Acting On The Data

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 10.1.2016

Dustin Johnson finally broke through in 2016. After years of finishing second or third he finally won a major and was the 2016 PGA of America Player of the Year.  It wasn’t a new coach or club but use of analytics that apparently made the difference.

dustin-johnsonAccording to an article by GeekWire.com, Johnson’s use of Trackman helped him improve his wedge game from 53rd to 4th among those on tour. That’s a huge jump and it was made because Johnson was exposed to the data and then acted upon it.

This is important not just for athletes but for everyone. Finding the data and analyzing it are steps one and two. But it is step three, what to do about it, is the step that most people screw up on. Johnson didn’t.

Johnson had been so close so many times in major tournaments that it would have been easy for him to pass it off as ‘bad luck’ or ‘it’s not your day’ but he didn’t. Being the competitor that he is, he worked at that part of his game to the point that it put him over the top and made him the 2016 PGA of America Player of the Year.

Golf is in the midst of a youth movement. Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth among others are all under 30. They have come up in a time of massive amounts of instant data ranging from the angle of their swing to information about their health. Acting on that data is proving to be the tipping point between winning a major and having a top 10 finish. That difference is a difference in millions of dollars.

Advertisements

The Sunday: A Bad Week

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Dempsey Sent Off

US National team star Clint Dempsey was suspended three matches by MLS for his actions which led him to be sent off during a US Open Cup match last week. Dempsey took the referee’s notebook, tossed it and then picked it up and ripped it in half.

It’s not a good look for Dempsey or MLS. Apparently if a player takes the referee’s notebook it is supposed to trigger a six match ban and is considered an act of assault.

 

Fox Fails At Golf

A couple of topics for discussion during this years US Open at Chambers Bay. Most have to do with the golfers or the course (which a lot of players say is just terrible) and another is with Fox Sports’ coverage. Covering golf is a new thing for Fox and it showed during the tournament. Upsetting fans seemingly at every turn. From the leader board crashing to a vignette of Jason Dufner going to Seahawks practice instead of showing actual golf.

ForTheWin probably has the best summary of the coverage and well worth the read. While some argue that golf needs to get younger no golf fan young or old turns on the TV because you have a drone. They tune in to watch Rory McIlroy nail a 72 foot putt

 

The One You Want Back

Max Scherzer was literally one strike away from having Major League Baseball’s 24th perfect game. That one pitch that ended up hitting Pittsburgh Pirates pinch-hitter Jose Tabata. Ouch. It’s not all bad news for Scherzer, he did get the no hitter and lowered his ERA to 1.76 while retiring 54 of the last 57 batters he has faced. 

What To Watch Fri. 6/19 – Sun. 6/21

All times are Pacific.

Friday June 19th

US Open Round 2 –  9am FS1: Tune in just to see if Tiger Woods will melt down again.

Detroit Tigers at NY Yankees – 4pm MLB.TV: Justin Verlander takes the mound for the Tigers. Will the Yankees make Kate Upton wear a Yankees hat again?

 

Saturday June 20th

US Open Round 3 – 11am FOX: Go time!

NY Red Bulls vs Vancouver Whitecaps – 4pm MLS LIVE: Vancouver heads out to Red Bull Arena for a East meets West showdown.

 

Sunday June 21st

F1 Austrian Grand Prix – 5am NBCSN: Early morning racing live from Europe. Can’t beat it.

US Open Round 4 – 11am FOX: Final round.

DC united vs NE Revolution – 2pm ESPN2: Top two teams in the Eastern Conference. You’re welcome.

SF Giants at LA Dodgers – 5pm ESPN: One baseball’s best rivalries on Sunday night.

The Fear Of The New

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

One thing that sports organizations don’t well is embrace new technology. Not many companies do for that matter. Most of the time companies have this knee jerk reaction to new technologies or methodologies and that reaction usually involves lawyers. This is the case with Periscope (and a similar service called Meerkat). Instead of freaking out they should be generating ideas on how to integrate this application as opposed to trying to shut it down.

Periscope at work

The Mayweather v Pacquiao fight has brought in close to $500 million. That’s half a billion dollars which is revenue than some publicly traded companies generate in a year. Yet the winner of the fight may have been Periscope. Not only was it it’s coming out party but the promoters of the fight are threatening legal action which always means you did something right.

While Periscope may seem like a threat on the surface it really isn’t much of one. So some people watched the fight through the app and didn’t pay for it. That number didn’t effect the overall number of buys (which was around 4.4 million) and those people were either at the fight or watching the fight where someone had already paid for it.

While Periscope is a very cool app, it still lacks the video and audio quality that an HD broadcast can deliver. Not to mention the fact that you are relying on someone on the other end to have a steady hand while shooting a TV screen or being at the event.

The PGA and NHL have already banned it’s use. The PGA went as far as pulling the credentials of prominent Golf blogger Stephanie Wei then later streamed content through their Periscope PGA account (read Stephanie’s blog post here). The NHL has banned the use in NHL arenas ‘before, during and after the game’. Oh, the NHL, several of their teams and the owner of their American broadcasting rights (NBC) all have their own Periscope accounts.

Really?

First, if you make a half billion dollars on a fight that went the distance and then it is revealed afterward that one of the fighters had an injured shoulder….you’re not going to find a whole lot of sympathy in the court of public opinion. Second, pulling the credentials of a popular blogger in a slowly dying sport, not the kind of promotion you’re looking for. Besides, she made a conscious effort not to show anything that may have been used in the national broadcast.

Is Periscope and Meerkat a threat? Not really. It’s a video version of Twitter which is why Twitter owns it. The fact is people will watch a sporting event on their iPhone however the quality has to be there and you are not going to get solid quality watching from someone shooting a TV screen on their iPhone.

Are their uses for this technology, yes! Most of them we haven’t even thought of yet so why take drastic steps now to limit the technology? Let it grow, support it and find out how it can help your business vs trying to play whack-a-mole. As far as the ‘piracy’ aspect is concerned, how about not charging a $100 for a pay-per-view? How bout charging half that and making up the difference in volume? It was, after all, the ‘Fight of the Century’.

Periscope and Meerkat are here to stay. How they evolve is the question. That evolution should not be left to entities that see it as a threat. If that were the case then we wouldn’t have airplanes or the internet. Give these technologies a chance to grow and see how they can help vs hurt sports.

‘Change is inevitable, growth is optional’

 

The Sunday: Late Edition

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

The Sunday of Masters weekend brings one thing, waiting. Waiting to see if Augusta National is going to rear its ugly head and claim another victim in its rich history.

 

The Master

Spieth

Jordan Spieth is only 21 years old and now he is a Master champion. He is the second youngest to ever win the event behind only Tiger Woods. He was ice cold all four days. Grabbing the lead on Thursday and never looking back.

 

A Long Game

Box Score

When the Boston Red Sox meet the New York Yankees it is a notoriously long game.  Friday night went to a whole new level when they played 19 innings. The game was so long that Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira aged during the game. When it started he was 34 years and old and by the time it ended he had turned 35. It wasn’t all fun and games though, Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli went 0 for 8.

 

Free Johnny

Johnny Manziel was released from rehab over the weekend. He has a long way to go before claiming the starting quarterback job with the Cleveland Browns and living up to the first round draft pick status but at least now he is clean and sober.

 

What To Watch Thurs. 4/9 – Sun. 4/12

All Times Are Pacific.

Thursday April 9th

The Masters 1st Round – Noon ESPN: A tournament unlike any other….and it’s steaming online at themasters.com.

Frozen Four: Nebraska -Omaha vs Providence – 2pm ESPN2: Well since the hardwood Final Four is finished, let’s get on the ice.

Frozen Four: Boston vs North Dakota – 5:30pm ESPN2: Next!

LA Kings at Calgary Flames – 6pm NHL Gamecenter: The Kings need to win out if they want a chance at the playoffs. They have to win this one against a possible playoff opponent.

Portland TrailBlazers at Golden State Warriors – 7:30pm TNT: Two playoff bound teams just tuning up for the post season.

REMOTE-contrast

Friday April 10th

The Masters 2nd Round – Noon ESPN: It’s the Masters. Even if you hate golf you’ll still know who wins this. And it’s only the second round!

NY Islanders at Pittsburgh Penguins – 4pm NHL Network: The Pens need to get their act together if they want to be in the playoffs.

 

Saturday April 11th

The Masters 3rd Round – Noon CBS: The cut is down and now it’s time to get down to business.

San Jose Sharks at LA Kings – Noon NBC: The Kings have to win out and get some help if they want any chance of defending their title. The Sharks would love nothing more than to prevent that from happening.

DC United vs New York Red Bulls – 4pm MLS Live: The top two teams in the East square off. Oh, and they don’t like each other.

Frozen Four Final – 4:30pm ESPN: Let’s find out who is college hockey’s best team!

 

Sunday April 12th

Manchester United vs Manchester City – 7:55am NBCSN: A Manchester Derby on a Sunday morning.

The Masters Final Round – 11am CBS: It’s the final round of the Masters. It’s usually pretty awesome.

Portland Timbers vs Orlando City FC – 2pm ESPN2: Kaka visits the friendly confines of Providence Park. Sure the Timbers Army will make him feel welcome.

LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders – 4pm FS1: Arguably two of the more entertaining teams in all of MLS. Neither is 100% but it’s still worth tuning in for.

Boston Red Sox at NY Yankees – 5:10pm ESPN: Well if you’re going to watch a baseball game this early in the year it might as well be between these two.

The Sunday: Legendary In More Ways Than One

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Sometimes we see legendary things, people, incidents, etc and don’t even blink an eye. Other times we can’t believe it. When you look at it through that prism then you’ll realize that last week was legendary.

THE HIT:

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf absolutely leveled St Louis Blues winger TJ Oshie on Saturday night in Toronto. While the Blues took care of business by beating the hapless Leafs 6-1, the score is a side note. The real story is not only the incredable hit Phaneuf laid on Oshie but the fact that Oshie popped right back up.

THE THROW:

Rory McIlroy is golf’s #1 player. Even if he wasn’t it would still be pretty incredible to see a professional golfer chuck his club into the water after a lousy shot. Well that’s what happened. It even amazed the announcers when he did it.

 THE WORDS:

LeBron James is by all accounts one of the best basketball players on Earth. So there is something to be said when he says that he ‘sucked’. He said so after a subpar performance against the NBA’s best team the Atlanta Hawks.

Remember James had 18 points, six rebounds and eight assists. However he turned the ball over nine times. Last weekend he went 3-11 from the free throw line against the Houston Rockets arguably costing his team the win.

It’s not been a good week for The King.

THE EXIT:

The UFC has had some legendary fights and fighters. However one of the cornerstones of the organization has been Site Coordinator Burt Watson. Watson left the organization earlier this week after an incident at UFC 184 in Los Angeles. He confirmed as much later in the week. 

Watson is known to the fighters and others simply as Burt. He ‘un-fucked shit’ as he would say. From logistics to fighter requests about who would be or not be in their locker room, he handled it all. His exit left an outpouring of disbelief from the fighters.

Whatever happened the fact is that during upcoming UFC events, fighters will not be told it’s time to go with Watson’s catchphrase ‘WEEEE ROLLLLIIIIINNNNN YEAH!!!! BABY!’

Showdown Joe Ferraro at SportsNet in Toronto sat down with Watson last year. If you have never heard of Burt Watson before then watch this.

 

Yes it was a legendary week in more ways than one. Most of the time we don’t even notice this stuff. We just chalk it up as trivial but a lot of times it’s not. It certainly isn’t to the participants. It’s ok to stop every now and then, look back and recognize what just happened.

What To Watch Fri. 8/8 – Sun. 8/10

All times are PST.

Friday August 8th

PGA Championship – 10am TNT: It’s the last major tournament of the year and Tiger is playing.

Detroit Tigers at Toronto Blue Jays – 4pm MLB.TV: It is a possible playoff preview.

San Jose Earthquakes at LA Galaxy – 8pm NBC Sports: The first game of the Landon Donovan farewell tour.

Saturday August 9th

PGA Championship – 11am CBS:

Cleveland Browns at Detroit Lions – 4:30pm NFL Network: Johnny Football Pro debut anyone?

Colorado Rapids at FC Dallas – 6pm MLS Live: Two teams separated by 3 points in the standings battle for vital points.

DC United at Real Salt Lake – 7pm MLS Live: One of top teams in the East meets one of the top teams in the West.

Sunday August 10th

PGA Championship – 11am CBS:

Detroit Tigers at Toronto Blue Jays – 10am MLB.TV: It’s a nice Sunday pitching matchup as David Price heads to the mound for Detroit and Mark Buehrle for Toronto.

Sporting KC at Vancouver WhiteCaps – 5pm MLS Live: Vancouver is a tough place to play and they need points. SKC though is the probably the best team in MLS right now.

Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves – 5pm ESPN: Getaway game for two teams battling for control of the NL East.

Houston Dynamo at Seattle Sounders – 7:30pm ESPN2: Houston is starting to turn it on and Seattle has been struggling as of late.

What to Watch Sat. 4/12 -Sun. 4/13

It’s the Masters. Even if you do not like golf you should watch this over the weekend just to see how a course can destroy a professional and of course for the drama that is sure to ensue.

Also, the NBA and NHL playoffs start next week so this is your last chance to watch everything else.

Saturday April 12th

The Masters – Noon CBS: Like we said, it’s The Masters.

Boston Red Sox @ New York Yankees – 10am FS1:  Yes it’s early in the baseball season but it’s one of the best rivalries in all of sports.

Seattle Sounders @ FC Dallas – 5:30pm MLS Live: Two of the top teams in the league. Should be interesting.

Sunday April 13th

Liverpool vs Manchester City – 5:40am NBCSN: Liverpool is in the drivers seat as far as a Premier League title goes. That being said, it’s not locked up yet and they still need three points against a very good Man City team.

The Masters – 11am CBS: Like we said, it’s The Masters.

Boston Red Sox @ New York Yankees – 5pm ESPN:  Yes it’s early in the baseball season but it’s one of the best rivalries in all of sports.

Not Mastering their Domain

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

The Masters is arguably the biggest golfing event of the year. Like March Madness, it is one of the sporting events that crosses over with sports fans and bleeds into the business day during it’s first 2 rounds. The Masters, like March Madness, makes everything available online but The Masters waits to air content on TV.

The Masters

When The Masters started it was immediately available to watch at masters.com. The same content was not available on TV even though DirecTV had been advertising 8 channels of coverage. DirecTV did not begin broadcasting golf until 3pm Eastern when ESPN began their coverage. Golf’s biggest star, Tiger Woods, had already teed off and was several holes into his round by the time The Masters was available on TV. Doesn’t really make a lot of sense especially when you consider that The Masters is not an official PGA event. It is by invitation only. The Masters sells it’s own advertising and makes it’s own TV deals. In other words, they can almost do as they please.

The Masters has limited commercial time. They do have some massive sponsors though in AT&T, ExxonMobile and IBM. One would think that showing more golf would drive up the viewership and the price for ads. The have very subtle and elegant ads online so you know they have thought about this. The revenue on TV vs online is substantial so why not start the broadcast on TV at the same time as online?

Part of the reason maybe the broadcasters themselves. When they have pre and post shows they can sell ad time during this and they get to keep it all. As mush as we hate to hear the so called ‘experts’ yap and over analyze we’re probably stuck with it for now.

The Masters does make the entire event available on virtually every device you can think of so the fans can watch when they want and where they want. Yet The Masters doesn’t go far enough. It doesn’t push the envelope. It is in a position where it has enough credibility to be truly innovative and dictate to the TV folks that every second of every round has live coverage. This is truly a unique position. Time will tell if they ever take advantage of it. Considering that only last August did they finally extend memberships to women I wouldn’t hold my breath.