- Augusta National filed for two trademarks for CBS broadcaster Jim Nantz’ “A Tradition Unlike Any Other” phrase. While ESPN and CBS televise The Masters, Augusta National actually owns the broadcast, and by extension, the phrase. Nantz is believed to have first used the phrase before the 1986 Masters. Amazing Masters all around: $35 million in tournament revenue (that the Masters admits); Spieth validates his Under Armour, Rolex, NetJets, Amazon endorsement deals; Phil Mickelson does more business with his sponsors Barclays, AT&T, Callaway, and Rolex; television celebrates 60th anniversary of one-year deals with CBS. It only gets better!
- The NCAA Tournament finished with an average of 11.3 million viewers across CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV this year, marking the best average for the event since 1993, when 12.7 million viewers watched. The average in 2015 also is up 8 percent from 10.5 million viewers last year. More leverage for next set of astronomical television rights fee negotiations with new bounty for the NCAA long-term — stipend payment of student-athletes is sure to follow.
- NFL owners will not vote on which L.A. stadium plan to support at their May meeting despite the significant progress in recent months in both Carson and Inglewood. It could be a minimum of six months before the league decides which plan it will support. Vote postponement means two things: more time to percolate the various Southern California options coupled with more time to “shake out” the politics involved in the St. Louis stadium situation “referendum or not.” In any event, both types of situations should be resolved before the NFL votes on any/all of the three teams final moves.
- MLB Advanced Media delivered a record 60 million video streams to fans on Opening Day across its digital platform, a 60 percent increase over last year. Baseball fans also accessed MLBAM’s At Bat mobile app 9.1 million times on Opening Day, up 40 percent from the previous single day record. Baseball will undoubtedly break its $9 billion revenue standard from last year; 48 percent asset appreciation based on last year’s numbers probably a major improvement at the end of this season and beyond.
- The NFL said it would likely contribute $200 million toward a new Chargers stadium in Mission Valley. With all parties trying to come up with a financing plan, the city of San Diego and San Diego County have agreed to jointly pay for experts to help negotiate a stadium deal with the team. A subset of comments from No. 3 above. The NFL should be able to contribute at least $200 million per team on any stadium project (thanks to the G3 funding process created years ago as part of the last round of stadium public/private partnership funding). NFL makes this process a top priority by the end of this season.
- Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Wes Edens said that he plans to personally invest in some of the ancillary development around his team’s proposed $500 million arena. Between the arena and a mixed-use entertainment district, the total cost of the plan is $1 billion. Bucks public/private partnership arena process now should generate more private investment than projects in comparable economic markets — thanks to the Bucks new investment group. Hopefully, Governor Scott Walker can maneuver the public investment for the sake of the NBA in Wisconsin.
- MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to a deal that forbids players from playing in daily fantasy baseball games that involve a prize, but still allows them to endorse these companies. The deal does not preclude players from partaking in fantasy baseball when something of value is not involved. Pete Rose monitoring the “gambling/fantasy distinctions” very closely. Players can reap benefits from fantasy sites, but cannot use them for their own financial benefit. Sounds like a distinction that will be “cleverly applied” in the future.
- Miami Heat officials are angry that the NBA did not inform the team about its plans to develop a relationship with Cuba before the news was made public. The NBA will become the first U.S. pro sports league to visit the island now that diplomatic relations has been re-established. Look for more “frayed emotions” as the NBA ventures into Cuba; Peter Angelos-led “pioneering trips” should mean baseball will follow shortly. Economic goldmine, but considerable controversy in Florida.
- Shake Shack abruptly had to end a Baltimore Orioles promotion due to copyright objections from MLB. The restaurant was offering free custard to anyone dressed in Orioles gear on Friday, the team’s home opener. MLB contacted the eatery that use of the word “Orioles” was prohibited. Note to Shake Shack: give away custard, but don’t call it an “Orioles promotion”; and work out the specifics of the deal in a better defined way beforehand.
- The NCAA by 2016 is expected to pass legislation allowing for the deregulation of college football conference championship games. The move would directly impact the Big 12, which is the only Power Five conference without a championship game. Current NCAA rules state that a conference must have at least 12 teams in order to play a title game. Big 12 may not have the immediate ability to expand, but certainly wants to be able to generate the substantial revenue involved in an annual championship game. Also important in the future for “committee credibility” as long as the playoff remains limited to four teams.
- NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts issued an internal memo announcing the “2015 Players Choice Awards.” The program was created at the request of players who wanted a say in year-end award voting. The media has voted on NBA awards since 1981. More opportunities for the NBA Players Association to generate merchandise, licensing, and endorsement revenues heading into their next collective bargaining negotiations with the owners. Good choice to try to identify additional revenues, rather than create turbulence and distress over those revenues already created.
- Seattle Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch has begun selling “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” T-shirts on his website. Lynch in February sought to trademark the phrase, which he unintentionally made famous during Super Bowl XLIX Media Day. Interesting to see how many of these shirts he sells beyond his “immediate family.” Maybe he will generate more revenue if he actually speaks to each buyer as part of the sale promotion. Don’t hold your breath!
- Golfer Rickie Fowler has signed a long-term partnership with Quicken Loans in which he will serve as a spokesperson for the company. The Quicken Loans logo began appearing on Fowler's golf bag beginning with the opening round of The Masters. Another example of completed commerce around the Augusta National Oak Tree during Masters weekend. Billions of dollars change hands following handshakes done during meals at the revered “epicenter of Masters commerce.”
- The University of Oregon is dropping ticket prices for men’s basketball games by an average of 34 percent after posting its worst home attendance in 20 years. Oregon averaged just more than 6,200 fans per home game this season, which barely is half of Matthew Knight Arena’s capacity. Good example of the market dictating demand in either direction; the Knight family is less than excited about the basketball team progress — though their involvement in all aspects of Oregon sports should be respected.
- Caddies’ contentiousness with the PGA Tour continues to grow due to a perceived inconsistent dress code. More than 160 caddies have filed a class-action lawsuit against the Tour wanting a piece of the sponsorship revenue derived from the bibs they are required to wear.
Players Championship in early May at the PGA Tour headquarters may be “ground zero” for this business standoff. Both sides would be wise to reach a reasonable settlement before the fight elevates even further.
The Supreme Court opened the door for sports betting legalization with its May ruling that struck down a 1992 law that banned commercial sports betting in most states. Sports betting is not yet legal in Illinois, but with football season underway, former Northwestern offensive lineman Eric Olson will take a weekly look at the odds surrounding the action on the field.
Eric is traveling this week so Bears producer Paul Aspan will fill in with a weekend of picks. Unlike Eric, he certainly does not have a Masters in Predictive Analytics and his football ‘career’ came to a crashing halt a few Falls ago with the loud pop of a hamstring on a Lincoln Park flag football field. Suffice it to say, you should not expect him to replicate Eric’s 11-1 heater over the last two weeks.
Steelers at Bengals, Sunday 12PM CT
Spread: Bengals -2
Betting Percentage: 62% of bets on the Steelers; 75% of the money on Steelers
The pick: Steelers +2
I just don’t believe in the Bengals. Whether they’re 4-1 this year or 8-0 in 2015, there has to be some psychological impact knowing that your ceiling is the Wild Card game. The Steelers have won six straight games against Cinci, and I’m trying to figure out what exactly the Bengals do well. Yes they score points (thanks for pointing that out). But their defense isn’t very good, they don’t get off the field on third down and they’re actually middle of the road in every offensive category: passing, rushing, 3rd down…everything outside of the one that matters most – scoring (where they’re 5th) - they’re somewhere between 12th and 23rd in the NFL. It’s not like the Steelers convinced me they’re fixed by beating Atlanta last week, but they do get to the quarterback (they lead the NFL with 19 sacks) and if this is a last score wins game, I’ll take Roethlisberger over Dalton all day.
Bears at Dolphins, Sunday 12PM CT
Spread: Bears – 3.5
Betting Percentage: 61% of bets on the Bears ; 55% of the money
The Pick: Dolphins +3.5
This line jumped from Bears -1.5 to -3 almost immediately, and late in the week it’s creeping higher. Everything points to the Bears this week, which I hate as far as taking their side. The Dolphins offensive line could be down three starters against the best pass rusher in the entire NFL in Khalil Mack. Starting left tackle Laremy Tunsil has practiced on a limited basis this week but is in the concussion protocol and watching his backup Sam Young get destroyed by the Bengals late in the Dolphins Week 5 collapse has to have the Bears foaming at the mouth. Home dogs have been hot (4-0 ATS last week), so I’m going back to that well and counting on the hook to make the difference.
Which brings me to a home dog teaser.
Two 12 PM CT games
- Dolphins +3.5 vs Bears
- Raiders +3 vs Seahawks (in London)
Two 3:25PM CT games
- Titans +3 vs Ravens
- Cowboys +3 vs Jaguars
Tease them all up 6 points at +260 odds (a $10 bet would win $26), and it looks like this:
- Dolphins + 9.5
- Titans +9
- Cowboys +9
- Raiders +9
Yes, I’m including the Raiders in my home dogs teaser. Who were the original Raiders? Pretty sure guys like Blackbeard and Jack Sparrow were British as hell. Factor in Mark Davis’ Beatles haircut and the Raiders should feel right at home at Wembley. The Seahawks had their Super Bowl last week, throwing everything they had at the Rams. They appeared to get past the Earl Thomas contract / injury backlash and the Russell Wilson favoritism fall out but this feels like a house of cards that might now just fall apart.
The Ravens – as we discussed on The Daily Line podcast – disgust all of us with their inconsistency. They’re currently 10/1 to win the Super Bowl which is insane, and I can’t not take the points against Joe Flacco with a Titans team that suffered a not all that unpredictable letdown in Buffalo after beating the defending Super Bowl champs the week before.
The Cowboys red zone defense balled out against the Texans but once again Jason Garrett’s (lack of) strategy & job security is already a hot topic in Big D. And speaking of QBs you can’t trust, Blake Bortles made sure to remind everyone last week with a nice little 4 INT game in Kansas City.
And I’ll just add this to the Dolphins: they lead the NFL in interceptions (10) as they suit up against young Mitchell Trubisky. Now that I’ve tried to pounce on the hot home dogs trend (16-6 ATS this season), here’s to hoping it waits at least one more week to regress.
Obscure College Pick of the Week:
Middle Tennessee State vs FIU Saturday 6:30PM CT
Total: O/U: 56.5
Betting Percentage: 37% Bets, 64% of the money on the Over
The Pick: Over 56.5
To be honest I was just looking for a lopsided discrepancy between the percentage of bets (public money) and percentage of money (sharp money). And I knew I didn’t want to take an under because cheering for no points is no fun. So here we are.
The total opened at 58 and dropped to 56.5. Only 37% of the bets are on the over, but 64% of the money is on the over, so count me in on the over. And if that’s not enough of a draw for you, this is a battle for first place in Conference USA’s East division and features a father-son Coach-QB combo of Rick Stockstill & Brent Stockstill for Middle Tennessee State. Just don’t ask me how (or if) I plan on watching this game on Saturday.
On the debut episode of the Daily Line on NBC Sports Chicago, Ryan McGuffey and Paul Aspan are joined by VSIN’s Joe Ostrowski & Sam Panayotovich to take a look at the Bears and the rest of the NFL thru the eyes of the sports bettor.
How Vegas views the Bears after their 3-1 start and heading into Sunday’s game as a favorite in Miami. Is there any value on the Bears at 25/1 to win the Super Bowl or Khalil Mack at 28/1 to win MVP?
Plus NFL teams that are frauds and for real after 5 weeks. And of course a 6-pack of picks to get you thru the weekend.
Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below