Sunday, July 6, 2008

Further Update on the Patriots v. StubHub Lawsuit - July 03, 2008

Dear Lewis,

As you may know, in November of 2006, the New England Patriots filed a lawsuit against StubHub over our right to provide a marketplace for the resale of Patriots tickets. As part of the lawsuit, the Massachusetts Superior Court ordered StubHub to surrender the contact information of StubHub customers who bought, bid on, listed or sold tickets to a Patriots home game from November 2002 to January 2007.

After exhausting our appeals, we were required to comply with the court's order. Despite our continued efforts to fight turning this information over to the Patriots, the court recently ordered StubHub to surrender that same information (contact information of StubHub customers who bought, bid on, listed or sold tickets to a Patriots home game) from January 24, 2007 going forward. In light of this recent ruling, you have been identified as a customer whose contact information, listing and/or transactional information, must be provided to the Patriots.

We appreciate your patience with this ongoing dispute. If you have any concerns or questions, please contact us at

Chris Tsakalakis
StubHub, Inc.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bobcats Draft Full of Fail

The worst run franchise in the NBA didn't disappoint at the NBA draft last night. Instead of taking the best available player (Jerryd Bayless), or a frontcourt player that would have added much needed size and uh ability(Brook Lopez), the Charlotte Bobcats decided to take point guard D.J. Augustin, an undersized point guard whose skills may not translate very well in the NBA, sort of like the gentleman picture at right.

Even more puzzling, was the Bobcats second pick (#20) in the first round, Alexis Ajinca, a twenty-year-old 7'1'' power forward out of France who epitomizes the "European project big man" cliche that has plauged NBA drafts for the past five years. Ajinca was drafted ahead of much better prospects like Kosta Koufos, Darrell Arthur, D.J. White and Mario Chalmers. All guys who could have stepped in and played right away as at least backups for the depleted Bobcats. Adding more to the hilarity are the rumors from Rick Bonnell that the Bobcats considered taking Alexis Ajinca at number 9 due to his great workouts. Do you now what happens when you draft based on workouts alone and ignore minor things like how players perform in games? Darko Milicic. Rafael Araujo. Nikoloz Tskitishvilli. That's what happens. Alexis Ajinca averaged 5 ppg and 5 rpg in France. As the recently smarter (due to his embrace of statistical measures and end of his man- crush on European workout kings) Chad Ford noted: "has there ever been a player who averaged 5 ppg or less who turned into a decent player?". The rest of the Bobcats offseason should be entertaining as well. Their best player, Gerald Wallace, who's value couldn't be lower after an injury-plauged 2008-2009 season, is on the trading block and they're about to drastically overpay for Emeka Okafor, a double double guy who should have been Dwight Howard. Don't worry though Bobcats fans, at least Adam Morrisson should be healthy enough to play this season!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Week 2 analysis

Now that an exciting week one is in the books, we can begin to start analyzing the prospects for this upcoming slate of games. There is no doubt that week one left its mark in terms of injuries. With key players like Ray Lewis, Cadillac Williams, Chester Taylor, and Eli Manning going down; Chances for a few teams have really gone south fast.

The Baltimore Ravens held their own against the Bengals the other night, but they certainly showed their age as a few of their older star players were sidelined for portions of the game. This worries me, as the Ravens are a solid team built around key players who could be fragile down the stretch. The Giants are another team that could be feeling the blues if Eli Manning’s injury is more severe then the team is letting on to. With the “hefty lefty” as his backup, it could be a three horse race already in the NFC East.

One of the surprising things about last week was the record of favorites against the spread. They hit at a 56.25% clip last week (9-5-2 ATS) to go against the 42% (31-42-7) they have been in the last five years. This could be foreshadowing, as last year was a great year for underdogs. It would not surprise me in the slightest if this season became a reversal to the mean. With this is mind, we are only one week through, it would take another week or two of evidence before I start playing predominantly favorites.

The opening lines have left a few interesting betting scenarios. New Orleans marches into Tampa this weekend only a 3.5 point favorite. Granted the Saints got embarrassed on opening night, but the Bucs will most likely be without Cadillac Williams. In my mind this game feels like it may be to good to be true, so I probably will be steering clear of this match-up. Another intriguing game will be between the Dolphins (+3.5) and Cowboys. After a disappointing overtime loss, the Dolphins will need an even stronger effort to stay competitive with TO and company. I believe if the Dolphins struggle stopping the run (they gave up 191 yards rushing last week), they will easily fall to 0-2.


Chargers +3.5 - I believe that San Diego will come up big in this rematch of last year's AFC Divisional Playoff. I think the Patriots may come back to earth against a legitimate defense.

NYG-GB Under 37.5- Even though this is a very low number, Green Bay scored 10 of their 16 points on pathetic Eagle turnovers. If Eli is out New York will really struggle against a strong Green Bay defense.

Cincy -6.5 Given the horrid outing the Browns showed in week one, I see no evidence that Cleveland will be able to keep this game even competitive. If the Steeler's passing game was too strong, Cincinnati will have no problem bombing it all over the mistake by the lake.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Discrediting pundits' NFL predictions

As a professional ticket broker, it is very hard to take an objective view of the NFL season. In an ideal world, the Cowboys, Vikings, Saints and Cardinals would be NFC division champions and host at least one home game. In the AFC, the Dolphins, Bengals, Jaguars and Chargers would be ideal champions for brokers.

Since the league expanded to the current format, the league has averaged less than 4 repeat division champions. Ironically, every pundit (including on this blog) makes "bold" predicitions that include most of the previous years divison winners repeating. ESPN "experts" picked 83% of last years division winners, choosing to remain ignorant to the past.

History has told us that this simply won't happen. Therefore, the most effective way at predicting the outcome of the NFL in the preseason is identifying the teams that will come out of nowhere and topple the quality playoff teams from the year before. Last year it was the Ravens, Chargers, Saints and Eagles. I personally only saw the Chargers as a lock to win their division last year out of that group.

Here are my 4 teams that will make the leap and host a playoff game this year:

Dallas Cowboys. This one is the smallest leap of faith. With a full year of Tony Romo and a relatively quiet offseason for TO, I see them winning an otherwise weak division. We will see if Romo's quick rise from unknown rookie to cover boy on teeny-bopper magazines everywhere has any effect on his play. (Likewise for thrice champion Brady)

San Francisco 49ers. They have done a great job building this team over the last few years. This is the make or break year for Alex Smith and with a quality RB in Gore this team is poised to overtake Seattle. Smith sure has blossomed since throwing 11 INTs and only 1 TD two years ago, and I expect him to make another leap.

Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals are finally fully healthy and are getting close to being able to field a full team of convicts. After beating the prision guards in the preseason, they look to beat up on the Ravens and Steelers, who will both take a major step back this year. I wonder if Chris Rock is available as an assistant for Marvin Lewis...

Green Bay Packers. As a Lions fan, this is the hardest one to pick. But the Packers have the young talent around Favre to win the division at 8-8 considering their competition is: the Bears, who are a miserable offensive team that traded their leading rusher, the Vikings who have Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback, and the Lions...who are, the Lions. Additionally, For this to happen, Favre has to go through some kind of adversity. Maybe another hurricane, ATV accident or death in the family can improve their chances.
The rest of the divisions will be filled with division winners Indianapolis, New England, San Diego and New Orleans.

Regardless, is there a greater time of year to be a sports hustler? The NFL is upon us, buying season for the NBA is ramping up and the MLB playoffs are quickly approaching.

NFL Season Starts With Plenty of Appetizing Gambling

Finally, we have returned from the gambling hibernation known as June and July. If it weren’t for Tradesports, I probably would have had full out withdrawal symptoms. My co-workers have laughed at my stories of betting on golf, baseball, and (gasp) women’s tennis.

As the NFL begins tonight, it seems finally appropriate to discuss predictions for the upcoming season. Many have billed New England as the overwhelming favorite to win this year. With their stellar off-season, it seems almost a certainty that Billy boy will have no problem guiding his squad to Glendale comes February. If you were considering taking another team to be the AFC representative, I would highly discourage it. Betting against Belichick could be the worst form of gambling available.

The place to find value this year would be in regular season win totals. For example on, the Titans line is at 7. This is a high line for a team that finished 8-8 with a flurry of dramatic wins. Vince Young will have to conduct his high wire act without last years leading rusher and receiver. Pac Man will obviously be gone on the defensive side as well. I believe this year will be a step back for the Titans.

Another team most likely to take a step back is the Chiefs. After an anemic performance against the Colts in the playoffs, they decided to go in a new direction at quarterback. This leaves an older team to suffer with growing pains at the QB position. Unless Croyle proves opposing defenses he can move the ball with his arm, they may be in for a long season. At a 7.5 win line; I can easily see the Chiefs slipping to 7-9 or 6-10.

A team that really seems to be under the radar is the St Louis Rams. “The Greatest Show on Turf” may not be in existence any more, but a Bulger-Jackson-Holt combination may be enough to get this team to the playoffs. The NFC west has been billed as a juggernaut, but I still doubt the Cardinals have drastically improved yet. As for the 49’ers, my rule is any team with Walt Harris should just be contracted. There are no excuses for the Rams to not light it up with a healthy Orlando Pace, under rated Drew Bennett, and new TE Randy McMichael. If the defense can improve even slightly, I see the Rams winning easily 8-9 games in the weak NFC.

As for tonight, this game between the Saints and Colts has been hyped as a track meet. With a total in near 53-54, this will be one of the highest point totals for the entire season. Last year, both over totals listed in the 50’s went under the posted total. Personally, I look for nothing different to get this year started. For both teams to be successful their respective run defenses will need to be tested. Last year most teams adapted a bunker mentality against the Colts, making it difficult for Peyton to connect on the deep routes. I look for much of the same this year.

My Predictions:

NFC West- Seahawks East- Eagles North-Bears South-Saints

AFC West- Chargers East- Patriots North-Bengals South-Colts

AFC Champ- Patriots

NFC Champ- Seahawks

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Lupica Does Not Know Evil

At one point in his career, Mike Lupica was regarded as one of the country's best sports writers. In the present he's well-known for his appearances on the The Sports Reporters. Despite having having a panel of 4 people, Lupica speaks for 90% of the show and interrupts everyone with his PC jargon and valiant non sequiturs. I used to love that show, but now it is terrible compared to PTI and even Around the Horn. If Lupica was on Around the Horn, he would be muted more than Helen Keller. Anyways, earlier in the week Lupica wrote a piece declaring gambling as the "root of all evil". Below is a breakdown of the numerous misrepresentations littered throughout his article along with our commentary.

"For the longest time, the biggest professional sports have wrung their hands in public about illegal gambling, and how it can corrupt everything and everybody, and continued to treat legal gambling with a wink and a nod. "
If the major professional sports treated legal gambling with more respect, as FIFA is attempting to do and the NFL already does, they would be more prepared for the ill-effects of illegal gambling and corruption of referees, players, coaches, etc. The NBA is not doing enough winking and nodding at Las Vegas.
"Or perhaps you think the National Football League puts out those injury reports every week because they think we're worried if the sick players are getting better."
As the Sports Lawyer notes, if the NBA had put out similar injury reports as the NFL does, inside information would be drastically reduced and Donaghy would not have been near as helpful as an informant.

"Even the people running the NFL know that it's not just the most popular sport on television because of those real hard hits. Part of the huge appeal of pro football is because it generates the most betting, insane amounts of money changing hands all the way to Super Sunday. Basketball? There's games every night. Like it or not, that means the red-light district is always right across the street.
Why is this a problem? People are going to gamble no matter what counter-productive laws the empty suits in Washington DC pass. Don't believe me? Prohibition and the War on Drugs worked out real well didn't they? It's much better to regulate and publicly disclose as much information as possible. If a blanket law was passed outlawing all gambling people would resort to shady offshore shops and even shadier local bookies. Instead, myriad legitimate, reputable gambling options exist.
"Somebody walked across that street and put the arm on Donaghy, the one ref we know about so far with a gambling problem, gave him a moonlighting job as a way to get out from under his debts. So are you shocked about Donaghy, or more shocked that it took this long for some enterprising bad guys to figure out a way to finance bad behavior like this?"
I don't think any rational person is shocked. As mentioned previously, increasing referee salary and disclosing "insider information" would drastically reduce this risk. Additionally, I wouldn't say that $5,000 a pick is going to get him out of debt very quickly. Donaghy has either taken the short bus his whole life or had an alternative motive for providing picks than just money.
"Gambling is supposed to be bad, bad, bad, around pro basketball and everything else. But it is perfectly all right for the owners of the Sacramento Kings, the Maloof brothers, who own one of the biggest and gaudiest casinos in Las Vegas. This past year, the NBA decided to take All-Star weekend to Vegas, and there is always talk that the sports leagues are trying to figure out some way to put a franchise there.
Gambling is not "bad, bad, bad". It provides entertainment and creates jobs. Although one could argue it doesn't exactly create wealth, is that really any different than the entertainment industry? Putting a franchise in Vegas is a brilliant idea unless you think we should move another professional franchise to Hartford.
"There is a vulgar amount of money in sports and an army of young guys spending it, in all sorts of ways, hanging around with all sorts of people, in all sorts of places. On both sides of the street. If commissioners are going to police all that, if they want to be the traffic cops, they're going to have to put on more people."

Guess who is responsible for the "vulgar amount of money" in sports. The fans. The networks. The broadcasters. You. Me. Don't patronize the young guys earning all the money; they're doing what any rational person with exceptional athletic talent would do. Also, the only PLAYERS that have ever been enticed into throwing games are college players, who, shockingly are UNPAID. Vulgar amounts of money decrease the possibility of Donaghy-like events; it does not increase them.
Unfortunately the NBA and David Stern decided to take the ball-less approach - the one that looks great on paper and appeases fans and front office suits in the short-term, but doesn't do anything to solve the long-term problem of transparency. The other day, the NBA hired Lawrence B. Pedowitz to analyze the NBA's anti-gambling polices and monitoring processes for the NBA's officials. So far, I have received 8 press releases from different teams as the NBA has tried to force this down the throat of their teams and subsequently their fans. Stayed tune for a crack down on NCAA Tourney pool participants and casual, insignificant gamblers.

Written by Lewis and Kevin.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Easy Way Out

We unfortunately live in a world where people are always looking for the easy way out. More and more stories come out on a daily basis about wannabe scam artists. Whether it be on Wall Street with insider trading (think Dow Jones), on NBC's To Catch a Criminal, or in the world of sports.

Not only have sports fans had to endure stories about steroids, corked bats, dog fighting, and the Cincinnati Bengals. We have had to deal with more and more cases of match fixing. Tennis, college football, and pro basketball have been surrounded by betting scandals. What makes it even more frustrating is the fact that no sports governing body has acknowledged that sports gambling is a profitable business venture. We are coming to a point in the current sports landscape that requires more attention to gambling, and the counterparts involved.

With this in mind, it is refreshing to see that FIFA will be taking note of betting patterns during its upcoming world cup qualifying. Soccer has not been exempt from betting scandal in the past few years. Italy was rocked with news last year of match fixing in its own Serie A. According to the Associated Press, the soccer commission will be setting up a third party consultant, Early Warning System, to investigate suspicious betting patterns.

Although the timing suggests they have learned from the NBA's misfortunes, it is a sign that at least someone has caught on. It is nice to have Vegas as a reliable partner, but governing parties may want to actively protect the sanctity of its sport on their own.

Donaghy is Dumber than We Thought

When news of the Donaghy betting scandal first broke, I wasn't particularly surprised. It was relatively easy to see how the temptation of riches could push someone in the wrong direction. It's happened countless time before. Since Donaghy had a job paying over five times the median American household income, I figured he was being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for his services. I was wrong. Yesterday the Smoking Gun reported Donaghy was only paid $5,000 per winning pick (Donaghy wasn't penalized or compensated for losing picks) by professional gambler James Battista, who according to ESPN's Lester Munson was known as a big betting mover. Unless Donaghy was submitting 50-100 winning picks per season, this appears to be a ridiculously small sum considering the amount of money wagered on his picks, and Donaghy's salary and job stability with the NBA.

As we mentioned in a previous post, most of the NBA's gambling problem would partially defuse if the NBA paid their referees more money. Would $5,000 per winning pick really be worth losing a stable job paying our recommended high six figure salary? This being in addition to all the perks the referees receive from the league. Sure, you'd still have action-loving addicts like Charles Barkley to worry about, but the move would significantly reduce the risk of people chancing their career and the league's image to make some extra money on the side.

Going forward, it will be interesting to see the types of picks Donaghy submitted (e.g. spread, over/under, straight up) , what percent of his picks turned out to be winners and how much money he netted in total from the scheme. In the present, that isn't likely since the case isn't going to trial. However, more information could be revealed if the investigation snowballs.

Update: SH favorite, the Sports Law Professor has a insightful take on the matter here. I especially like the idea of making available "insider information", specifically player injuries and the names of referees like the NFL does. Lupica has a terrible, logical fallacy-filled piece here, which we'll discuss later in the week.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Case Against Cubs Mythology

On a recent MLB on Fox broadcast, Tim McCarver stated, rather matter-of-factly, that if the then-hot Chicago Cubs were to go on to take over the NL Central from Milwaukee, win the NL pennant, and claim their first World Series in 99 years, that it would go down as “one of the top three great sports moments of all time.” While many baseball viewers, both casual and diehard, dislike McCarver for his tendency to overanalyze the minute aspects of the game (often incorrectly), broadcasters who make sweeping generalizations have always bothered me the most. As compared to what? What are his criteria? He didn’t elaborate, as the subject changed soon after (maybe Joe Buck felt sympathy for the clearly waning McCarver); however, the most infuriating part of this statement was that many baseball fans, even those who see it as a profoundly stupid thing to say, can at least see where McCarver is coming from…after all, it’s the Cubs; they never win! What McCarver said was just another instance of a pro sports team getting a free pass from the media based principally on reputation. The Cubs are always the loveable losers, just like the Steelers always have a great defense…reality be damned. The mythology of the Cubs affords the club the luxury of avoiding justly deserved criticism, and instead perpetuates the kind of thinking that McCarver articulated. To an objective observer, buying into the idea that it is a historically memorable sports moment if a high-payroll, big market team playing in a consistently bad division could win a championship borders on preposterous; instead, if the Cubs get back to winning, we’ll be subjected to hearing how a Cubs postseason will be the “feel good baseball story of the year”.
While several low-payroll teams have had successful seasons in the past couple years, the teams with the highest payrolls tend to appear in the postseason consistently (a notable exception being the Mets, who have appeared in the postseason just once in this century, though unlike the Cubs, they face scathing criticism from local and national media.) In recent years, the Cubs have consistently outspent most teams; since 2004 they have been amongst the top ten highest spending teams in baseball each season; only once since 2001 have they not had the highest opening day payroll in the NL Central. While the Cubs may not be the Yankees of the Midwest, for fans who criticize George Steinbrenner for tainting the competitive nature of the game with money, they should realize the Cubs are not blameless.
The past (or, most recent) decade of Cubs ineptitude has not been a result of playing in a difficult division- the Reds haven’t finished with a winning record since 2000, while amazingly both the Pirates and Brewers have been below .500 since 1992. No other division in baseball is even close to being so disparate.
The point I am making is not that the Cubs are bad, or “unlucky” – this is already acknowledged, and implicitly part of what McCarver said. What McCarver and others aren’t recognizing is that the Cubs are supposed to win, and some season, they will. The fact that they haven’t won the World Series in nearly a century is immaterial; few current Cubs were on the last playoff team in 2003, and not one player has been a Cub for more than ten years. Just like how dice have no memory, what happened to a Cubs team in 2003, 1984, 1969, or 1908 is irrelevant.
What keeps it going then? The folklore of the Cubs is deeply ingrained into pop culture, even non baseball fans are familiar with the memes. The rabid Cubs fan, a relatable yuppie type who still knows how to be one of the guys, has become a stale Hollywood archetype. Every girl who graduates college and moves to Chicago becomes a dilettante Cubs fan so she can feign interest to impress the guys at the awesome Lincoln Park and Loop bars her and her friends frequent. While a Cubs hat or jersey should be enough already, some people wear attire that unambiguously tells you that you do not want to talk baseball or anything else with this person. Sure, I’m painting with a broad brush, and some Cubs fans genuinely have a passion for their club, and 99 years is a long time, but the White Sox went 88 years between championships. The 2005 World Series won by the team across the city was a long time coming, but outside of the South Side, their victory was entirely ordinary- they were the best team in the division on paper, they had a relatively high payroll, and they played well all season, and especially so when it mattered. Memorable yes, but certainly not cracking anyone’s Top Three.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Celtics Revisited

Earlier we reported that since the KG trade, Celtics tickets have been a hot commodity. Over the weekend, Celtics team president Rich Gotham confirmed that the Celtics season ticket base has grown by an astounding 50% since the KG trade. With the Reggie Miller return rumors running rampant, this number could be pushed even higher if Miller ends up signing with the Celtics.

As John Hollinger noted on his blog, which covered some of the potential NBA comeback players (Penny Hardaway, Charles Oakley, and Allan Houston in addition to Miller), most of them should stay retired. Oakley is too old and was terrible in his final three seasons. Hardaway had a horrendous PER of 8.99 in 2004-2005; his last season of 30 or more games. Houston has an arthritic knee, which as Hollinger pointed out, doesn't exactly go away. However, Miller was the exception. Miller retired when he was still a starter and had an above average PER of 16.62. Additionally, the Pacer's were 9.6 points per game better with him on the court than off.

Although certainly not the same player from the late 90's or even of 2004-2005, Miller would still provide the Celtics with a much needed additional shooter, who would have myriad open looks with KG drawing the double team and Pierce usually drawing help defense on drives. Additionally, with Rajon Rondo able to guard the PG and SG positions, Miller could always guard the weaker of the two opponents given his age and shaky defense. Furthermore, Miller would provide the Celtics with a fourth player who has literally sold out an arena by himself (KG, Pierce and Allen being the others). Even if Miller only played 10-15 minutes a night, he'd still draw fans and help the team as he was easily one of the best shooters of his era (.395% career 3 point percentage), and shooting is one of the few skills that normally stays with a player as they age.