Chicago Sports Round-Up: The Good and the Bad

First the GOOD: Major League baseball players were polled about their favorite road cities, and Chicago was the clear favorite! Of 95 players asked, 35 responded that Chicago was their top city. While at first, one may think Chicago benefited from having teams in each lague, New York was second with 15 votes, while the Bay Area and L.A. were even farther down the list.

Now the BAD: While the Bulls players are enjoying their off-seasons and the Bulls execs are looking forward to Wednesday’s Draft Lottery, a number of former Bulls have made significant contributions to their teams’ playoff runs, including Trenton Hassell. Cut by the Bulls before the season, he has been a starter for the Minnesota Timberwolves for most of the season because of his tough defense. Minnesota is currently playing the L.A. Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

Hassell isn’t the only defensive specialist the Bulls have sent packing in recent years, however. They traded away Bruce Bowen before he even played a game for them. He was second in the voting for Defensive Player of the Year. And the Bulls also traded away Ron Artest, this year’s winner of the Defensive Player of the Year. And one of the Bulls’ biggest problems in recent seasons has been defense, and we wonder why they continue to flounder 6 years after the post-dynasty rebuilding process began…

What Was He Thinking?

There is a major league pitcher who is currently 7-0. His ERA is 1.99. His 52 strikeouts place him second in the National League. Oh, and this pitcher was supposed to be retired!

Clemens claimed in November that there was “no scenario” in which he’d return as a player. He wanted to spend time with his family in Houston.

But then best friend Andy Pettitte signs with Roger’s hometown Houston Astros. Clemens get talked out of retirement. And now he’s running away with the NL Cy Young Award (it’d be his 7th). Amazing!

Branding and Expansion Teams

ESPN gives an interesting look inside the process of creating the brand identity for the Charlotte Bobcats, an expansion NBA team which begins play next season. The article lookes at how they selected the team’s nickname from a long list of submissions and then selected a color palette and logo design.

When the team’s name and logo were initially unveiled last summer, I had discussions with a number of people about the choices. My view, and that of some others I talked with, were a thumbs up with the name. Despite being almost a cliche name in high school and college sports, there are no professional teams in any league with the name.

I think the team also made a good selection with the color palette for the new team by selecting orange and blue. Orange is an under-used color in pro sports, despite its wide use on the college level (Miami, Illinois, Syracuse, Texas, Princeton).

I wasn’t so thrilled when I saw the actual logo, however. I was really hoping that with the retro fashion trends — both in terms of the retro 50’s style t-shirts at Abercrombie & Fitch, etc. as well as the 70’s and 80’s retro jerseys — that they’d go in that direction for the logo. One of the logo designs in the article shows they at least thought about going in that direction.

Instead they decided to follow most redesigned logos, and go with the overused profile view tapering to a point — already used by http://www.panthers.com/, St. Louis Rams, New England Patriots, Nashville Predators, Minnesota Wild, etc.

A Looming Class War in Baseball?

The disparity between the haves and have-nots in baseball is getting ridiculous. When the Brewers are spending $30 million to field a team and the Yankees are spending $270 million ($200mm payroll + $70mm in luxury tax) to field theirs, they are no longer playing the same game.

Something needs to be done to reset the economics of baseball. What Milwaukee, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Oakland, etc. need to do is simply refuse to play for a season. Announce they are forfeiting every one of their 162 games. Until drastic steps are taken, the Yankees and Red Sox are going to be able to buy their way into the playoffs every year and other teams will never get a chance to compete. Sure, sometimes a particularly astute exec or some great young talent can keep a team in contention for a year or two despite a lower payroll. But those teams cannot sustain the level of play and feel compelled to trade off their higher paid and soon-to-be free agent players. This revolving door further deminishes any fan base, decreasing attendance, cutting revenue and continuing the vicious cycle.

Other sports have demonstrated how salary caps and better revenue sharing let all markets field competative teams. The Green Bay Packers hold their own against the NY Giants and Chicago Bears annually. The Sacramento Kings and Minnesota Timberwoves are among the best teams in the NBA. And fan bases for sports only grow when everybody truely believe that their team can win it all, if not this year then maybe next. But when they see it’ll never happen then they lose interest in the sports and all teams will suffer in the end.