Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Thursday, May 26, 2016



Normally, the DUNER BLOG doesn't venture into sports. However...as one staff member pointed out...Leicester City's sensational win is more about math than athletics. The Foxes smashed their way into the record books. See, no professional sports team in any sport has ever played 132 seasons and NOT won a championship. Also, no one saw this coming! Back in September, when the English Premier League began play, Leicester was picked to finish at the bottom, as 5,000-1 to win! OK: Let's break their phenomenal season down:

THE ULTIMATE LONG SHOT. In the last century, only a handful of professional sports teams have come close to beating such ridiculous opening day odds and gone on to win a championship. The 1969 Miracle Mets opened that season having never finished above ninth in the ten-team National League. Punters gave them 500-1 odds to win it all...and they did! Likewise, the Minnesota Twins had the same odds to win the franchise's only World Series title in 1987. The St. Louis Rams went from worst-to-first in 1999, overcoming 300-1 odds. In soccer, the 2004 Greek squad was 150-1 to win the UEFA tourney and did so. In short, this doesn't happen often.

HAVES & HAVE-NOTS. The English Premier League is a lot like Major League Baseball: There are no salary-caps. This means teams can spend as much as they want on players' salaries. Not surprisingly, big-city markets dominate because they generate more revenue. The New York Yankees have won 27 World Series and out-spent all other teams each time to do so. Likewise, teams from London and Manchester have won all but one EPL title since 1992. Again, tiny Leicester (Population: 300,000) is clearly the David slaying a Goliath.

WHO ARE THESE GUYS? Of the twenty teams in the EPL, Leicester ranked 17th and spent a total of £48 million on players' salaries. Compare this to Chelsea, the top-spending team, who dished out a whopping £216 million...nearly five times more. So the heads of Leicester tried really hard to find players who were talented...yet still unknown. Enter Riyad Mahrez, a sub on the Algerian National Team. Then there's Jaimy Vardy who was playing for Fleetwood Town (no relation to the band) before being snatched up. His 15 goals this season lead the team.

THE PAYOUT. Meet Leigh Herbert. He's a 39 year-old carpenter and Leicester City season ticket holder. Every year, he casually drops £5 on his hometown team to win, regardless of the odds. When he slapped down the banknote last year, with 5,000-1 odds, he did so more out or routine than out of hopes of actually winning. Guess what? He proudly claimed £25,000 earlier this week. Betting agency William Hill reported only 24 others in the world also placed a bet. One of these is Tom Hanks! (Although he has yet to show the world the betting slip.)

THE FUTURE ISN'T BRIGHT. The case of Leicester City is clearly a reminder of why professional sports leagues need Salary Caps. In the case of Mahrez, his value went up eightfold to nearly £15 million per season. Team across Europe are licking their chops to snatch him away because Leicester cannot afford to re-sign him. However, in the NBA, where salary caps are in place, a tiny-market franchise in Oklahoma City is one win away from the finals. They made it three years ago, and managed to keep their star players intact, thanks to the salary cap.

But for the time being...live it up Big Time in the Midlands: The Leicester City Foxes are champs!

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