Column: Deleting Track Records Would Set Dangerous PrecedentJune 22, 2017

Track and field’s longest-standing outdoor world record is in danger, but not from a contestant on the track. In 1983, Jarmila Kratochvilova of the Czech Republic, then part of what was called Czechoslovakia, ran the 800 meters in 1 minute 53.28 seconds, a record that stands to this day. Kratochvilova was 32 at the time, an age when most short-distance runners are beyond their prime. That’s why a group of European track officials, in a move some are calling an attempt to “restore credibility” to their sport, recommended last month that the sport’s global governing body void all world records set before 2005. That was the year when track and field began storing blood and urine samples for use in sophisticated drug screenings.

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Column: Sports Betting Is InevitableJune 15, 2017

Sports betting is coming to a place near you, perhaps sooner than you think. And that place may be as close as your hand. Last month the House Energy and Commerce Committee released a draft of legislation designed to repeal the last vestiges of federal prohibitions on sports betting. If passed, the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act, or “GAME Act,” would give the Federal Trade Commission oversight authority to regulate sports gambling, including online gambling. The GAME Act would repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), the federal law that prohibits state-sponsored sports betting in all but four states - Delaware, Oregon, Nevada and Montana – which were grandfathered by PASPA.

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Column: Is The Cuban Influx In MLB Over?June 8, 2017

When Luis Robert, a 19-year old outfielder, signed a free agent contract with the Chicago White Sox last week he was touted in some circles as the last of a dying breed: A Cuban ballplayer signing for mega-bucks. That may or may not be true, but even if it is, don’t count on Robert being the last Cuban player signed by an MLB team. MLB teams are perpetually in search of talent, the less expensive the better. Furthermore, the competition among clubs to sign the best players is fierce. No team wants to be looking up at 29 other teams in the standings or hearing from the media and their fans how the rest of the league is “smarter” than they are in evaluating talent. It’s because of that competition that over the past seven years teams have collectively guaranteed almost $800 million on mostly unproven Cuban players.

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Column: Does MLB Have A Safety Issue?June 1, 2017

Major League Baseball may have a safety issue but contrary to what you’re probably thinking, this one isn’t due to the action on the field. Much has been made over the recent spat of fan injuries resulting from foul balls and pieces of shattered bats flying into the stands. The most recent instance to garner headlines occurred on May 24 at Yankee Stadium during a game between the Yankees and Kansas City Royals. The Yankees’ Chris Carter broke his bat and the barrel flew into the stands, injuring a young boy sitting a few rows behind the third base dugout.

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Column: Baseball Justice Dumb and DumberMay 25, 2017

Pardon me if we’ve been here before, but baseball beanball wars are dumb and, for emphasis, dumber. As we’ve said before, pitching inside is a recognized and effective tactic that’s both legal and accepted. Hitters who crowd the plate or lean over it as they swing should expect to be pitched inside. But what took place in back-to-back series between the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles earlier this season is unacceptable. In the eighth inning of a 2-0 win by Baltimore on April 21, Orioles third baseman Manny Machado slid aggressively into second base and spiked the Red Sox’ Dustin Pedroia. If Machado intended to injure Pedroia, you could have fooled everyone in the ballpark, save some of Pedroia’s teammates as it turns out. When Machado saw what he had done, he seemed genuinely concerned about Pedroia’s condition and immediately attempted to help him.

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Column: Do Taxes Affect Winning In Professional Sports?May 18, 2017

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” Attributed to many. The phrase quoted above is often used to describe the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster a weak argument. Which brings us to Erik Hembre, Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Hembre grew up in the great state of Minnesota rooting for his favorite team, the NBA’s Timberwolves. The ‘Wolves entered the NBA in 1989 and since their inaugural season they have the worst record in the entire league. The ‘Wolves aren’t the only professional sports franchise in Minnesota without a championship. Neither the NHL Wild – or their predecessors, the Stars – nor the NFL Vikings have ever won their league title. The only exception is MLB’s Twins who won World Series titles in 1987 and 1991.

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Column: MLB Franchise Values Continue To RiseMay 11, 2017

“The report of my death was an exaggeration.” Mark Twain, 1897 For years, polls and pundits have suggested that baseball’s popularity – and economic vitality - is dwindling, especially when compared to football. Based on the most recent estimated MLB franchise values published by Forbes, nothing could be further from the truth. Thirty years ago 23% of sports fans named baseball as their favorite sport, compared to 24% who chose football. According to the most recent Harris Poll published last year, football trumps baseball by 18 percentage points, 33 percent to 15 percent. However, the poll results only tell one story and the numbers are hardly a reflection of the financial state of MLB.

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Column: Dale Jr.'s Retirement A Huge Blow To NASCARMay 4, 2017

The day after one member of the media opined that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was “stuck in neutral” in his comeback from concussions, the NASCAR icon suddenly announced his retirement, effective at the end of the season. Last week’s stunning announcement was hardly the kind of news NASCAR needed. Junior will be the fourth top name to retire from the sport in the past three years – Jeff Gordon in 2015, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards last year, and now Earnhardt, Jr. The sport can hardly afford to lose such star power at this critical time. NASCAR is suffering from a double barrel of disappointing business news, experiencing declining attendance at the track and diminishing television ratings over the past three years. Losing Junior, a 14-time winner of the most popular driver award and two-time winner of the Daytona 500, has led to predictions of doom and gloom for the sport.

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Column: Muirfield Agrees To Admit Women MembersApril 27, 2017

Muirfield Golf Club in Scotland, which has hosted 16 previous British Open Championships, recently voted to admit women for the first time in the club’s 273-year history. It was the second time in the past 10 months that Muirfield’s members voted on the issue of female members. The prior vote failed to garner the necessary two-thirds majority, failing by a margin of 64 percent to 36 percent. Last month’s vote was supported by more than 80 percent of the members. Women had been allowed to play the course on certain days as guests of current members, similar to male non-members.

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Column: NFL Concussion Case Shows Lawyers At Their WorstApril 20, 2017

“This case has done nothing but show lawyers at their worst.” Attorney Jason Luckasevic Even on their good days attorneys have been known to act, well, not so good. Luckasevic had to be upset to utter such a strong indictment of the legal profession. Luckasevic was referring to the actions of attorneys who are involved in the NFL concussion case, a class action lawsuit that was settled, sort of, in August of 2013. However, none of the plaintiffs in the suit, which was really a combination of hundreds of lawsuits, have yet to see a dime from the settlement and it may be years before they do.

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