All posts by SJG Sports

Why Don’t We Let The Kids Play?

Kyle Tooley

In professional sports today, there is a rule that goes largely unnoticed even though it could possibly affect the income of many athletes across the country.  It is a rule that was once non-existent in the NBA and has been a topic of controversy for the NFL in recent years.  It is one that, had it not been in effect (or had been in effect in the NBA’s case) would have affected the careers of players such as Jadeveon Clowney, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Kevin Garnett.  Simply put, the NBA and the NFL should adopt the draft entry rules of the MLB and allow high school players to enter the draft.  Not only is it not fair for these leagues to put restraints on when athletes can start providing for their families, but it also tears apart the college game, especially for basketball.  Continue reading Why Don’t We Let The Kids Play?

Survive and Get Rich

Scotty Gruszka

As this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament tips off and moves through the bracket, millions of people countrywide are suffering from March Madness.  Brackets are being ripped up and thrown in the trash as “cinderellas” move on and power houses fall.  While all that seems like enough madness, what goes on behind the scenes is even more maddening.  The NCAA Men’s Tournament brings in over $700M and that money is split up between the schools who make the field.  As teams advance they receive more money from the NCAA so while your school losing may be a tough one to swallow, it’s even harder for your school’s Athletic Director who could have had more money coming in. Continue reading Survive and Get Rich

No Contest: Unfair Advantages In Professional Sports

Kyle Tooley

A very common expression in my household when I was growing up was, “life isn’t fair.”  Usually the context involved eating dessert before dinner or staying up late to watch the end of the Sunday Night Football game.  And it is true; life isn’t fair because of the many things in our life that we cannot control.  However, in a professional sports league, shouldn’t the game be set up to create as much of a competitive equilibrium as possible?  Because if not, we might as well take the NBA and cut the number of teams from 30 to 10 and just let the ten teams that would always be relevant duke it out for rings each year.

The New York Knicks landed Patrick Ewing thanks to the NBA Draft Lottery
The New York Knicks landed Patrick Ewing thanks to the NBA Draft Lottery in 1985

The MLB and the NBA have a flawed system when it comes to creating top to bottom competition.  The biggest ways we see the flaws in creating competition are the MLB’s lack of salary cap and the NBA’s lottery draft.  The salary cap-less MLB is more of a crime against small-market teams, but it still does not help create a balance when the best teams can sign even better free agents with no regard to money.  The lottery draft in the NBA is honestly one of the biggest jokes in professional sports and has completely altered the landscape of the NBA ever since its introduction in 1985.  In that draft, The New York Knicks, who did not have the worst record in the league, secured the first pick and were able to land a pretty good player.  Patrick Ewing, to be exact.  If there was no lottery system, Ewing would have been a Pacer and there is no certainty on how that acquisition could have changed the future of the league.  Looking back on that 1985 draft, I’m rather certain that the Pacers would have traded their pick that they ended up making for future Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing.  The Pacers drafted Wayman Tisdale.  Sure, he was a 12-year veteran, but this is Patrick Ewing we’re talking about.

On top of mixing up the draft orders in every single draft since 1985, the lottery system has also come under scrutiny for playing favorites to bigger name teams.  Is it just a coincidence that Derrick Rose was born and raised in Chicago or LeBron James is from Cleveland? Well, I guess the jury is still out.  All I’m saying is that LeBron could’ve been drafted by Denver and Derrick Rose could be in Miami while Blake Griffin could be enjoying his afternoons in downtown Sacramento or Anthony Davis could be in Charlotte, making life a bit easier on ol’ Michael Jordan.  The scenery of NBA draftees is always going to be in flux and unpredictable until the NBA can adapt a reverse-order draft like every other major sports league.

Chase Headley singed with the Yankees because they could offer him the most money
Chase Headley singed with the Yankees because they could offer him the most money

Baseball is as simple as this: if there was no salary cap involved, do you think a free agent from this past offseason such as Chase Headley would rather play for a team that finished this past season sitting on their couches in October or a team that just won the World Series? Well, he picked the Yankees.  Why? Because they have more money to spend than any other team, bottom line.  With a salary cap, that would not be the case, as teams from around the league would have identical budgets to spend on a former Silver Slugger such as Headley.  Yes, New York is an attractive place to live, just ask Carmelo.  But, can anyone truly say that San Francisco isn’t?

Any given year, a new NFL team can rise to the top thanks to their salary cap and draft rules
Any given year, a new NFL team can rise to the top thanks to their salary cap and draft rules

The solution: the NBA and the MLB need to adapt their policies on drafting and salary cap management to that of the NFL.  Have a reverse-order draft and create a hard cap with essentially no loopholes.  In doing this, the NFL has created a very balanced system that sees their franchises go in and out of so-called “rebuilding processes” almost seamlessly.  We joke that the NFL is somewhat of a mockery because it is so hard to predict which teams will be good each and every year.  But isn’t that what we want? Don’t we want a league where there aren’t teams that are never good and some teams that make the playoffs year in and year out?  Sure, savvy front offices’ are always going to help a team’s chances at success, but you’re lying to yourself if you think that free-agent budgets and drafting don’t have to do with 95% of a team’s success.  The Yankees would not be what we think of the Yankees today and the NBA draft would not be a complete and utter mockery.

It’s a shame to see the leagues that we watch year in and year out tear down the competitive balance of the game that makes the season that much more interesting.  Change is needed in the MLB and NBA, and if you don’t believe me, just take a gander at the Sacramento Kings’ last few draft picks or how many big free agents the A’s have been able to land over the past few off-seasons.

The Art of Expiring Contracts

Kyle Tooley

On December 9th, 2011 Tayshaun Prince was rewarded with a contract extension from the Detroit Pistons worth $28 million over four years. And at the time, the contract made total sense: Prince was averaging 12 points per game over 33 minutes while grabbing 5 rebounds and dishing out 3 assists per game.  All the while, he was making a name for himself as one of the most efficient defensive players in the game.  He was an intricate piece on the team that brought the city of Detroit their first world championship in almost 15 years, and he was rewarded as such.  Fast-forward to the current 2014-15 season, and that contract makes little to no sense.  With age, Prince became a much less efficient player; averaging career lows in almost every statistic.  However, due to the 2011 extension, he is still making seven million a year.  Believe it or not, this is when Prince became the most valuable.  This is what we call the art of the expiring contract, and it’s a doozy.  The trade process is such a flawed one in the NBA that the mere fact that Prince’s contract is almost up makes him such a coveted player.  This is why he was traded twice in one season and three times in two years.  Everybody wants him because he’s almost gone. Continue reading The Art of Expiring Contracts

The Cost Of A Franchise

Pat Obrochta

Steve Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers last year for $2,000,000,000
Steve Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers last year for $2,000,000,000

In May of 2014, the Los Angeles Clippers made headlines across the nation due to a change of ownership. In the shadows of the off-court issues of former owner Donald Sterling was the fact that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was paying $2 billion dollars for the franchise. Compared to the Milwaukee Bucks, who sold for $550 Million only a few months before the Clippers sale was finalized, it was a heavy investment that made many stare in disbelief, especially the other groups bidding, whose bids were $600 million and $800 million short respectfully. Continue reading The Cost Of A Franchise

How Small Market Teams Find Success

Kyle Tooley

The past sport’s year alone has seen two classifiable “small-market” teams make it to their respective championship games.  With the Kansas City Royals of the MLB and the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA, we see two different structures and formulas for building a championship team.  And actually, the methods should be different.  Small-market teams are affected differently in the MLB than they are in the NBA, and that has to do with how each league’s salary cap rules, or lack thereof, are set up.  But when it’s game seven and we have a team from New York or Los Angeles matching up against a team from Sacramento or San Antonio we have to ask the questions of how did this happen? How was a relatively poor team able to compete with teams that don’t have a money problem?

Continue reading How Small Market Teams Find Success

Free Agent Moneymakers

To intense sports fans, the offseason is so much more than just a break from one’s favorite sport.  The offseason is a flurry of action as free agents look to sign with a new team which is poised to make a run at the championship.  These free agents can sign for record numbers in the hundreds of millions of dollars, but more importantly they affect the economy of whatever city they decide to go to.  Whether these big money free agents decide to go to or leave a city, the economy of that city will feel the effects of their decision, for better or for worse. Continue reading Free Agent Moneymakers

Most Profitable Non-Profit Ever

The NFL has had a lot of issues and problems this season.  Whether it was the domestic abuse problems or the recent deflated footballs, Roger Goodell certainly has a lot on his plate.  What the biggest problem is though is how much money the NFL brings in every year ($9.5 billion to exact) and the fact that they are still listed as a non-profit organization. Continue reading Most Profitable Non-Profit Ever

What’s Happened To Baseball? PART 3

Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco playing for the A's
Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco playing for the A’s

There were also fluctuations in fan interest within the past decade because the steroid era.  For the majority of the second half of the twentieth century, baseball was a slow paced, low scoring game that favored pitchers.  Fans became more interested in basketball games that finished 100-98 or football games that finished 28-21, not baseball games that took three hours to finish 1-0.  What the steroid era did was make baseball a high scoring game.  Players like Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, and Jose Canseco were smashing out home runs and driving up scores.  Baseball suddenly became more fast paced and impressive with balls flying out of stadiums left and right.  But in the mid 2000s baseball commissioner Bud Selig really cracked down on performance enhancing drugs and drove out all steroid users.  Baseball fell back into a low scoring affair and fan interest yet again started to decrease. Continue reading What’s Happened To Baseball? PART 3

Financially Smart Move For The Cubs?

The Chicago Cubs have always been a big market team.  They also however have been reluctant to spend their money on new signings.  For the first time in a long time, the Cubs dropped some money on signing Jon Lester to a 6-year, $155M contract and the cheers from Wrigleyville could be heard across the world.  While Jon Lester is one of the best pitchers in baseball today, does the signing make much sense financially for the Cubs?  Just ask the Yankees how their big money, long term contracts are panning out. Continue reading Financially Smart Move For The Cubs?