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posted April 07, 2010 08:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Patton   Click Here to Email Patton     Edit/Delete Message

ESPN Plans Slow Expansion For SweetSpot Baseball Blog Network

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With the 2010 baseball season just underway, ESPN (NYSE: DIS) is expanding the number of individual teams covered on SweetSpot, the baseball blog network it started last October. SweetSpot launched with eight teams during the 2009 playoff season and the ESPN has now added another 11 sites, which are run by fans. An ESPN rep said that eventually, SweetSpot expects to have blogs tied to all 30 MLB teams, but no timeframe has been handed down in terms of when the blog network will be complete.

The Disney unit wants to carefully evaluate the individual sites, which are pretty idiosyncratic and seek to maintain an independent stance from ESPN. For example, last week, the Yankees blog, It’s About The Money (a snarky reference to Alex Rodriguez’s contract), took SweetSpot’s editor and reporter Rob Neyer to task over a post about collective bargaining issues.

The deliberate approach to rolling out new sites across SweetSpot is in keeping with’s wider local strategy. The New York metro site launched just last month, joining Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Pittsburgh sites. In terms of new sites, ESPN plans to take its time and evaluate how its current local outposts do before committing to any new ones.

As for SweetSpot, the blogs all operate as they did previously, except for the SweetSpot affiliate banner at the top of each page. The blogs will share in ad revenues—ESPN didn’t say what the split is—and will occassionally feature posts from the SweetSpot blogs on its main site as well. A list of the new teams is in this release; the launch release identifiies the original eight team blogs.

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posted April 22, 2010 01:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message
MLB Games to Stream Live on PS3
| 22 Apr 2010 | 03:34 PM ET

Major League Baseball is coming to the PlayStation3, but it has nothing to do with videogames. Sony and MLB Advanced Media have announced a deal that will see live games streamed live over the console effective today, Thursday.

The service is a strategic expansion for both parties. MLB hopes to dramatically grow the number of subscribers to its online service, while Sony continues to grow the PS3 beyond its gaming roots.

The application, downloadable via the PS3’s storefront, lets fans watch any home or away broadcast feed and offers DVR-like functionality, letting viewers skip to any inning.

A scoreboard from around the league is updated with live statistics and any previous game this season is also available to re-watch. All games are being broadcast in high definition.

To view games via their PS3, people will need a subscription to, which ranges from $100-$120 per year for annual packages and $20-$25 per month. Non-subscribers who download the app will only be able to access basic functions, such as team schedules.

MLB has been rapidly expanding the number of partners it has for the streaming service. An iPad application has been widely praised and the league also has ties with Internet TV services. This is its first deal with a video game company, however, and the first that puts the streaming feeds onto living room TVs.

The new partnership is not without irony. Technically, it makes the PS3 a competitor to cable companies, including Rogers Communications , which owns the Toronto Blue Jays and Liberty Media , which owns the Atlanta Braves. Perhaps the biggest irony, though, comes via the Seattle Mariners, who are owned by Sony rival Nintendo .

Any lost cable revenues are made up via the subscription fee.

For Sony, beyond the likely revenue split for signups that come via the PS3, the deal gives the company the opportunity to continue its expansion of the system’s footprint.

At launch, Sony trumpeted the PS3’s Blu ray player as loudly as it did the system’s lineup of games. Since then, it has continued to position the system as a broader entertainment platform.

Microsoft is doing much the same with its Xbox 360. That company has generally led the industry in bringing traditional media to the console, being the first to strike a deal with Netflix to stream films and the first to sell HD movies from the system’s dashboard. It also has a deal in place with the streaming music service.

Reports emerged yesterday that Microsoft is also in talks with former News Corp. president Peter Chernin about creating a dedicated TV channel for the Xbox 360 that would offer both original programming and reruns. (Microsoft has declined to comment on the reports.)

Sony has made several non-gaming strides of its own with the PS3 recently, though. It has slowly been working on original programming that is only available to PS3 owners. The most notable of these is the recently concluded season of “The Tester,” a reality show made in conjunction with 51 Minds, the company behind “The Surreal Life,” “Flavor of Love” and “Rock of Love”.

But the addition of major league games to the fold, even if they come with a subscription fee, gives the PS3 a win in the latest battle for the ongoing war for the living room.

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posted June 08, 2010 08:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for EthanRubidoux   Click Here to Email EthanRubidoux     Edit/Delete Message
This kid is supposed to be amazing...

Standing room only for Strasburg’s Nationals debut

By JOSEPH WHITE, AP Sports Writer 14 hours, 56 minutes ago
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WASHINGTON (AP)—The anticipation is nearly over. The 21-year-old with the fastball that approaches 100 mph and the curve that freezes batters is about to take the mound in the nation’s capital.

Stephen Strasburg(notes) is set to make his Washington Nationals debut Tuesday night.

Standing room only tickets went on sale Monday, all part of a rare Nationals Park sellout. The Internet is humming with offers for good seats. More than 200 requests for media credentials have been submitted, forcing officials to turn a dining area into a work space to accommodate all those reporters with laptops.

For the Nationals, Strasburg’s major league debut is best summed up in one word.


“I’m looking forward to that first outing or two being out of the way,” manager Jim Riggleman said. “I know the attention’s not going to go away completely, but the anticipation of the thing has been building since the draft — and before the draft—last year.”

No one’s seen anything like it. A No. 1 overall pick who gets sellout, rock-star, hire-extra-security treatment in minor league cities such as Harrisburg and Rochester. It’s the type of overexposure usually reserved for top picks in the NFL or NBA.

The Nationals are actually having a decent year following back-to-back 100-losses seasons, but everything they’ve done has been overshadowed by talk about a player who didn’t have a locker in the clubhouse, whose debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates has been given its own baseball holiday nickname: “Strasmas.”

“He needs to take a step back, take a deep breath and kind of soak in the moment because you only debut once in your career. It’s a special day for him, also,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “We’re looking forward to getting back into a more normal routine with Stephen Strasburg as part of the Washington Nationals.”

That would be just fine with Strasburg. He has candidly stated on many occasions that his majors debut has been long overdue.

“I feel like I’ve been ready,” he said after his last minor league outing, five scoreless innings for Triple-A Syracuse at Buffalo last week.

There’s not much argument there. It was almost cruel to watch Strasburg overwhelm hitters in Double-A and Triple-A. His combined stats: 7-2 with a 1.30 ERA with 65 strikeouts and only 13 walks in 55 1-3 innings.

But money trumped wins, at least this year. Having already invested heavily in the right-hander from San Diego State with a record $15.1 million contract over four years, the Nationals wanted to save some dough down the road by calling Strasburg up after June 1, thus delaying by one year the eventual date when he will be eligible for arbitration.

Strasburg is also looking forward to normalcy because he’s not a limelight guy.

He usually doesn’t have much to say when the microphones are turned on, and the team has protected him by limiting his availability. He will sometimes let a reporter know if he doesn’t care for a question, which can both refreshing and embarrassing. Strasburg was married in January, but the Nationals have already announced that on Tuesday: “Strasburg’s family will NOT be available to media (no exceptions).”

Relief pitcher Drew Storen(notes) has been called the anti-Strasburg. Drafted nine places after his more famous teammates, Storen is on Twitter and always has time for an interview. At spring training, Strasburg seemed to have an invisible wall around him, while Storen once spent about 10 minutes with reporters discussing socks. Storen, called up to the majors a few weeks ago, jokes that he and Strasburg have “that Batman-Robin thing going on.”

Storen, therefore, doesn’t mind sharing the news: Strasburg does indeed have a pulse.

“He’s got a great personality—it’s just that he’s a very low-key guy,” Storen said. “And it’s not what you’d expect out of a guy like that. You expect a big-time talent to have a big-time personality and be this real outspoken guy, and he’s far from that. He’s a guy that will ask anybody questions and is willing to learn from anybody, and that’s the key to his success. … He’s got a different type personality than I do, but he’s got the right personality for the position he’s in.”

The toned-down persona hasn’t stopped the hype machine. Want to bet on how Strasburg’s going to do Tuesday? There are odds on whether his first pitch will be a ball or strike, how many innings he’ll last and nearly everything else in between. Nationals Park has been sold out only once so far this season—on opening day—but the thought that Strasburg might pitch drew the season’s second biggest crowd Friday against Cincinnati.

Strasburg’s thoughts about it all? Pretty straightforward.

“It’s my major league debut. What more can you say?” he said. “It’s something I’ve dreamed about my entire life, and now it’s starting to become a reality.”

At least Strasburg won’t have to wait long for the next phenom to come along. Baseball’s draft was held Monday, and the Nationals again held the No. 1 overall pick. As expected, Washington selected Bryce Harper, a junior college slugger who’s had about as much hype as Strasburg.

It makes for quite a week for a franchise that hasn’t had a winning season since moving to Washington from Montreal in 2005.

“I can’t remember back-to-back years where there’s two players who have separated themselves from the rest of the field the way Strasburg did in ’09 and Harper does in ’10,” Rizzo said. “In that respect, it is very, very unique. I think it’s a lucky time to have two No. 1 picks overall.”

AP Sports Writers John Wawrow in Buffalo, N.Y., and John Kekis in Syracuse, N.Y.; and AP freelance writer Pete Kerzel in Washington contributed to this report.

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posted August 03, 2010 05:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message
Loux is a victim of draft compensation rule
Jeff Passan

By Jeff Passan

On his visit to Phoenix, where he expected to become a millionaire, Barret Loux found out he was going to get nothing. As his father machine-gunned questions and his mother turned emotional, Loux sat there stone-faced, stunned, broken. He was being told his right arm – his future – was no good, and he didn’t know what to say.

The Arizona Diamondbacks picked Loux, a strapping 6-foot-5 starter from Texas A&M with a heavy fastball, sixth overall in this year’s draft. When Loux went to Chase Field in early July, the trip was little more than a formality. He’d meet and greet Diamondbacks brass, take his physical and sign the contract with the $2 million bonus upon which they’d agreed.
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Photo Interim GM Jerry DiPoto and the D’Backs don’t appear willing to deal with Loux.

Instead, the nightmare of that day has devolved into an indictment on an obscure Major League Baseball rule that, in all likelihood, will torpedo Loux’s career for the foreseeable future. Two years ago, MLB started awarding compensation selections for unsigned first-round picks. The draft choices were considered insurance against high school picks that insisted on attending college or difficult negotiations that passed the mid-August deadline without an agreement.

Meant to be a rule that evened out the leverage game around the signing deadline, it is playing out in an unfair, unseemly fashion with Loux and the Diamondbacks. If its first-round draft pick is hurt, a team can take the compensatory choice without concern for the player. The Diamondbacks would get the No. 7 pick in the 2011 draft by stonewalling Loux, and unless something drastic changes, they don’t plan on offering him a contract by the Aug. 16 deadline.

In the Diamondbacks’ eyes, Loux is damaged goods. Their medical staff’s customary MRI on Loux’s arm turned up two red flags. The first: Loux has a tear in his labrum, a shoulder injury that has ended careers. The second: Loux’s elbow, which had bone chips taken out in 2009, showed signs of eventually needing Tommy John surgery.

Loux denied neither injury in an interview with, though he said a doctor affiliated with the Texas Rangers considered him fit to pitch. Loux, his family and his advisor, Tom Little, have since declined comment, perhaps fearful that Loux’s college eligibility will be torpedoed, too, since he has used back channels to enlist the MLB Players Association’s help.

Union officials have discussed Loux’s situation but have not decided whether to file a grievance on his behalf. The case would be tough. The player-team agreement is always contingent upon a medical review, and the sanctity of such handshake deals is difficult to quantify without a signed document. Perhaps the worst thing the union could charge is a lack of draft-day due diligence on the Diamondbacks’ part – and even then, it’s not industry standard to request medical information on a college player before drafting him. Medical privacy laws hamper MLB’s ability to gather a database of health information on players for teams’ consumption. Loux and his parents, Steve and Debbie, would have needed to voluntarily give Arizona the records, and once word filtered around about his injuries, his draft stock would have plummeted.

So the Diamondbacks picked Loux, the player they considered the safest bet in a low-upside draft class. Jerry Dipoto, now the Diamondbacks’ general manager, watched Loux pitch seven strong innings at the Big 12 tournament. He eclipsed 90 mph in most of his starts down the stretch. The MRI from his bone-chip surgery was reportedly clean. His mechanics were considered solid. Since the Diamondbacks chose him nearly 30 picks higher than most mock drafts pegged him, Loux was willing to sign for $340,000 less than the recommended amount for the No. 6 pick.

Before any check cleared, Loux was introduced to the cruel world of professional sports, where only the risk-averse survive. The post-draft pitching injury is nothing new. In 1996, Texas chose R.A. Dickey(notes) with the 18th overall pick, only to find he wasn’t born with an ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow. They dropped their bonus offer from $810,000 to $75,000. Billy Traber(notes) lost $1.3 million in 2000 after New York Mets doctors questioned his elbow’s structural integrity, and San Diego reduced Tim Stauffer’s(notes) bonus offer from $2.6 million to $750,000 when he reported weakness in his shoulder.

The compensation-pick rule has changed the equation, providing the Diamondbacks incentive to offer nothing. They’ll get the seventh overall choice next year, in addition to their regular high first-round selection based on their poor record. Loux will have to wait around a full year, especially if he can’t go back to school, for the 2011 draft.

And his case won’t be like that of Aaron Crow(notes), who didn’t sign with Washington in 2008 and ended up with a $3 million contract. Nor will it mirror two other holdouts, Gerrit Cole (chosen 28th in 2008 by the Yankees) or Matt Purke (taken 14th by Texas last year), who are expected to go in the top five and fetch massive bonuses next year. The best-case scenario for Loux: He strengthens his arm and hopes it doesn’t break down before the ’11 draft so a team can take a hundred-thousand-dollar flyer on it. The worst: Nobody goes near him.

Photo Barret Loux’s playing and financial future could be greatly affected by the compensation rule.
(Texas A&M)

Either way, the union need not fight a case on behalf of Loux as much as for the rest of the players whom the compensation rule can affect. It’s a flawed bylaw. It needs a rewrite. And it can be the catalyst in a long-needed draft overhaul. Among the ideas, in addition to the abolition of compensation picks:

Agree to a slotted bonus system. Yes, it’s a big concession by the union, which still holds firm against prearranged dollar figures for every pick. In exchange, perhaps the owners would start the arbitration clock earlier or raise the minimum salary of players on the 40-man roster after the collective-bargaining negotiations in 2011.

Best of all, it guarantees the best players will go in the proper order. So many players drop due to signability concerns, it gives big-spending teams an ability to snatch up top talent strictly through financial might. The draft might actually serve its intended purpose: evenly distribute the talent.

Another vital revamping would be to bump up the signing deadline to July 15. It gives players plenty of time to think over their decisions. If they know their bonuses to the dollar on day one, there will be no delay in getting their careers started. Instead, last week we get to follow the latest Facebook bluffing of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, the Nos. 1 and 3 picks in the draft, who are threatening to go to junior college together. Enough of the silly posturing. Sign or don’t.

Unfortunately for Loux, it’s don’t. He won’t be a Dickey, a Traber or a Stauffer. His only bet now is to throw for the Cotuit Kettleers of the Cape Cod League, where he plans on showcasing his stuff to convince the Diamondbacks and others his shoulder and elbow are fine.

Maybe they are. Maybe they aren’t. That isn’t the point. As long as compensation picks remain – as long as kids like Barret Loux are hung out to dry when hurt – the draft will be irrevocably broken. It’s time to fix it.

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posted August 05, 2010 04:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message
Did Texas Rangers Sell For Too Much?
Posted By: Darren Rovell | CNBC Sports Business Reporter
| 05 Aug 2010 | 10:29 AM ET

More than 15 hours after the auction for the Texas Rangers began in bankruptcy court in Fort Worth yesterday, Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan had bested out Mark Cuban for the rights to own, subject to Major League Baseball’s approval, the Texas Rangers.

According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, in a bar in downtown Fort Worth, Greenberg toasted his attorneys, partners and friends in the early morning hours and said the words, “Finally.”

Today, you will hear people say that this is best for baseball. Despite Mark Cuban being who he is, you will hear how baseball really wanted this ownership group and, despite all the wrangling, might not have approved Cuban anyway.

You’ll also hear that it’s best for creditors. The all-out gunslinging raised the bidding by $77.5 million.

The creditors part is hard to argue with, but what about baseball and what about the fans?

You see, the Greenberg/Ryan group agreed to pay $385 million in cash and must also assume $205 million in debts. That brings the total price of this team to $590 million.

Let’s put that in perspective. In April, Forbes put the franchise value of the team at $451 million – that’s a 30.8 percent premium. It’s not an unprecedented jump. Last month, the Golden State Warriors sold for $450 million, which turned out to be a 42.8 percent premium over what Forbes said the team was worth.

The problem is that the new Rangers ownership is dealing with a system (baseball) that requires investing in more of the right players than basketball to turn things around. The sport also doesn’t have a salary cap – so teams that have money to spend can make more mistakes with talent evaluations.

What I’m saying is that we can’t just say Greenberg/Ryan won – now what? We have to look at the price that they agreed to pay as a possible impediment to making this team – which hasn’t made the playoffs since 1999 – better.

What we do know is the cash isn’t exactly pouring in. They haven’t averaged more than 30,000 fans a game since the 2005 season.

I think Mark Cuban is an incredibly smart businessman. At some point in the Cubs bidding, he decided he would stop – the point that he thought it would no longer make economic sense. And you have to assume that’s why he bowed out in the early morning hours on Thursday. And his calculations likely included the idea that a Rangers/Mavericks conglomerate could lead to a pretty good regional network upstart.

I know I’ve won some eBay auctions and celebrated until the time I laid my head down on the pillow. When I woke up, I had a sick taste in my mouth, realizing that the money I had agreed to spend made it harder to enjoy what I had purchased. I kind of wonder if Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan are feeling the same way this morning.

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posted August 27, 2010 09:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message

Strasburg likely to have Tommy John surgery

By JOSEPH WHITE, AP Sports Writer 41 minutes ago
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WASHINGTON (AP)—Stephen Strasburg(notes) has a torn elbow ligament and most likely needs Tommy John surgery, bringing the pitcher’s promising rookie season to an abrupt end.

Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Friday an MRI on the right elbow revealed a “significant tear.” Strasburg will travel to the West Coast for a second opinion, but Rizzo anticipates the 22-year-old right-hander will need the operation that requires 12 to 18 months of rehabilitation.
A Washington Nationals trainer talks with pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) just prior to him leaving the game with an injury in the fifth inning against the Phillies.
(Howard Smith/US Presswire)

“I look at the bright side,” Rizzo said. “Tommy John surgery is a surgery that we’ve had great success at. The success rate for guys coming back from Tommy John and retaining their stuff is very good.”

Strasburg was pulled from Saturday’s game at Philadelphia when he grimaced and shook his wrist after throwing a changeup. The Nationals initially called the injury a strained flexor tendon in the forearm, but an MRI taken Sunday raised enough questions for the Nationals to order a more extensive MRI in which dye is injected into the arm.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft, Strasburg struck out 14 batters in a sensational major league debut in June. He is 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 68 innings.

But he has had medical setbacks along the way, despite the team’s best efforts to be as cautious as possible with their prized youngster. He was placed on the disabled list a month ago with inflammation in the back of his right shoulder. He was making his third start since returning from the DL when he had to leave the game against Philadelphia.

“The player was developed and cared for in the correct way, and things like this happen,” Rizzo said. “Pitchers break down, pitchers get hurt and we certainly are not second-guessing ourselves. … Frustrated? Yes. But second-guessing ourselves? No.”

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posted October 07, 2010 11:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message
That no hitter was a great way to start the playoffs. It's really going to drive new viewers and may help it become the highest rated playoffs in a decade... Unless it's a Minnesota / Cincinnati series.

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posted October 23, 2010 09:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message
No east coast team in the world series - could be some low ratings.

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posted October 28, 2010 10:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for a   Click Here to Email a     Edit/Delete Message
Texas still wins in 6.

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posted November 02, 2010 04:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message
Dancing with the Stars beats the final game of the World Series in the ratings.

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