Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, September 20, 2021

If fantasy football, baseball et al just isn’t a compulsive enough way for you get your sports swerve on, take heart: ProTrade is a high-profile virtual stock exchange game which converts professional atheletes’ performances into quantifiable share for wheeling and dealing.

As seems to be the case with most statistical dealings in sports these days, we can thank “Moneyball” for shepherding this along:

In this bottom-line approach to sports, teams are known as investment portfolios and the real-life athletes get their own ticker symbols. Manning’s symbol is PMANN.

“It’s going to take fans to a whole new level of fantasy,” predicts Bill Walsh, the former San Francisco 49ers coach and a member of ProTrade’s advisory board.

ProTrade initially will be confined to trading NFL players, but the San Mateo-based company expects to add the NBA and major league baseball after working out licensing agreements.

“Our mission is to change the way people think about sports,” said Mike Kerns, a ProTrade co-founder and former understudy to venture capitalists and sports agents.

The endeavor drew its inspiration from the 2003 Michael Lewis best seller Moneyball, which dissects the statistical analysis Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane used to obtain players he considered undervalued by the rest of the baseball market.

To me, this is the next step in fantasizing the sports experience. Despite the hype about how much a player’s team performance drives ProTrade’s gameplay, in truth, the focus here divorces the athlete from the game even more than conventional roto leagues. Much like a real stock/commodity market, it’s driven by popular perceptions more than anything else.

Actually, ProTrade brings to mind the other recent forays into unusual (and often misery-based) futures speculation: The Terror Futures Index, the Hurricane Futures Market, and the Foresight Exchange.

It seems we’re so much of a gambling culture that we’ll not only wager on anything, but even on the components of anything.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/20/2005 11:37pm
Category: Business, Sports, Tech
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bustin' cap
Would anyone like to tell the Tampa Bay Lightning brass that they won the NHL lockout tussle, and so can turn off the “we’re bleeding cash” horsecrap?

But despite a new NHL landscape with cost certainty, [Lightning CEO Tom] Wilson believes the Lightning has to go deep into the playoffs this season to see a profit.

“(Lightning president Ron Campbell) said second round, (but) I think it’s worse than that,” Wilson said. “I think at least the third round to break even. We’re not out of it yet. Part of it is because we made the (labor) deal so late. You don’t know about sponsorships. A lot of the national guys are saying, “Well, you guys have been out a year. I don’t know that we want to come back.”‘

Let me get this straight: Their labor costs are fixed, just like they always wanted (a situation which precious few free-market enterprises enjoy). And the Lightning ownership is still crying poverty?

As if that’s not enough, the Bill Davidson group lays it on even thicker, resorting to how bad things might’ve been as a scare tactic:

Under the old system, Wilson doesn’t know if the Lighting could have stayed competitive. The contracts of most of the team’s top players expired in the summer or will expire next summer.

“If we would’ve kept our guys, our payroll would have gone up 60 percent,” Wilson said. “We would not have been able to keep everybody together under the old system.”

In fact, if the old system had stayed in place, Davidson might have chosen not to keep the Lightning at all. Asked if it would have been difficult to make the Lightning work without a new CBA, Davidson shook his head and said, “Very difficult.”

“It’s not fun losing $10-million and you don’t have anybody that wants to buy your fun,” Wilson said. “If we had not gotten a deal like this, you would’ve had 10 clubs up for sale and four or five declare bankruptcy.”

You’d think that with the ink on the new CBA barely dry, the owners could ease up on their usual bleating. Instead, it seems they’re keeping the rhetoric stream flowing strong, in anticipation of next time (even though that’s years from now).

Maybe the owners could push for a new salary cap number next time: $0. Think that type of cost certainty would ensure team profits? If not, they could try to get players to pay to play.

Basically, the owners are so used to making their knee-jerk claims of financial shortfalling that they can’t not let it spill from their lips. It’s gotten to be pathological.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/20/2005 11:24pm
Category: Hockey
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Hoops fans in Chi-Town can rejoice, for the local WNBA team has been christened the Chicago Sky (narrowly avoiding the joke alternatives of “Loopsters” and “Deep Dishes”).

Nah, I don’t care about the WNBA either. But the mention of a franchise naming in that league brings to mind an old favorite joke on the subject. I wish I could claim ownership; I don’t remember where I first heard it:

When selecting a name for the Miami team, one idea floated was “Humidity”. Thus spawning a promotional line eminently appropriate for the Florida climate: “It ain’t the Heat…”

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/20/2005 10:58pm
Category: Basketball
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When I wrote about Google’s cart-before-horse approach in its attempts to partner with media providers, I cited its problems with Google Print as an early indicator of trouble.

The Google Print situation is heading toward resolution, with the publishing community somewhat divided. But it’s noteworthy that what got Google in that fix has been tagged:

Google has unilaterally set this rule: Publishers can tell it which books not to scan at all, similar to how website owners can request to be left out of search engine indexes. In August, the company halted the scanning of copyright books until Nov. 1, saying it wanted to give publishers time to compile their lists.

Richard Hull, executive director of the Text and Academic Authors Association, called Google’s approach backwards. Publishers shouldn’t have to bear the burden of record-keeping, agreed [Tony] Sanfilippo, the Penn State press’s marketing and sales director.

It’s very much an entitlement-based attitude: Because Google’s mastered the technique, the company feels it can forge ahead without initial consensus-building. In the long run, it’s a fatal flaw in running a business.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/20/2005 09:31pm
Category: Internet, Publishing
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I’m sure it’s already made the rounds, but a good joke is a good joke (wording altered slightly, for better comic effect):

What is Bush’s position on Roe v. Wade?

None. He doesn’t care how they get out of New Orleans.

Abortion, hurricane victims… No one is safe.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/20/2005 08:16pm
Category: Comedy, Politics
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our favorite friendYes guys, Jennifer Anniston is putting that Brangelina mess behind her, and has declared on “Oprah” that she’s ready for some action.

Line forms to the left. But a caveat: Apparently, she’s got proximity issues.

I trust she knows how to reach me. Actually, as pretty as she is, and as engaging as she seems, she’s Greek, like me. And for reasons too sorted to delve into here (basically, if you know, you know), that’s a definite minus for me.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/20/2005 08:59am
Category: Celebrity
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