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Sports by the Numbers 2018: Chicago and Beyond


Posted: Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018

 Take a deep dive into the business of Chicago sports -- and beyond -- through these interactive graphics. 

Why Joe Maddon is NOT the Problem for the Cubs

Joe Maddon one of the most admirable figures in Major League Baseball has brought nothing but success for the Chicago Cubs but after an upset of the 2018 postseason people have started to doubt his management.  It all started after having the National League Central division title stripped away from the Cubs. They led the division for the majority of the season but then faced disappointment after losing 3-1 in a tie-breaker game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

It only went downhill the next night as they suffered a 1-0 Wildcard Game loss against the Colorado Rockies. That ended their season and speculations grew as to who to blame this time. Maddon, who is signed through the 2019 season, has helped the Cubs achieve many firsts. Some which include the first 100-win mark since 1935, four straight post-season appearances and a World Series title, the first in 108 years.

Maddon’s success with the organization has also increased Wrigley Field’s attendance reaching over 3 million fans per season. 

The chart above shows the Cubs' annual win totals before and after Maddon. It should be noted that MLB moved to 154 games from 140 in 1920 and to 162 games in 1961, impacting the win-total potential as well as attendance figures (see chart below).

Former Cubs hitting coach, Chili Davis, who was fired after just one season with the team, admitted to struggling in connecting with some of the players. This could have been a factor as to why there was a lack of production in hits and runs. Needless to say, there is some tweaking to be done before 2019’s Spring Training. -- Antonia Acuna


Highest-Paid Athletes List Has International Flavor 

According to Forbes, the most paid athlete in 2018 is Floyd Mayweather ranking at number one while the athlete with the tenth ranking is Matthew Strafford. Floyd Mayweather is a retired professional boxer but currently is in the talks into stepping out of retirement soon.

  • Soccer player Lionel Messi star of F.C. Barcelona currently holds the number two ranking. He recently injured his arm but will be soon on the pitch.

  • Juventus and Ex-Real Madrid player Cristiano Ronaldo currently hold the number three rank and is slowly but surely performing well as he scored during his last game.

  • UFC’s star, Connor McGregor, though may have lost against Khabib, is still ranked at number four. Will his lost affect his income next year?

  • Neymar Jr. once Lionel Messi’s teammate is currently ranked at number five. He is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays as a forward for French club Paris Saint-Germain and the Brazil national team.

  • LeBron James is currently the highest paid player in the NBA, ranking sixth. He is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association.

  • Rodger Federer holds the seventh rank in most paid and is a Swiss professional tennis player who is currently ranked world No. 3 in men’s singles tennis by the Association of Tennis Professionals. -- Christopher Estrada


Chicago Cubs' Attendance History Tells Interesting Tale

Wrigley Field was originally named Weeghman Park when it opened in 1914. Original capacity was 14,000 fans. It was home to the Chicago Whales of Federal League. The Cubs moved from the West Side Grounds to Weeghman Park for 1916, after the Federal League folded.

The ballpark was renamed Cubs Park in 1919 and became Wrigley Field in 1926. Since the stadium’s opening, the field has gone through countless changes in an effort to accommodate more fans. Highest season attendance at Wrigley Field was 40,743 in 2008. Every 2008 date drew at least 37,000, and crowds exceeded 40,000 Average per date also topped 40,000 in 2007. The Cubs have outdrawn the White Sox for the past 24 seasons.

Inspecting such patterns in attendance turnout would not be complete without noting team highlight that year. The record for most home runs hit in a season at Wrigley Field is 233, set in 2004. The most ever by the Cubs at home in a season is 137, also in 2004. The record for most home runs by opponents is 125 in 2006. Through the 2016 season, there have been 13,030 home runs hit at Wrigley Field. -- Kevin Sherman



Historical Look: Tiger Woods' Comeback, First Win in Years 

2018 was a year to remember for the game of Golf. A year all fans of golf will remember. As Tiger Woods shows the world that he is back and better then every with a victory.

Five years ago, and five back surgeries since his last win, Tiger Woods came back into 2018 to win his 80th PGA Tour Event. Winning the Tour Championship. Throughout the 2018 year, Woods showed signs that a comeback was near. Finishing the year with 7 top 10 finishes and 2nd in the FedexCup Rankings.  

Almost 10 years ago, Wood’s life would become headlines for every media outlet.  Wood’s affair would not only cost his his life, but also his professional career for the foreseeable future. [A Brief History of Wood’s Scandal]

But is latest undergo, a spinal fusion surgery preformed in April 2017, seemed to ease his on going back pain and mark the beginning of a improbable comeback.

Woods put on a show for the world in September at the Tour Championship. Winning the Tour Championship was just as big for the game of golf, as it is for himself. He is favorited to win next years Masters. Woods is in the best place he could be; The buzzing support behind him is bigger then ever before, he is mentally strong, and surprisingly physically stable.

The  chart above shows Tigers Woods ups and downs throughout his career spanning two decades. -- Tate Anderson


NHL Salaries: Highest-Paid Central Division Players for 2018-19 Season

Athletes for teams within major leagues of a sport are paid extremely well for playing sports. Many who follow sports are well aware of this, but for those who don’t, consider this article by Fox Sports which highlighted the highest-paid athletes around the world in 2017.

Clearly, the NBA dominates this list, with eight of their players (including LeBron James and Kevin Durant) earning tens of millions of dollars. Soccer players are also paid very well, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi both earning close to $100 million (US dollars) for both playing on their European teams as well as through highly-lucrative endorsement deals.

View the interactive chart

Strangely absent from this list, however, were hockey players. Hockey is a worldwide sport, most commonly played in North America, Europe, and Russia, but the highest earners for the sport are missing from the Fox Sports list on the highest paid athletes in the world.

With the 2018-2019 NHL season well underway, here is a look at how much some of the league’s top players in each team in the Central Division are earning according to Hockey-Reference.com.

Besides being the highest-paid in the Central Division, these players are also some of the highest-paid in the entire NHL. Within the United States, the highest salaries tend to be around the $12 million range, with a few earning around $13 million. -- Tony Mazzari


Baseball is known as America’s pastime for a reason. The sport has been played for over a hundred years all across the country. Legends came and went, and the sport has created a rich and storied history. For some, the love of the game is passed down d=from generation to generation.

In cities like Chicago, who has two baseball teams, rivalries are burning among families and friends over the everlasting debate- who’s better between the Cubs and the White Sox? The game is perhaps most exciting when a home run is hit. Even if you’re not a baseball fan, most people know what a home run is. However, any casual baseball fan will recognize the names of the greatest home run hitters of all time.

I’m sure you can think of some of those names instantly -- Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, (etc.) The chart above displays the top 10 players with the most home runs of all time. These players are forever legends of the game, and many of these records may never be broken. There is however some controversy on the list, as it includes some players who were accused of and/or caught using PED’S. Nevertheless, the names of these men will live on forever, and they’ll go down as the best sluggers the game has ever seen. -- Jake Jozefowicz


Do the Minnesota Timberwolves Need Jimmy Butler?

Jimmy Butler recently made headlines as he reportedly defeated Minnesota Timberwolves starters alongside Wolves’ reserve players and later that day went on a one-on-one interview with Rachel Nichols.

Throughout the scrimmage, Butler reportedly yelled at the coaching staff and players repeatedly telling them they needed him on the team, He later explained to Nichols that he just wanted to be appreciated by the team.

So how true are Butler’s statements that the Wolves need him on the team? Butler averaged 22 points in 59 games with the Wolves during the 2017-18 NBA season. The Wolves went 47-35 that year and 8-7 after Butler was out with a knee injury in March.

Data from Basketball-Reference also shows a close relationship between PPG from Butler and the Wolves throughout the season. Particularly notable after Butler returned for the last few games of the regular season in April. During the 15 game stretch that Butler was out in March due to surgery, the Wolves went 8-7, leaving many fans wondering whether the team could play without Butler.

Do you think the data above supports Butler’s claim? Should the Wolves trade Butler due to this? Share your thoughts below. -- Areli Quintana




 Summer Olympic TV Ratings Dropped for Opening Ceremony in Rio 

The Summer Olympics always draws the attention of the whole world and for 16 days, we cheer on our nation’s best athletes as they go for the gold. But more popular than the games themselves is the Opening Ceremony that lights the legendary Olympic torch and features the hosting nation’s best attempt at a spectacle. In recent years, however, the ratings for the Opening Ceremony for the Summer Olympics has dropped in the United States.

The chart below shows the TV ratings of the Opening Ceremony of the Summer Olympics every year since 1972. A note: The United States boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow in protest of their invasion of Afghanistan.

The highest ratings for the Opening Ceremony were when the games were hosted in the United States; 1984 in Los Angeles and 1996 in Atlanta. After the 2008 games in Beijing, China the ratings being to pick up again although they never reach the high of the Atlanta and Los Angeles games.

Credit for this can go to the rise of celebrities like Michael Phelps and Simone Biles who shone in Athens and Beijing and drew more attention the games.

The ratings dropped significantly for the Rio Opening Ceremony in 2016. With a rating of 13.9, the ratings for Rio were not only down from London (21.0) but it was the lowest they had been in the 1992 games were held in Barcelona. Some of the blame for that was put on NBC’s decision to broadcast the Opening Ceremony at a later time. -- Aixa Gomez

FIFA World Cup: Historical Look at Goals Scored 

The first FIFA World Cup was held in the summer of 1930 in Uruguay, and since then 20 World Cups have taken place across multiple countries. The tournament is one of the most anticipated events because it is a global event that happens once every four years. The graph below shows the number of goals scored throughout each tournament, starting in 1930 in Uruguay to this summer in Russia.

There has been a steady increase in the amount of goals scored over the course of the last eight World Cup tournaments. This has a lot to do with the fact that teams select the best players from their country to represent them at the most elite level of play.

The Business Insider published an article detailing the best players to look out for from each country for this past World Cup, and the list is full of young talent. It is also worth noting that there is a 12 year gap between the 1938 World Cup and the 1950 World Cup where no goals are recorded. This is because the 1942 and the 1946 World Cup were canceled due to World War II.

As the FIFA World Cup looks to expand to allowing more teams in the tournament it will be exciting to see the new talent that steps foot onto the field. It will also be exciting to see how this change in the number of teams playing in the tournament impacts the amount of goals scored throughout the World Cup. -- Cassandra Roman



A Look at New York Yankees' Attendance over Time

New York is known to have one of the biggest cities, best night life, but it is also known as the home of the New York Yankees, their baseball team, formerly known as the “New York Highlanders” when they began in 1903. The graphic above shows us the journey that the New York Yankees have seen in attendance increase and decrease over the years.

Similar to opening up a new business because it usually takes several time to gain actual profit, in the beginning the New York Yankees had the lowest attendance recorded back in 1903. In the first 15 years, the Yankees barely reached almost 500,000 people attended for each of the years during that time frame.

It wasn’t until 1946 that the Yankees were able to hit almost 2.3 million attendees. This was during the time when the Yankees demonstrated to have the potential that would lead them to the win the World Series for the 11th time the following year. It should be noted that baseball moved to 154 games in 1920 and 162 in 1961, thus impacting attendance figures

View the interactive chart

With more than 4.2 million people attended, 2008 had the highest attendance recorded for the New York Yankees all time. It must be noted that during this year the Yankees had some of their best players such as Alex Rodriguez, voted MVP two times, and Chien Ming Wang. Both suffered injuries during that time which caused great devastation to the team, according to The New York Times.

The New York Yankees have definitely suffered from the inconstant rate of attendance reported per year. But what is most interesting and inevitable to see is how the year before winning the World Series that follows, their attendance seems to show a pattern of being higher than the actual year in which they won the series. By taking a look at the graph we see this take place in 1946-1947 and 2008-2009. -- Luisa Pimentel

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