Why are TV ratings so high for sports right now? A couple theories.

Also, I love this chart — it’s the number of status updates on Facebook during the gold medal hockey game:

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This is really cool. As soon as Google started allowing extensions for the Mac version of Chrome, I mentioned to my friend Mark (who knows nothing about baseball, by the way) how awesome it would be to have an extension that lets you search a bunch of the top baseball sites either at once, or individually. A couple weeks later, it’s done. You can install it here.

Right now, it has Baseball Reference, FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus, Stat Corner, First Inning, Cot’s, and Minor League Splits. If anybody can think of others Mark should put in, let me know and I’ll relay the message. Also, if you’re looking to build a Chrome extension of your own, Mark can probably help you there too.

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My review of the latest edition of At Bat for the iPhone. Verdict: still worth the money, not a huge upgrade over last year.

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Last week, I tweeted about MLBAM’s $15 price tag for At Bat 2010, saying that even if they sold 5 million copies, that would only result in about $50 million after Apple takes its cut. As it turns out, BAM only sold about 1.2 million last year, when the price was $10. If you do the math, that’s about $8.4 million in revenue.

Now check out the NFL’s new deal with Verizon: $720 million over four years, or about 20 times what MLBAM is doing annually. This despite the fact that the NFL has no presence on the iPhone or Android, except for a DirecTV-branded app that will stream games for subscribers of the NFL’s Sunday Ticket Superfan service.

I have no idea what kind of return Verizon will get on this deal. But you’d have to think there’s some value there, considering the NFL just finished a similar deal with Sprint that paid them $120 million per year. It is, after all, something that AT&T can’t offer on the iPhone.

The question is, would it be worth it for MLB to do something similar to this? Even at the new $15 price tag, MLB would have to sell 17 million copies of At Bat to match the NFL’s revenue — that’s not even remotely realistic. But if MLB offered mobile MLB.tv and Gameday Audio exclusively to one carrier, you’d have to think they’d do better than the $10-$20 million they’ll probably take in this year.

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I don’t think so, but that’s just me.

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In case you guys missed this yesterday, this is a pretty amazing resource for anyone who wants to learn about sabermetrics. It was put together by Steve Slowinski of DRaysBay, and he did a really fantastic job with it. If you’re a beginner, you’re the target demo. If you’re more familiar with advanced stats already, it’ll definitely be a good refresher.

Full disclosure: I’m involved with SocratED, the company behind the software. I think there are a lot of baseball-related courses that people can make with this (pitch f/x, anyone?), so if anybody has any ideas, or if you actually want to build one yourself, get in touch with me at the e-mail address below.

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Better late than never.

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Testing the validity of Forbes’ franchise values.

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Back in the pre-sabermetrics era.

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Didn’t see this one coming.

From a general business perspective, it makes a lot of sense. The Pirates and the the Penguins compete with each other for corporate dollars, even though their seasons don’t really overlap. (Unless the Penguins go deep into the playoffs, which they have the past two years.) Together, they would create a pretty solid force in the city — not as strong as the 10,000 lb gorilla Steelers, but much stronger than they are individually. And that’s before you even account for any synergies that this deal could create.

But here’s the problem: through trial and error, or maybe blind luck, Bob Nutting — the current owner — has picked the right people to run the team. The reason he didn’t for the first twelve years he was in charge was that he doesn’t really understand baseball, and neither did his CEO, Kevin McClatchy. So when they had GMs that were doing their jobs really poorly (Cam Bonifay, Dave Littlefield), they gave them the benefit of the doubt, and held on way too long.

But now the Pirates are in the right hands. Frank Coonelly, the current CEO, understands the value of sabermetrics, has been willing to spend a lot of money on amateur acquisitions, and probably holds some real political sway with MLB, given that he used to be one the top executives in the league office. The current GM, Neal Huntington, has had a smart strategy from day one and hasn’t veered from it. Whether he’s executing it perfectly is open for some debate, but I know all of us Pirates fans are much happier with the process now than we were a few years ago.

The last thing the Pirates need right now is another owner that doesn’t understand baseball, who may want his own people to run the team, and may need to go through his own trial and error process. And it pains me to say that — aside from being the ultimate hero of my childhood, Mario has also been a fantastic owner for the Penguins, bringing them from bankruptcy court to back-to-back finals appearances, a Stanley Cup championship, and a new arena this coming fall.

So I’m very conflicted. Emotionally, it’s the coolest idea I’ve ever heard. Rationally, it doesn’t really add up.

I’ll add that I don’t think Bob Nutting has been as miserable an owner as most people think. If Nutting and McClatchy hadn’t come in, it’s very possible the Pirates would be playing in Portland, or Washington, or Charlotte, or who knows where. If he has one fatal flaw, it’s that he’s hired the wrong people, and trusted them way too much. But he’s got the right people now, and I have no doubt that the Pirates will spend what they need to if they’re close to contention in a couple of years.

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