Cupping: The Next Big Olympic Sport?

FiveThirtyEight: “For the past two weeks, people at the Olympics have been losing their minds trying to collect yellow and blue plastic souvenir cups that feature the silhouetted athletes of each sport. The cups are sold only with the official Olympics beer — Skol — though many collectors are just dumping out the beer or paying full price (13 reais, or about $4) for an empty cup, several vendors confirmed.”

“But although the cups, which are an advertising product for the beer, have been hugely popular, there is little in the way of official information from the company about the collectibles, which has led to the curious situation of visitors trying to complete a set of some indeterminate number.”

“The confusion comes in part because no official marketing materials were released by Ambev, the South American distributor of Skol, stating the number of cups or how best to collect them. But the mystery has only fueled fascination, making the frenzy around the cups more happy accident than calculated guerrilla marketing.”

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Under Armour Rocks Around Its Clock

The Street: “Under Armour (UA) has bet big on connected fitness by acquiring an array of app makers and unveiling a suite of new hardware devices, and it wants visitors to its newest retail store (at World Trade Center, NYC) to be aware of that huge wager … the showstopper was a gigantic digital clock hanging from the wall that tracks people signing up to the company’s fitness apps such as MapMyFitness in real-time. At the time of our visit Tuesday afternoon, the clock read that Under Armour had over 179 million users to its connected fitness apps, up from about 175 million exiting the second quarter.”

“Earlier this year, Under Armour debuted its ‘Healthbox’, which is box that contains a fitness tracker called the UA Band, a Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled scale called the UA Scale and the UA Heart Rate, which is a strap that fits around your chest to measure heart rate. Healthbox is one of the first sections the consumer sees when walking into the World Trade Center location. The connected fitness segment represents about 2.1% of Under Armour’s sales. Sales so far this year for the business have surged 91% to $42 million.”

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Baseball: These Are The Good Old Days

The Wall Street Journal: “Baseball’s nostalgia is often seen as a virtue when it’s more accurately a disease. Baseball is the one business—outside of perhaps politics—that considers it good strategy to tell you its product is less than what it used to be. Baseball is currently watched by more people than at any other time in human history, and played at a higher level that we have ever seen before.”

“If Mickey Mantle ever saw a Noah Syndergaard fastball, he would never stop crying. If Babe Ruth faced Clayton Kershaw, he would call the Dodgers lefty a witch and want him burned for black magic. There were no good old days. The good old days are now.” – Will Leitch, reviewing The Baseball Whisperer by Michael Tackett.

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Minor-League Question: Rumble Ponies or Stud Muffins?

“There is higher-quality baseball elsewhere, so the minor-league experience is just as much about the silly antics … as it is about the game,” reports The Wall Street Journal. So it was all in good fun when the new owners of the Binghamton Mets, the Mets’ upstate Double-A affiliate, announced earlier this year that they would be rebranding the team, complete with a new name. They even gave local fans in this small city about 150 miles northwest of Manhattan some potential names to vote on.”

“What could possibly go wrong? … When it’s all said and done, Binghamton will be home to either the Bullheads, the Gobblers, the Rocking Horses, the Rumble Ponies, the Stud Muffins or the Timber Jockeys … The B-Mets hired a brand marketing firm, Brandiose, to help with the renaming project … They said the name options were culled from more than 1,500 fan suggestions that referred to something unique about the city. A Bullhead, for example, is a local catfish, while Gobblers “honors the outdoorsman lifestyle and turkeys who call Binghamton home.”

Owner John Hughes says: “The rebrand will have short-term repercussions, but what we’re looking for is establishing a long-term connection with fans … For the first time in a long time, Binghamton baseball is relevant.” Mets star David Wright says “if he were in Double-A he might have been happy about any name change simply because it would mean getting new uniforms to replace the old, ratty ones often found in the minors.”

Mets left-fielder Michael Conforto, who played for the B-Mets last season comments: “Maybe now I think it’s funny because I’m not there.”

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Ace of Lace: Adidas Soccer Boot Fits Like a Glove

Gizmag: “Dubbed the ACE 16+ Purecontrol, Adidas’ newest wheels do away with conventional laces and use a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) cage to secure the middle part of the foot. There’s also an internal locking system and the upper section is made from a combination of open and loose knitted structures, something called Primeknit which featured in Adidas’ all-in-one boot/sock hybrid concept from 2014.”

“The upshot of all this is, according to Adidas, a football boot that fits like a glove and offers closer ball control thanks to its larger surface area and absence of pesky laces. Beginning this weekend, some of the world’s most high-profile footballers will slip into the ACE 16+ Purecontrols and take to the field in professional competition … There’s no word on pricing, but a limited number will then become available in Adidas’ flagship stores in Paris, Marseille, London, Barcelona and Manchester and from selected retail partners.”

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Strat-O-Matic Reinvents Itself Using Big Data

A board game from the 1960s has been updated with “digital” cards using algorithms and big data, reports The New York Times. In the past, Strat-O-Matic, a “baseball simulation game,” was “played using cards for each player based on statistics from the previous season.” In its latest iteration, called Baseball Daily, the cards are “updated daily,” allowing players “to play games in the present,” says Adam Richman, son of the game’s founder, Hal Richman.

“Every year, we try to push forward digitally,” Adam says. “We need to rethink how we are doing everything.” He adds: “This is a natural evolution that will allow more engagement for our fans and expand our purview.” The hope is that Baseball Daily will “scoop up some daily gamers who have been flocking to the fantasy sports sites FanDuel and DraftKings, although Baseball Daily does not involve cash prizes and is structured differently.”

Strat-O-Matic is also developing apps. Traditionalists will, of course, be able to continue play Strat-O-Matic the old-fashioned way, using last year’s data.

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