Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

Hancock Situation & Ratings Hell


Hancock Situation Gets More Uncomfortable


Beer and sports have always had a strong connection that has been fortified by the fact that alcohol companies spend so much money to appeal to sports fans. Now consider the fact that this has happened. A pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, a team that was owned for four decades by Anheuser Busch, and has a greater connection to beer than any other team in sports, died from drinking too much.

This came after the team's manager, Tony LaRussa, was charged with a DUI in March after he was found asleep at the wheel with his car running at a green light. Now there's yet another connection. Hancock's father is now suing, among others, Mike Shannon's Restaurant owned by the longtime Cardinals broadcaster for serving his son alcohol when they knew he was drunk even though Shannon's daughter claims she even offered to call him a cab. You couldn't have dreamed this one up.

On a side note, while I can't begin to understand how the Hancock family feels, but this lawsuit will rid any good will that their son engendered with the fans. Hancock slammed into a tow truck that was assisting another car on the side of the road. Hancock's father is suing the tow truck company and even the poor guy whose car broke down. Any sympathy that people felt for his son is now gone.

Get Ready For Ratings Hell

If you said to the sports gods, give me the worst matchups that you possible could of teams that deserve to play in the NHL and NBA Finals, this would be close to it. With the Spurs and the Pistons both up 2-0, we're assuming San Antonio and Detroit are the destination for the NBA Finals. And you have to be loving yourself if you are NBC, which is scheduled to broadcast games 3-7 in the Stanley Cup Finals, because you aren't paying a dime for the rights to broadcast Anaheim-Ottawa.

I was aware that the NHL at times has been outrated by Major League Soccer, the WNBA, poker and eating contests, one of which I was the sideline reporter to. But I'd like to thank Bob Keisser of the Long Beach Press-Telegram for pointing out that the list apparently also includes motocross, surfing and Mexican League Soccer. The truth is that not many matchups would give the NHL a great number, but residents of Anaheim aren't even rabid Ducks fans and a Canadian team doesn't rate in the U.S.

Now let's get back to the NBA. Try to sell me on how Spurs-Pistons is going to rate well, when the three previous finals ('99, '03 and '05) that the Spurs have played in dropped by 40, 36 and 23 percent as compared to the previous finals.

What's in the Cards?

Upper Deck has put in its bid to buy Topps, hoping its bid -- of about $416 million -- will trump Michael Eisner's Tornante Co. The deal would be subject to Major League Baseball approval as well as the regulators, of course. If the deal were consummated, that would mean that what has been a four-horse race -- Upper Deck, Topps, Donruss and Fleer -- would, all of a sudden, be down to two.

I've previously said that this would be bad for collectors, but after thinking about it, I realize that Upper Deck knows the reality of the business. The bottom line is that given the state of the card business they wouldn't be able to dictate the marketplace and truly wield monopolistic power. If they set card prices too high and there weren't enough options for consumers, collectors would just move on to the next thing.

Questions?  Comments?