Money, money, money.

When will professional sports leagues realize money isn’t everything, especially when you already have a ton of it.

Those Who Get It

The NBA had a wonderful All Star weekend. They showed the other leagues how to run All Star festivities. The game became an actual game in the fourth quarter, but most impressive they played each quarter for charities. The team that won each quarter selected a charity for which to donate money, culminating with $200,000 for the overall winner’s charity.

This is great PR for the league and its players. It’s another example of how most million dollar athletes are very charitable with their wealth.

During his state of the league address, Adam Silver discussed the money lost due to the rift with China. Silver stated the league would lose as much as $400 million. Wow! That isn’t great for the bottom line, but when the bottom line is $9.5 billion I think the league will be fine.

Silver said so much, basically saying the loss of money was worth it to take a stand against a horrendous human rights situation. Silver gets it. He has a great product, everyone is making money, and the league is coming off a great PR weekend.

Those Who Don’t 

Rob Manfred, baseball’s commissioner(for now) does not get it. Recently, Manfred released a proposal for baseball to move to a 14 team playoff field with higher seeded teams picking their opponent. This, of course, would increase revenue. In particular, the bidding for TV playoff rights would greatly increase revenue. More money for a league that saw a record $10.7 billion in revenues for 2019.

Here’s the problem. The idea is stupid. I’m not a fan of the one game wildcard, but having higher seeds pick their opponent is completely idiotic. Also allowing more teams to your playoffs only waters down the competition and gives a greater chance of not having your best teams reach the World Series. In baseball you have 162 games to try to win your division. Now Manfred wants to give teams even more games to prove they belong. He can attempt to spin the reasons however he desires, but the only reason for this proposal is money.

$10.7 billion isn’t enough?

Then there is everyone’s favorite “bro hugger” Roger Goodell. The NFL commissioner is in the process of passing a new proposal that will add one more regular season game for each team and also adding another playoff team per conference. This will be a major increase in revenue for the most popular sport in America.

As I complained about in this column a few weeks ago, the Super Bowl is already being played in February. This will put it in mid-February. With 16 regular season games, you already have the first week or two looking more like preseason. Now you want to take away a preseason game(which is fine) and add a regular season game. More water, please.

Speaking of watering down something, just as I said with the baseball proposal when you add more teams to the playoffs you water them down. You diminish the importance of the regular season. It doesn’t make sense. Did anyone really want to see Duck Hodges in the playoffs? You have the best product in professional sports, at least in terms of popularity. The league generated over $15 billion in revenue.

The changes aren’t favored by the players, even though they will also benefit financially. Football takes a toll on the body, and adding an extra game of physical beatings isn’t in players’ best interest. Surely $15 billion is enough to go around.

I get sick of players haggling over $24 million vs $26 million. I get sick of billion dollar owners crying poor mouth. Well, add this to my list of complaints. Leagues that unnecessarily continue to mess with their products to squeeze out a few more dollars.

The NFL is like a stripper who is willing to remove more clothes to increase the amount of bills that go in her G string. Look, we liked what we saw to begin with. We were already stuffing your G string. Sweetheart, college isn’t that expensive. Sometimes enough should be enough.

Please stop asking common people to watch billion dollar corporations scrape for every extra dollar they can find. Please stop messing with my sports leagues. I hate change, and I hate greed.

Remember the sage advice of Notorious B.I.G. Mo Money, Mo Problems.

Two Cent Takes

College Football

~Penn State and the Paterno family settled their differences this weekend. The university agreed they would pay certain expenses for the Paterno family. Both parties agreed it was time to move on.

It was time to move on years ago. Delusional Jay Paterno wouldn’t let go of the thought that he was being blackballed from the coaching profession. His equally delusional brother, Scott, pushed this and other storylines as well.

News flash, Jay. You were only coaching because of your father. You couldn’t get hired because you were a lousy coach.

Look, I get it. The Freeh report was a joke. Freeh is a bum. I know this because Lynn Swann hired him at USC, and Swann only hired bums. The entire thing was a mess regardless of what you believe happened. But linking Jay’s employment as a coach to the scandal was always petty and silly.

NHL

~With the trade deadline coming today, teams jockeying for playoff position or just trying to get in will be looking for any possible upgrades. After yesterday’s loss, the Pens third in a row, the Penguins find themselves two points behind the hated Washington Capitals. The two teams play twice in Pittsburgh before season’s end. Both teams may want to glance in their rear view mirror.

Yes, the Philadelphia Flyers are cruising up on the outside trying to overtake one or both of the Metropolitan Division’s top teams. Just remember that objects do appear closer than they seem.

~A rule I must admit I didn’t know existed was put in to effect Saturday night in Toronto. Every arena has an emergency goalie who can play for either team if necessary. It became necessary when Carolina lost both of their active goalies. David Ayres, a 42 year old Zamboni driver for Toronto had to put on the goalie gear for Carolina.

Ayres became the oldest player to make his debut, and he made 8 of 10 saves to win the game. Oh, and he is a kidney transplant survivor to boot. A great reminder on the 40th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice, that dreams do come true.

NBA

~I’m not sure how the Philadelphia 76ers have gotten worse this year, but they clearly have. I don’t know if it is that they have too many guys that don’t play well with others or not as much talent as they think. Either way, if I was Bret Brown I would start getting my affairs in order.

Baseball

~The Houston Astros played their first spring training game, and fans came equipped with signs to greet them. Unfortunately those signs were confiscated. This should be viewed as a new job opportunity at all major league stadiums the Astros play in. Here are the job requirements:

  • Lack interpersonal skills
  • Can be a jerk at the drop of a hat
  • Can come up with lame excuses easily
  • Can lift poster board without throwing out your back

You’re Hired!

~Is Rob Manfred still the baseball commissioner? Mike Trout, Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger, and Nick Markakis were wondering.

College Basketball

~35 years ago yesterday, this gem took place with one of my favorites, Lanny Frattare, on the call.

Bobby, the password is “anger management”.

~I thought it was interesting that Kansas and Baylor, two of the top teams in the country, had to play their game at 11:00 AM local time. Why? The Big 12 doesn’t have its own network, so consequently they still lose out on the prime time slots to the ACC and SEC.

~Kansas is the best team in the country…right now. Although I wonder if they would have enough shooters if someone played zone to neutralize the beast that is center Udoka Azubuike.

~Saturday was hoops heaven, from the early tip between Kansas and Baylor to two fantastic PAC 12 games, an upset of undefeated San Diego State and culminating with BYU’s win over Gonzaga. In all this week, numbers 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9(twice), 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 21, 24, 25 lost games. In other words, another typical week in college basketball.

Here is this week’s Two Cent contenders, pretenders, and Cinderellas:

  • Contenders: Kansas, Duke, Maryland, Gonzaga, Baylor, Kentucky, Villanova, Dayton, San Diego St, Florida St
  • Pretenders: Arizona, Ohio St, Auburn, Oregon, West Virginia
  • Sleepers: Utah St, East Tennessee St, Rhode Island, Cincinnati, St. Mary’s, UCLA

There are a lot of teams drifting somewhere between contender and pretender that I still really like. Most of the Big Ten falls in this group, including Penn State.

The Nittany Lions have hit a speed bump, like just about every other team has during the year. They need to get Myreon Jones back in the lineup. Right now they don’t have enough offense. It wouldn’t hurt for Mike Watkins to play like he is capable. The fact that Patrick Chambers relies on limited John Harrar late in games, as opposed to Watkins, is a very bad sign.

~Steve Lappas is a tough listen on games. Hopefully he doesn’t make the cut for the   NCAA Tournament.

~March is almost upon us, so expect full blown analysis starting with next week’s column.

NFL

~The moment Steelers fans have been waiting for. Their grizzly white knight…with a football…in the gym.

No word on whether Donte Moncrief dropped the pass.

~Last Monday Steelers coach Mike Tomlin appeared on ESPN to defend Mason Rudolph in the whole racial slur saga with Myles Garrett. As an African-American coach Tomlin’s word carries extra weight. Garrett looks like a fool, which I suppose goes to figure since he is a Cleveland Brown.

In addition, Tomlin called out ESPN for its bogus reporting. More of this needs to happen, especially with this particular network. Most of the shows ESPN has added only give semi talented people a chance to yell into the camera. Kudos to Tomlin.

Boxing

~Apparently boxing has two guys to get excited about in Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury. Fury destroyed Wilder, and became heavyweight champion. He’s a great story, often speaking honestly about his mental health issues. As for me, I don’t much care about guys trying to beat the crap out of one another unless there’s tables, chairs, and a steel cage involved.

Something tells me Fury would fit right in with the WWE.

A Penny For My Final Thought…

Since I railed on the greed of sports leagues that have become more corporation than sport, let me make my Final Thought a positive.

Well over 16,000 young people got together for a yearly event that has captured worldwide attention. These young kids have fun, but work their butts off to make this yearly event a success. Each year it continues to grow. The event is THON, an event held at Penn State University that has become as big as any sporting event held there.

These kids aren’t looking for accolades. They work this into their already busy schedules. They put their personal needs aside. And they dance, and dance, and dance. THON is a year long endeavor, but culminates each February with a 46 hour dance marathon. They have a blast, and they send such a positive message about young people learning to give back.

The beneficiary of these kids’ hard work is Four Diamonds at Penn State Children’s Hospital. Specifically, pediatric cancer research is the real winner. This year $11,696,942.38 was raised.

That is incredible.

So a weekend was spent dancing, laughing, and probably shedding a few tears remembering kids who didn’t win their battle with this crappy disease. I’m sure some of the parents and grandparents who attended learned some new dance moves. Most importantly we all get to see young people be selfless and think of others.

I guess this is what they mean by Penn State proud.

Maybe more Nittany Lions fans should focus on great things like THON than where some silly statue is located.

Just my two cents…