King Kaufman's Sports Daily

Playoff tickets for locals only. Is this the NFL or the bush leagues? Plus: Beckham, Eagles punt, Oklahoma State-Texas thriller.

By Salon Staff
Published January 17, 2007 5:00PM (EST)

Our team! Our field! Our stands! Go home!

If you're a Saints fan who doesn't live near Chicago or a Patriots fan who doesn't live near Indianapolis, it's off to the secondary ticket market for you. Same if you're a Bears fan who doesn't live near Chicago or a Colts fan who doesn't live near Indy.

Both home teams in Sunday's conference championship games are restricting ticket sales to local fans. It's a bush-league move by franchises that should have better things to do than force fans of the visiting team to pay scalpers' prices. It's the National Football League, guys.

The Boston Globe reports that the Colts are selling their 1,000 available tickets to Sunday's playoff games only to walk-up customers at Ticketmaster outlets in Indiana or Louisville. The San Diego Chargers did a similar thing last week.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports the same deal in Chicago, though the Bears are willing to sell tickets online to anyone with an Illinois or northern Indiana credit card billing address.

The idea is to solidify home-field advantage and give local fans the best chance to secure tickets, but as happens with any sales restriction, the real effect is to pump up the secondary market. Thousands of tickets to both games are still available through resellers such as StubHub or through less formal scalpers.

It would serve the Bears and Colts right if thousands of Saints and Patriots fans showed up to the games Sunday too tapped out to spend anything on concessions and souvenirs.

The locals-only policy makes the home teams look grubby and small. The NFL is too big to stand for that kind of hick provincialism. A few thousand visiting fans add spice to the stadium atmosphere, and if the home 11 can't win without unanimous support, the hell with 'em.

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A Beckham clarification [PERMALINK]

Several readers have written in to point out that the $250 million figure for David Beckham, commented upon in this space Friday, is a bit of P.R. hype, and that the actual salary he'll collect from the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer over the next five years won't approach $50 million a year.

The Associated Press and others have reported that Beckham's salary will be closer to $10 million a year, with the rest representing potential income from endorsements, merchandising and profit sharing.

In a league with a salary cap around $2 million -- per team, though each team gets to ignore the cap for one player -- and an average salary around $100,000, that's still an enormous figure.

An NBA player making five times the salary cap would have an annual salary of about $265 million. If that NBA baller made 100 times the league-average salary, as Beckham reportedly will, the basketball player would be making $370 million a year.

In the context of MLS, Beckham's making behemothic coin. But it's not true that, as I wrote Tuesday, "MLS had $250 million lying around." Maybe it had $50 million.

Still enough to be a "massive presence during the soccer orgy of the World Cup," though Beckham could end up as a better investment. My point was that MLS has blown marketing opportunities in the past, and I'll stand by that. It needs to do better this time.

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That Eagles punt: Yes, dumb [PERMALINK]

My virtual pal William Krasker uses a dynamic programming model at his site Football Commentary to judge coaching decisions based on the effect they have on the probability of the team winning the game.

His statistical analysis agrees with my seat-of-the-pants view -- and that of pretty much every other observer -- that Eagles coach Andy Reid made a big mistake Sunday by punting on fourth-and-15 from the Eagles 44, down by three to the Saints with 1:56 left in the game.

The bottom line: "We estimate that Philadelphia's win probability is about 0.11 if they go for the first down, compared to about 0.05 if they punt. By choosing to punt with 1:56 left against New Orleans, Andy Reid halved his team's likelihood of winning."

The Saints, as you know, ran out the clock and won the game.

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Speaking of dumb: Timeout, Oklahoma State [PERMALINK]

Dang, that was a fantastic basketball game Tuesday night. Oklahoma State beat Texas 105-103 in triple overtime, and yeah, it was every bit as thrilling as that sounds. Forward Mario Boggan won it on a totally improbable 3-pointer that followed several seconds of aimless and wobbly dribbling. Boggan had been 6-for-37 from beyond the arc, a dashing 16 percent.

I just happened to catch most of the game. My favorite moment came near the end of the second overtime. The Cowboys were up 93-91 with 41.7 seconds left after an acrobatic score by Tyler Hatch, who managed to bank one in while falling after having been fouled. He missed the foul shot, but Boggan outmuscled two Longhorns for the rebound, fought off a defender and laid it in.

And a whistle! Home crowd going crazy! Oklahoma State leads 95-91 with 41 seconds left and a free throw coming!

Except the whistle wasn't a foul. It was a timeout. Oklahoma State coach Sean Sutton had signaled for a timeout in the heat of the action. He'd called time with his own man possessing the ball directly underneath the basket. After the timeout the Cowboys turned it over when David Monds' 3-point try was partially blocked by Kevin Durant, who dunked on the ensuing fast break.

Nice timeout call, coach.

Oklahoma State won anyway. But I love, love, love it when a control-freak coach -- redundancy alert warning -- has to pay the way Sutton did Tuesday. It was more important to Sutton that he get to be the guy in charge, set up the play, justify his existence, than to have his player in control of the ball directly beneath the basket with a high probability of scoring a hugely important basket. Dumb.

Previous column: Fire the coach after going 14-2?

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