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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Greg Crawford On Sports Biz, Edition 6

About the writer: Greg Crawford has been studying sports business ever since his father Don took him to play golf when he was 8 years old. Now 54 years later, he still loves sports business and studies it all the time. He is often asked to speak to groups on the subject in his hometown of Portland, Oregon. Greg follows one and one person only in the world of sports business, Jon Spoelstra and he strongly encourages everyone to read Jon's best seller, "Marketing Outrageously, Redux".

But as Greg often says to groups, his most important work is done in his part time job in the cancer unit of Adventist Medical Center, in Portland, Oregon.

Greg is the the COO of and also writes columns three times per week for Comcast SportsNet and, and

Greg always encourages people to comment on his writings and loves reader involvement, whether it be pro or con. Enjoy today's column please.

Stephen Strasburg---I really have no opinion on the decision to shut Stephen Strasburg down by the Washington Nationals as they prepare for the MLB play-offs. Strasburg is a super-star, has a bright future and is one person that seems to captivate everyone in the ballpark when he pitches. Of course the Nationals say they are looking to the future and want to keep the sometimes fragile right arm of Strasburg healthy. Actually only they know what should be done here, for my money.

But what I do know is the impact that Strasburg has on attendance when he pitches in the any major league ballpark. Since 2010, the average attendance when Strasburg has been the starter, is 33,214. That comes from 45 starts. Out of those 45 starts,  only one game attracted less than 30,000 people, that was in 2011 at Chase Field, home of the Diamonbacks when just over 29,000 showed up.

Surprisingly in his 25 starts since 2010 in his home ballpark, the average attendance for those starts has been 31,142, below his league wide average.

This we do know, Strasburg is important to major league baseball and its future, so everything possible should be done to keep him healthy.

Sad Attendance---How in the world can you have a first place ball club in major league baseball and your home attendance average is so pathetic. Such is the case of both the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles, who both play in magnificent ballparks.

So far this year the Orioles have averaged 25,2000 and the Nationals 29,700. In a recent home series that the Orioles had with another first place team, the Chicago White Sox, the average attendance for the four game series was 11,000.

It is also fair to say, there are probably 10 cities in the United States, Canada or Mexico, who do not have major league baseball,  that would sell out every night with first place teams. 

Looking over all of these numbers, it now appears it is legitimate to at least say, did Major League Baseball make huge mistake putting the game back in Washington, D.C.? Not only is the Washington Nationals attendance figures a disgrace, they obviously have also saturated the baseball market in the D.C. /Baltimore corridor.

The Shoe Battle---Rumors are flying all over the place that Dwayne Wade will make a big move soon and leave Nike (Jordan Brand), for Chinese Sportswear Company Li-Ning.

The obvious here is that it would give Wade some separation from LeBron James, who has his own Nike brand and a chance to work with a fairly new company that is struggling at present.

Wade and James have become great friends, but this is just one more example of friendship in most cases means nothing when it comes to money and Wade is going to get a bundle for signing on with Li-Ning as its top athlete.

There is going to be many more sportswear companies coming out of China, who are going to go after American athletes as endorsers, but it is going to be a long, long time before anyone can challenge the superiority of Nike. Nike is so strong, they may never be over taken in the market place.

$$$$$$---It is an interesting year in Major League Baseball and especially when it comes to the business side. Only one team in the league's seven teams with the highest payrolls is guaranteed to make the playoffs, that is the Texas Rangers.

The Yankees with the highest payroll in Major League Baseball at $197 million per year, are for sure on the bubble to make the postseason. Other top seven payroll teams are getting ready for next season, including Philadelphia, LA Angels, Miami and Boston Red Sox.

Funny how sports works. The payroll of the contending Orioles, Rays and Oakland,  combined is only 3 million over the Yankees total of $197 million.

You make the call, perhaps it is people and not always money that can bring out a winner.

NFL---I was slightly amused this past week about a subject that is so not funny. The NFL will be donating $30 million to advance the cause of player safety, the largest single donation the league has ever made.

But the league can't get their act together to bring back their regular officials, which also heavily involves players safety and is the most single important issue that the GMs, coaches and players are complaining about with the substitute officials on the field.

It should also be noted something has to give here, some NFL sources I have been talking with have told me the league is so bitter over the attitude of the regular officials, they are convinced in their own mind they can go with the substitute officials for the rest of the season.

As much as I side with the regular officials, there has to be a point in time when they have to start worrying about are we going to have job in the future. The NFL under Goodell has been pretty heavy handed as is obvious, I do not see them budging much on this issue, unless about five games on one weekend could decided by poor officiating, as could happen. Never underestimate the opponent, otherwise you will come out on the short end of the business side. or twitter @wchoops


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