Paper Round – Transfer Talk 6.1.13

By Fabian Gorsler

Now that the season in Europe has drawn to a close it is time for what all world football fans look forward to the summer transfer window. Unlike the U.S. system where this time of the year is dominated by free agent signings and some high-profile trades, in Europe this is when clubs spend an exorbitant amount of money to sign players from other teams in order to strengthen their squad. Although the transfer window does not officially open until July 1st for the top leagues a lot of business is concluded earlier with players joining their new teams when the window eventually opens.

Confirmed Transfers:

Source: Christopher Johnson/Flickr

Neymar – Santos to Barcelona (fee undisclosed, believed to be around £23m)
Neymar has finally made the move to Europe after years of speculation. Santos has finally let him go, and for a lot less than they had valued him at in previous discussions. This probably has a lot to do with his contract running out in 12 months. He has now signed a 5 year contract with Barcelona and will become one of the club’s top earners.

Kolo Toure – Manchester City to Liverpool (free transfer)
The out of favor Toure, brother of celebrated Man City player Yaya, has let his contract run out with the Manchester club and is looking to revive his career at Liverpool. After failing a random drug test and having to sit out for the majority of last season he failed to feature this season and is looking for greener pastures at Liverpool.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos – Werder Bremen to Borussia Dortmund (£7.87m)
The Greek defender was brought in to strengthen the squad that got overrun in the Bundesliga and lost a heartbreaking Champions League final to German rivals Bayern München. A strong defender and good in the air, Bremen’s Sokratis will help strengthen what was, at times, a shaky defense. He will most likely line up alongside Mats Hummels.

Source: Michael Kranewitter

Mario Götze – Borussia Dortmund to Bayern München (release clause activated – £31.65m)
Götze moves from the club at which he achieved world recognition to the team that beat his in the Champions League final. Bayern activated his release clause as they look to build on their record breaking season by bringing in Germany’s top talent.

James Rodriguez – FC Porto to AS Monaco (£25.7m)
James Rodriguez, the talented Col Continue reading

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Tragedy & Sports

By Meg Patten, 2015

The running world was shaken terribly on Marathon Monday (April 15) during the 117th Boston Marathon, when two young men decided to try to terrorize a city. What the Tsarnaev brother got in return was a common front of people who refused to fall victim to the irresponsible behaviors of the two men who severely underestimated the strength of a city, a country, but most importantly the sporting community. Athletics have long provided the world an escape from the atrocities outside the playing field, a way to essentially get away from it all and come together against wars, racism, sexism, and now terrorism – that’s one of the many beauties about sports, but that is all so much more evident since studying abroad.

IMG_9113On the Sunday following the terrorist attack, I ran the Madrid 10K as part of the Madrid Marathon and ½ Marathon and in a group called “Guiris for Boston”; a guiri Spanish colloquial term meaning foreigners or ex-pats. I had heard about the group through NYU Madrid and decided to register for the race, despite not training up to that distance since being here. While the Boston Marathon bombings that sparked our desire to run was truly a tragedy, it was uplifting to see so many people in support of Boston and its victims at both the expo and that early, bitterly cold, Sunday morning. Before the race, I adorned my race bib with a black ribbon and wrote “Boston 4/15/13” on my left forearm in black sharpie in support of those who were affected. Running the race and proudly donning Boston on my arm seemed like it was the least I could do for the people who were so severely devastated by these horrible acts of violence, but what I really feel is most important is addressing this issue head on.

IMG_9097Sports terrorism, though not seemingly widespread, is still a large and mounting issue that needs to be talked about in this day and age. Games, tournaments, and races provide a tempting target for terrorists, as they tend to draw large crowds, who are completely engaged with the event. These attacks have the ability to not only devastate that individual sporting event, but the international sporting community as a whole. Just take a look back into history: the whole Olympic family was shaken during ’72 Munich Olympic Game Kidnappings and the ‘96 Atlanta Olympic Game bombings. Instead of highlighting the hard work of athletes prior to the games, headlines now read about the numerous costs and preparations to prevent attacks. Maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s incredibly sad that our world has come to this.

The ’92 Madrid soccer bombings, the Sri Lankan Cricket team shooting in 2009, the 2013 Boston bombings…the list goes on, the result is the same: a united front. That’s the crazy thing about our career field here at the Sports Management program and one of the reasons I chose to work in sports. Athletics defy boundaries, tear down walls, and have the ability to transcend borders. They unite us in wake of tragedy and in the face of adversity but can also bring us together when our teams raise the coveted trophies over their head in triumph. And though sports provide plenty of room for debate and controversy, they serve a better purpose as a vehicle to connect large groups of people together.

IMG_9128I ran with a Boston “B” on my back, around the stadium where terrorists had decided to try and scare a group of soccer fans 21 years prior, past the ex-pats holding signs reading “Run for Boston”, and with a group of guiris who, despite not training for the race, who despite being thousands miles away from the attack, had dropped everything they were doing to support the city, as if it were their own. Now that is the true beauty of sports.

X Games: Say Goodbye to L.A.

Source: Eric Richardson/Flickr

By Gaby Navas, 2013

Can you believe it? After 11 years of having Southern California as their home, ESPN announced last Tuesday that the X Games will not be returning to L.A next year, 2014. The first summer X Games took place in California in the year 1977 and were held in San Diego and San Francisco for two years and went to Philadelphia before settling down in L.A.

So here is the thing behind this decision. The deal between the X Games and Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG, the host company. They are also the giants behind the Staples Center as well as several other L.A sports franchises. Yup, they are massive) runs out after this year. Since AEG is up for sale, the two of them did not agree on a new contract.

ESPN has incorporated an Olympic style bidding process where cities make pitches to be the host. Last October, ESPN started taking in bids from cities including Chicago, Detroit, Austin and Charlotte, noting “Detroit has been the most vociferous in its desire to host the games, at least on social media. The committee representing the Detroit bid has started a Facebook and Twitter campaign and a website encouraging people to sign up to join the movement.”

The new host city is expected to be announced this summer, which one do you want or think will be the next host city? If you’re a bit upset about this and feeling like reminiscing, check out these 9 L.A X Games moments CBS has highlighted.

Jason Collins: Not Exactly the First but Hopefully Not the Last

By Taylor Jackson, 2015

Source: Joshua S. Kelly/USA TODAY Sports

With Sports Illustrated’s recent cover page which included NBA player Jason Collins’ announcement that he is gay, there has been a lot of buzz (good and bad) on the impact of his announcement and what it could mean going forward in the future of sports. The cover shows Collins’ face with the words “The Gay Athlete” in large bold lettering next to him. Although, I do not at all like the wording and think that there are much better titles that Sports Illustrated could have used, I do think that this was an important issue for them to publish and that it spans into a much larger conversation on the history of gay athletes in professional sports.

Source: marsmet48/Flickr

A lot of media sites have touted Collins as the “first” professional athlete to publicly come forward in saying that he is gay. However, Collins is not the first professional athlete to come out as gay and hopefully he will not be the last. As NYMAG and a few other media outlets have pointed out, there have been a large amount of female athletes who have come out during their athletic career including 80’s tennis star Martina Navratilova, WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes, and current WBNA player Brittney Grimes. However there is a vast difference in media coverage and attention that female players who do so receive which is largely unfair and somewhat dismissive. Collins coming out is now another voice that has the potential to be a catalyst for men and women of all sports to feel comfortable if they wish to share information about their sexual orientation. Similarly, there should be equal attention given to women athletes who decide to come out in the same way that Collins did. It is important that all of these voices are heard and credited. Continue reading

Wild Weather and its Affect on the Rest of the MLB Season

By Nicholas Diminich, 2015

Source: Jack Dempsey/AP

They Say April Showers bring May Flowers, but no one said anything about snow.  Several teams have fallen victim to the insane amount of snow and wintry mix postponements early in this season, which is sure to have an affect come late July and August. The Mets visited Minnesota (for some reason they thought making an outdoor stadium in Minnesota would be a good idea) and suffered a postponement due to winter weather, that will have to be made up on an off day some time later this summer, a time of the year where the off days are so pivotal especially for teams that are on the bubble in terms of a Wild Card playoff race. As if playing in the freezing cold weather in Minnesota wasn’t bad enough, the Mets traveled straight to Denver, Colorado, for a four game series mind you, and suffered two snowed out games. Luckily they made one up with a double-header right away but again, are suffering a lost off day later in August. The Twins and Rockies just started games as this article is being written with temperatures at 38 degrees and 23 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively.

These instances brings up the issues of scheduling that claim that games this early in the season, with weather so unpredictable that the early months games should only be played in domes and warm weather places. Another argument would be for only inter-divisional games for the beginning month of the season, due to the close proximity of division teams. The latter is definitely a route that MLB should look into because in case of such meteorological emergencies, the make up in say July or August would involve much shorter travel such as New York to Philadelphia as opposed to Minnesota or Denver.

Seattle to New York

The scheduling of having some teams travel cross country so early in the season with no way knowing what the weather will be like is yet another flaw in the history of MLB’s scheduling. They have done several things in the past few seasons such as scheduling games in Japan for Seattle and Oakland in late March that counted as regular season games and Spring Training games for both teams upon their arrival to the United States. Yes, they played regular season games and then Spring Training games and then regular season games again.  Last season the Cardinals and Marlins opened the season with a 1 game series, and then continued the season the next day in different cities. This attempt at shaking things up and making each season unique is absolutely ridiculous and causes more problems than it does well. Each team plays the teams in each other’s division 18 times a year, which in my opinion is not enough. Why should the Yankees have to travel to Seattle every single season, and vice versa for games that mean little to nothing? That’s a six-hour flight with almost no implications on a yearly basis. Luckily, Seattle is one of 5 stadiums with a retractable roof (Miami, Toronto, Houston, Milwaukee are the others) so there won’t be any rainouts in the Emerald City but New York is always vulnerable for a rainout. If the MLB is going to make teams travel cross-country for games that are non-divisional, it should be much later in the season especially for games in the cold weather cities without a dome (Denver, Minnesota, Detroit, Chicago and New York.) Of course rainouts will happen and apparently so will snow-outs but there have to be better measures taken so that later in the season when the games really matter and the races are extremely tight, teams can put their best lineups forward as well as their best pitchers pitching on normal rest. 162 games is not too long of a season but measures must be taken where if games have to be cancelled completely, they are games that won’t have an affect in any kind of way.

It will be interesting to see in teams that are a few games out of the second Wild Card spot if they are negatively affected by this horrible early season weather. It is easy to see fatigue in baseball during the dog days of summer, a time where bad errors occur, less hustle on teams, and more players need days off on game days. The All-Star break to September is a sprint where players easily tire out especially because there is increased pressure. It is a shame that early April weather affects the playoffs and end of the season especially this year more than ever. MLB needs to take measures to avoid this in every way possible.

Beach Volleyball: Popularity Growing at All Levels

By Gaby Navas, 2013

C’mon, let’s be honest, who didn’t enjoy watching Beach Volleyball during the Olympics? Its growing popularity is marked by the attention it received during the Games; this growth reflects on a nationwide scholastic trend. With a debut of eight teams last year, and currently featuring 30 teams this season, the Interscholastic Beach Volleyball League has grown significantly, as it is just its second year of existence.

Just a little bit more information on the IBVL: it is operated by the Southern Pacific Volleyball Committee, consisting of 10 dual matches with each school fielding three teams of two players. Each team plays a best-of-three-matches. The league consists of the North Conference and the South Conference with 15 teams in each one. Both conferences have three divisions of five teams.

The NCAA added sand volleyball as an emerging sport for women in 2011-2012. Participation has already doubled to 30 teams this year since its inaugural season, which featured 15 college teams. These include USC, UCLA, Pepperdine, Long Beach State, and Loyola Marymount.  It is expected for the sport to reach 40 teams by the spring 2014, once this takes place, the NCAA will start making transition plans for beach volleyball into a championship sport level.

Some other exciting news, the AVP has release the complete schedule for its 2013 Professional Beach Volleyball Season! Head over here to check it out.

I’m pretty stoked about the Santa Barbara event, which one are you most excited for?

Baseball or Soccer: Which is More Afraid of the Numbers?

Source: Justin Block/JLBSports.tv

By Justin Block, 2015

“They hate what they don’t understand.”—Sean “Diddy” Combs

I’ve never been good at math. Or at least that’s the attitude I’ve carried with me since 1st grade. In elementary school, my parents sent me to a tutoring center two times a week. I’d do endless sheets of arithmetic problems for an hour, and then go home and do more. My mental math was on point, but it always took me longer than the rest of the class to “get it.” I needed individual attention, but was often times too ashamed to ask for it. To this day, I still can’t do long division problems.
When you grow up with an affliction towards numbers, you get nervous whenever they’re presented in a decision-making situation. Adding up the change in your pocket at the deli counter isn’t easy. Simple accounting problems are stressful when they shouldn’t be. Deciding whether Mike Trout deserves to be MVP based on something called WAR, or choosing between Luis Suarez and Robin van Persie by comparing Chance Conversion rates equates to rocket science.
Although I’m never excited to do a math problem, I enjoy analyzing sports statistics. In 6th grade I started carrying a Baseball Prospectus in my backpack. I would pour over the annual additions of the mammoth book in my spare time—the book felt as close to the truth about baseball as any analysis could be. Full of advanced baseball statistics and player projections, it felt like the end all be all of the upcoming baseball season. Why even bother with watching games? Basebsall Prospectus already projected them. In my thirst for the truth about baseball, the “outsider’s” knowledge and perspective found in the Baseball Prospectus books felt indisputable, and it was all coming from guys who had never been on a scouting trip.
I believe there are plenty of sports fans and writers out there who take their “I’m bad at math” attitude and flip it into a dismissal of baseball’s sabermetrics, and soccer’s opta statistics. People are just afraid of the numbers.
Sabermetrics, which is a term derived from SABR (Society for American Baseball Research), have endured a decade-long battle for acceptance in baseball’s mainstream consciousness, starting with their grand introduction through Michael Lewis’ 2003 bestseller Moneyball. (Not forgetting the two decades of work Bill James did before Moneyball was even drafted though.) Over the years, more telling statistics rooted in sabermetrics such as On Base Percentage (OBP) and On Base Plus Slugging (OPS) made their way into box scores and programs. These statistics are easy for any fan to understand and calculate, but still give more insight into a player’s performance than just batting average and home runs. More complicated sabermetrics were left for Baseball Prospectus books and blogs.
The crossing over of sabermetrics into the sporting mainstream peaked with a movie adaptation of Moneyball, and finally hit SportsCenter through the debate over the 2012 American League MVP award.
The 2012 AL MVP came down to two candidates: Los Angeles Angels rookie outfielder Mike Trout, and Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera. Through no fault of their own, each player symbolically represented two different schools of thought in baseball—two schools which were infamously pitted against each other in Lewis’ Moneyball.

Source: McClatch-Tribune

Trout or Cabrera: Who should’ve won MVP?

In one corner were “old school” baseball traditionalists. These writers and fans believed that Cabrera was the natural choice for MVP, because in 2012, he was the first player since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to lead the league in batting average, home runs, and RBIs. That made him the first Triple Crown winner in over four decades, and in old school circles, a deserving MVP. He was the best player on a playoff team (Trout’s Angels failed to make the playoffs, despite only winning one game less than Cabrera’s Tigers), and achieved a season of historical proportions.
Across the debate were the nerds. Baseball’s statistical revolution, popularized by Moneyball, had revealed a bevy of telling metrics to analyze players with. The statistic at the center of the argument for Trout was Wins Above Replacement (WAR), which is a calculation for how many more wins a player contributed to his team than a “replacement level” player would’ve. According to FanGraphs, Trout posted a 10 WAR (the highest WAR by a center fielder since Willie Mays in 1964), meaning he was worth 10 more wins to the Angels than say, the Baltimore Orioles’ Mark Reynolds, who posted a WAR close to zero. Cabrera’s 6.9 WAR lagged behind both Trout and New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, who’s 7.8 WAR was good for second. Much was made of Trout’s more complete impact compared to Cabrera. Trout stole 45 bases while Cabrera stole 4, and Trout’s fielding was regarded by observers and statisticians to be far superior to Cabrera’s. Cabrera may have been a better pure hitter in 2012, but Trout’s base running and fielding put him over the top.
Through a rounded statistical argument, it’s clear that Trout was a player overall player than Cabrera in 2012. But for many writers and fans, the debate started and ended with Miguel Cabrera’s Triple Crown win. The Triple Crown has been a distinction that’s become shrouded in mysticism and improbability. The likes of Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr.—the preeminent hitters of my generation—have all failed to win the Triple Crown. Although there’s no physical trophy for the Triple Crown, it’s an “award” based on three statistics that mean less in a world of sabermetrics, and it’s still guarded in tradition, nostalgia, and Cracker Jack boxes. Much of American baseball’s popularity and interest comes from its history, record books, and old-time lore. The Triple Crown is a part of that, and for it—for baseball’s past—to be defended as a significant part of today’s game, Cabrera had to win the MVP. He ended up garnering 22 of the 28 first-place votes from the Baseball Writer’s Association of America. Trout got the remaining six.

“Call me old-fashioned but, if you win the Triple Crown and lead your team to the playoffs, you’re probably going to get my MVP vote.” —USA Today writer Jorge L. Ortiz  Continue reading