How Michael Barkann is keeping busy without Phillies games to analyze


How Michael Barkann is keeping busy without Phillies games to analyze

During this time of social distancing, we’re checking in with those in the Philly sports world to see How They’re Keeping Busy. Next up, longtime NBC Sports Philadelphia host Michael Barkann.

What are you doing to keep busy during these strange times without live sports?

Michael Barkann: My family and I were away the week before last. We took a long planned vacation to Mexico figuring that when we returned I was going full bore into Phillies coverage. We watched — with increasing discomfort — as the virus spread around the world. Thursday, March 12, the day that the NBA and NHL suspended their seasons, the NCAA tournament was canceled, baseball postponed the start of the season, which would have been this Thursday -- Phillies at Miami. Then, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson announced they had the virus. It all hit like a punch to the gut. To me, that signaled IT’S HERE and we’re going to have to deal with his for a while.

When we arrived home it took several days to get into the new swing of things.
I keep busy by walking outside daily, about four miles per day, listening to podcasts (especially the NBC Sports Philadelphia podcasts), writing and hopefully doing interviews and being with my family. 

How are you getting your sports fill?

MB: You can’t really get your sports fill if there are no sports, can you? I am constantly flicking my remote control to 847 (that’s NBC Sports Philadelphia on my cable system) thinking that, magically, there will be some game LIVE that we’re showing that I was previously unaware of. Hey, I can dream can’t I? I’m staying abreast of developments by reading and on the MyTeams App. But, we love what we do because we love watching great athletes play the games and the resulting competition. I saw a Joe Buck tweet asking for videos of people in their homes performing every day tasks. He called play-by-play of a mom with her infant son in her arms. She was trying to get the kid to settle down. I admire the creativity and it was cute but I miss the games!

Tip(s) for everyone stuck at home who may be stressed?

MB: The Calm app. Try a little meditation. I have been trying to meditate every day and it has chilled me out a little. “Radical Simplicity,” one of the sessions called it. Don’t go expecting a completely different Michael but I have noticed a difference in my mindfulness. I have read about many top athletes, business persons, entertainers who take time out of their day to meditate and if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me. There is a charge to subscribe to the Calm app; 10 Percent Happier app, too. But I’m sure there are meditations on YouTube and elsewhere on the internet that are accessible, free of charge.

Specific content you’d recommend to others? Anything you’re binging/reading/listening to?

MB: I just read Born a Crime by Trevor Noah -- beautifully poignant book about his upbringing and struggles in South Africa. It should be made into a motion picture. 

Is there a local business or charity you’re supporting during these tough times?

MB: Fuel the Fight is providing much-needed suplies to nurses at CHOP, UPENN and others, the, and the Rex Chapman Covid-19 Relief Fund.


National League dominates MLB fan loyalty rankings, Phillies land in Top 10

National League dominates MLB fan loyalty rankings, Phillies land in Top 10

Will baseball's 60-game return have enough oomph to keep fans interested? It's a question that scares some of the game's biggest names, but I have no doubt Phillies fans will be supporting their team in late July.

And according to a new ranking of MLB fans' loyalty, the Phils will probably fare better than most.

The new Forbes ranking, released Wednesday, attempts to rank each fanbase by its respective loyalty, a tall task. The ranking factors in things like local TV ratings, stadium attendance, ticket demand, merch sales, and social media reach, then adjusts for local population. 

It's an imperfect science, but it's not a bad approach. And the Phillies finished in the Top 10, so I'll take it - even if they could've been higher.

Phillies fans rank No. 9 in loyalty among all 30 teams, according to Forbes, and sixth among seven NL teams in the Top 10. Here's the Forbes explanation:

9. Philadelphia Phillies

Sales of right fielder Bryce Harper’s jersey set a record for any sport for any player during the first 24 hours after his signing last year, helping to make the team’s merchandise among the league’s best-selling. But Phillies fans are a notoriously tough crowd. After witnessing a 6-5 win at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates in late September, Phillies fans booed Harper and the team for not winning by more, prompting former utility player Sean Rodriguez, whose home run won the game, to call them "entitled" in the press. Because of the backlash he received from fans, he apologized the next day for the use of the word—proving the fans are always right.

You'll be happy to know the Phillies finish atop the NL East, just one spot ahead of the Atlanta Braves. That's enjoyable.

I won't take issue with the Red Sox, Cubs, Cardinals, Yankees, and Dodgers representing the Top 5. Those are basically immovable. But after that, things get a bit more interesting.

The Brewers, Giants, and Indians all have loyal fanbases, but I don't know if I'd argue they're any more loyal than Phillies fans. Every fanbase ebbs and flows with its team's success, especially teams that aren't traditional powerhouses. When the Phils are on top of their game, South Philly is a borderline Top 5 place to watch a ball game.

I could see the Phils landing anywhere between No. 6 and No. 9 on this list. Personally, I'd put them above the Indians and Brewers - but, again, this is all imperfect science.

Earlier this year, Forbes released a ranking of the 10 most passionate sports fanbases in the country, and the Eagles finished No. 5 overall, behind four other NFL teams. Not a bad year for the area's fan reputation.

The 2020 Major League Baseball season is scheduled to begin July 23.

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Bobby Bonilla will be paid more in 2020 than a dozen notable Phillies

Bobby Bonilla will be paid more in 2020 than a dozen notable Phillies

Even in one of the strangest years in human history, Bobby Bonilla gets his money.

It's July 1, Bobby Bonilla Day, the date he gets his annual payment of just under $1.2 million from the Mets. The Mets will pay Bonilla that amount each year until 2035, at which point they'll have paid him about $30 million. The Mets came up with this deal in 2000 to avoid paying Bonilla a $5.9 million buyout in one lump sum.

Turned out to be an awful deal for the Mets, whose owners, The Wilpons, would go on to lose a ton of money in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. The Wilpons, two decades later, are trying to sell the team. The Mets have reportedly lost more than $60 million in each of the last two seasons and have hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. This was not the financial position the franchise foresaw when it deferred all that money to Bonilla.

The highest-paid player overall this season could also turn out to be a player who hasn't played in years: Prince Fielder. Fielder is owed $24 million in the final year of his contract with the Rangers, four years after he suffered a career-ending neck injury.

Big-leaguers in 2020 are set to make 37% of their salaries since only 37% of the regular season (at most) will be played. For Bryce Harper, it means about $9.4 million instead of $25.4 million. The biggest salary in the majors in 2020 belongs to Mike Trout at $36 million, of which he'll make about $13.3 million.

Any major-leaguer who was set to earn less than $3.2 million this season will, in fact, make less from their contract than Bonilla in 2020. 

Here are some of the Phillies players who will earn less in 2020 salary than Bonilla:

Rhys Hoskins
Zach Eflin
Nick Pivetta
Adam Haseley
Roman Quinn
Adam Morgan
Tommy Hunter
Jose Alvarez
Andrew Knapp
Seranthony Dominguez
Ranger Suarez
Nick Williams

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