Column: Beating the Astros is Bryce Harper’s Best Chance at Living Up to the Hype

We need to talk about Bryce Harper and the opportunity he has before him.

The Philadelphia Phillies are two wins away from their first world series since 2008, the year that a 15-year old Bryce Harper and his family began getting advice from Scott Boras on how to quicken his path to the major leagues. 

In 2009, the Phillies were in the middle of attempting to defend their title when Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci dropped an article called “Baseball’s LeBron,” detailing the life and times of a baseball prodigy in a sport that usually takes much of a prospect’s 20’s to prepare even the best players for a life of consistency in the majors. 

Within two years, Bryce Harper would be the Nationals #1 overall pick, and found himself hitting his first major league home run before the age of 20. 

Baseball fans love young stars. It’s a game that the most gifted players can play at a high level for almost two decades, and numbers-obsessed fans love the idea of a player having a chance to take a crack at some of baseball’s most exclusive clubs. People my age had the privilege of aging up with guys like Andruw and Chipper Jones, Albert Pujols,  Ken Griffey Jr and Vlad Guerrero. All of those guys are beloved beyond their own primary fan bases.

But Bryce Harper was different. Not only has Bryce Harper spent most of his career hated by opposing teams and their fans, he hasn’t been the most likeable guy in his own clubhouses. Matt Williams once benched him. Jonathan Papelbon once physically choked him. 

The list of grievances against Harper is long, and some of it is petty. But some of it, like the beef he had with Hunter Strickland that led to an on-field brawl that ended Mike Morse’s career, or the players getting together to anonymously vote Harper the most overrated player in baseball, is not. 

Bryce Harper upset Nationals fans with the way he negotiated his first contract at 19, and when it came time to decide which $300+ million dollar deal he was going to sign in free agency, he upset them again by drawing out the process and stringing them along, only to sign with their hated rival

Bryce Harper’s time with the Phillies has been fruitful, winning his second MVP award last season, and lifting Philadelphia to the World Series this year with his stellar play. He still has the same punchable face he’s always had, but he seems to be more mature. 

Maybe it’s turning 30. Maybe it was watching the Nationals win a World Series without him, and having Juan Soto erase every franchise record that Bryce Harper previously had as the youngest to achieve different statistical benchmarks. 

One way we saw Harper’s personal growth was earlier this year, when he was beaned on the thumb by his childhood friend Blake Snell, costing him 53 games in the middle of the season. Bryce Harper reacted to his injury in his usual over-the-top emotional manner, but he acknowledged in the moment walking off the field that Snell didn’t mean to do it. 

It was that same San Diego Padres team that Harper was injured against that he found himself facing last week in the NLCS, and his 8th inning 2-run shot ultimately sent the Phillies to the World Series. 

And now the moment is before him, to redeem himself from every complaint that any casual-to-serious baseball fan outside of the NL East has ever had about him.

I mean, I’m not stupid enough to think that Braves and Nationals fans are ever gonna love the guy.

But if there’s one thing that unites 98% percent of baseball fans, it’s a burning hate for the Houston Astros. 

The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and Bryce Harper has the opportunity to make a whole lot of new friends. 

It worked for LeBron in Cleveland against a 73-win Golden State Warriors team. Maybe it will work for “baseball’s LeBron” against the Houston Astros.

Let that sink in.

Aaron Judge vs Barry Bonds- What Does it Mean to be the “Real Home Run King?”

MLB Aaron Judge Yankees

We need to talk about what it means to be the real “home run king.”

And before you think that I’m about to diminish either Barry Bonds, Roger Maris, or Aaron Judge, take a seat and listen up. 

I’m not here to diminish any of those guys. I’m here to diminish the very idea of diminishing those guys. 

When we call someone a ‘king,’ why do we completely ignore the way that monarchies actually function? When someone is a monarch, they are a monarch for their era. Queen Elizabeth II was the Queen of England. King Charles taking over the crown after her death doesn’t mean Elizabeth relinquishes her title as the longest-reigning monarch in British history. 

And no one I know is wasting time and energy putting an asterisk next to Elizabeth’s name for being a Constitutional Monarch instead of an Absolute Monarch. She was a product of her era, but she still wore the crown. The details of her rule are the footnotes and context that make her reign interesting.

That brings me back to baseball. Part of the beauty of baseball is the recognition of the variance from era to era. The Dead Ball Era, the Live Ball Era, the Integration Era, the Expansion Era, the Free Agency Era, and the Steroid Era are the footnotes and context we provide for the players that earned their crowns.

Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in a season. The context was that it happened in a 154 game season, and he did it without having to face a single black pitcher. There are no asterisks, those are just the details.

Roger Maris hit his 61st home run in his 161st game of the 1961 season. 1961 was the first season that the AL played 162 games. Through 154 games, Maris had 58 home runs. Not to mention, Mickey Mantle’s entire body fell apart in September of that season when he had 54 home runs himself, leaving Maris to chase the record alone. There are no asterisks, those are just the details. 

Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run this week to pass Roger Maris for the AL crown, and two of the home runs he hit this season would only be considered a home run in one park in the entire Major Leagues- an advantage provided by playing in Yankee Stadium with its short right field porch. There are no asterisks, those are just the details. 

Barry Bonds carried 3 MVPs and three On Base Percentage titles into the Steroid Era. He passed Ruth and Roger Maris to become the single season home run king in the 135th game of the 2001 season. He did it while leading the league in walks. He did it batting against pitchers that had access to every chemical resource that he did. And he did it in a season where Phil Nevin, Luis Gonzalez, Shawn Green, Todd Helton and Jim Thome all interestingly posted their best-ever home run seasons.

Jeff Chiu/Associated Pres

For Barry Bonds, there should be no asterisk. Those should just be the factual details and context surrounding Bonds’ place as the Home Run King, not only of his era, but of the NL, and MLB. 
The only thing left to legitimize not only Bonds, but the era in which Bonds played- an era that not only saved baseball from the disinterest brought upon by a work stoppage, but also provided a path forward for baseball to put guidelines in place for performance enhancing substances moving forward, is his inclusion in the MLB Hall of Fame. The same Hall of fame that chose to include Bud Selig in 2017, despite him being in charge of not only the Steroid Era, but also the work stoppage that many people claim necessitated the Steroid Era.

The same Hall of Fame that has no issue carrying the name of notorious asshole and attempted murderer Ty Cobb, and the same Hall of Fame that proudly carries the legacy of Gaylord Perry and his 300+ vaseline-aided wins and 3500+ spit-enhanced strikeouts.

I’m not advocating that anyone be kicked out of the Hall for the sake of purity, I’m asking that baseball simply recognize its royalty with respect to the details and context of their eras, as they’ve done with every era but the one Barry Bonds reigned over.

Baseball’s greatest shame isn’t the Steroid Era, baseball’s greatest shame has always been the exclusion of its Monarchs, starting with the Monarchs out of Kansas City of the Negro Leagues, and now with the refusal to recognize the true Home Run King.

Let that sink in

Fernando Tatis Sr Is Only Making Things Worse For His Son

We need to talk about Fernando Tatis.

And no, I’m not talking about the superstar San Diego shortstop that has squandered the first year of a $340 million dollar contract by crashing a motorcycle and testing positive for a low-level steroid.

I’m talking about the OG Fernando Tatis. The one that’s out here trying to defend his son from legitimate criticism by trying to blame Major League Baseball for the mistake of a very grown, and very rich man. 

Fernando Tatis Sr, who was in the big leagues during the steroid-driven home run race, and the subsequent years of testing and suspensions, should know as well as anybody that there’s no room for error or excuses when it comes to banned substances.

Tatis Sr, who curiously had a career average of one home run per every 17 at bats when he was Mark McGwire’s teammate, and one home run every 37 at bats when he wasn’t Mark McGwire’s teammate, said that baseball has cost itself millions of fans by upholding the letter of the law in his son’s suspension.

Millions of fans? Million with an S? The Padres have only made the playoffs once since Fernando Sr. retired, and in that time averaged just over two million tickets sold per season. They’ve already outsold last year without Fernando Jr taking the field, does Fernando Sr really think the stadium will just be empty now that his son continues to not show up for a brand new reason of his own doing?

Look Fernando- maybe your son got a bad haircut, maybe he got ringworm, maybe he got a prescription for the completely wrong drug, which would be extremely easy to prove, and maybe he applied that wrong drug to his ringworm. Even if all that happened in the way that Fernando Sr claims it did, absolutely nothing changes about the result. Fernando Tatis Jr. tested positive for a banned steroid and the penalty is clear.

And we’re not even going to get into pitching legend Pedro Martinez blaming the Padres for being unaware that their young superstar shortstop was allegedly spraying ‘roids into his fungal rash. The Padres are paying Tatis Jr. to not do stupid things. The money should be enough. Beyond that, if it was Tatis Jr’s intention to cheat, why would the Padres ever be in the know?

At the end of the day, baseball fans, especially the modern ones, are more than willing to forgive and forget when a player owns up to trying to gain an edge in coming back from an injury. What they aren’t good at is having to digest that the young superstar on their team is too stupid to use the correct medication while coming back from an off-the-field injury, and too immature to do anything without a team-appointed babysitter. 

At the end of the day, it isn’t the MLB doing irreparable harm to Fernado Tatis Jr.

It’s his own father, and people like Pedro Martinez doing the damage.

And there isn’t any type of prescription spray that can clear up this type of damage.

Let that sink in.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred Is Way Off Base When It Comes To Minor League Pay

We need to talk about MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.

This weekend, leading up to the all-star festivities, Rob Manfred took a break from his full-time job of not marketing Mike Trout in order to make some hilariously disconnected comments to Hannah Keyser of Yahoo! Sports. 

When asked if MLB owners don’t pay minor leaguers a living wage because they can’t afford to, or because they aren’t interested in doing so, Manfred responded by “rejecting the premise” of the question, and pointing to recent raises, signing bonuses, and housing.

Rob Manfred rejecting the premise of a question about minor league compensation is pretty rich, considering just how rich the commissioner is. On the day he answered this question, he pocketed his daily salary of nearly $48,000, AKA about four times the minimum annual salary of a AAA baseball player, and ten times the annual salary of someone in single A.

“Living Wage” isn’t a buzz word. It has a literal definition, and it varies from state to state. Take the Charlotte Knights, for example. The Chicago White Sox AAA team in Charlotte pays a minimum of $700 a week to its players, but based on cost of living calculations, someone working in Charlotte would need to be making $750 per week to support a one-person household. 

Rob Manfred claims that free housing alleviates that issue, but a minor league season is only 3-4 months long. What are the players that make up the foundation of the game you’re in charge of supposed to do for the rest of the year? 
Surveys have shown that nearly 50% of minor leaguers are working a second job. If minor leaguers can’t make what they need to survive as a professional baseball player, or at the very least be able to fund the pursuit of the baseball dream, it puts the entire future of the league at risk. 

Maybe Rob Manfred isn’t sympathetic to the idea of paying minor leaguers enough to focus on one job because Rob Manfred has deep, personal knowledge that being paid handsomely to do something, like run baseball, doesn’t mean that you actually know what you’re doing.

Let that sink in.

Pujols, Soto, Rodrìguez, and the Continuation of Dominican Baseball Excellence

We need to talk about Albert Pujols and the legacy he’s leaving behind.

On Monday, a 42-year-old Albert Pujols participated in the Home Run derby as an all-star weekend swan song. Earlier this year, Pujols returned to the St. Louis Cardinals on a one-year deal for his final season, and while many people thought Pujols’ inclusion in the derby was a gimmick, he actually advanced to the second round.

In case Pujols time with the star-studded but lowly Angels organization made you forget, this is one of the best baseball players we’ve ever seen.

Albert Pujols is a three-time MVP, two-time World Series champion, two-time golden glove winner, 11-time all-star, is fifth all-time in home runs, tenth all-time in hits, and  third all-time in runs batted in. 

Albert Pujols Introduced as a reserve player in his final All Star game (via

While I’m not like some stuffy baseball gatekeepers who turn their back on the players of the steroid era, it’s definitely worth noting that Pujols accomplished all this in the era of strict PED testing.

What I want to talk about most though is the fact that Pujols has set the stage for Dominican born baseball players to do exactly what he did- stand on the shoulders of giants and ultimately surpass them. Albert Pujols started his first all star game alongside Dominican legends like Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa and Vladimir Guerrero. 

On Monday, it was a pair of young Dominican superstars in Juan Soto and Julio Rodríguez that grabbed the torch from Pujols and showed that the future of baseball is bright. Soto, at just 23 years old, is in the process of captivating the nation with both his play on the field, and a stratospheric contract negotiation with the Washington Nationals that saw him turn down a $440 million contract.

Pujols made sure to let anyone that was listening know that he believes Juan Soto is a future Hall of Famer. Soto’s response? “He’s gonna make me cry.”

Julio Rodríguez, who finished second in the home run derby, but hit over 80 home runs in the contest, was awarded $50,000 more for finishing as runner up ($750,000) than he’ll make on the entire season ($700,000).

The 21-year old Rodríguez said of Pujols, “He’s a legend. It’s amazing that I’m here sharing the stage with him.”

Well Julio, the stage is now yours.  And the next generation of baseball fans, and children in the Dominican Republic, are watching. Time for you and Juan Soto to do what Albert did for you.

Field Of Dreams Game: Determining Other Fantasy Locations

If you build it, Kevin Costner will come to the Field of Dreams game.

I’m covered in goosebumps watching right now. The Field of Dreams game between the Yankees and White Sox was tremendous. Between the entrance, the old uniforms, and the atmosphere, the game blew my expectations out of the water. Walking to the field from the outfield didn’t feel corny. (I couldn’t help myself.) The walk was special and made this regular season game feel like a championship.

Did I mention how cool it was to watch a home run land IN A CORNFIELD?

Every single camera view of the stadium and skyline was picturesque. How could you not want to watch a baseball game here every single day for the rest of your life?

Then, the game ended in complete madness.

Was this the best game ever? Might have been! Now, with a hockey game at Lake Tahoe and a (perfect) baseball game at the Field of Dreams site, where to next? Let’s take a look at some dream venues.*

*Assume logistics won’t be an issue. Pretend this is a perfect world, and a professional sporting event could take place at the venue.

Rucker Park

This is the clear number one answer. I’m not kidding when I say this game would shut down the city. To some, basketball at Rucker Park is more important than basketball at Madison Square Garden. Rucker Park is where legends are made. Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Rafer “Skip To My Lou” Alston, Nate Archibald, and Earl “The Pearl” Monroe all became playground legends before playing in the NBA. NBA stars like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant have dropped by the streetball Mecca to put on a show. If the Knicks were to beat the Nets at Rucker Park, the city would party like the Knicks won the title (sigh).

Lake Placid

Name five more important words in sports than “Do you believe in miracles?” The U.S. didn’t just defeat the Soviets in a hockey game that day. Democracy defeated communism. It doesn’t get much bigger than that. Now, the Olympics probably won’t return to Lake Placid. However, an NHL hockey game would be a great alternative. For this game, Al Michaels has to be the play-by-play announcer. I don’t know Al personally, but I’m sure he would oblige especially if the network let him discuss his gambling plays of the day.

Venice Beach

Come on, Billy! As a New York guy, I can’t speak to the mystique of the Venice Beach courts. However, I have watched a few games there on my rare trips to California and it’s super competitive. Most of my knowledge of Venice Beach basketball comes from White Men Can’t Jump. If the Lakers and Clippers played at Venice Beach, then they must wear the uniforms that resemble the clothes worn by Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes.

White Men Can’t Jump

I would love to come up with a venue for football. The first thing that comes to mind is in the middle of a NASCAR track like the Battle at Bristol.

UFC event on the White House North Lawn? You never know!

What is your dream venue for a sporting event? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.

Pro Sports Postponement: Empathy, Not Divisiveness, Is Key With Fans and Players

Giannis Pro Sports postponement protests

This week, the NBA, NHL, MLB, and MLS all postponed games in wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year old black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The shooting occurred on Sunday, August 23.

Unfortunately, the issue of police brutality has become so divisive in United States society. Many players have come to the forefront for causes they believe in, such as police reform and voting rights mainly.

Athletes Need Fan Support When Deciding to Boycott Pro Sports

Professional athletes are taking a stand. These athletes will not stand for police brutality and voter suppression, but are being met with push back by some fans. There are people that believe that players should shut up and play. Fans may feel this way because they could not decide to not go to work, for example, and be able to take a stand in a way similar to what professional athletes have done.

However, it is close-minded to think that players do not have a distinct purpose and reason for their actions. Yes, they are in a position where they can afford to protest by not “working” in a sense. But for change to occur in society, there needs to be prominent figures at the forefront. The players made the right decision to postpone games on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday because now there is more attention on issues that US citizens should care about. Whether or not one agrees with some of the positions that players have on these issues, players need fan support in the same way they need fan support on game night.

Decision to Postpone or Play Games Should Be Players’ Decision

There have been many people who have called for pro sports teams for the postponement of their games, while some have decided to play their games. If fans want to truly support their players, they will realize that each player views the situation differently. Some players believe that they can show solidarity by not playing. Others feel like playing gives them a platform to be vocal about these issues. Players have been both praised and criticized for the position they have taken.

In the end, the decision to play or not play should be up to the players. Fans can choose whether to support the players’ decision or not. There are charity events and initiatives that players give their time to for the fans. It is time that fans support players in whatever decision they make about playing, whether or not they agree with it.

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Leagues Had Different Ways of Handling Postponement of Pro Sports

The NHL players played on Wednesday. On Thursday, they made a united decision to postpone games Thursday and Friday. There was backlash from certain people over the decision to play Wednesday. Some, including Philadelphia Flyers coach Alain Vigneault, were so focused on playoff hockey. There simply was not enough time for some people within the NHL’s two hub cities to fully grasp the situation.

NBA players were already thinking about their actions days earlier. That is the main reason they were able to come to their decision quicker. They thought about the potential ramifications of their decision and decided to resume play on Saturday. NBA players have been the most vocal about the issue of police brutality. They are the reason that August 26, 2020, will always be remembered.

However, the way both leagues handled the situation was acceptable. Even though the NHL was late to the party, they are playing their games in another country. It was better for the NHL to fully digest the situation from an outsider’s view and make an informed decision.

Divisiveness a Main Narrative Being Written About the USA Right Now

Some fans do not want to watch sports anymore because they feel that through protesting that politics are being brought into sports. Fans may not agree with the avenue in which players are protesting or the causes they are protesting for. This is okay. But right now, the players need to know they have fan support.

There are numerous narratives being written about what is going on in the United States of America right now. However, when some say blanket statements that single other people out in a negative light, they should not expect a positive reaction from their opponents.

A frustrating aspect of these protests is the partisanship that could be associated with them. For example, Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma tweeted Wednesday night about how momentum would need to continue “even if we get a Democrat in the office.” Someone who supports the decision by the NBA players to protest, but does not necessarily identify as a Democrat, could be put off by this statement. However, the divisive political rhetoric of 2020 is the reason that Kuzma feels this way.

There is rhetoric from people that identify as both Republican and Democrat that is extremely frustrating to see. Kuzma tweeted about his belief that there was fear-mongering from Kimberly Guilfoyle, who was speaking at the Republican National Convention. When the term “lawlessness” is being thrown around by people like Kimberly Guilfoyle when describing protests in communities where people like Jacob Blake lived, of course there is going to be outrage.

Issues are Divisive, and People Not Acknowledging Different Viewpoints Could Be Damaging

Kimberly Guilfoyle fails to acknowledge that the majority of people in the streets are peacefully protesting. The protesters want to see a positive change in society. They also realize how real the problem of systemic racism is in the United States of America. People like Guilfoyle come under fire from so many people is because they have not made a simple acknowledgment to Black people that their lives matter. Guilfoyle and many others spoke at the Republican National Convention. They failed to show any solidarity towards the Jacob Blake shooting or the issues that players care about.

Everyone’s vote matters. Every US citizen should have the right to vote. If people want to go to the voting booth, it should be an easy process. Governments have to aid in this effort, and it seems like this is where part of the player’s protest is coming from.

However, Kuzma’s comment might make one question what the push to get people to vote is really about. Someone could interpret it as certain players having an agenda to help a single party out. People can truly educate themselves about all of the candidates, and realize there are more candidates to choose from than the ones with the D and R next to their name. However, it still has to be the person’s option on who they want to vote for, or even if they want to vote. They are given the right to vote, but voting is not required by law.

Postponement of Pro Sports Being Used to Encourage People to Vote and Empathize With the Black Community

We cannot afford to live in a society that preaches fear. When people go to vote, they need to feel assured that their vote is fair. At this point, it has been assured that citizens do not feel confident in their ability to vote. There are flaws in the voting system, and certain groups are marginalized.

The postponement of pro sports games was sparked by a police officer deciding to shoot a black man seven times in the back. This type of behavior by police officers simply cannot be tolerated, and athletes from all sports have spoken. Try to put yourself in this situation. Should someone have to be shot seven times in the back because they may be holding a knife? Jacob Blake did admit to holding a knife, but does he deserve to be handcuffed to a hospital bed? The answer is no.

The reason these protests are happening is that people are not getting equal treatment. Justice is not happening for all right now. It is important that we listen and validate everyone’s concerns with police relations with all communities, especially the African American community. It is important that all of us – athletes, fans, government officials – show the African American community that their lives matter.

Sports Law Issues Don’t Stop During Coronavirus Shutdown

Coronavirus sports lawsuit LeBron James Jimmy Butler Lamar Jackson

The effects of the Coronavirus is being felt in every industry. The sports industry is no different, but that has not stopped lawsuits involving LeBon James, Jimmy Butler, and Lamar Jackson. Roughly two weeks ago the NBA suspended their season after Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for the Coronavirus. Soon after, his teammate Donavan Mitchell tested positive. Both players have recently been cleared of the Coronavirus. However, the continued reality of the threat of the Coronavirus led the MBL, NHL, and MLS to suspend their seasons as well. The NCAA was forced to cancel all spring sports and the March Madness tournament. Most recently, Japan and the International Olympic Committee agreed to postpone the 2020 Summer Games to 2021.

Accordingly, sports fans are relying on the rebroadcasts of classic games for entertainment. Even though the entertainment portion of the sports has come to an unexpected halt, the business of sports keeps turning. This is especially true in the realm of sports law. In the last week, three lawsuits involving some of sports favorite athletes came to light. Two cases involve two of the NBA’s most notable players, LeBron James and Jimmy Butler. The third case involves the 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player of the Year, Lamar Jackson.

Hold on King James…That Photo Does not Belong to You

During LeBron James’ 17-year career, he has been the focal point of some pretty iconic NBA photos. There are photos of James blocking Andre Iguodala’s shot in game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. There is the iconic photo of Dwayne Wade and King James on the Miami Heat when James lays down a monster slam dunk. Before the NBA season was abruptly halted by the Coronavirus, King James was caught in yet another timeless photo. On December 19, 2019 photographer, Steven Mitchell was working the Lakers versus Heat game. Mitchell caught an awesome moment of King James dunking over Meyers Leonard.

Soon after the game, the photo was cropped and posted to James’s Facebook account. The post, which is still up has received over one thousand likes, has been shared 92 times, and has 61 comments. The picture was also posted on James’ Instagram Account. There it received over 2 million likes. To many, this may not seem like a big deal. What could be wrong with James posting a picture of himself? The answer is that it could be a copyright law violation. Accordingly, the photographer, Steven Mitchell, sued LeBron James alleging that posting the photo onto James’ social media platforms infringed on his copyright law protections.

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Does James’ Post Violate Mitchell’s Rights in the Photo Under Copyright Law?

Copyright is an intellectual property right grounded in the United States Constitution. Authors are granted copyright protection for their original works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright protection applies to photos. As such, Mitchell sued LeBron James, Uninterrupted Digital Ventures, and LRMR Ventures for copyright infringement. Mithcell alleges that James and the other defendants infringed on his copyright in the photo when it was cropped and posted on James’s Facebook and Instagram pages without Mitchell’s consent. The complaint asserts that Uninterrupted Digital Ventures and LRMR Ventures operate James’ Facebook page. Mitchell requests a jury trial to determine whether the federal Copyright Act was violated. He also seeks damages up to $150,000 per infringement.

Independent Sports and Entertainment Says Jimmy Butler Needs to Pay Up

Independent Sports and Entertainment (ISE) is telling Miami Heat star, Jimmy Butler, to “show them the money.” ISE has sued Jimmy Butler for breaching a Public Relations Agreement (PR Agreement) he entered into with them in July of 2013. ISE is an integrated sport, media, entertainment, and management company that represents talent throughout the entertainment industry. ISE assists professional athletes’ with their off the field and off the court activities. In the complaint, ISE alleges that Jimmy Butler breached their PR Agreement by failing to give them their share of profits from two deals Butler made with Nike.

Per the PR Agreement, Butler is required to pay ISE a 15% gross compensation fee in exchange for ISE’s services assisting with his personal marketing and public relations. ISE alleges that while Butler was under the PR Agreement, he entered into a contract with Nike where he earned $616,666,67. ISE has not received its 15 percent commission in the amount of $92,250. Butler later entered into an addendum on the contract. On the addendum, Butler received at least 5 million dollars. ISE has not received its 15% commission in the amount of $750,000 on the addendum.

In the complaint, ISE stipulates that the non-breaching party must provide notice of the breach to the breaching party and allow the breaching party 30 days to cure the breach. ISE alleges that they provided written notice to Butler and made attempts to collect the amounts due. Furthermore, ISE alleges that they were put in contact with Butler’s financial advisor Ken Kavanaugh who acknowledged that Butler owed the 15% fee and that payment would follow. The payment never came leading ISE to file this suit. Per the complaint, ISE is seeking damages for the amounts owed on the Nike contract and addendum.

Lamar Jackson Tells Amazon to Stop Selling his Unauthorized Merchandise 

Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback, Lamar Jackson, filed suit against and Services, Inc. (hereafter collectively referred to as Amazon) in a federal district court for infringing on his right to publicity. In the complaint, Jackson alleges that Amazon has directly advertised and sold items bearing Jackson’s name, nicknames, and images without being authorized to do so by him or the NFL. The alleged infringing items include items such as a “LAMARVELOUS Vintage Baltimore Football QB Jackson MVP T-Shirt.” In the complaint, Jackson acknowledges that Amazon had received negative publicity for facilitating the sale of items that infringe on others’ intellectual property rights by third parties in the Amazon Marketplace. However, Jackson contends that the sale of his items is different in that the sale of his items are not in the Amazon marketplace.

Jackson contends that the infringing items at issue are directly falsely promoted and advertised by Amazon as they are designated as “ships from and sold by” Jackson claims to have requested that Amazon remove and stop selling the items in question. However, Amazon has failed to so. As such, Jackson seeks a permanent injunction requiring Amazon to stop the sale of the items in question. Jackson alleges that the unauthorized sale of items bearing his name, image, and likeness on Amazon has negatively affected his own clothing line business. Accordingly, Jackson also seeks damages and disgorgement of Amazon’s profits.

MLB, NBA, and NHL: What to Expect From The Return to Sports

Mike Trout contract LeBron james NBA NFL highest paid

Sports have returned, as the return of MLB baseball to television screens occurred last week. The NBA and NHL seasons will resume this week, as the NBA starts their seeding games on Thursday. The NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers start this Saturday. There is plenty to look for as sports are returning on television screens across the United States.

Fans are interested to see how the gameday dynamic differs between each of the three sports. Players will have to adjust to playing with no fans and new possible distractions during play. In the NBA, there will be giant video screens behind the basket that could impact the game. It will also be interesting to see how people react to the fake crowd noise in these arenas.

What to Look for In MLB Return: Strategy Changes Amid Rule Changes

The MLB has returned, and there have been a few instances of the minor league rule of having a runner on second base to start extra innings. In the Angels-Athletics game this past Friday, Angels manager Joe Maddon decided to go with a five-person infield once the A’s loaded the bases in the bottom of the 10th inning. It did not matter, as A’s first baseman Matt Olson hit a walk-off grand slam to end the game, but it gave a lens into how managers may try to approach extra innings. The A’s won the game, 7-3.

Another rule change that the MLB implemented even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit was that relief pitchers either had to face three batters. This rule change means that managers cannot use pitchers for individual matchups as readily as they would like. It will be interesting to see if relief pitchers do better or worse because of this rule. Managers will also have to manage their bullpen vastly different now.

One interesting tidbit of information from opening weekend is that no team was swept. Every team has already won a game. The gameplay proved to be competitive. Because of the shortened season, look for less sweeps to happen throughout as teams may have more of a focus on each individual game rather than the whole series.

What to Look for In NBA Return: How Teams Mesh Based on Roster Changes

In the NBA, there are certain teams whose rosters will look vastly different. The Brooklyn Nets will not have either Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant due to injury. They have also had four additional players opt out of the restart. The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Andre Roberson made his first appearance in two years.

One of the interesting teams to watch in Orlando will be the Denver Nuggets. Before the pandemic, Nuggets fans were clamoring for Michael Porter Jr. to get more playing time. Now they will campaign to see Bol Bol get more playing time after his great performances in the Nuggets’ scrimmages together. It would be hard for any team to be able to defend a frontcourt with athletes of the caliber of Bol and Nikola Jokic. The Clippers and Lakers are the two favorites out west, but the Nuggets may force their way onto the national radar more if they can get production out of Bol Bol.

What to Look for In NHL Return: How Much Parity Will Be on Display in Stanley Cup Playoff Qualifiers

In the NHL, the 5-12 seeds will be playing five-game series to qualify for the 16-team traditional Stanley Cup Playoff bracket. These series have the potential to be closer to five games because of the long layoff. Still, expect teams with great individual talent on the offensive end to start off fast in this tournament. Some people believe that the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens have chances in their series because of their goaltenders. However, the Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins, New York, and Montreal’s respective opponents, have better rosters. I think most of the higher-seeded teams will end up winning these qualifying series.

Also, it will be interesting to see how much the round-robin play for the top four seeds in each conference affects how they will play the rest of the way. One of these teams could technically lose all three of their round-robin games and still win the Stanley Cup. It will be interesting to see which of the top teams is able to peak in these early games, and if that will lead to further success in the playoffs.

Grab your popcorn, chips, or whatever you eat when you watch sports, because there is going to be a lot to watch on your TV screens for the next few weeks.

2020 MLB Season Prediction: Yankees Over Cardinals In World Series

MLB Aaron Judge Yankees

The 2020 MLB season starts this Thursday. Although there will not be fans at the games, they will be happy to see the return of America’s Pastime to their television screens. Using the website, I predicted what each team’s record will be at the end of the 2020 MLB season.

A 60-game season is not traditional for the MLB. The 162-game marathon has been turned into a sprint. This could benefit teams that may not be looked at as favorites, as one seven or 10-game winning streak could vault a team into playoff contention at the end of the season.

My prediction ended with familiar teams in playoff spots. I think this happened because these teams have proved that they can rise to the occasion.

2020 MLB Regular Season Standings Prediction

AL East

(1) Yankees 38-22

(5) Rays 35-25

Red Sox 32-28

Blue Jays 24-36

Orioles 16-44

AL Central

(2) Twins 37-24

(4) Indians 36-25

White Sox 29-31

Royals 22-38

Tigers 19-41

AL West

(3) Astros 36-24

Athletics 34-26

Angels 32-28

Rangers 25-35

Mariners 24-36

NL East

(3) Nationals 37-23

(4) Braves 35-25

Phillies 34-26

Mets 31-29

Marlins 17-43

NL Central

(2) Cardinals 40-20

(5) Cubs 35-25

Reds 33-27

Brewers 28-32

Pirates 22-38

NL West

(1) Dodgers 41-19

D-Backs 29-31

Giants 28-32

Rockies 27-33

Padres 24-36

2020 MLB Season Prediction Lands Eight of 10 2019 Playoff Teams In Field

In my prediction, four of the five teams in both the AL and NL were the same as 2019. think there will be a lack of new teams in the playoffs because teams simply have not had that much time together. The more battle-tested teams will be playoff-bound, as they have the experience playing in more high-stress situations. In a 60-game season, every game will have more intensity to it, as there is much less room for error.

St. Louis Cardinals Will Make the World Series

My prediction for the 2020 NL playoff bracket has the Braves winning their respective Wild Card game. The Braves and Dodgers will have an entertaining NLDS series that goes five games, but the Dodgers will exorcise the demons from their Game 5 loss to the Nationals and advance. The Cardinals will beat the Nationals in four games. I believe that the Cardinals’ pitching staff is one of the up-and-coming rotations in the league, led by Jack Flaherty. They will be able to go toe to toe with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg in an NLDS series where they will only have to face each of them once. Also, the Nationals do not have Anthony Rendon. While I think that Rendon does not make the Los Angeles Angels make the playoffs in the AL, he was one of, if not the most clutch player during the Nationals’ postseason run in 2019.

The NLCS will feature two familiar teams with the Cardinals and Dodgers. I picked the Cardinals to win in seven games, as the series could go either way. These two teams have had their share of playoff battles due to their great pitching rotations. Clayton Kershaw has had an illustrious career, but has not had a signature postseason moment. Many are wondering if he will ever have that moment.

New York Yankees Primed For Number 29, but Will They Get It?

In my AL playoff bracket, I have the Twins beating the Indians in what will be dubbed “Game 61” to win the AL Central pennant. The Indians will then beat the Rays in the AL Wild Card game. However, the Indians will have a hard time beating the Yankees. Signing Gerrit Cole gives the Yankees an edge that they have not had over the past few seasons. While Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton are decent, they have always struggled with their consistency. Gerrit Cole is the unquestioned ace of the team, and will help the Yankees in the playoffs.

They will play the Astros in the ALDS. Houston will struggle more so this season because they won’t be able to steal signs, but the talent is still there. It is hard to bet against George Springer, Jose Altuve, and the rest of the Astros’ starting lineup. However, they will not be able to get past the Yankees.

2020 World Series Prediction: Yankees over Cardinals in Seven

As much as it pains me to give this news to baseball fans that do not have allegiances to the Yankees, but this may be their year. They have home run hitters in Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Also, having a reliable second baseman in DJ LeMahieu doesn’t hurt. I think that they have the most firepower out of any team this season, and they will want to avenge their two ALCS losses to Houston. They have a more complete lineup than St. Louis, and that is why they have the edge.

This MLB season should be fun, and it will be interesting to see if the teams that usually do well end up in the playoffs or if there may be multiple surprises in the 10-team field come October.