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Sunday, April 23, 2021

hoop it up
Wow, that NBA postseason really sneaks up on you, doesn’t it?

No? Well, it snuck up on me. I’m not even remotely a hoops fan, college nor pro. I doubt I’ve watched more than five minutes of National Basketball Association play this season, total. And so, while I knew from extremely incidental media consumption that the basketball playoffs were imminent, I didn’t consciously realize that they started at the same time as the NHL championship dance.

Still, when I said I’d keep a record of the major league sports playoff schedules, I meant every one of the Big Four. That means the NBA, and so I will present its schedule here.

I’m afraid I’ve run into the same impediment that I did with hockey: Because of the re-seeding that takes place, it’s pretty hard to determine next-round gametimes. Plus, the NBA has this annoying habit of starting up next-round games in instances when certain matchups have been determined, even when other current-round series are still being played out; that further muddies the waters. Therefore, I’m going to have to start off with just the first-round schedule here.

This detracts from my original intent, which was to provide dates for the complete playoffs, regardless of when the actual teams are determined. I really just wanted a one-time-published resource for when rounds begin and end, and when the last possible date for the championship game was. That’s the information I found the most frustrating to find; conversely, current-round schedules are relatively easy to find.

What I will do is update this post as subsequent rounds become set. At least that way, everything will eventually be on one easy-to-find page.

So, with that said, the schedule (all times EST):

EASTERN CONFERENCE

No. 1 Detroit Pistons vs. No. 8 Milwaukee Bucks
Game One: Sun, Apr 23 - Mil at Det, 3 p.m.
Game Two: Wed, Apr 26 – Mil at Det, 7:30 p.m.
Game Three: Sat, Apr 29 – Det at Mil, 8 p.m.
Game Four: Mon, May 1 – Det at Mil, TBD
Game Five: Wed, May 3 – Mil at Det, TBD*
Game Six: Fri, May 5 – Det at Mil, TBD*
Game Seven: Sun, May 7 – Mil at Det, TBD*

No. 2 Miami Heat vs. No. 7 Chicago Bulls
Game One: Sat, Apr 22 – Chi at Mia, 7 p.m.
Game Two: Mon, Apr 24 – Chi at Mia, 8 p.m.
Game Three: Thurs, Apr 27 – Mia at Chi, 8 p.m.
Game Four: Sun, Apr 30 – Mia at Chi, 1 p.m.
Game Five: Tues, May 2 – Chi at Mia, TBD*
Game Six: Thurs, May 4 – Mia at Chi, TBD*
Game Seven: Sat, May 6 – Chi at Mia, TBD*

No. 3 New Jersey Nets vs. No. 6 Indiana Pacers
Game One: Sun, Apr 23 – Ind at NJ, 1 p.m.
Game Two: Tues, Apr 25 – Ind at NJ, 8 p.m.
Game Three: Thurs, Apr 27 – NJ at Ind, 7:30 p.m.
Game Four: Sat, Apr 29 – NJ at Ind, 3 p.m.
Game Five: Tues, May 2 – Ind at NJ, TBD*
Game Six: Thurs, May 4 – NJ at Ind, TBD*
Game Seven: Sat, May 6 – Ind at NJ, TBD*

No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. No. 5 Washington Wizards
Game One: Sat, Apr 22 – Wsh at Cle, 7 p.m.
Game Two: Tues, Apr 25 – Wsh at Cle, 7 p.m.
Game Three: Fri, Apr 28 – Cle at Wsh, 8 p.m.
Game Four: Sun, Apr 30 – Cle at Wsh, 7:30 p.m.
Game Five: Wed, May 3 – Wsh at Cle, TBD*
Game Six: Fri, May 5 – Cle at Wsh, TBD*
Game Seven: Sun, May 7 – Wsh at Cle, TBD*

WESTERN CONFERENCE

No. 1 San Antonio Spurs vs. No. 8 Sacramento Kings
Game One: Sat, Apr 22 – Sac at SA, 7 p.m.
Game Two: Tues, Apr 25 – Sac at SA, 9:30 p.m.
Game Three: Fri, Apr 28 – SA at Sac, 10 p.m.
Game Four: Sun, Apr 30 – SA at Sac, 10 p.m.
Game Five: Tues, May 2 – Sac at SA, TBD*
Game Six: Fri, May 5 – SA at Sac, TBD*
Game Seven: Sun, May 7 – Sac at SA, TBD*

No. 2 Phoenix Suns vs. No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers
Game One: Sun, Apr 23 – LAL at Phx, 3:30 p.m.
Game Two: Wed, Apr 26 – LAL at Phx, 10:30 p.m.
Game Three: Fri, Apr 28 – Phx at LAL, 10:30 p.m.
Game Four: Sun, Apr 30 – Phx at LAL, 3:30 p.m.
Game Five: Tues, May 2 – LAL at Phx, TBD*
Game Six: Thurs, May 4 – Phx at LAL, TBD*
Game Seven: Sat, May 6 – LAL at Phx, TBD*

No. 3 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 6 Los Angeles Clippers
Game One: Sat, Apr 22 – Den at LAC, 8 p.m.
Game Two: Mon, Apr 24 – Den at LAC, 10:30 p.m.
Game Three: Thurs, Apr 27 – LAC at Den, 10:30 p.m.
Game Four: Sat, Apr 29 – LAC at Den, 10:30 p.m.
Game Five: Mon, May 1 – Den at LAC, TBD*
Game Six: Thurs, May 4 – LAC at Den, TBD*
Game Seven: Sat, May 6 – Den at LAC, TBD*

No. 4 Dallas Mavericks vs. No. 5 Memphis Grizzlies
Game One: Sun, Apr 23 – Mem at Dal, 9:30 p.m.
Game Two: Wed, Apr 26 – Mem at Dal, 8 p.m.
Game Three: Sat, Apr 29 – Dal at Mem, 5:30 p.m.
Game Four: Mon, May 1 – Dal at Mem, TBD
Game Five: Wed, May 3 – Mem at Dal, TBD*
Game Six: Fri, May 5 – Dal at Mem, TBD*
Game Seven: Sun, May 7 – Mem at Dal, TBD*

* - if necessary

UPDATE, 5/7/2006: Here we go. Hoops schedule for the second round Conference Semifinals (all times EST). And as a bonus, TV networks included, where known:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

No. 1 Detroit Pistons vs. No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers
Game One: Sun, May 7 - Cle at Det, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
Game Two: Tues, May 9 – Cle at Det, 7 p.m. (TNT)
Game Three: Sat, May 13 – Det at Cle, 8 p.m. (ABC)
Game Four: Mon, May 15 – Det at Cle, 7 p.m. (TNT)
Game Five: Wed, May 17 – Cle at Det, TBD (TNT)*
Game Six: Fri, May 19 – Det at Cle, TBD (ESPN)*
Game Seven: Sun, May 21 – Cle at Det, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)*

No. 2 Miami Heat vs. No. 3 New Jersey Nets
Game One: Mon, May 8 – NJ at Mia, 8 p.m. (TNT)
Game Two: Wed, May 10 – NJ at Mia, 8 p.m. (TNT)
Game Three: Fri, May 12 – Mia at NJ, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Game Four: Sun, May 14 – Mia at NJ, TBD
Game Five: Tues, May 16 – NJ at Mia, 8 p.m. (TNT)*
Game Six: Thurs, May 18 – Mia at NJ, 8 p.m. (ESPN)*
Game Seven: Sun, May 21 – NJ at Mia, TBD*

WESTERN CONFERENCE

No. 1 San Antonio Spurs vs. No. 4 Dallas Mavericks
Game One: Sun, May 7 – Dal at SA, 1 p.m. (ABC)
Game Two: Tues, May 9 – Dal at SA, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
Game Three: Sat, May 13 – SA at Dal, 5 p.m. (ESPN)
Game Four: Mon, May 15 – SA at Dal, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
Game Five: Wed, May 17 – Dal at SA, TBD (TNT)*
Game Six: Fri, May 19 – SA at Dal, TBD (ESPN)*
Game Seven: Mon, May 22 – Dal at SA, TBD (TNT)*

No. 2 Phoenix Suns vs. No. 6 Los Angeles Clippers
Game One: Mon, May 8 – LAC at Phx, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
Game Two: Wed, May 10 – LAC at Phx, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
Game Three: Fri, May 12 – Phx at LAC, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Game Four: Sun, May 14 – Phx at LAC, TBD
Game Five: Tues, May 16 – LAC at Phx, TBD*
Game Six: Thurs, May 18 – Phx at LAC, TBD*
Game Seven: Mon, May 22 – LAC at Phx, TBD*

* - if necessary

UPDATE, 5/21/2006: Well, half the Conference Finals are set. I’ll go ahead and post the schedule for the Eastern showdown; the West will be determined tomorrow.

Conference Finals

EASTERN CONFERENCE

No. 1 Detroit Pistons vs. No. 2 Miami Heat
Game One: Tues, May 23 - Mia at Det, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Game Two: Thurs, May 25 – Mia at Det, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Game Three: Sat, May 27 – Det at Mia, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Game Four: Mon, May 29 – Det at Mia, 8 p.m. (ABC)
Game Five: Wed, May 31 – Mia at Det, 8 p.m. (ESPN)*
Game Six: Fri, Jun 2 – Det at Mia, 8 p.m. (ESPN)*
Game Seven: Sun, Jun 4 – Mia at Det, 8 p.m. (ABC)*

* - if necessary

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/23/2006 11:44:11 PM
Category: Basketball | Permalink | Feedback

Saturday, April 22, 2021

lower-body
OLN analyst Darren Eliot, as part of his pregame chatter for tonight’s Philadelphia-Buffalo playoff game, referred to Flyers center Peter Forsberg as having a “wonky groin”.

You don’t hear that kind of descriptor every day.

Feel free to branch off your own “Willy Wonka/wonky willie” joke here.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 04/22/2006 08:40:11 PM
Category: TV, Hockey | Permalink | Feedback

Friday, April 21, 2021

i want stanley
The puck has already dropped on today’s early NHL playoff action (as you can see here). So it’s now or never if I want to make my picks for the postseason.

I hate making just straight win-loss picks; there’s about a thousand other schmucks in Internet land (and beyond) doing that. But I’m pretty burned out from the week, so the blogging energy level is low right now. Let’s see how I do; very unlikely I’ll maintain this throughout the tourney.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

No. 1 Ottawa Senators vs. No. 8 Tampa Bay Lightning
Easily the most lopsided matchup going into the playoffs. Ottawa needed a cakewalk in order to give starting goalie Dominik Hasek enough recovery time to come in for the second round, and the Bolts fit the bill perfectly. Tampa Bay, with its leaky goaltending, practically backed into the playoffs, and the Sens will back them right out in short order. Ottawa, 4-0

No. 2 Carolina Hurricanes vs. No. 7 Montreal Canadiens
Both teams come into this series slumping. The Habs were probably hoping to go up against Ottawa instead, as they matched up fairly well versus their divisional opponent during the regular season. Koivu and Kovalev have enough skill to give the ‘Canes headaches, but not enough to pull the upset. Carolina, 4-2

No. 3 New Jersey Devils vs. No. 6 New York Rangers
The glamour matchup, thanks to the big-city backdrop. The Devils are riding an 11-game winning streak that not only secured their playoff spot, but improbably nabbed them the Atlantic title. This is an atypically high-tempo New Jersey squad, with the EGG (Elias, Gomez, Gionta) line keying the offensive attack. More importantly, with Brodeur, they’ve probably got the fewest goaltending qualms of any team in these playoffs. The Rangers are counting on the return of Henrik Lundqvist to re-find the team magic. Even though the Devils have that championship stink about them, I’m going to go homer and hope that Jagr can figure out how to shake Pandolfo’s ghosting tactic. New York, 4-3

No. 4 Buffalo Sabres vs. No. 5 Philadelphia Flyers
Philly’s feeling let down over not starting the playoffs with home-ice. Worst, they couldn’t have drawn the more fatal matchup — the Sabres’ speedy forwards should eat up the Flyers’ big-but-slow blueliners. Add to that the unsettled Esche-Niittymaki duo in goal, and the Flyers are toast. A healthy Peter Forsberg would make a huge difference, but we all know that ain’t gonna happen. Buffalo, 4-1

WESTERN CONFERENCE

No. 1 Detroit Red Wings vs. No. 8 Edmonton Oilers
In dull fashion, Detroit marched its way to a President’s Trophy pile of points, as usual. I’d be tempted to look for an upset here, but I don’t think the Oilers can properly counter the Wings’ distributed firepower. I do think they could put a scare into Hockeytown, though. Detroit, 4-3

No. 2 Dallas Stars vs. No. 7 Colorado Avalanche
I’ve already picked Dallas to go all the way, as per Off Wing Opinion’s prediction pool. Of course, I picked Dallas to win it all in the last playoffs, and they got bounced in the first round by… the Avalanche. So I guess I’ll re-adminster my kiss of death. Still, I like what I’m seeing from the Stars. The Avs still have good skill players, and the Theodore gamble in goal might yield results. But I think this series will be won via special teams, and on both sides, the Stars dominate. Dallas, 4-2

No. 3 Calgary Flames vs. No. 6 Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Maybe the most intriguing series. Both teams found their defensive grooves around mid-season, with the Ducks particularly adept in using trap-like methods to the extent that the new rules allow. I see the Ducks exploiting line matchups here bigtime, leaving Kiprusoff to hold off a high number of shots on goal. He will, but not enough. By the time Calgary can figure out a counter, it’ll be too late. Anaheim, 4-1

No. 4 Nashville Predators vs. No. 5 San Jose Sharks
Everyone knows about the deciding factor in this one: The absence of Tomas Vokoun, sidelined by blood clots. The powerhouse pair of Thornton-Cheechoo is not the kind of breaking-in experience rookie Preds goalie Chris Mason needs. Nashville certainly matches up well against the Sharks otherwise, and I think the San Jose D is rather susceptible to odd-man breaks, but it’s going to begin and end in goal. San Jose, 4-2

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 04/21/2006 08:36:48 PM
Category: Hockey | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Thursday, April 20, 2021

my name's stanley
***UPDATE, 5/4/2006: Round Two and Beyond Schedule***

Time to lace them up! It’s NHL playoff time, and at least one person is excited.

And so am I. I haven’t reflected it here much lately, but I’ve been enjoying the season’s home stretch. Final seedings in both conferences weren’t determined until near or at the very end of the season, with big question marks over whether or not last season’s Stanley Cup champs would even make the postseason (they did, barely) and if the Rangers would hang onto the Atlantic Division lead (they didn’t). Hopefully, the juice will last well into the Stanley Cup tourney (which potentially can last until June 19th).

As I resolved, I’m taking the opportunity to list the series-by-series schedule for these NHL playoffs. However, because of the seeding method used in hockey’s postseason, there’s little point in trying to map out beyond the first round at this stage. Therefore, this dead-simple playoff glance is going to be restricted to the first round. I’ll supplement it later, as matchups for the later rounds are determined.

Here we go. All times EST:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

No. 1 Ottawa Senators vs. No. 8 Tampa Bay Lightning
Game One: Fri, Apr 21 - TB at Ott, 7 p.m.
Game Two: Sun, Apr 23 – TB at Ott, 6 p.m. (OLN)
Game Three: Tue, Apr 25 – Ott at TB, 7 p.m. (OLN)
Game Four: Thu, Apr 27 – Ott at TB, 7 p.m. (OLN)
Game Five: Sat, Apr 29 – TB at Ott, 7 p.m. (OLN)*
Game Six: Mon, May 1 – Ott at TB, 7 p.m. (OLN)*
Game Seven: Wed, May 3 – TB at Ott, 7 p.m.*

No. 2 Carolina Hurricanes vs. No. 7 Montreal Canadiens
Game One: Sat, Apr 22 – Mtl at Car, 7 p.m.
Game Two: Mon, Apr 24 – Mtl at Car, 7 p.m.
Game Three: Wed, Apr 26 – Car at Mtl, 7 p.m.
Game Four: Fri, Apr 28 – Car at Mtl, 7 p.m.
Game Five: Sun, Apr 30 – Mtl at Car, 7:30 p.m.*
Game Six: Tue, May 2 – Car at Mtl, 7 p.m.*
Game Seven: Thu, May 4 – Mtl at Car, 7 p.m.*

No. 3 New Jersey Devils vs. No. 6 New York Rangers
Game One: Sat, Apr 22 – NYR at NJ, 3 p.m. (NBC)
Game Two: Mon, Apr 24 – NYR at NJ, 7 p.m. (OLN)
Game Three: Wed, Apr 26 – NJ at NYR, 7 p.m. (OLN)
Game Four: Sat, Apr 29 – NJ at NYR, 3 p.m. (NBC)
Game Five: Sun, Apr 30 – NYR at NJ, 6 p.m. (OLN)*
Game Six: Tue, May 2 – NJ at NYR, 7 p.m. (OLN)*
Game Seven: Thu, May 4 – NYR at NJ, TBD (OLN)*

No. 4 Buffalo Sabres vs. No. 5 Philadelphia Flyers
Game One: Sat, Apr 22 – Phi at Buf, 7 p.m. (OLN)
Game Two: Mon, Apr 24 – Phi at Buf, 7 p.m.
Game Three: Wed, Apr 26 – Buf at Phi, 7 p.m.
Game Four: Fri, Apr 28 – Buf at Phi, 7 p.m. (OLN)
Game Five: Sun, Apr 30 – Phi at Buf, 2 p.m. (NBC)*
Game Six: Tue, May 2 – Buf at Phi, 7 p.m. (TSN)*
Game Seven: Thu, May 4 – Phi at Buf, 7 p.m.*

WESTERN CONFERENCE

No. 1 Detroit Red Wings vs. No. 8 Edmonton Oilers
Game One: Fri, Apr 21 – Edm at Det, 7 p.m. (OLN)
Game Two: Sun, Apr 23 – Edm at Det, 1 p.m. (NBC)
Game Three: Tue, Apr 25 – Det at Edm, 10 p.m. (OLN)
Game Four: Thu, Apr 27 – Det at Edm, 9:30 p.m. (OLN)
Game Five: Sat, Apr 29 – Edm at Det, 3 p.m. (NBC)*
Game Six: Mon, May 1 – Det at Edm, TBD (OLN)*
Game Seven: Wed, May 3 – Edm at Det, 7 p.m. (OLN)*

No. 2 Dallas Stars vs. No. 7 Colorado Avalanche
Game One: Sat, Apr 22 – Col at Dal, 3 p.m. (NBC)
Game Two: Mon, Apr 24 – Col at Dal, 9 p.m. (OLN)
Game Three: Wed, Apr 26 – Dal at Col, 9:30 p.m. (OLN)
Game Four: Fri, Apr 28 – Dal at Col, 10 p.m. (OLN)
Game Five: Sun, Apr 30 – Col at Dal, 2 p.m. (NBC)*
Game Six: Tue, May 2 – Dal at Col (OLN)*
Game Seven: Thu, May 4 – Col at Dal, TBD (OLN)*

No. 3 Calgary Flames vs. No. 6 Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Game One: Fri, Apr 21 – Ana at Cgy, 10 p.m. (OLN)
Game Two: Sun, Apr 23 – Ana at Cgy, 9 p.m. (OLN)
Game Three: Tue, Apr 25 – Cgy at Ana, 10 p.m.
Game Four: Thu, Apr 27 – Cgy at Ana, 10 p.m.
Game Five: Sat, Apr 29 – Ana at Cgy, 10 p.m. (OLN)*
Game Six: Mon, May 1 – Cgy at Ana (OLN)*
Game Seven: Wed, May 3 – Ana at Cgy (OLN)*

No. 4 Nashville Predators vs. No. 5 San Jose Sharks
Game One: Fri, Apr 21 – SJ at Nsh, 8 p.m.
Game Two: Sun, Apr 23 – SJ at Nsh, 1 p.m. (NBC)
Game Three: Tue, Apr 25 – Nsh at SJ, 10:30 p.m.
Game Four: Thu, Apr 27 – Nsh at SJ, 10:30 p.m.
Game Five: Sun, Apr 30 – SJ at Nsh, 8:30 p.m. (OLN)*
Game Six: Tue, May 2 – Nsh at SJ, 10:30 p.m.*
Game Seven: Thu, May 4 – SJ at Nsh, TBD*

* - if necessary

That’s what we’re looking at. Game on! I may indulge in some predictions tomorrow.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 04/20/2006 11:31:21 PM
Category: Hockey | Permalink | Feedback (3)

Thursday, April 13, 2021

ready to shuffle
After having shelled out plenty of public money in recent years for its NFL and MLB sports palaces, Seattle and Washington State seem reluctant to bend over backwards for the local NBA squad. In response, league commissioner David Stern has been pressed into making veiled threats about allowing the SuperSonics to move out of town.

Sonics owner Howard Schultz, the chairman of Starbucks Corp., has threatened to move or sell the team if state lawmakers don’t approve a sales-tax package to pay for a new or renovated arena. But state lawmakers last month said there would be no deal this year.

“I would say that the city is making it pretty clear of what they want us to do, and we’ll accommodate them,” Stern said.

Asked what that meant, Stern responded: “What I mean is they’re not interested in having the NBA there. We understand that, we understand that there are competing issues, and the mayor is free to make whatever decisions he needs to make and I support that.

“But that’s a pretty strong signal and I think that the existing ownership has said they don’t want to own a team that’s not in Seattle, so I know what they’re in the process of doing. So we’ll just see how this play ends.”

Unusually blunt language, but at root, it’s the same old song-and-dance: Make with the tax dollars, or we take our ball and go home. The team’s lease at Key Arena runs through 2010, so things won’t come to a head until then — if then.

But Stern’s further comments on a couple of other franchises gives me an idea:

Also, Stern said he would “never say never” to getting involved again in the situation in Portland. The NBA recently pulled out of the process of trying to help find one buyer for both the Trail Blazers and the Rose Garden because it was frustrated by Portland Arena Management, the lenders who now own the arena.

And he repeated that the Hornets will return to New Orleans, even if investors from Oklahoma buy a minority share of the team from George Shinn, saying that he didn’t even know how the Hornets would get out of their lease with the city.

I see some beneficial linkage here… If things are so sour for pro hoops in the Pacific Northwest, and Oklahoma City is intent on keeping a team at Ford Arena, then it would make sense to encourage either the Sonics or the Trail Blazers to head for Sooner Land. Those OKC investors can forget about the Hornets and look west, and snare a team that way. Problem solved.

And conveniently enough, that would open up a slot in Washington or Oregon for an NHL franchise (the Penguins?) to take up residence. I’d swap a roundball team for puck action any day — but that’s just me.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 04/13/2006 10:56:07 PM
Category: Basketball, SportsBiz | Permalink | Feedback

Saturday, April 08, 2021

hear the action
Y’know, I really ought to turn up the sound when I watch NBC’s NHL coverage next Saturday. Because today, at some point during the Rangers 4-3 OT win over Boston, game-winning-goaler Michael Nylander managed to drop a curse word when the on-ice reporter stuck a mic under his nose.

I didn’t catch what he said. I had the sound turned down real low, and my attention was divided so that I didn’t read whatever it was on the closed-captioning (which sometimes lets such offending words slip through). I suppose I could cruise the online news and blogs later today and tomorrow if it nags at me enough.

I did hear network commentator Bill Clement apologize at least twice over it, though, which is the only reason why I’m even aware of it now. Always funny when quickie damage control is applied like that.

So, would salty language from the star players endear NBC to future seasons of hockey broadcasts, or scotch the deal? The network’s already paying nothing for the rights, so it’s not like their investment is taking a hit (unless it somehow repels all those damned poker website advertisers that were rampant in today’s broadcast). But it might rile up the friends-of-family video commandos, assuming they think hockey is a sport that children should be encouraged to watch.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 04/08/2021 07:31:31 PM
Category: TV, Hockey | Permalink | Feedback

Sunday, April 02, 2021

hey hey tampa bay
They’re division enemies of the hometown Yankees, but the New York Times knows a good baseball-team-as-distressed-property story when it sees one. The Tampa Bay whizkid braintrust of Matthew Silverman, Andrew Friedman and owner Stuart Sternberg is presented as Wall Street fix-it experts determined to resurrect Major League Baseball’s saddest-sack franchise.

Among the finance science being applied to the baseball diamond:

Mr. Friedman, who attended Tulane on a baseball scholarship, spices his language with Wall Street jargon like “mark-to-market accounting” and “positive arbitrage” in describing how he expects to get the most out of his roster. While the Devil Rays’ payroll of $35 million puts the team at the bottom of the league, for example, Mr. Friedman uses the mark-to-market method — which allows a Wall Street trader to value a security in his portfolio at the current market price, not the price he paid for it — to gauge his team’s real worth.

Applying that notion to baseball allows Mr. Friedman to attach a market value of perhaps $7 million to Scott Kazmir, the team’s star pitcher, who is actually on his payroll for $370,000 a year. Luckily for them, most of the players on the team are contract-bound to salaries lower than what they might command on the open market. The bottom line is this: Mr. Friedman reckons that the real value of the Devil Rays’ payroll is closer to $50 million.

Friedman better hope none of his players (or their agents) read that. Not that the Rays are bound by these comments, but undervalued assets in the form of contracted employees have a habit of figuring out their market value pretty quickly, and let ownership know come negotiation time.

The new Devil Rays regime is obviously being set up as a test case for whether or not business sense can yield results in baseball. A bit of “Moneyball”/sabremetrics is thrown in for good measure, because you can’t claim to be an MLB miracleworker without a nod to the arcane numbercrunching (which has yet to win any team a World Series, by the way). Personally, I still say it’ll begin and end with pitching. Which means this season is nothing but a big-show seasoning stint for the squad, with hopes to build a foundation for seasons to come.

And yes, all the talk about what’s going down at Tropicana Field (not “Tropicana Park”, the one noticable error in the Times piece) did make me a bit wistful for my former hometown. Not that I care a whit for baseball, but I did enjoy having a top-storey window view of the Trop at my last gig.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/02/2021 05:47:33 PM
Category: Baseball | Permalink | Feedback


Just in case World Series of Poker doesn’t satisfy your faux-sports programming fix, ESPN is bringing forth coverage of two more tabletop gaming experiences:

Oldschool dominoes matches, here and abroad:

Hourlong domino shows now run on Tuesday nights at 10 on the network’s Spanish-language sports channel ESPN Deportes. Hoping it will be popular with English-speaking viewers, network officials plan to show similar programming on ESPN2 starting in June.

“We think it will be the next cool thing,” said Lino Garcia, the general manager of ESPN Deportes. “We’re connecting with the best places dominoes is played, so naturally we’re going to start in uptown Manhattan and the Bronx, the places where it really happens.”

Mr. Garcia said he hopes to repeat the success the network has had with poker — its World Series of Poker is its highest-rated regular series. Like poker, domino games offer plenty of suspense and drama at the table, with clever decision-making and reading the strategies of other players all pivotal to winning. The network will also televise the world championships next year from the Dominican Republic.

And celebrity chess games:

This spring, the game may make a bigger splash with the public. Following on the heels of television’s “Celebrity Poker” and “Dancing With the Stars,” ESPN has signed a deal to produce a televised celebrity chess tournament featuring Woody Harrelson, Wesley Snipes and others. “This is a charity tournament, but we hope to grow televised chess with sponsors and prize money,” said Giovanni James, who is producing the show with Penny Marshall.

Sure to follow: Tiddlywinks action on ESPN2!

And of course, much to the chagrin of this hockey fan, I’m sure all these damnable shows will outdo the ratings for NHL games on OLN

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/02/2021 04:52:44 PM
Category: TV, Other Sports | Permalink | Feedback (1)

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