Front Office Fan

A Take on the Games We Watch and the Industry Behind Them

Archive for July, 2009

Fan Favorites

Posted by GM/VP of Fan Operations on Friday, July 31, 2009

Every Friday I’ll post links to things I found interesting. It’s a new idea I call a “Link Dump.” Guaranteed you’ll find thousands of blogs start to do the same thing in the coming weeks and months. Just remember where you saw this idea first.

Brian Billick: Former Ravens Coach Tackles NFL Economics By Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, Wall Stree Journal – Current Fox football analyst, Brian Billick, does an interview with the WSJ about the blah, blah, blah… But seriously, how pumped are you for football season? Thank God the media circus called, “The Trade Deadline” is over. Training Camp is in session and it’s time for some touchdowns, fumbles and “Jacked Up!” segments!

What Are Practice Jerseys Really Worth? By Darren Rovell, CNBC – I love the idea of teams selling their practice jerseys for advertising revenue. I think it’s a great idea. But teams of the four majors, I implore you, please don’t sell game jerseys. Please?

Baseball’s magic number: 100 By Tim Kurkjian – From the guy that has brought you some of my least favorite segments on ESPN comes an article about something Red Sox fans knew back in 2002. Way to write a timely piece.

The Revolutionary By Howard Bryant, ESPN – To many, the jury is still out on Billy Beane. Is he a good or bad baseball general manager? Whatever your opinion of him it is impossible to deny the lasting impact he (Michael Lewis?) has had on baseball.

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Fan Favorites

Posted by GM/VP of Fan Operations on Friday, July 24, 2009

Every Friday I’ll post links to things I found interesting. It’s a new idea I call a “Link Dump.” Guaranteed you’ll find thousands of blogs start to do the same thing in the coming weeks and months. Just remember where you saw this idea first.

LeBron’s attempt to hide college kid’s dunk disturbingly revealing By Phil Taylor, SI.com – Listen, we’ve all seen the videos by now and we’re all disappointed in them. They were nothing. However, it is alarming that the athlete whom best transcends the four major American sports would act like this. I like LeBron and it would be unfortunate if he became the next fallen star. On a side link: the Associated Press has reported that Nike will return the tapes to their original owners. Nike said “It was never about the play or the player, it was about our media policy.” It’s interesting to note that those who filmed the dunk never intended to get that on tape either and clearly have more footage than just those few seconds of inglorious dunkage. So if it wasn’t about the play or player, why return the tapes and go against your media policy?

Why the Premier League can’t keep up By Chris Lesley, Sports Agent Blog – Really interesting piece. It was interesting to see that Russia had the lowest tax rate of the mentioned countries second only to the UAE. Russia used to be communist right?

The 10 best sporting events to see live By Rick Reilly, ESPN – OK let’s make one thing clear: If I ever see the Iditarod live I’ve had a nervous breakdown and moved to Alaska where I also hope to watch Russell Crowe captain a team of pond hockey players that improbably face-off against the NHL’s New York Rangers.

‘Is Tim Tebow a Virgin?’ and Other Burning Questions for SEC Media Days By Clay Travis, FanHouse – I have wondered multiple times if the Gators quarterback remains abstinent. He is renowned to be one of the most God-Fearing male athletes of our time so it wouldn’t be a stretch if he is a virgin. Could he really have the discipline to turn down the many girls that approach him? And if so, who’s to say he doesn’t have the discipline to be a good NFL quarterback? Oh, this article also talks about SEC football by the way.

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Are You There ROI? It’s Me, Pepsi

Posted by GM/VP of Fan Operations on Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Map

The Map

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of the Bullrun. Bueller? Bueller?

Last week some people got into cars and decided… well I don’t feel like explaining it, so here’s the official explanation from Bullrun:

The Bullrun brand originated from the now legendary Bullrun USA car rally. It is the most glamorous and high profile “luxury lifestyle” automotive rally.

Each year up to a 100 cars, driven by celebrities and individuals from around the world, embark on an epic seven-day rolling road-trip, partying in a different city every night.

Bullrun crosses the USA, bringing together a celebrity strewn cast of characters and for an unforgettable adventure, where, the only obligatory goals are to party, drive and enjoy…

Fuelled by an impressive schedule of public and private events at the finest venues and hotels and in the most exciting cities in America, ’Bullrunners’ make their way from one checkpoint to the next, only learning their next destination daily, rocking to a close each night in the party capitals of America.

Entry to this event is $20,000. This covers both drivers for accommodations, rally entry and meals and parties for the week of the rally.

This live rally event is filmed for TV in 96 countries outside the United States (See Bullrun TV). The TV show will be in it\’s 6th season in 2009. The title of this TV series is \’Cops, Cars & Superstars\’.

  • Celebrities are mentioned twice, so we know who this event is catered to…
  • 20 G’s to race in this event. Kind of affirms the clientele.
  • “Only obligatory goals are to party, drive and enjoy…” sounds awesome. Now where’s my tool box?
  • The rally is filmed for 96 countries outside the United States. So the US doesn’t air the event which would make sense seeing as this seems to be illegal and all… Wait. There is a US television show? What’s the Speed Channel? Goldberg, is that you?

This show format is a \’spin off\’ and based on the legendary Bullrun Rally (above). It is a totally separate event as 12 teams with their cars compete for $200,000 over 4,000 miles in a 10 episode reality elimination TV show (See Bullrun Reality TV).

Referred to as ‘Bullrun’, the show aired on MTV Networks / Spike TV in March 2007 with production of Bullrun Season II due to begin in 2008, airing in 2009. This TV series is also shown around the world in 50 countries.

This is show free to applicants if selected for the TV show. Individuals who want to be Contestants or Flag Girls in this show can set up Driver or Flag Girl profiles on this website and will automatically be considered for the show.

You get a more complete picture of Bullrun when you read the quotes the site posts on their home page.

“The most glamorous rally in the world!” – OK magazine – If OK Magazine says something is “glamorous” I think they are contradicting themselves and straying from their mission. Ultimately, they are forgetting their roots and pandering to the popular crowd, people that wouldn’t settle for “OK.” To thine own self be true, OK Magazine.

“It was glorious. And we rode shotgun for all 3000 miles!” – ESPN Magazine – Did you even offer shotty to the guy in the back seat? He needs leg room too! That’s just rude.

“A 3000-mile rolling party that is half Cannonball Run, half Mardi Gras”! – TRADER Magazine – I really don’t know what a half cannonball is, but is half Mardi Gras when the girl flashes only one boob for a half set of beads?

“Its really cool!” – Helena Christensen – Wow!

“Fantastic people!” – Carl Lewis – Yippee!

“Pushes the style pedal right to the floor.” – FORBES Magazine – …except for that one guy that pushed the breaks and was like “Guys I think you’re still drunk from last night. Maybe you should wait a little while before driving.” Loser.

“Seriously, the best week of my life” – Dennis Rodman – Really? You had an affair with Madonna, a honeymoon with Carmen Electra, won 5 NBA Championships, and wrestled alongside Hulk Hogan and the nWo. And this was the best week of your life?

“Bullrun is hot!” – Paris Hilton – Oh, God… Shut up!

“I am more excited to do Bullrun than when I won the Indy 500” – Mario Andretti – What about when you beat Bowser and saved Princess Peach? Sorry, wrong Mario.

“Turbo-charged but highly civilized.” – Sunday Times Style Magazine – I know Sunday with the Style that has good Times inside a Magazine is published in England and all, but what does that review mean?

Oddly enough, I can’t find these quotes anywhere online except on Bullrun’s website. You’d think that at least the quotes from OK, ESPN, TRADER, FORBES, and Sunday Times Style Magazines would have these lines readily available in articles online, but they are not.

I'm all for events that get Kim Kardashian to dress like this.

I'm all for events that get Kim Kardashian to dress like this.

From what I can tell the rally is an illegal/government frowned upon race across these great United States featuring celebrities and their rich brethren with video recorders. Now that’s all fine and good, but how does something that makes so much money (20k per race team x 100 racers = a cool million), have a huge official sponsor (Pepsi Max), get wall-to-wall coverage on its start from various gossip blogs (thanks again for the view Miss Kardashian), and apparently have a spin-off show on a cable channel less known than Versus (again, that’s the SPEED channel) not get more publicity and lack more purpose? From the various articles on Bullrun, the race is allegedly a charity but the only mention I can find on the official website is a place to donate money to GREEN charity to offset the drivers’ carbon footprint. Where is all this money from the entry fees going?

More importantly, is Pepsi Max’s endorsement of this event the worst official sponsorship in the history of sports? Listen, this event is getting very limited exposure in the United States and I know that we’re only a small piece of the pie, but how popular is the Bullrun series in the 96 countries that cover the event? Will the sponsorship actually be effective? What will it take for Pepsi to get their return on investment? It’s interesting to note that Pepsi’s website mentions nothing of the race.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it does it make a sound?

Other  Bullrun sponsors with even less exposure are Manhattan Motor Sports, Spyker Cars, West Coast Customs, Bernard Richards Manufacture, Maps.com, Shelby Performance Sports, Jagermeister, Capture Technologies Inc., Luxury Boy Toys, Duck and Cover, and The Carroll Shelby Children’s Foundation (a charity that Bullrun has advertised for, but it isn’t clear if any proceeds from the race go to the Foundation). At least Pepsi had exposure; these guys just have links at the bottom of Bullrun’s website. Maybe these are the worst sponsorships in the history of sports?

In conclusion, having made fun of Pepsi Max for the worst use of money since some idiot in New York bought a $2,500 seat in the New Yankee Stadium, 81 times, and made allusions to the racers and Home Depot products, I’d like to make a proposition:

Any rich reader of the Front Office Fan that would like to donate a high speed vehicle, the $20,000 entry fee and a credit card with no spending limit so that I can race in, and win, Bullrun 2010 will receive:

  • A blog update of my experience every day.
  • Printed, autographed copies of said blogs.
  • Winnings, if any, will be donated to the charity of your choice and made in your name.
  • My eternal gratitude.

Maybe Pepsi Max could sponsor me? They seem to be good at making frivolous sponsorships and I wouldn’t mind taking the official whip for a spin.

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Fan Favorites

Posted by GM/VP of Fan Operations on Friday, July 17, 2009

Every Friday I’ll post links to things I found interesting. It’s a new idea I call a “Link Dump.” Guaranteed you’ll find thousands of blogs start to do the same thing in the coming weeks and months. Just remember where you saw this idea first.

Baseball Research Veers Into Left Field By Austin Kelley, Wall Street Journal – By now most die hard sports fans know that there a strong statistical undercurrent in the world of sports scouting and that, for the most part, it started with baseball. This article talks about other kinds of sabermetric studies that I’m sure Malcolm Gladwell love.

Everyone Is Now The Sports Media By Howard K. Brodwin, MediaPost – What’s the opposite of stupid? Smart? Brodwin writes a very intelligent piece on the new sports media.

Twitter’s Internal Strategy Laid Bare: To Be “The Pulse of the Planet” By Erick Schonfeld, TechCrunch – So a hacker broke into a Twitter executive’s emails and data and sent this information to TechCrunch. The information was Twitter’s long-term plans and goals. TC claims that they selectively published these so to not hurt Twitter.

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Ticket Realizing

Posted by GM/VP of Fan Operations on Thursday, July 16, 2009

Each year thousands of fans flock to ticket resellers to find seats for sold-out games and often times buy tickets for three, four and five times the face value of the seats. Some teams have fought resellers where others have embraced them and formed resale sponsorships.

Most often these sponsorships are profitable for owners, but sports conglomerates (ownership groups controlling multiple franchises) would be better served through synergy and Ticket Realizing.

Synergy: The essence of linking mutually controlled products for the advancement of the larger entity.

I wrote that definition. Pretty good, huh?

Ticket Realizing will grow multiple sport and entertainment products by selling readily available tickets of one product with free tickets to a high demand event.

By my count there are 30 owners (list at the bottom of the article) of the four major American sports that own teams in multiple leagues (for example and owner of an NHL team owning a team in the NBA – or – an NFL owner also owning an MLS team). Some of these owners have multiple franchises in the same market and others own franchises across several markets. Ticket sales for some of these teams are so competitive that they are always in contention to sell out.

OK, sports conglomerates listen up, because I’ve got an idea for you: You’ve got a product that sells out and one that doesn’t, right? Sell season tickets/ticket packages to the one that doesn’t sell out and include free tickets to the game that does sell out. Dolla Dolla Bills.

Things to consider in the sale of these tickets:

  • Depending on the quality of the seats, ownership may gain, lose or break even on these ticket sales.
  • It should be assumed that concessions, parking, merchandise, etc. revenue will increase at the packaged team’s games where the sellout will remain the same.
  • This promotion should be very easy to market:
    • Fans automatically get the tickets to the game they want to see.
    • The fan will likely be spending as much for the season tickets and single game package as they would to go to a reseller like StubHub and buy just the single game tickets.
  • Regardless of any profit from the ticket sales both sports are being grown whether it be the fans of the sellout sport now attending the non-sellout’s games or vice versa.
  • Presumably, the increased ticket sales for the second-tier sport would increase total attendance numbers and, therefore, make sponsorships, advertising, radio and television deals more lucrative by showing the marketers the greater attendance.

We already know from a 2004 study in Sport Marketing Quarterly that the scarcity of tickets drives a fan’s desire to have them. A hypothetical situation was posed to fans with low and high identification with the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team and their playing a game in the Sweet Sixteen against UNC. From “Likelihood of Attending a Sporting Event as a Function of Ticket Scarcity and Team Identification:”

Fans learning that the ticket was scarce and highly identified fans were particularly likely to report an interest in attending the game, and these two variables did not interact…

The scarcity effect detailed here can explain much of the interest in these items. Individuals marketing such items could likely increase interest in the items and, potentially, sales price by providing the impression that the items in question are rare (a common strategy among merchants in this arena)…

The second potential move can be explained by the reactance theory. According to this theory, individuals react strongly to situations in which their freedom to choose an outcome or behavioral option has been removed. Typically, they will respond in a manner that reestablishes their freedom of choice. It follows that in sport consumption environments, fans desire scarce tickets because they want to maintain their freedom of choice with respect to attendance decisions; rather than having their choice made for them by virtue of a sellout, fans want to choose which events they will attend.

This tells us that consumers are more likely to buy a product if they think it is rare regardless of their previous interest level; that they will likely make a decision to buy it out of desperation to get that product because it keeps them in control of the situation.

Herein lies the key: If advertised that this is the only way to get tickets to the sellout not just at face value, but free, fans will jump at the opportunity to buy ticket packages to the other product.

Cue the haters. “Oh good for you. You came up with a promotion. Bravo! These things are thought of and shot down a thousand times over. Besides, this is for too narrow a segment of sports owners. You need:

1)      A sports conglomerate.

2)      It is only an option for those conglomerates with teams in the same market.

3)      Those owners with multiple teams in the same market also need to have competitive ticket sales and come close to selling out every game for this to work!”

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

1)      Yes, this is only for the owner that has investments in multiple teams.

2)      NO! They do not need to be in the same market and here’s why: A few years ago the marketing team at New England Sports Ventures saw that their MLB team, the Boston Red Sox, were among baseball’s top attractions and that they could market to the transplant fans of Red Sox Nation with what they called “Red Sox DestiNations.” Packages included, among other things: tickets to a Sox game, trip accommodations, and a meet and greet with a player. Now, NESV owns a Single-A affiliate of the major league club, the Salem Red Sox. Why couldn’t the group market some sort of DestiNation package for fans of the Salem Red Sox to go see the major league club and get tickets to a Salem game? This isn’t something just NESV could do, any of the ownership groups could do it!

NCAA Division I programs could benefit from this promotion better than pro owners.

How was this not thought of by college sport marketers before? College athletic departments own a monopoly on their fans, a fan of one college team will likely identify with the rest of the school’s teams. It’s rare to find a fan of Ohio State football and Michigan hockey.

“I want to see Duke play UNC. Oh, it’s sold out? I’m shocked!” If you want guaranteed seats to the big game you need season tickets to one of the school’s other sports. It could be further manipulated by offering a specific game for the draw product depending on the sport the fan chose to get season tickets too. Ditto for the quality and price of the seats they pick for said season ticket package. Duke as an example:

  • Duke’s men’s basketball team and men’s lacrosse team are consistently among the most popular and most competitive in their respective sport each season, with Coach K’s guys taking the cake as one of the greatest draws in college sports.
  • It wouldn’t make sense, then, for Duke lacrosse to be the team to market season tickets for to get a Duke-UNC basketball game. Duke football has not had a winning record since 1994. In that time their record has been 26-133, including 4 winless seasons.
  • That struggling brand would benefit more from this promotion than any other. Buy a season ticket package to the football team and that gets you the Duke-UNC game. Buy season tickets to another sport and maybe you get Boston College; another, Virginia; another, Georgia Tech; another, an out-of-conference team, etc., etc.

Examples of package ideas similar to Ticket Realizing:

  • Under the Kraft Group season ticket holders for the New England Revolution have access to Patriots TicketExchange where they can purchase tickets from season ticket holders. They also have a special pre-sale to major Gillette Stadium events.
  • Despite separate ownerships, this June the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Browns franchises offered the MVP Suite Package of one Browns game and two Indians game.

Fans would embrace this opportunity to get season tickets to a sport, plus the game they wanted to see for the same price as what it costs to buy tickets to the draw product from a reseller. Ticket sales and revenue would ultimately jump across the board. Everyone wins.

Here’s a list I’ve compiled of owners in the 4 major American sports and other sports franchises they own. NASCAR teams, sport venues, private enterprises, hosted tournaments, and things of that nature were not included. The list isn’t sorted in any particular way. If I was wrong about something or missed anyone or anything that should be on the list, please let me know.

Owner Team Sport League
Jerry Reinsdorf Chicago Bulls Basketball NBA
Chicago White Sox Baseball MLB
Phoenix Coyotes Hockey NHL
Arthur Blank Atlanta Falcons Football NFL
Georgia Force Football AFL
Jerry Jones Dallas Cowboys Football NFL
Dallas Desperados Football AFL
Clark Hunt Kansas City Chiefs Football NFL
FC Dallas Soccer MLS
Columbus Crew Soccer MLS
Kraft Group New England Patriots Football NFL
New England Revolution Soccer MLS
Paul Allen Seattle Seahawks Football NFL
Portland Trail Blazers Basketball NBA
Seattle Sounders FC Soccer MLS
Malcolm Glazer Tampa Bay Buccaneers Football NFL
Manchester United FC Soccer Premier League
Atlanta Spirit LLC Atlanta Hawks Basketball NBA
Atlanta Thrashers Hockey NHL
Dan Gilbert Cleveland Cavaliers Basketball NBA
Lake Erie Monsters Hockey AHL
Kroenke Sports Enterprises Denver Nuggets Basketball NBA
Colorado Avalanche Hockey NHL
Colorado Crush Football AFL
Colorado Mammoth Soccer MLS
Colorado Rapids Lacrosse NLL
Arsenal FC Soccer Premier League
Arsenal LFC Soccer Women’s Premier League
Pat Bowlen Denver Broncos Football NFL
Denver Outlaws Lacrosse MLL
Palace Sports & Entertainment Detroit Pistons Basketball NBA
Detroit Shock Basketball WNBA
Asheville Tourists Baseball SAL
Glen Taylor Minnesota Timberwolves Basketball NBA
Minnesota Lynx Basketball WNBA
Madison Square Garden New York Knicks Basketball NBA
New York Rangers Hockey NHL
New York Liberty Basketball WNBA
Hartford Wolf Pack Hockey AHL
Comcast Spectator Philadelphia 76ers Basketball NBA
Philadelphia Flyers Hockey NHL
Spurs Sports & Entertainment San Antonio Spurs Basketball NBA
San Antonio Silver Stars Basketball WNBA
San Antonio Rampage Hockey AHL
Austin Toros Basketball NBA D-League
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey NHL
Toronto Raptors Baskebtall NBA
Toronto FC Soccer MLS
Toronto Marlies Hockey AHL
Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment Utah Jazz Basketball NBA
Salt Lake Bees Baseball PCL
Lincoln Holdings LLC Washington Wizards Basketball NBA
Washington Capitals Hockey NHL
Washington Mystics Basketball WNBA
New England Sports Ventures Boston Red Sox Baseball MLB
Salem Red Sox Baseball Carolina League
Michael Iltch Detroit Red Wings Hockey NHL
Detroit Tigers Baseball MLB
Lewis Wolff Oakland Athletics Baseball MLB
San Jose Earthquakes Soccer MLS
Tom Hicks Dallas Stars Hockey NHL
Texas Rangers Baseball MLB
Liverpool FC Soccer Premier League
B. Thomas Golisano Buffalo Sabres Hockey NHL
Buffalo Bandits Lacrosse NLL
Calgary Flames Ownership Group Calgary Flames Hockey NHL
Calgary Hitmen Hockey WHL
Peter Karmanos Jr. Carolina Hurricanes Hockey NHL
Plymouth Whalers Hockey OHL
Florida Everblades Hockey ECHL
Anschutz Entertainment Group Los Angeles Kings Hockey NHL
Los Angeles Lakers (part) Basketball NBA
Los Angeles Sparks (part) Basketball WNBA
Los Angeles Galaxy Soccer MLS
Manchester Monarchs Hockey AHL
Reading Royals Hockey ECHL
Eisbaren Berlin Hockey Deutsche Eishockey Liga
Hamburg Freezers Hockey Deutsche Eishockey Liga
Hammarby IF Fotboll Soccer Allsvenskan
Djurgardens IF Hockey Hockey Elitserien
Eugene Melnyk Ottawa Senators Hockey NHL
Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors Hockey OHL
San Jose Sports and Entertainment Enterprises San Jose Sharks Hockey NHL
Cleveland Barons Hockey AHL
Sports Capital Partners Worldwide St. Louis Blues Hockey NHL
Real Salt Lake Soccer MLS
Peoria Rivermen Hockey AHL

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GRIP: Given Runners per Inning Pitched

Posted by GM/VP of Fan Operations on Monday, July 6, 2009

UPDATE: I’m changing the title of this formula from “Given Runs per Inning Pitched” to “Given Runners per Inning Pitched. I just think it makes more sense.

The three most commonly used statistics in analyzing a pitcher are ERA, K/BB and WHIP. Each has its pros and cons but generally they each get the job done. Earned Run Average tells you how many runs you can expect a pitcher to give up through 9 innings. Strikeout to Walk Ratio gives you the pitcher’s ability to control the strike zone and how batters react to him. And Walks plus Hits per Innings Pitched generalizes how many batters a pitcher allows to reach base each inning. Problems include defensive factors, the inability to measure if a pitcher is a fly ball/groundball guy, and that where each accounts for one part of the pitcher’s production you must take each into account and assume that each is more valuable than the last.

Well in my amateur sabermetric studies I created a new stat and solved this problem (wow, aren’t I awesome?).

Allow me to introduce you to GRIP, Given Runners per Innings Pitched:

((TB + BB) – (K + DP)) / IP

This bastard child of WHIP and K/BB solves problems that the two of them create and was then adopted by ERA and raised as its own.

First its “problem.” Any sabermetrician will tell you in a few ways that the twin pillars of pitcher analysis are Park Factors and Defensive Efficiency. Namely, that Park A allows more home runs on Sundays, in April, in prime numbered years than Park B which always allows for more ground-rule doubles on Saturdays except for during a full moon. Defensive Efficiency: the infielders have no range and the outfielders have no arms so obviously a baserunner will have an advantage.

And there ends the problem. This statistic doesn’t factor the park or a pitcher’s batting average on balls in play. Well, here’s something to think about: do park factors and defense matter if a pitcher does his job? No.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to start using my copy of Baseball Between the Numbers as a coaster.

A good pitcher will be a good pitcher in any ballpark regardless of outside factors. I agree that they will affect the numbers and could make a significant difference on the game, but the box score gives the onus of a win and a loss to a pitcher, not his defense and certainly not the field he’s playing on.

GRIP Explained:

GRIP measures total bases achieved rather than hits. WHIP would tell you that a home run an inning and a single per inning are equal, it would even tell you that two walks per inning are worse than one home run in an inning, and I’m telling WHIP to take a nap. That’s asinine.

K/BB works great and is entirely independent of defensive and park factors but it doesn’t tell you anything about hits.

The biggest problem stat-geeks have with ERA is its dependency on defense and park factors, which is why ERA was so quick to adopt GRIP as its own.

Strikeouts aren’t requisite of good pitching but they certainly do make the job easier. Indeed there are situations (bases loaded no outs, runner at third one out, etc.) where a strikeout is the best possible option and as such should be factored when discussing a pitcher’s numbers. Furthermore, ground balls are more valuable than fly balls and pitchers need to work in situations with runners on-base so it should be important to note how many double-plays result in a pitcher’s performance.

Therefore, taking strikeouts and double plays from total bases and walks gives you the total picture as to all things valuable that a pitcher does:

  • You get the idea of his command of the strike zone.
  • You better know if he is a ground ball or fly ball pitcher.
  • You know how he works in important moments.

Using GRIP and the other three traditional metrics let’s find out who has had the best pitching this season.

The 30 MLB teams ranks 1-30 with the best GRIPs.

TEAM

LG

RA

K/BB

WHIP

GRIP

Los Angeles Dodgers

NL

3.77

2.02

1.264

0.789

San Francisco Giants

NL

3.75

2.14

1.316

0.858

Atlanta Braves

NL

4.38

2.12

1.342

0.902

Chicago Cubs

NL

4.16

2.03

1.346

0.954

Boston Red Sox

AL

4.37

2.3

1.373

0.983

St. Louis Cardinals

NL

4.25

2.19

1.289

0.991

Kansas City Royals

AL

4.82

2.1

1.361

1.010

Seattle Mariners

AL

4.19

1.93

1.333

1.021

Chicago White Sox

AL

4.5

2.18

1.342

1.023

Florida Marlins

NL

4.83

1.97

1.414

1.048

New York Yankees

AL

4.82

2.08

1.366

1.076

Colorado Rockies

NL

4.73

2.11

1.391

1.087

Arizona Diamondbacks

NL

4.84

2.15

1.385

1.088

Toronto Blue Jays

AL

4.52

2.16

1.354

1.095

Oakland Athletics

AL

4.75

2.05

1.392

1.096

Detroit Tigers

AL

4.65

1.83

1.418

1.103

Cincinnati Reds

NL

4.39

1.72

1.360

1.106

Tampa Bay Rays

AL

4.63

2.01

1.361

1.106

San Diego Padres

NL

4.98

1.91

1.392

1.113

Minnesota Twins

AL

4.43

2.39

1.309

1.126

Houston Astros

NL

4.57

2.1

1.399

1.137

New York Mets

NL

4.68

1.67

1.426

1.150

Milwaukee Brewers

NL

4.73

1.96

1.385

1.182

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

AL

4.97

1.91

1.444

1.198

Pittsburgh Pirates

NL

4.47

1.5

1.394

1.247

Texas Rangers

AL

4.59

1.66

1.388

1.261

Philadelphia Phillies

NL

4.89

2.01

1.454

1.297

Cleveland Indians

AL

5.58

1.58

1.541

1.367

Baltimore Orioles

AL

5.57

1.83

1.486

1.442

Washington Nationals

NL

5.75

1.35

1.560

1.484

Top-10 Starters (at least 10 starts):

NAME

TEAM

LG

ERA

SO/BB

WHIP

GRIP

Tim Lincecum

SFG

NL

2.23

4.7

1.050

0.132

Dan Haren

ARI

NL

2.16

7.93

0.826

0.231

Javier Vazquez

ATL

NL

3.05

5.65

1.071

0.295

Zack Greinke

KCR

AL

2

6.32

1.055

0.354

Chris Carpenter

STL

NL

2.32

5.27

0.824

0.373

Felix Hernandez

SEA

AL

2.62

3.35

1.174

0.429

Justin Verlander

DET

AL

3.54

3.71

1.198

0.439

Jake Peavy

SDP

NL

3.97

3.29

1.188

0.490

Chad Billingsley

LAD

NL

3.14

2.25

1.205

0.490

Josh Johnson

FLO

NL

2.76

3.03

1.128

0.507

Bottom-10 Starters (at least 10 starts):

NAME

TEAM

LG

ERA

SO/BB

WHIP

GRIP

Matt Harrison

TEX

AL

6.11

1.48

1.642

1.705

Jamie Moyer

PHI

NL

5.72

2.13

1.472

1.706

Brian Moehler

HOU

NL

5.64

2.14

1.552

1.716

Trevor Cahill

OAK

AL

4.55

1.18

1.441

1.720

Manny Parra

MIL

NL

7.52

1.34

1.918

1.747

David Huff

CLE

AL

6.06

1.88

1.519

1.750

Bronson Arroyo

CIN

NL

5.85

1.32

1.573

1.767

Bartolo Colon

CHW

AL

4.23

1.8

1.500

1.789

Fausto Carmona

CLE

AL

7.42

0.88

1.813

1.846

Scott Olsen

WAS

NL

6.04

1.78

1.712

1.941

Baseball’s Closers (at least 10 save opportunities):

NAME

TEAM

LG

SV

BS

ERA

SO/BB

WHIP

GRIP

Jonathan Broxton

LAD

NL

20

2

2.72

4.06

0.857

-0.580

Joe Nathan

MIN

AL

22

2

1.35

6.14

0.750

-0.270

Joakim Soria

KCR

AL

12

2

1.74

3.86

1.016

-0.145

Heath Bell

SDP

NL

23

1

1.49

2.67

1.046

0.028

David Aardsma

SEA

AL

17

1

1.41

2.18

1.148

0.052

Andrew Bailey

OAK

AL

9

4

2.03

2.85

1.027

0.103

J.P. Howell

TBR

AL

6

5

1.63

2.88

1.086

0.103

Trevor Hoffman

MIL

NL

18

1

1.93

3.8

0.943

0.129

Mariano Rivera

NYY

AL

21

1

2.6

14

0.923

0.231

Francisco Cordero

CIN

NL

20

1

1.8

2

1.143

0.314

Frank Francisco

TEX

AL

14

2

2.1

4

0.935

0.351

Francisco Rodriguez

NYM

NL

21

3

1.59

1.82

1.185

0.353

Ryan Franklin

SLP

NL

20

1

0.84

3.43

0.844

0.375

Brian Fuentes

LAA

AL

24

3

3.38

3.56

1.227

0.375

Mike Gonzalez

ATL

NL

9

4

3.2

3.18

1.246

0.381

Brian Wilson

SFG

NL

21

4

3.41

3

1.216

0.405

Huston Street

COL

NL

19

1

2.8

4.1

1.075

0.425

George Sherrill

BAL

AL

18

3

2.43

2.67

1.140

0.570

Chad Qualls

ARI

NL

15

4

3.93

7.5

1.165

0.670

Bobby Jenks

CHW

AL

19

2

3.14

4.67

1.047

0.698

Fernando Rodney

DET

AL

17

0

4.11

1.75

1.314

0.771

Jose Valverde

HOU

NL

6

4

4.08

4

1.075

0.792

LaTroy Hawkins

HOU

NL

10

3

2.48

2.64

1.211

0.798

Kevin Gregg

CHC

NL

14

3

3.62

2.31

1.286

0.804

Jonathan Papelbon

BOS

AL

20

2

1.75

2.06

1.333

0.806

Kerry Wood

CLE

AL

10

4

5.08

1.94

1.447

0.988

Matt Capps

PIT

NL

18

2

4.88

1.82

1.482

1.120

Matt Lindstrom

FLO

NL

14

2

6.52

1.3

1.897

1.414

Joel Hanrahan

WAS

NL

5

5

7.71

2.5

1.959

1.653

Brad Lidge

PHI

NL

16

6

7.06

1.94

1.807

1.670

Interesting things to note:

  • Teams are evenly disbursed throughout the chart regardless of their league affiliation.
  • Natural Rivals Baltimore and Washington are second to last and last, respectively.
  • Despite being tied for first in the AL-West, the Angels and Rangers are 24th and 26th in GRIP.
  • Baseball’s Top-3 Closers have negative GRIPs. A perfect Grip is -3.00.
  • The Philadelphia Phillies are 1st in the NL-East and have the 27th overall GRIP. The Marlins are a game behind them and rank 10th in GRIP.
  • Most interesting AL All-Star selections: Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox and Tim Wakefield, Boston Red Sox (18th and 37th ranked AL Starters); Brian Fuentes, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (8th ranked closer).
  • Most interesting NL All-Star Selections: Jason Marquis, Colorado Rockies (40th ranked NL Starter).

So there you have it. It isn’t perfect, but no stat is.

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Fan Favorites

Posted by GM/VP of Fan Operations on Friday, July 3, 2009

Every Friday I’ll post links to things I found interesting. It’s a new idea I call a “Link Dump.” Guaranteed you’ll find thousands of blogs start to do the same thing in the coming weeks and months. Just remember where you saw this idea first.

Brock Lesnar: “I Like to Punish People” By Nate Penn, Maxim – A grand piece on the life and times of a former wrestler, former WWE champ, former Minnesota Viking, and current UFC-Meathead extraordinaire, Brock Lesnar.

Talkin’ about the age-33 falloff phenomenon, with Bill James By Joe Posnanski, Sports Illustrated – Why no one should be surprised with some big name, early struggles, this baseball season.

How to Persuade a Fantasy Jury By Nando Di Fino, Wall Street Journal – Good, now if only I could get the idiots in my league to make a trade with me.

Free vs Freely Distributed By Mark Cuban, Blog Maverick – Insightful? Yes. Would he wager his fortune on what he preaches? Probably not.

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Where Will In-Market Streaming Take Sports?

Posted by GM/VP of Fan Operations on Thursday, July 2, 2009

This week the SportsBusiness Journal reported that Major League Baseball’s Commissioner, Bud Selig, sent a memo to all 30 teams outlining details for live in-market streaming in response to new deals from the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres. Selig detailed that revenue from such deals would be split between MLB Advanced Media and local interests.

While each streaming deal will be different, in large part because of how the local half of the revenue is divided, Selig noted “the same relative terms” will be used in all future in-market streaming agreements.

MLB’s acceptance of live in-market streaming will revolutionize the way we watch sports the same way Hulu has changed how we watch television.

Thanks to Hulu there is no reason to be a cable/satellite subscriber. South Park is free online, so why should I pay for Comedy Central? Ditto for viewers of FX’s Rescue Me, MTV’s The Real World, USA’s Burn Notice, and hundreds of other shows streaming free online and with limited commercial interruption. The same could hold true for sports.

All mediums are merging with the internet and the expected progress is that televisions will be wired to the internet over traditional cable and satellite hook-ups. Leagues and teams could then bypass network mediators to sell their games directly to consumers the same way Twitter bypasses traditional media to report news.

Wouldn’t some out-of-market subscribers to league packages rather pay for just their team? How many YES Network subscriptions would be cancelled if fans could pay less for just Yankees games? Is it too presumptuous to think that buffet-style subscriptions could be more profitable?

Of course all this is just speculation.

If leagues began to sell directly to individuals over networks they could be taken to court for violating antitrust laws. More importantly, the economics of selling directly to the consumer may not be fiscally sound.

What need not be speculated is how important this is for the future of sports broadcasts.

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