Monday, January 31, 2011

Hey Look at Me! I Make $1 a Year

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently mentioned that if the NFL were to experience a lockout, that he would take an annual salary of just $1 until it is resolved. He mentioned his top advisor would do the same. Not to be one-upped, the Player's Union head said he'd settle for a few quarters if the potential conflict is resolved by the Super Bowl.

These gentlemen are not the first titans of industry to give up their high income as to appear selfless and company success driven, and they most certainly will not be the last. What annoys me about that, is that it only serves to call more attention to the ridiculous packages these guys have. For example, Goodell makes $10mm, his advisor $5mm. So common $40k a year fan sees his favorite player make $14mm a year, knows the owners are all billionaires and now gets it shoved in his grill that the bosses in the league have so much freaking money that they can just not get a salary for a year and be fine. And let's be real, what does he even spend money on? You know CEOs and the type have ridiculous spending accounts and the NFL assuredly provides him with a car and takes care of most of his travel, lunches and so on.

Though it's been mentioned before in the response to this, how about he ensures that the money goes somewhere where it will be effective. Like helping keep the salespeople employed at each team, or paying the stadium staffers that are out of work because there is no season. The millionaires fighting with billionaires take is cliche, but accurate to some degree. As Gus mentioned yesterday, a lot of guys on NFL rosters (third stringers, scout teamers) are not flush with paper and having to worry about parking the Bentley in front of the Bugatti or the Ferrari next to the Aston. Either way, these guys get to do what they love for a living, which is more than a lot of Americans can say. Heck, I could probably, no definitely, make more doing what I do outside of the sports industry, but to me, I'd rather love what I do than have extra bills to make it rain every week (I only make it rain once a month now).

Though it can be frustrating, the last few days of tweets from reporters complaining about covering the Super Bowl in chilly Dallas eclipses the annoyance of CEOs taking $1 a year. Shut up. you're getting paid to report on football. There are 1000000000s of fans who would trade what they do for what you do without thinking about it. Show some respect to the people reading your tweets, blogs, articles and game recaps and be happy you're there. Taking something for granted is a big no-no in my book whether it's your health, your family, your friends or your job. Be thankful and happy with what you got, because it's more than what others have. Unless you'e that guy. The one guy in the world who has three kinds of AIDS, Ebola, Leprosy, broken bones, no family, job or friends. Sorry bro. No one can tell you that someone has it worse off.


NFL Players Are Underpaid [Mondays with Gus]

Mondays with Gus! I'll hit you with something tomorrow somewhat related to this piece.

Before I start, I want to let you know that I am actually an expert (of sorts) in this field. My undergraduate degree is in Management and Human Resources, while my professional work has been in financial analysis and financial planning. I have studied the NFL pay structure and am of the opinion that the NFL players are grossly underpaid.

Typically, fans see the salaries of the highest paid players and assume that all players are paid handsomely. This is not the case. The average NFL career lasts 3 years, and career earnings are commonly under $1 million. This is significant because the NFL essentially provides no health insurance for it's players. Think about these guys that retire because of health concerns (most of them), and have a medical record a mile long due to injuries. It's not easy to get a good rate on health insurance, if they can get it at all. Since they retire before age 30, they're looking at easily $500,000 in medical costs in their lives. That's pretty rough for a person that will net under $600,000 after paying taxes on a grand total of $1 million in income (in most cases).

The fact of the matter is, many of the guys that can even make it to the NFL are ending up losing more money than they make. Between the false impression that they're rich (agents have to make them feel like they've signed a rich contract to keep clients), and the social stigma that goes with everyone thinking you're rich because you make six figures, it's no wonder so many NFL players retire into bankruptcy (78%).

Try working for a billionaire, being coached by a millionaire, and having your agent tell you you're going to be filthy rich very soon and you can see that the NFL is going to have a tough time telling these players they shouldn't go on strike for better conditions next season. The bad part for the NFL is, if they don't pay the players then athletic kids (and intelligent parents) will surely flock to the NBA and MLB. The NBA has already talked about expanding over 30% over the next 10 years, partly because of this (success of basketball in Europe being another reason). Concussion risks are coming to light, and now the NFL is telling the players to suck it up and add another two games to the schedule.

Enjoy the Super Bowl this year, folks. Really sit back and appreciate the fun that is two tough NFL teams going at each other. Because, in all honesty the NFL may have peaked and we may end up sounding like old timers when we talk football. When we say “The NFL was the biggest sport in America” it might sound like me when I say “When I was a kid there were only three flavors of Gatorade!”

Please, enjoy the Super Bowl. We might have to wait two years to get another one.

-Ghassan Rafeedie

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mock Drafts? Mock THIS! (OHHHHH) [Mondays with Gus]

And now introducing a new feature for the Meatballs. Mondays with Gus. It's like Tuesdays with Morrie, but cool. Every Monday, the Gusball will hit us with some insightful, sharp and satirical (often) words. Enjoy and be glad you're not this guy. Also, yes, I know it's Tuesday, but yesterday was a special day for the blog and we wanted to welcome the new readers trampling to the site from the LoHud Yankees Blog because of your boy's guest post.

Seriously? No, seriously? There are mock drafts galore right now for the upcoming NFL draft, and I can't help but think that everyone involved has to be an idiot.

Don't get me wrong. I love me some NFL draft. The NFL draft is like a Chinese Buffet. You're not supposed to do it all the time, but when you do, not even the feeling that you just gained seven pounds in one sitting can stop you from feeling glorious. But it's WAY too early to get excited about this. Let me count the ways:

1. We don't even know the draft order yet! How can you have a mock draft when you don't know who's drafting in what spot? To use one of ESPN's lines against itself: Come on, man! At least wait until the Super Bowl is done so we know the order. (Ed. note: Come on, man! Was clearly stolen from Ed Lover's C'mon Son! Also I'm pretty sure Gus is going to get sued for calling it the Super Bowl.)

2. The combine. You know how there is always that one kid in gym class that is like six inches taller than everyone else and he immediately gets picked first in every sport? And you remember how often that kid sucked? The combine makes those kids look awesome. Everyone said Joe Haden, CB from Florida ran a slow 40 and shouldn't crack the top 10. He ranked fourth in the NFL with six INTs this year. The Jets loved how awesome Vernon Gholston of Ohio State looked because of the combine. He sucks. Stupid shit like that happens every year. Yet, that's a huge part of the draft process. Guys that suck look awesome. You have to see how many idiot GM's fall in love with those kinds of guys to make a real mock draft.

3. The Senior Bowl. You ever been at a college practice? Neither have most scouts and GM's, until the Senior Bowl. You gonna believe what a kid says in an interview about how he practices? Not when there is $60 million on the line. Has the kid had to play and practice against elite talent? Probably not. Does he have an NFL coach on the sideline? Nope. The Senior Bowl is one of the best ways to test a kid's preparation before the game, and a mock draft before that game happens is incredibly short sighted.

Believe me, I understand why ESPN does this. Browns and Bengals fans are talking about the draft during training camp and this is ESPN's chance to validate their obsession. It's this “early bird gets the worm” mentality. Yeah, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

But seriously, stop reading ESPN's garbage. Mel Kiper doesn't know s###* about players or what teams are doing right now. He doesn't even know who's picking 29-32. But then again, that's why he changes his draft board 647 times until the draft comes along. He doesn't have to know shit. Because people are going to pay attention anyway.

*For the record, I enjoy Mel's coverage on the draft, but my point here is that nobody knows what's going to happen or what's going to change.

-Ghassan Rafeedie

Monday, January 24, 2011

Andy Pettitte is Not a Hall of Fame Pitcher

It pains me to say it, but when I think with my head and not my heart, it's the truth. For the Meatball faitfuls, check out my full assessment on the LohHud Yankees Blog over here. And for the LoHuders, thanks for coming, please take a minute to check out my blog!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Arena List 2k11

Wanted to update my running list of sports venues I've attended now that I have added to it since posting them nearly two years ago. Here's my original post (from March 2009) with new stadiums added in italics.


Hey there sports fans, a few years ago, I decided to keep track of all the places I've been to watch sports as I felt like I was accumulating a decent sized list. I've included all the arenas, stadiums, parks, courses and fields I've been to and I invite you to do the same. I keep the list of venues on my computer along with pictures of many of them. I hope to reach 100 before I die.


Yankee Stadium (New York Yankees), Rangers Ballpark (Texas Rangers), Shea Stadium (New York Mets), Great American Ballpark (Cincinnati Reds), Camden Yards (Baltimore Orioles), RFK Memorial Stadium (Washington Nationals), New Yankee Stadium (New York Yankees), U.S. Cellular Field (Chicago White Sox), Progressive Field (Cleveland Indians), Comerica Park (Detroit Tigers), Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox)


Lackawanna County Stadium (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons), Dr Pepper BallPark (Frisco Rough Riders), Cooper Stadium (Columbus Clippers), Greer Stadium (Nashville Sounds), BB&T Coastal Field (Myrtle Beach Pelicans), Huntington Park (Columbus Clippers)

NCAA Baseball

McKie Field (Miami Redhawks), Disch-Falk Field (Texas Longhorns)


Giants Stadium (New York Giants), Paul Brown Stadium (Cincinnati Bengals)

NCAA Football

Yager Stadium (Miami Redhawks), Ohio Stadium (Ohio State Buckeyes), Michigan Stadium (Michigan Wolverines), Gerald J. Ford Stadium (SMU Mustangs), Michie Stadium (Army Black Knights), Cotton Bowl (Alabama Crimson Tide/Nebraska Cornhuskers)


Madison Square Garden (New York Knicks), American Airlines Center (Dallas Mavericks), Conseco Fieldhouse (Indiana Pacers), Quicken Loans Arena (Cleveland Cavaliers)*


Millett Hall (Miami Redhawks), Schottenstein Center (Ohio State Buckeyes), Thomas & Mack Center (UNLV Runnin' Rebels), University of Dayton Arena (Dayton Flyers)


Continental Airlines Arena (New Jersey Devils), Nationwide Arena (Columbus Blue Jackets), American Airlines Center (Dallas Stars)

NCAA Hockey

Goggin Ice Arena (Miami Redhawks), Goggin Ice Center (Miami Redhawks), Schottenstein Center (Ohio State Buckeyes), Ford Field (Frozen Four/ Detroit Lions), Verizon Center (Frozen Four/Washington Capitals)


Deja Blue Arena (Texas Tornado), Kay Yeager Coliseum (Wichita Falls Wildcats)


Pizza Hut Park (FC Dallas), Giants Stadium (Morocco/Saudi Arabia national teams), Columbus Crew Stadium (Columbus Crew)


Four Seasons TPC Irving (Byron Nelson Tournament), Muirfield Village Golf Club (Memorial Tournament), Ohio State University Golf Club (Nationwide Tour)

High School Sports

US Bank Arena (Oak Hill Academy/North College Hill HS), The Pit (Elder HS)


Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (every race!), Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Indy 500)

*Going in February

Friday, January 14, 2011

“Action is a B****”

Guest Post from a first timer The Ghassball.

If you're confused by the title, you should be. That's precisely what Buddhists and Hindus see when LeBron James tweets about karma. Let's revisit the tweet for any of you that live under a rock (no offense, it's just that I doubt living under a rock gets you access to good information, that's all):

"Crazy. Karma is a b****.. Gets you every time. It's not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees

First of all, karma isn't a bitch. It doesn't pee on fire hydrants, beg for scraps of dinner, or invite you out on a date only to show up to your table making out with some other guy. Karma is the Hindu and Buddhist philosophy used as a path to becoming a better, more selfless person. It means “action” in Sanskrit.

What's amazing to me is how he uses karma to make fun of someone. Karma's purpose is to show you that your actions impact many people and therefore should be as selfless and charitable as possible. In tweeting about karma in order to insult people, LeBron is showing that he is wholeheartedly ignorant of the entire philosophy. But why doesn't that stop him from talking about it? In the words of the Dalai Lama:

"We can conceive the nature of mind in terms of the water in a lake. When the water is stirred up by a storm, the mud from the lake's bottom clouds it, making it appear opaque. But the nature of the water is
not dirty."

To continue with this analogy, what is it that's clouding LeBron's water? As any Cavs fan can tell you, he's never behaved like such an openly ignorant way. Ten months ago he was “wise beyond his years” and now he's being an absolute idiot. He went from the most beloved athlete on the planet to being hated everywhere he goes. So what is it? Dan Gilbert's letter and Cleveland's angry response to LeBron.

Dan Gilbert writes an incredibly childish letter to LeBron and everyone laughed at him for it. But, it appears to still be sticking with LeBron. He's behaving like an idiot right now, and we can say that Dan Gilbert may have done this to him. Does that make Gilbert smart? No. But the more LeBron tries to act nice and smart (and fails), the more Dan Gilbert comes out on top.

One championship and Gilbert is a saint in Cleveland. LeBron could win three championships and
would hardly be meeting the expectations he set (he said he could bring seven rings to Miami. Tough to do on a six-year contract).

But, to continue with all of this would just be to bicker even further. Both of these men acted like children and it's about damn time we get back to talking primarily about basketball, not religion.

The two may never be fully separated, but nobody organized basketball as a way to talk religion. To everyone involved, from Cavs fans, to Dan Gilbert, to LeBron and everyone else. Take the advice of the Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna:
"O King, act in such a way that the ruined don't ruin you."

"Get back to worrying about the high pick and roll since both of your teams have such slow point guards and no center."

"Brady Hoke was our First Choice"

Really, Pizza boy? You're going to look at me with a straight face and say that? Come on bro. You didn't make offers to Les Miles and Jim Harbaugh because you knew they wouldn't accept the offer. It's like I bought this used Hyundai because it was my first choice, even after I looked at new Lambos and Aston Martins. NO. I bought the used Hyundai because I knew I could afford/get it and the Aston was much better suited in the dealership than out front of my crummy apartment. I would love to date Adriana Lima, but she can be real with me and not pretend that I was her first choice. I don't care, tell me I'm the 50th choice, I know I'm not on her level and I'd be happy that she was honest with me. The guy, who is under .500 as a coach, I'm sure is tickled that he's now UM coach, regardless that he wasn't the top pick.

Yo, Bron. If you're going to say you embrace this villainous role the fans have put on you, then EMBRACE it. Don't be passive-aggressive, tweeting that "Karma is a b****..." but not even actually typing the word. Sac up my man. Then when it's the lead story on six ESPN shows, you're going to come off it and say it was retweeted when it clearly wasn't and that it had nothing to do with the Cavs. Ever heard of Sherlock Holmes (it could have been Colombo or any other number of fictional detectives)? He said there's no such thing as coincidence and I happen to believe him. You didn't just tweet that completely unrelated item at that perfect time. Own it and people will respect you.

Yankees bullpen just got even dirtier. The best closing pitcher in the history of closing or pitching plus last year's league leader in saves. NBD. It reminds me of when the Yankees traded for Armando Benitez, except that Soriano is good and not a headcase. Attention: K-Rod, you're now the third best closer in New York. And don't forget that Joba can regain that dominance of a couple years back when he's pitching in the less pressure-y 7th inning with Dave Robertson and doesn't ever have to face a lefty because of Pedro Feliciano's arrival. Boston, you have the big bats; Philly, you have the dirtiest rotation since mid-1990s Atlanta, but the Yankees can play six innings of baseball, get a lead and the game is ova. It's like little league out there for the pinstripes.

I'll leave you with this, from Major League...The five ways you and your friends can pick up girls:

1. The Lone Wolf- You show up at the bar and within 15 minutes he’s gone from your group. He’s probably already sitting next to a girl at the bar, or getting to know a group of girls at the table. You’ll see him for possibly 10 minutes tonight, and most of that will be him telling you about his chick, or some other nonsense. This guy never ever drives others to the bar, because odds are, you know he’s not interested in being able to be your DD home.

2. Nobody likes the next guy. He’s creepy. Say hello to The Sell-Out. He’s here to do whatever he can to hook up with a girl, even if she’s into you. He’s gonna talk trash about anyone he needs to in order to elevate his standings with the ladies. Absolute kryptonite when multiples are playing a group of bitties. He’s going to ruin the whole atmosphere for everyone, and he’s totally fine with it.

3. 3rd on our list is The Team QB. Think of what the house mother is to sororities, only the exact opposite. This guy makes sure he’s taking care of everyone, putting you in the best possible position to get with the girl. It’s not about stats with him on how many girls he could have tonight, but rather making sure that his pack of buddies can score. You may know his brother, The Point Guard. Both are invaluable members of any group. However, like in Highlander, there can be only one. Too many field generals out at the bar just causes confusion and leads to more unused condoms than you can imagine.

4. The Vulture. Much like the lone wolf, the Vulture likes to work on his own. However, he silently stalks his prey, waiting for that point that his target has had one drink too many, and is displaying considerably clouded judgment. Signs of a Vulture are gazing across the room without moving for long periods of time, constantly walking past a table of girls almost as if it were guard duty, and waiting until his target has removed herself from the group to make his move.

5. The Pack. Usually a larger number of males that find a position at the bar, and stay there for the majority of the night. They allow the girls to approach them as they are too busy enjoying man stuff. Reconnaissance missions are deployed throughout the night, as search parties of usually 1 or 2 go looking for girls to bring back to the pack. Whether successful or not, the pack usually has a good time, and if things aren’t going too well, they will just move to a different bar.