I'm beginning my preparation for the 2005 fantasy baseball season and this morning I was greeted with this:
At the end of last week, the fantasy industry was in a tizzy over last month's deal between the MLB Players Association and MLB Advanced Media, which owns MLB.com.
When the five-year deal, which is worth more than $50 million, was announced Jan. 19, it provided MLBAM exclusive rights to use and sublicense MLB player group rights for online games, including fantasy.
But on Friday, MLBAM e-mailed companies that run fantasy baseball online games, telling them they would not be granted a license to operate those games.
Suddenly, ESPN, Yahoo, CBS Sportsline, CDM Sports and others were on the outside looking in. MLB.com, of course, was on the inside.
It's not the first showdown between pro sports and those wanting to play with their statistics. In 1997, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against the NBA in a lawsuit against Motorola, which wanted to use in-progress basketball data on its pagers.
But if you go by what the USA Today is saying, it seems that the MLBAM's email is more of a warning shot to everyone but the big companies like ESPN, Yahoo, and CBS.
Bob Bowman, who oversees MLB Advanced Media, disagrees. MLB recently paid an estimated $50 million over five years to the MLB players union to take control of online fantasy licensing. And Bowman says there's only one goal: "We want more fans playing more fantasy baseball."
Bowman suggests MLB might end up with four or five major sites, as well as mlb.com, that will be officially licensed, down from about 13.
I only use Yahoo and ESPN for my fantasy teams, but this is a shame on principle alone.
Dear MLB, let us vote with our cash and our clicks. If you guys made a fantasy engine that didn't suck so much, more people would sign up on your site. But right now, no one is coming anywhere close to beating the features and design of Yahoo's free service. That's why they're the most popular, and that's how it should be.
Eagles center Hank Fraley has said that Donovan McNabb was physically ill from exhaustion during that 13 play, 79 yard, fourth quarter touchdown drive that many have complained Philadelphia took too long to execute.
I've taken a few days off from football since the moment Rodney Harrison intercepted that final McNabb pass to close out Super Bowl 39, but this whole 'drive took too long' thing is something I've been knocking around in my head despite the time off.
Earlier this morning, before the Fraley story hit, I read this from the NY Daily News:
Even yesterday, 11 hours after the Eagles lost, 24-21, to the New England Patriots, Reid still had no explanation for why his team wasn't in its no-huddle offense, trailing by 10 points with 5:40 remaining. It was a mind-boggling decision that even left some of his own players speechless, and probably cost the Eagles a chance to win their first championship in 45 years.
"Well, you know, I'm trying to remember back on that. I put that away a little bit," Reid said a few hours before the Eagles checked out of their hotel. "But we did try to get it going. I can't remember. I can't detail the circumstances why it didn't work as well as it should have."
Later in that same article, Reid is quoted again:
After the game, no one seemed to have a reasonable explanation for the clock mismanagement. Reid said they were trying to hurry up, but "it was the way things worked out." McNabb said they couldn't do it because they were waiting for receivers to return from their deep routes. And right tackle Jon Runyan said the Eagles didn't want to rush because they didn't want to make any mistakes. He added, "It wasn't a big deal."
After reading those lines from Reid, I was suspicious. Then, while watching some highlights of the game on a Sportscenter replay, I saw one particular clip that started to put all this together in my head. ESPN showed a brief shot from their SkyCam as it was positioned over the Eagles' offense as they were breaking their huddle during the now controversial 3 minute and 52 second 'hurry up' scoring drive. Every Eagle gave their customary hand clap as they were breaking the huddle but to me it looked like a very lethargic, tired-looking break. Maybe I missed noticing it on Sunday during the game because the empty beverage containers around the room were numerous, or maybe it was something that is only noticeable from the up close, behind the huddle angle that SkyCam provides. Either way, I caught it this morning and it got me thinking about Reid's comments. There's no way he forgets 'the circumstances why it didn't work as well as it should have.' No way. I began to think he was covering for his team, trying to 'fall on the grenade' was the phrase that entered my mind at the time.
So, now after reading what Hank Fraley has said, it makes sense to me. It makes sense that the Eagles originally wanted to cover for McNabb. It makes sense that they're talking about it now because everyone is criticizing #5. Most of all, it makes sense because I noticed it before the story broke. And I believe it.
Now for the game:
Over the last five years, listed below are the scores of the Eagles last game for each season:
2000 NFC Divisional Playoff: Eagles lost 10-20 to New York Giants
2001 NFC Conference Championship: Ealges lost 24-29 to St. Louis
2002 NFC Conference Championship: Eagles lost 10-27 to Tampa Bay
2003 NFC Conference Championship: Eagles lost 3-14 to Carolina
2004 NFC Conference Championship: Eagles won 27-10 vs Atlanta
This is the trend I'm going with. Jaws made a good point on Friday's PTI; if the these Eagles played these Patriots 10 times, Philly would win maybe 3 or 4. But in one game, for all the peanuts:
7 point tease: Eagles +14.5, Under 54
COVERS.COM: Super Bowl Trends
Current 2005 Beach NFL Playoff Record ATS: 9-4. 2004 Regular Season Record ATS: 44-37.
Conference Championship Picks - Divisional Weekend Picks - Wildcard Weekend Picks
UPDATE: 10-4 final record for the postseason, including 3-0 in the three finals.
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