The Sunday: Remembering the Noteworthy

Compiled by Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Hurting

Nebraska punter Sam Foltz and former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler were killed in a car wreck last Saturday night in a car wreck. The outpouring of support has been tremendous but one stood out in particular. Kevin Sjuts Sports Director at KOLN/KGIN paid a moving tribute to Foltz last Sunday. It’s a moving tribute and credit to Sjuts for keeping it together.

3-3-5

A never before seen triple play.

Look Ma….

NFL training camps are open and Denver Broncos undrafted rookie wide receiver Jordan Taylor has one the first ‘Did you see that!?’ moment of the preseason.

Got it

Not to be out done, 2015 PGA Championship Winner Jason Day nailed a 74 ft put for birdie.

 

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The Trend Is The New Normal

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Last March I wrote a blog at the rash of younger players retiring from the NFL. The most notable of which being San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis. Well as training camps get under way there have been another slew of quality players (if not Hall of Fame candidates) 30 and under who have decided that another season on the gridiron just isn’t worth it.

We all know about the high profile retirements this off-season of Peyton Manning and Charles Woodson. Those were expected but Charles Johnson, aka Megatron, hanging it up along with Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch came as a shock to some. They were joined by wide receiver Greg Jennings, linebackers Jerod Mayo and AJ Tarpley, defensive backs Walter Thurmond and Husain Abdullah, offensive linemen Phil Loadholt and Eugene Monroe just to name a few.

The oldest member of the group listed outside of Manning and Woodson, was just 30 years old. As the video above shows, some people just can’t believe that 30 years olds like Lynch and Johnson are walking away from millions of dollars.

Everyone has a reason but as Tarpley stated in his piece with MMQB, it was about concussions. It is a reasonable conclusion to make that with all of the publicity surrounding CTE that it is influencing players in their late 20’s, veterans, to take the money and run.

Last March I said that we will have to wait and see if this was a trend. Over a year later I would say that it isn’t a trend but a fact of life moving forward. Yes players like Manning and Woodson will still be around but overall NFL teams should expect players to give them between five to seven years of service before they hang it up.

While this seems like a ‘crisis’ for the NFL it really isn’t. Back in 2011 an NFL study said that the average NFL career was around seven years. The league and teams should plan on players pushing very hard for a bigger and bigger signing bonus after their rookie contracts are up and that in all reality shouldn’t be coming as a great shock to anyone in the NFL.

The NFL is smart. They will adjust salary caps and such to fit what is going to be the ‘new normal’ for the sport.

EXTRA READING:

What it’s like to retire from the NFL

What to Watch: 7/29 – 7/31

All Times Are Pacific.

Friday July 29th

PGA Championship – 10am TNT: Interesting leaderboard and some big names may not make the cut at the last major of the year.

Colorado Rockies at New York Mets – 4pm MLB.TV: Don’t look now but the Rockies have some pitching behind them. Tyler Chatwood heads to the hill to slow down the Mets who sit six games out of first in the NL East.

Calgary StampedersBC Lions at Calgary Stampeders – 7pm ESPN2: A good ole fashion western Canadian rivalry.

Washington Nationals at San Francisco Giants – 7:15pm MLB.TV: Max Scherzer vs Jeff Samardzija. Not bad for two first place teams.

Saturday July 30th

Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays – 10am MLBN: Big series for the top spot in the AL East.

PGA Championship – 11am CBS: The guys in contention tee off and coverage runs until 4pm PST.

NYCFC vs Colorado Rapids – Noon MLS.TV: The Rapids have more points than NYCFC but they sit in second and NYCFC sits a top the East. Interesting match up for a Saturday afternoon.

Sunday July 31st

Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays – 10am MLB.TV: Rubber match of this series and a solid pitching matchup.

PGA Championship – 11am CBS: Final round action.

Philadelphia Union vs Real Salt Lake – 4pm MLS.TV: The Union are in a dog fight in the Eastern conference and RSL is in the same position out west.

The Sunday: Crashes, Tirades and Rapping

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Winner

Chris Froome won his 3rd Tour de France today despite crashing multiple times during the tour and he even had to punch a fan to prevent another crash. It was a hard fought race and a well deserved victory.

Kreis Is Back

Jason Kreis NYCFCJason Kreis is back on the sidelines in MLS. This time with Orlando City. Kreis was a prolific scorer during his playing days. As a manager he took Real Salt Lake to two MLS Cup Finals, winning one and of course was unceremoniously sacked by NYCFC after one season. He is arguably one of the best coaches in all of MLS and this is a major coup for Orlando City.

We Knew Who He Was

Former Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis (Denny Green) passed away this week at the age of 67. He was the second African-American head coach in the modern era with an overall record of 113-94. A lot of people might remember his rant after losing to the Chicago Bears while in charge of the Cardinals.

Fashion

Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale was scratched from his scheduled start on Saturday for apparently cutting up the throwback jerseys the team was supposed to wear. In other news, the Fresno Grizzles rocked the Three Amigos gear. Can you imagine what Sale would have done to those?

Harbaugh

Yeah….

Which Hurt More?

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Full disclosure, I worked at the UFC for seven plus years. 

The UFC has come a long way. That is well documented but their biggest event, UFC 200, may linger for a while and not in a good way. Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones was suspended the week of the event and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar failed a drug test before and after the fact. So which one will hurt the UFC more in the long run? My guess is Jones.

The announcement of UFC being sold for $4 billion came on the heels of UFC 200. An event that Dave Metzler claims didn’t do as well as UFC 100 or the most recent Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey pay-per-views. Could Jones testing positive for PED’s and being taken off of the card have hurt the overall numbers. Probably.

The fact is that Jones is a 29 year old fighting phenom who can’t out of his own way. If he could then the UFC could bank on two or three big pay-per-view selling fights a year for the next few years with Jones as the headliner. So his possible two year suspension could hurt the bottom line a lot more than Lesnar’s.

It wasn’t clear if Lesnar was going to fight again for the UFC anyway. Given his age, 39, it is unlikely that he would be able to provide four or five more years worth of high selling pay-per-views. Jones could have. His age combined with a solid performance at UFC 200, it could have given the UFC a third pay-per-view crown jewel next to McGregor and Rousey.

Jones suspension will hurt the UFC more financially than Lesnar’s will in the long run. It didn’t help public perception that both of these positive tests came around the biggest event in its history. That being said, the UFC has a track record of finding talented fighters and building them into MMA stars.They have successfully transitioned from Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Matt Hughes and Rich Franklin to George St-Pierre, Anderson Silva and BJ Penn to Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor and Demetrious Johnson. They’ll be alright even if it sucks for a bit.

What to Watch: Fri. 7/22 – Sun. 7/24

All times are Pacific.

Friday July 22nd

Cycling Tour de FranceTour de France – 4am NBCSN: A mean ass mountain stage and one of the last real races of the tour.

San Francisco Giants at New York Yankees – 4pm MLBN: The Giants have lost five in a row and now head to the Bronx to take on the Yankees. Can the Giants ace Madison Bumgarner stop the skid?

Saturday July 23rd

Portland Timbers vs Los Angeles Galaxy – 12:30pm ESPN: The Timbers are starting to come together but the Galaxy are still a few points ahead of them in the standings.

Colorado Rapids vs FC Dallas – 4pm MLS LIVE: The two best teams in all of MLS as far as points go square off in the Mile High city.

New York Mets at Miami Marlins – 4pm MLB.TV: Big game in NL East and a heck of a pitching matchup as Jacob deGrom faces off against Jose Fernandez.

Sunday July 24th

Tour de France – 7am NBCSN: The victory lap around the Champs – Elysees.

New York Red Bulls vs NYCFC – 10am FOX: The Derby actually matters. NYCFC leads the east but the Red Bulls are only a few points back.

The Brickyard 400 – Noon NBC: It’s one of the biggest races NASCAR has all year. Added bonus, Jeff Gordon comes out of retirement to fill in for Dale Jr.

Sports Hacking And It’s Risks

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Former St Louis Cardinals Scouting Director Chris Correa was finally sentenced today for his role in the 2014 hack of the Houston Astros. He faces 46 months behind bars and a fine of over $250k. It seems pretty harsh but it raises a bigger question which is how secure are sports organizations data?

I wrote about this issue last year when it came to light. I wanted to know two fundamental things; 1) how does a team go about protecting it’s data and 2) if data was taken did it truly provide a measurable competitive advantage? In this case the federal prosecutors claimed that it cost the Astros $1.7 million. Does $1.7 million equal 46 months in prison? I think that is very much up for debate.

Some may feel that the sentence is harsh but when you look at the amount of statistical data floating around in MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLS and how much teams have come to rely on that data to select and identify potential season ticket holders, then one could argue that this sentence provides a deterrent to other individuals from attempting a similar thing. It doesn’t provide a deterrent to outside actors.

The fact is that we as a society do not know the boundaries yet for cyber crime which is what Correa was convicted of. In this case it would appear to be a law enforcement issue as data was take from a database without the owners knowledge or approval and it involved US citizens. However what if this was similar to the Sony hack? How does that change the game? (Pun intended.) Is this then just a law enforcement issue?

Former Gen. Michael Hayden talked about some of this in presentation this past January (pick it up around the 15 minute mark and no you can’t see his slides). What if, and yes we are in hypotheticals here, but what if Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban made a negative remark Russia that Russia took personally? Would that put the Mavericks database at risk? Would it put their season ticket holders information at risk? We already have precedent with the Sands Casino hack back in 2014 of a high profile individual making remarks that the Iranians didn’t like. You saw what happened there.

What responsibility did the Astros have to secure their own data? Doesn’t the blame, in part, fall on them? Yes Correa had to make the choice to infiltrate their network however it does appear that once inside he had full reign. One could argue that the Astros should have had an extra layer of authentication like an RSA key in order to gain access to their proprietary network.

Sports organizations with all their data and high profiles need to start looking at themselves in the context of everything else. While this case is about gaining access to player information and potential player acquisitions, it raises a much bigger question about sports franchises level as a target to outside actors. What if China decided to hack the New York Yankees or the Dallas Cowboys and release all of the season ticket holder info? Two iconic American brands hacked because the US Government did something that the Chinese didn’t like.

Impossible? It’s really not that far off. In any event Correa isn’t a terrorist or a state sponsor of one. He isn’t an Eastern European criminal gang but he is going to prison none the less. And one last point, neither of these teams have won the World Series in the last few years so is 46 months really a fitting punishment?

The Sunday: Selling, Retiring And Owning

SOLD!

The UFC was sold for $4 billion this week. The weekend after UFC 200 which did lord knows how many pay-per-view buys. Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta bought the UFC for some $2 million many moons ago. They will make a pretty good return on their investment. Dana White will remain as President of the organization and he will add to that this week by speaking at the Republican National Convention.

The Legend Retires

Tim Duncan called it a career this week in the only Tim Duncan can, very low key. All he did was write a letter and posted it on the San Antonio Spurs web site.

Duncan

Saban vs Finebaum

Alabama head coach Nick Saban may go down as the greatest college football coach in history. In order to do that you have not only have to be a great coach but you also have to be able to own the media. Saban can does that and did it again at the SEC Media Days. A mic was hot later and you can hear the the ESPN panel pointing this out.

 

Tour de Run?

It’s becoming a very odd Tour de France. While the stages have been exciting, sometimes they have been exciting for other reasons. Fans are on top of the riders at points during the race and when that happens that means that the motorcycles carrying cameras and photographers. Well a bottle neck occurred this week and caused a crash. This meant that leader Chris Froome was without a bike and just started running until his team car could get to him.

 

This..

France may have lost to Portugal but man is this a cool shot.

EURO FINAL 2016

Or this….

Catches

It’s never too early for ‘Catch of the Year’ nominees.

 

Put Out The Fire

Someone tried to put out the Olympic torch with a fire extinguisher. This pretty much sums up the Rio Olympics before it even gets started.

 

The Twitter Streaming Plan

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


PAC 12By the looks of it Twitter is trying to become the ultimate mobile live streaming sports platform. They surprised everybody by getting the rights to stream the NFL’s Thursday night games this fall. Now they have grabbed the rights to the PAC-12.

It’s not all wine and roses however. The deal is apparently mainly focused on Olympic sports like swimming, volleyball, baseball, etc. The football and basketball games are apparently off limits with their current deals.

TWITTERIt is still a nice step to see and one of only a couple of deals that Twitter is working on. They recently signed on CBSN and Bloomberg but Tuner, MLS and MLB could be right around the corner.

It would be a major coup for Twitter to bag multiple sports league and be a huge benefit to the cord cutters like myself. While Twitter doesn’t give you the ’10-ft experience’, providing live game content on the computer or mobile device might just be good enough. It also really helps them corner the market on the younger sports demo.

Time will tell how this all shakes out and if Twitter even has the infrastructure to support such moves. The speed at which they are moving is a great sign that they may have this figured out. It would be even better if the PAC-12 just went ahead and streamed all of their content but at this point let’s take what we can get.

What to Watch: Fri. 7/15 – Sun. 7/17

All times are Pacific.

Friday July 15th 

The British Open – 1am Golf Channel: Lefty got off to a hot start shooting a 63 to put him -8. Martin Kaymer and Patrick Reed are tied for second but only three strokes back. Don’t worry, coverage goes until 1pm.

Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees – 4pm MLBN: Baseball is back from the break and there is no better to start it off but by having the Red Sox vs the Yankees from Yankee Stadium.

Hamilton Tiger Cats at Montreal Alouettes – 4:30pm ESPN3: Remember how the Al’s had a bunch of quarterbacks in camp? We’ll they are already starting their backup, Rakeem Cato.

Saturday July 16th 

The British Open – 4am NBC: Third round from Royal Toon in Scotland.

Tour de France – 5am NBCSN: It’s a 208km run with a couple of climbs. Lets’ see if Chris Froome ditches the bike and just runs it.

Texas Rangers at Chicago Cubs – 11:20am MLBN: This could legitimately be a World Series Preview. Yu Darvish takes the mound for the Rangers against Jason Hammel for the Cubs.

Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers – 4pm FS1: The defending World Series champion Royals are seven games back of the division leading Cleveland Indians. They are only a half game back of the Tigers which makes this series hugely important.

Sunday 17th

The British Open – 4am NBC: Final round of the 145th Open.

Portland Timbers vs Seattle Sounders – Noon FOX: While both are not where they’d thought they’d be at this point in the season, it is still the best rivalry in MLS. The Sounders will be without Clint Dempsey in a game where they have to get at least a point.

Montreal Impact vs NYCFC – 2pm ESPN: Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard square off for the first time in MLS. The once Chelsea teammates are now battling for position in the eastern conference. NYCFC is in the lead due in small part because of Lampard’s recent form. They sit four points in front of the Impact.

Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees – 5pm ESPN: The rubber match and it’s David Price vs Masahiro Tanaka.