World, Meet Odell Beckham Jr.

So, I don’t know if any of you watched last night’s game, but it was a game that turned out entirely differently than how I thought that it would. The Cowboys were visiting the Giants in the Meadowlands for their second division game of the season. A lot was on the line for the Giants, who needed a win in order to stay in contention for the NFC Wildcard playoff, while a lot was on the line for the Cowboys, who needed a win to stay tied for the division lead with the Eagles. Considering how both the Giants and Cowboys had been playing going into the game, there wasn’t much hope for the giants. However, the Giants have a reputation of pulling out big wins, and the Cowboys have the reputation of blowing big games. So the outcome was pretty up in the air.

However, the Cowboys ended up winning, and the game itself was a nail biter right to the end. But, there was a lone bright spot for the Giants by the time the game ended. Odell Beckham Jr.

Odell Beckham Jr. was the Giants’s first pick in this year’s draft, in a class of rookie wide receivers that have been unseen in the NFL before. Kelvin Benjamin, Brandin Cooks, Sammy Watkins, Odell Beckham Jr., Jordan Matthews, and Mike Evans have been making splashes in the NFL unlike other rookie receivers before them. And all of them are having amazing years. Beckham, the new centerpiece of the Giants’s offense, isn’t a big receiver, measuring in at just under 6’0″. He’s a speedy, high-jumping, play making machine, not much different from Victor Cruz. He’s the type of receiver that turns 15-yard designed crossing-route plays into 55-yard gains. He’s a big play in a small body.

That concept couldn’t have been more epitomized than last night, when Beckham finished the game with 10 receptions for 146-yards and 2 touchdowns, a much superior stat-line from an already good one he put up against the Cowboys just a few weeks ago. Beckham dominated throughout the first half, and in spectacular fashion. His second touchdown grab might be the greatest catch I’ve ever seen made on a football field during a game. And he made it look so easy.

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I don’t know about you, but in the first photo, that sure looks like Beckham Jr. made that catch with three fingers. Furthermore, the fact that he was fouled on the play getting a defensive pass-interference call and coming down with the ball with one hand, all in one single motion is pretty impressive.

Though the Giants couldn’t pull out the win, and are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs entirely, unless everything goes wrong with Philly and Dallas, the rest of the season should be at least very entertaining with this guy on the field.

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Netflix vs. HBO: The Showdown Begins

If you didn’t see the market today, then you don’t know that Netflix tanked…hard. Netflix was hit hard by the announcement that HBO would start offering standalone subscriptions – meaning you won’t have to watch HBO via cable provider, and can get a web-based subscription only. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it; it sounds a lot like….Netflix!

Netflix neatly summarized its strategy at the beginning of 2013: “The goal is to become HBO before HBO can become us,” said Ted Sarandos, who’s in charge of acquiring content for Netflix. Now, nearly two years later, the two content creation giants are converging, and are about to find themselves in an epic, heated battle. In today’s head on collision, the announcement from HBO that it would offer standalone web subscription service in 2015 and, for the first time, that HBO has 46 million household subscriptions, more than previously estimated and more than Netflix. In response, Netflix’s stock plummeted nearly 20%. 

Hours later, Netflix revealed that it added 3 million subscribers to its service last quarter after launching in England, Germany, France, and several other European countries, rights to distribute subscriptions in countries that only were achieved recently as a part of Netflix’s globalization effort. At the end of September, Netflix had roughly 37 million streaming subscribers in the US and 15.8 million in the rest of the world. Though the numbers reflected strong growth, particularly outside of the US, they were lower than expected. Netflix scrambled, in the wake of HBO’s announcement and it’s corresponding share price plummet, to issue a statement:

Starting back in 2011 we started saying that HBO would be our primary long-term competitor, particularly for content. The competition will drive us both to be better. It was inevitable and sensible that they would eventually offer their service as a standalone application. Many people will subscribe to  both Netflix and HBO since we have different shows, so we think it is likely we both prosper as consumers move to Internet TV.

These two companies didn’t always seem like rivals, at least not apparently, being that HBO subscriptions necessitated a cable package from a broadband and cable provider, like Time Warner or Verizon. Netflix began as a DVD delivery service – it still maintains roughly 6 million of those types of subscribers – but always aspired to change the television industry by delivering content over the internet.

Executives at Time Warner, parent company of HBO, were prickled by Netflix began referring to HBO as its chief rival. However, now the comparison seems immediately apparent. While Netflix has more revenue than HBO, HBO is more profitable, and earlier this year, Netflix passed HBO in subscription revenue.

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Now though, HBO can easily pick up additional revenue in the US by offering standalone subscriptions to those without cable services. It’s unclear how this will affect its rivalry with Netflix – they can definitely coexist the same way that HBO has existed with other cable add-on channels like Showtime and Starz – but more heated competition could put pressure on prices. Netflix blamed its price hike to $9/month on lower than expected subscription growth, and it’s likely that HBO’s internet-only service will cost significantly more than that.

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Peter King Still Doesn’t Know What He’s Talking About

pkhmm-600x337So, there’s an NBC/Marist poll that’s been floating around out there – maybe you’ve seen it, maybe you haven’t – in which 606 adults answered questions regarding the NFL’s and Roger Goodell’s handling of the recent wave of fiascos perpetrated by the league’s talent. One of the questions asks whether Roger Goodell, in light of his mishandling of these events, should resign; 29% of respondents said yes, 43% say no, and the remaining 29% remain unsure.

There’s really only one way to analyze the result here, that 29% of those who took the survey believe that, in light of these most recent domestic violence incidents by players and how badly handled they have been, particularly the Ray Rice incident, Roger Goodell should maybe think about resigning from his current position, that others don’t think he should quit his job, and that a third group haven’t really made up their mind about it. However, you could interpret it differently if you’re NFL Talking Head and Mouthpiece Peter King, who isn’t really a human so much as a boutique transcription service for the NFL. Here’s what you might think if you’re Peter King:

Twenty-nine percent believe Roger Goodell should be forced to resign—which, conversely, could be taken (and I am sure will be by the league) that Goodell has 71% job approval. That’s not what it says, though. The question was whether Goodell should be forced to resign, not whether he is doing a good job at running the NFL.

We should take a moment and note that the poll doesn’t ask whether or not Goodell should be forced to resign, only that it asks whether he should resign, which is an entirely different question. But, let’s get back to Peter King; one could take it that way. Maybe some people will read it as an affirmation and endorsement of Goodell’s performance as commissioner. Completely ignoring what the question itself asks, some observers could totally draw that conclusion. But those who will draw that conclusion are not wise, nor are they even correct.

As for ol’ Pete, though, don’t come looking for him to take up the burning truncheon of simpleton outrage:

I think if you’re waiting for me to call for Roger Goodell to be fired, you’ll have to wait a while. I’m not into mob rule either.

Here’s the thing about writers like Peter King and Phil Mushnick: they have a way of distracting you from the pointlessness of their statements by giving you bad writing. That last sentence, I have no idea what he’s getting at, I don’t know what Peter King means. At first blush, the second sentence makes some sense, in that it could follow from the first. It’s a neat pandering trick he’s doing here: He waves his hands a little bit and hey presto!—”deploying critical thinking faculties in the formation of an opinion” suddenly is synonymous with “deferring to reactionary hysteria.”

This is how Peter King works, in that he can’t conceive of having any original thoughts of his own. If the things he thinks he thinks are not to be rote transcription of inside-NFL talking points, then the only alternative is for them to be rote transcription of outside-NFL conventional wisdom.

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Danger of HealthCare Information Technology

Medical Transcription Feeds the Data-Hungry EHRThe changes that have come to the healthcare industry in the United State recently include a program to move all medical records into an electronic format. Implementing the use of Electronic Health Care records, or EHR is an experiment from the Federal Government that will cost about $1 trillion. There are arguments on both sides of the issue. Some think that it is about time we update records so that they are easily searchable and available without the danger of misreading scrawling doctor’s handwriting. On the other side it is expensive and there may be problems with hard drives crashing, issues with file formats, or poor data entry. There also isn’t any evidence that shows Electronic Health Records do anything to help save patients lives. When used properly, with good IT EHR can be a very helpful tool for both patients and doctors. Unfortunately, in the United States it seems that bad health IT is the norm.

Another danger to pushing electronic health records is that it is putting a lot of pressure on, and aiding in the demise of the solo practice. For small practices, the burden of installing the complex and very expensive software system may be too great. It is not only a financial burden, but also a burden on doctor/patient time as they need to go through a computer system to enter all of the information and to learn the new technology. Another issue with the new federal mandate is that they did not require interoperability of systems, so occasionally doctors are not able to share patient records because they are not able to transfer to another electronic medical record system. The Medical Economics magazine published a survey that showed 70 percent of physicians polled did not think that digitizing patient records was worth the cost.

Beyond just the fact that it is expensive and difficult for doctors to implement, it is not helping patients. Doctors now have a decrease in productivity because of dealing with new systems, they sometimes can not use the system effectively to communicate with other doctors and patients are getting less attention from their physicians. The idea of digitizing medical records was a good one, but the roll out has been poor. Everything should have been standardized and adequately subsidized with plenty of physician training before the mandate began. Without that system doctors and patients are in danger.

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What Can the NBA Do About Sterling?

hi-res-7867920_crop_northThe Players Association is calling for the greatest penalties against Donald Sterling for the audiotape of his racist remarks released by TMZ last week. What the players are really gunning for is the NBA to force Sterling to sell the Los Angeles Clippers. The president of the NPBA is Clippers guard, Chris Paul, and since he is not able to make a public statement because of the complicated situation of the subject in question being his team’s owner, in the middle of playoffs, he passed those duties off to Kevin Johnson. Paul, Johnson and other team reps met to establish the Players League stance on the recently revealed comments from Donald Sterling. Johnson then said in a press release that the players, “want to know within the bylaws and the constitution, what are the maximum sanctions that are available for the commissioner to mete out?” The reason there is so much confusion over whether the NBA can force Sterling to sell the team is that the NBA’s constitutional bylaws are confidential and the NBA has not revealed what they are able to or prepared to do in this situation.

Although some believe that the NBA has the power to boot him out, sports law expert Michael McCann says that constitution wasn’t built for situations like this. In this case, removing Sterling has more to do with public embarrassment than and the bylaws “cover very limited circumstances and these circumstances concern team finances- namely, when an owner can’t pay his bills.” However, there may not need to be a specific bylaw to help get Sterling out of there. If there was a general agreement between most of the owners the league could use “broad powers” that are referenced in the constitution to put pressure on Sterling. They could also make such a move informally, which has been done before, namely Ted Stepien in 1983. However, this situation is a little different that than because Stepien had owned the Cavaliers for three seasons, while Sterling is the longest- tenured owner in the NBA.

This is a big moment for the league. They had all known about Donald Sterling’s racism for many years but chose to do nothing about it. Now that it is in the public spotlight, everyone is watching to see how they will handle the situation. What they decide to do will have lasting repercussions.

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Chris Johnson Joins New York Jets

Well, if you didn’t have a reason to not draft running back Chris Johnson in your fantasy league this coming season, you have one now. Chris Johnson is confirmed to have signed with the New York Jets:

The Jets, who have had a relatively quiet and conservative offseason made one of the splashiest moves by signing Johnson to a two-year $9 million deal, as reported by NFL Insider, Adam Schefter. Reportedly, the base value of the deal is $8 million, and includes another $1 million in incentives. Johnson’s deal has a team option for the second year at $4 million, which would have to be picked up by February 2015.

“I’ve always been a big fan of the Jets,” Johnson told the team’s official website. “There was some thought into this, but just at the end of the day, I was comfortable here. I just felt like it was the right situation.” Johnson was released on April 4th from the Tennessee Titans, and generated little interest from other teams upon his release. The only team he visited with was with the New York Jets.

“I see this as a team on the rise,” Johnson told the team’s official website. “This is a winning team. They didn’t make the playoffs last year, but I think they were a game out of the playoffs with a rookie quarterback. So I feel like this is a team that can do some good things.”

Johnson was one of the sport’s elite players, and was for some time considered the best running back in the NFL. He’s rushed for at least 1,000 yards in all of his six NFL seasons, and rushed for 2,006 yards in his 2009 season, earning him the nickname “CJ2K”. However, declining production and an overbearing salary led to his being ousted from the Titans organization.

The Jets were reportedly one of four teams that had inquired about trading for Johnson, however they didn’t want to have to take on his salary along ($8 million) with the player or surrender a draft pick. The Jets finished out last season ranked 6th in rushing and has all of their 2014 running backs returning this season, yet felt the need to add more speed to their stable. Johnson is one of the fastest running backs in the league, although he’s coming off of his worst season of his career, averaging 3.9 yards per carry. He additionally sustained a torn meniscus to his right knee, and had the injury repaired in late January. Despite only resuming running a month ago, the Jets seem confident he’ll regain his explosiveness.

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Private Equity Buys Matzos Maker

300Now private equity owns the Manischewitz Company, famous for their Passover matzo and gefilte fish. Sankaty Advisors, part of the large private equity firm, Bain Capital, purchased the company. This deal comes just in time for Passover and may actually expand what Manizchewitz makes beyond just kosher food.

Manizchewitz has been a well know name in Jewish households for many years, but hasn’t enjoyed wide spread appeal or name recognition. With this acquisition, the company may get extra business from marketing their healthy, pure foods outside their Jewish following. Healthy is now mainstream and that’s what Manischewitz has been selling for years.

The new owners will revamp the company’s corporate strategy. Their first order of business is to redefine ‘kosher’ as healthy, high-quality option as opposed to a religious distinction. To be kosher means that the product is held up to “a very high standard,” according to the new interim chief executive, Mark Weinsten.

The Manischewitz Company was founded in 1888 as a small bakery specializing in matzo in Cincinnati. It quickly grew into the kosher food empire that it is today. By 1990, Manischewitz had 80 percent of the matzo market in the United States. Since then it has changed hands a few times but Sankaty has plans to hang onto it for a while and become “stewards of the brand.”

Under the new leadership the product line will be revamped to have a wider appeal. They have already started the process as recent advertisements have taken a secular approach to marketing by avoiding blatant religious themes. The chief rabbi for the company, Rabbi Yaakov Y. Horowitz feels positive about the new owners. He notes that even though the company is reaching out to a larger market, it will always hold a special place in the hearts of American Jews. “To a good number of American Jews-perhaps a large number of American Jews, those that are unaffiliated and Reform- Manischewitz is the last link to their religion, almost.”

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