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Old 12-19-2001, 07:23 PM   #1
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Post Sports Central Newsletter - #65 - Lancaster Report Debut

The Sports Central Newsletter
December 2nd, 2001 - Issue #65

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|-- IN THIS ISSUE... --|

- Words From the Editor for 12.02.01
- What's new at Sports Central?
- Feature article: Salary Cap Rules Need Adjustments
- Sports briefs: The latest in the sports world
- The Lancaster Report 12.02.01



Hello folks,

Sports Central's Ross Lancaster makes his newsletter debut as he
presents you all "The Lancaster Report." TLR will be college basketball
related and will include a variety of news bits and Ross' biweekly top
25 rankings. Be sure to check it out below and let us know your
feedback. Mike Round is back this week as he discusses the salary caps
in football.

We have teamed up with DimeMag, the creators of the the insanely popular
HoopsTV web site, to provide you all with a Sports Central exclusive
free basketball magazine. DimeMag claims to be "produced by ballers, for
ballers," and from what I've seen, this looks to be a quality
publication to fulfill your basketball cravings. See the ad below, or
just visit: <https://www.sports-central.org/dimemag.shtml>.

Until next time,

- Marc James, Your Christmas-Shopping Editor
mailto:[email protected]


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--> Sports Central Exclusive!

Receive the PREMIER issue of Dime Magazine FREE by clicking on the link
below. Dime Magazine is the hot new basketball magazine from the same
crew that brought you HoopsTV. Check out DimeMag for more info on the
magazine and your daily SMACK!




Revisiting the new articles for the week of 11/26/01 - 12/02/01:


COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Lute's fresh look
By Michael Melissa

Arizona head coach Lute Olson has had to rebuild before. So when three
underclassman left after last season's NCAA Finals run, Olson knew he
had the players to keep the Wildcat's on top of the polls. He's now the
only one not surprised by Arizona’s quick vault to the top, says SC's
Michael Melissa.



COLUMNS: Bulls and Bears - Week 12
By Kellogg's Komments

With the NFL season in the final stretch, this is crunch time for
fantasy managers. Kellogg's Komments provides fantasy football die-hards
with the latest taste of expert knowledge. Find out who should be in
your lineup and who should warm your bench in this week's Bulls and
Bears column.



COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Early season observations
By John McManus

Mid-majors are back to their old "upset" ways. North Carolina and
Illinois, overrated? Duke and Arizona, still rolling. SC's John McManus
outlines a few things to think about early in this already exciting
college hoops season.



MLB: McGwire changed baseball
By Gary Cozine

Mark McGwire has decided to retire only three years after his
record-breaking season. What have we lost? More than just a great
baseball hitter, that's for sure. SC's Gary Cozine takes a look back at
a career that will not be soon forgotten.



TENNIS: Champions Race is no champion
By Clay Allen

The ATP instituted its "simplified" ranking system two years ago.
Problem is, fans, driven by a confused media, don't know which ranking
system is the right ranking system. SC's Clay Allen attempts to make
some sense of this whole fiasco.



NFL: If Chicago and Pittsburgh faced off
By Keith Thronson

Wouldn't a Chicago Bears vs. Pittsburgh Steelers showdown be a great
game? Although both teams could claim to being the NFL's most
surprising, successful team, they will not meet in the regular season
this year. The only hope is if they meet in the Super Bowl, and that
could very well be a possibility. Read on and see why that may very well
happen, says SC's Keith Thronson, as he breaks down this matchup.



MLB: Selig's new vote of confidence
By Brandon Engebretson

What would you do if a boss who didn't truly care about your business
was allowed to run the company towards the ground for another five
years? Would you give up hope for it? Well, that's essentially the
situation baseball faces, says SC's Brandon Engebretson.



NFL: Hot 'Skins completely transformed
By Ross Lancaster

The Washington Redskins have won five straight games, and SC's Ross
Lancaster explains the complete turnaround behind the team in the
nation's capital.



NHL: Old guards still struggling
By Vishal Patel

As many of the league's giants have been brought closer to earth through
the first quarter mark of the NHL season, SC's Vishal Patel takes a look
beneath the surface to uncover the predicament facing many of these
elite teams from both Conferences.



TENNIS: WTA ends 2001 with unlikely No. 1
By Sandra Eggers

Jennifer Capriati and Venus Williams hold the last six Grand Slam
titles, and Martina Hingis has been No. 1 since most anyone can
remember. So who ended up on top of the rankings at the end of 2001? The
unlikely American, Lindsay Davenport, say SC's Sandra Eggers.



NFL: Who are the contenders and pretenders?
By Craig Hardesty

Once upon a time, we knew who the kings of the National Football League
were. Now, with the playoffs almost here, we are still looking for the
top dogs of the NFL, says SC's Craig Hardesty in his SC debut.




Salary Cap Rules Need Adjustments

Everyone watches pro football on Sunday afternoons. In sports TV, the
NFL is king, with ratings baseball, basketball, and hockey can only
dream of. The reason, of course, is that pro football is a great
product, with nail biting finishes, staggeringly athletic players,
finely-coached teams and gorgeous cheerleaders. Wrong – well, apart from
the cheerleader's bit. The NFL is mediocre, with an increasing number of
one-dimensional teams hovering around .500 looking to limp into the
playoffs and maybe win it all. Cleveland and Atlanta for the Super Bowl,

By Mike Round

How did we get from the days of the Niners and the Cowboys to today's
NFL? It all goes back to the labor disputes of 1982 and 1987, where the
players union essentially won the first of the battles for free agency.
To counter the costs of free agency, the owners got agreement to a team
salary cap, thus limiting the potential financial damage to teams of a
wage free-for-all.

The Niners and the Cowboys were the first to work out how to play the
salary cap game, and consequently, built long-lasting quality teams in
the early '90s. The Niners used a sort of pyramid scheme system, relying
on shady under the table deals, personal friendships with sympathetic
agents, and financial jiggery-pokery. The Cowboys used the draft, and in
particular, the lower rounds of the draft, to find cheap and cheerful
roster-fillers with talent and speed, and used them in roster spots
previously taken by expensive veterans. Both systems worked, at least
until the Niners' financial house got blown down and, in the case of
Dallas, J.J. left town and took his draft board with him.

No team, since the Niners and Cowboys, has really got a sufficient grip
on the salary cap restrictions to build a long-lasting,
championship-caliber football team. And that's not good for football. It
means the game essentially treads water, with no new level of
competition to aspire to. It can make for tight games and closely
contested playoff spots, but that doesn't necessarily mean quality

The salary cap rules are ripping-off the fans. Both fans that pay the
ever-increasing prices for a seat and the fan that take root on the
couch with a six pack and a bag of cheesy nibbles. Less importantly,
they are ripping-off veteran players. In fact the only obvious
beneficiaries of salary cap are the owners, a bunch of dubious
characters hardly in need of a buck or two.

The common misconception regarding salary cap is that it gives small
market, traditionally "small" teams (Rams, Bucs, Falcons, etc.) the
chance to compete with the big-market, big-city boys (Dallas, both New
York teams, the Redskins, etc.). It's true small market teams can
compete in football, just as they can't in baseball. The reason is
revenue sharing and the draft system not salary cap. Make no mistake,
the Jerry Jones's and Daniel Snyder's of the NFL would like to end
revenue sharing. Revenue sharing ensures every team can pay the star
players the market rate. Salary cap just means more players switch
teams, often reluctantly.

Furthermore, goes the argument, salary cap helps keep salaries under
control. Baloney. Salaries are still spiraling. The only thing that's
changed is that instead of a player earning his salary over a number of
years with his base salary increasing as he adds service, the player now
receives a huge signing bonus and a more "modes" (and normally
backloaded) annual salary. Plus, he gets easily obtained incentives
written in so the last year or two is voidable.

So Player A signs with Team A for $30 million over five years with a $12
million signing bonus and a few million thrown in as a roster bonus.
Player A knows full well he's not going to get to year five of his
contract because he's scheduled to make $14 million, thus causing a huge
salary cap induced headache to Team A. So Player A coasts through a
couple of mediocre seasons then starts putting it in as he realizes he's
going to be a cap victim at seasons end. Then he gets the big signing
bonus again and it's back on the same merry go round.

Ever wonder why a common shot on TV is of a losing team's players
laughing and joking on the sidelines whilst they discuss the NBA
standings? Who cares who's winning when you are going to be a salary cap
victim at seasons end and likely to be signing with Team B for another
big signing bonus?

So the fans and the team, potentially, get a part committed player
laughing all the way to the bank. Great deal. There is an alternative,
but it's not much better. Player A signs a modest contract as an
unproven player picked up in the lower rounds of the draft. He turns out
to be a gem and puts up big numbers. He outperforms his contract and
asks for another, a contract reflecting his worth. Team A can't afford
it. They've had a couple of decent years and have had to renegotiate a
few contracts. Re-signing Player A would put them over the salary cap.
So Player A ends up elsewhere in exchange for a draft pick. Fans of Team
A lose a favorite player because of economics.

So what's the alternative? Salary cap is basically a good idea. It stops
"New York Yankee syndrome", whereby a team buys it's way to a
championship by cornering a large corner of the free agent market. No
one, except the aforementioned Herr Von Snyder in Washington, wants to
see baseball's situation transposed onto football, whereby 80-90% of the
teams in the league have no hope at all of winning a championship.

So salary cap stays, but with some improvements. Firstly, cap relief for
re-signing your own veterans. So Team A wants to re-sign Player A, who
was selected in the draft by Team A four years ago. He wants to stay but
the team is in cap trouble. They can't pay him what he would command on
the open market. But they might be able to if the team got cap relief
for re-signing one of their players. So for every $1 of a contract, only
80% of it counts against the cap, if you're re-signing one of your own
veterans. So more players get to stick on teams as it's cheaper to
re-sign your own veterans, teams get to build without so much fear of
mass defections, the fans keep their favorites and no one loses.

Secondly, injury cap relief. The Jets not only lost Vinny Testaverde
last opening day, they also lost his salary. $2 million-plus wasted on
injured reserve. If the Jets would have had salary cap relief on
Testaverde's salary, they could have competed in the market for a
veteran QB. Then again, they wouldn't have found out Ray Lucas could
play a bit. The trouble is, not every team can unearth a Ray Lucas or
Olandis Gary.

So why won't it happen? Firstly, the owners won't like it, as it will
mean more money going out in salaries, hence less profit. The NFLPA will
likely fight it because it will mean fewer players changing teams, hence
less pressure on salaries spiraling upwards as teams fight over mediocre
talent. If you got yourself a decent young DE on $4-5 million a year and
you can re-sign him, then you don't need to go out and pay big bucks for
someone else's back up. Or a 38-yea- old former Pro Bowler.

Unfortunately, players unions, all of them, are afflicted with the
long-term vision of Mister Magoo. Baseball had only just started to
recover from the 1994 lockout and then here comes another one. One of
the fans main gripes? Players salaries, players switching teams
constantly, and players' lack of loyalty. It would be nice if football
could learn from recent baseball history and actually put the fan before
the owner or the player.


Send us your feedback:
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And now, a collection of the latest and hottest sports stories on the

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Tennessee Scrambles Bowl Picture
N.Y. Times (free reg. req.)

NHL: NHL Notes: Great One praises Iginla

NFL: 49ers reclaiming glory, Bills not so much

NBA: The Dream pushes Raps past Hawks

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Unbeaten Miami Headed to Rose Bowl
N.Y. Times (free reg. req.)



Welcome to The Lancaster Report, an all-new college basketball column
that will appear each week in the SC newsletter. This week, I'll examine
why North Carolina has gotten off to a horrible start and breakdown by
top 25, which will be featured in each issue. Enjoy!

By Ross Lancaster

With three straight inexplicable losses to begin the season, North
Carolina, who is one of, if not the most known college basketball
program in the nation, has been asked the same question three games into
the 2001-2002 campaign: what is going on?

With a loss at home against Hampton to start the season, the game was
just looked at as a fluke in a wave of upsets going around at the time.
However, with the second loss of the season, again at home, to in-state
rival Davidson, questions aroused about Matt Doherty's bunch, but with
still a chance to resolidify themselves with a win over Indiana in the
highly hyped ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday.

However, another convincingly bad loss has the Tar Heels 0-3 and in a
downward spiral. While there maybe nowhere to go but up for the boys in
blue, North Carolina still has the likes of Kentucky, Charleston, and
UConn in non-conference play, as well as the always tough ACC slate that
includes playing Top Ten teams Virginia, Duke, and Maryland multiple

The situation in Chapel Hill is ugly, and it may ultimately wind up in
the Tar Heels missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 27

--> Red-Hot Redbirds

With their showing in the Maui Invitational, the defeats of two top five
teams, and a competitive effort against the No. 1 team in the land, the
Ball State Cardinals have to be recognized as the top surprise of the
season so far. Guard Patrick Jackson has led the team with upsets over
Kansas and UCLA thus far, with a 22.3 ppg average. Center Lonnie Jones
has also been a force in the middle, with 16.3 ppg and controlling the
glass with 7.3 rpg.

In March, don't expect this team to be a Cinderella. They're already too
good to surprise anyone.

--> Lancaster's Top 25

Without further ado, here is the Top 25 for this week's issue:

1. Duke
2. Maryland
3. Missouri
4. Arizona
5. Illinois
6. Kentucky
7. Kansas
8. Syracuse
9. Virginia
10. Ball State
11. Florida
12. Alabama
13. Iowa
14. UCLA
15. Stanford
16. Indiana
17. Boston College
18. St. Joseph's
19. Fresno State
20. Wake Forest
21. Marquette
22. Memphis
23. Michigan State
24. Xavier
25. Gonzaga

--> Games on the Horizon

In every edition of my column, I will have a list of Top 25 games to
keep an eye on for the next two weeks. Let's breakdown the games for
this issue:

12/04/01 - No. 4 Arizona vs. No. 5 Illinois
12/04/01 - No. 7 Kansas vs. No. 20 Wake Forest
12/05/01 - No. 1 Duke vs. Temple
12/05/01 - No. 11 Florida vs. No. 23 Michigan St.
12/06/01 - No. 19 Fresno St. vs. No. 25 Gonzaga
12/08/01 - No. 10 Ball State at No. 16 Indiana
12/08/01 - No. 12 Alabama vs. No. 14 UCLA
12/14/01 - No. 24 Xavier vs. Cincinnati
12/15/01 - No. 3 Missouri vs. No. 13 Iowa
12/14/01 - No. 4 Arizona vs. No. 23 Michigan St.

That's all for this edition; the next one will come on December 16, so
sit back and enjoy the games!


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(Thanks for reading! Next issue set to come out on 12/16/01.)

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