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you thought Bre-X was a bad investment?
Schwarz's reign over the Toronto Argos is at an end, bringing
to a close one of the darker chapters in the storied team's
they've always been an integral part of the CFL and, as recently
as a decade ago were a must-see team, the Boatmen have been
financial schleps this century. Wise investors would run from
a team like this.
got us thinking: wise investors haven't always been front-and-centre
in the sports world. Better money has been spent on Darryl
Strawberry's rehab than on some of these selections:
years ago the Texas Rangers raised the bar on baseball players
salaries to ridiculous levels. Rangers owner Tom Hicks shocked
fans and everyone else when he agreed to pay free agent Alex
Rodriguez $252 million to play shortstop in Arlington for
idea: spend big bucks on baseball's best player and make him
the centrepiece of a winning franchise. It
have finished in the cellar in the American League West the
last two years and have lost 55 games more than they've won
since A-Rod arrived. Attendance is off 11 per cent from last
year and stands at about 55 per cent of the Ballpark’s
blame A-Rod, who has more than lived up to his part of the,
er, bargain. So far the 20-million-dollar man has hit more
than 120 homers and drove in close to 350 runs for the Rangers.
Not every ball the opposition hits goes to the shortstop.
He isn’t very good with a catcher’s mask and mitt,
and he doesn’t even have a 90-mph fastball. In short,
the Rangers haven’t built around their centrepiece.
sure, the team's payroll is around $100 million, but most
of that money it tied up in a few expensive hitters, while
the pitching staff (remember that part of the game?) has been
has played defence behind the likes of Doug Davis, Ryan Drese
and Darren Oliver -- definitely not Hall of Fame material.
Chan Ho Park, the Rangers’ one significant addition
to the rotation, has been a bust. Since signing A-Rod, the
Rangers' team ERA is a league-worst 5.52.
it appears Rodriguez has grown weary of all the losing. During
a recent interview, the future Hall-of-Famer said he would
consider a trade if he felt the Rangers failed to improve
in the next few years.
'BIG COUNTRY' REEVES
Who was the 13th-highest paid player in the NBA last season?
Jason Kidd? Nope. Vince Carter. Not even close. The answer
is former Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies big man Bryant (Big
hasn’t played in the league for more than two seasons,
ever since chronic knee injuries forced him into early retirement.
However, he was still collecting some mighty scratch last
year. How much? Try $13 million US on for size.
painful handshake: Reeves agrees to his stratospheric
inked a six-year, $65-million US contract extension with the
Grizz in 1997. Some observers have suggested the deal was
the kiss of death for NBA basketball in British Columbia.
forcing the franchise to seek greener pastures in Elvis country.
to Stu Jackson and the Vancouver brass, selecting Reeves sixth
overall in the 1995 NBA Draft looked like an OK proposition
at the time. The seven-footer was coming off an impressive
collegiate career where he was named an All-American and was
one of the top young centres in the game.
showing spurts of promise in his first three seasons, Reeves
struggled with the pro game. He couldn’t log the big-time
minutes like many of his peers and his much-hyped soft touch
vanished for games at a time.
knock on Country was his fitness level. His weight fluctuated
at times and he fought through multiple knee and back ailments.
The most famous incident occurred when he showed up almost
40 pounds overweight at the training camp before the lockout-shortened
took a nosedive in ’99 and he spent most of the year
trying to get back in shape. The next two years saw the team’s
highest-paid player dip even further in the stat department
and his stock plummeted to new depths.
Reeves and the Grizz stumbled through horrific losing streaks.
Fan apathy set in and it wasn’t long before owner Michael
Heisley decided to pack up shop and move the club to Tennessee,
pushing teal Vancouver Grizzlies memorabilia to bargain bins
across the Lower Mainland.
eventually retired, however at least one thing remains the
same from his playing days. The Memphis Grizzlies continue
to dwell among the NBA’s bottom-feeders.
the Sacramento Gold Miners? How about the Memphis Mad Dogs?
Or the Shreveport Pirates? With help from therapists, Canadian
Football League fans have largely forgotten this experimental
era in league history.
in the early 1990s, then-commissioner Larry Smith was convinced
that expansion into the United States was crucial for the
Dennis K.C. Parks (credited here as 'Greg Bartholomew')
destroys the Canadian anthem at a 1994 CFL game in Las
WARNING: not suitable
translated into a grandios dream for the financially-strapped
CFL. He believed that if the United States started to develop
an interest our unique brand of football, he could expand
the league up to 24 teams, with nearly half of those coming
from down south.
started in 1993 with the Sacramento Gold Miners and the floodgates
opened the next year, when teams were established in Baltimore,
Birmingham, Las Vegas, Memphis, San Antonio and Shreveport.
Americans didn't want to see a game that featured three downs
and a wider field. With the exception of the Baltimore Stallions
-- the only non-Canadian club to win the Grey Cup (1995) --
our neighbours stayed away in droves.
lack of interest forced the league to disband every American
franchise in 1996, putting an end to the experiment after
only three seasons.
read the claims in the ads about it being the lightest stick
in the world. You've heard from other players that it gives
you a harder, faster shot.
But before you drive off to the sporting goods store in search
for one of those composite hockey sticks, think again.
First off, it will make your wallet lighter. Averaging over
$200, one composite stick is as expensive as six of its wooden
That's a huge price to pay, especially since there is no guarantee
that the stick will stay intact for the entire game, much
less the season. As shown in this year's Stanley Cup playoffs,
the composite stick has a way shorter life span compared to
its predecessors and had the nasty habit of coming apart in
crucial power play situations.
Contrary to popular belief, it won't make you the next Brett
Hull of your rec league or turn your kid into the next Gretzky.
Sure, it can add a little extra zip to your shot, but at the
cost of developing skills. Since the stick is significantly
lighter, it's harder to make a precise pass across ice and
get a real feel for the puck.
number of NHL players have that they can't stickhandle as
well when they're using the new composites.
1999, British American Racing was readying to make its debut
on the Formula One circuit after investing heavily Canadian
racing hero Jacques Villeneuve.
time, Villeneuve was the darling of the F-1 world. The previouis
year, while driving for the Williams team, he won seven of
17 races and the F1 Drivers Championship. That was on top
of earlier victories in CART and the Indianapolis 500.
with BAR is among the most lucrative in auto racing. According
to reports, the native of Iberville, Que. will earn close
to $20 million US this season. Only Ferrari driver Michael
Schumacher makes more.
difference is that Schumacher wins. A lot. He’s captured
the last three F-1 titles, while Villeneuve hasn't won a race
since September 1997. To be fair to the driver, BAR's cars
haven't been the model of consistency -- mechanical problems
have frequently sabotaged Villeneueve's best efforts.
losing has only made the already-outspoken Villeneuve even
more petulant. He always seems to be feuding with his opponents,
teammates and BAR's management.
abound that Villeneuve will leave BAR when his contract expires
after the 2004 F-1 season.
Montreal Olympics make an encore appearance in the Sports
Online Top 10.
’76 Games were under consideration a few weeks back
for the greatest downfall in Canadian sports history. Now
the Olympics are in the running for another dubious distinction
-- worst sports investment.
numbers don’t lie. The cost overruns left the city with
more than $1 billion in debt. Some of this financial legacy
still costs the city’s taxpayers almost 30 years later.
we point to former Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau’s 1973
declaration: "The Olympics can no more have a deficit
than a man can have a baby."
see that Arnold Schwarzenegger flick Junior?
YORK RANGERS FRONT OFFICE
an old saying around the NHL that the Rangers have more money
than brains. The team's front office has done its best to
promote that canard.
Instigator knows the score on the Rangers' front office
Click to view full image
Rangers have followed a definite model when trying to build
their team over the past 13 years. They find a player they
like, usually through free agency, and then make him an outlandish
offer he can't refuse.
The problem is, this method hasn't worked for the team since
1997, the last year they made the playoffs.
The buckets full of money the Rangers have handed over in
recent years has translated into some of the worst team chemistry
in the NHL and some whopping mistakes by general manager Glen
The Rangers thought they could handle Theo Fleury. Wrong.
Thought Eric Lindros would once again be a dominating force.
Wrong. Thought sniper Pavel Bure would be injury-free and
add some offence. Wrong again. Rookie head coach Bryan Trottier
was supposed to lead the Rangers back to the playoffs, but
he didn't even last the season.
In investment terms, the Rangers are like Nortel: big company,
big expenses, big mistakes.
you ask a Boston Red Sox fan, the worst money ever spent in
sports history was the $100, 000 Harry Frazee sunk into his
Broadway musical No, No, Nanette.
sure, the show was a hit -- it ran for years and was staged
all over the world, but back in Boston fans of the Olde Towne
Team still see red when Frazee's name is mentioned.
addition to being a theatre impresario, Frazee was also the
owner of the Red Sox and to finance shows he'd often sell
off players. According to lore, to bankroll Nanette
he peddled a popular pitcher to the hated New York Yankees.
big a hit as No, No, Nanette was, The Babe was
lefthander's name? Babe Ruth. The Curse of the Bambino was
Ruth first donned the pinstripes, the Yankees have gone on
to 26 World Series. The Red Sox, winners of five of the first
15 World Series, have not won since. That’s more than
eight decades of futility, including four Series appearances,
losing all four in Game 7.
defenders say the owner didn’t sell merely to finance
the play. At the time of the deal Ruth was a troublemaker
-- more boozer and brawler than the "Sultan of Swat."
And No, No, Nanette didn't open until 1924, almost
five years after Ruth had been moved.
of not Frazee's preference for song and dance over balls and
strikes led him to sell Ruth is uncertain, but the Red Sox
nation points to that single event as the cause of close to
a century's worth of heartache.
when those Kevin Maas and Mike Ricci cards were going to put
your kids through college and fund that trip around the world?
Hate to be the bearer of bad news, friend, but those plastic-covered
gems might be able to secure you a cup of coffee or -- even
worse -- some penny candy.
sports card market boomed in the early '90s. Collectibles
shops popped up all over North American neighbourhoods. Companies
cranked up production and released multiple sets, as kids
(and kids-at-heart) from St. John’s to Campbell River
coughed up their cash to snap up rookie cards in record numbers.
was thousands of people had the same idea. With a flooded
market and most of the same merchandise in circulation, the
bulls gave way to the bears. The industry took a major hit,
as cards from that era plunged in value or flatlined altogether.
Many collectors abandoned ship in a hurry.
not all sports collectibles are coaster-worthy. Many cards
from the 1980s and earlier still fetch a premium. The reason
is simple -- scarcity. Prior to the '80s, most kids put cards
between bicycle spokes or flicked them at walls in games of
chance. And that’s if they were lucky enough to avoid
their moms tossing them out with the trash.
an effort to satisfy Americans who couldn't make it through
summer without football, the XFL was created to revolutionize
the way the game was played. At least that's what its founder,
WWE head honcho Vince McMahon, said.
its inaugural season started in 2001, it appeared the league
would succeed. Not only did it have McMahon, one of the more
shrewd businessmen in show business, but the league had a
prime-time television contract with co-founder, NBC.
the XFL delivered on its promise of innovation. It scrapped
the coin toss and had two players sprint 20 yards to capture
the football; it allowed players to put anything they wanted
on the back of their jerseys (He Hate Me becoming one of the
enduring marks of the XFL) and introduced some new camera
in the end, the lack of talent kept fans away. They couldn't
relate to the league's faceless unknowns. And the league wasn't
sure if it wanted to be sport or spectacle, employing WWE
personalities to commentate on the game.
By the time the XFL's hyped Million-Dollar Championship Game
rolled around, nobody cared.
With losses amounting to $35 million each, McMahon and NBC
mutually decided to fold the league in the summer.
it promised to have a long-lasting effect on football culture,
the XFL turned out to be a just footnote in a page of the
sport's history books.
these entries can honestly be classed as bad investments isn't clear
yet. There's a case to be made for both sides:
Two summers ago, angst-ridden Raptor fans were terrified.
Would Vince Carter stay with Toronto, or like Tracy McGrady, move
his game to the United States?
everyone knows, Carter stuck with the Raptors and fans were jubilant;
now they're not so sure.
career and reputation have plummeted. He's been plagued by nagging
knee injuries and suggestions that he doesn't have the mental fortitude
to compete in the NBA.
But many still think that an injury-free Carter can recapture a
spot among the NBA's elite.
In February 2000, Cincinnnati Reds GM Jim Bowden orchestrated a
deal that landed Ken Griffey Jr. back in his hometown and was expected
to bring a World Series championship to the Reds.
At the time Griffey was the most celebrated player in o $116.5 million
contract -- at the time a below-market deal.
But Griffey hasn't been half the player he was in Seattle. Once
considered the most likely candidate to break Hank Aaron's record
of 755 career homers, Griffey has dropped from the game's elite
because of injuries.
Seemingly made of glass, the former one-man higlhight reel has hit
just 43 homers for the Reds, who haven't come close to reaching
the World Series.
Spanish soccer giants Real Madrid paid close $55 million (Can) to
Manchester United for the services of David Beckham. Then they had
to sign him to a contract.
But considering who Real has on its team does it make sense? Beckham
is being added to what amounts to a global all-star team in Madrid.
The nine-time European champions already boast Brazilian World Cup
hero Ronaldo and French star Zinedine Zidane, not to mention former
FIFA footballer of the year Figo, sniper Raul and explosive offensive
fullback Roberto Carlos.
The acquisition will undoubtedly cause a logjam for playing time.
Beckham, Zidane and Figo are all mid-fielders.
Some think Real will be forced to move a player, like Figo, who
they purchased for $80 million from Barcelona in 2000.
the question is, why? The answer, merchandise.
is easily the most popular footballer in the world and Real executives
are confident that there is plenty of money to be made selling Beckham
jerseys and memorabilia.