Bond Market backs Trump

Digital World Asset Company (DWAC) is the blank check company that partnered with Donald Trump for his IPO of Truth Social– the shitshow social media platform he formed after he was banned from Twitter & Facebook for his coup attempt on Jan 6, 2021. A blank check company is a publicly traded company that has no operations or assets at the time of its IPO. Also known as a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), these are people with money to burn and no ideas of their own, but always with a political axe to grind. That axe is being sharpened to cut down working class opposition to fascism, which is the billionaire class preference over Genocide Joe Biden.

Truth Social (DJT) reaches <2% of Americans, and by all metrics it is hemorrhaging active users. Truth Social lost over $50M last year, and only had $5M in total revenue. Five million dollars is a fair measure of what Donald Trump’s grassroots support is worth in a year. But as always, it is the cost of Donald Trump that decisively outweighs any of his cash flow.

Trump Social (DJT) as a publicly traded company is grossly overvalued & insanely out-of-proportion with its underlining business metrics– because of politics. Trump reportedly owns about 79 million shares of Trump Media, 70% of the total. Trump Media stock closed at $57.99 on Tuesday, March 26, giving the company a market value of roughly $8 billion. That is the bond market speaking. Donald Trump will not be threatened with asset seizure, prison time, etc, due to debts he can’t pay. The bond market backs Trump. That eight billion bucks surely isn’t coming from his grassroots supporters.

In an illuminating side note, one of the partners in the deal, Patrick Orlando the former CEO of Digital World is already suing Trump, claimed he was short-changed. Patrick Orlando, Digital World, and Trump Media are all “no comment” on this– it’s a ruling class affair. After the deal was signed last October, Trump fired CEO Patrick Orlando, changed the company name to Trump Media, and replaced its board of directors with Trump loyalists. The SEC approved the Trump-Digital World merger last month.

According to the bond market, the “leftist” credentials of Bernie Sanders, AOC, etc, have been worn out, and Joe Biden doesn’t inspire any confidence, so it’s time to prepare for fascism in the form of Donald Trump.

There is no need to talk of the Republican Party anymore. Republicans are now the Trump Party, which is the right-wing, anti-science lunatic fringe. Donald Trump has purged the entire Republican Party of those deemed insufficiently loyal, and is in control of its political machinery & bank accounts. It’s the Trump Party & the Democrats now.

The right-wing “independent” campaign of RFK, Jr represents more of a ballot-box threat to the Trump campaign than to Joe Biden & his Democrats. It’s the Democratic Party that is going after the RFK, Jr campaign with everything it has got because their job is to disorient the working class and pave the way for Trump. Democrats are always moving to the right.



Bibi & the bond market

In Israel, at least one-third of Jews oppose Bibi & his criminal Zionist regime. Anti-semitism is defined as hated & persecution of Jews. Jews in Israel who oppose Zionism are branded ‘antisemitic’ in the Western propaganda media, which is nonsense. Jews for peace in Israel are dismissed & marginalized because they don’t correspond to the interests of Western imperialism.

Photo credit: Matty STERN/U.S. Embassy Jerusalem

Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu is a Jew who is a Zionist. Bibi is a criminal because he is the leader of a reactionary tendency that uses the Holocaust as political cover for genocide of Palestinians in Gaza. This is a class issue– first & foremost. Bourgeois politicians & its corporate media partners are the capitalist class that consciously introduces nationalism, racism, religious fanaticism, feminism & sexual orientation into politics– as a tool to divide & disorient the international working class.

You may have seen the term “left anti-semitism” come into the fake media recently. To start, “left anti-semitism” is an oxymoron, a political big lie. It is the technique of the Black Hand– the elitist hidden class that runs US intelligence & the military through Wall Street finance.

Current US national debt is over $34.5T. This debt created & inflated the global bond market, the most powerful expression of capitalism. The bond market is all-powerful & can not be defied under capitalism. The bond market decides US elections long before voters go to the polls in November. But when a revolutionary & united international working class says, “We the working people of the United States & the rest of the world, are canceling all monies owed to the super-rich and declare ourselves debt free,” that will kill the bond market. That’s a revolution. The rest is BS.

For those who ask (and I’ve been asked), hyperinflation is defined as rapidly rising inflation, typically measuring more than 50% per month. Right now inflation in the US (depending of whose numbers you read) is 5-10% annually. If US inflation reaches even 20% annually, there will be masses in the streets demanding serious change, because most people can’t afford even those price increases.

Hyperinflation happens in the third world, with Turkey being the latest example. The third world is where the US State Department & CIA exert their nefarious influence to make sure things don’t get out of control as far as workers organizing, etc– all under the banner of “fighting communism.” This keeps Wall Street happy, and makes sure the trains run on time.

The main issue with inflation is workers’ wages, which aren’t keeping up with the cost-of-living. The Federal Reserve Bank has tools to prevent runaway inflation through interest rate hikes, but this cools the economy by putting people out-of-work, which increases the available labor pool and thus suppresses workers’ wages. This is a downward spiral for which bourgeois economists & politicians have no answer.

One last point, whenever you read the Fed is “fighting inflation” by raising interest rates, what they really mean is they are trying to control the inflation of workers’ wages. The price of sellable goods going up (traditional inflation) means more money for corporate, which is good according to the Fed. But a rise in workers’ wages cuts into corporate profits, and therefore is unacceptable “inflation” which must be squashed.

You can not defy the bond market or the Federal Reserve Bank, which transcend political parties & their puppets. You can’t protest against it to any effect. This financial oligarchic set-up is the real power that is oppressing humanity & destroying our planet. You can’t compete playing their game, because everything is rigged for them to win, until everyone loses.

Organize the revolution by thinking outside-the-box. Assume that 100% of what you see & hear in the corporate news is fake. Learn to understand the motive behind the lies, and ask out loud, “Who benefits?” These corrupt institutions, which control the critical levers of capitalist power, rely on being hidden & unaccountable. As soon as sunshine is cast upon their numerous misdeeds, they lose their moral authority to rule.

Political philistines have this notion that revolutionary leaders are the ones who browbeat politicians, chant slogans at rallies, or bang their fists in fury in the tradition of Che Guevara, when history has proven that to be a reactionary dead end. Revolutions aren’t negotiated by liberals and they don’t come from a gun barrel, although guns are always necessary to defend revolutions against liberals who are with the fascist bourgeoisie trying to strangle it.

The bourgeoisie will always seek to attack & kill revolutions with all their venom & hatred, and this must be met with firm & unwavering workers’ resistance with a will-to-win in permanence. Revolutionaries are the ones who educate people by telling them the truth in all things. This has always been the true definition of a revolutionary.


Talkin’ Padres 2024 hot stove

Padres receive: RHP Dylan Cease
White Sox receive: RHP Drew Thorpe (MLB Pipeline’s No. 85 prospect; SD No. 5), OF Samuel Zavala (SD No. 7), RHP Jairo Iriarte (SD No. 8), RHP Steven Wilson

Love this deal consummated yesterday for the San Diego Padres. AJ Preller used the top pitching prospect he didn’t like in the Juan Soto deal (Drew Thorpe) as a primary trade chip to acquire a front-of-the-rotation starter. RHP Dylan Cease is not as good as Corbin Burnes, but the Padres get two years of affordable team control without surrendering their top prospects.

Padres gave up three prospects and a reliever in the deal: RHP Drew Thorpe, a high floor soft-tossing top 100 pitcher with a 3rd starter ceiling; RHP Jairo Iriarte, a riskier high-ceiling top 100 pitcher and the key to this deal for the White Sox; OF Samuel Zavala, a 19yo lottery ticket; RHP Steven Wilson, a decent cheap reliever. If you are interested in winning, you would rather have Dylan Cease than what the Padres gave up.

This keeps the Padres competitive AND under the luxury tax, so they can reset after splurging and coming up snake eyes. Teams pay huge penalty amounts for being over certain tiers of payroll, and it’s difficult to get back under without tearing a team apart. For example, in 2020 the Red Sox traded RF Mookie Betts to the Dodgers and dumped LHP David Price as part of the deal. Red Sox ownership was no longer willing to pay the penalty for being over the payroll threshold, especially for a team that didn’t win. Red Sox haven’t been competitive since and currently are a mess.

Splurging in free agency sure ain’t what it used to be. Teams lose multiple draft choices and/or international draft money for signing free agents that rejected qualifying offers, especially when the signing team is over certain team-payroll tiers. That’s why the Yankees are locked-in with ace RHP Gerrit Cole now on the IL for ~3 months. GM Brian Cashman can’t sign LHP Blake Snell even though they desperately need him after losing out on Cease. The Yankees luxury tax on any Blake Snell contract would be 110%, meaning if they offer him $30M/year, the Yankees must also pay MLB another $33M in tax penalty. Plus, they lose their 2nd & 5th round amateur draft picks in the 2024 & international draft money [!].

That hurts, and it’s what happens when you spend yourself into a corner. What really hurts the Yankees is the Padres using trade capital (Drew Thorpe) from the Juan Soto deal to get Cease. If the NYY pitching staff falls apart, Soto is long gone after 2024. Padres dumped Juan Soto to the Yankees (because they had to) and acquired three pitchers who are going to fill out their 2024 rotation in Micheal King, Jhony Brito & Randy Vásquez. C Kyle Higashioka for CF Trent Grisham was an even swap based on the Padres need for a reliable veteran catcher; and Drew Thorpe reduced the Padres organizational cost of acquiring Dylan Cease to flame-throwing pitching prospect Jairo Iriarte.

The DSG bankruptcy in 2023 cost the Padres an estimated $60-80M in TV revenue, and caused them to operate at a financial loss of over $50M for the season. The death of majority owner Peter Seidler after last season reset the Padres onto a ‘get younger & cheaper’ trajectory. Padres GM grade: A+

The Padres are replacing veterans they lost with younger players, especially on the pitching side. The only opening day hole that remains is LF after trading Juan Soto, the rest they are filling internally. They even filled their manager vacancy internally, which I like.

Several years ago the Padres had the consensus ‘best farm system’ in baseball, but only Fernando Tatis Jr remains from that crop. The rest of those prospects were traded and most disappointed. This time around the Padres have drafted better & improved their player development, yielding a farm system that can feed more of its own talent onto their big league roster instead of becoming exclusively trade chips. It’s all about developing young talent in a way that helps a team win. It helps there is an organizational foundation now, because when AJ Preller arrived in San Diego there was little-to-nothing.

Trading Juan Soto to the Yankees helps the Padres because they won’t have the “will Soto resign” questions all season which was a distraction for the team in 2023. The Yankees get that headache in 2024. LHP Blake Snell was reportedly offered a 6-year deal at $28M/year by the Yankees in December, but refused it on the advice of his agent Scott Boras. Yankees then pivoted to RHP Marcus Stroman on a shorter deal.

Yankees, Giants, Angels & Rangers have been reported as being interested in the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, but no team wants to give up draft picks and international pool money for him on a short-term free agent deal, and no team will match the Yankees earlier offer for Snell. That’s how a professional athlete overplays his hand in looking for the big payday while not understanding the market and letting greed go to his head.

Those teams I listed as being in on Snell are it. Padres, Cubs, Mets, Red Sox, Dodgers are all taking a pass. No other teams are interested because 1) too expensive in dollars/win, and/or 2) too costly in draft capital. For what it costs in draft capital, you have to get at least a 4-year deal on Blake Snell. Maybe $20M/year at this point. Snell says he prefers the Angels. Rangers, Giants (& Yankees) need him more. Significant risk he busts.

If Blake Snell really wants to be an Angel, then he shouldn’t have retained Scott Boras (pic above) as his agent. Boras clients (Juan Soto, etc) go where the money is highest. I feel like Blake Snell is yet another case of an elite-level athlete who is very confused and it’s costing him dearly. At this point, he needs to think outside the box, possibly a deferred money deal like Shohei Ohtani with the Dodgers.

As a bookend, this is the first significant trade AJ Preller has made with the White Sox since he dumped RHP James Shields in 2016, eating half his remaining contract to get a prospect to go with injured LHP Erik Johnson. AJ Preller selected a recent international signee, not yet ranked on any organizational prospect list– Fernando Tatis, Jr and the White Sox agreed to it. Before long ESPN was asking, “Who is Fernando Tatis, Jr?” and that was the LAST time an old-school MLB franchise got robbed of a generational prospect. So it is fitting that the White Sox firesale from this failed era ends with AJ Preller getting just what he needs at a price he likes.

This winter I read a series of articles on Fangraphs written by their prospect guru Eric Longenhagen. For the record, I respect his method & scouting reports for young players whom I can’t see personally and don’t have time (or inclination) to research. One thing Eric Longenhagen admitted (that I very much agree with) is that player/prospect evaluation in the minors has taken a quantum leap in the last 5-10 years. It used to be so much guesswork and biased opinions of old school scouts, where now there is more raw data & video out there that can be analyzed & used.

This is good because it used to be that organizations such as the Yankees, Red Sox & Dodgers could hype their latest top prospects on TV and thus fool rival GMs into thinking they were better than they actually were. Today, input from analytic understanding fans on social media & blog sites won’t allow that crap to gain traction.

Prospect rankings are much more of a science now, with the clear understanding that a few organizations have outstanding farm systems, while most will be mediocre, spotty, or weak. Top prospects across organizations aren’t equal and depth is just as important in terms of winning. Top talent is identified more readily in this ‘stathead fan’ era, but sleepers still do exist, and that’s a GM focal point in most player-for-prospects deals.

It’s not that teams are less willing to trade prospects today, it’s teams valuing their prospects more correctly (more highly) than in the past. It started for real when the 2016-17 hot stove season froze out non-superstar free agents, and the analytic ‘Moneyball’ philosophy was proven correct. Young players were more highly valued by most GMs by then, and so the market for veteran free agents cratered. Guys who thought they were getting 4/$80M were settling for 2/$16M or 1/$8M. Free agents who refused qualifying offers were shunned by a majority of teams that valued draft picks & young prospects above expensive veterans.

There was huge player anger at MLBPA leader Tony Clark in spring training 2017 for him signing CBA’s (since 2003 when tax thresholds were first set) that allowed a de facto salary cap on free agents through a Competitive Balance Tax (CBT) on team payrolls by MLB. A competitive balance or luxury tax was first levied upon the five highest-payroll teams from 1997 to 1999, in response to Florida Marlins ownership buying a World Series in 1997 and then selling off the team before Opening Day 1998. That was a wild card team that got hot in October and so their title wasn’t respected by many baseball purists.

In the 2000’s a system was put in place to ensure the biggest spenders would eventually be reigned in by CBT penalties, while the pretenders could collect MLB revenue sharing and be profitable with 90-100 losses per season. Commissioner (and former Brewers owner) Bud Selig was hailed as a genius for this and installed into the HoF for keep the peace among the owners during this boom period in MLB revenue due to satellite TV & internet streaming.

What the old system of MLB free agency (1977- 2002) always relied upon was another willing spender. Today, at least a third of MLB franchises are in survival mode. The A’s don’t have a home, Marlins never draw, Rockies can’t develop pitchers at high altitude, Brewers, Pirates, Reds, White Sox, Tigers, Royals have cheap owners… When a top talent goes on the market, it’s always the same teams getting the cream. The smartest teams budget & plan for it.

The Rays are the best at developing and dealing their young talent. Rays say they can’t afford to pay top arbitration salary, so they deal early and look for sleepers in other systems they’ve scouted. They are the best at the modern Moneyball game. Everybody respects them, but they never quite have enough in October. The last homegrown ‘small-market’ team that won it all was the Royals in 2015. That was less than ten years ago and yet that era of baseball seems a lifetime away.

It’s fear that drives many of these decisions. Fear of being wrong and crucified in the media & on social media. Fear of losing your job. GMs who operate based on fear are doomed. You can’t win like that. It’s the boldest and most ruthless organizations that are able to exploit the fears of those who are just happy to survive. In between the haves and have-nots, there are a few interesting teams like the Rays, Orioles & Diamondbacks who know what they are doing. It makes this unpredictable game more predictable than ever in terms of who will win in 2024. Is that progress? It depends on who you ask.

Tue 19 Mar 2024 10:30 AM CDT

MLB sources now report that LHP Blake Snell is about to sign a 2-year contract worth $62M, with a player opt-out after 2024. Blake Snell rejected a QO from the Padres, so the Giants will lose their third-round draft pick in 2024, as well as $500,000 from their international bonus pool for the upcoming signing period. San Francisco had already forfeited its second-round pick (and international pool $) after signing 3B Matt Chapman, who declined a qualifying offer from the Blue Jays.

For the Giants, this is an expensive price to pay for what could be one year of Blake Snell. If Snell pitches well in 2024, he can re-enter the free agent market and try his luck again, without a QO tag attached to him. If Snell pitches poorly this year, he will pick up his (overpriced) 2025 option. That $31M option for 2025 makes Blake Snell tougher to trade at the Aug 1 deadline if things fall apart for the Giants in 2024. They would have to eat significant contract to deal him for any prospect value in return. Deals that are so costly, and lock a franchise in like this, are extremely risky. That’s why most teams stayed away.

Blake Snell didn’t get the long-term deal he was seeking because he played his cards poorly, and/or he was never serious about joining the Yankees. He didn’t wind up with the Angels either, which was his preferred destination. Most MLB players who are fortunate enough to reach free agency, only get one chance to negotiate a deal of a lifetime and Blake Snell blew it with Scott Boras as his agent.

The only way the Giants can win this deal is if Blake Snell pitches great and leads them on a deep post-season run. Every other scenario pans out with the Giants losing value & paying the price. When you do risk assessment as a GM, this screams, “DON’T DO IT”, but teams can’t help themselves. They have billionaire owners who want to win, pushing the front office to foolishly go for it when it’s a bad risk, which if it fails will set the organization back. That’s what Scott Boras & MLBPA executives have always counted on, but it’s getting harder to pull off. That’s the current dynamic in MLB.

Final thoughts: If QO free agents can’t find the long-term deal they are seeking, the next-best option is to take a 1-year deal for maximum money with a player option for a second year in case they have a bad season or get hurt. Teams have WAR/$ projections, injury risk analysis, etc, for every MLB player, so coveted players really don’t need an agent to represent them. Players simply need to understand their true value– warts and all (particularly the QO tag)– to determine what the market is and what they can get.

Scott Boras & the MLBPA executives represent the star players (& now top prospects) of MLB. The young players & non-star players are the majority who sacrifice themselves the most for these superstar salaries & MLB owner profits. Most MLB players are well-underpaid for their first 6 years, and since 2017-18 they have been squeezed in free agency, as it is well understood that (in most cases) veterans can be adequately replaced with younger cheaper players. This is how MLB free agent salaries have been driven down for the majority of the players, while a thin layer of superstars get mega-deal$.


Banned from Fakebook (again): Super Tuesday edition

Preface: Before I had a chance to post this paragraph below, I was locked out of my Facebook account ~9:30 AM CST on Super Tuesday.

Super Tuesday notes– the “Uncommitted” campaign is a DSA strategy to save Joe Biden. It is meant to corral leftist-leaning voters (ie- young kids) back into the Democratic Party. Since Trump isn’t an option for this massive voter constituency, it can’t be allowed to find a 3rd party. Understand that the DSA, Greens, etc, orbit the Democrats; and the Libertarians, Teabaggers, etc, orbit the Republicans. That is the two-party strait-jacket of modern bourgeois politics which always shifts to the right.

Here’s the text from the three (3) emails I sent to Facebook tech support:

What’s the deal with FB locking me out? I entered the code you people emailed (multiple times before it was accepted as valid), but then wasn’t allowed to reset my PW.

I keep entering a new PW and it’s strong, but your system fails to register it every time. Remarkable

It’s Super Tuesday, and I’m blacklisted (again) on Facebook because Mark Zuckerberg is a fascist tool. This is why people call it Fakebook. To Zuckerberg: Make your peace with Trump, he’s your daddy now.


  • BTW, I’m an “antisemite” for calling Mark Zuckerberg a fascist. I’ll update here when/if my unexplained Facebook ban is lifted. Thank you to all who love & support what I do!!

Wed 06 Mar 2024 07:47 AM CST

Tried to log in again, but the still locked out. Here’s my email message to FB in response:

Your code never works. Why can’t you people just admit you’re blacklisting me? Weak

Mon 11 Mar 2024 12:25 PM CDT

I’ve been banned before and have learned to deal with it. Facebook always allows me back because THEY NEED ME. It is exactly the same as a capitalist’s need for a worker to exploit. My posts create interest & provoke thought, and you don’t get that with most people on social media. From personal friends I get mostly family pics, pets & vacations, which is fine, but it’s usually nothing enlightening or thought provoking. For most users, social media is telling your group what your life is like. For celebrities (& wannabes) it’s about shaping an image & brand which they can sell. Celebrities sell to corporate as that is the BIG money which can satisfy them.

I have changed the dynamic of social media by being who I am and connecting with my preferred celebrities though comments & the ‘like’ button. It’s how I talk to my friends, except these people are more worldly & experienced. Always be respectful, since there is a level of admiration, but don’t worship them as idols, which only patronizes & cheapens them. Artists seek to be understood above all else. If you can respectfully understand an artist they will always approve it.

This is how I converse with artists and others on social media. I respect talent and what it does, with the understanding that I’m also at that level, perhaps even beyond. The blacklisting issue is what sets me apart. I was never allowed to break through commercially as a musical artist in any way. No record or distribution deal, no venues available for me. Therefore no tours or merch for the fans. I don’t apologize for it, I just explain it. I publish myself here, so when I’m cut off from social media, I still have an independent online organ.

This always allows me a voice, so fans can understand what’s going on. Being banned from Facebook is a blessing in many ways. Social media can be addictive, and action in the real world is what counts most. Social media is a tool to describe those activities to the world without having to tour & travel. It allows an alternative explanation of events. Without corporate backing, social media is a critical tool for connecting with fans. The contradiction of course is that Facebook (and all the rest) are corporate entities tied into US intelligence, police & the military– and these institutions are the enemy of peace & freedom.

A long time ago I tried Twitter and quickly abandoned it. I should have cancelled my account before Elon Musk bought it, but whatever. Twitter was 120 characters-a-post back then and far too limiting as compared to Facebook. It is mostly gossip and too much white noise, with little depth of thought. It’s like everyone on Twitter is trying to be superficially clever, or make a witty joke. Twitter is for people who don’t want to read too much, and all this is why it didn’t appeal to me.

YouTube has turned me down (sonically) and attacked my videos with algorithms since I started in 2011. Obama/Biden had their Intelligence fingers on me instantly, it was unmistakable. If YouTube is going to turn you down, de-list, and shadow-ban you, then just post thumbnail videos for each song and forget about it. That’s all you can do until things seriously change with YouTube. I have videos for every song I’ve released, a film, interviews, etc, but they are extremely difficult-to-find in searches, and all my ‘likes’ and ‘views’ get deleted. My YouTube page looks abandoned because I had to.

The reason I’m so viciously attacked by corporate is because I’m too good. I’m better than all that corporate fake rock they’ve been jamming down your throat (and up your ass) for the past 20+ years. I kick ass over all that and for the correct reasons. Nothing in modern popular music can beat me– and they know it. That’s why I’m at the top of the blacklist.

To continue with my social media history, I used Disqus for awhile because it was the best option for posting on the WSWS when they started allowing reader’s comments. After becoming a prolific commenter in that forum for years, I was shadow-banned by Disqus on the WSWS, just as the MeToo campaign was coming into being. My comments on Russia Today were also through Disqus, but they weren’t shadow banned. They were selectively deleted at times by RT, but not shadow-banned.

Shadow-banning is when you post and it shows up on your computer/device, but not on anyone else’s. You know you’re shadow-banned when you no longer get any responses or likes to what you post. Disqus clearly didn’t want me posting as Ric Size on WSWS articles. Too influential in the wrong direction. Today, all my WSWS comments have been scrubbed away by Disqus. I have many screenshots to prove their existence. I also dominated the & forums, until comments were abruptly ended around the same time period- largely due to my activity in both cases.

This is what you face for being critical of authority. Julian Assange is in prison on trumped-up charges for exposing the criminality of the ruling elite. Facebook is owned by Mark Zuckerberg, and he is owned by Uncle Sam, which is the unaccountable & hidden power behind this blacklist. Expose a blacklist and its authors to the light, and they will shrivel-up in their own ugliness.

All I can do is ask my fans to unite and take action against this evil force known as capitalist imperialism. It is ruthless, unapologetic & stupid. Its arrogance knows no bounds with this class of parasitic billionaires that has been created in the past 30 years. They only answer to their own greed & avarice, and must be beaten down by the masses to be made to yield. Until then, the blacklist & all this suckitude will continue…

Tue 12 Mar 2024 09:15 AM CDT

Logged into FB this morning for the first time in about a week, and PRESTO I’m back. No explanation given to me for being banned. Told you.


The NCAA & NIL $$

Ed O’Bannon, a former UCLA Bruins basketball player who led his team to a national championship in 1995, saw his college-era image on the cover of a video game, and got upset. Then he got a lawyer, eventually bringing an antitrust class action lawsuit against the NCAA which would change college sports forever. The suit was first brought to court in 2009, finally tried in 2014 as Ed O’Bannon v NCAA, with a verdict declaring that college players are entitled to own & sell their Name, Image & Likeness (NIL) rights for money. The NCAA appealed, and as this case bounced around higher courts, its ruling was amended in the process until it finally was appealed to the US Supreme Court, which denied to hear the case in October 2016.

It was a slow rollout for NIL rights in their inception. No one in the NCAA knew how to do this under these new legal guidelines. Finally, in July 2021, NIL rights became codified into NCAA bylaws, and universities could now allow their student athletes to be paid. NIL rights means endorsement money. Micheal Jordan was the first modern athlete who was highly charismatic & marketable in this sense. NIL deals go to players who can win, but also those who are marketable. Winning makes you marketable in sports. Having a famous father who was/is a great athlete helps even more.

Bronny James is the eldest son of NBA superstar LeBron James. Bronny James is a freshman at USC, averaging 5.0 pts, 2.8 rebs, 2.4 asst coming off the bench for the 6-12 Trojans. Yet, Bronny James NIL valuation is $6.1M, the highest in college athletics. “Will he go to the NBA?”, the pundits ask. My reply, “Why should he? He’s the six million dollar kid, paid though a corrupt system of glorified paternalism. As far as making money goes, it doesn’t get much easier than that. Stay in school, son.”

Of course this NIL money doesn’t disappear once the athlete goes pro. But in turn, it’s harder to win in the NFL & NBA, the competition is tougher & more skilled. It’s easier to win and be a star in the NCAA, so staying makes sense with the money involved. Case in point is Angel Reese, the LSU women’s basketball star in her junior year.

Angel Reese’s NIL valuation is $1.7M. She has at least 15-20 deals where she sells her NIL rights to a business that uses her for their commercials, advertising & marketing campaigns. This allows any university booster to directly pay an athlete through legal channels. It’s an advertising expense for the booster’s business, and it’s NIL money for the athlete. Slush funds for top recruits are no longer necessary.

The rookie salary for top WNBA draft picks is ~$70K/year. Angel Reese is considered a top WNBA draft pick, but why come out early after her junior year, when she’s winning at LSU and making NIL money that dwarfs her expected WNBA salary? Obviously there will be endorsements for her as a pro, but it’s easier guaranteed money if she stays.

NIL money incentivizes athletes to stay in college, so now we have 5th-year & even 6th-year seniors with NCAA eligibility. Iowa basketball star Caitlin Clark just announced she will forgo her 5th year of eligibility and declare for the WNBA draft. It wasn’t an easy choice for her.

A lot of the men’s athletes aren’t good enough for the NFL or NBA, but they can help their college team win, and that means NIL money for them. This is what the transfer portal is all about. Free agent college athletes looking for the best deals for themselves, at the expense of team & university. This has hurt college football & men’s basketball irreparably. There are very few college football & basketball programs anymore.

Here’s Tom Brady in The Athletic last November: “I actually think college players were better prepared when I came out than they are now. Just because so many coaches are changing programs, and I would say there’s not even a lot of college programs anymore. There’s a lot of college teams, but not programs that are developing players. So as they get delivered to the NFL, they may be athletic, but they don’t have much of the skills developed to be a professional. When I played at Michigan, I essentially played at a college program that was very similar to a pro environment. When I see these different players come in, they’re not quite as prepared as they were, and I think the game has shown that over the last 12 to 13 years. I think things have slipped a little bit.”

The blueblood, win-at-all-cost universities are all-in on paying athletes NIL money. Take a look at this list below, published less than 6 months ago, which gives the reader a good indication of which college teams are going to be good this year. These are the going rates for top players, and if your school isn’t paying, it likely isn’t winning.

Top 20 College Athletes With The Highest NIL Valuations
Published on September 15, 2023

Bronny James – $6.1M (LeBron’s eldest son) USC hoops freshman
Shedeur Sanders – $4.1M (Deion’s son) QB junior Colorado
Livvy Dunne – $3.2M gymnastics LSU junior
Arch Manning – $2.9M (Peyton’s son) Texas QB freshman
Caleb Williams – $2.6M junior USC QB
Travis Hunter – $1.8M soph Colorado CB
Evan Stewart – $1.7M Texas A&M soph WR
Angel Reese – $1.7M LSU junior hoops
Drake Maye – $1.5M QB UNC, redshirt soph
Bo Nix – $1.4M QB Oregon, QB senior
Marvin Harrison Jr. – $1.4M WR Ohio State junior
Michael Penix Jr. – $1.3M QB Washington senior
Bryce James – $1.2M (LeBron’s 2nd-eldest son) Committed to Duquesne University
Quinn Ewers – $1.2M QB Texas, redshirt soph
Hansel Emmanuel – $1.2M Austin Peay freshman hoops
Jordan Travis – $1.2M QB FSU redshirt senior
Nico Iamaleava – $1.1M QB Tennessee freshman
Jared McCain – $1.1M V Duke freshman hoops
Flau’jae Johnson – $1.1M LSU women’s hoops freshman
Blake Corum – $1.1M Michigan RB senior

NCAA cheating used to consist of boosters creating a slush fund to entice top recruits to attend their university. Suitcases of cash, money secretly wired into accounts, expensive cars, and other perks were funneled to players through the boosters using hidden means to evade NCAA enforcement & sanctions. Bluebloods are allowed to get away with an acceptable level of this because their programs have great traditions of winning which makes money for everyone involved. Pony Exce$$  (2010) is the ESPN ’30 for 30′ film that best examines this style of “old school” cheating in NCAA football.

ESPN’s ’30 for 30′ film series was perhaps the best thing that network has done in the 21st century. For those too young to remember, ESPN used to show regular sports, new sports (X-games, monster trucks, Asian kickboxing, etc), PLUS the highlights of all the MLB, NBA & NHL games. That was ESPN’s staple programming from its 1979 inception through 2000.

When ESPN started broadcasting Texas Hold Em poker in the early 2000’s, the network changed forever. Gambling & fantasy sports became mainstream, and thus football boomed, because the NFL is by far the highest-wagered sports book, with NCAA football second. This is when Stephen A Smith, Michael Wilbon, Chris Russo, etc, rose to prominence by screaming about sports on ESPN.

Classic ESPN at least had Bob Lea going Outside the Lines once in awhile, in an effort to educate sports fans. But when ESPN became Skip Bayless & Pat McAfee yacking everyday, all day, sports journalism became so degraded that it wasn’t taken seriously anymore by most sports fans. ESPN’s decline is a large reason why so many Americans have cut the cord. ESPN is a large part of your cable/satellite TV bill, whether you want it or not.

Sports are expensive. It costs a lot to broadcast & televise these games (NCAA & professional league), and that is reflected in the number of commercials you see during a game on TV. It is reflected in the salaries of the players in the professional leagues, the high cost of team merchandise, and now in the Name, Image & Likeness money available to college athletes.

Epilogue: What we have in college sports now is a few great individual performers and then a bunch of crap. Not only are coaches & players coming & going at will, but major conferences are falling apart. USC & UCLA are abandoning the Pac-12 to join the Big 10 in 2024, which will then have close to twenty teams from coast to coast. The travel & logistics of all this scream “DON’T DO IT”, but it’s about to happen and it’s all about money. The SEC is the power conference everyone else in the NCAA is chasing. The SEC is absorbing Texas & Oklahoma from the Big 12. Gee, I remember when Texas was in the Southwest Conference and Oklahoma was a Big 8 football powerhouse under Barry Switzer. Back then, coaches stayed at their schools forever and their teams were arguably better and certainly more entertaining to watch. It’s the big money that turns everything to crap.