Uprooted in Oakland; NIL Lands at Stanford; Betting Goes Mainstream; Coach Prime's Time
So the whole "Rooted in Oakland" charade is over. The Oakland A's, who for the last 20 years have tried to find a new home in San Jose, or Fremont, or at Laney College or finally, in a hair-brained scheme, at Howard Terminal, have thrown in the towel on Oakland and purchased land for a new stadium in Las Vegas. Ever since A's president Dave Kaval--once a bright, creative, straight-shooting guy before A's owner John Fisher got ahold of him--announced that the team was pursuing "parallel paths" in Oakland and Las Vegas, you knew it was only a matter of time before the other shoe dropped. At least now long-suffering A's fans can move on, knowing that their hopes and dreams have been completely dashed. It was one thing for the team to trade away all its good players and then raise ticket prices after dismantling the roster. But now Fisher, Kaval and company are moving the whole shebang to Las Vegas. Shame on them. So much for loyalty. And honesty. And community.
As for the city of Oakland, three pro teams have departed in the last few years--Warriors, Raiders and A's. So the once proud city that was home to 10 world championship teams (4 A's, 4 Warriors, 2 Raiders), is now left without a major league baseball, NFL or NBA franchise.
The city tried, unsuccessfully, to juggle fiscal responsibility with the A's increasingly impossible-to-meet demands. A simple solution would've been to build a new stadium on the site of the Coliseum, which has decayed badly in recent years.
But for some reason, the team was fixated on a waterfront site that would include housing and commercial development.
Right. One that required a gondola to get to the ballpark from the parking lots.
Of course, there's a chance Fisher and Kaval won't be able to get the $500 million in public funding they're seeking to build the stadium in Vegas, and then Fisher might decide to sell the team. In which case the A's could end up back in Oakland.
But for now, we'll say "Adios" to the A's. Good bye and, frankly, good riddance.
NIL Arrives at on the Farm: Stanford donors have informed the Inside Track that alum and former soccer player Allen Thorpe, self described as being "wildly frustrated" by the university's foot-dragging on all things NIL, has created a collective known as "Lifetime Cardinal" to raise funds to compensate Stanford athletes. Football great Andrew Luck is apparently also involved.
According to On 3's Ivan Maisel (the esteemed former Stanford Daily, Sports Illustrated and ESPN scribe), benefactors have seeded the collective with enough capital to start making payments. The budget target is $4 million and, rumor has it that Thorpe is more than halfway there.
Earlier this spring, Lifetime Cardinal made the first of two $5,000 payments to every Stanford football player. Twenty or so top players reportedly will earn up to $50,000.
You wonder what Jim Plunkett or John Elway might make today.
A sister collective that operates under the same umbrella, known as Cardinal One, paid each of Stanford's men’s basketball players $50,000 during the 2022-23 season.
Based on the performance of that group, I'd say they were grossly overpaid.
The University is grudgingly going along with the collectives, after originally refusing to allow them to hold meetings in athletic facilities.
Welcome to the New World of college sports. Time (and NIL) marches on, even in the hallowed ivory towers of Stanford.
It's Not Always a Man's World: Last week, Eagles' quarterback Jalen Hurts inked the largest contract in total value in NFL history (five years, $255 million, $179.3 million guaranteed) including the first no-trade clause in team history as part of the extension to his rookie deal. Aside from the history-making size of the deal, Hurts' contract was also notable because it was negotiated by a woman. Hurts' agent, Nicole Lynn, is the first black woman to represent a Super Bowl quarterback. She earlier became the first to represent a first round NFL draft pick, Alabama's Quinnen Williams, in 2019. In a world dominated by white men, one with so few blacks able to rise to head coaching positions, this is a uniquely positive development. Lynn has been with Klutch Sports Group since 2021 and was promoted to president of football operations for the agency founded by Rich Paul, who's well-known as LeBron James' agent and singer Adele's fiancee.
Betting Ad Nauseam: Couldn't help but notice the plethora of betting commercials during the TNT broadcast of Kings-Warriors Game 2. In almost every break, there was an ad for either Fan Duel, Draft Kings or MGM Sportsbook.
And most of the ads featured NBA ex-players like Jalen Rose and Charles Barkley or celebs like Jamie Foxx and Kevin Hart.
I'm sorry if I sound old school, but I think it's inappropriate for the NBA to promote betting and to have an "official betting partner," FanDuel.
Worse yet is the new trend toward micro-betting, which allows users to bet on individual plays or in-game events, such as the outcome of a pitch or things like which team will have a better shooting percentage at the end of the quarter--rather than the outcome of a game.
Hey, why wait til the end of the game to find out whether you won your bet when you can have instant gratification--or instant depression--by betting on a ball/strike or which team's ahead at the end of the half?
Apparently the NBA has decided it's okay for the league to encourage betting, even if it feeds an individual's addiction by promoting in-game "action."
What's next? An "official gun manufacturing partner?"
Spring Flings: Most college football programs held their spring games over the weekend. As usual, Big Ten schools had the biggest crowds: Ohio State at 75,122, Penn State at 68,000 and Nebraska at 66,045. SEC schools also did well with Alabama checking in at 58,710, Tennessee 58,473, Georgia 54,000, and South Carolina 51,000.
But there were a couple of newcomers to the top attendance list from the Pac-12. Colorado drew 47,277 in the spring debut of Coach Prime (Deion Sanders') program, and USC, showing new life under Lincoln Riley, attracted 33,427.
To say fans in Boulder are excited about Sanders would be an understatement. Last year's spring game at Colorado drew 1,950, and attendance was free. This year, almost 50,000 folks paid $10 each to see Sanders' squad.
The Buffs' spring game was also televised nationally by ESPN, the only game in the nation to receive that coverage. I'd say Athletic Director Rick George is recouping his investment in Sanders quite nicely.
There Is a God: Tucker Carison, our frequent nominee for Worst Person in the World, is out at Fox News.