Column: Computerized Umps On The HorizonAugust 31, 2017

Controversies in baseball are virtually endless. The Designated Hitter, Instant Replay, Inter-league Play, Wild Cards, Pace of Play - and on and on it goes. Here’s another topic that is starting to heat up: Robot Umps. According to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred the technology to accurately call balls and strikes will be available sooner rather than later. He’s right, but the availability of the technology isn’t the question; after 150 years of players, fans and the media (mostly) complaining about umpires, should MLB eliminate one of the human elements from the sport?

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Column: Disney Joins Cord Cutting RevolutionAugust 24, 2017

In a nod to the “if you can’t beat them, join them” idiom, the Walt Disney Company has decided to join the cord cutting revolution. In a stunning move that shocked the media entertainment industry Disney announced plans to introduce not one but two streaming services, one built around sports programming and the other focused on movies and television programming. The former will be unveiled early next year and will include live baseball, hockey, tennis and college sports. The service will stream an estimated 10,000 regional and national events in its first year alone. Subscribers to the new service as well as cable and satellite subscribers will have access to the sports service through an enhanced version of ESPN’s current app.

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Column: Can Gum Chewing Boost Sports Performance?August 17, 2017

Jordan Spieth won this year’s British Open, golf’s oldest tournament, in dramatic fashion but that may not be the most enduring memory of his performance. During the first two rounds of the tournament Spieth could be seen vigorously chewing gum. That sparked a debate about the role, if any, that gum chewing plays in sports performance. The discussion began during live coverage of the rounds on the Golf Channel and was flamed by social media. Did chewing gum contribute in any way to Spieth’s performance or was it merely coincidence? Researchers have left nary a stone unturned and sure enough, there is scientific research on the effects of gum chewing on physical and cognitive performance. And not surprisingly, the findings from those studies are far from uniform.

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Column: Big Money Salaries In Sports Can Be SustainedAugust 10, 2017

NBA free agency opened on July 1 and teams wasted no time in signing their own or other teams’ free agents to what may appear to be exorbitant contracts. Stephen Curry re-signed with the Golden State Warriors for five years and just over $200 million. Kyle Lowry signed a 3-year $100 million contract to stay with the Toronto Raptors. Gordon Hayward left the Utah Jazz to sign a 4-year $128 million contract with the Boston Celtics. Blake Griffin decided to stick with the only team he has known, the Los Angeles Clippers. You would too if they agreed to pay you $173 million over five years despite being plagued by injuries, as Griffin has been during the past few years.

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Column: Relegation In US Sports Leagues A Tough SellAugust 3, 2017

Four billion dollars. That’s a significant sum in virtually any context, unless we’re talking about the federal budget. And yet Major League Soccer (MLS) said “No thanks” to an offer that would have netted the League that amount over a 10-year period. Riccardo Silva, founder of MP & Silva, an international sports media company, made the proposal in exchange for MLS’s worldwide media rights. But the offer came with a condition. MLS would have been required to adopt the promotion and relegation system that is utilized in European sports leagues. Simply stated, pro/rel is a process where teams “transfer” between two leagues or divisions based on their performance during the previous season. The best teams in the lower league/division are “promoted” to the higher level for the next season, and the worst teams in the higher league/division are “relegated” to the lower level for the following year.

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Column: LPGA Fashion Police Out OF ControlJuly 27, 2017

“I know it when I see it…” U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, struggling to define pornography in Jacobellis v. Ohio. Beware! The fashion police are coming to a golf course near you. The LPGA announced a new dress code that went into effect prior to last week’s Marathon Classic. Reaction from the media and touring professionals was mixed. Some pros supported their organization, others panned it for being sexist and out of touch with the times.

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Column: MLB All-Star Game Now An ExhibitionJuly 20, 2017

The MLB All-Star Game is now the equal of its counterparts in the NFL, NBA and NHL – an exhibition, not a game. Last week baseball’s best players gathered in Miami for the sport’s annual Mid-Summer Classic. Once the game began, it was obvious the participants were more focused on having fun than the score. For the previous 14 seasons, the game meant something: The winning league earned home-field advantage in the World Series. Almost everyone – fans, players, television and MLB – seemed to embrace the new format. Bud Selig may have been an exception.

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Column: MLB Ump Sues League For Racial DiscriminationJuly 13, 2017

On the eve of baseball’s celebration of our nation’s birth, MLB umpire Angel Hernandez filed a lawsuit against the league and Commissioner Rob Manfred alleging racial discrimination against minority umpires. Hernandez’ suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, comes on the heels of two discrimination charges he filed against MLB with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in June. Why Hernandez chose to go public with his complaints at this time is unknown. What we do know for certain is Hernandez should consider himself extremely fortunate to still have a job as one of MLB’s 92 umpires. The Cuban-born Hernandez, 55, began his MLB career as a part-time umpire in1993 and was promoted to a full time position in 1995. Throughout the past 25 years, he has consistently been rated among the five worst umpires in the league.

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Column: Bill To Eliminate Stadium Tax Benefits DOAJuly 6, 2017

Sound the trumpets, Congress has introduced yet another bill to eliminate the federal tax benefit of using municipal bonds to finance the construction of sports stadiums. Senators Cory Booker, D-N.J., and James Lankford, R-OK. are sponsoring a bill that would prohibit teams from using municipal bonds to help finance stadium construction. In a statement accompanying the introduction of their bill, Booker said, "Professional sports teams generate billions of dollars in revenue. There's no reason why we should give these multimillion-dollar businesses a federal tax break to build new stadiums. It's not fair to finance these expensive projects on the backs of taxpayers…"

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Column: Redskins Win Legal CaseJune 29, 2017

On an 8-0 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) effectively overturned a U.S. District Court case that decided the Washington Redskins name violated the disparagement clause of the Lanham Act. The irony is that the Redskins weren’t even a party to the case. The Lanham Act, passed by Congress in 1946, allows the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to deny federal registration for trademarks that “may disparage ... persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs or national symbols.” Any trademark – defined as a word, symbol or other mark that distinguishes a source of goods from others – can be denied protection, even cancelled, if it disparages a substantial percentage of a distinct group of people, be it a racial, ethnic, religious or political group.

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