Justin Verlander Becomes Highest Paid Pitcher In Baseball
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander signed a record $180 million contract on Friday making him the highest paid pitcher in the history of baseball. Just two months ago, Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners had signed a seven-year contract worth $175 million, the richest contract for a pitcher at the time. Verlander’s contract includes an option for an eighth year that could push the deal to $202 million.
When Hernandez signed his record deal back in Feburary, many experts believed it would lead to a big pay day for players like Verlander and Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Verlander’s new contract includes $140 million in guaranteed money and $28 million per season from 2015-2019. Now, with Verlander off the market, Kershaw becomes the biggest pitcher eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.
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49ers’ New Stadium Will Offer Most Publicly Accessible Wi-Fi In Sports
When fans enter the San Francisco 49ers’ new stadium in Santa Clara next season, they will have access to the best public Wi-Fi network in any sports stadium in the country. The network will allow all 68,500 fans to simultaneously connect to the stadium’s wireless network without any limits on uploads or downloads.
The new stadium will be the first one to ever allow all fans in the stadium to connect to a wireless network at once. Limits in spectrum available to Wi-Fi has made this essentially impossible in the past. The plan could allow for special benefits to ticket holders, such as viewing instant replays or exclusive camera angles. If all goes according to plan, smartphones and tablets will run into the limits of their own hardware long before they run into the limits of the Wi-Fi network in the stadium.
Other teams have already begun expanding wireless networks in their stadiums. This past season, the New England Patriots installed a full-stadium Wi-Fi network. However, the network was never used by more than 10,000 fans at one time. At this year’s Super Bowl in New Orleans, a Wi-Fi network was installed that was designed to allow up to 30,000 fans simultaneous access.
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Louisville Slugger Unveils New Logo, Harder Bats
Just in time for the start of a new baseball season, Louisville Slugger unveiled their new bat which is stamped with a revamped logo. The bats are made with a firmer wood, making them harder to splinter. The new bats and logo are a strategy from the classic manufacturer to stay relevant in the sporting good supply market.
The new logo is the first change since 1980 when the company dropped the “Hillerich & Bradsby” name from the oval logo. The new bats are made from a higher graded wood that includes an enhanced surface. The bats are less likely to splinter, therefore increasing the safety of other players on the field. The changes are the first to the bats since 1972, and will make the bats more durable and less likely to break. The changes have been in the works for the last several years while the company did research with corporate partners and players to generate feedback on the new bats and logo.
The new logo keeps the traditional Louisville Slugger oval while adding a new interlocking “LS” above it. Other features include player’s signatures, a model number, a notation to prove the bat is genuine, and the wood from which the bat is made.
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Lowe’s Extends Sponsorship with Jimmie Johnson
Lowe’s has extended its’ full-time sponsorship with NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson and his No. 48 team through the 2015 season. The announcement was made on Wednesday by Hendrick Motorsports. Lowe’s also made the announcement to over 1,700 store managers at the company’s annual sales meeting. Lowe’s has sponsored Johnson and his team for the past 12 years.
Johnson is one of NASCAR’s top drivers with five straight Sprint Cup Series championships from 2006-2010. Johnson and his crew chief, Chad Knaus, have scored at least one victory in every Sprint Cup Series dating back to 2002. In a sport where drivers change primary sponsors on a regular basis, Johnson has remained loyal to Lowe’s, as the company has been his primary sponsor for his first 400 starts of his career. Jeff Gordon is the only other driver in NASCAR to ever remain with the same primary sponsor for the first 400 starts of a career.
“We caught lightning in a bottle with this combination,” team owner Rick Hendrick said. “Jimmie and Chad have been successful, because they always have a plan and do a great job executing. Lowe’s is the same way as a sponsor. The partnership has been incredible, and we’re looking forward to working together for many more years.”
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Red Sox Slash Prices On Concessions To Boost Ticket Sales
The Boston Red Sox’ record sellout streak is in jeopardy, and the team is trying to do everything it can to save it. In an effort to increase ticket sales, the team is slashing the prices on beer and food for the month of April. The deals include $5 for a 12-ounce draft beer (down from $7.50 last season), two Fenway Franks for the price of one, $2 dollar hot chocolates, and free food for kids under 14 during the first three innings. The kids meal includes a Fenway Frank, Goldfish, and a carton of juice, normally priced at $5.
The Red Sox are coming off a 69-93 season, finishing in last place in the American League East for the first time since 1992. Boston’s schedule won’t help ticket sales either. The Red Sox will play 17 home games in the span of 21 days during April, including games against the Royals and Astros that will prove tough to draw fans in. Tickets currently remain for all home games in April, including Opening Day against the Orioles on April 8.
The team recognizes that after a rough year in 2012, paired with so many home games to start the year, slashing the prices on concessions might be the only way to keep the sellout streak alive. The streak currently stands at 793 games, a Major League Baseball record. While the team expects to sellout their home opener on April 8, team president/CEO Larry Lucchino has admited the streak could end as soon as the second home game.
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Sports Social Media
San Francisco Giants Using Social Media To Become National Brand
The San Francisco Giants, one of the most successful teams in baseball during recent years, are using social media in order to promote their brand to compete with classic dynasty’s such as the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers.
This year, the Giants are unveiling the first social media cafe in baseball located beyond the centerfield video board at AT&T Park. In the cafe, fans will be able to enjoy Peet’s Coffee alongside an interactive social media board where fans can see their live tweets and Instagram photos from the ballpark. Fans will be able to connect to the stadium’s Wi-Fi to upgrade their seats during the game.
The Giants have become one of the most successful teams in social media as they are ranked near the top in baseball on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+. San Francisco also collaborated with the Twins, Diamondbacks and Major League Baseball to make instant replays available for fans on their mobile devices while at the ballpark.
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Raptors, Maple Leafs Using Latest Technology In Hopes Of Reaching Playoffs
Two Toronto sports teams have begun using the latest sports technology in an effort to boost the teams’ success and return to the postseason. The Raptors are using SportVU, a camera-tracking system that returns data as video files to analyze game film. The technology allows for the team to see when and where a pick-and-roll occurred, if the pick was properly set, and where all 10 players were exactly on the court when the play happened. Raptors coaches helped the analytics team build the system, while the analytics team e-mails the coaches with advanced statistics on upcoming opponents.
Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs are also using technology to get back to their winning ways. The team recently purchased the ‘Rapid Shot,’ essentially hockey’s version of batting cages. Players can improve their shot by using the machine that automatically feeds them pucks. The machine measures the player’s reaction speed in accepting the pass, as well as the speed and accuracy of their shot.
“It tracks you and your trends, if you’re getting more accurate, which one is your weakest corner to pick, different things like that,” says Maple Leafs defenseman John-Michael Liles. “I think it is a great way to warm you up to get your body and muscles firing . . . You spend a lot of time in the gym and this is a good way to mix it up on your body.”
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