Major League Baseball Security After the Boston Marathon Bombings

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In 2001 when four planes were hijacked by terrorists it changed the way security measures were looked at in the United States and around the World. It took quite a long time for people to feel safe in their own country again, especially at sporting events or places where a large number of individuals were gathered. Security measures were re-evaluated at all stadiums and many changes were implemented. Since then there have not been any attacks to major sporting events in the United States until last month when two brothers brought home made pressure cooker bombs which exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The explosion killed 3 spectators and injured 264 other innocent people. After an intense manhunt, one brother was killed and the other was found by police. This was the worst attack on a sporting event since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing which killed two people.boston

In light of this attack, all sport facilities have reviewed their policies and procedures to make sure they are still being followed and are up to par. Major League Baseball stadium operation officials all flew out to New York City the week after the attacks to discuss potential changes in the way security procedures are handled at all 30 MLB stadiums. MLB said they had planned a meeting with all stadium operations managers prior to the bombings and that the meeting was not a direct result of the bombings. In an interview with ESPN on April 23rd, MLB spokesman Michael Teevan commented on the meetings. “This stadium operations meeting scheduled for later this week was not a product of the incidents in Boston,” Teevan said. “It is a part of our ongoing efforts to discuss state-of-the-art security measures with the clubs, and it’s standard operating procedure.”

petco parkEarlier today I had the privilege to speak with the VP of Stadium Operations for the San Diego Padres, Mark Guglielmo. He could not talk about any details that were discussed at the meetings in New York but he did give some input on his feelings towards ballpark security. He felt that moving forward when these types of incidents occur its best to review procedures and practices and make sure that all people related to putting on events follow those procedures that are in place. “As these types of events increase, security measures are escalated as well” Guglielmo stated. He also discussed the role that federal, regional, and local law enforcement agencies play in ensuring a safe environment for fans, staff, and players at sporting events. “They provide great intelligence and assist in the planning and preparing of potential threats.” He was able to say that he would not be surprised if MLB made a recommendation to adopt increased security measures at MLB stadiums which may include mandatory wanding of guests as they enter the stadium. Guglielmo said, “MLB is looking at ways to screen fans in the most expeditious way possible while remaining diligent with security protocol.”

In addition to talking with Mark Guglielmo, I was also able to speak with Ken Kawachi the Director of Event Operations at Petco Park. He discussed more of the human element of how security is managed at a stadium. All it takes is for one security guard to be having a bad day or to lose focus and someone can come into a secured area or bring something in they are not supposed to. Training staff to look for suspicious items and articles which is key to the prevention of disasters. USA Today had a great article written a few weeks ago about stadium security. It went into depth about how many stadiums and entertainment venues put on a “security theater”. The venue makes it look like there is enhanced security in place but in reality fans and guests are still “relying on low-paid, part-time security guards with spotty training and even criminal convictions”. “Security in the United States is all about bells and whistles,” says Rafi Sela, a former official with the Israel Defense Forces. “You see the guards standing at stadiums and bus stations. It’s not even considerable deterrence anymore.”

mlb securityThis so called “stadium theater” was proven at the Super Bowl this past February. Two students from Savannah State University snuck into the one of the highest guarded sporting events in the World. A video which they posted online shows them walking by numerous security guards and eventually gaining entry into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. This proves that even with the highest level of security that without the proper security personnel any terrorist attack is possible.

Since the attacks, security at Citi Field in New York has seemingly increased. According to an ESPN article a fan came into the stadium with a standard-sized backpack and got a thorough examination at the gate. The fan stated that security personnel went through everything, including his wallet. I could not find any further information regarding if Citi Field had changed their policies, however in light of the Boston bombings everyone is on edge. Security at Petco Park in San Diego has remained the same and I have not noticed any through screening similar to the fans account at Citi Field.

policeIn my opinion, MLB needs to step up their security measures and each club needs to review in detail their best practices in order to prevent a potential attack. Security personnel need to be properly trained and fans and guests should feel safe entering a stadium or venue. Terrorism is everyone’s problem. The motto goes, “if you see something, say something”. Will a terrorist or extremest attempt to blow up another sporting event or plan an attack on a Major League Baseball stadium? Who knows, but it’s everyone’s responsibility to be aware of their surroundings and take as many preventative measures as possible.

What’s in a Name?

If you take a look at any sporting team, there are two parts to their name. The first is their location and the second is a team name. Sure we have the traditional team names such as the Lions, Tigers, Bears and some creative teams names such as the Celtics, Jazz, and Astros. There are also some controversial names which we will go into a little bit later. It used to be easy to name a sporting team. Pick a dangerous or cool animal and run with it. But what happens when all the traditional team names are gone? You have to stretch and let those creative juices start to flow.

 

Minor League baseball takes the cake for these wacky, random, and off the wall monikers. Here are just a few extremely awesome examples (with their logos):

 

Montgomery Biscuits   biscuits

 Albuquerque Isotopes   isotopes

Savannah Sand Gnats   sand-gnats

Modesto Nuts   nuts

 

 

Ridiculous team names are not limited to Minor League Baseball however. College teams have some pretty interesting team names as well. The top names are:

 

 

Webster University Gorloks   gorlok

UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs   slugs

Trinity Christian College Trolls   trolls

Scottsdale Community College Artichokes   College-Fighting-Artichokes

 

 

Yes, all of these are real team names. Ready for a few more from the world of sports? How about these:

Thailand Tobacco Monopoly (Thai soccer team)    thaitobacco

Hiroshima Toyo Carp (Japanese Pro Baseball)   hiroshimacarp

Cairo Syrupmakers (High School in Georgia)   CHS110thn

New Zealand Black Cocks (Badminton Team)   new_zealand_badminton_black_cocks_tshirt-p235225054443894442qw9u_400

 

What is behind these name choices you may ask? Well let’s start with the Black Cocks. New Zealand wanted to gain more publicity for its leagues so they chose the “Black Cocks” as their nickname. It is a combination of “Black” which is one of the Nation’s colors and “Cock” which refers to the shuttle cock. Obviously this was met with quite a lot of criticism by many as well as the International Badminton Federation (yes there is such a thing) which prohibited the name and required them to change it. The team did get an enormous amount of publicity and also received a sponsorship deal by none other than condom manufacturers.

Some teams do it for the notoriety, while others have names that are specific to their area. The Cairo Syrupmakers for example have their moniker because Roddenberry’s syrup plant was formerly located in Cairo. The Modesto Nuts have their name because of the several type of nuts that are grown in the region. Other teams have their names simply because student or fans voted on the name. The Scottsdale Community College Artichokes were renamed back in the 1970’s when a vote was left up to the students to come up with a new nickname for the team. The students, at the time, were angry at the administration of the school because they felt like the administration was hemorrhaging money, so the students chose an off the wall name and wanted the colors to be pink and white. This caused an uproar by college officials and many lawsuits followed. The nickname and colors stuck for over 30 years and just a few years ago the colors were changed to green and gold but the artichoke nickname remains.

Some nicknames are controversial which had been a topic of conversation in recent years. Many names that are in reference to Native Americans have come under fire. Most teams have kept their nickname such as the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, and others, but have removed logos or imagery that may depict Native Americans in a negative light. The Washington Redskins were brought up in the media just this past week regarding their nickname. Some feel that the Redskins name is portrayed as being racist while others feel it pays tribute to the Native American people. Redskins owner Dan Snyder in regards to the name of the team said, “We will never change the name of the team. It’s that simple. NEVER – you can use caps.” A recent AP poll found that nearly four in five Americans don’t think that the Redskins should have to change their name.

Bottom line is there are funny names, there are names that just make absolutely no sense, there are names that are controversial, and there are names that pay omage to the community. Whatever the reasoning for the teams name is, the goal for each team is to win games and sell tickets. Having an unique name may help merchandise sales but I don’t think it will help a team win more games. In any event, the names and logos are good for a laugh or two and whenever new teams are formed, I hope they keep up with these wacky nicknames.

 

 

The Media’s Love Affair With the East Coast

East Coast BiasThe media’s job is to report on stories and uncover new information to bring to the public. At times the media does a great job of doing exactly that, except they focus a majority of their time focusing in on the East Coast. This is extremely prevalent when it comes to sports. The term “East Coast Bias” is known by anyone that follows sports on a consistent basis. It is so well known that it even has a page on Wikipedia.  Wikipedia defines East Coast bias as the “alleged tendency for sports broadcasting and journalism in the United States and Canada to give greater weight and notoriety to teams and athletes on the East Coast of their respective countries than those on the West Coast”. I personally could not agree with that statement more.

It’s no secret that ESPN, the self-proclaimed World Wide Leader in Sports, covers and glorifies teams on the East Coast way more than they do with teams on the West Coast. Just take a look at this screen shot which led off the broadcast from a 2009 episode of Sportscenter. They are clearly obsessed with the Red Sox and Yankees. Anytime they get a chance to air a game between those two teams, they do. I do understand some of the reasoning for ESPN choosing to cover those teams and other teams on the East Coast more often than teams on the West Coast. East Coast teams bring in more ratings. If you were a network and you could make more revenue by putting on teams on the East Coast that would garner more ratings, you would do it. The higher the ratings the more advertising dollars the network brings in, bottom line. MLB Announcer for FOX and perennial homer, Joe Buck, had a good quote about exactly that. He states, “Fox is trying to run a business and when you have the Yankees on, when you have the Red Sox on you’ve got these teams people watch. That’s when you get the higher ratings and that’s what they’re basing their ad rates on.”espn-sportscenter-bias-red-sox-yankees1

If you take a look at the MLB World Series ratings for the last decade it’s a fact that when East Coast teams are in the game, the ratings are higher. The 2012 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Detroit Tigers set a record low for television ratings. The previous low before that was a tie between the 2008 World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays (which was delayed multiple times due to inclement weather) and the 2010 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Texas Rangers. The highest rated World Series in the last decade was the 2004 World Series which marked the Boston Red Sox’s first World Series win since 1918 and the 2009 World Series when the New York Yankees won their 27th championship.

There are many reasons, beyond ratings, why the East Coast gets so much more notoriety than the West Coast. The time zone plays a overwhelming factor into this discussion. Many writers or sportscasters aren’t awake to see what happens on the West Coast. Baseball games that start at 7:05 PM out here, don’t get underway until 10:05 PM out there. That usually means that by the time the game is over, a majority of the population is fast asleep. The Oakland A’s played a 19 inning game a few weeks ago that didn’t end until well past 1 AM PST which means some people on the East Coast were just waking up as the game here was finishing. If this was a Red Sox or Yankees game, Sportscenter would have been giving updates all night but since it happened out here and so late at night, it didn’t even make the East Coast newspapers.

Most of the East Coast bias blabber is just that, ways to vent about not getting the respect teams and athletes deserve. But what happens when that blabber really does cause people or teams to lose out on awards or recognition they are deserving of.  Last Friday the NHL announced the finalists for the league’s MVP and two players from the Chicago Blackhawks were left off the list and the three people in the running are from the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, and New York Islanders. When this was announced many players went to the media and Twitter to express their displeasure. Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks told the media, “We were pretty well aware that it was going to be all East this year. That’s just the way it is.”

download (2)Is there anything really that can be done about the East Coast bias? I’ve been a sports fan my entire life and having lived on the West Coast that entire time, I can honestly say that I don’t think anything can and will be done about it. It’s something that you just learn to deal with. It’s not the end of the world that teams don’t get covered as much as they should on a major network like ESPN. Thankfully in most regions there are RSNs, Regional Sports Networks, which you can watch which cover the teams you love in depth. ESPN will always be the leader in sports but maybe they should change their motto to “ESPN – The East Coast Bias Leader in Sports”.

Will Happ’s Injury Prompt Pitchers To Wear Helmets?

downloadWhen I was growing up playing baseball in middle school and high school, I did my fare share of pitching. My grandmother, who came to almost every one of my games, had one huge fear about me standing on that pitcher’s mound. She would always be worried about the fact that I was standing only 60 feet 6 inches away from an opponent who’s goal, was to hit the ball I was throwing toward him, the opposite way, as hard as he could. She had this overwhelming fear that I would be stuck by a line drive and would be severely injured. That exact scenario occurred this past Tuesday when Toronto Blue Jays pitcher, J.A. Happ, was struck in the head by a line drive which sent him collapsing to the ground. He was taken off the field on a stretcher and remained in the hospital overnight. Fortunately for J.A. and his family, he turned out to be okay with only a skull fracture behind his left ear that doctors believe will heal on its own. This begs a larger question and one that has been brought up many times before. Should pitchers be required to wear some sort of protective helmet to prevent line drives from causing permanent or even fatal damage?

bryceflorie_display_imageCurrently there are no suitable or discrete devices out on the market. Brandon McCarthy, who was struck with a line drive last September and underwent surgery to evacuate an epidural hemorrhage and stabilize his skull fracture, said that he would be willing to wear a protective device if it was functionally approved by him. Even with a protective helmet or hat, injuries to pitchers can still easily happen. Bryce Florie was in the face by a line drive back in 2000 which caused broken bones and eye damage. He was a solid reliever up until that point but after the injury he was never the same and was not able to come back to the major leagues. So unless a pitcher starts wearing catchers gear out to the mound, injuries and scary moments like this can and still will happen. The odds of a pitcher getting hit in the head is extremely low however, if that makes you feel any better. There are roughly 700,000 pitches thrown per year, and about 0.0004% of the time a batter’s hit makes any contact with a pitchers head. So if you are looking at various odds, you are more likely to die of a car crash than be hit in the head by a line drive throughout  a players major league career.

The question now is, will Major League Baseball do anything about this issue. Unfortunately Happ’s incident probably will have no overwhelming effect on MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to get a rule in place mandating pitchers to wear helmets. The sad truth of the matter, and this is with most major law changes, it will take a death before any change is made. In 2007, Mike Coolbaugh was coaching first base for the Double-A Tulsa Drillers and was hit in the neck which killed him on impact. The following year MLB and MiLB instituted a mandatory helmet rule change for base coaches. At first coaches complained about the helmets but now you rarely hear anyone complaining about the helmets. It’s just an accepted part of the game now.

download (1)Having pitchers wear helmets or protective gear to potentially save lives is a fantastic idea in my humble opinion. Once a manufacturer comes up with a design that won’t impede a pitchers ability to perform at the highest level, we may see some change and pitchers might be more willing to try it out. Until then, whenever a line drive comes screaming back towards the pitchers mound, take my grandmothers advice…DUCK!

 

 

 

 

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Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head…Oh Wait, That’s Not Rain…

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As folklore would have it when a bird poops on you, it is good luck. Well if you are in need of some good fortunes head out to AT&T Park towards the end of a Giants game and your chances of having a bird drop some good luck on you drastically increases. When AT&T Park opened in 2000, known as Pacific Bell Park back then, you would find you occasional seagull gliding over the water of McCovey Cove and the San Francisco Bay. Really for the first decade of the parks existence the seagulls would mind their own business and every now and then venture into the stadium to pick up some scraps of left over hot dogs or garlic fries. No big deal right? Well over the past few years, something has happened. The seagulls seemed to have formed an alliance and are now coming in swarms to the corner of 3rd and King Streets.

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Like clockwork, around the seventh inning of all Giants home games you can see the birds begin flocking into the stadium holding fans prisoner and in fear of their flying excrement. They swoop in like a scene out of the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock thriller “The Birds“. The gulls are there for one thing and one thing only. Food. And lots of it. Once that final pitch is thrown, its no holds barred. The gulls are ruthless and nothing will come between them and their target. The seagulls have become some what of a celebrity around AT&T Park which has led to the creation of a AT&T Seagull Facebook page as well as a Twitter account.

So what can be done about the seagulls? Well the top brass at the Giants have attempted to scare off the seagulls with a few failed attempts. Last season the Giants brought in a red-tailed hawk named Bruce Lee. Lee was perched atop the left-field light tower in a nesting box. It was unclear whether he helped the situation at all but he did become an internet star when he captured and ate a pigeon near one of the dugouts. The Giants seemed to scrap that idea and soon after that video surfaced, Bruce Lee was Kung Fu Fighting elsewhere. Their next option was to hire a falconer however that option proved to be too costly and bloody for a family friendly environment.

centerpiecewideNow it’s back to square one for AT&T Park vs. The Seagulls. Unless they erect a dome or a big net over the stadium, there isn’t much that seemly can be done. Its a pain in the rear, pun intended,  for the custodial crews at the stadium who have to sit back and wait for the gulls to devour the fans leftovers, and then leave their special leftovers. They understand it’s the laws of nature and realize that without the seagulls leaving their poop, there would be less custodians needed to clean it all up. Bottom line is, if you are having a bad day and in search of good luck somewhere, head down to AT&T Park towards the end of the game and your chances of good luck falling from the sky is a lot greater.

 

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A Field of Jeans; 49ers Ink New Stadium Deal

0ap1000000167989The Bay Area now has the distinction of having the two worst named football stadiums in the National Football League. First there was the Oakland Coliseum, which after a few name changes is now called the O.co Coliseum. But now announced this morning the new San Francisco 49ers stadium will be named, wait for it, Levi’s Stadium. No, that is not a typo, and as much as I personally wish it wasn’t true, it is.

The brand new $1.2 billion stadium which is set to open at the start of the 2014 NFL season will go by Levi’s Stadium for the next 20 years, with an option to extend it to 25 years. Levi’s has partnered with the 49ers on a naming rights deal that will pay the team and the city of Santa Clara $220 million over 20 years, which is $11 million annually. This ranks as the second highest football stadium deal in this history of naming rights deals and the third highest deal of all professional sporting stadiums just behind Citi Field in Flushing, NY (home of the New York Mets – $20 million annually) and Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. (home of the New York Jets and Giants – $17-$20 million annually).Levis-Header-thumb-300x153-32571

These types of naming right deal values are not uncommon and certainly won’t last as one of the highest annual values. Farmers Field, if it ever gets built, was listed as a 30 year deal at $20 million annually. It will be very interesting to see how much money the new NFL stadiums in Minnesota (opening in 2016) and Atlanta (opening in 2017) will generate. That is if they opt for a naming rights deal.

In the NFL, there are eight stadiums that currently do not have a corporate sponsorship naming rights deal. Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City Chiefs), Candlestick Park (San Francisco 49ers), Cowboys Stadium (Dallas Cowboys), Georgia Dome (Atlanta Falcons), Lambeau Field (Green Bay Packers), Paul Brown Stadium (Cincinnati Bengals), Ralph Wilson Stadium (Buffalo Bills) and Soldier Field (Chicago Bears). That number will drop to seven next year when Levi’s Stadium opens. So the question remains, why would these seven facilities not don a corporate name or logo on the façade of their building? Each team/building owner has their own opinion on naming rights deals but some felt that by having a corporate name attached to the stadium the only message it sends to fans is that they sold out. A great paper on the debate between having a corporate name attached to the stadium or to not have a corporate name can be found here.

Going back to the 49ers naming rights deal, one thing did kind of surprise me about the decision to go with Levi’s Stadium. Santa Clara is in the heart of Silicon Valley and with so many tech companies based in that area, it’s surprising that the stadium is not called Apple Field, Yahoo! Stadium, or Google Park. Levi’s Stadium is not the most attractive of names but money talks. Levi’s beat out 31 other companies that bid for naming rights on the stadium. Levi’s does have roots in the Bay Area and was founded in San Francisco back in 1853. With an annual revenue of $4.4 billion, $11 million a year to the 49ers and to the city of Santa Clara seems like a drop in the bucket.

 

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Will Levi’s see any return on investment? Only time will tell and with naming rights deals, it’s never cut and dry. Does seeing the Levi’s name and logo on a professional NFL stadium make you want to go out and purchase a pair of Levi’s? It will absolutely get the Levi’s name out there even more than it already is, especially since the 49ers and Levi’s Stadium are the front runner to host the 2016 Super Bowl. The biggest question now is…will Jim Harbaugh get rid of his traditional tan khaki’s and put on a pair of Levi’s 501 Jeans?

 

 

Technology and the Globalization of the NFL

images (1)When many people outside of the United States think of football, they are referring to soccer, or fútbol as it is more widely known. However when you are in the US, football is completely different. The NFL has tried many times to bring American football overseas and each time has not seen the results they were looking for. The NFL has tried the World League of America in 1991, The World League in 1994, NFL Europe in 1997, and the most recent attempt with the NFL Europa in 2006. Each one of these leagues ended up losing money and never consistently produced star NFL players. The NFL also continues to play one regular season game a year in Europe and is expanding that to two games this upcoming season.images

The NFL continues to try to reach international players and gain exposure to the league by way of technology. For years now it has been getting easier and easier for fans to track their favorite NFL team by way of the internet or mobile apps. Young kids and teenagers are able to see American football on television overseas and the exposure of the NFL is becoming more wide spread daily. With all of the advances in television technology, it gives viewers a new look into the game that they were never able to experience years ago. What some international viewer might have viewed as boring years ago, now many are intrigued by how much technology has evolved and changed the game of football. Video games have also played a huge role in getting the NFL brand overseas. Games such as the Madden series have seen mediocre success in international markets but nevertheless is still getting brand awareness in areas of the world that may not be regularly exposed to the NFL.

wernerColts defensive end Bjoern Werner, who is originally from Germany, learned how to play the game of football by playing Madden as a child. He said that he played Madden a lot while growing up and was able to learn all the crazy nuances of the NFL game. In this past NFL Draft he was chosen as the 24th overall pick by the Colts. This goes to show that even though football is primarily played in America, with technology it is slowly becoming an international game and hopefully with more and more technological advancements even more international athletes will find their way into an NFL locker room.

 

Jackie Robinson – A True American Hero

Chadwick Boseman, center, plays Jackie Robinson in the film "42."

Every year on April 15th, Major League Baseball honors one of baseballs true American heroes. He wore #42 for the Brooklyn Dodgers and on that day in April of 1947 he became the first African-American to play professional baseball. That man is none other than Jackie Robinson. After just watching the movie “42: The True Story of an American Legend” it really made me realize and understand how difficult and challenging it must have been for someone to play in a league where almost everyone didn’t want him there. He was an outcast and a villain to many and he had to battle through extremely tough times, but in the end he succeeded.

The movie takes you through Jackie’s early baseball career when he was a member of the Kansas City Monarchs, part of the Negro Leagues. The club president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey, sought out and recruited Robinson to sign a minor league deal with the International League farm club affiliate of the Dodgers, the Montreal Royals. After a year in the minor leagues Robinson was brought up to the Dodgers and played on Opening Day in 1947. Jackie Robinson, Branch RickeyRobinson found himself as the “poster child” for race relations in baseball and because of his hard work and strong personality he was able to withstand the racism of that time and have a glorious 10 year baseball career. During his time in the major leagues he won the Rookie of the Year award, was MVP of the 1949 season, was a 6-time All-Star, helped lead the Dodgers to a World Series title in 1955 and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

Robinson helped pave the way for many African-American players like Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Willie McCovey, and thousands of others. There is one alarming trend in Major League Baseball though in the present day. The African-American percentage in baseball is at its lowest since 1959 when the Boston Red Sox became the final team to integrate its roster. The number of African-American baseball players on the 2013 opening day rosters was only at 7.7% which is down from the peak of 27% in 1975. Four teams this year opened the season without an African-American player on their roster – the St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, and Texas Rangers. The league is so concerned with this drop, that a task force was set up by MLB commissioner Bud Selig to try and reverse this decline.  MLB does currently have some programs in place to help regain many African-American players that have chosen to pursue other sports or career paths but clearly not enough is being done.

42Hopefully with this new movie it will shed a light on African-American players in baseball and what a true hero Jackie Robinson was. He was an inspiration and a great ambassador to the game of baseball. Major League Baseball pays tribute to Jackie Robinson every year on April 15th when all players and coaches don the #42 on their backs in memory of the great legend. White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, or what ever nationality you are, baseball is America’s pastime and everyone is welcome to play!

The Fastest Growing Recreational Trend

people-running-city-marathon-660x400Do you ever find yourself looking at a calendar and wondering what you will be doing when the weekend hits? Well if you haven’t hopped aboard the fastest growing trend in recreational activity, what are you waiting for? No, I’m not talking about “twerking”, I’m talking about fun runs. Fun runs are classified as a race, some timed others not timed, typically a 5k, where participants run with friends or on their own more for enjoyment than competition. Many times the fun run will benefit a charity or organization and most every fun run has some sort of a theme. Runners will come in costume, run through obstacles, have color dye thrown on you, run with your furry four leg friend, and even deck yourself out in glowing gear and run at night.

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Running competitions have been around since the dawn of time and the most popular running events are marathons. There are full marathons which are 26.2 miles and half marathons, which you guessed it, are 13.1 miles. But what about those individuals who don’t want to run that far or just find running some what unadventurous. Enter the 5k fun run. Fun runs have roots as early as a century ago when some creative minds in San Francisco who wanted to help generate funds and boost city moral after the 1906 earthquake, created the first Bay to Breakers in 1912. The event has transformed into an extreme example of a fun run since costumes, or lack of costumes are all but required at this race. In almost every city across America there is some sort of fun run occurring, probably this weekend. There are many fun runs that are strictly local races however the newest trend are racing tours, where the race will travel coast to coast stopping at major metropolitan areas in between.

936860_458287747580912_769443587_nSome of the first touring racing series were Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash which are obstacle course type races in which the course is about 10-12 miles long. The success of these type of races sparked touring 5k fun runs like the Color Run, Hot Chocolate Run, and the company I have the proud distinction to work for, The Electric Run. The Color Run has multiple races nearly every single weekend in 2013 and the Electric Run calendar is booking up fast with races planned nearly every single weekend so far this summer. With registration fees between $40-$65 each race and between 10,000-25,000 participants at each stop, you do the math, it comes out to a lot of money. As with any event there are production costs to put on these types of races but with the continued success of the 5k fun runs, there is surely no end in sight. The big question remains…who will come up with the next unique fun run?

It Feels Like Groundhog Day; Will Selig Really Retire In 2014?

MLB First Year Player DraftFor years now Bud Selig, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, has hinted at retirement. When he began as MLB commissioner in 1992 he only took the position on an interim level and really had no plans of staying put in this office for 21 years.  In 1992 MLB owners voted to oust current MLB commissioner Fay Vincent, which meant Selig was next in line to take the position since he was chairman of the Executive Council of Major League Baseball at that time. He than became Acting Commissioner until 1998 when owners voted to give him the title permanently. Selig has been hinting at retirement for almost 10 years now however he continued to take contract extensions in 2004, 2008, and again in 2012.

t1_selig_apSelig has left a major impact on the game of baseball and has been on the forefront of many milestones and major changes that have shaped the game of baseball. Some major highlights of his career include adding Interleague play in 1997, the creation of the World Baseball Classic in 2006, giving home field advantage in the World Series to the league that wins the All-Star game in 2003, introduction of instant replay for disputed home run calls in 2008, and most notably the stricter performance-enhancing drug testing policies. With all of those accomplishments his legacy is not without some blemishes as well. Prior to the stricter performance-enhancing drug testing policies he was accused of turning a blind-eye to many players who were using PEDs in the 1990’s and 2000’s. He also was given a lot of grief on how he handled the 2002 All-Star game which subsequently led to the change in 2003 which gives home field advantage in the World Series to the winner of that game.

Official Major League Baseball - Close-up Shot

Official Major League Baseball – Close-up Shot (Photo credit: Jason Michael)

Love him or hate him, Bud Selig will go down as one of the greatest commissioners in MLB history. The big question remains to be seen though; is this really it? Will Selig finally close the door on his storied two decade long run as top dog in Major League Baseball? MLB owners sure would love to see him stay as he has been a great commissioner in baseball and has kept teams on the field playing with no labor stoppage since 1994. All signs point to his exit at the end of 2014 and Selig himself seems pretty certain next year will be his last. In an interview with Eric Fisher of Sports Business Journal, Selig states, “I think [the owners] understand. I am done. I do understand some of the feeling out there, but I am done Dec. 31, 2014. That’s it.” So now the big question is…who is up to bat next?

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