Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Out Of Respect

Posted: March 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

Sorry for the lack of activity lately, but here is a little break from sports. If this doesn’t move you, nothing will!

 

 

I think the Christmas season has made me slightly lazy so no full post here just a few thoughts, musings and observations on the world of sport.

NHL – The Maple Leafs are still playing uninspired hockey and are certainly a long shot at this point to make the playoffs.  I still write about them, quite regularly at one of the best hockey sites on the net “Maple Leafs Hot Stove”. 

NBA – Well, the Miami Heat (whom I just wrote about) are playing some very solid basketball and are now 24-9 on the season and only 2 games behind the Eastern Conference leading Boston Celtics (24-5).  I for one can’t wait for the playoff matchup between them.

The Christmas day games were busts, offering the viewer little in actual NBA basketball.  If I were a betting man (wait, I am) I would have taken the under on both ABC games and made out like a bandit as there was some awful shooting (especially the Lakers) and lack of interest most of the game.  My question is why waste the best matchup(s) on a day when most of the players want to be with their families.

Blake Griffin (Rookie, Los Angeles Clippers) is a beast, a man-child, a – you get the point.  He makes Vince Carter (in his prime dunking days) look like Eric Montross.  The kid plays above the rim, like way above.

Orlando made some big moves acquiring Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkuglu (yuck) and Gilbert Arenas and while I feel it likely makes them better this season, it’s all window dressing at this point, they can’t beat Boston or Miami in a series and I think they know it.

The Toronto Raptors play hard and are well coached but I don’t mind seeing a few losses as it gets them closer to a better pick in the lottery.

NFL – Michael Vick is the MVP, comeback player of the year and when I start my Madden 11 franchise, likely the QB I will target!  Tom Brady will likely win the actual MVP award but Vick is most deserving.

MMA – Georges St. Pierre is the undisputed pound for pound best fighter in the world.  He didn’t finish Koscheck, so what, give Kos credit, he hung tough but in the process took one of the worst beatings of his career.  Worse for him (Kos) is that GSP said he won’t ever fight him again, tough luck kid.

I love Anderson Silva and the muay thai approach and laser guided strikes but Chael Sonnen just showed us how to beat him – great wrestling, ground and pound and heart.  GSP is a superior wrestler (MMA wise) to Sonnen, has shown a better ground and pound and of course has great heart and outstanding cardio.

GSP would take him down, and with his vastly superior BJJ (to Sonnen) would not likely have gotten caught in that triangle choke (that caught Sonnen late in the 5th round).  If they fight, I will wager on GSP, hard.

MLB – A lot of people questioned the Jays decision to move our “top” starter in Shaun Marcum for top prospect (and Canadian) Brett Lawrie.  I didn’t mind the move and it’s not because I am overly sold on Lawrie (he will be a solid 6 or 7 hole hitter and likely play RF) but we were dealing from strength (starting pitching). 

Talent wise I would have ranked the Jays hurlers Morrow, Romero, Cecil and then Marcum.  With Kyle Drabek on his way up Marcum might have even ranked 5th at the end of the 2011 season if still with the team.  So they were proactive with an eye towards 2012 and beyond, while adding the highest ever drafted Canadian in the confident Lawrie.

I am involved in a minor league draft in my simulation DMB league and the first round is now completed.  I now see why MLB has such an amazing product, TALENT TALENT TALENT.  There are some unbelievable talents that make their MLB and MILB debuts every season and it is almost a never ending supply.  I picked 16 out of 16 (yeah, my team is that good) and here are the results:

Bryce Harper, OF
Dustin Ackley, 2B
Michael Pineda, P
Jesus Montero, C
Mike Trout, OF
Zach Stewart, P
Julio Teheran, P
Martin Perez, P

Eric Hosmer, 1B
Matt Dominguez, 3B.
Jacob Turner, P
Wil Myers, C
Jameson Taillon, P
Matt Moore, P
John Lamb, P
Mike Moustakas, 3B

 I was shocked when Mike Trout wasn’t automatically taken after the prodigious Bryce Harper and I think Pineda was taken maybe a full round too early, but when it comes to prospects, who really knows?  Zach Stewart probably could’ve lasted another round (maybe two) as his stock took a slight hit this year but the rest of the picks look pretty damn solid.

 I was pleasantly surprised to see Moustakas hanging around when my pick came up and I think he will rank in the Top Five in most “Prospect” publications/circles after a massive 36 HR campaign as he was also named the top player in the Texas League (AA) by Baseball America.  Possesses massive power, and though some feel he might not stick at 3B, his bat plays anywhere on the diamond.

 For those of you unaware the Kansas City Royals are poised to join the elite in the AL Central with one of the strongest minor league systems in the history of the game.  Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers, John Lamb and Mike Moustakas are just four of the many that are ready to make a contribution at the big league level in the next 3-5 years.  Watch out MLB.

Nothing stirs emotion quite like an athlete leaving his home town team for a multitude of different reasons, but when it is a matter of getting more money, it can get downright ugly.  Fans literally see red when this happens and inevitably there will be a comment or two made with a more general take on athletes pay in general.  The consensus or concerns typically raised are “how can these athletes get paid the way they do” and “their salaries are ridiculous especially compared to doctor’s (or lawyers, nurses etc) considering what they actually provide to society”. 

First I have to qualify I am not here to suggest in any shape or form that an athlete is more critical or vital to our society than say a doctor (or nurse etc), it would be ludicrous to even ponder that.  My goal is to simply look at it from a numbers point of view, to look at how rare the professional athlete truly is and to try and rationalize why the athlete is in fact getting paid some of these massive funds.

Again, we need doctors, we probably need more (a lot more) than what we have now and the fact is we don’t need a single baseball/hockey player in the world in a Maslow Hierarchical sense.  So why do athletes get paid significantly higher than almost any doctor, lawyer, nurse or garbage man? 

While I agree the contracts appear to be astronomically out of proportion to what the average Joe makes, here are a few reasons athletes get paid what they do:

a)      There is a market value, and a team has determined that at ‘x’ amount of dollars to the player per season the team will in turn be making ‘x’ amount of dollars on said player, they don’t just make up some figure to appease a player or his agent, there is a science and exactness to the economics side.  The same reasons movie stars get a big payday is the same reason an athlete does, millions of fans are paying to see them.

b)      It is a rare talent, and supply and demand will simply dictate the pay scale.  It is much harder to find a player who can consistently hit a 95-mph fastball at the highest level of competition than it is to find a potential doctor, lawyer, or truck driver.  A sad truth in life for most of us is that we could be replaced tomorrow and likely wouldn’t even be missed, in a production sense.    

c)       While a doctor or lawyer is obviously a very important position in a practical matter, the fact is there aren’t 10-50,000 people lined up to watch this particular person perform every night.  Actually most of us will literally do anything to avoid seeing either!  The pro sports market is huge and the revenues these teams can create on the backs of their athletes are astonishing, and the athletes don’t even see close to the majority of this cash.

d)      Athlete’s risk there well being and livelihood on a daily basis as generally the sports they play are extremely dangerous (hockey, football) or unbelievably tough on the body (think of a baseball pitcher’s shoulder or a linebackers brain), or both.  According to a recent study by UNC University “repeatedly concussed NFL players” had five times the rate of cognitive impairment (pre-Alzheimer’s) than the average population.  The Average life expectancy for all pro football players, including all positions and backgrounds, is 55 years.

e)      The career length of an athlete (depending on sport) can be very short, from 5-7 years in the NFL, or 12-20 in baseball, hockey or basketball.  A lot of careers are ended prematurely and even if they aren’t normally retirement is nothing to brag about.  Due to the punishing effects on the body a players post-career years are usually filled with various aches, pains, arthritis and other debilitating conditions that have developed over the years of play.

Let’s take it a step further and use the sport of baseball as just one example, there are 30 teams, 25 players per roster, we will round up to 40 players per roster to include some prospects that might one day have a chance to make the club (slim as it may be).  That’s a group of 1200 current or would-be players in the major leagues.  Now look at the study, Supply, Migration and Distribution of Canadian Physicians, 2008, shows that between 2004 and 2008, the number of active physicians in Canada grew from 60,612 to 65,440.

If baseball teams could only choose Canadians for their rosters that would mean approximately 1 in 29166 people could potentially be a major league ball player while approximately 1 in 534 are currently doctors.  You are roughly 54 times more likely to become a practicing physician than become a major league ball player again if only Canadians could be chosen by major league baseball teams – bear in mind that is only Canada, a population of roughly 35-million people.   

While theoretically it is possible for nearly anybody to become a doctor (study hard in school, go to a graduate medical school and get there PHD) obviously it is not that simple and not everybody can actually become a doctor.  The competition is pretty fierce to make it in the land of doctor’s and there are tens of thousands graduating from med schools around the world on an annual basis.

Yet the chances of becoming a professional baseball player are astronomically worse.  There are millions of people from all over the world who are trying to make it to the next level of competitive sports and teams have an endless supply to choose from, yet an extremely limited amount of spots and the chances of actually being good enough to make it are very low.  So it is contradictory to my supply and demand theory right?  Well there are millions of potential players but only a handful actually good enough to compete on the highest level. 

The world population is nearly 6.7 billion people, take that 1200 figure (double or triple it for fun) and then do the calculation, yeah, I think it has been shown that the talents of a professional athlete is rare indeed.  With those figures out of the way, let’s get to the salary issue, though I think you can see where this is heading.

The average salary of a Canadian physician ranges roughly between $150,000 and $300,000 (in a publicly funded system) while the average MLB salary in 2010 was recently reported to be $3.34 million dollars – or 22 times greater than the low end of the average physician’s pay scale.  Some physician’s make considerably more than that, and that is not including some ‘luxury’ doctors as well, such as cosmetic plastic surgeons as one example. 

Some doctors are paid considerably more than even some athletes and again while I have to qualify we do not need a single athlete (well, except maybe in New York or Boston!) we do in fact need doctors however people have shown since the beginning of time that they value the entertainment a pro athlete and pro team brings them and are willing to shell out there hard earned money to watch them perform.

Let me reiterate you are roughly 54 times more likely to become a practicing physician (all things equal) than become a major league ball player if teams were only permitted to select Canadians, with those numbers the pay differential is only 22 times higher in most cases.  You can imagine what the overall numbers would look like when you started to factor in the millions of prospective players trying to make it to the pro’s in South America, Caribbean, and Asian nations and of course the United States.

Without question athletes are generally overpaid in the sense of what they bring to society, but from a pure numbers, economics, supply and demand, extremely rare talent logic they are probably closer to underpaid –a sickening thought I know.

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Ok, so I can readily admit it, I am a sports addict, obviously.  Anybody who devotes as much time as I do to a writing a sports blog (which may or may not ever be read by another human) would be in denial if he didn’t just admit otherwise.  Let me save you the time and anguish and say if you are reading this we will just assume you are likely one too. If I am not actually playing sports, I am writing, discussing and usually thinking about them in some manner – doesn’t everybody have a few fantasy teams out there to worry about?

I will always love sports because they provide a great outlet from the everyday grind, for me watching the Maple Leafs lose another game is a great way to unwind and escape the “real world” for at least three hours.  As a former athlete who played sports 24/7 I love watching the absolute best compete against each other.  Most of my friends are fellow sports lovers so it is a great social outlet also, nothing beats having a few beers discussing the current state of your favourite team while watching the game on the tube (or live). 

I was lucky enough to have taken in Justin Verlander’s no-hitter a couple of seasons back with my friend (he still owes me for that one) and we still talk about that game to this day, the tension, the electric atmosphere, and the sheer euphoria that ensued when “Mags” (Magglio Ordonez) caught the final out to complete the “no-no”.  It was a priceless moment which a good book just can’t always (or ever) deliver.

However, today I wanted to discuss the opposite end of the spectrum as I am sure we have all known (or heard of) one or two males belonging to this strange breed – the non-sports fan.  They are normally fairly easy to spot as they are either totally silent during any conversation involving sports or they are the one looking perplexed during a simple “Halladay or Stieb” debate.  Sure, sometimes they will try to throw you off the scent and will throw in a “Yankees sure look tough” from time to time, even if they are currently mired in an eight or nine game losing streak, but for the most they aren’t hard to spot.

To quote Seinfeld: “Not that there is anything wrong with that”, and there isn’t, to each his own.  I have a multitude of non-sporting interests, including poker, politics, fitness & exercise and I am also a confessed stock junkie but sports is something that I always come back to and cannot live without.  If it isn’t sports then I have to ask, what consumes your time, what are you passionate about and what the hell do you watch on TV?  When I have asked this question I normally receive the following standard answers:

1)      I read – I love a good book and I have even been known to read a few from time to time, including non-sports books!  Still, how much alone time does a man need, or have?   

2)      Music – Sorry, I have over 10,000 MP3s and counting and even play the guitar relatively well.  This will not end my love affair of sports and in fact they normally go together beautifully.

3)      Movies – Again, if you have seen the size of my DVD collection you will understand my passion and love for movies.  Goodfellas, 25th Hour and The Unforgiven among my favourites.

4)      Time – They just don’t have time.  Hard to argue that, and sometime a 3 hour ballgame can be redundant, but what else are you keeping tabs on, celebrity gossip?  Of course, this is also the same guy that is lighting up your email with terrible jokes and frivolously updating you on his every move via facebook.

5)      Girlfriend /Significant other – This one isn’t always easy to get around as some guys might want to watch sports (a lot more sports) but they cannot successfully navigate the always tricky “what is on TV” argument.  Maybe I am lucky in that regard, I am normally in charge of my remote control.

6)      Kids – Can’t argue this one, but get them involved in sports at an early age and you will gain an extra vote (and hopefully a small majority) in the household TV voting democracy.

This isn’t directed at the casual sports fan, nothing wrong with taking a smaller interest in your favourite team or sport so you have time to partake in all of your hobbies and interests.  I am more curious to find out how a male basically comes to lose touch with sports all together, and completely.  Is it simply a lack of interest, general knowledge, athletic ability or does the girlfriend/spouse simply wear the pants?

Gentlemen, what am I missing?