Monthly Archives: March 2017

Steven Matz Needs Nerve Repair Surgery

Ever since Steven Matz emerged as a core member of the Mets’ stalwart starting rotation in his 2015 rookie season, his path in the major leagues has been repeatedly derailed by injuries.

Matz and his team have received more disheartening news about his troublesome left elbow, as he was found to have irritation of the ulnar nerve in his left elbow after undergoing a magnetic resonance imaging exam and a CT scan. The Mets said he would have surgery to reposition the nerve. He is not expected to return this season.

It was yet another blow for the Mets’ rotation, which began this season with high expectations before being decimated by injuries.

Matz was originally scheduled to start against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday, but Mets Manager Terry Collins said Tommy Milone would make the start instead.

Matz missed the first two months of this season with left elbow inflammation. Upon returning, he posted a 2-1 record with a 2.12 earned run average in his first five starts. But then came a sharp drop-off in his performance, and Matz is now 2-7 with a 6.08 E.R.A.

In May 2010, Matz had Tommy John surgery to repair a tear of his left ulnar collateral ligament. Last October, Matz had surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow, ending his season.

Roger Goodell Said to Be in Line for New Five-Year N.F.L. Contract

Commissioner Roger Goodell may get a lot of criticism for the way he has handled issues related to domestic violence, player celebrations and the investigation into so-called Deflategate, but by and large, the N.F.L.’s 32 team owners think he is doing a great job.

As soon as this week, the league is likely to announce that the owners have extended Goodell’s contract for another five years, through 2024, according to people with knowledge of the contract.

The N.F.L.’s annual revenue has nearly tripled, to about $14 billion, since he took over as commissioner in 2006, and the average value of franchises has more than doubled, to $2.3 billion, according to Forbes.

Although television ratings dipped last season, N.F.L. games remain the most popular shows on television. The Atlanta Falcons, the Minnesota Vikings and other teams have also moved into new stadiums that produce more revenue.

“The level of compensation is, to a large degree, about the business health of the league and the increase in value of the franchises,” said Marc Ganis, a consultant to several N.F.L. teams. “The three biggest assignments for the commissioner are collective bargaining and matters related to the players; increasing fans’ interest; and keeping the business healthy.”

The extension, first reported by Sports Business Journal, reflects the owners’ satisfaction with Goodell’s stewardship over the business of the league.

Goodell’s compensation came into focus after the previous collective bargaining agreement was signed in 2011. The following year, the commissioner was paid $44.2 million in total compensation. That figure, released as part of the league’s annual tax filing with the Internal Revenue Service, included a $9.1 million bonus that he deferred during the recession. Even so, Goodell’s compensation was on par with that of some of the best-paid executives in the country.

Typically, Goodell has been paid a salary of about $4 million, with the rest of his compensation coming as bonuses and other benefits. Goodell’s bonus is calculated in part on new business deals he brought to the league the previous year.

Victoria Azarenka Pulls Out of U.S. Open Over Custody Dispute

Victoria Azarenka, a two-time finalist at the United States Open, withdrew from this year’s tournament Monday because of a custody dispute over her infant son, Leo.

“I am sadly unable to compete in this year’s U.S. Open due to my ongoing family situation that I am working through,” Azarenka said in a statement issued by the tournament. “While I will dearly miss being in New York and playing in one of my favorite tournaments where I have enjoyed some of the best moments in my career, I am already looking forward to being back next year.”

Azarenka, runner-up to Serena Williams in the 2012 and 2013 Opens, missed last year’s tournament because of her pregnancy. She gave birth to her son in December and returned to the tour in June, at a grass-court tournament in Mallorca. After losing in the second round there, she showed improvement at Wimbledon two weeks later, reaching the fourth round before losing to second-seeded Simona Halep.

Azarenka split with her son’s father, Billy McKeague, shortly after Wimbledon, and a custody battle followed. While the case is unresolved, the court would have placed restrictions on either parent’s leaving California with the child. Azarenka has withdrawn from two other tournaments, in Stanford, Calif., and Mason, Ohio.

Amir Aharonov, a partner at Tinero, Aharonov and Associates in Los Angeles, who specializes in California family law but is not involved in Azarenka’s case, said: “It’s an automatic temporary restraining order that occurs with the issuance of an action relating to parentage. It’s common, and what it says is, ‘Starting immediately, you and every other party to the action are restrained from removing from the state, or applying for a passport for, the minor child or children for whom this action seeks to establish a parent-child relationship or a custody order without the prior written consent of every other party or an order of the court.’”

New hedge fund bets on sports, literally

Reporting from New York — If you’ve ever deluded yourself that betting on sports was really investing, have we got a hedge fund for you.

Starting on Saturday, the new Centaur Galileo fund in London will be making investments not in the traditional financial playing fields of stocks, oil futures or real estate, but in the actual playing fields of soccer, tennis and horse racing.

Galileo is probably the first hedge fund to make bets on sports events, experts say.

“We put numbers against those things that you and me and everyone in pubs have casual discussions about,” said Tony Woodhams, the managing director at Centaur Group, which operates the fund. “That gives us an edge on these markets.”

It’s not for the average bettor. Galileo requires a minimum investment of 100,000 euros (about $135,000).

Centaur claims to have a proprietary number-crunching system that can make sports bets with far better results than the casual bettor. In fact, the company plans to make money off fluctuations in odds and point spreads that are affected by amateur bets.

“You have a lot of sports fans who are betting for their favorite team,” Woodhams said. “They get excited and discipline goes out the window. All of that provides opportunity for a trader like us to go in a very clinical manner. That’s where the edge is.”

Galileo is only for Europeans for now — Centaur can’t offer it in the U.S. without the blessing of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Woodhams said the company would apply for that approval next year.

So is investing in a sports-betting hedge fund about as sane as pouring money into a Nigerian inheritance deal? There are financial folks who believe such a fund could be a good bet.

Entrepreneur, Dallas Mavericks owner and former “Dancing With the Stars” contestant Mark Cuban has long advocated such a fund.

“If they fully commit to a data-driven model, I think they can do well,” Cuban said in an e-mail. “In many respects, stocks are the bigger gamble.”

Others were skeptical, to say the least.

Justin Wolfers, a professor who teaches a class about sports gambling at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, said there are people who make a good living from wagers. But he’s not sure Centaur is in their league.

“Is it plausible that these guys could be as smart and savvy as professional gamblers? Yes it is,” Wolfers said. “But any time anyone in any realm of gambling tells me they can print money — I’m always cynical.”

Centaur will have 25 traders working on its London trading floor (though the fund’s official address is in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, which has an easier regulatory environment). Most of the traders come from a financial background. One of them, Woodhams said, left a job at Goldman Sachs to set up a sports book trading on cricket and tennis.

“In the U.S. you would probably say he was a gambler,” Woodhams said. “In the U.K., we are beginning to recognize these people for what they are — they are professional traders.”

The traders will use statistical modeling to place bets on websites such as Betfair, which is popular in Britain but banned in the U.S. The bets will not just be on matches’ final outcomes — Centaur will also wager on items such as the over-under that takes into account the total points scored.

If profit is made, Centaur will take a 30% cut, a hefty premium over the usual 20% for hedge funds.

Galileo is not Centaur’s first venture into gambling — it operates a training program for professional bookkeepers and since 2000 has run funds for betting on various sports. But unlike Galileo, the previous funds allowed investors to opt out of recommended bets.