00 or more tonight.

How does a family manage a night out at a game? Even with half off Monday, the family of three in my row had to cough up about $170 for their tickets. That doesn’t include food and anything else bought at the stadium. You better be upper middle class to go see a game or expect to make a car payment to see 60 minutes of hockey.

*- My seats were 6 rows behind(Section 102) the Panthers bench and almost right on center ice.

*- Now I know why Florida has a ticket promotion called ‘Half Off Mondays’. The BAC was only half full tonight.(Or worse)

That meant I had half a row to myself with no one seated on my right for 3 seats and only people seated on my left but with an empty seat between us.

*- Anyone attending a Panther game should bring earplugs. The BAC does what they call ‘Rock the Rink’. Loud Rock music that I could have done without. It blared incesantly all through the pre-game warmups.

*- Dumb rude fan moment of the night. A person in their twenties wanted to get out of my aisle. At the time I was standing up, he could have said excuse me and I would have moved. Instead he climbed down a row, stepping on a seat in the process. Wouldn’t you love to be the fan who had to sit there later on? NOT!

*- Should Panther fans forced to view the back of Peter DeBoer’s head all night get a discount on their tickets?

*- The Panthers have a team mascot named Stanley Panther. There’s a kids version, little stan or something. I got nothing against Mascots except they are blocking my view when the puck is in the opponent’s end of the ice. Get your big heads down!

*- One of the reasons I chose tonight’s game to attend, was the fact there was zero television coverage of it. As part of the imbecile deal the NHL made with the devil Versus, no other games are allowed to be aired during that Network’s ‘Game of the Week’.

*- BAC has a computer area where someone can check email etc before the game or during intermissions. I did exactly that between the first and second periods of play.

*- Anaheim Duck Teemu Selanne played tonight. Wasn’t he supposed to be out for over a month with a broken jaw?

*- The Florida Panther who came closest to scoring a goal tonight? Goalie Tomas Vokoun and he almost put one in for Anaheim! The Panthers were on a Power Play and the Ducks shot the puck out of their zone. Vokoun went to handle it and passed it across the goal mouth. I swore the thing was going in for a moment.

*- Florida Panther David Booth played in his second game since suffering a concussion. He played well for two periods but looked fatigued in the 3rd.(He did similarly in a game yesterday but managed an assist.)

That’s about it. Did you have enough already? I needed something to do to help unwind in preparation for bed.


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

All original content copyright 2003-2008 by OTB Media. All rights reserved.