Cal Ripken Jr., Yogi Berra, Troy Aikmen, Kobe Bryant, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tulsa. What do the names on this list have in common? Glad you asked.
The city of Tulsa was recently ranked eighth by the sports business journal. The ranking depicts Tulsa as the eighth best minor league sports town in the nation.
Of course, the above All-Stars made the number eight famous for adorning it across their jerseys or car paneling. Most of these biased surveys and rankings are pure fodder for discussion. This one is no different.
Tulsa likely earned bonus points for being home to four well-established minor league franchises: Drillers, Oilers, Talons and 66ers.
I overheard one of the list's creators on a local talk show stating Tulsa also received credit because of our dismal layoffs to new jobs ratio. So we've got that going for us.
The list zapped a few points from Tulsa for losing our AAA baseball team to New Orleans back in 1976. The reasoning? Poor stadium condition. There's a famous quote about history, doomed to repeat, ahhh, more on the Drillers in a second.
The aggregate score for Tulsa was 75.32. What exactly does that mean? Who knows, but our sibling down the turnpike scored 85.08. Oklahoma City scores high for their large increase in sporting event attendance.
An additional feather was placed in their cap because while the Hornets were selling out on a regular basis the minor league teams showed moderate growth as well. Almost sounds like a 401K plan of sorts.
The Tulsa degree of difficulty? We increased sporting event attendance by 6.3 percent while we "lagged behind the national average in population and economic growth."
So what have we learned about our minor league sports town? Nothing really, but it is interesting seeing the numbers even if we don't understand their 'scientific' ranking mythology.
A quick word about the Drillers, the ballpark and life in general. Consider the following the golden rule of sports.
If they say it ain't about the money, it's about the money. Who's to blame for the current stadium issues the Drillers are faced with?
I say who cares. Pointing fingers likely got us in this predicament to begin with. The Drillers are going to make the move that best suits their needs.
However, I'll add one final word and then we'll focus on the field of play. I didn't see Jenks on the list. Tulsa? We're number 8 baby. You can check out the list at sportsbusinessjournal.com.
Big Boys. The NFL essentially gets a pass during bad times. Michael Vick bankrolls a dog fighting ring. He lies to everyone. He gets caught. He pleads guilty. He goes to jail.
Meanwhile, the NFL will survive, thrive and increase viewership in the coming months. Aside from Vick, the league is has been consistently mired in negative press over the past few seasons.
You have players fathering nine kids in four different states. There is a drunk driver currently playing who killed someone while intoxicated behind the wheel. Multiple DUI and repeat offenders. Players involved in shootouts at strip clubs. All the while, the cash cow that is the NFL skips right by the headlines and pockets loads of cash and fandom.
Want a theory? Aside from America's love affair with football, they advertise slightly different than the other major sports leagues.
In golf, the mantra is 'Come see Tiger Woods'. Basketball has been fixated on marketing superstars since the Jordan era. Even the Bird and Magic show was billed as Celtics versus Lakers.
Baseball pimps Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez as the main attractions for a weekend series. Not the Giants and Yankees.
Even NASCAR is suffering from the 'Come see Dale Jr-itis' advertising when he is stuck in neutral while racing to the cup or for the cup. Whatever.
You see, football markets teams. Even the commercials with Mike Vick show him on the field with other players and he always has a helmet on.
When a star falls from glory in other sports, they are readily identified because everyone recognizes what a Kobe Bryant or Barry Bonds look like. Michael Vick could have walked into a grill or pub on Peoria without being recognized except for a few avid football fans. Well, maybe the dog-blood stained clothes would have given him away.
Big Boy Ball. This Thursday night kicks off the regular season with a much-anticipated showdown between the New Orleans Saints and the defending Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts.
Will Reggie Bush and Peyton Manning steal some headlines? Absolutely. Would most football fans cherish a bathtub filled with chili? You bet.
The main difference is this, while Manning and Bush are making plays, their teammates are equals. Manning scores by passing the ball to other players. Both players are identifiable by numbers, not faces, during the game.
When Bush breaks ankles and darts through the defense for an electric score, he'll have received good blocking from teammates who are also playing faceless under their helmet.
Is the problem with the other major sports as easy as a change in gears from superstar marketing to a true renewal of rivalries? Probably not. But it would be a fantastic start.
And just because I can, here are my football picks for the 2007-08 NFL season.
AFC Division winners: New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers. NFC Division winners: Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers.
The Colts are practically a lock to make the Super Bowl again. I'll take the New Orleans Saints as their opponent. Should you put money on these picks?
I wouldn't, as far as you know.
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