Monthly Archives: April, 2011

Cam Newton or Ryan Mallett?

If you had to take either Ryan Mallett or Cam Newton, which would you take?

If I’m a GM, I’m not touching Cam Newton with a 10-foot pole with a 60-foot pole attached to it.  I don’t want anything to do with Newton, period.  Newton’s left a paper trail wherever he’s been; there’s solid, documented stuff on him, and I think when you add fifty million bucks to that…welcome to JaMarcus II.

I’m not as down on Mallett as everybody else seems to be;  most of the stuff swirling around him seems to be a lot of smoke (pun not intended). Yet, we live in an NFL Draft world where Rule Number 1 is that where there is smoke, there is probably a fire; Mallett has been hit with drug and partying rumors since he left Arkansas. The rumors keep flying, and yet he’s not failing drug tests and he’s not being seen misbehaving in public (don’t forget we live in the camera-phone world). The only thing I could find was a public intoxication charge from two years ago.  I’m not that worried about a college kid getting tagged with $150 misdemeanor for walking home from a beer party, especially since I can’t find anything solid since then.

What I see in Mallett is a kid with a ass-load of physical talent who has yet to have anybody coach him on the mental aspects of not just football, but life in general. Granted, he may not be the sharpest tool in the shed (be sure to let me know when you start seeing scholarships with the name “Favre” or “Bradshaw” on them), but I think given the right circumstances, the kid’s upside is hard to ignore.  Sports Illustrated’s Peter King has five quarterbacks going in the first round of the draft — and Mallett isn’t in the group. Sorry, but there’s no way there are five quarterbacks in this draft more talented than Ryan Mallett.

The really messed up part is now inventing on-field reasons not to like him. Now all of  a sudden, Mallett isn’t mobile enough. If Mallett is so immobile, why didn’t it show on the field? Granted, he’s a 6-foot-7 “pocket passer” (and we all know what that is code for), but he still runs a respectable 4.5 second 40-yard dash.  Compare him with the “athletic quarterback” (speaking of code words) Cam Newton who threw 280 passes last season and was sacked 23 times. Mallett threw 411 passes and was sacked 25 times.

It all comes down to the  circumstances – this kid needs a mentor as badly as the Vikings need a quarterback. Had he been able to play for 4 years under Lloyd Carr at Michigan, I think it is very unlikely we are having this discussion – Carr did a good job of teaching guys how to not be knuckleheads.  But when Carr got pushed out the door, Mallett was left with a hemmorhoid like Rich Rodriguez, then transferred to an even worse guy in Bobby Petrino at Arkansas. If Mallett goes to an organization that cares about character (i.e. Patriots, Saints, Colts…) and gets the kid the mentor he needs, the sky is the limit for his upside.  If the opposite happens, and he ends up in a dysfucntional organization like the Raiders, Vikings, or Jets, he will mirror that dysfunction and therefore become just another flame-out.

The 10 Dirtiest College Programs Plus The Ones Of Which I’m Most Suspicious

Let’s face it,  college programs cheat. There’s an old saying in college sports, “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.” Recently, we here at Dubsism hung a tag of “dirty program” on Auburn, but to be fair, they are far from the only one. Hell, they probably are all dirty; just because your school may not have been caught lately just means they are more discreet.

Plus, let’s be honest…getting away with it is a hell of a lot easier for some schools than others. If you doubt that, all you have to do is look at the NCAA’s precedent of deferring punishment for for moneymakers during money-making season; of course this refers to the bullshit punishments postponed until next season for Jim Tressel and Jim Calhoun. Plus, if you look at the following list, you’re going to notice a distinct lack of the real power-players in college sports.

10) Wisconsin Basketball and Football — Major Infractions: 7  Just months after its basketball program reached the Final Four in 2000, the Wisconsin athletic department imploded when 26 football players were suspended prior to the season opener after the NCAA uncovered that members of the Badgers’ football and basketball teams were given special credit arrangements at a shoe store (this “free shoes” tactic will appear again on this list). The Badgers were handed five years of probation, including the loss of scholarships in both football and basketball.

9) Memphis Basketball Major Infractions:7  The  program at Memphis has has two trips into the NCAA doghouse. The Final Four run in 1985 dissolved the following year when head coach Dana Kirk was fired after the NCAA uncovered recruiting violations and vacated the appearance.  Then came John  Calipari,  who had the Tigers positioned to win the national title, but that later evaporated when Memphis got hit with three years of probation for Derrick Rose’s fraudulent SAT score and the $1,700 in free travel and lodging provided to his brother. Before penalties were levied, Calipari slithered off to Kentucky, which could soon find its way onto this list as the athletic program has six major infractions and the basketball program narrowly escaped the death penalty in 1989.

8 ) Florida State — Major Infractions: 7 Former Florida Gator coach Steve Spurrier once referred to FSU as “Free Shoes University,” which was really a reference to a 1993 scandal in which nine Florida State players went on an agent-funded shopping spree at Foot Locker. Then, in 1999 during a national championship run, Peter Warrick and Laveranues Coles were charged with felony grand theft for receiving $412.38-worth of clothes.

And in the sweetest moment ever, in 2009 Bobby “The Anti-Christ” Bowden was forced to vacate 12 victories because of an academic cheating scandal that also involved the men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, softball and men’s track and field programs. This not only is the best example of a program so corrupted it even torched the sports nobody cares about (a 2007 men’s track national championship was vacated), but these vacated wins meant Bowden would never  catch Joe Paterno as the FBS’s all-time winningest coach.

7) Wichita State Baseball and Basketball — Major Infractions: 7 Wichita State’s baseball and basketball programs have flourished, largely because they can cheat with the big boys. The baseball program has been one of the most successful in recent history, winning the 1989 College World Series and finishing second in 1982, 1991, and 1993. The basketball program reached the Final Four in 1965, Elite Eight in 1981 and Sweet Sixteen in 2006. Of the seven infractions, mentioned here, my favorite involved the basketball team getting punted out of any tournaments after the Elite Eight run in 1981. Seems that the following year, WSU got caught handing out cash payments and and freebie airline tickets. The best part, at the time the penalties were imposed, Wichita State led the NCAA in major infractions. Suck on that, big boys.

6) Oklahoma Football — Major Infractions:7  If you have a program on probation, and you would like to see it stay that way, just hire Barry Switzer.  Oklahoma forfeited nine games from the 1972 season because of violations that resulted from the alteration of players’ transcripts; and when Switzer left in 1988, the program was again on probation. Hard to imagine how one gets the the tag of “outlaw program,” considering there was the probation, oh, and a stretch in which there was a shooting and rape in athletic dorm, one player attempted to sell drugs to undercover agent, and another even player robbed Switzer’s home.  In his defense, he likely robbed his own coach because he wasn’t in on the gravy train resulting from being paid by personal checks from Switzer, the scalping of  game tickets, getting free airline tickets, or the usual money-pump stemming from the usual bidding wars during recruitment.

BONUS – Oklahoma basketball, brought to you by the scumbag formerly known as Kelvin Sampson. Kelvin Sampson, the same guy who later crippled the Indiana basketball program due to unethical recruiting practices, made 550 illegal calls to 17 different recruits, and that’s only what they could prove…but then again, cash is always hard to trace.

5) Texas A&M Football — Major Infractions: 7 They really should name an award for corruption after the old Southwest Conference. Between just SMU and Texas A&M, the SWC could have been the most corrupt entity in the history of college sports.  Cheating was compulsory in the SWC during the 1980s; the theory was if you weren’t cheating, you didn’t matter. Hence, this is the reason why the Jackie Sherrill era in College Station was quite successful. It’s also no coincidence the Sherrill era ended in 1988 when Sherrill resigned after the NCAA discovered that assistant coaches and boosters were providing improper benefits to recruits — one was given a sports car and another’s father was offered medical treatment. When a booster was found paying players for “do-nothing” jobs in 1994, A&M was considered for the “Death Penalty” as well.

4 ) Auburn Football — Major Infractions: 7  At least for now, because this doesn’t even include whatever may stem from the Cam Newton situation. Nonetheless, Auburn has a reputation for “kicking one on to the fairway” with not such infrequent occasion. The best was in 1991, when 60 Minutes aired recordings of head football coach Pat Dye arranging a loan for a player. That bought Auburn two-year bowl ban, one-year television-free,  and the loss of 13 scholarships over a four-year period.

3) Minnesota Basketball — Major Infractions: 7 This is what happens when your whole program hinges on a low-level clerical worker who decides she wants more money to do everybody’s homework, and you piss her off. For Gopher basketball fans, the name Jan Gangelhoff is forever tied to that of Coach Clem Haskins. Haskins literally had the majority of his career scratched from the books because he thought his players didn’t need to hit theirs.  During his stint as Minnesota’s head basketball coach, Clem Haskins oversaw runs to the Elite Eight, Final Four and an NIT Championship. Today, however, only the Elite Eight appearance remains in the NCAA record books, as everything Haskins accomplished from 1993-1994 forward was vacated.

See, the problem is that prior to the Golden Gophers’ appearance in the 1999 NCAA tournament, Gangelhoff ratted out everybody. She sang a song about writing more than 400 papers for numerous basketball players over several years. That proved to be just the tip of the iceberg, Haskins was accused of paying players, persuading professors to inflate players’ grades and ignoring sexual harassment concerns. The NCAA administered massive sanctions, notably docking five scholarships over three seasons and instituting recruiting limitations. The entire athletic department suffered, as the Athletic Director, Associate Athletic Director, Vice President for Student Development and Athletics, and the Academic Counselor were all forced to resign due to the scandal.

The moral of the story – if you are going to cheat, PAY THE HELP! No wonder Gangelhoff rolled over on the whole scheme – for writing over 400 papers, she was paid the heft sum of $3,000 for her work.

2) SMU Football— Major Infractions: 8  Two words – Death Penalty. This is why SMU football is still the poster child for corruption in college sports.  You just can’t have a secret fund to pay players; from 1974 to 1985, the school was penalized on five separate occasions. Because SMU was under such intense scrutiny from the NCAA, the powers that be had little choice but to levy the harshest penalty. As a result, the entire 1987 season was canceled, SMU was forced to cancel the 1988 season, 55 scholarships were smoked and the team was permitted to hire just five full-time assistant coaches instead of the regular nine.

1) Arizona State Baseball— Major Infractions: 9.  The classic example of the NCAA flexing its muscle on a program that largely doesn’t matter because it isn’t a huge revenue generator. Arizona State is primarily known for its baseball program, which has won five national championships and produced legends such as Reggie Jackson and fittingly, Barry Bonds. Last December, it was penalized for major secondary violations, resulting in three years probation and a one-year ban from the NCAA post-season. The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions cited the athletic program for improperly recruiting one player and giving improper benefits to several others. In 2005, ASU was given two years probation for a “lack of institutional control” (Have you read that phrase enough in this piece?) and giving illegal financial aid.

Remember the aforementioned “lack of power player?” It’s that lack that makes me cast an eye at the following; if for no other reason that the “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying” rule.

Ohio State – The crap-storm now surrounding the football program and head coach Cheatypants McSweatervest doesn’t surprise me, in fact it validates a long-held belief of mine that Ohio States’ success in so many sports had to be coming at the expense of the NCAA rule book. See the Florida State Entry. Not to mention, guys like Maurice Clarett should be a warning sign.

Duke – I don’t care how much hate mail I get for this, but I’m convinced Mike Krzyzewski is like the church minister who secretly like little boys. He’s got all the respect of the people who could out him, but none of them do because, after all, he is the minister. Besides, he’s also that hypocritical asshole who preaches about character and discipline, then stomps around on the sideline like the biggest petulant shithead out there. Face it, how the hell else does this school now attract the “one and done” talent they now bitch about?

Alabama – I think the following picture speaks for itself.

USC – What’s happening now is just for openers. I would bet money there are skeletons in the Trojan closet we may never know about.

Teams That Grind My Gears – The Real Tragedy of the Los Angeles Dodgers

Anybody who has read this blog know how I feel about the Los Angeles Dodgers; if not you may want to check my original treatise on the subject before reading any further here; you may find having the additional perspective helpful.

What has happened to this franchise really should be a crime. If there were a way to make the combination of ego and stupidity illegal, Frank McCourt’s ownership of the Dodgers would be the case which got that law passed. Understand that as much as I hate the Dodgers, that hatred is all about what happens on the field. What has happened in this case is so incredibly beyond that it boggles the mind.

First there is the destruction of the franchise. In seven years, McCourt has managed to turn a cornerstone franchise into one needing the league’s recievership. If you aren’t familiar with the Dodgers, you may not understand the scale of what that means. I am old enough to where I can remember the Dodgers under the ownership of Walter O’Malley, the man who brought them to Los Angeles from Brooklyn in 1957. Like him or not, O’Malley ran the Dodgers like a family business, and always made sure that Dodger Stadium was a family-friendly place.  Let’s take that piece by piece – under O’Malley, the Dodgers were the model of stability. For their first forty seasons in Los Angeles, the Dodgers had exactly two managers. In its seventh year, the McCourt regime is on its fourth. In nearly fifty years of owning the Dodgers, the O’Malleys fired two managers. In its seventh year, the McCourt regime has fired as many, and would have likely fired Joe Torre had he not retired. The Dodgers won five World Series titles in Los Angeles under the ownership of the O”Malleys; they’ve only managed four pretty weak post-season showings since…at least McCourt kept some traditions alive.

One great Dodger tradition that continues is only ever have three guys who can hit.  Better yet, for some reason, one of these guys must be a first baseman who is a “great Dodger hitter,” meaning he might hit .300, but he’s not going to hit 20 homers or drive in 100 runs. Enter James Loney. So, watching the Dodgers means watching six guys trying to get a walk, get hit, get anything that gets you on base without actually having to swing the bat.  Naturally, this is just stalling, hoping to bring one of the aforementioned three to the plate.

So, under McCourt, the quality of the product on the field has declined, but at least they made up for that by improving the fan experience at the ball park, right? After all, when McCourt bought the team from Fox in 2004, he promised a title and a better fan experience. Uh, I’m not feeling it, Frank.

Now you may ask, why bother with a team that can only manage to beat the hapless NL West, then crumple the minute it faces a real playoff team? Because, they are the Dodgers, which means they should have scorn and derision heaped upon them at every opportunity. Specifically, they do exceptionally cheap-assholish Dodger-type things, like charging you $10 for a watered-down beer, $5.50 for a questionably sanitary Dodger Dog, and $3 when one of those two has it’s predicted effect.

Since the dawn of Dodger Stadium, Dodger fans have been known to have wait in long lines to make a Dodger Dookie.  Of course, this is the result of a classic Dodger cost-cutting move, building a 56,000-seat stadium with enough bathroom for about half that many. Seriously, the traffic going into and out of the men’s room can rival the Santa Monica Freeway. While the Dodgers can’t do much about individual bladder control (otherwise they would have done something about Tommy Lasorda years ago), they did come up with a Dodger-type plan.

Since building a couple of bathrooms would have been far too sensible, the Dodgers invented the BAT…that stands for Bathroom Attendant Team. Let that soak in for a moment.

The beauty of this is the fact that to keep the bathroom attendants, the Dodgers got rid of the parking lot attendants, because there was really no need to have any sort of security outside of the stadium, right? Bryan Stow would disagree, if he weren’t in a fucking coma. The sad part is that what happened to Stow is the end result of an owner who treated the franchise as little more than a cash machine; McCourt at the same time looked to squeeze every nickel he could out of his investment while blowing through the Dodgers’ money for his own personal gain; the guy sells ad space on the beer cups, charges you $3 to pee, doubled the fees for parking while eliminating security, and would be selling as much cheap beer as he could if the Stow incident hadn’t happened, and is still anywhere between $500 and $800 million in deb.

Then, there is the fact he destroyed a cornerstone franchise. This isn’t some expansion team in a crap stadium which couldn’t draw fans if you gave it a fully-automated, nuclear-powered fan-attracting machine. This is one of the original old-school franchises in the history of the game. McCourt took such a franchise in the second-largest city in America; a franchise which would be easily worth north of $800 million dollars if it didn’t have a now-distressed owner, and essentially turned it into the Kansas City Royals.

A popular opinion is that Brian Stow incident was for Commissioner Bud Selig “the straw that broke the camel’s back;” but truth be told, this catastrophe has been years in the making.The seeds were sown when this team was sold to McCourt, who was a smooth talking real estate developer from Boston who didn’t have the scratch up front to purchase the team. Then he made his wife the CEO of the team, insuring the team would be community property regardless of any pre-nuptial agreement they may have had. Then he fired her when the marriage hit the skids, guaranteeing their would not only be a fight for control, but during that fight there would be a complete lack of leadership.  Then the divorce proceedings and McCourt’s refusal to sell the team introduced the economic paralysis which prompted the intervention by the Commissioner.

It was clear something had to change last year when Dodger GM Ned Colletti (who still wears his NL Championship Ring he got while with the Dodgers main rival San Francisco in 2002) literally had to shop the “scratch and dent” rack for help in the 2010 pennant race. Of course, this failed, and it had to stick wrong in sensitive parts of Dodger fans’ collective anatomy to watch that hated rival go on to win the World Series after adding Pat Burrell and Cody Ross. The worst part for Dodger fans has to be the realization that so many of them hailed McCourt as a savior from the evil Fox Empire which had bought the team from Peter O’Malley in 1998; much like the Russian peasants feted the invading Germans as their saviors from Stalin in 1941.

Frankly, citizens of Dodgertown, it is time to go from “Think Blue” to “Think New” – it is time to use this low point in Dodger history as an opportunity for a rebirth. Honestly, I hope you all can make that work, because it really is no fun hating a team which is now so incredibly pathetic.

The Top 10 Football Factories – And Some That Didn’t Make The List

With the NFL Draft looming, I found a list courtesy of the NFL Network featuring the schools consider to be the Top Ten Football Factories. We here at Dubsism took that list and crossed it against each schools three arguably most interesting players. Be mindful of the fact this list was devised and ordered by the NFL Network and not us, which is why before you write us nasty letters about it, wait for our comments at the end so you can be REALLY pissed when you comment.

10) Tennessee

Their  Top Three – Peyton Manning, Reggie White, Doug Atkins

Those are three top-flight hall-of-famers, and that’s only part of the reason why Tennessee belongs on this list. In terms of college football, Tennessee has a long history; the Volunteers were the power of the SEC before Bear Bryant and Alabama. Of course, recent history hasn’t been kind to the Vols, and that’s just fine with me, since Tenneesee still grinds my gears.

9) The Mid-America Conference (MAC)

Their Top Three – Jack Lambert, Ben Roethlisberger, Randy Moss

Honestly, this entry caused the most discussion amongst the staff here at Dubsism; at least no punches were thrown this time, but suffice it to say there are several staffers here who fervently believe it is wrong to include an entire conference. In defense of the MAC, that’s a pretty solid Top Three as compared to some of the others on this list. I would like to believe the MAC is here to represent the contributions of all small schools, but more importantly, look at what those three represent – a toothless psychopath, a multi-ringed “may-be” rapist, and complete douchebag.

8 ) Syracuse

Their Top Three – Jim Brown, John Mackey, Donovan McNabb

This is just the saddest story on this list; the classic case of how the mighty have fallen. In my lifetime, I’ve watched the Orange go from the pride of eastern football to a team that can barely stay afloat in the weakest big conference in football. I blame it all on Dick MacPherson, their Hall-of-Fame coach who steadily built the Orangemen into an Eastern football power. One of SU’s most stunning wins during MacPherson’s tenure came in 1984 when the Orangemen upset then No. 1 Nebraska, 17-9. MacPherson later bolted from the Orange, trying to parlay his success in college into a career in the NFL, but his two years stint with the New England Patriots..well, let’s just say calling it an “abject failure” is being kind. Sadly, the Orange have been rancid ever since.

7) Penn State

Their Top Three – Jack Ham, Lenny Moore, John Cappelletti

This is another case of a school getting its coach hired away by the New England Patriots. Back in 1972, the Patriots offered Joe Paterno a contract which have made him football’s first million-dollar coach, a contract which JoePa accepted. However, his tenure as an NFL coach lasted less than 12 hours; the morning after signing the deal, Paterno called the Patriots to tell them the deal was off. Had Paterno left, it is a certainty the Nittany Lions would have languished at the bottom of college football for decades; just look at what happened to Syracuse. Hell, it could have been worse, look at what happened to SMU when Ron Meyer left for New England.

6) Alabama

Their Top Three – Joe Namath, John Hannah, Derrick Thomas

Given their history, there is not anybody young or old who didn’t picture this team on this list. And why not? Alabama has always paid as well, if not better than any NFL franchise.

5) Michigan

Their Top Three – Dan Dierdorf, Tom Brady, President Gerald Ford

There’s only three other schools that have produced both a Super Bowl winning quarterback and a U.S. President – Navy (Roger Staubach/Jimmy Carter), Stanford (John Elway & Jim Plunkett/Herbert Hoover), and Miami of Ohio (Ben Roethislberger/Benjamin Harrison), but Michigan is the only one whose quarterback has won the Super Bowl three times (Tom Brady) and whose President was also an All-American offensive lineman. Despite that, Michigan also grinds my gears.

It saya a lot about Michigan when their alums appear on TV wearing Penn State gear.

4) Ohio State

Their Top Three – Jim Parker, Paul Warfield, Cris Carter

Another school with long history, and a new problem. Nobody can deny Ohio State has pumped hundreds of players into the NFL, but given the stuff swirling around the football program these days, one starts wondering how many hundreds are going to be pumped into the pockets of defense attorneys and bail bondsmen in the near future.  Given that, it shouldn’t shock anybody the effect Ohio State has on my gears.

3) Notre Dame

Their Top Three – Joe Montana, Paul Hornung, Alan Page

It is about time law enforcment looked into the Irish problem.

Now, Notre Dame is a team that produces more corpses with scissor-lifts and sexual assault reports than it does NFL talent, but let’s not forget this list is historically  all-inclusive.  The way things look in south Bend now, it is feasible the Fighting Irish could be moving down this list over time; Notre Dame doesn’t look to be a top-flight program anytime soon.

2) Miami, FL

Their Top Three – Jim Kelly, Ray Lewis, Michael Irvin

If Notre Dame represents the oldest of history, Miami is the other side of the college football coin; the Hurricanes were hardly a breeze until the 1980’s. But in that time they have produced an astonishing amount of talent. But they also spent most of the 80’s being completely hateable, leading to one of my favorite moments in all of college football – Pete Giftopoulous’ interception at the end of the 4th quarter of the 1987 Fiesta Bowl, giving Penn State the national championship over Miami.

1) Southern Cal

Their Top Three – Ronnie Lott, Bruce Matthews, O.J. Simpson

In most cities with multiple professional sports franchises, there’s a “pecking order” in terms who gets fan support no matter what; the team which is always in the spotlight.  In New York, the top of the food chain is inhabited by the Yankees and the Knicks. In Chicago, that honor belongs to the Cubs and the Bears. In Los Angeles, its the Lakers and USC. Make no mistake, the Trojans are every bit a professional franchise; they’ve got the NCAA sanctions to prove it. Long before that, there’s reason I called them them U$¢ (The University of Dollars and Cents).

The thing that really struck the staff here at Dubsism was not the teams on the list (other than that whole MAC thing), but some of the teams not on it.

Texas – Their Top Three – Earl Campbell, Bobby Layne, Tommy Nobis

Their exclusion has to be because for close to 25 years after the Darrell Royal era, for the most part Texas became an afterthought on the national landscape.

OklahomaTheir Top Three – Lee Roy Selmon, Billy Sims, Tommy McDonald

The Sooners got left off the list for two words – Brian Bosworth.

PurdueTheir Top Three – Len Dawson, Bob Griese, Drew Brees

Ok, I know this one is a stretch, but I would put West Lafayette Vo-Tech Purdue on the list over an entire conference just on quarterbacks alone. Alabama is the only other school that has produced three Super Bowl winning quarterbacks (Bart Starr, Joe Namath, Ken Stabler) and the three produced by Purdue are to a man better quarterbacks than the three coming from the Tide. Then there’s all the other legit NFL quarterbacks this school has produced other than the ones already mentioned –  Gary Danielson, Bob DeMoss, Jim Everett, Jeff George (transferred/got kicked out to Illinois), Mark Herrmann, Mike Phipps, and the Greatest Athlete in the History of Ever, Kyle Orton.

GramblingTheir Top Three – Everson Walls, Doug Williams, Charlie Joiner

Eddie Robinson produced so much NFL talent – a list of the players he prepared for NFL success reads like a list of guys you forgot about, but when you read the list, its a never-ending parade of “how the hell did I forget that guy!” Look past the three we already mentioned – there’s still Buck Buchanan, Ernie “Big Cat” Ladd, Sammy White, Trumaine Johnson, James Harris, Willie Brown, Willie Davis, “Tank” Younger, and 1976 Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner.

I Was a Power Forward For The FBI

In today’s “strange, but true” moment, it seems that Portland Trailblazer forward Gerald Wallace may have a future as an FBI Agent. I know, the FBI and the NBA seems like an odd combination; you would think if there were a law enforcement agency infiltrating basketball it would be the DEA, what with all those cannabis cagers out there.

But as odd as it may seem, according to Fox 12 Oregon, five agents showed up at a Trailblazer practice the other day to recruit Wallace. Now, to be fair, it seems that Wallace made a public statement after his trade to Portland earlier this year that he would like to be G-Man once his hardwood days are behind him.

Federal agents swarmed Blazers practice Monday but instead of a bust, they were doing some recruiting. When the 6 foot 7 inch forward got to the Rose City, he mentioned he’d like to join the FBI when he gets done in the NBA.  So, five agents took in practice this week and encouraged the Alabama native to keep the bureau in mind.   Special agent in charge Art Balizan, assistant special agent in charge Alan Peters, public affairs specialist Beth Anne Steele and retired Portland FBI agents Bob Hanis and Dick Bittner gave Wallace an official FBI hat, sweatshirt and honorary badge.  Wallace also got a package of information about joining the FBI.

I’m not sure about Wallace’s qualifications, but were he to be accepted and become an FBI Agent, would we have to change the rights they read when they arrest you?

“You have the right to be posted up. Any attempt you make to reach in for the ball can and will be called against you. You have the right to get help defending me on the wing. Should you not be able to get help,  I reserve the right to break your ankles with my cross-over dribble-drive.  Even if you understand these rights as I have read them to you, I’m still going strong to the bucket and dunk on your face.”

If that’s the new standard for law enforcement, I wonder if Timofey Mozgov thinks Blake Griffin is a Border Patrol Agent, because that picture suggests Griffin gave him some “Green Card Surprise” right down his throat.

The Dubsism March Movie Spectacular…And the Winner Is…

We started with 64, and after four weeks, six rounds, and tons of votes, we are down to one. According to you, the readers of Dubsism, the greatest sports movie in history is:

I Can’t Keep Quiet Any Longer on the Dodger Stadium Incident

Honestly, I’ve been trying to stay away from this situation that has evolved from the incident on opening day at Dodger Stadium. Anybody who knows me knows I have a life-long hatred of the Dodgers. But it has become so clear that Frank McCourt has done something I never thought possible; he’s made the Dodger organization eminently more hateable.

First and foremost, stop calling what happened a “tragedy.” Calling it a tragedy infers there is more than one victim. There is only one victim; his name is Bryan Stow and he is in a coma because a few individuals committed a criminal act by assaulting and pummeling him nearly to death.

If you want to talk about multiple parties, then you have to talk about who is responsible for this act of senseless brutality. Obviously, there are the people who committed the crime; these are people who need to be found and punished. But then there’s Dodger owner Frank McCourt. The importance of the fact this happened at McCourt’s ballpark cannot be understated, because he created the environment which made this assault possible.

What happened to Bryan Stow is the culmination of a series of events, all of which were set in motion by McCourt. Ask anybody who has been to Dodger Stadium in the last five years and they will tell you it has become a dangerous place. There is a distinct lack of security; there’s a distinct lack of uniformed police. There used to be a distinct presence of stadium personnel in the parking lots after the games; McCourt got rid of them while instituting a emphasis on beer sales. It is all a recipe for this kind of incident.

What worse is the day after Stow was beaten into a coma, McCourt denied that Dodger Stadium had a security problem, and it took nearly a week of the Dodgers being flamed in the media before McCourt finally admitted there was a problem and hired former LAPD chief William Bratton.

How the hell can one man be so blind? There’s a guy who was beaten into a coma on his property, which by definition means there’s a problem. The thing that really bothers me is that McCourt doesn’t react to the beating that occurred at his ballpark, rather he reacts to the flaming he received in the media. In other words, this hire smacks of a public relations move rather than a decision made in the interest of public safety.

New at the Dodger Deli: Bleached Ass Kiss on Douchebag.

This really ought to be the last straw; this should be the point where Major League Baseball steps in and assumes control of this franchise. Since the McCourts are in the middle of a nasty divorce, and since Frank McCourt is already circling the financial drain, it is pretty clear he stopped caring about the well-being of the franchise a while ago. But looking for leadership from Bud Selig is like looking for a ham sandwich in Mecca. Instead, we are all going to get to watch the death of one of the historic franchises of Major League Baseball, which means Bryan Stow near-death will ultimately be for nothing.

That’s the real tragedy.

By the way, the San Francisco Police Credit Union has established a fund for Stow. To make a contribution, go to their website, http://www.SPFCU.org.

If You Didn’t Understand Before Why Everybody Hates Duke, You Will Now

The other day, Duke uber-stud Kyrie Irving announced that he is leaving the hallowed halls in Durham for the Franklin-green pastures of the NBA. Of course, this led some Coach-K-turd-swallowing dickface at The Chronicle (Dukes’ campus newspaper) to pen what has to be the purest, most uncut essence of what every self-respecting person in America knows about Duke. In short, Duke is merely a repository for the prototypical pompous, pain-in-the-ass, over-privileged white kid whose parents’ money has kept him insulated from reality to such a point that he has no idea how much real people hate him.

For those of you who don’t yet know what an asshole factory Duke really is, we here at Dubsism will breakdown this open letter from The Chronicle so that you can understand that which the rest of us already know.

Dear Kyrie,

Go pro.

Seriously. Declare for the NBA draft, hire an agent, pick out a nice suit and start practicing to look surprised when your name is one of the first to be called by Commissioner David Stern in June.

I mean, what’s there to lose?

Sure, some of the Cameron Crazies will implore you to consider your legacy as a Blue Devil, to remember the history of the great Duke players before you who went on to successful NBA careers. They’ll probably name drop the likes of Carlos Boozer, Grant Hill and Shane Battier, all guys who won NCAA titles before noteworthy careers in the pros (in spite of playing three seasons or more under one of basketball’s greatest coaches). Don’t follow in the footsteps of William Avery, you’ll be warned; he made the wise decision to leave Duke after his sophomore year, and use the NBA as a stepping stone to an illustrious career in Europe. Don’t let those comparisons get you down, though, even if Avery did get the privilege of watching from the sidelines as his former college teammates celebrated a national championship.

Plus, sticking around and winning a fifth national title for the Blue Devils is just selfish, even if you haven’t ever won one yourself. Think about it: Cameron is already full of national championship banners, and adding one of your own would ruin the symmetry in the rafters. Sure, you’ll give up your chance to be remembered as one of Duke’s all-time greatest basketball players, but I bet if you asked Christian Laettner, he would tell you that fans don’t remember collegiate legacies anyway. Well, at least until he tries to visit Kentucky, where his likeness is still routinely burned in effigy on the anniversary of “The Shot.”

If you haven’t already figured out what a miserable little shitbag the author is, let me show you the dead-giveaways. First of all, he doesn’t even wait three sentences before he invokes the most-bile-spewing thing about Dukies, that so-called bullshit “legacy as a Blue Devil.”  Sure, he cherry-picks William Avery because he left Duke early, and because he was considered to be a “draft bust.” I say he cherry-picks because he doesn’t mention other Dukies who split town ahead of schedule. Where’s the hate for Luol Deng? Where’s the hate for Avery’s teammates like Elton Brand and Corey Maggette? Oh, that’s right, leaving Duke clearly wasn’t a mistake for those guys.

As long as we are talking about “the Blue Devil legacy,” what about the guys who stayed for all four years and it didn’t help them. How about Avery’s teammate Trajan Langdon? What good did Duke do him? If you go with this author’s logic, Avery would not have ended up hooping in Europe had he stayed at Duke. Langdon did, and where is he now? Playing for CSKA Moscow.

Then, there’s the whole Laettner thing. See that picture above? Know how I found about that picture. I was listening to the Dan Patrick Show a few weeks ago and Laettner himself pointed out the existence of these shirts in Kentucky. I understand you were aiming for satire in that “Laettner doesn’t think collegiate legacies matter” quip, but getting quality satire out of a Chronicle writer is like getting great NBA talent out of a Dukie…we’ll come back to that point in a bit.

And if you’re still not convinced, remember that if you go pro, you might not even have to play next year! Who really wants to play, anyway? Sure, you won’t get paid any of that major contract that you’d sign as a top draft pick, but at least you won’t have to endure the grind of professional sports. Some of those same haters from before will probably call it a wasted season, as Europe will probably be the only place to play in the interim, but that won’t affect your NBA salary. As long as the rookie salary structure stays the same, that is.

Plus, just think of the NBA franchises you could possibly play for! While the NBA Draft lottery hasn’t happened yet, the Cleveland Cavaliers are the frontrunners after enduring an NBA-record 26-game losing streak this season. With the Cavs, your most talented teammate would be center Anderson Varejao, the real-life equivalent of Sideshow Bob, whose curly locks will be a comedic distraction from his lack of on-court ability. Trust me, you’ll need to actively search for reasons to smile playing on the perimeter with an overweight Baron Davis, who was shipped out of Los Angeles because he was so out of shape that his owner started heckling him.

Usually, there’s a fine line between satire and being a douche-nozzle, but this guy blew right through it. If I’m a guy extolling the virtues of being a Dukie, the last thing I want to get into is picking on guys who aren’t great NBA players, since nobody has produced more big-name, small-game players than Duke has. Doubt that? Check out this list of mediocrity:

  • Grant Hill
  • Luol Deng
  • Elton Brand
  • Shane Battier
  • Carlos Boozer
  • Chris Duhon
  • Mike Dunleavy
  • Dahntay Jones
  • Corey Maggette
  • Shavlik Randolph
  • JJ Redick
  • Shelden Williams
  • Alaa Abdelnaby
  • Mark Alarie
  • William Avery
  • Gene Banks
  • Chris Carrawell
  • Johnny Dawkins
  • Brian Davis
  • Kenny Dennard
  • Daniel Ewing
  • Danny Ferry
  • Mike Gminski
  • Dave Henderson
  • Nick Horvath
  • Bobby Hurley
  • Nate James
  • Christian Laettner
  • Antonio Lang
  • Trajan Langdon
  • Roshown Mcleod
  • Lee Melchionni
  • Tony Moore
  • Martin Nessley
  • Greg Newton
  • Cherokee Parks
  • Ricky Price
  • Casey Sanders
  • Vince Taylor
  • Jay Williams

It would be easier to mention the guys on that list that didn’t suck in the NBA, because there’s about six of them at the most.

Or you could end up in Toronto, affectionately dubbed years ago The City Where Basketball was Single-Handedly Killed by Vince Carter. In fact, the Raptors’ website is already looking forward to your debut season, advertising the “lowest season seat prices ever” in 2011-12. Playing for the Sacramento Kings is another option, though I hear the franchise is still preoccupied with getting their Tim Donaghy-scandalized 2003 Western Conference title back from the Lakers.

You’re really going to tell me that being in some working-class, southern shit-hole like Durham is better than pretty much anywhere in the NBA? Granted, the NBA plays in some pretty rotten cities like Chicago, Detroit, and (for now) New Orleans, but even those places have more to offer than Skeeter’s Bait Hut and the Annual Lacrosse Rape-o-Rama. Durham is know as the “Medicine City,” largely because if you were a physician intending to give the state of North Carolina an enema, Durham is where you would place the nozzle.

That’s all there is to consider. Rest assured, you’ll never regret leaving Duke after just one year, never wonder what might have been if you stuck around to play with the nation’s No. 2-ranked recruiting class, which by the way includes your longtime friend and teammate Austin Rivers. It’s really a no-brainer.

I look forward to your announcement, even if you ignore my advice and stay in school, er, I mean, go pro.

Sincerely,

Chris Cusack

I almost don’t know where to start with a response to that last bit. There’s so much stupidity in those last few sentences reading them was like cutting into an onion of stupidity and the stupid fumes burnt out my eyes. It’s almost as if you don’t understand that guys who play professional basketball, even if only in Europe GET PAID. It’s bad enough you expect these guys to be grateful for being in an unflushed toilet like Durham, it’s bad enough to subject real basketball talent to a career-destroyer like Mike Krzyzewski (seriously, where are the hoardes of Hall-of-Famers that were coached by “one of basketball’s greatest coaches?”), and it’s bad enough that they have to live through all this shit under the auspices of a bunch of completely self-absorbed, sniveling little ass-wipes like you, Mr. Cusack. To top it all off, you then spew this kind of shit when they decide it is time to head for greener pastures.

The Krzyzewski Model - only good in the ACC.

I’m guessing that you are at Duke preparing for a career as some sort of journalist. If I’m correct, eventually you will have learned what you can at Duke, and set off to ply your trade out in the non-Duke world. So, why is it such a big problem for you that some basketball player does the same thing? Is it because a) you are a self-centered hypocrite for whom other people only exist to serve your whims b) you believe basketball players exist solely for your entertainment and they should be grateful for even being allowed into your Dukie ivory tower c) you view athletes as intellectually inferior and you are pissed off because a guy like Irving will make more money on one signature than you ever will in your entire life or d) all of the above.

Now for the really stupid part. Irving isn’t the first guy to leave early and get this kind of bullshit out the Dukies; he won’t be the last. But if you folks at Duke don’t understand that this attitude is part of the reason why players leave, eventually they will simply not come to Duke in the first place. Your sainted Coach K is in his mid-60’s; whether you want to admit it or not, his best days are likely behind him. This means your incredibly petulant attitude which is currently just really fucking annoying will sooner than you think become a serious detriment to recruiting. Even now, a Duke diploma is only useful if you intend to go to law school; fora  basketball player it might as well be printed on a roll.

The beauty is even a dullard like you, Mr. Cusack,  figured out right away you had stepped in it big time, judging by this follow-up posted on The Chronicle’s website mere hours later.

Readers:

I’d like to respond personally to some of the claims made about my column today.

“Because I thought it was totally cool when my inbox had 600 e-mails in it instead of the normal 2, until I realized that all 600 of them threatened to break all my fingers.”

First, I sincerely apologize to everyone who was offended by its content; it was my intention to be satirical, not hateful. My original intent was simply to show that there are valid reasons to stay in college in an admittedly less-than-original format, through the caricatured mind of a Duke fan, not to imply that Kyrie Irving ‘owes’ Duke students another year, or anything of the sort.

I’ve already made mention of the fact that Cusack simply isn’t a talented enough writer to pull of satire. He should probably stick to things like Hallmark cards and DMV manuals, because even his attempt at an apology is horrible. First, he tries to lay the blame for his bullshit on the “less-than-original” format, then he tells all his readers he was mocking THEM! In a really fucked up way it makes sense, because the only people who are dumb enough to believe he doesn’t think Kyrie Irving owes something to dumb Duke fans are dumb Duke fans.

Second, I regret deeply that this column was interpreted as having racial undertones. That was, of course, not my intention: I would have written this article about any potential one-and-done player, especially one as talented as Irving.

I have to be fair here, the only people who saw anything racist in this are the people who believe saying anything about a black person is racist. Frankly, there was about as much racism in this piece as there was satire.

Third, there is nothing I would enjoy more than to see Irving achieve success wherever he plays. I did not mean to imply that he should put off a huge NBA contract to satisfy Duke students and fans, nor insinuate that in leaving for the pros he would forfeit what he has already accomplished in Durham. I simply intended to highlight some of the reasons for staying, with a little bit of humor thrown in. His decision should be based only on what is best for him and his family, not the opinion of this writer.

Read that last paragraph and say it back to yourself, except in the complete opposite,  and you will get a hefty dose of the truth. He would love to see Irving snap a femur in his first NBA game and never recover. He firmly believes Irving’s place is at Duke providing entertainment to him and the rest of the Cameron Cuntfaces.

At the end of the day, some idiot took it upon himself to speak for the attitude that runs just under the surface at Duke, and then when he got called on it, he made up some bullshit excuses to hide behind.  He says his intention was to show “there are valid reasons to stay in college…through the caricatured mind of a Duke fan.”  It is really important to note that Cusack never denies these attitudes exist amongst the Dukies, in fact you can tell he wrote that piece fulling intending to stroll the campus getting a never-ending series of “high-fives” for reminding that basketball player where his place is.

In other words, he showed us all what an astonishing lack of character it takes to be a Duke fan, therefore reminding us all why hating Duke should be an American birthright.  For that, Mr. Cusack, we all owe you a tip of our collective caps.

The Dubsism March Sports Movie Spectacular – The Finals

After all the upsets, the highs, the lows, the whatevers, we have a championship match. The only two #1 seeds to make the Final Four face off for the title of greatest sports movie ever according to the readers of Dubsism, which, lets be honest, is the only audience that matters.

Vote away gang; voting closes on Sunday at midnight.

The Finals:

The Socio-Economic Failings of Sports

Over the past two decades, as the hyper-monetization of sports occurred, an element of politics entered into the conversation. Suddenly, the difference in sports franchises stopped being measured in success on the field and started becoming a function of “market size.” In a nutshell, the argument works like this; the “small market” teams cry they can’t compete with the “big market” teams as the “big market” teams have a financial advantage. In the “Big Four” major sports leagues, the tone of this argument varies greatly, and the reasons for that variance actually lie at the soul of the discussion.

First of all, it is is crucial to understand the criteria upon which market size is determined. Contrary to popular belief, the size of the market is not determined by population. The primary criteria is the amount of television money a team can generate. Granted, there is a connection between population and money, but it isn’t a direct correlation.

This fact helps to explain why there is a major difference in the volume of this discussion amongst the four major sports leagues.

  • National Football League: Volume Level 0 – because there is no individual TV money; everything is controlled by the league and therefore shared across the league. Market size matters little.
  • National Hockey League: Volume Level 2 – because revenue distribution isn’t the NHL’s problem; it’s total revenue. The NHL spends more than it makes. Market size matters somewhat.
  • National Basketball Association: Volume Level 5 – Only because there is a new Collective Bargaining Agreement coming, and it seems everything will be fair game in the negotiations. Market size now is marginally important.
  • Major League Baseball: Volume Level 9 – Because baseball has the greatest disparity between “big and “small,” and that difference is base on television revenue, ticket sales, and merchandise. Market size is a major factor.

For the sake of this discussion, let’s look at the polar opposites; in sports, football and baseball, and in philosophies, revenue sharing vs. a laissez-faire model. Upon looking at this, it doesn’t take long to see where this quickly becomes a clash of political ideologies. Revenue sharing makes perfect sense to those of a liberal persuasion; it is the classic redistribution of wealth model that has given them an economic hard-on ever since Robin Hood. Meanwhile, so-called conservatives are proponents of a laissez-faire system.

The liberals believe that competitive ability is tied directly to the dollar, and that having parity amongst the franchises is good for the entire league because nobody is ever really eliminated from competition. The revenue sharing proponents point to the model of the National Football League. They believe that eliminating the difference between rich and poor and leveling the economic playing field drives growth by giving equal opportunity to all.  The National Football League has the most thorough revenue-sharing arrangement of any sport, and it’s the most successful by far.  Too many people would have you believe those two facts are connected; they absolutely are not.

The fallacy of the NFL’s revenue-sharing/salary cap model works like this – since all the revenue from television is controlled by the league, the size of a team’s home market is irrelevant. Proponents of this system point to the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers and the perennial play-off contender Indianapolis Colts as examples of the “small-market” team being allowed to compete as market size has been removed as a criteria for success. You will note that proponents of the NFL’s current system absolutely never mention three facts:

  • The NFL has created a nice bit of revenue for itself at taxpayer’s expense through public financing of stadiums, then they doubled-down by charging “personal seat licenses;” essentially forcing fans to pay for the right to buy tickets.
  • The NFL has gotten fat ($9 billion per year) pedaling an incredibly TV-friendly product, hence why it’s television revenue outstrips the other sports. In other words, football is huge because television made it huge. It’s no accident that football developed two multi-billion dollar vendors (The NFL and the NCAA) after the advent of cable television in the late 1970’s.
  • The “parity” that the NFL prides itself on because of it’s revenue sharing model is a myth.

When you put it all together, the NFL would have you believe that it doesn’t have money troubles because of how egalitarian it is with its money.

Except there’s two problems with that theory: The NFL owners are, as we speak, crying a tune about poverty in their lockout situation with the player’s union. Face it, $9 billion is “Titanic-proof” money, especially when you add to it all the off-book revenue having somebody else build your stadiums is worth.  What that means is when you are dumb enough to run into the iceberg again, you’ve got enough money to where you can literally plug the holes with wads of $100 bills and keep on sailing.

Then there’s whole “parity” myth; let’s look at how that doesn’t hold water. Since the advent of the NFL salary cap in 1994, while there there have been eleven different teams to win the Super Bowl, the vast majority of playoff appearances in that time belong to a select group of teams. In each conference in that time frame, half of the playoff spots have been captured by five teams; in the AFC, it would take the combined playoff records of seven teams to match the number of playoff appearances of the Indianapolis Colts. The NFC boasts a bit more “parity;” it only would take the combined records of four teams to equal the trips into January made by either Green Bay or Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, major league baseball plays the other side of the ideological coin. Baseball sticks to a conservative model, where for the most part, anybody is allowed to get rich, but if a team gets too successful, they will be taxed. Baseball even calls its version of a salary cap a “luxury tax.” It is even graduated like the current American progressive income tax.  Its based on the conservative “trickle-down” theory; that growth generated by the franchises most capable of generating it eventually provide a benefit as the wealth generated today will be distributed over time so long as there are no encumbrances on the generation of wealth.

The fallacy of this model in sports comes straight out of the mouth of the “small market” guy; the guy who will point to a team like the New York Yankees and say “they can buy any player they want, how can that be fair?” It sounds good, and it appeals to that populist “David vs. Goliath” mentality, but it misses two points.

First of all, it is the only model currently in play amongst the four major sports leagues that allows a little guy to become a big guy.  If you are an owner of an NFL franchise, your salary expenditure is capped, but so is your revenue. This means if an another owner decides he wants to put his “persona”l fortune behind an investment (Jerry Jones/Robert Kraft, I’m looking at you…), he takes us right back to the big guy/little guy discussion despite any revenue sharing.  In other words, no matter what you do, there’s always going to be a guy with more dough who is willing to throw it around.

This means under the current NFL model, you cannot have an ascension like that of the Los Angeles Angels.  Under Gene Autry, the-then California Angels were the red-headed step-child of Southern California baseball. 20 years ago, despite being in Southern California, the Angels were the definition of a “small market team,” inasmuch as the Dodgers choked them out of television money. But a cash infusion under the ownership of Disney, then a purchase by an owner who funded both a marketing campaign to capture a market shared with the Dodgers and build-up to make the team competitive on the field has transformed the one time “little brother” into a team that gets mentioned alongside the Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubs when it comes to franchises that have the wherewithal to sign “big time” free-agents.

Then there’s that whole concept of “fairness.” It always blows me away when I hear sports fans inject “fairness” into this conversation. The world of sports is full of stuff that isn’t fair; hell, the world is full of stuff that isn’t fair.  Like the old saying, nobody said life is fair.   Making a lot of noise about “fairness” is just wasting everybody’s time because money doesn’t equal success.  Let’s look at the teams that made the baseball play-offs last season relative to their payroll rankings:

  • New York Yankees – #1
  • Philadelphia Phillies – #4
  • San Francisco Giants – #10
  • Minnesota Twins – #11
  • Atlanta Braves – #15
  • Cincinnati Reds – #19
  • Tampa Bay Rays – #21
  • Texas Rangers – #27

Now, look at the top ten teams by payroll and their resultant won-loss record:

  1. New York Yankees – 95-67, 2nd place – Wild Card, lost ALCS to Texas
  2. Boston Red Sox – 89-73,  3rd place, 7 games back
  3. Chicago Cubs – 75-87, 5th place, 16 games back
  4. Philadelphia Phillies – 95-67, won NL East, lost NLCS to San Francisco
  5. New York Mets – 79-83, 4th place, 18 games back
  6. Detroit Tigers – 81-81, 3rd place, 13 games back
  7. Chicago White Sox – 88-74, 2nd place, 6 games back
  8. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – 80-82, 3rd place, 10 games back
  9. Seattle Mariners – 61-101, 4th place, 29 games back
  10. San Francisco Giants – 92-70, won NL West, won World Series

This clearly shows money isn’t the only criteria for success. Anybody who can’t see what damning evidence that is against the “money is everything” argument can’t be convinced otherwise. There are as many play-off teams in the bottom half of the payroll list as in the top half, and out of the top ten in total payroll, only three teams even qualified for the post-season. Worse yet, half of the top ten weren’t even competitive, finishing at least double-digit games behind their division leaders.

Just like in the political arena, a populist idea like a luxury tax gets traction by demonizing the “big guy,” and in the case of the Yankees, a loudmouth like Hank Steinbrenner makes it all too easy.

“We’ve got to do something about [revenue sharing]… At some point if you don’t want to worry about teams in minor markets, don’t put teams in minor markets or don’t leave teams in minor markets.  Socialism, communism — whatever you want to call it — is never the answer.”– Hank Steinbrenner

Forget about whether his point on ideology is valid. Rather, look at why it doesn’t work in sports. Essentially, what Steinbrenner is saying that he would rather get rid of teams rather than pay a luxury tax. He tries to cover that sentiment by offering the idea of relocation, but let’s be honest, it simply isn’t feasible to have 24 teams in New York.

So, let’s play the contraction game. First, the obvious targets would be the “small-markets” which for openers would be the bottom five in attendance – Kansas City, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Oakland, Milwaukee, and Cleveland.  Minnesota and Tampa Bay are also “small-market” teams, but they’ve managed to be competitive on the field. However, they were both in the contraction discussion when it was happening for real a few years ago, so we can axe them. Nobody lives in Cincinnati, so they can go too.

Is this enough to satisfy Hank? Probably not, because there’s more weak franchises out there. The Marlins, Astros, Rangers, Rockies, and Diamondbacks are in major markets, but their fan bases and financial resources are clearly “small-market.” We’ve already cut one of the markets with multiple teams, so there’s no reason to have any multiple-team markets.  Now we can get rid of the Dodgers (because they are a train-wreck), the White Sox (because the Cubs still make money), either the Nationals or the Orioles (because the Washington/Baltimore market simply doesn’t need two teams), and the Mets (they are going to become a financial black hole, and then Hank gets New York all to himself).

I don’t think we are done yet. Let’s be honest, Detroit is merely on life-support as long as their owner is keeping them competitive by spending lots of money. That won’t last forever.  Seattle also spends a lot of money, but their heyday was a decade ago. Besides, that is such a long flight from New York.

Now, we have Major League Baseball down to ten franchises: The Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Phillies, Angels, Giants, Cardinals, Braves, Blue Jays, and either the Nationals or the Orioles. Let me ask you a question, Hank… How many franchises do you think baseball needs to stay relevant? What a guy like Hank fails to realize is the Yankees need the teams like Cleveland and Kansas City, otherwise baseball will become something more resembling the Harlem Globetrotters and the Washington Generals. Not to mention how much interest in the sport would drop off with the majority of this country not being anywhere near a major league franchise.

I’m not here to debate the efficacy of those approaches in the socio-economic world.  In the sports world, it is clear they are both wrong.

The “revenue-sharing approach” fails in sports because it is based on a false premise. Money is only one piece of the competitive puzzle. Being a competitive franchise in any sport involves developing, acquiring, and retaining on-the-field talent, and the size of your bank account really only involves two of those three. The laissez-faire approach fails in sports because it fails to realize that the Royals and the Yankees are franchises in the same business; it doesn’t help one McBurgerQueen to run another McBurgerQueen out of business.

As of yet, I haven’t figured out all the parts that would be included in a model that works, but I do know three things a successful model would include:

1) The Freedom to Fail – The best way to get a lot of mediocrity is to reward it.  This is the problem with revenue-sharing plans as they exist now, like baseball’s luxury tax; it removes the incentive for a team to be competitive because they can still be profitable by keeping salaries low, such as in the cases of Florida, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh.  It is time to let the “bad” owners fail and be forced to sell.  Don’t tell me baseball wouldn’t be better off without owners like Fred Wilpon and Frank McCourt. The same can be said for the NBA and Donald Sterling, or the NFL and William Clay Ford.

2) Eliminate Salary Maximums and Minimums – Because they don’t work, every owner and agent seeks ways around them when needed, and they aren’t where the problem is anyway. It isn’t the cost of stardom that is killing sports; big-time jocks have always been paid high salaries. Rather it is the cost of mediocrity that is a drain; Alex Rodriguez getting $32 million is one thing, Nick Swisher getting $9 million is another because there are a lot more Swishers than A-Rods. The worst part is salary restrictions are simply a canard used by owners to hide from the fact they created the salary problem in the first place.

3) Change the Culture of Ownership – This hopefully happens with #1. In short, sports in this country needs more owners like Mark Cuban, guys with new ideas and the energy to get them done.

No matter what, one thing we have to realize is that the current model has outlived its usefulness. If something doesn’t change in the near future, the world of professional sports may look very different ten years from now.

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