As we close out the college basketball season (the Final Four was pretty anticlimatic and Lord help me if Joakim Noah ends up in a Bulls uniform), say hello to Major League Baseball (I’m getting a sickening feeling that this is the year that the arm of Jose Contreras falls off), and head out to Augusta for the Masters (despite the fact that breaking 100 would be a stellar round of golf for me, this is one of my favorite sporting events of the year), here are some links:
(1) Welcome to the Megaprogram Era (ESPN.com) – As I alluded to last week in pointing out that Billy Donovan would be off of his rocker to leave Florida for Kentucky, Pat Forde tackles the subject of top-tier college football schools building up their basketball programs in-depth. I’ve actually wanted to put together a list of colleges that I thought excelled at supporting the two main revenue sports for awhile, but Forde beat me to it here (along with listing those that aren’t doing a good job in one sport or the other despite a lot of time, effort, and money). Please note the very familiar Big Ten school located in central Illinois that he calls “the ultimate football underachiever”.
(2) Billy Packer’s Curious Choice of Words (Deadspin) – Shockingly, this interview was with Charlie Rose rather than Jay Mariotti.
(Confession: There’s only one person in the United States under the age of 70 that watches The Charlie Rose Show on a semi-regular basis. That person is me.)
(3) You Say You Want a Big-Law Revolution (WSJ.com Law Blog) – For those of you that have access to the Wall Street Journal Online, you can check out how some law students put together a “manifesto”, for the lack of a better word, regarding the treatment of attorneys in large law firms. As one of the big-law associates that this seems to be aimed at protecting, I’d say that this is very cute.
(4) Vermont Becomes ‘Offshore’ Insurance Haven (New York Times) – The home of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Birkenstocks, and insurance companies hacking their tax bills with the tact of Tony Montana.
(5) Cubs for Sale, but is Wrigley Field (Chicago Tribune) – As anyone that has worked in the commercial real estate industry knows, new Tribune Company owner Sam Zell is a true genius that makes Donald Trump look like a mom-and-pop landlord. This brings up the interesting prospect of selling Wrigley Field separately from the Cubs in order to maximize what has become one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in the country outside of the coasts. I see the business logic in this from Zell’s perspective and sale-leaseback transactions are pretty common in the real estate world (i.e. a company sells off its physical headquarters to raise cash and then immediately enters into a long-term lease to occupy that same space), but I don’t see why any prospective buyer of the Cubs would want the club without the ballpark. For better or for worse, Wrigley Field is what makes the Cubs organziation a cash cow regardless of how the team performs on the field, so I would think that the future owner of the club would want complete control over what is simply considered to be a high-profile piece of real estate in the Tribune deal.
On a related note, my feeling is that the people’s choice of Mark Cuban as owner of the Cubs is far-fetched. Chicago Heights native, long-time Phoenix Suns owner, and former Arizona Diamondbacks owner and Illini basketball and baseball player Jerry Colangelo seems to be a much more likely choice since he is well-versed in the politics of Major League Baseball, which is a more difficult hurdle to get past than having or raising enough cash. I also wouldn’t be shocked if an outsider such as the Dolan family (the Cablevision scions that ruined the Knicks) or Daniel Snyder (the marketing wunderkind that ruined the Redskins) enters into the race since they have more than enough money and the Cubs would seem to fit into their broader media portfolios well. If all else fails, I can see Minneapolis Red Sox start taking up a collection fund to buy the Cubbies up. I’ll stay away from that one, though.
(6) What Will They Do For an Encore? (Siberia, Minnesota) – Speaking of Minneapolis Red Sox, here’s a video that he posted that seems even more poignant in the wake of another Ohio State failure against Florida. On that note, my college sports predictions will mercifully be put on ice until the fall.