Categories
Sports

Camden Yards Has the Best Left-Field

Everybody is mad—something beautiful has been ruined; the sacred is now the propane. This is a “travesty:” the left field at Camden Yards is totally borked. Just look at it! 

Once a neat parabola, the outfield fence now has the uneven pith of a preschooler’s first attempt at collaging. Over the off-season, the Baltimore Orioles pushed their left field fence back by about 30 feet and pumped its height up to 12 feet as a counter-measure to giving up a league-leading 155 long balls at home last season. So far, the Orioles have gotten the results they were looking for—there are just 1.3 homers per game this year at Camden Yards, compared to a MLB-high 3.4 per game last season.

And while teams have tinkered with their ballpark dimensions for years, no one has ever done so as hamfistedly as the Orioles. This is very silly and a little sad: the Orioles were so desperate to stop Gleyber Torres from launching mighty taters against them that they made left-field the same size and jagged shape of a post-Yugoslavia Balkan nation. 

“I feel like it ruins the park,” said Aaron Judge, the Yankees slugger who lost a homer to the gaping maw of left field, “It was quite a beautiful park the way it was.”

Conversely, this big, stupid renovation has made Camden Yards one of the best stadiums in the league, a monument to baseball’s inherent silliness. 

Beyond simply being the only sport that people play while wearing a belt, baseball is unique in that each stadium can be as weird as it wants to be. And yet, every team now seems to be trending towards luxury-box-friendly sameness. In the 21st century, 16 teams have built new stadiums, but can you remember a single notable thing about any of them? All the rough edges have been smoothed out. Houston tamped down their cool little hill in center field; the Marlins dismantled their South Beach-kitsch dinger sculpture; the Rockies store their balls in a humidifier to make their games less Mario Super Sluggers-y.  Whereas the sports century-old cathedrals (Wrigley Field, Fenway Park) have some differentiating weirdness like live vegetation or a giant green wall, the prevailing movement in modern ballparks is a drift towards an anodyne equilibrium.
In this sense, the reconfiguration of Camden Yards represents a return to more romantic version of baseball, one before the bloodless private-equitization of the game. Crucially, it gives the stadium A Thing, a quality that you can’t find anywhere else in sports. Although Camden Yards has been widely regarded as one of the nicest stadiums in baseball for the last 20 years, its niceness in turn spawned a wave of similarly faux-retro imitators in 11 other ballparks. Now, it has a defining feature so nonsensical that no other team would ever try to replicate it. A big empty space was chomped out of the stands in left-field because the Orioles felt like it. 

If second base can be in the wrong place for over 100 years, why can’t left field have a severe right angle in the wall? I mean, the Orioles couldn’t stop the other team from scoring—what else were they supposed to do? Get better pitchers?

Categories
Sports

MLB Announces Partnership With Sorare

On Thursday, a big announcement was made by the MLB, as they are officially partnering with Sorare

Over the last few years, Sorare has been a leading NFT platform in the great game of Proper Football (soccer). Now, the company will be partnering with the MLB to take their service over to America’s favorite pastime. 

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“It’s outstanding for Sorare, I think it’s an arms race to get licenses at the minute from these companies and nailing them down to a long-term exclusive deal. I think it brings many people to the platform and awareness of Sorare in America. 5% of my audience is from America and I think that will change drastically now,” said John Nellis, one of the leading content creators for the Sorare platform.

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ONE37pm has followed the Sorare community for quite some time now. Here is a guide to all the intricacies of the growing NFT platform.

The MLB has been synonymous with collectibles, trading cards, and memorabilia for almost the entirety of its existence. So this step into the next era of collectibles only makes sense. 

The free-to-play game will be released later this summer and fans will be able to get right in on the action. Sorare allows fans to collect players and then win weekly awards and earn more utility to the NFTs. 

Sorare is growing rapidly as a community with over 1.7 million users across over 170 countries. The company was valued at 4 billion dollars last year and now, with the MLB’s passionate fanbase being mostly in the United States, this is a great opportunity for Sorare to grow into one of the largest sports markets in the world. The platform already has a partnership with the MLS. 

Go to this link to sign up for updates as to when the game will be available during this MLB season.

Categories
Gaming

‘MLB The Show 22’ Review

They say there’s a first time for everything.

And in the case of baseball simulation games, this is the very first one I’ve taken the time to seriously invest in as a player. For a sport that I only check out during YouTube home run highlights, I came into the Sony San Diego Studio developed MLB The Show 22 with little to no knowledge of the ins and outs of the sport. Even still, I came away from this insanely realistic portrayal of America’s favorite pastime with a newfound appreciation for it all.

While there are some bugs/glitches I can’t ignore and less than stellar portions of “Road to the Show” mode, MLB The Show 22 still proves to be the best (and only) officially licensed MLB game on the market (until next year’s installment, I’m guessing).

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If you’ve been engrossed in MLB The Show for the longest time now, you already realize just how astonishing its presentation truly is. Stepping onto any of the real-world fields to engage in some good old-fashioned baseball in this year’s installment will treat your eyes and ears to the signature elements of the sport. The roaring fans, knowledgeable commentating booth, hype team celebrations, and more are amazingly lifelike, which is expected at this point. There are instances where the player immersion is broken, however, as the commentators spout off repeated lines and your pitcher freezes in place until he can move again during his next pitch. Those issues aren’t annoying to the point where it disrupts the fun being had, but they’re impossible to ignore.

On the game mode front, MLB The Show 22 is the ultimate haven for baseball aficionados. Road to the Show functions as the game’s career mode, which follows a single baseball icon in the making as you build their legacy. I got a bit of enjoyment out of this mode as I pushed my team’s rookie pitcher to greatness through impressive performances during games and engaged in destiny-changing conversations with my teammates & staff. What I didn’t get any enjoyment out of were the minigames intended to increase my custom player’s stats. Playing a training memorization game during player downtime is the farthest thing from intriguing to me.

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“Diamond Dynasty” stands out as the most rewarding and exciting portion of the game. Building my own team out of current greats and past legends via cards is highly addictive – thankfully, there’s a myriad of ways in which you can earn the currency needed to obtain the best card packs and miscellaneous rewards. Taking my fantasy squad into “Mini Seasons,” participating in legendary baseball moments via “Showdown” sessions, and hopping online to engage in some co-op games are the three main reasons I kept coming back for more in Diamond Dynasty. “Battle Royale” is another portion of that main mode that I adore – drafting a 26-player team every time you enter and trying your damndest to beat other players’ teams always got the adrenaline going. I will admit, though – I still have little to no clue how “Conquest” mode operates (and honestly, I have no desire to figure out its many intricacies). Longtime fans will get plenty of mileage out of this fantasy draft mode otherwise.

“March to October” is one of those additional modes that give you different challenges that reflect key moments during certain games. It feels good to play out a few short innings from time to time to break up the delivery of half an hour-long, full nine innings games. Keeping a win streak going and performing well boosts your players’ stats as you keep playing, which can be nerve-wracking but amusing nonetheless. “Franchise” mode is what it is – you take on the role of a team GM and micromanage each and every part of your organization. I’ll be completely honest – I was bored to tears when I dived into it all. I’m sure it’s an integral part of the series for MLB The Show’s enduring fanbase, but I just couldn’t find any sort of fun when it came to negotiating contracts and engaging in player trade talks.

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The gameplay foundation that’s been put in place here feels super immersive and engrossing. Of course, I stuck to the Casual/Beginner difficulty mode just to get myself acclimated to the onscreen action at first. Pitching and batting at the lowest difficulty level eventually helped me improve over time – the game’s “Dynamic Difficulty” feature also came in handy as it pushed me out of the minors and helped me make my way up to the majors. MLB The Show 22’s usage of varied player animations, recommended pitching styles, and improved approach to zone hitting makes everything flow as smoothly as possible.

Hopping online can sometimes be a crapshoot when you’re looking to play a full game, unfortunately. Hard crashes, plus regular pauses during crucial pitches and swings threw me off my game on multiple occasions whenever I tried out MLB The Show 22’s online mode suite. Hopefully, a number of essential fixes are installed by the devs in the coming months in order to iron out those lingering issues. As a full package, I have to give MLB The Show 22 flying colors for all the things it gets right. The most devout baseball fans will find a lot to appreciate here – here’s hoping next year’s installment keeps everything I loved from this year intact.

Categories
Sports

Steven Kwan is MLB’s Most Unexpected Sensation

People like to say that baseball is a sport of frustration. It’s basically a prerequisite for every decent pitcher to be able to pair a high velocity fastball with a menu of hellacious off-speed pitches that break with the severity of lines on a secant graph. Just look at Pitching Ninja for proof: hitting a baseball is nearly impossible! Unless you’re Steven Kwan.

A 24 year-old rookie left fielder for the Cleveland Guardians, Kwan has started the year on a nearly unprecedented heater. His triple slash (batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage): .526/.655/.737. Through 29 plate appearances, he reached base 19 times; through 19 at bats, he notched 10 hits. Beyond simply avoiding striking out, Kwan didn’t whiff at the first 116 pitches he saw this year; at time of blogging, Kwan foul tipped a pitch, which somehow counts as an official whiff but not a spiritual one.  In a sport where the very best players struggle to get a hit more than 30 percent of the time, Kwan has basically decided to stop failing. No player in the last 121 years has ever started their career with such aplomb: Kwan is the first player in modern baseball history to reach base 18 times in his first five games.   

Even if Kwan won’t maintain a .526 batting average, his underlying stats show that his torrid start isn’t a fluke. While Kwan’s raw exit velocity isn’t especially noteworthy, the sheer number of balls that he puts in play buoys his batting average; from his exit velocity, launch angle and type of ball in play, Kwan ranks in the 99th percentile in expected weighted on-base average, the 100th percentile in expected batting average and the 86th percentile in expected slugging percentage, according to Baseball Savant. 

Before this recent stretch, Kwan was never particularly heralded; going into the season, MLB.com ranked him as only Cleveland’s 15th best prospect because of his “fringy arm” in the outfield and the probability that “he doesn’t offer enough thump to be a regular.” And this is all true! But it’s also an oversight of what makes Kwan special: Kwan is a unique, atemporal player who doesn’t really fit the current mold of successful players or prospects. He doesn’t have the physical profile or pedigree of Bobby Witt Jr. or the smooth all-around game of Adley Rutschman. Instead, he’s merely got a freakish talent for pushing the ball to spots on the field where defenders aren’t. 

Notably, Kwan has dominated the first week of the season with a skillset that’s been mostly devalued across the league. After all, chicks—and general managers—dig the long ball. With the newfound focus on launch angles and exit velocity, strikeouts have risen as hitters prioritize making hard contact over simply making contact; there’s not much functional difference between striking out and grounding out, so batters willingly trade a few extra strikeouts for more homers and extra-base hits.

As such, Kwan—a 5’9, 170 pound, slap-happy, singles merchant—is an anachronism, a remnant of a distant past (i.e. 2007). He’s a middling defender in a low-leverage defensive position (corner outfield) who doesn’t hit for power; this kind of player doesn’t really exist anymore because prevailing wisdom has mostly excised them from the major in favor of hitters with more oomph in their bats. In other words, the Steven Kwans of the world have slowly been phased out of the league, so celebrate this one while you still can. 

Categories
Gaming

ONE37pm Chats With Ramone Russell About ‘MLB The Show 22’

It’s still such a trip to watch the PlayStation Studios intro play before certain games across PC, Xbox consoles, and the Nintendo Switch.

Sony clearly recognized that gamers from non-PlayStation consoles wanted to get in on all the baseball fun, which is why it decided to make its MLB The Show franchise a multiplatform series starting with MLB The Show 21. MLB The Show 22 is out right now and has fans of America’s favorite pastime enjoying the only MLB game on the market across numerous last- and current-gen hardware.

ONE37pm caught up with Product Development Communications and Brand Strategist Ramone Russell, who handles his important duties for MLB The Show on behalf of Sony, and got some details on the latest series entry’s development, his favorite retro baseball games, and so much more.

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ONE37pm: How has the development been for this game compared to last year’s entry? I figure the whole team has become more adjusted to creating games during an ongoing pandemic?

Ramone Russell: It’s definitely been an adjustment for sure, but we’re all acclimated to it now. 

ONE37pm: What made the team decide to add in new difficulty options?

Russell: The gameplay team led by Gameplay Director Chris Gill is always looking for ways to help new users become more acclimated to the game. It’s especially paramount with our platform expansion to Xbox and Nintendo over the last two years. The introduction of two new difficulty levels, Amateur and Minors, are meant to be accessible to help balance the gameplay experience for new users.

ONE37pm: What graphical and audio enhancements have been added to this latest series entry?

Russell: Senior Designers Kirby St John, Andrew Irvine, and the entire presentation/commentary teams have been hard at work on introducing a new commentary team into the MLB The Show franchise. Jon Sciambi and Chris Singleton headline our new commentary crew in MLB The Show 22. We’ve also revamped our presentation packages with new regional themes to give our fans an experience that’s closer to what they’d experience if they were watching their team on a local broadcast.

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ONE37pm: And on a gameplay level, what major balance adjustments and mechanical additions have been thrown into the game?

Russell: The gameplay team has an impossible task every year of balancing the game from a video game standpoint but also staying true to real-life baseball. Baseball being a game of failure where getting a hit three out of 10 times for 20 years gets you into the Hall of Fame doesn’t make our job any easier. But we love and look forward to that challenge of balance, reward, and failure every year.

For MLB The Show 22 we added PCI Anchoring to make zone hitting easier, we increased the difficulty of Pinpoint Pitching based on user feedback. The gameplay team added hundreds of new gameplay animations and the hitting engine received numerous under the hood improvements.

ONE37pm: As for the game’s fan-favorite modes, what are some of the more substantial changes that have been made in this sequel?

Russell: Cross-platform 2v2 and 3v3 online Co-op comes to online play, Diamond Dynasty introduces Mini Seasons that lets you play against the CPU and you can now play multiple seasons in March To October.

ONE37pm: Besides MLB The Show of course, which past baseball games (arcade and simulation) do you regard as the very best?

Russell: As a kid, I remember playing Ken Griffey Jr’s baseball game. Those are fond memories from my childhood.

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ONE37pm: Now I gotta ask – what’s your favorite team? I’m talking about current and all time.

Russell: I’m a Padres fan, but my favorite team of all time that’s a hard question to answer.

ONE37pm: Current favorite player?

Russell: Shohei Ohtani without a doubt!

ONE37pm: Favorite player of all time?

Russell: Ken Griffey Jr., the smoothest baseball swing ever!

ONE37pm: If you could make a prediction as to who will be on the cover of the next MLB The Show, who would it be?

Russell: It could be any number of the fantastic, young, dynamic talented players we have in today’s game.

ONE37pm: What led to the team collectively deciding on Shohei Ohtani as the game’s cover star?

Russell: This was probably the easiest cover-athlete decision we’ve ever made as a team. Shohei Ohtani is a once-in-a-lifetime talent, unanimous MVP, and no one in the game for the past 100 years has done what he did last year.

Categories
Sports Strength

Why the San Diego Padres Should Be Your New Favorite MLB Team

At a time where Major League Baseball seems plagued by an endemic apathy among its middle-tier teams, it’s radical and refreshing when a team actually tries to win. With the new collective bargaining agreement implementing an expanded postseason field, there’s never been less incentive to try to be good—what’s the point of spending the requisite cash to win 97 games when a cheaper, more threadbare roster can sneak into the playoffs with 87 wins?  Being a baseball fan can sometimes feel distressingly like being a fan of some other guy’s stock portfolio. In that sense, the San Diego Padres should be your new favorite baseball team

For the last two seasons, the Padres have been MLB’s most ambitious team. Since adding Manny Machado in 2019, the Padres have aggressively pursued talent. Going into the 2019 season, their payroll was a touch over $104 million; today, it’s more than doubled, topping $209 million. Despite a disappointing 79-83 campaign that was sabotaged by an epic late season implosion, the Padres redoubled their efforts over the offseason, trading with the Oakland Athletics for both workhorse starter Sean Manaea and Bob Melvin, the three-time Manager of the Year. 

But even beyond the fact that the Padres have cool and charismatic players like Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado and Yu Darvish, the coolest thing about them is how they disregard every fan-antagonistic aspect of the status quo. The Padres are a mid-market franchise that share a division with the Los Angeles Dodgers (the consensus best team in baseball by a large margin) and the San Francisco Giants, who are fresh off a 107 win season. No matter how honorable and rare, their spending hardly guarantees success; from a purely economic perspective, the Padres would have every incentive to maintain the meagerest possible payroll and rake in that sweet revenue-sharing profit, which makes their efforts to contend even bolder and more endearing.

Accordingly, the Padres’ roster reads like a roster in a 12 team fantasy baseball league. The rotation is headlined by 2018 AL Cy Young Winner Blake Snell and five-time All Star Yu Darvish; the lineup is anchored by Machado and, eventually, Tatis Jr., who’s the best baseball player in the world (albeit one of the worst motorcyclists). Even with Tatis slated to miss the first half of the season, Draftkings and other Vegas sports-books peg the Padres as a top five team in the National League and a legitimate World Series contender. If the Padres succeed, they could provide a blueprint and inspiration for the rest of the league to try as well. 

Categories
Sports Strength

Second Base Is in the Wrong Place

It’s a common movie plot—one day, you suddenly realize that the whole world as you know it is a lie. We are but savages in a cave, grasping at shadows; it’s time to take the ultimate red pill. 

Second base is in the wrong spot on the baseball diamond. 

Starting in the second half of the minor league season, this unnoticed and incredibly annoying error will be rectified in the minor leagues when second base will be moved about 13.5 inches closer to the mound. As a result, second base will be 87 feet away from first and third base, rather than the 88 feet and 1.5 inches that it is today. Although reducing the distance between the bases by 1.27 percent isn’t necessarily a huge deal, it corrects an overlooked historical wrong that dates back to the 19th century. 

Admittedly, second base is in the wrong place sounds preposterous. But look! 

MLB Rulebook

This is the diagram of the infield from the Official Major League Baseball Rulebook. Check out how first and third base (and home plate, to a lesser extent) are snugly nestled in the square, their corners and edges fitting within the 90 degree angles of the invisible diamond; crucially, they’re both fully in fair territory.

Now look at second base, an abomination, the hideous mistake of a careless god. Avert your eyes in horror as the perpendicular lines converge right in the smack-dab middle of it. This has been pretty much the only thing I’ve been thinking about all day—I’m writing this blog so my hours of looking at pictures of baseball diamonds weren’t spent in vain. 

Second base’s weirdness dates back to the earliest days of baseball’s history. Initially, the foul lines ran through the center of first and third base, so that the inner face of each base was in fair territory, but the outer ones were all in foul territory. As such, it was difficult for umpires to correctly judge whether a ball that hit the bag was fair or foul because they would have to assess where exactly the ball made contact with the base. In 1887, first and third base were mercifully shifted inward so that their outer edge ran along the foul lines and the entirety of both bases were both fully in fair territory; umpiring fair/foul balls became considerably easier—if it hits the base, it’s fair. 

But while first and third base moved to their current locations in 1887, second base remained untouched because there was no reason to move it. Whereas the corner bases intersect with other significant parts of the field, second base just kinda vibes by itself in the outer reaches of the infield. Since there aren’t any foul lines in the middle of the field, nobody really noticed or cared that second base remained a vestige of a since-forgotten version of baseball. It’s been this way for over 100 years and I, a person who watches and writes about sports for money, didn’t learn about it until I read about it in The Athletic. How is this possible!

When the rule change is rolled out in the minors over the summer, it’ll be a small part of MLB’s larger experiment to add more action to the game. In a game that’s dictated by microscopic margins and calculations, shorter base-paths will encourage more aggressive base-running. This is the rare proposed rule change that seems obviously and unambiguously good. Practically, the rule change will empower players to steal more bases and be more daring, which is good and exciting. Geometrically, nudging second base inward will restore balance to the baseball diamond and bring it level with the other three bases. But personally, the knowledge of this asymmetry will haunt and bother me until it’s fixed at the major league level. 

Categories
Sports Strength

The 26 Most Valuable Sports Teams In The World

Despite the pandemic, the average value of the top 50 most valuable sports teams on the planet increased by 9.9% from 2020 to 2021, to a whopping $3.4 billion. Today, we’re taking a look at the top half of that list. Due to some ties in value, there are actually 27 teams on the list.

Of the list, 11 teams are in the NFL, seven are soccer teams, five are in the NBA and four are MLB teams.

1. Dallas Cowboys, $5.7 billion
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  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owner: Jerry Jones

Within the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys have been the most valuable team since the late 2000s. When you take into consideration every sports team around, Real Madrid were the most valuable until 2016 when the Cowboys took over and they’ve been the most valuable team in the world ever since.

2. New York Yankees, $5.25 billion
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  • Sports league: MLB
  • Owners: Steinbrenner family

You don’t have to know the first thing about baseball to know the New York Yankees and recognise their world-famous logo that is often seen on fitted caps and snapbacks. Their branding alone makes it no surprise that they’re the only MLB team worth over $4 billion, at a whopping $5.25 billion. All this, despite the fact that the team’s last championship was nearly 15 years ago.

3. New York Knicks, $5 billion
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  • Sports league: NBA
  • Owner: Madison Square Garden Sports

The New York Knicks have been the most valuable team in the NBA for the best part of a decade. Through all of their struggles as a team, they remain beloved amongst New Yorkers. They took the spot as the most valuable NBA team from the Lakers when they signed an incredibly lucrative cable deal.

4. FC Barcelona, $4.76 billion
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  • Sports league: La Liga
  • Owners: Club members

Not only is Barcelona the fourth most valuable sports team in the world, the most valuable soccer team in the world and one of the few non-American teams on the list, but in terms of revenue, they are the world’s richest club, with an annual turnover of nearly $800 million.

5. Real Madrid CF, $4.75 billion
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  • Sports league: La Liga
  • Owners: Club members

Right behind Barcelona is their arch-rivals, Real Madrid, coming in with a valuation of $4.75 billion, just $10 million less than Barca. For those that don’t follow soccer and don’t understand the scope of it, it’s truly hard to fathom how big this Spanish team is. In 2013, 2014, and 2015, this team topped the list of the most valuable sports teams.

6. Golden State Warriors, $4.7 billion
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  • Sports league: NBA
  • Owners: Joe Lacob and Peter Gruber

From 2016 to 2020, the Golden State Warriors had a growth of 147% in value, one of the highest among the top 50 most valuable sports teams in the world. This is largely due to their championship success in that period and it made them the second most valuable team in the NBA, above even the great brand that is the L.A. Lakers.

Speaking of which…

7. Los Angeles Lakers, $4.6 billion
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  • Sports league: NBA
  • Owners: Jerry Buss Family Trusts and Phillip Anschutz

Not only is the purple and gold of the L.A. Lakers one of the best sports brands ever, but in 2012, the team signed a $4 billion, 20-year deal with Time Warner. This means that regardless of the trouble that they currently find themselves in, they won’t be losing any value or even growing at a much slower rate anytime soon.

8. New England Patriots, $4.4 billion
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  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owner: Robert Kraft

The New England Patriots are the second most valuable team in the National Football League and this is still largely because of the Brady-Belichick era, but the franchise history of winning 6 Super Bowls and having arguably the best coach in league history also has a lot to do with it.

9. New York Giants, $4.3 billion
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  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owners: John Mara and Steven Tisch

Although they haven’t had a great run in recent times, the New York Giants’ history and the simple fact that they’re a New York team puts them high up on this list here and 3rd on the list of the most valuable teams in their league.

10. FC Bayern Munich, $4.21 billion
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  • Sports league: Bundesliga
  • Owners: Club members

If you’re an American sports fan, then grasping the way that soccer leagues work can be confusing. Luckily, you can read up about it here. Essentially, the Bundesliga is the premier soccer league in Germany and Bayern Munich is not only the most valuable soccer team there but the most valuable sports team in the country as well.

11. Manchester United F.C., $4.2 billion
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  • Sports league: Premier League
  • Owners: Glazer family

Manchester United sat atop the list of the most valuable sports teams in 2010, 2011, and 2012, before they were knocked off the spot by Real Madrid. Even then, it took until 2019 for them to get knocked out of the top 5. Following the Munich air disaster in 1958, Matt Busby is credited with rebuilding the team and setting the foundation for what they have become in the subsequent decades.

12. Liverpool F.C., $4.1 billion
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  • Sports league: Premier League
  • Owners: Fenway Sports Group

Liverpool F.C. are very much a global brand and the team is notorious for having a lot of supporters all around the world. This is a large part of the reason that the team has a valuation of over $4 billion.

13. Los Angeles Rams, $4 billion
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  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owner: Stanley Kroenke

From 2020 to 2021, the Los Angeles Rams had a whopping 20% increase in their value, which was 6% more than the NFL’s average in that same time period. When you consider that they’ve since won the Super Bowl, it’s safe to assume that that value might shoot up again in the next year.

13. Manchester City, $4 billion
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  • Sports league: Premier League
  • Owner: City Football Group

From 2016-2020, Manchester City saw a 108% growth in value, the 6th highest amongst the top 50 highest valued sports teams in the world. City became one of the top six in the 2010s and has since become a powerhouse not just in the Premier League or even soccer, but on the planet.

15. San Francisco 49ers, $3.8 billion
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  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owners: Denise DeBartolo York and John York

The 49ers didn’t see as much growth from 2020 to 2021 as many of the other teams in the league did and they have a low operating income, but the San Francisco football team remains one of the most valuable teams in the NFL, and sports in general.

16. Los Angeles Dodgers, $3.57 billion
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  • Sports league: MLB
  • Owners: Guggenheim Baseball Management

The Los Angeles Dodgers are owned by Guggenheim Baseball Management who even if you haven’t heard of by name, you likely know the people associated with the brand. Of course, this team was originally the Brooklyn Dodgers and they moved to L.A. in the late 1950s. New York and L.A. are good homes for any teams, as the valuation shows.

17. New York Jets, $3.55 billion
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  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owners: Johnson family

New York is a massive media market so in spite of the lack of success that the Jets have seen in recent years, they remain in a top spot with a value of just over $3.5 billion. 

18. Chicago Bears, $3.53 billion
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  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owners: McCaskey family

A cool and unbelievable stat about the Chicago Bears when it comes to their value is that just over 100 years ago in 1920, they were purchased by George Halas for $100. No, that’s not a typo. That’s the equivalent of around $1,418, which is around a 249,000,000% increase in value.

19. Washington Commanders, $3.5 billion
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  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owner: Daniel Snyder

The Washington Commanders don’t have a great reputation as of late but their recent acquisition of Carson Wentz could do something to change that. Their rebuild period could be coming to the end but despite it, from 2016 to 2020, their value increased by 23%.

20. Boston Red Sox, $3.47 billion
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  • Sports league: MLB
  • Owners: Fenway Sports Group

Since their establishment in 1901, the Red Sox have won 9 World Series, tied for the third-most in MLB history. Interestingly, they’re owned by the same owners as the aforementioned Liverpool F.C., Fenway Sports Group, whose client base includes LeBron James and Johnny Manziel amongst its clients.

21. Philadelphia Eagles, $3.4 billion
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  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owner: Jeffrey Lurie

This might be a somewhat surprising entry in the list for people but for the Philadelphia Eagles, their passionate fanbase and their recent Super Bowl win has done a lot for their $3.4 billion valuation. 

22. Chicago Cubs, $3.36 billion
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  • Sports league: MLB
  • Owners: Ricketts family

The Cubbies were established in 1876 and have been an MLB team since 1994 and through their ups and downs, they remain a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the big bucks. In fact, in 2012 when the Cubs had a 61-101, they were the most profitable team in the league.

23. Houston Texans, $3.3 billion
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  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owner: Janice McNair

Considering the Houston Texans are one of just four NFL teams to have never made it to the Super Bowl, they’re doing a great job here with their valuation of $3.3 billion. They were founded in 1999 and were owned then by Bob McNair who tragically passed away in 2018.

23. Chicago Bulls, $3.3 billion
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  • Sports league: NBA
  • Owner: Jerry Reinsdorf

A large part of the Chicago Bulls’ success over the years has of course been due to their championships in the mid-1990s and Michael Jordan specifically. When the team was bought in 1985, it was for $16.2 million. By the late 90s after their championship run, they were worth $307 million.

24. Denver Broncos, $3.2 billion
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  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owner: Pat Bowlen Trust

The Broncos are looking to be sold this year and there’s still no word on who the new owner could potentially be, but they’ll be paying close to $4 billion for the Denver team. On this list, they’re tied for 25th place with a couple of other teams in different leagues and sports entirely.

25. Boston Celtics, $3.2 billion
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  • Sports league: NBA
  • Owners: Wycliffe Grousbeck, Irving Grousbeck, Robert Epstein and Stephen Pagliuca

You might be surprised at this valuation and the fact that Boston have the fifth most valuable team in the NBA, but the Celtics have a long history and have consistent success to this day. They were one of the first teams to sign a jersey patch deal.

26. Chelsea F.C., $3.2 billion
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  • Sports league: Premier League
  • Owner: Roman Abramovich

Tied for 25th place with the Boston Celtics and the Denver Broncos are Chelsea F.C., with a valuation of $3.2 billion. They’re the 7th most valuable soccer team in the world and through current controversy with their ownership, they remain the fourth most valuable team in the Premier League.

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Sports Strength

What You Need to Know About MLB’s New CBA

After an icy, 99-day-long lockout, Major League Baseball’s owners and players union finally agreed to a collective bargaining agreement last Thursday. Although Opening Day has been delayed two weeks and owner-player relations are still steeped in lingering acrimony and resentment, a full 162-game season is scheduled to begin on April 7th. At times, the CBA negotiations felt like an existential struggle for baseball’s soul, a battle to determine who the sport belongs to on both a financial and spiritual level. Well, the future of baseball is here—and it looks a lot like the recent past of baseball. Here are the four biggest changes in MLB’s new CBA and what they’ll mean for the teams, the players, and you, the fans. 

1. Expanded playoffs

The most immediately apparent change is that two additional teams will make the postseason, bringing the overall number of playoffs spots to 12. As recently as 2011, only eight teams made the playoffs, but the owners have continually pushed to expand the playoffs and rake in juicier television deals as a result. Traditionally, MLB’s exclusive playoffs and long regular season have functioned as an effective gatekeeping method to ensure a certain level of “worthiness” amongst World Series champions— the easiest way to prevent flukiness in the postseason is to limit how many teams can qualify for it in the first place. As a result, players and fans fear that a larger playoffs field will suppress spending and competitiveness—if it’s no longer especially difficult to make the playoffs and the playoffs are inherently random and variable, then teams will have no incentive to spend money on improving the team as long as they can still secure a spot in that top 12. As a result, an expanded postseason presents clear pros and cons. On one hand, it’ll provide more high-stakes baseball and high-stakes baseball is always good; on the other, it could allow teams to increasingly prioritize their revenue over wins.

2. Universal DH

In 1973, the designated hitter was introduced in the American League. In 2022, the National League will adopt it too. While this objectively makes the games higher quality contests, it also means the end of magical baseball moments like Bartolo Colon’s home run.

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3. Revised luxury tax benchmarks and penalties

This season, the Competitive Balance Tax will begin at $232 million, up from the $210 million mark that it hovered around over the last few seasons. In exchange for raising the CBT starting threshold, the owners have implemented more tiers with increasingly harsher punishments, creating a similar set-up to that of tax brackets. In particular, the owners added a fourth, most punitive benchmark at $290 million, a measure that seems specifically designed to curtail the spending of Steve Cohen, the owner of the New York Mets. 

4. Easier rule changes

As part of the agreement, commissioner Rob Manfred has been given unilateral power to change the rules as long as he gives the players and teams a 45-day notice. Most crucially, the shift (a defensive strategy of overloading one side of the field against hitters who tend to pull the ball) will be banned starting in 2023. Beyond banning the shift, Manfred will most likely look to eventually implement further changes such as bigger bases and a pitch clock.

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Sports Strength

What To Expect During 2021 MLB Free Agency

Major League Baseball has shifted gears following an exciting postseason as their offseason is underway, and free agency is the point of every team’s focus. With a loaded class of free agents ready to figure out their next steps, this year’s MLB Free Agency period could be one of the craziest this league has witnessed in a long time. Here’s what you should expect in the following weeks and months.

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There’s going to be a battle royale over the top available pitchers

Reports of the demise of starting pitchers were exaggerated. Although teams increasingly turned to their bullpen during the postseason, it’s clear that front offices still place a premium on starting pitching; Justin Verlander (one year, $25 million), Noah Syndergaard (one year, $21 million) and Eduardo Rodriguez (five years, $77 million) have all inked lucrative contracts since free agency began in earnest last week.

As such, it’s possible that the market for starting pitching will be reset this winter, especially considering that Robbie Ray (the 2021 American League Cy Young winner) and Max Scherzer (the best pitcher of the last five years) are still available. No pitcher will be able to match the $324 million mega-deal that Gerrit Cole signed in 2019, but Scherzer seems poised to become the first pitcher in baseball history to receive an annual salary worth more than $50 million. 

Correa’s market could only be one team based on expectations

When stars of Carlos Correa’s caliber become free agents, they naturally attract a great deal of attention and fanfare. Unsurprisingly, Correa headlines this year’s free-agent class, coming off a season in which he produced more than seven wins above replacement. 

Although Correa has spent his entire career as a major part of the Houston Astros’ infamous almost-dynasty, the Detroit Tigers have emerged as the favorite to sign the 27-year-old infielder. Beyond having the financial wherewithal to offer the $300+ million contract that Correa rumored to want, the Tigers have one key advantage over Correa’s other suitors: A.J. Hinch, the ex-Astros manager who won the World Series with Correa in 2017. If there’s anything that talks as loud as money, it’s connections.

The Seattle Mariners will go on a shopping spree

Coming off their winningest season in 18 years, the Seattle Mariners could be major players in free agency, eager to end their 20-year postseason drought, the longest in all of American professional sports. Despite notching 90 victories last season, the Mariners have glaring holes in their lineup, most notably in their middle infield. 

Fortunately, this offseason boasts a historically great crop of shortstops and second basemen. Beyond Correa, All-Stars like Corey Seager (the 2020 World Series MVP), Marcus Semien, Trevor Story, Javier Baez, and Chris Taylor. This offseason is the perfect opportunity for the Mariners to make the leap from a good team to a great one. 

The Yankees will make a splash

No matter how many times the Yankees’ brain trust says that they’re constrained by the punitive luxury tax and that they’re committed to maintaining a flexible, relatively low payroll, it’s hard to take them at face value. After all, they’re the Yankees—they haven’t won 27 rings because of their fiscal responsibility. In this light, the Yankees have been linked to several marquee free agents even while publicly avowing that they won’t make a big splash. 

What’s more, the situation of the Yankees’ current roster almost necessitates a big move. This is an incredibly talented team, yet one that’s too flawed to be a true contender. In particular, the Yankees need an athletic middle infielder—like, say, Correa or Seager or Semien or Story or Baez— who can stabilize their shaky defense and juice their enfeebled offense.