Friday, July 13, 2007

Bob's Blog Welcomes David Beckham

If you love sport, then you have to appreciate what we have on our hands today.

Here is David Beckham. Perhaps the most famous athlete on our planet today (believe it, myopic American) comes to country that doesn’t care about him or his sport.

Will that soon change? Or will he be met with complete and total indifference, only to leave in a few years with a trunk full of money?

I am torn here. I have been a Beckham fan for years, and have actually gone to see him in England. It was wonderful.

But, now, I don’t think he can win. I really expect people to tune in and expect him to score 4 goals a game. If not, they will call him over-rated and part of the most boring game in the world.

I love soccer. But, I also love the American sports scene that doesn’t care how big you are in Korea, they want to see you prove it here. They want to see you take a sport nobody cares about and make it relevant. Tiger Woods, Mike Tyson, Wayne Gretzky and once upon a time, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, have all taken sports from way down the ladder to up several rungs. Can Beckham do it?

First, you must understand that he plays in the game of soccer. In that game, a player could easily be the best player on the field, but still not score every game or every other game. It is just the nature of the sport.

Second, he is not in his prime. He will still be the best player on the field at all times in MLS, but he is not half of what he was.

Third, even in his prime, he wouldn’t dominate the game like some, named Ronaldinho or Riquelme. He is a unique player with a unique talent of precise and amazing ability to bend a free kick into the corner of the net and to put a crossing pass right on the foot or head of his team-mate.

But the biggest draw is his celebrity. He is just a magnet to the public. People all around the world are fascinated by who he is and how he pulls it off.

But will it work here?

Today it begins. Go get ‘em, Becks.

Beckham is here

As David Beckham moves from a Spanish soccer pitch to delivering a polished sales pitch in his new role as American soccer idol, he will need to make both the Los Angeles Galaxy and its business partners prosper as he collects a hefty paycheck, starting with his guaranteed, $6.5-million salary.

Beckham, who was met by a crush of reporters and cameras at Los Angeles International Airport upon arriving Thursday night from London, will be formally introduced today on the field at Home Depot Center in Carson. But the British star already has proved he will have an impact at the box office, in stores and in the media.

Beckham's personal payday at the end of his five-year deal with the Galaxy is expected to reach or top $250 million on the strength of that guaranteed salary, his existing corporate sponsorships — worth an estimated $20 million per year — with such companies as Motorola and Adidas, as well as profit-sharing deals negotiated with the team and its corporate partners.

In order for Beckham's payday to pencil out, however, Major League Soccer's sports marketing machinery will have to grind out an even bigger number.

"There's going to be a billion-dollar impact," said Tim Leiweke, chief executive of AEG, the Galaxy's parent company. "No question about it."

Leiweke's bold assertion covers a range of soccer-related business dealings that arguably will be shaped by Beckham's presence.

Jersey and ticket sales will be relatively easy to compute. But future media rights fees, naming rights deals, and the revenue generated by additional MLS franchise fees will take longer to measure. And the benefits to such companies as Creative Artists Agency and 19 Entertainment Inc., which represented Beckham in the Galaxy deal, might never be fully understood.

But start with the shirt on Beckham's back and Leiweke's calculus begins to take shape.

If Beckham can help to sell 200,000 Galaxy jerseys at $80 a pop, that would represent $16 million at retail and give business partner Adidas a powerful edge in its battle with Nike.

Ring up another $25 million, which is what Herbalife is paying to put its name on Beckham's chest — and then wait to see what other corporations will pay for similar real estate in other MLS cities.

Herbalife's logo will be seen by thousands of additional fans across the country. Galaxy ticket revenue alone has doubled in recent months and advance sales for five road games with Beckham in uniform averaged 26,419 as of Wednesday, well above the league average of 15,089.

How about this? Mark Cuban admits to bidding on Cubs and I don’t even make it my lead story…

Mark Cuban has taken his interest in the Chicago Cubs to the next level.

The Mavericks owner confirmed Thursday night that he has applied to Major League Baseball for a possible purchase of the legendary franchise.

But Mr. Cuban declined to elaborate on what comes next or how his pursuit of the Cubs might affect his ownership and involvement with the Mavericks. Mr. Cuban has successfully balanced the Mavericks and numerous other diverse businesses, including HDNet.

"I submitted the application and have no comment on the rest," Mr. Cuban wrote in an e-mail response to several questions.

Mr. Cuban joins a long list of potential buyers for the Cubs and possibly fabled Wrigley Field, which the Tribune Co. placed on the block in April.

The Chicago Tribune listed six other rumored individuals or groups in addition to Mr. Cuban. The bidding, which includes a stake in Comcast SportsNet, could exceed $1 billion, according to an investment banker surveyed by the newspaper.

Mark Cuban didn't say how his pursuit of the Cubs might affect his ownership and involvement with the Mavericks.

Because of his billionaire status, high media profile and success in turning the Mavericks into one of the NBA's top franchises, Mr. Cuban has frequently been linked with the potential purchases of other pro teams.

At various times, the Pittsburgh native's name has surfaced regarding the hometown Pirates and Penguins.

In May, he acknowledged an interest in becoming an owner in the start-up United Football League.

Mr. Cuban has been queried about the Cubs for a while. On July 15, 2005, he donned a Cubs jersey and led the traditional singing of Take Me Out to the Ball Game during a game against the Pirates at Wrigley Field.

Would Baseball accept Cuban?

But I'll say what I hear from people who are close to Selig: Baseball doesn't like Cuban. It doesn't like the fact he has had to pay about $1.5 million in fines for criticizing the NBA and its referees, among other sins. It can't imagine what he would do around umpires, a notoriously grumpy group. Baseball doesn't like the perception that Cuban wants to be the star of the show. It doesn't like the thought of Cuban as ringmaster of the Wrigley circus.

Again, hearsay. About as good hearsay as you can get, but hearsay. What Cuban brings to the table is an armored bank truck. Forbes estimates his worth at $2.3 billion. He has a reputation as an owner who doesn't spare expenses when it comes to building a team or taking care of his players.

But there is a goofy side to him that makes you shake your head. He reportedly has filed a counterclaim against Golden State coach Don Nelson, saying the former Mavs coach used inside information to beat Dallas in the playoffs. Cuban said it was a violation of the non-compete clause in the contract Nelson signed with the Mavericks. Geesh.

Selig has a fairly easy out if he's looking for one regarding Cuban. He has said the prospect of local ownership will weigh heavily in the selection process. John Canning, who heads a private-equity firm based in Chicago, is considered a strong candidate. Other potential candidates include Chicago Wolves owner Don Levin, as well as a partnership of Chicago attorney Thomas Mandler and businessman Jim Anixter.

The Ricketts' bid will be led by Tom Ricketts, who earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago. The family is based in Omaha.

The Ricketts family reportedly is readying its application. Cuban's is already on someone's desk at MLB headquarters.

At a minimum, he could help drive up the sale price of the franchise, which some experts believe could top $1 billion.

It's hard to picture Bulls and White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who has seen Cuban's act in the NBA, remaining quiet during the bid process. It's one thing to have to deal with Cuban as a fellow owner; it's another to have to deal with him as a fellow owner in the same city. Selig takes his cue from the owners and is especially close to Reinsdorf.

It's true there's a "Cub" in Cuban's name. It's also true there's a "ban." Stay tuned.

Stackhouse challenges the Mavs spine ….

These last two years, one of them was a fluke," Stackhouse said. "It remains to be seen which one. Let's line up and see if [this season] was a fluke or if it was for real. We feel it was a fluke and, hopefully, we can come back and bounce back strong."

The Mavericks' season ended with a stunning first-round upset in the playoffs. In 2005-06, they made the NBA Finals, losing to Miami. Either the Mavericks are championship material or they're not. Stackhouse wants to know.

So he's back to fill a role that the team desperately needs – somebody with scoring punch off the bench and attitude to offset the slow-to-die perception that the Mavericks remain too soft.

Stackhouse reaffirmed his desire to continue coming off the bench, and coach Avery Johnson has said he wants Stackhouse and other key players fresh for the playoffs.
"We feel we have great young players in our lineup and guys who can come off the bench and contribute," Stackhouse said. "That's where I come in. And how much my teammates appreciate that made it an easy decision."

Stackhouse said there were other options for him on the free-agent market, but none that presented the combination of having a chance to win a title along with maintaining a salary above the mid-level exception.

Gil Lebreton, Writes a fine column on Oklahoma , and can now expect Sooner to fill his email box…

As the University of Oklahoma learned Wednesday, self-inflicted punishments do not impress the NCAA. Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops had offered a head coach’s ultimate sacrifice — the head of his starting quarterback — and still the infractions committee found cause to further slap the OU wrists.

Let’s clear up one misconception, however, popularly being dispensed by Oklahoma. The Sooners did not blow the whistle on themselves when they learned last year that two players, including quarterback Rhett Bomar, had been receiving payments for work they did not perform at a Norman, Okla., car dealer.

As the NCAA’s own report said Wednesday, an anonymous e-mail simultaneously tipped off both the university and the NCAA infractions committee.

In this panhandle of the NCAA prairie, you see, we are self-disclosure experts of sorts. TCU and the late Jim Wacker taught us all we need to know about the subject when the Horned Frogs came clean in the fall of 1985. Upon learning that some of his players were receiving payments from TCU boosters, Wacker dismissed seven from the team, including All-America running back Kenneth Davis.

TCU officials were even contrite enough to provide phone numbers and drive NCAA investigators to interviews.

For its help, alas, TCU was given a three-year probation, lost 25 football scholarships over two seasons and ordered to pay back $342,203 in television revenues.

It wasn’t the much-publicized suspension from football that neighbor SMU received, but for TCU’s crippled program it was correctly termed the “walking death penalty.”
Oh, you say, TCU’s infractions were more flagrant than Oklahoma’s, because they involved boosters paying players?

The NCAA made it clear in its report Wednesday that the manager of Big Red Sports and Imports, as the apparent largest off-campus employer of OU athletes, fell unquestionably under the definition of “booster.”

And the university plans to appeal?

That takes a lot of gall. Especially, as the NCAA report notes, when OU was already on probation for failure to adequately monitor its basketball program, and especially since this is Oklahoma’s seventh major infractions case.

The infractions committee commended Oklahoma for its cooperation, but not for its complete honesty.

Twelve football players worked at the auto dealership. Three actually “worked” during the months of the 2005 football season.

Oh, right. They must have come in each night, right after they finished their homework.

Only Bomar, lineman J.D. Quinn and walk-on Jermaine Hardison, however, were careless enough to get caught.

Sorry. I don’t mean to be dumping on OU. It’s not the first school to get burned by boosters who gave jobs to football players.

But OU President David Boren should have spared us the rhetoric Wednesday about erasing the Sooners’ eight 2005 victories. Boren said it wasn’t fair to “the over 100 student-athletes and coaches who played by the rules.”

This is the same administration, remember, that wanted Oklahoma’s loss at Oregon last season erased because somebody saw the fumble recovered on YouTube.

El Scorcho gets some ink

Ryan Valdez planned to celebrate his 30th birthday by running 30 miles.

He and running buddy Jason Costantino, 24, figured a few people might join them for a 50K in July. The concept evolved into El Scorcho, 25K and 50K runs set for midnight Sunday in Fort Worth.

"An ultra event at midnight in the middle of July in Texas sounds pretty bizarre, but we've got a lot of interest," said Jim Newsom of the Fort Worth Running Company, which is assisting with the event.

With more than 200 runners registered, officials cut off entries.

"It's surreal," Valdez said. "It has astonished all of us involved."

Valdez and Costantino, both of Fort Worth, approached Newsom in November about an endurance run in July. Newsom told them they were crazy because of the heat.

"We rode the Hotter 'n Hell Hundred a few years ago," Valdez said of the 100-mile bike event that's held in Wichita Falls every August. "That's where the name came from. We thought this could have the same kind of appeal as the Hotter 'n Hell."
Valdez and Costantino persisted, proposing to start at midnight and run through the night. Eventually, Newsom and his son, James, agreed to help.

"So many people thrive on a challenge," James Newsom said. "It will be a challenge with the heat and humidity. You can't cool off. The heat doesn't evaporate. You get hotter and hotter."

James Newsom suggested a 5K loop through Trinity Park to keep runners in close proximity to water and first aid stations. Valdez and Costantino also endorsed Jim Newsom's idea of making the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program the race beneficiary. Team volunteers will help on race day.

Valdez and Costantino said they won't participate because they need to make sure the event goes smoothly. Valdez, who turns 30 Monday, completed his birthday celebration endurance run at the 50K Waco Trail Run in March.

For information, visit

Rather than comment on the following (which we will do on the show today), I wanted to print a copy of Jim Lites letter to season ticket holders of the Stars so you could read it for yourself:

Dear Stars fan,

There have been a lot of things written and said over the last two weeks, many of which have painted a negative perception of the Dallas Stars as a hockey club and where we are headed in the future. We've been called everything from 'stupid' to 'asleep at the wheel' to 'out of touch,' simply because we did not make a big splash in the free agent market.

I'm here to tell you that these beliefs, columns, opinions and statements couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, it's downright unfair. Contrary to what some have written or said, we haven't gone stupid overnight and we do have a plan in place.

The Dallas Stars have been the second-most successful team in the entire NHL over the last 11 years. We're proud of that mark, and you should be too, for your support has been a big factor in our success. Do we wish we had more hardware? Absolutely, but the consistent success we've achieved over the years cannot be ignored.

We were one of the best teams in the league again last season. The Stars won 50 games and earned 107 points, finishing just three points behind Pacific Division and Stanley Cup champ Anaheim (who we beat four times). And we did this while having the fifth-most man-games lost due to injury, most of which were our best players (Modano and Morrow). And we played our best hockey against the best teams (going 23-15-4 vs. all other playoff teams).

That's the good news. But obviously a first round loss in the playoffs was disappointing for all of us, and that is what people remember and center their attention on. That's understandable. We all want to win in the playoffs.

But in the new NHL, there are no longer “upsets” in the first round. All eight playoff teams in the West could have easily won the conference. The “new NHL” includes first round match-ups that are much closer than in the old system. The playing field is more level than ever before.

Some believe that we should make wholesale changes to this club because we have struggled in the playoffs of late. We disagree. It would be irresponsible of us to trade some of our core players because we believe that won't make us better. At the end of the day we would punish the fans and ourselves.

Would we like to add scoring? Yes. But we have to operate under the salary cap and do the best we can with the chips we have to play with at the table. We want to give ourselves the best chance for success, both short and long term. What we can't do is take unreasonable risks on contracts, which was something we could do under the old system. We can't take an extra center on a long-term deal and see if we can make him change positions and make him fit into our system. We tried that with Pierre Turgeon and it didn't work. That was OK when it was just money. We can't take that risk now with the salary cap.

These might sound like excuses to some but it is the reality of the business model we are in.

Doug Armstrong has done an excellent job in firming up our roster. He was able to sign Brenden Morrow and Jere Lehtinen to extensions one year ago at money and term that are fair and make sense. Then Doug traded for Mattias Norstrom at the trade deadline. These moves basically spent a lot of the possible money that would have been available for this year's crop of free agents. Any team that would have added these three players to their roster on July 1 would have been very happy.

That said, we were very much interested in adding a player to bolster our scoring (and still are). In essence, we have about a $4 million slot available to try and sign someone and we held discussions with several key free agents on July 1. In the end, all of our targets ended up getting more money and/or more term than we were comfortable with.

Many of the contracts that were signed by free agents in the first 24 hours of free agency were for what we like to call “stupid money.” In our opinion, several teams drastically overpaid to sign these free agents and they are now tied to contracts for many years that they may regret in the future because of the way it will hinder their roster movement.

We refuse to mortgage our future simply to sign a free agent in July and appease the media. We're not going to sign a player to win a PR battle; we'll sign free agents to contracts that will help us win hockey games. We're going to do whatever it takes to get better but you have to make good smart decisions, because mistakes in this system can kill you.

There are still options available to add players to our roster. One possibility is making a trade to add that scorer. But the bottom line is that we will not make a move unless we feel it is the right one. And we don't need to make that move in July.

Some have asked me what kind of a team we're going to have this season. I think it's going to be a good one. Take last year's 50-win team and put it up against our roster right now. The main differences are Mattias Norstrom replacing Darryl Sydor, Joel Lundqvist replacing Eric Lindros, and Todd Fedoruk replacing Matthew Barnaby. Then look around our division and our conference and ask yourself has anyone gotten better? None of the playoff teams have. And our roster that you see today is probably not the final roster you will see on opening night. We will continue to look for a way to add scoring punch to this lineup.

There are three main things that a team needs to have to be successful in the NHL -- a quality goaltender, a productive offensive defenseman, and talented center-ice men. We feel we are in very good shape in all three of these areas for 2007-08.
Marty Turco is one of the best goaltenders in the league and is under contract for the next three years. We also feel very good about Mike Smith in his role as Marty's back-up. We just extended Sergei Zubov's contract through 2009. We expect him to again anchor our blue-liners and be an important player for us. And we think we're in good shape at the center position with Mike Modano, Mike Ribeiro and Jeff Halpern. We're talented and can compete.

Every decision we make is done to win hockey games. We've always spent to the cap and always will, thanks to a great owner in Tom Hicks. Money is not an issue. The Dallas Stars are about winning. We've won in the past, we're going to win this season, and we're going to win in the future. ...

Thank you for your support of the Dallas Stars. Have a great summer!


James R. Lites

President, Dallas Stars

And then this response in my email this morning:


I know you have read his letter to the fans.

It is amazing that the spin has already started. We have heard this story before and know the ending. If the Stars are not remarkably different from last year and the other teams in the West are not markedly better, then logic dictates that can expect another dismal on and out playoff performance. Remember, his thinking is that nothing has changed. Also we have the prior 3 years with the same results.

He suggested that the Stars have replaced Lindros with Lundqvuist and Barnaby with Fedoruk. What really happened is that they replaced Guerin with Lundqvuist and Arnott with Fedoruk. Are we supposed to believe that is a good thing?????

He also said there are no longer upsets in the first round. What kind of drug induced fantasy allowed him to come up with that load of crap. Two years ago the 8th seed Oilers went to the Finals, also the 7th seed Avalanche beat the Stars. Both occurred via upsets in the first round. Additionally, last year the Rangers (6th) beat Atlanta (3rd). Seems to me that upsets are occurring with the same frequency that they did prior to the "new" NHL.

I am so off.


David Beckham Compilation

Chuck Storm

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MK said...

"a player could easily be the best player on the field, but still not score every game or every other game."

Therein lies the rub. I'll pass.

Hearing Becks speak cracks me up, that little squeaky voice coming out of a global icon.

BACM said...

HaHa(Nelson laugh) Sooner!

Beckham and soccer still gay!

Brad said...

To the fellow who suggested that Lites comment about there not being upsets in the first round anymore, was stupid, I would say this:

He didn't mean that lower seeded teams don't beat higher seeded teams any more.

He meant that every team, 1 through 8, is so close talent wise, that an 8 seed beating a 1 seed is not really an upset, it's becoming a more common occurrence.

Anybody can beat anybody.

Oh and Mr Lites... 3 of the 4 teams in the Conference Finals were top 5 in terms of goal scoring. And I'm going to send an e-mail to him every week reminding him of it.