Chris Webber and Filipino Manny V. Pangilinan Could Team up to Buy Kings

Though it appeared to be a certainty that the Kings would move from Sacramento to Anaheim, the city was awarded an extra year to hold onto the team. There was a check list of items the NBA advised the city to fulfill in order to keep the franchise long-term, and the most important requirement was to build a new arena. It will be difficult for the cash-strapped current owners, the Maloofs, to hang on to the team, so there is room for new ownership. One potential group of owners is led by Chris Webber and would be backed by Filipino businessman Manny V. Pangilinan, according to the Inquirer.

The Inquirer, which is a Filipino news source, says “Webber met with Pangilinan, chair of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company—among other firms—during a recent trip to Sacramento, where he visited the Kings’ home stadium, the Arco Arena.”

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The Wiz of Odds Exposes Exorbitant Spending by Schools in Bowl Games

Our buddy Jay Christensen, who runs the college football site The Wiz of Odds, has spent the past several weeks working on an investigative report that exposes the college football bowl system. Jay obtained expense reports for 56 of the 70 teams that participated in bowl games last season and reveals that the bowl tradition turns out to be a gigantic waste of money for many schools. We’re talking about millions of dollars spent by public universities which are funded by tax payers, and students in the form of tuition. If that’s not enough reason to get you angry, more details Jay uncovers will.

Christensen reveals that on average, schools spend $1.31 million to make bowl trips. He also says around 25% of all bowl-related expenses are due to “absorbed tickets,” which is the amount of tickets forced onto schools in order to participate in the game. One school spent $4.28 million to participate in a bowl game, the highest amount of the 56 schools for which Christensen had the expense report.

Christensen explains the process he went through to obtain an impressive 56 expense reports of the 70 teams that played in bowl games this past season. He obtained the reports through public records inquiries, so private schools had no obligation to provide him with the information. He explains the process of going through the reports and how they can be fudged. For instance, one trick by schools was leaving the amount of money coaches made in bonuses for reaching a bowl out of the expense report.

Jay will start unveiling school-by-school breakdowns this week, but for now, make sure you check out the entire overview for his report. It will likely blow you away. And make sure to stop by The Wiz of Odds throughout the week for more.

As one commenter in the Sports Journalists forum noted, the mainstream media just got housed by a blogger on this one. Nicely done, Jay.

UFC To Pay Fighters to Use Twitter

Generally speaking, Twitter is nothing but trouble in the world of professional sports.  While there are plenty of players who have used Twitter as a tool to interact with fans and make themselves more accessible, there a ton of others who have abused the social networking tool and used it to lighten their wallets.  We have seen players fined for tweeting during halftime and others ruin the public’s perception of them by tweeting about extremely sensitive subjects.  Athletes like Chad Ochocinco have used their Twitter account to create a complete sideshow.

UFC president Dana White views Twitter quite differently from big wigs like David Stern and Roger Goodell.  White, who is an active Twitter user, recently announced that he will be paying fighters for using Twitter.  According to MMAFighting.com, beginning June 1 UFC and Strikeforce fighters will be awarded bonuses based on how many followers they have and whether or not they tweet creatively.  At the end of each quarter, three bonuses of $5,000 will be given to the fighters with the most new followers, highest percentage of new followers, and most creative tweets (judged by White).

When all the bonuses are paid out, the UFC will end up shelling out $240,000 for Twitter incentives.  With the way the beast has grown, I’m fairly confident that’s a number they can handle.  If you think paying athletes to use Twitter is asking for trouble, remember that you’re questioning the idea of a man who took the UFC from nothing into a fighting league that has arguably surpassed boxing in popularity.  If Dana White says it’s a good idea, it’s probably a good idea.

Dodgers Getting Desperate to Sell Tickets

It wasn’t long ago that the Dodgers were one of the hottest tickets in LA and one of the top drawing teams in baseball. This year, the Dodgers are eighth in MLB in home attendance (according to ESPN’s figures), trailing their neighbors to the south, the Angels by nearly 2,000 fans per game. The drop in attendance is due to several factors.

The top reason most fans with whom I associate aren’t attending games is because they’re too expensive. Ticket prices have doubled under the McCourt regime, and keep in mind this is only their seventh year as owners. The next reason far fewer fans are attending games is because they don’t want to support the McCourts. This has to do with the revelations about their embarrassing and offensive spending habits that emerged during their hideous divorce trial. Third, the Bryan Stow beating on Opening Day created such negative publicity it turned many fans off from wanting to attend games.

Now that the team is being overseen by MLB and in danger of not being able to meet May’s payroll obligations, they’re getting extremely desperate to sell tickets.

LBS contributor Sam Ahn pointed out to us that the Dodgers are offering a special on Yelp for next week’s Dodgers-Giants series:

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Rashard Mendenhall Dropped by Champion for Osama bin Laden Tweets

For those of you wondering how long it would be before Rashard Mendenhall started suffering monetary consequences for his Osama bin Laden tweets, we have your answer. It only took three days for sports apparel company Champion to drop Mendenhall.

Champion announced the news in a statement that was posted by Game On! The text of their full statement:

Champion is a strong supporter of the government’s efforts to fight terrorism and is very appreciative of the dedication and commitment of the U.S. Armed Forces. Earlier this week, Rashard Mendenhall, who endorses Champion products, expressed personal comments and opinions regarding Osama bin Laden and the September 11 terrorist attacks that were inconsistent with the values of the Champion brand and with which we strongly disagreed. In light of these comments, Champion was obliged to conduct a business assessment to determine whether Mr. Mendenhall could continue to effectively communicate on behalf of and represent Champion with consumers. While we respect Mr. Mendenhall’s right to express sincere thoughts regarding potentially controversial topics, we no longer believe that Mr. Mendenhall can appropriately represent Champion and we have notified Mr. Mendenhall that we are ending our business relationship. Champion has appreciated its association with Mr. Mendenhall during his early professional football career and found him to be a dedicated and conscientious young athlete. We sincerely wish him all the best.

Couldn’t have put that better myself. Mendenhall tried to cover his butt with a “clarification” he wrote on his blog Wednesday, but he didn’t address his comment that he couldn’t believe an airplane took down the World Trade Centers. It’s that comment that loses me and most people. If I were in Champion’s position, I would have distanced myself with Mendenhall as well.

The good news is people have freedom of speech in this country. Unfortunately, you don’t have the freedom of consequence as Champion’s actions have shown us.

Golf Club Put up as Foul Pole in Petco Park

Sponsoring your foul pole with a golf club? That my friends is called genius marketing. The San Diego Padres are breaking some ground at Petco Park by attaching a replica 88-foot TaylorMade driver to their foul pole in right field. The club is a replica of TaylorMade’s R11 driver that debuted in January and it features a white club face as you can see in the picture courtesy of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

As part of the cross-promotional efforts between the two organizations, Natalie Gulbis will throw out the first pitch at Thursday’s Padres game and manager Bud Black will take a trip to TaylorMade headquarters.

My only question is if they can erect an 88-foot club on the poll, why can’t they re-name it and make it the “fair pole” since any ball that hits it is actually fair? Just a question between friends. Hey, I have another suggestion for TaylorMade. While they’re at it, can they fix this problem in Fenway Park?

Here’s a video of the pole being made:

Is Alex Rodriguez Really the Face of Baseball? DirecTV Ad Says so

If you’re a baseball fan or DirecTV subscriber, chances are you’ve probably seen the Extra Innings advertisement featuring Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. In the commercial, A-Rod clubs a home run to deep left center at Yankee Stadium and begins his trot around the bases. His stroll begins on the streets of New York City, makes its way through the heartlands of America, and ends in your living room where you’re supposed to be magically moved to purchase the Extra Innings subscription. Here’s the commercial in case you haven’t seen it:

Maybe because I’m both a DirecTV subscriber and usually watching sports channels I’ve seen this commercial far too many times. Every time I see the ad, it makes me wonder what MLB/Extra Innings/DirecTV was thinking when they made it.

Whoever is behind the commercial decided that the player they wanted to use to convince baseball fans to drop nearly $200 to have all games available to them on TV was Alex Rodriguez. Of all players around, we’re talking Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, Joe Mauer, Ryan Howard, Tim Lincecum, you name it — they chose A-Rod. I don’t understand it for several reasons.

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