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Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Big time college football and basketball is clearly a big time business. Billions of dollars a year are generated from TV contracts, marketing contracts, ticket sales, and merchandise sales. For example, TV advertisers are expected to spend over 1.1 billion dollars on TV commercials during March Madness – second only to NFL Football playoffs in total national TV ad spending among post-season programming.   So where does all this money go? Answer: It goes to the NCAA, to the universities, and to the coaches. Where does it not go? Answer: the college athletes get nothing. Under NCAA rules, college athletes are considered “amateurs” who aren’t allowed to profit from sports. Two recent court rulings may affect the future of college athletics. In August, a federal judge ruled that players in college football and basketball programs are entitled to receive payment if their “names and images are used in video games or TV broadcasts. Recently, the National Labor Relations Board granted football players at Northwestern University the right to be recognized as university “employees” and to form a union. Both of these decisions are now being appealed

In what follows I will present arguments both for and against college athletes being paid. Then, I will give my take on this issue.

Here are some of the arguments for paying college athletes.  They should be paid because there is no other industry in the world where people who work in an industry and make money for the industry are not paid. At many universities students are in work study programs like tutoring and information technology. These students are paid for each hour worked and many of them have either full or partial scholarships so why are student athletes treated differently? Is assigning the label of amateur to a student athlete just a form of exploitation? Many college athletes put in over 40 hours a week between practices and games. They are also expected to continue their training during the summers. This effects a college athlete’s opportunity to earn money during the summer which is necessary to cover incidental expenses.  

Now for the other side of the argument. If a program was to pay college athletes many very difficult questions must be answered. Do you pay the star football player the same amount as a benchwarmer? Do you pay athletes in non-income producing sports such as tennis the same amount as a football or basketball player? If you only paid athletes in sports that contributed windfall profits to a college would this be a form of discrimination against athletes in non-income producing sports? If there is unequal pay for athletes on the same team will this destroy team togetherness? Can a small college afford to pay athletes and if not would this lead to the removal of many college sports from the small colleges? If we can’t answer these questions or if there is no right answers to these question it would be impossible to pay the college athletes.

Here is my take on the question. I agree with paying all college athletes the same amount as what is paid hourly to all work study students at their college. Since a great majority of college athletes never turn pro, those students who graduate should be rewarded with a small bonus for their four years of work. Again, equality between all sports and all players at their college must be maintained. Therefore, after combining the profits derived from all sports at a college for a given year, a small percentage of those profits should be awarded equally to all student athletes who played all four years (under special conditions less than four years) and who graduate that year. Of course, a college has the right to decide what a fair hourly wage should be for both the work study students and the student athletes.  

I look forward to receiving your comments on this controversial subject.


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Alex Everett is a junior math major at Quinnipiac University and doubles as my full-time research assistant. He also works as my teaching fellow tutoring my students in the evening. Yes, Alex wears several hats. Alex is also a diehard New York Mets fan. In the blog that follows Alex talks about his week this year at the Mets spring training site in St. Lucie, Florida. See why he feels so optimistic and excited about the 2015 season for his Mets.

Every year, I have a tradition of going to spring training during my spring break and attending as many Mets games as possible. Unfortunately, every year I have done this, the Mets have had a subpar team. They were always in rebuilding mode and I was more excited to see their prospects than their regular players. This year, however, everything changed. The whole team had a different vibe than in previous years. They were confident and ready to win. In previous seasons, the Mets had lost almost every game I attended; they were playing like they didn’t want to win. This year, they were having fun and winning games.

The biggest take away from this spring training were the pitchers. There was a buzz about all of the pitchers in camp, especially Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom. Even when they would warm up before the game people (including me) would flock to the bullpens to watch them throw. When they entered the game, everyone would be in their seats not wanting to miss a second. These two pitchers mesmerized Mets fans. There was almost a playoff atmosphere when they pitched. Fans would chant and sing at the games that didn’t even matter. They were just excited to get to see two of the best pitchers in the league throw. DeGrom and Harvey will be the key players that dictate whether or not the Mets can make the playoffs. They made the game look easy.

The best part about the spring training is how close one can get to all the players. Tickets for the front row right next to the field are as cheap as $20. Every day I would get to the stadium as it opened, stand where the Mets warm up, and talk to the players. Most of it was small talk, however, as the week went on some of the players began to recognize me, the younger guys especially. Players such as Dilson Herrera would stand and talk to me for a long time because instead of harassing him I just wanted to talk to him about the game of baseball. It is the only time and place you can talk to so many players and get so close to the team. Spring training has a feeling and an atmosphere that cannot be replicated during the regular season.

Another overlooked aspect of spring training is watching the professional baseball players interact with little children turning them into life-long fans. Even giving a kid a baseball could make them a life-long fan. I remember at one point there was a kid who was too shy to ask for an autograph. A player saw this and called the kid over to sign his baseball. Although the player wasn’t a high-end player or even a high-end prospect, the excitement on kid’s face as he was running to his parents to show off his new autograph was unforgettable. Those types of small acts can turn a kid who was forced to the game with their parents into a life-long fan.

After attending 6 games in 8 days, and watching the Mets play to a 4-2 record, I am fully confident that they will surprise and impress this season. Overall, spending a week interacting closely with the Mets brought me closer to the team I love and made me very optimistic about the 2015 Mets. 
- by Alex Everett


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Andrew Stengel is a student in my Baseball and Statistics course at Quinnipiac University. A few weeks ago he wrote a blog on Matt Harvey’s 2013 season which ended with Tommy John Surgery causing him to miss the entire 2014 season. After submitting his blog on Matt Harvey, the Mets announced Zack Wheeler will undergo Tommy John Surgery and miss the entire 2015 season. Zack Wheeler (in 2014) joined Matt Harvey (9.3 in 2013) as the only qualified Mets starters to average above 9.0 Ks per 9 innings in the last 20 years. Before them, the last Met to do so was David Cone (1992).  Please enjoy reading Andrew’s account of Matt Harvey’s 2013 season and his return to the Mets for the 2015 season

July 16, 2013. Twenty-four year old New York Mets superstar Matt Harvey takes the mound as the starter of the All-Star Game in his home ballpark.  A full-capacity crowd of 45,186 people cheers on as Harvey dominates some of the American League’s finest. Down goes Miguel Cabrera. Down goes Jose Bautista. Down goes Adam Jones. Three strikeouts in two innings pitched. The crowd cheers as he exits. Met and baseball fans alike appreciate the raw talent that Harvey possesses, and figure that he will be a staple in this game for years to come. 

Harvey continues to impress during the rest of that season. That is until August 23rd. A Saturday afternoon game on national television against Max Scherzer and the Detroit Tigers, a great matchup that FOX loved to broadcast. Harvey does not seem like himself. I remember watching this game as a freshman at Quinnipiac and noticing that something was definitely not right about Matt Harvey that day. He went about his business, fighting through 62/3 innings of tough work against a good team. He allowed 13 hits, which is very un-Harvey like. He looked uncomfortable the entire afternoon. Just two days after that start, the Mets broke the news that Harvey has a partially torn Ulnar Collateral Ligament in his pitching elbow that would require surgery. Tommy John Surgery. Just writing these words right now brings me back to that moment almost 2 years ago, where all hope and optimism “The Dark Knight” brought Queens had crashed in a blink of an eye. He would miss the entire 2014 season.

The Mets trudged through the 2014 season without much hope, finishing with a surprisingly impressive 79-83 record considering the blow that was dealt the previous August. All hope had been lost. That is, until, this past September, when the Dark Knight re-emerged at Citi Field, throwing prior to games with the rest of the team. Although he would not be pitching during the season, the spark was back.

Now that Spring Training has arrived in full swing, and Harvey is throwing regularly, the New York Mets just announced that Harvey would be taking the mound next Friday, March 6, in a Spring Training game against those same Tigers, the last team he faced back in 2013. I, as many other Met fans are as well, am extremely looking forward to seeing number 33 take the hill again. My question, actually more my concern, is this. Is Matt Harvey ready to go? Will that elbow hold up in live-game action?

I believe he will. Harvey, with a career 2.39 ERA, is as competitive as they come. As soon as he steps on the rubber for that first official start, I am confident he will be the same ace that stole the show back at the All-Star Game in 2013.

But only time will tell. What I do know is, with Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Jonathan Niese, and Bartolo Colon, the New York Mets have an abundance of talent on the mound, and if all goes well, we will be seeing the New York Mets in October
- by Andrew Stengel


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

To say I love baseball is an understatement. To my family, baseball is so much more than a game, but our history. My grandfather tried out for the Giants, my Great Uncle Pete Castiglione played for the Cards and Pirates. My dad, his brother, sister, son, and I played. It is a family tradition to have a passion for baseball. Above all Giants baseball.

I was born and raised on San Francisco Giants baseball. Growing up I would always be asked the typical, “Who’s your favorite baseball team?” which I would reply, “The Giants,” and almost always receive, “I asked about baseball.” It puzzled me that no one knew they were a team, but as kid I did not realize that growing up in New England, not many Giants fans were to be found. I did not think once on the amount of orange and black apparel that took up my wardrobe. I proudly wore at least one article of Giants clothing a week.

My love began when I was four. I would run down the stairs each summer morning, a baggy Bonds jersey down to my knees, sprawl out on the floor, and gawk at the highlights of the previous night’s game. At 10, I achieved one of my greatest memories of witnessing Barry Bonds hit his 748th homerun at Fenway Park, inching closer towards breaking Aaron’s home run record. And while this was my first MLB game, and they did not win, I still could not contain my excitement that I had seen history in the making.

While I do not remember the details of the heart-breaking loss of the 2002 World Series, I am no bandwagon fan. I waited years before being able to see a World Series win. It is crazy to believe that I have been able to witness three World Series wins in the past five years alone. When October came around in 2010 it was a crazy thought that the Giants would be in the playoffs, but everyone loves a good underdog. 2010 would go down as the heart attack year, each game being more intense and terrifying to watch. I will never forget the anxiety I felt during the Phillies series, watching Brian Wilson pitch us out and save the game. The moment we beat the Rangers, I will never forget the excitement and joy I felt. My dad and I ran outside and screamed at the top of our lungs, for once in our lives we had bragging rights over every one else, we had won the World Series. Fighting our way into the 2012 series was an amazing feat. Buster Posey’s grand slam against the Reds still remains as one of my all time favorite moments of the playoffs. Before the World Series began, I made a bet with my dad that if they won I would die my hair orange. And when that day came I proudly turned heads, with people constantly asking me, “Why orange,” “Because that’s the color of champions.”

The 2014 World Series remains my favorite of the three. Torture seems to be a reoccurring theme throughout series in which the Giants are involved. Whether it was cringing and sitting through 18 innings to be rewarded with Brandon Baby Giraffe Belt’s homerun at the top of the inning or watching all your dreams flash before your eyes in Game 7 of the World Series when the win is almost blown in the bottom of the 9th, they know how to make your heart stop. 2014 also had a collection of some of my favorite players: Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, and Madison Bumgarner.

MadBum had an absolutely fantastic World Series run. It is baffling to think he pitched the World Series with an ERA of 0.25. It was an amazing series, and while it was not a sweep like the previous win, I would not have had it any other way.

I have never been so proud to be a Giant’s fan. Half of my wardrobe consists of apparel, I have an orange panda hat, bobble heads, and my own Giants Louisville Slugger bat. I have now had orange hair twice, and I cannot wait to see how much more dye I will go through. Here’s to even years.

by Laura Grosso


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Please read the accompanying blog to learn why Team New England from the 2012 Little League World Series raised money for a well for clean water in Kisindizi-Kigesera, Uganda,


Little League World Series 2102

Beyond Baseball

The Well

Kisindizi-Kigesera in Uganda

The New Well
 

pictures provided by Brenna Oricoli


 


 
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