The Topps Now on-demand trading card program has reached 1 million cards sold. Launched in 2016 to commemorate MLB’s biggest moments of the season, the program offers fans the opportunity to purchase physical collectors cards of a given moment, for a 24-hour period, never to be offered again. Topps Now cards will be produced throughout the post-season and sold exclusively at Topps.com.
Howie Long-Short: The vast majority of trading cards created after 1970 hold little value. There simply are far too many in circulation. Unlike the 1910 T206 Honus Wagner, they should not be treated as an investment. They do make great collectibles though, and I love the idea of commemorating the games’ biggest moments in real-time.
Fan Marino: This season’s best selling card set a single-card record for the Topps Now program. The card featuring Aaron Judge’s record breaking 50th rookie home run sold 16,138 copies, besting the previous record by nearly 5,000 cards (Ichiro’s 3,000th hit – 11,550 sold). Judge cards alone have accounted for nearly 100,000 of the 1 million sold to date. No one should be surprised that a record-setting rookie slugger, who happens to play for the Yankees, is moving collectors cards.
Outspoken Seahawks star Richard Sherman has been critical of the NFL, questioning why a league that takes a public stance against gambling puts out daily injury reports designed to ensure a level playing field for gamblers. Sherman went on to express frustration with fan interest in fantasy football; saying the commoditization of players has resulted in a lack of compassion for real life injuries. The NFL responded to Sherman’s comments, but didn’t exactly dispute the allegations stating injury reports are “designed for competitive fairness purposes and curtails the potential for someone to attempt to gain and exploit inside information.” League owners have approved the Raiders pending move to Las Vegas, but insist that no changes will be made to the league’s gambling policy. Commissioner Goodell has been firm insisting that the integrity of the game remains the league’s number one priority and is something “we will not compromise on”.
Howie Long-Short: If the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of New Jersey and legalizes sports gambling within the state, a flood of others will follow (5 states have backed NJ). Should that happen, expect the NFL to quickly change its stance and turn legalized sports gambling into the league’s next revenue growth driver ($154 billion were illegally bet on sports in ’16). With a SCOTUS decision expected no later than summer ’18, fans could be legally betting on NFL games by Week 1 of the 2018 season. As for Sherman, he’s right, injury reports are for gambling purposes and the NFL’s stance on gambling does seems hypocritical; but to expect fans to care about how an injury effects a player’s mental state or family, when 26% of NFL fans make less than $40,000 and struggle to make ends meet, makes him sound both entitled and out of touch with reality.
Fan Marino: Gamblers that bet on the Chiefs/Redskins game Monday night, experienced one of the wildest finishes in recent gambling history. The Chiefs (-7) kicked a FG with 4 seconds to go, putting the team up 5 points and all but ensuring a win for those who placed their money on Washington. After the kickoff, Washington had a chance to run one last play. That play ended with a KC fumble recovery, a defensive TD giving the team a 29-20 lead and a win for those who bet on the Chiefs. The madness wasn’t over though yet. With the over/under set at 49.5 points, Kansas City had to make the XP for the over to hit. Coach Andy Reid chose to kneel on the ball, giving those who took the under reason to celebrate.
Richard Sherman gave an eye-opening explanation for why NFL players don’t care about your fantasy football team
The FBI investigation that lead to the arrest of 10 people for bribery and corruption within NCAA basketball, has lead Jay Bilas, Michael Beasley and others to argue that the issues at the root of the problem are the NCAA amateurism rules that prevent college athletes from being paid. Bilas points out that coaches are not bribed to accept jobs, because a free market ensures they’re paid what they’re worth. Beasley notes that while he helped to put Kansas State on the map, watching the school increase enrollment following his time in Manhattan; he isn’t compensated for driving that growth. Those that argue in favor of the current amateur system believe full scholarships that include; a free education, medical care and stipends constitute payment.
Howie Long-Short: There is certainly an argument for repurposing the fiscal resources dedicated to keeping up in the facilities arms race (“lazy river” at UCF, flat screen locker displays at Texas, imported foosball tables at Oregon) as compensation for revenue generating athletes; but I tend to believe that a $200,000 scholarship and the opportunity to graduate without carrying student loan debt, is fair compensation for all but a handful college athletes.
Fan Marino: Beasley makes the strongest case on behalf of college athletes. Those that sell jerseys and drive enrollment/endowment growth, should be monetarily compensated. Unfortunately, the thought process behind the balance of his comments is so flawed that it undermines the logical part of his argument. Beasley added that because the majority of college players fail to play professionally, they should be paid while in college. I fail to see how ones’ future earnings are relevant to the current exploitation they may be suffering from.
The basketball world is convinced that the bribery scandal engulfing college basketball comes down to paying players
MLB owners unanimously approved sale of the Miami Marlins franchise, from Jeffrey Loria to an investment group led by Bruce Sherman (46%) and Derek Jeter (4%), for $1.2 billion ($800 million in cash, $400 million in debt). Sherman, a venture capitalist, will act as the controlling owner; Jeter will oversee baseball and business operations. The sale is expected to close within the next week.
Howie Long-Short: The Sherman/Jeter group plans on slashing payroll (from $115 million to as low as $55 million), lacks the liquid capital necessary to carry a large payroll in the future and has no front office experience. This deal was approved because there simply were no other viable ownership options for the Miami franchise. The only other bidder Jorge Mas, balked at paying $1.2 billion for a business that is losing $70 million this season.
Fan Marino: Jeter & Co. have already started with some high-profile payroll cuts. Last week the group fired special assistants Jeff Conine (Mr. Marlin), Jack McKeon (who lead team to 2003 World Series Championship), Andre Dawson and Tony Perez. Giancarlo Stanton, who leads MLB in Home Runs and slugging, is 2nd in RBIs, 3rd in WAR (wins above replacement) and 4th in OPS (on base + slugging) is going to be the next to go; if the team can find someone to take the 10 years and $295 million remaining on contract. Christian Yelich and Dee Gordon are also likely to be traded. Marlins fans have seen this story before, it will be their 4th fire sale in the franchises’ 25-year history.
Baseball owners approve sale of Marlins to Derek Jeter group
President Trump’s call for NFL owners to fire or suspend players that fail to stand for the national anthem, was met with a series of player statements on Sunday. Players across the league protesting racial injustice and police brutality; locked arms, took a knee or failed to come out entirely, for the singing of the national anthem. On Monday, Nike (NKE) became the first NFL sponsors to publicly side with the players, saying “Nike supports athletes and their right to freedom of expression on issues that are of great importance to our society.” Hyundai (HYMTF) followed that statement with one of their own saying “we stand for and respect individuals’ freedoms to express their First Amendment rights in any peaceful manner in which they choose. We also stand for inclusion, freedom and all that represents those values”. Bose wrapped up the day saying “we respect that freedom (to express your views), whether we agree with those views or not. The balance of the league’s sponsors have either remained quiet or taken a more “patriotic” position.
Howie Long-Short: The pro-Trump crowd is looking to force the league’s hand, calling for a boycott of the league’s sponsors. You can find the hashtags #BoycottNFLSponsors and #PunchThemInTheWallet on various social media platforms. Don’t expect the campaign to work. There has already been (and will continue to be) an outpouring of support for the players and their 1st amendment rights.
Fan Marino: Within the last week we’ve seen a devastating hurricane in PR, a deadly earthquake in Mexico, North Korea accuse the U.S. of waging war, the unveiling of new travel restrictions and leaked details of a tax reform package; but 45 is focused on the NFL. Frankly, the lack of compassion is offensive and his inability to focus on what’s important is detrimental to the American people. The leader of the free world should be paying attention to the big picture. The decision to stand (or not to) for a national anthem is simply irrelevant in the grand scheme.
NFL’s Sponsors Tiptoe Around Trump’s Latest Twitter Fight
The Ohio State University is the most valuable college football program, valued at $1.5 billion (up 59.6% YOY); according to a study by Ryan Brewer, an associate professor of finance at IU-PUC. Brewer analyzed teams as if they would be sold on the open market, as a professional franchise; using 2016 revenues and expenses, making cash-flow adjustments, risk assessments and growth projections. The Football Bowl Subdivision saw teams increase in value by an average of 26% (YOY), the result of increasing revenues (+19% YOY) and cash flow (+26% YOY). The SEC had 5 of the Top 10 most valuable teams and the highest average team value ($523 million).
Howie Long-Short: T-Boone Pickens has donated (i.e. given away) $500 million to Oklahoma State University. I know Oklahoma State’s program is worth more than $285 million on an open market. In fact, every single program on the list is; and I would think by at least 100%.
Fan Marino: OSU back-up QB Joe Burrow astutely pointed out that his team is worth $1.5 billion, yet he’s not being paid. He fails to mention his scholarship is worth at least $200,000, he’ll graduate with no debt and he’s been given the opportunity to receive an education from a school he may, or many cases may not, be otherwise qualified to attend. He’s welcome to go play professionally (and get paid) in Canada (CFL); but he won’t, because he’s got a better deal at Ohio State.
How Much Is Your College Football Team Worth?
Forbes released its annual list of NFL team valuations and for the 11th straight year the Dallas Cowboys are on top, up 14% YOY ($4.8 billion). The Patriots, Giants, Redskins, 49ers and Rams also scored valuations north of $3 billion. On average, team values increased by 8% YOY (up to $2.5 billion), with the NYJ being the only team that did not see growth YOY. Valuations have skyrocketed over the last 5 years. In 2012, the Cowboys were the only team worth $2 billion; now all but 5 teams are, with the lowest valued team at $1.6 billion (Buffalo).
Howie Long-Short: Operating profits were on average a record $101 million/team last year, with every single team making at least $40 million; but somehow Forbes doesn’t think the Jets increased in value. It’s laughable to peg the team at just $2.75 million. NBA teams are now going for $2 billion+. The Jets/Giants each own 50% of a $1.2 billion stadium. If a NY based NFL team ever hit the market, the number would be closer to $4 billion than $3 billion.
Fan Marino: The Raiders are up 14% YOY (behind only ATL, DAL and N.O.), so from a fiscal perspective, the decision to announce the move to Las Vegas was the correct one. Then you see this, this, and this, and know the league should have done more to keep the team in Oakland.
The Dallas Cowboys Head The NFL’s Most Valuable Teams At $4.8 Billion
Houston Rockets owner Les Alexander has announced he intends on selling the franchise and it would not be a surprise to see the purchase price push $2 billion. There should be no shortage of interested bidders as NBA teams are cashing in. Forbes’ 2017 valuations project a median operating profit of $23 million/team. On the court, the team is set-up for a short-term run, having signed superstar James Harden to an extension and trading for all-star Chris Paul. Off the court, the Rockets are among the most popular NBA teams in Asia, making them attractive to potential buyers both domestically and abroad.
Why The Houston Rockets Will Become The NBA’s Next $2 Billion Franchise
Howie Long-Short: Alexander purchased the team in 1993 for $85 million. Forbes values it at $1.65 billion today. A return of 18x your initial investment, in 25 years, isn’t bad.
Fan Marino: I keep hearing the Harden extension sold as a reason to buy the franchise. Are the Harden lead Rockets, as currently constructed, beating Golden State? If the answer is no, why do you want to pay him $228 million over the next 6 years?
Barclays Center owner Mikhail Prokhorov is pressuring the Islanders to play a significant portion of their games during the 2018-2019 season at the Nassau Coliseum. Prokhorov, who also owns the Coliseum, is working to avoid defaulting on a contract signed by former owner Bruce Ratner, that guaranteed a professional hockey team would play at the recently renovated arena, in exchange for a contract to manage the facility. Negotiations are ongoing as the Barclays Center, which currently hosts the Islanders, is eager to get out the back-breaking deal that costs $55 million/year in guaranteed payments to the team, while the Islanders are looking for increased flexibility in the lease. The NHL has not announced if they would allow regular season games to be played at the Nassau Coliseum.
Prokhorov pressuring Islanders to play at Nassau Coliseum
Howie Long Short: When stadiums/arenas sit vacant, they lose money. It’s unfathomable to think that the Barclays Center is actually better off without the Islanders playing games there.
Fan Marino: The site lines at the Nassau Coliseum were among the best in the NHL. Fully supportive of this move.
Beginning next season, NBA teams will have the option to sell advertising space on their uniform. At least 12 teams have announced 3-year jersey sponsorship deals, ranging in value from $4 million to $8 million per year. While previously difficult to measure branding ROI, companies like IdenTV now enable brands to track their sponsorship efforts using facial and object recognition technology within live video. Logos on NBA jerseys are expected receive at least 2 billion+ impressions, across various media platforms, over the course of a season.
What Is The Value Of Jersey Sponsorship?
Howie Long-Short: This is still a rounding error for corporate sponsors’ ad budgets, but as a fan, I wonder how many years until these turn into soccer jerseys?
Fan Marino: How do you slap a corporate logo on the Celtics or Lakers jersey? Is there no sanctity left in sports?!?