Its easy to spend $435 million

This is not going to be about Bernie Madoff, George and Marie Douglas-David (she of the $53,000 a week in expenses) 928448_marie-douglas-davidor even Bill and Melinda Gates. No this is going to be about the Evil Empire that calls the Bronx, New York home.

Today is the 106th Anniversary of Frank Farrell’s & Bill Devery’s purchase of the American League Baltimore baseball franchise for $18,000 and their move to New York City. The team that played baseball that season at Hilltop Park was known as the Highlanders. It would be another ten seasons until they were renamed, The Yankees.

The New York Yankees, remember them? Last time they were in the World Series in 2003, Barrack Obama was still in the Illinois State Senate and the only people who knew who he was were his now famous “neighbors” and Yesse Yehudah (you can google him because I know you have no idea who he is). The last time the Bronx Bombers won the World Series, you could wear your shoes the entire time you were at the airport. Bill Clinton was the President of the United States and the Play Station2 was introduced in the US. Yup, all the way back in the year 2000. I won’t even touch on all the wild 2K junk most of you believed in. I know some of you still have bottled water and Dinty Moore stew in the basement.

Back to the Pinstripes. Since the last out of the 2008 World Series (yes, it has stopped raining in Philadelphia) the Yanks have signed three players to help bring back the glory in the Bronx. Pitchers CC (Chocolate Cake) Sabathiasabathiamangin2 and AJ (Allan James) Burnett along with first baseman Mark Teixeria. Sabathia signed a seven year contract for $161 million, Burnett got a deal worth $82.5 million for the next five years and Teixeria hit the jackpot for $180 million to play for the Yankees during the next eight seasons. And who said this country was in a recession?

Now for a little math session. Teixeira’s contract averages out to $22.5 million per season. Sabathia’s to $23 million, and Burnett’s is $16.5 per season. Throw on top of that Alex Rodriguez’s $28 million and Derek Jeter’s $21.6 million. Since we are starting to have some fun here lets keep going with $15 million for Mariano Rivera, $13 million each for Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon. Add it all up and you get $165.6 million for just these 9 players! A major league baseball team is comprised of 25 players. According to Major League Baseball, the New York Yankees spent $207,108,489 in salaries for the 2008 season and they came in third place in their division and missed the playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons.

George Steinbrenner and a few minor partners purchased the Yankees 36 years ago this week from CBS for $8.7 million. According to a Forbes.com article from April 2008 http://www.forbes.com/2008/04/16/baseball-team-values-biz-sports-baseball08-cx_mo_kb_0416baseballintro.html the Yankees are worth $1.5 billion. Not a bad investment. George has now passed the baton of ownership to his two sons Hank and Hal. The boys along with General Manager Brian Cashman have spent a lot of money this off season to try to recapture the glory of past Yankee teams.

The Yanks will move into the New Yankee Stadium nov_2008_gallerythis spring. At a cost of $1.3 billion, the new stadium will be a draw for Yankee fans from around the world for years to come increasing the value of the franchise. If you never made it to the old stadium. Here is a small climps at what you missed.

http://waswatching.com/2008/12/21/went-to-a-yankees-game-a-springer-episode-broke-out/

So there you have it. A Baseball lesson an economics lesson and a little Jerry Springer show all wrapped up in one session. For those that really love baseball, pitchers and catchers report 5 weeks from tomorrow!

Your friend in sports,

Dave the Sports Guru

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?

joe-dimaggio11

Or is it more like General Douglas MacArthur’s  “I shall return”?  The Sports Guru has been away for a long time.  I promise you no jail time was invovled.  Just life, the economy and the 2008 Presidential election got in the way of the Sports Guru and When You Need to Know About Sports.  One of my New Years Resolutions was to restart this blog.  So for the first time in 2009, lets learn about sports the Sports Guru’s way.

Tomorrow night January 8th, The 2008 College Football season will come to an end with the  BCS (Bowl Championship Series) National Championship game between #1 ranked Oklahoma and #2 ranked Florida.  The college football season began on August 28th.  That makes the season 133 days long.  19 weeks to crown a National Champion.  The NFL takes 17 weeks to play the regular season and another 5 weeks including the Super Bowl.  19 weeks and the guys who run the BCS will crown a National Champion and it will not be the best team who played college football in 2008.  I know you are now saying “maybe the Sports Guru has been away too long”.  You see, the BCS is a really complicated way to pick a college football champion (check this out http://www.bcsfootball.org/bcsfb/eligibility.  I’ll try not to bore you with details.  The process includes two polls, one with writers and one with coaches, six computer programs and a lot of upset coaches, players and fans.

So who is the best college football in the land if it is not the number one or second ranked team? It is the sixth ranked University of Utah. The Utes finished their season at 13-0. The only BCS eligible team in the country that finished the season undefeated. So why is the sixth ranked team better than the number one or two team? I think the real question is why Utah is only ranked number six. Thanks to our friends at Fox sports here is an answer to the question http://msn.foxsports.com/cfb/polls

The real problem here is that the 119 teams that make up the BCS are the only sport that does not have a playoff system. Just this goofy computer system and a bunch of coaches and writers who never get to see all of the teams play. Even Miss America USA/ MISS AMERICAand American Idol have a system to eliminate contestants. So until the idiots who run college football (no I’m not taking back the word idiot) see the light and establish a football playoff season, teams like the Utes will continue to get the short end of the stick.

Talking about sticks. Last night in the NHL (National Hockey League) the Buffalo Sabres had a game against the Ottawa Senators. Buffalo beat Ottawa 4-2. The interesting part of the game came in the first period when Ottawa’s Jarkko (Yar-ko) Ruutu bit the thumb of Andrew Peters while the two were pushing shoving each other.

I guess Mr. Ruutu did not like the taste of Mr. Peters glove as he wiped his face with it. In hockey that is called a face wash. Just two friends getting together to say hello to each other. My favorite part of the video is at the end when the announcer says that Andrew Peters has been punched in the face a thousand times. Peters received a two minute penalty for starting the whole mess and Ruutu was suspended by the NHL two games for getting hungry during the game.

So that’s it for the first blog of 2009. It looks to be a year full of teaching material for the Sports Guru. So check back often as we continue our journey towards your PhD degree in Sports.

Your friend in Sports,

Dave the Sports Guru

20,000 Free Mustaches

One of the highlights of my summer every year growing up was watching or listening to the Major League Baseball All-Star game – the National League versus the American League. Players like Reggie Jackson, Roberto Clemente, Pete Rose and many other stars of the late 60’s and early 70’s were on the TV only a few times each season. There was no ESPN, DirectTv or cable station for each team. We had our local teams and the Saturday afternoon Game of the Week on NBC. So a chance to see Catfish Hunter pitch to Hank Aaron and Willie Mays or Tom Seaver try to get Brooks and Frank Robinson out was a rare treat. This year, the 79th All-Star game will take place on July 15th at Yankee Stadium.

Another treat was to vote for the All-Star team starters. Back in the day (don’t you just hate that phrase?), you had to go to the ballpark to get a ballot. You would sit with your friends and punch out the little tabs (chads, thank you Al Gore) for each player you wanted to vote for. Basically we voted for all the players on our favorite teams even if they did not deserve to go to the game. You could stuff the ballot box with as many punch cards as you could fill out at the game.

Today, we can do the same thing at the ballpark. But we also get to vote over the Internet. You can sit home and just click away for your favorite players. It’s just not the same thing! The truth is, it’s terrible. What it really has become is a popularity contest just like American Idol (there, I had the stones to say it). Just point a web browser at mlb.com and your mother, brother, uncle and grandmother can put Tony Pena Jr and his .155 batting average in the Mid-Summer Classic.

Just like years ago, each team has to have at least one representative. I can live with that. What I can’t live with is how the rest of the teams are picked today. The starters are selected by the fans, and then the reserves are selected by their fellow players, and the pitchers are selected by the managers (last season’s league champion). Years ago, the players had no say on the roster and the managers picked the players. My gripe with the players having a vote is that they hardly get to see the players in the other league. But my biggest gripe is the FINAL VOTE.

In 2002, the All-Star game ended in a 7-7 tie. Don’t get me wrong, the game is supposed to be about fun. But the managers used all their players (like they should) and had no more pitchers to continue the game. No team is going to allow their star pitcher whom they need for the second half of the season to get used up in a game that does not count when they will need him later in the week. So the powers that be (Commissioner Bud Selig) decided that from now on, the winner of the All-Star game will get to host four out of the seven games in the world series. Until 2002 the leagues alternated each year who had the extra home game. No more fun. This game really counts. In order to ensure the teams don’t run out of players, the rosters were expanded to 32 players for each league. 31 of those players are announced a week before the game. The 32nd player (THE FINAL VOTE) is decided by the fans again (only) on the Internet.

THE FINAL VOTE is nothing more than a chance for the geeks of the world to sit at their computers and vote for one of the five players in each league that Major League Baseball has nominated for the FINAL ROSTER SPOT. Without getting very technical here, since Sunday July 6th, over 42 million votes have been cast for the FINAL VOTE – twice the number of votes cast in all the other years of the FINAL VOTE combined! MLB estimated that over one million votes an hour will come in today.

So whom to vote for? Each of the 10 players have the backing of their team. Each team sends out e-mails each day to talk up their player. I think the Mets and Yankees each send out multiple e-mails each day. Yesterday the NY Yankees handed out fake mustaches to the first 20,000 fans at their game against the Tampa Bay Rays to promote their mustachioed first baseman (he of the gold thong – see June 6th blog) Jason Giambi.

What was once a big time sporting event with greats like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson and Stan Musial is now a big joke with fake mustaches and e-mail campaigns. So if you have a few free minutes before 5 pm EST today (July 10th) you too can join the circus by participating in the FINAL VOTE on mlb.com

Your Friend in Sports,

Dave the Sports Guru

I Have Returned

The Sports Guru is back and better than ever!  A quick 1,350 mile drive across North America to see some baseball will do that to you.  So what did we miss?  Spain beating Germany for the Euro Cup 2008.  The NBA draft (remember the ping pong balls – see May 21, 2008).  Free Agent signing period for the NHL and NBA (is your brain starting to fry?).  The USA Olympic Trials for swimming and track and field.  Week One at Wimbledon.  You see, just because I took a few days off to see Buffalo, Toronto, ALL OF MICHIGAN, Indiana, Illinois, ALL OF WISCONSIN and Minnesota, sports continued at a feverish pace.

So why did the Sports Guru drive almost half-way across Canada and the US?  Remember a few blogs ago when I mentioned my posse?  I take a male bonding trip with a bunch of my buddies to see the country and baseball (we eat well also) each summer.  Over the past five years we have been to 13 major league ballparks, seen 19 (out of 30) major league teams, witnessed 5 minor league games and have traveled to Canada and 12 states in the US. 

Dog tracks, harness tracks, casinos, beer tours, a Jelly bean tour, movie sets, a club where we were twice the age of EVERYBODY else in the building and a boat trip have been some of the side trips along the way.  Throw in motel stays at just about every conceivable chain (the shower heads at Holiday Inn Express are the best), a visit to what might just be the worst hotel in America (Tradewinds Airport Hotel – Inglewood, CA) and now you can see why we do this every year.

Sounds like fun Guru, how do I get to do cool things like you?  First off, you need a spouse who does not mind your being gone for a few days (should not be a problem), then you need a buddy who can read maps VERY WELL (when the sign says “road closed” it really means road closed [we call our guy Magellan]), then a guy/gal who can buy tickets to all the different ball parks, a guy/gal to book the rooms, then a guy/gal to rent the car, a guy/gal to book the airline tickets and a guy/gal to come up with the side trips.  Does it still sound like fun?

The truth is there are tour companies that specialize in this type of trip.  Not that I taken any of these, but here are two that do it all by bus and are well known.  Jay Buckley Baseball Tours –http://www.jaybuckley.com/, and Bodine Unlimited Tours – http://www.bodineunlimitedtours.com/baseball.htm.  Better than the tour companies, the Sports Guru can plan a trip for you (and it will be cheaper than the other guys, I promise).  You see, I do EVERYTHING except read the maps (we share pumping the gas) when we plan our trip each summer.  So if this sounds like fun and you have a spare weekend and some buddies who like sports, drop me an email (david.nagelberg@gmail.com) and let’s see if I can help you enjoy sports close up this summer.  

 Your Friend in Sports,

 

Dave the Sports Guru.

So When Do We Really Learn About Sports?

I have been writing this blog for a little over a month. I have received many nice comments and e-mails from family, friends and new readers (keep them coming). A common theme seems to be, “Great job Guru, but I don’t know anything about sports”. Well maybe either I’m not doing what I set out to do (see May 20, 2008 blog or click on I am not a Sports Nerd tab) or my friends and family are a few logs short of a cord.

I’ll go with the theory that some of my family are not the sharpest tools in the shed. Sports Guru’s Sports Son #1 plays lacrosse (game played with sticks and a hard rubber ball that hurts when it hits you). Not only does SGSS #1 play lacrosse, he is a goalie. That means the hard rubber ball is thrown at hit him very hard (high school players can throw it in excess of 80mph) by boys who don’t like him and hope that if the ball does not go by him for a goal, it hits him in the arm or leg so it hurts a lot. I know what you’re thinking now, goalies wear all that protection and it’s only a small ball. Wrong…

Ice Hockey goalies (SGSS #1 did that for 8 years also) wear protection that makes them look like this.

But lacrosse goalies wear such little protection they look like this.
Lacrosse is played on a field that is almost the same size as a football field. Each team has ten players and depending on what position they play on the field, their stick can vary in length from three feet long to six feet long for defensemen. The rules are pretty simple. You get to run around and hit your friends, and if they have the ball, you get to take your stick and hit them (hands and stick) with it. When you’re not being hit by your friends and smacking them in the hands, the object is to get the hard rubber ball past the goalie (the guy who is a few cards short of a deck) and into the net. It really is a great sport (especially if you’re not the parent of the kid whose elevator does not go all the way to the top floor).

One of the things about lacrosse that has made it very popular during the past 10 years is the possibility of a college scholarship for those players who have talent. Some of the best colleges in the country have a long standing history of playing lacrosse. Duke, Virginia, Georgetown, Cornell and many others are looking for the brightest student athletes to come play for their universities. So even if your kid is a few fries short of a Happy Meal and can get that hard rubber ball past SGSS #1, Harvard might be calling your son.

For some additional information about lacrosse you might want to check out the US Lacrosse website http://www.uslacrosse.org/the_sport/index.phtml. Remember if little Jimmy is a few Fruit Loops shy of a full bowl, lacrosse might just be the sport for him.

Your Friend in Sports (yes I’ve been accused of being a few threads short of a sweater),

Dave the Sports Guru

A Walk Down Memory Lane

I found a great website the other day that you should know about: www.on-this-day.com.  You can look up all sorts of great things (Happy 55th Birthday to Cyndi Lauper) that nobody remembers (West Virginia became the 35th state).  So what does this have to do with learning about sports?

Abraham Lincoln once said, “History is not history unless it is the truth”.  Well, sports is steeped in history.  For many, it is what we love about sports.  Sports fans can always debate and argue about which team or player was better.  Who was faster or who jumped the furthest.  But like Lincoln said, the “truth” is what matters the most. 

So how do sports fans find the “truth”\?.  I believe it’s in the small agate type pages you find in the newspaper each day.  You know the pages that have lists and lists of standings, averages and transactions about all sorts of sports and teams.  I would argue that a non-sports fan would rather have a root canal than read these pages.  I would say (remember it’s my blog) they are wrong.  The “truth” about sports is in all those tiny numbers.

You do not need to be a nuclear scientist or have an MBA to understand these magic numbers.  You just need to take a few minutes and soak it all in.  Trust me it’s not very difficult.  Here is a small snippet from today’s USA Today sports section http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/standings.htm.

AMERICAN LEAGUE
East
 TEAM PCT  GB  HOME  ROAD  L-10  STREAK 
 Boston 46  29  .613  –  28-7  18-22  7-3  W-2 
 
 Tampa Bay 43  29  .597  1.5  29-11  14-18  6-4  W-3 
 
 N.Y. Yankees 40  33  .548  21-15  19-18  8-2  W-7 
 
 Baltimore 37  34  .521  22-12  15-22  6-4  W-3 
 
 Toronto 35  39  .473  10.5  18-17  17-22  3-7  L-5 

 So what does it all mean?  What you see here is the American League East standings in baseball for June 20th, 2008.  It lists the five teams in the division, the number of games they have won this season (W), and the number of losses (L).  So we can say that Toronto has won 35 games and lost 39 so far this season.  Pretty easy stuff so far.  The next column (PCT) is the teams winning percentage.  Toronto has played 74 games and their winning percentage is .473 (35 wins divided by 74 games) yes, I know not all of you did well in school during math class.

The lesson continues with GB.  GB stands for games behind.  This column reflects how many games behind the leader (Boston) each team is.  Looking at the Yankees, you will see that they are five games behind Boston.  What that really means is that for every game Boston would lose and the Yankees win, that number would decrease by one.  It’s a little tough to figure out today as both teams have not played the same number of games at this point in the season.  The easier way to figure out how far behind or in front a team is, is to look at the difference in the loss (L) column.  The Yanks are four games behind the Red Sox based on the loss column.  So if the Yankees win the next four and Boston loses the next four they would be tied for first place.  The next two columns are pretty easy to understand.  The home and road columns list how each team does when it is the home team or visiting road team.  Good teams will usually have great home records (Boston 28-7, they have lost only 7 games out of 35 at Fenway Park).  Teams that go on the road and play about .500 baseball are also going to have very good seasons.  The last column is the team’s record during the last ten games.  You can see that the Yankees have done very well winning 8 out of their last 10 games.

So there you have it – the “truth” about the American League East.  Tomorrow morning run down (you need the exercise) to the local 7-11 and pick up the sports section and find that page with all the tiny print and dive right in because you are on your way to becoming a “Sports Fan”.

Have a great weekend.

 

Your Friend in Sports,

 

Dave the Sports Guru 

Why Is the US Congress Interested In Horse Racing?

When you click on my “I am not a Sports Nerd” tab on the blog, you will see that I say that “I love my country”.  It’s true, I wave the Red, White and Blue and support our Olympic teams and our military every chance I get.  What I don’t love about this country currently is that our senators, congresswomen and congressmen are spending so much time worried about sports in this country.  

We have troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, the economy sucks, gas and milk prices are going up through the roof, most of the rest of the world hates us and somehow our elected officials find the time to look into the Mitchell Report (steroids in baseball), as to whether or not Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte (baseball pitchers) “mis-remembered”, Spygate (did the New England Patriots illegally tape other teams) and earlier today the horse racing industry.

So why did the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection spend the day questioning those who run the horse racing industry in this country?  When Eight Belles finished second in the Kentucky Derby last month, and suddenly broke both her ankles leading to her being euthanized right there on the spot, there was a public outcry (so says Congress) to do something about horses getting hurt and dying.  Again, doesn’t Congress have better things to do.

So they (Congress) called a meeting and even invited our friend Dick Dutrow (trainer of Big Brown) to attend.  Dutrow decided to stick it to Congress by not showing up (claimed he was ill) and not letting them know that he would not be attending.  My words here (it’s my blog), “good for him”.  While I’m not a big fan of his, Congress had no right to call him on the carpet.  In the states where it is legal, Dutrow injects his horses once a month with steroids.  He claims “that it helps the horses to eat better.  Their coats brighten. They’re more alert. It helps them train”.  True or not, why is Congress interested?

Maybe some of the politicians in Washington are lousy handicappers.  Maybe they lost a few bucks on Big Brown not winning the Triple Crown earlier this month at the Belmont Stakes and want to get back at his trainer and owner.  Or is it that they really have nothing better to do?  If that’s the case, here is my suggestion (remember it’s my blog), throw them all out on election day this November 4th.  Now I’m not telling you the Democrats are any better than the Republicans or vice-verse, just vote out the incumbent and vote in the person who is running against them.  Send a message that what this country needs is change (I got off my soap box after typing change).  No good can come out of our government poking it’s nose into the world of sports in this country.

Now that I have that off my chest (and a few inches thanks to my trainer Ryan T.) it’s time to go home and talk to your family at the dinner table tonight about the important things in sports like:  Jaba getting it done for the Yankees earlier today, Germany knocking off Portugal in Euro 2008 and Tiger’s knee surgery.  You can do it (thanks Rob Schneider)!

Your Friend in Sports,

 

Dave the Sports Guru