5 questions with Brian Frederick of SportsFans.org

While the NFL owners and players continue to battle in court about how to split the $9 billion pie, some fans are not sitting idly by waiting to find out what happens. Brian Frederick, the executive director of SportsFans.org, is one of those who is literally fighting on behalf of the fans–the fans like you who continue to get shafted by greedy sports team owners and overpaid players. We had the chance to ask Brian a few questions recently about SportsFans.org and some of the current issues affecting fans:

The Scores Report: First, if you can tell me briefly about how you started your organization and some of the things that you stand for?

Brian Frederick: Sports Fans Coalition was founded in 2009 by the chair of our board, David Goodfriend, a former Clinton White House staffer. He put together a great board, including a member of the Bush White House. I was brought on in August of 2010 to be the first full-time employee. We were founded to give sports fans a voice on public policy issues; to bring the voice of the fan to the halls of power. We are concerned about issues like media blackouts, stadium construction, ticket prices, work stoppages and the lack of a college football playoff.

TSR: I read that you were trying to earn a seat at the initial labor negotiations. Did anyone respond to you at all and if so, what did they say?

BF: After one of the mediation sessions in DC, DeMaurice Smith asked to speak with me and he and I walked back to his office and chatted. He said we had written a great letter and he was interested in some of our ideas. He saw no reason, for instance, that a new CBA couldn’t include language ending blackouts. I am still hopeful that he will try to include that in whatever the new CBA looks like, but I am not holding my breath. I never heard from Roger Goodell.

TSR: Now that the appeals hearing is set for June 3 and a ruling might not come down until a month later, do you think any games will be missed?

BF: It depends on the ruling (and further appeals). I’ve always felt that we are likely to lose some early games but not the whole season. That’s not to say that there’s not a chance the whole season will be lost, it just seems unlikely because this is just over how to divide revenue within a structure that works. The NFL doesn’t have the deeper problems that the NBA does, for instance. If the owners win their appeal, I think we’re looking at some lost games. If the players win, I think there’s a better chance for football in the fall.

TSR: Do you think the NFL has done enough damage to this point that will make fans boycott, at least to some degree?

BF: The NFL is certainly damaging its brand every day this dispute drags on. I don’t think it’s caused enough harm yet that fans will boycott. Only after games are missed will there even be a chance of enough fans uniting to take action. This is unfortunate, of course, because that is what the NFL and NFLPA are counting on — that fans won’t care until games are missed. But that attitude (like a game of chicken) is exactly what leads to missed games. There’s this sort of attitude among fans that it will get worked out — “they always work it out.” Well, they don’t always work it out. Sometimes there are games missed and even whole seasons.

TSR: When players and owners say how important the fan is, do you believe them? Why or why not?

BF: I believe that they believe the fans are important in the sense that they are important to their bottom line. They are interested in treating fans as loyal consumers and they don’t want to jeopardize that relationship. They want the fans to have an enjoyable experience and to pay as much money as they are able to in order to have that experience. They don’t mind that they lose fans who can’t afford to follow anymore. That’s troubling. Sport doesn’t have to be that way. At SportsFans.org we’re trying to empower sports fans and fight for a different way of thinking about sports — one that places what’s great about sports (passion, camaraderie, fair competition, athleticism, etc.) ahead of huge profits.

For more information about Sports Fan Coalition and SportsFans.org, please visit Sportsfans.org.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

5 baseball questions with singer/songwriter Ari Hest

New York City based singer/songwriter Ari Hest has a very passionate fan base, one that helped choose the songs for his 2009 release, Twelve Mondays. Hest is back with a brand new album of new material, Sunset Over Hope Street, and as always, this prolific songwriter has delivered another set of stellar songs that can maybe best be described as alternative pop.

And speaking of passionate, Hest is a huge fan of the New York Yankees, and we had the chance to catch up with him while he’s on tour in support of Sunset Over Hope Street, to ask him some questions about the 2010 baseball season complete with predictions:

The Scores Report: So how do you feel about the Yankees’ chances this year as a whole–and where you do expect them to end up in the standings and why?

Ari Hest: I think the Yanks will finish first in the division, but I have doubts about them beating Texas in the playoffs. The pitching isn’t quite what it used to be.

TSR: What do you think about the starting rotation and do you think the Yankees can get by with Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia as the 4 and 5 starters, or will that offense just bludgeon opponents anyway?

AH: Actually I think they will win around 90 games and still take the division, so neither their pitching nor offense will be anything special — only enough to win the division.

TSR: How many years do you think Mariano Rivera can effectively pitch?

AH: I think somewhere around 2046 he’ll retire. He’s only 43 now.

TSR: What are your long-range predictions for who will meet in the World Series and why?

AH: World Series this year: Phillies beat Rangers in 7 games, since both teams are stacked. Nobody can beat that Philly pitching in a short series.

TSR: What are your predictions for AL and NL MVP?

AH: AL – Josh Hamilton and NL – Ryan Howard

Bonus question, TSR: Do you think the NFL labor situation will be settled before September?

AH: I really hope so. It’s so lame. And the fans get hurt the most.

For more information on Ari Hest music and tour dates, please visit www.arihest.com. And maybe we’ll check back with Ari at the end of the season to see how things shook out.

NFL Week 17 ROY power rankings

The top guys we chose on offense and defense should run away with these awards, but stranger things have happened.

Offensive rookie of the year power rankings

1. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams—Almost led the Rams to a playoff berth, but either way had a great rookie year—3512 yards, 18 TDs, with 15 picks.

2. Aaron Hernandez/Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots—Along with their QB, these two guys are probably the biggest reason the Patriots are 14-2. Check out these combined numbers – 87 catches, 1109 yards, 16 touchdowns. For two rookies!

3. Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Bucs—Finished with 11 touchdowns and was a big reason the Bucs became relevant again this season.

4. Colt McCoy, Cleveland Browns—Can someone explain to me how this guy fell to the second half of the third round of last April’s draft?

5. Christopher Ivory, New Orleans Saints—In just 12 games, had 716 yards and 5 scores

Defensive rookie of the year power rankings

1. Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions—Led all DTs with 10 sacks, but more importantly, earned the respect of everyone and had O-coordinators having to game plan against him.

2. Devin McCourty, New England Patriots—Finished with 7 picks and 82 total tackles.

3. Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs—With Cassel, Charles and Bowe, the Chiefs now have a game-changer on defense too.

4. Joe Haden, Cleveland Browns—65 tackles and 6 picks on a team that is going to be really good in a year or two.

5. Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants—Everyone wondered what the Giants would do with another defensive end, but this kid exceeded everyone’s expectations.

NFL Week 17 COY power rankings

It’s best to do this now, because surely our opinions will be skewed watching the playoffs.

1. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots—The Pats just kept getting better as the season wore on, save for that hiccup against Cleveland. This is actually one of Bill’s best coaching jobs.

2. Raheem Morris, Tampa Bay Bucs—From 3-13 to 10-6. But what might be most impressive is that Morris told everyone this team would win 10 games when he may have been the only one who believed it.

3. Todd Haley, Kansas City Chiefs—The AFC West winner has a home game Sunday. Did anyone pick KC to finish above third?

4. Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears—Kudos to Lovie for sending his A-team out there last Sunday, and either way it’s surely been quite a year for his Bears, especially with that defense.

5. Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles—He hasn’t hung around the city of Philadelphia for 11 years for no reason. The man just knows how to win with the talent he’s given.

6. Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams—So close to grabbing that last playoff spot, but regardless, this is a team that will be reckoned with, maybe as soon as next year.

7. Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons—The 13-3 Falcons are sharp heading into the big dance.

8. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers/John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens—Without Big Ben for four games, and still grabbed the 2-seed in the tough AFC. The Ravens, meanwhile, snuck up on everyone by winning 12 games too.

9. Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers—His team was in every single game and could just as easily be 16-0 than 10-6. Keep an eye on these guys, they could win it all as a 6-seed.

10. Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints—You just can’t forget about the defending champs and that win in Atlanta a few weeks ago proved it.

NFL Week 17 MVP power rankings

Well, I’m pretty sure the announcement for NFL MVP comes down this weekend, so let me begin by saying that I was not influenced by anything that I read when making these picks…..

1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots—Brady, who is going to run away with this award, played about half a game last Sunday, and still threw for 199 yards with 2 TDs and 0 picks. He hasn’t thrown an interception since like early October.

2. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles—Vick did Brady a favor by not being in the lineup against Dallas in Week 17, but he and his coach know what’s more important, and that is for him and some nagging injuries, resting up for the Packers.

3. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints—He wound up third in yards (4620) and tied for second in TDs (33) but uncharacteristically threw for 22 interceptions.

4. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts—4700 yards, 33 TDs, 17 picks. But most impressive is the way Peyton led his team to the postseason when things looked bleak.

5. Matt Cassel/Jamaal Charles/Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs—Cassel had a dreadful game in Week 17, but we stand by the fact that this was a trio that helped a young KC team win their division and a 4-seed.

6. Arian Foster, Houston Texans—Not only did he lead the league in rushing (1616 yards), but Foster added a whopping 66 receptions for 604 more yards—giving him 2220 yards from scrimmage and 18 TDs.

7. Matt Ryan/Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons—Well, at 13-3, someone had to be good for them to get there, especially with all of those come from behind wins.

8. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers—Finished with 3922/28/11 in 15 games, but what counts is leading his team to the postseason berth they deserve.

9. Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers—If they could do last year’s draft over again, do you think Matthews would still be picked at #26?

10. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers—You know, he led the NFL in passing yards (4710) and had 30 TDs with 13 interceptions. He didn’t have Antonio Gates for a while, and he had Vincent Jackson for maybe two games. That’s why we can’t discount Rivers’ numbers.

11. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Bucs—We had to add one more. This kid is going to be a star. Oh wait, he already is. Freeman started every game and wound up with 3451 passing yards with 25 touchdown passes and just 6 interceptions. By comparison, Eli Manning had more than FOUR times as many picks.

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