That Didn’t Work

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


In case you weren’t watching (thank God I wasn’t) the NCAA Selection Show on CBS was successful in pissing off about every college basketball fan in the country.

Barkley with EJAwful Announcing did a great recap of why it was so horrible. In short, Charles Barkley can’t work a touch screen and the bracket was leaked on twitter before CBS could reveal it all. This lead to the lowest ratings in 20 years for the selection show.

SI’s Richard Dietsch tweeted,

We can only hope that’s true because social media was the equivalent of a forrest fire during the show. Probably a good idea to cut it back to an hour and never again let Charles Barkley near technology.

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Brand In Trouble

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Adidas is in trouble. No really. They are getting their ass kicked in just about every way by Nike and Under Armour. While one of their brands, Reebok, is doing the best they can at staving off elimination, it may not be enough for the iconic German brand to survive.

Nike is the best of breed and that’s a fact. From the Jumpman brand to a logo that doesn’t even need a word for you to know who it represents.

nike-swoosh

Under Armour is coming on strong. It signed a massive deal to be the brand for Notre Dame (some deal worth around $90 million) and have under contract the hottest player in the NBA (Stephen Curry), a future Hall of Fame quarterback as a partial owner (Tom Brady) and the best American golfer since Tiger Woods in Jordan Spieth.

Adidas meanwhile is losing market valuation. They are around $15 billion while Under Armour is around $20 billion and Nike is around $100 billion. The German company has pinned it’s hopes on the beautiful game. While that is noble, it is also falling behind in other sports and it recently lost an SEC school (Tennessee) to Nike which is never a good sign.

Like we mentioned earlier, the Reebok brand is making a noble effort. Reebok has become a title apparel sponsor for the UFC and CrossFit. While all that is well and good, it doesn’t distract from the fact that they are coming in a distance third in the originality department.

ReeboxTheir logo looks like the laser site from Predator and their image campaign uses the same song from the GoPro Hero 4 image campaign that came out last fall (‘Run Boy Run’ by Woodkid).

predator-laser-sightPredator_39Originality is key in this business. Nike and Under Armour have it and Adidas doesn’t. The cool factor plays in too which Nike and Under Armour have and Adidas doesn’t. Heck, part of the reason Tom Brady signed with Under Armour was the fact that that was the brand he was seeing in the locker room and on younger players.

Adidas needs a bad ass at the top to stop the bleeding. Nike has Mark Parker and Under Armour has Kevin Plank, two of the more respected CEO’s in America. Adidas has Herbert Hainer in Germany……..exactly.

Adidas is a solid brand. It can make good products but this business isn’t all about who makes the best product. It’s a coolness factor, the latest trend combined with innovation. Adidas better get it together because right now, they are an Under Armour purchase of Lululemon away from being completely irrelevant.

 

 

 

 

The End Of The Argument

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

In baseball there are big market teams and there are small market teams. What makes a team fall into one or the other? In a word, attendance.  You can make an argument that it’s the owners willingness to spend money to win but in the end it comes down to how many people pay to see the team play. However this is not the deciding factor on if a team can win or not as we have seen over the last 10-15 years which makes Tampa’s trade of staff ace David Price all the more baffling.

This years MLB trade deadline was one of the most interesting in years. Not only were multiple big name players dealt but they were dealt for other major league players which never seems to happen in this day and age. Tampa’s David Price went to Detroit in a three team trade while Boston’s Jon Lester went to Oakland for Yoenis Cespedes and Boston’s John Lackey went to St. Louis. The biggest head scratcher of all was Price going to Detroit especially since Tampa has been one of the hottest teams in baseball since the All-Star break and fought their way back into playoff contention.

Tampa is the smallest of the small market teams. Through 57 home games in 2014 they had yet to hit the seven figure mark in attendance while averaging 17,450 people per game. The lowest average attendance in baseball. Yet between 2008 and 2013 (and since they changed their name from Devil Rays to Rays) their lowest win total has been 86. They have made the playoffs four times and appeared in one World Series during that span.

So why trade the ace of the staff?

The argument that it’s a question of economics doesn’t fly here. Price is eligible for arbitration next year but he is not an outright free agent which means that Detroit will probably be able to lock him up to a long term deal if they play their cards right. It also means that Tampa could have traded him in the winter and work out, possibly, a better deal without sacrificing the season.

Contrast what Tampa did to Oakland. Oakland is the epitome of a small market team as so well documented in Michael Lewis’ book ‘Moneyball’. Yet Oakland went off and traded for big name, big contract pitcher who will be a free agent next year in Lester. Yes it took one of their power hitters (Cespedes) to get Lester but Oakland is just as small of a market as Tampa. While Oakland has 24,000 plus people per game, Tampa actually had a more expensive payroll at the time of the trade deadline.

How can Oakland justify making deals that take on more salary while Tampa can’t? It appears to come down to just the perspective of the front office. One is making a commitment to doing everything it can to win the World Series this year vs just being happy to maybe make the playoffs. One team clearly realizes that they have a better than average chance to win it all while the other believes that there are too many variables against them.

It’s a classic class of the glass half empty or half empty scenarios playing out in real time over the course of a major league baseball season.

The other big question is how does one of baseball’s best managers in Tampa’s Joe Maddon keep his team from tanking the rest of the season? Here you are one of the hottest teams in baseball since the All-Star break and the front office trades the biggest bullet in your gun. If he is somehow able to keep Tampa in the hunt, much less making the playoffs, he should have no problem winning yet another AL Manager of the year award.

The trades made before the deadline were more interesting then they have been in the past few years. Time will tell who got the better end of them. Common wisdom would lead us to believe that Detroit and Oakland did. But as Southwest Airlines founder Herb Kelleher once said, ‘if it’s common it’s not wisdom and if it’s wisdom it certainly is’t common.’

What to Watch Fri. 8/1 – Sun. 8/3

All times are PST.

Friday August 1st

Philadelphia Union at Sporting KC – 5:25pm (ish) NBCSN: SKC is just fun to watch and Philly is fighting for a playoff spot.

BC Lions at Calgary Stampeders – 7pm ESPNNEWS: Calgary is the best team in the CFL but their old QB Kevin Glenn leads a solid BC team into Alberta.

Saturday August 2nd

Portland Timbers at LA Galaxy – Noon NBC: Timbers are looking better but LA is coming off of a thrashing of Seattle in Seattle this past Monday.

KC Royals at Oakland A’s – 1pm MLB.TV: Jon Lester’s first start for the A’s. We think.

Manchester United vs Real Madrid – 1pm FOX: Hopefully we’ll have the ‘Gus Effect’.

Real Salt Lake at Colorado Rapids – 6pm MLS LIVE: Rocky Mountain Cup is on the line in Denver.

Sunday August 3rd

KC Royals at Oakland A’s – 1pm MLB.TV: Another good pitching matchup with Shields v Kazmir.

NY Giants vs Buffalo Bills – 5pm NBC: The NFL is back….for preseason at least. The Hall of Fame game sees two teams that need to answer a lot of questions this preseason. It also brings back Cris Collinsworth. Ugh.

Why Roger Craig Should Be In The Hall Of Fame

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Roger Craig may not be a household name outside of the Bay Area. Even then, non football fans may not know that he played running back for the San Francisco 49ers from 1983-1990. He should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame though. Why? He redefined the position of running back.

Roger Craig

Roger Craig played came into the NFL in 1983. He immediately redefined what it meant to be a running back in the league. He did the three things that every organization looks for nowadays in the league, a back that can run, catch and block.

It sounds elementary but before Craig the running back position traditionally just ran and blocked when needed. It wasn’t a threat in the passing game. Craig was. In fact Roger Craig was the first running back in NFL history to have 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in a single season (Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk has since duplicated the effort). He is also the only running back in NFL history to have over 100 yards receiving in a Super Bowl.

His other stats we’re impressive as well:

-3 time Super Bowl Champion

-4 time Pro Bowler (at two positions mind you)

-1988 Offensive Player of the Year

Yes he did play on some of the best teams in NFL history in San Francisco. He had a tremendous line blocking for him and Joe Montana as a quarterback. He was however a major reason why the West Coast Offense and the 49ers were so successful. They needed him to be as versatile as he was to be as successful as they were.

There are plenty of other names deserving of a spot in the Hall of Fame (Will Shields anyone?). Roger Craig should be at the top of that list. For someone who helped change the game to what we know it today, he should get the credit he deserves.

What to Watch For This Weekend

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

Thursday Sept. 26

5:30pm-NFL Network: Rams @ 49ers (Both teams really need a win and there is a lot of adversity for the 49ers right now not to mention an offense that has only scored 10 points in the last 2 games.)

Friday Sept. 27

5:25pm-NBCSN: Philadelphia @ Sporting KC (Sporting is in the Playoffs and Philly is on the outside looking in. Philly needs this bad.)

Saturday Sept. 28

4:45am-NBCSN: Chelsea @ Tottenham (It’s a good early season matchup. Chelsea is not looking all that great and Spurs look to stay unbeaten.)

9:00am-ABC: South Carolina @ UCF (A surprisingly tough out of conference road game for the Gamecocks. UCF is no joke. Most of the experts are pointing to this as a possible upset.)

9:00am-ESPN2: Northern Illinois @ Purdue (Could Purdue be NIU’s second Big Ten victim this year?)

12:30pm-CBS: LSU @ Georgia (Watch this game. It will not suck.)

5:00pm-ESPN3: Calgary @ Hamilton (Calgary had Hamilton’s number two weeks ago but now have to travel east and rebound from a heartbreaking loss last week to Toronto.)

3:30pm-ESPN: Ole Miss @ Alabama (Another upset alert game. Bama is not the same team they were a year ago and Ole Miss is much improved.)

4:00pm- FOX: Arizona @ Washington (There could be a 100 points total in this game.)

5:00pm-ABC: Wisconsin @ Ohio St (An actual game for Ohio St.)

5:30pm- Regional: Montreal @ Chicago (Chicago can make a run at the playoffs again but they have to get past Montreal who sits 6 points ahead of them.)

7:30pm-ESPN2: USC @ Arizona St (Lane Kiffin takes the underperforming Trojans into the desert to face a pretty solid Sun Devil team that is coming off a loss.)

Sunday Sept. 29

10:00am-FOX: Seahawks @ Texans: Probably the best team in the league goes on the road to face a possible Super Bowl contender.)

12:50pm-NBC: LA Galaxy @ Portland: Big NBC heads to the Rose City and future playoff teams square off in front of the Timbers Army. If you want to know what a soccer crowd looks and sounds like, watch this match.

5:20pm-NBC Patriots @ Falcons: Can Tom Brady take this young group of receivers and get past the Falcons in the dome? Only one way to find out.

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.

Back to School Goes Old School

By Dave Trausneck @trausneck

It’s the 1992-1993 school year. You’re the envy of your friends because you’re rockin’ a Starter jacket for the Charlotte Hornets. You’re the man. That teal and purple schwag make you feel like you just scored a date with the prom queen.

HORNETS

Fast forward 20 years. That jacket 17 years removed from a donation to the local Goodwill store gets revived in all its glory. Starter announced they are bringing back the satin jackets that rose to prominence in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

starter jacket ad

For most kids in white suburbia, starter jackets were their first foray into hip-hop gear. Before flat brims were widely acceptable, if you had a black Raiders satin jacket, you were tough. You saw the Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff sportin’ the gear. Before that it was RUN-DMC.

RUNDMC

You didn’t have to listen to NWA or rap to wear one. It was cool. Nordstrom started selling them. I know; I got one as a Christmas present in 1992. Somewhere there’s a picture of me wearing one with a bowl haircut.

And then the wheels fell off. Besides every white kid in the burbs getting one, they became the “norm” for MLB pitching staffs… and rotations like Atlanta’s with Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Steve Avery and the 5th guy that never seemed to catch on would always be seen on Braves TBS baseball would be seen every night spitting sunflower seeds wearing those jackets. The jackets weren’t just street style anymore. Into the closet they go to gather dust.

braves starter jacket

But like all good things retro, Starter revived the iconic jacket, and with good reason. So
much of street style now derives from early 90’s hip-hop. Ok, Reebok Pumps might never come back (although I wish they would for a hot minute, just so I can buy one to collect), but the Starter jacket was a staple.

The trick was, the jacket was simple. No crazy swirl patterns or progressive striping. A solid jacket with a logo and that S with a star on the left cuff, that’s all the jacket needed. Simple enough that it could translate to this generation, and people wouldn’t confuse it with a Members Only jacket that lived past its prime.

The jacket won’t be released until later in 2013 (Fall is the rumor), and it’s only fitting. Because when the kids go back to school, you can take your friends to school in the style department.

Is it Science or is it Sport?

Image

Mach 1.24. 24 miles above Earth. 834 miles an hour (unofficial). A 4 minute 20 second free fall.

That’s what Felix Baumgartner did this Sunday. 65 years to the day that Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier.

It took him almost 2.5 hours to get to the 127,000 plus height in order to attempt the jump or, if you prefer, fall. It took some 5 years of planning and test jumps. It took him less than 10 minutes to land on solid ground in New Mexico.

The question does get raised, why?

While some ponder this question others sit back in awe. This event was amazing enough to have some 8 million people watch the fall on YouTube which by some accounts was 16 times larger than their previous record. So it’s pretty obvious why YouTube would stream it live (Red Bull is a main partner on the site just like the UFC and WWE) but that doesn’t answer the question as to why?

Is this fall sport? Yes. Is it a scientific experiment? Yes. Is it a home run for Red Bull as far as marketing and media? Absolutely. The best tweet seen all day was, ‘boy what does 5-hour energy have to do to beat this?’

For each person it probably satisfies some sort of primal function. This was sport because it is almost impossible to measure how technically and physically demanding this fall was on Baumgartner. It was scientific. Imagine the questions that had to be asked and answered in order for this man to do this and survive. And yes it was done in the most progressive way imaginable as far as marketing and media is concerned.

In the end, it’s an idea. One imagined, sold, and rallied to and then celebrated by the world. It’s a talking point for the next year. It provides hope that all is not lost in this age of negativity. It shows us that ‘if man can think it he can do it.’ In the end, it’s something to be proud of.