Sweep-the-SwampCast! May 17, 2019

Welcome back to SwampSwami’s “Sweep-the-SwampCast!” podcast for this week!

Golf’s PGA Championship has moved from August into May and is underway this weekend at Bethpage State Park “Black” Golf Course located outside of New York City. We’ll talk about the tournament and see if Brooks Koepka will hold onto the lead this weekend.

We’ll also talk about the amazing Golden State Warriors of the NBA, college basketball recruiting, the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, and take a peek at Saturday’s Preakness Stakes in Baltimore.

To listen, please click on the button above. Better yet, subscribe to this and all of our podcasts via Apple Podcasts. It’s FREE – try it today!

Sweep-the-SwampCast! April 5, 2019

It’s Final Four weekend for both the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments! We’ll give you a preview of both events, talk about the best 3-point shooter in college basketball (hint – SHE made 77 out of 100 shots on Thursday night to win), and chat about LSU, Texas, Texas A&M hoops, too. Plus, we’ll talk about the AAF, the NFL, and this Sunday’s WRESTLEMANIA!

Oh, yeeaah! Dig it!?

This is an audio podcast only, so click on the bar above or, better yet, subscribe (it’s FREE!) via Apple Podcasts. I’m the only SwampSwami on their search bar!

NBA – Let’s sink those tankers!

Mark Cuban owns the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.  With a reputation as being a maverick himself, the outspoken basketball team owner just cost himself $600,000 by being honest about something that the NBA (and other sports, for that matter) doesn’t want to admit.

While being interviewed recently by NBA legend Julius Erving, Mark Cuban confessed that, for a struggling team like this year’s Dallas Mavericks, one of the surest ways to improve your team quickly is to finish at or near the bottom of the league standings to grab a “sure-fire” draft prospect coming out of college.

For his honesty, Adam Silver (NBA Commissioner and chief censor of free speech) meted out a whopping $600K fine to Cuban for his remarks.  In a multi-billion dollar industry, it isn’t appropriate to tell the Mavericks’ (and the NBA’s) paying customers that their team should try to lose more games today in order to have an improved chance of becoming more competitive next year.

Mark Cuban has apologized for his comments and accepted a hefty penalty for telling the truth.  The NBA already has many skeptics who think that the league’s referees can quietly influence the outcome of games during the playoffs to keep more of the top stars on the court to enhance television ratings and revenue for the league.

Despite their detractors, Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) makes no bones about pre-arranged outcomes in wrestling match-ups.  The NBA, though, cannot afford to confirm the suspicions that teams falling out of playoff contention are motivated NOT to win games after the All-Star break.

Just like many things in life, people (in this case, professional sports teams) gravitate toward the area of biggest rewards.  This “tanking” strategy is an economic decision whereby non-playoff teams are responding to their best available reward (a better draft pick).  To cure the problem, the NBA (and the NFL, etc.) should eliminate any economic incentive which encourages teams to lose the most games.

Let’s say that the NBA splits its season into two parts.  At the All-Star break, each of the top four teams from the Eastern and Western Conference would clinch a berth in the NBA’s eight-team conference playoffs.  The seeding for those four teams in the playoffs, though, will be determined by the total number of games each team wins for the entire season as the next four playoff seeds will come after conclusion of the second half of the year.

Playoff seeds #5, 6, 7, and 8 will be awarded to the four teams which win the most games during the second half of the season following the NBA’s All-Star break.  In the event that one (or more) of the first half winners also win one of the second half spots, the teams with the best overall record in each conference would be selected to round-out the playoff groupings.  Playoff seeding for all eight teams would be determined by the team’s overall season record.

The emphasis would keep teams (and their fans) focused on winning.  Both halves of the NBA season would become more meaningful and suspenseful. The first half winners remain motivated by the chance to earn the overall home court advantage during the playoffs.  The second half playoff teams would have a chance to bring their fans a playoff berth with a fantastic finish.  This also guarantees that the league’s hottest teams at the end of the year would earn a spot in the NBA playoffs.  Finally, the teams which have played consistently well for the entire year would also have a glimmer of hope to slide into the playoffs based on their overall season record (should any of the first half winners earn another top-four finish in the second half of the season).

What about the other 14 teams who don’t make the playoffs?  They go into the NBA draft lottery for the next season.  But this time, each team gets only ONE BALL in the hopper (pure chance) so that no team is given an artificial advantage for losing the most games during the regular season.

The result?  Basketball fans get treated to a meaningful first half of the season.  It would improve early season interest and television ratings.  Following the All-Star game, every team then gets a chance to sprint to the finish line to grab the remaining playoff spots or a chance to grab home court advantage.

For the struggling teams, each team is treated the same during the NBA draft lottery so that fans of all 14 non-playoff franchises are motivated to watch the show with equal hope of landing one of the best incoming rookie players.

Your problem is solved, NBA.

Tank you very much!

 

NFL Knee Wars – The Markets Strike Back

I just love to watch free markets at work!  Check out these juicy sports headlines from the past few days:

Dateline:  Baltimore – NFL’s Baltimore Ravens President, Dick Cass, blames the players’ national anthem protests for the increasing number of empty seats at the team’s home football games.

Dateline:  Louisville – Papa John’s Pizza founder John Schnatter steps down as CEO this week after his criticizing of kneeling NFL players may have led to a decrease in the company’s stock price.

Dateline: Stamford, CT – WWE Chairman Vince McMahon sells $100 million of WWE stock amid rumors he might want to bankroll a revival of the XFL to compete with the NFL.

What a fascinating set of market changes resulting from NFL fans’ responding to some of the NFL players’ taking a knee at stadiums this season during the playing of the national anthem.  The initial reason given by the protesting players was that their kneeling was not meant to be disrespectful to the US military or the flag but to raise the awareness of perceived social injustice issues.

The Knee Wars situation escalated after the King of Kneeling (Colin Kaepernick) started his personal protests last season.  It gained favor with many other NFL players to start the 2017 season as more decided to add support for Kaepernick and the social justice issues by kneeling en masse during early season NFL games.

In Baltimore, the Ravens’ players gained international notoriety in their early season game played in London.  Many players dropped to a knee during the playing of the US national anthem, but then rose and stood at attention for the playing of “God Save the Queen”.

Baltimore fans were livid.  The city, steeped in US history, is the home of Fort McHenry.  That is where Francis Scott Key penned “The Star Spangled Banner”after the fort miraculously survived a 25-hour British onslaught in 1814.

As a result of the football players’ actions, Baltimore fans (like many around the league) have mounted their own counter-offensive by staying away in droves.  This comes even though the 2017 Ravens are fighting for an AFC playoff spot with an 8-6 record entering Christmas weekend.

In a rare move of honesty, Baltimore Raven team president, Dick Cass, has reached out to fans and asked them to return for the final two home games against the struggling Indianapolis Colts and the Cincinnati Bengals.  And why not?  Even though the Ravens’ home games usually sellout, fewer fans in the stands means less concessions, parking, and team merchandise revenues generated on game days in Baltimore.

Meanwhile, at the Louisville corporate home of Papa John’s Pizza, founder John Schnatter removed himself as CEO yesterday as the company fought a market backlash from a segment of its stockholders over Schnatter’s critical comments about the kneeling NFL players this season.  This time, the stock market bears have used their Jedi light sabers to slice the value of PZZA by $15 per share during the football season.  The stock has plummeted about 20% in 2017, while the overall US stock market gained about 25% during the same period.

Next, ready to capitalize on the chaos, is none other than the CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, Vince McMahon.  Vinnie Mac is smiling like the proverbial Cheshire cat as the sports media seems to believe that he will try to revive the XFL again to compete against football’s goliath, the NFL.  Remember back in 2001 when the XFL (a 50/50 partnership between the WWE and NBC) aired spring football games?  The XFL – which gave us eight teams and one memorable player named “He Hate Me” – lost $35 million for each party (out of their initial $100 million investments) and meekly folded after its first season.

The WWE’s McMahon comes from a family of wrestling promoters, so he will play coy on the potential use of his recent $100 million stock sale as long as possible.  The stock price for WWE recently climbed above $30/share after starting the year around $19.  Despite all of the media’s speculation, it is also quite possible that Vince may just be ringing the cash register after his company’s stock price reached a recent high.  However, McMahon loves the media spotlight (any publicity is better than none), so the gullible sports media may be falling for another dark side kayfabe from wrestling’s reigning Emperor.

Heading into the Super Bowl and beyond, the NFL and its owners may have a longer term issue than simply lower ratings, attendance, and revenues in 2017 alone.  The long term costs of this “Knee Wars” saga may be only beginning as “The Force” of the markets strike back!

 

 

 

 

 

 

LaVar Ball is the sports media’s version of Kim Kardashian

Good ol’ LaVar Ball (the non-stop quote-machine Dad of NBA rookie, Lonzo Ball) has been back in the news the past few days.  This time, LaVar Ball made a spectacle of himself as coach of his AAU team (named “The Big Ballers”, of course) at a hoops tournament this week in Las Vegas (which also begs the question, “Where do these kids/teams get all of the money required to do this stuff, anyway?).

LaVar Ball, whose claim to fame is that he is coaching/raising his three basketball-playing sons, received a technical foul on Friday from a female referee and proceeded to demand that she be replaced or his team would walk off the floor.  Believe it or not, she was replaced!

On Saturday, he provided more fodder for the drooling sports media/paparazzi by saying that the female referee needed to “stay in her lane” (whatever that means), that she was out of shape (look into your own mirror, LaVar), and that “She got caught in a bad place – messing with me”.  Ugh.

As sad as this is to say, there have been, are, and will continue to be LaVar Ball-type coaches working with our kids.  I played sports years ago and survived a few of coaches like this.  You try to endure that coach for a season (or two) and fondly appreciate your best coaches a bit more.  The LaVar Ball-type coaches may sincerely mean well, but they are a lousy example on showing kids how to deal with a variety of life’s issues.

So, why is this man even in the sports news?  Better yet, why would media companies spend any money covering LaVar Ball’s AAU summer league team?

The best that I can figure is that LaVar Ball has become the Kim Kardashian of the new 24/7 sports media.  Though both personalities have virtually no significant talents worthy of the outlandish media attention, LaVar Ball and Kim Kardashian are both reliable sources of nuggets of risque sound-bites and photos to help fill the pages in the dearth of any “real” news.  If there is nothing better to cover, the media (including those covering sports) can usually count on audio and video from people like this to attract curiosity seekers.

In sports, this type of media coverage used to involve those individuals actually involved in the game (such as Pete Rose and Reggie Jackson in baseball, boxing’s Mohammed Ali, basketball’s Charles Barkley, football’s Jim McMahon, and golfer John Daly).  Sadly, today’s sports media has chosen to reach even lower and provide paparazzi-type coverage to non-playing “spotlight addicts” such as LaVar Ball.

Just wait.  It’s only a matter of time before ESPN or some other ratings-seeking media outlet will do a reality show featuring LaVar Ball.  There apparently is an audience who actually wants to read more about LaVar Ball and his antics.  As stated in a previous post, I personally hope that LaVar Ball will sign a contract with the WWE soon and become a professional wrestling manager where his outlandish comments and actions are better suited as part of the show.

As a real-life leader of young men, though, I don’t find this man’s shtick funny at all.

 

LaVar Ball and WWE – Let’s make this happen!

Just who IS this guy, LaVar Ball?  We know that he is the father of three basketball-playing sons in the Los Angeles area.  The oldest, Lonzo, just became the second overall player selected in the 2017 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Lakers last week after playing only one year at UCLA.

Prior to the NBA draft, though, Daddy LaVar Ball took to the talk show circuits over the past several months ago and insisted that his son was so good that he wouldn’t even work out for any team other than the Los Angeles Lakers!  And, sure enough, the Lakers took Lonzo with the #2 overall pick.  Was LaVar just that smart or lucky or both?

While his son, Lonzo, was a talented freshman point guard at UCLA, Poppa LaVar Ball inserted himself into the national media spotlight as a loud-mouthed braggart who seems intent on hogging the spotlight from his own sons.  With two more basketBALLers coming along in the next few years, that is a nauseating thought.

Ol’ Pops has bragged that he could have beaten Michael Jordan 1-on-1 (incredibly doubtful), that his son Lonzo was a better basketball player than recent NBA MVP Stephen Curry (highly doubtful), and that a recently-created basketball shoe line (ironically named “BigBallerBrand” featuring $495/pair sneakers) would soon be worth $1 billion (only time will tell, but don’t bet on it).

Daddy LaVar Ball was a good enough athlete to play both quarterback on the football team and a forward on his high school basketball team.  Though initially a junior-college basketball player, he later transferred and played one season at Washington State University – averaging 2 points and 2 rebounds/game.  While in college, he met his wife, Tina.  Tina also played some college basketball and is currently the athletics director for a local high school.

Other than Dear Ol’ Daddy Ball organizing an AAU basketball team in 2013 named the “BigBallers” to (surprise!) promote his three sons’ careers, I have been unable to find much information about what Mr. Ball has ever done for a living other than live through his own children.  To each his own.

But then came Monday Night RAW!  The cable television production of World Wrestling Entertainment was in Los Angeles for their weekly show, and, wouldn’t you know it, featured an interview segment between BigDaddy LaVar Ball (along with two of his sons) and an equally loud-mouthed wrestler named “The Miz”.  The match-up between the two braggarts finally gave Mr. Ball the proper element for his obnoxious shtick.

Hey, Lonzo.  Your Dad has called you a magician with the ball, right?  So, why don’t you prove it to us and make a deal to PAY the WWE to take PapaBall on tour for the next few years and leave you (and the rest of us) alone?  If you can pull-off that magic feat, then I might (perhaps) consider becoming a Lakers fan!