Showing posts with label Corporate Sports. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Corporate Sports. Show all posts

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sir Charles is Right Again

I have always appreciated the heck out of Charles Barkley:

I've always said if America, instead of trying to bring up this issue every couple of years to get elected...Ya know the governor she's not even a real governor. She's the interim governor. She's trying to get elected and John McCain is trying to get back in the ballgame from getting his ass kicked by Barack last time.
So they're doing anything to rile up the good 'ol boy network. But what I think we need to do is find a way to get people who work their behind off a path to citizenship more than anything. That's the way to do it. But it's a disgrace the way it is right now."

The man is telling the truth. Can American listen to the truth and deal with it? I hope so.

Barkley adds this as well:

Dan Patrick: You're a resident of Arizona, I'm curious if you think baseball should get involved with the immigration law. Do you like that they're standing up for their players to say we're concerned about this law?
Barkley: I think we all need to. As a black person, I'm always against any form of discrimination or racial profiling. I really respect Adrian Gonzalez for coming out and saying something. I didn't realize that in the major leagues there's 30 percent Hispanic players, and in the minor leagues it's like 50. Those are some daunting numbers. I think that we need to do two things. Living in Arizona, I'm disappointed that we came up with the law. But we need to do two things. We need to find a way to get these immigrants their citizenship, that's the first thing, is to find a way to help them get citizenship. I'm very disappointed in John McCain. He used to be somebody I really admired and respected. The second thing, to me, would be very simple. Anybody who hires immigrants, you just fine them. They're not working for other immigrants. Fine and penalize the people they're working for, because most of those immigrants here are busting their hump, doing a great job, and to go after them every couple years because you want to raise hell doing something to get re-elected, that's disrespectful and disgusting.

You can't get this kind of insight from the political punditry class right now. To offend Senator McCain, who is in worse shape in his home state than month-old diapers and fishwrap left in the sun, is anathema to the chattering class.

Who out there is telling it like it is? The problem is not illegal immigration. The problem is the exploitation of a cheap labor force that is working for wages just above poverty in order to get ahead.

Hey, I have some other blogs, too...

Posted via web from TalkingSmackAboutSports

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Ladanian Tomlinson Era Ends in San Diego

I have to confess to being shocked by this--perhaps I need to get out more:
In a move that was fully expected but still feels odd to type, the Chargers released LaDainian Tomlinson Monday after nine seasons with the team.

The timing of the release was likely out of deference to Tomlinson's career. He can get a head start on most unrestricted free agents and talk to interested teams right away.

"It has been a privilege to work with him and witness his entire career," owner Dean Spanos said in a statement. "I'm proud of him and grateful to him for the way he has carried himself both on and off the field.

"He's a future Hall of Famer," G.M. A.J. Smith said. "My only regret is that he leaves without a Super Bowl ring."

Why release him? Why is the business of the NFL structured in this way? I have no clue. It's a free agency thing, and nine years on a running back's odometer starts to look risky. Not everyone gets to play as long as, say, Emmitt Smith, but few play as well as Ladanian Tomlinson has played and might still play.

Tomlinson's last two years look fairly bad on paper. A change of venue could help him if the new coaching system can be adapted to use him the way he can still be used--not to carry an offense but to add some depth to it. My guess is that the Washington Redskins will offer Tomlinson $40 million dollars for three years and use him like a fullback in the I formation--something ridiculous like that always seems to follow when the Redskins sniff at a fading, aging veteran.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Michigan State Fails to Get a Decent Logo

The old Michigan State Logo (Above) and the New Michigan State Logo (Below)

Sounds like someone is upset:
Last Thursday, the US Patent and Trademark Office posted on its website a new logo registered to Michigan State University for use in intercollegiate athletics. This is approximately their 4,328th new logo scheme in the past 20 years. Not a big deal, right? Athletic teams tweak their logos all the time. Hey, some NHL teams have so many logos and alternate sweaters they could probably wear a different uniform every game.

Well, some Spartan fans aren't taking too kindly to the change. And by "some," I mean "at least 17,548," because that's how many people have joined the Facebook group protesting the change. That's a big enough movement to get Tom Izzo's attention.

Of course, those disgruntled fans probably won't like what Izzo has to say:

"For all of you out there that are complaining, shame on you, because ... we are trying to do what's best for Michigan State University, our athletic department and the great people that we associate with and Nike's done a heck of a job," Izzo said. "Mark Hollis and our president have done a heck of a job and if somebody out there is looking for my support on this mad about the logo, find a new basketball coach because this guy is going 100 percent with our athletic department, our athletic director, our president and I think this is going to be one of the greater moves we've made."

So I guess there's a lot of mutual de-friending going on at MSU right now. Izzo sounds cranky, but I would too if my in-box got flooded like I'm sure his has.

The older logo is more fluid; the newer one is "blockish" and less inspired. It's as if someone cut out green pieces of construction paper and glued them down without really trying to give it some sort of design. Each piece is the identical distance apart; changing the angles and distances between the parts might have made it look a little better; I don't know. The new logo incorporates a lack of proportionality. Think of how a Ford Crown Victoria looks next to a Mazda RX-7. The high notch above the face guard on the new logo must have been someone's idea of incorporating a touch of the film "300" into the new logo or something; why bother going for an attention to historical detail like that when virtually no one really knows or cares what a real Spartan combat helmet looks like. The old logo was a fluid, smooth, easy-to-recognize image. There was a plume, a face guard, and that's it. This one incorporates the blockish piece between the plume and the helmet itself--one of the ugliest and least-competently added pieces to the entire logo.

The only people laughing are Michigan fans, of course.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Tragedy of Chris Henry

This is just too sad for words:
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chris Henry has died, one day after suffering serious injuries upon falling out of the back of a pickup truck in what authorities describe as a domestic dispute with his fiancee.

Police say Henry died at 6:36 a.m. Thursday. Henry was 26.

Away from the team because of a broken forearm, Henry was rushed to the hospital Wednesday after being found on a residential road. Police say a dispute began at a home about a half-mile away, and Henry jumped into the bed of the truck as his fiancee was driving away from the residence.

Police said at some point when she was driving, Henry "came out of the back of the vehicle."

What do you do at this point? What do you do if you're the National Football League and you see, time and again, a serious problem with your players, with the lifestyle they find themselves in as rookies, and domestic violence?

Rookie orientation in the NFL is a series of classes or briefings where new players are shown some of the pitfalls that go with big money contracts, old friends from the neighborhood, new girlfriends and wives, and everything that goes with becoming a high profile member of a community.

I think the NFL deserves credit for rookie orientation, but perhaps what it needs is an ongoing briefing, held every year for every team, that helps show players how society is evolving. Call it the Insider Briefing. Make it about players talking to players, not some crusty old veteran giving a PowerPoint about what happened to him when he woke up drunk in his driveway in a stolen prom dress when he played for Denver in the 1980s. You haven't heard that one? I made it up. I made it up because a variation of that happened to me when I played for Princeton. Don't ask, because we don't talk about the prom dress in the Rogers household. Suffice it so say, Mr. Peej was able to prevent the Princeton cops from pressing charges against me because we were able to salvage the dress and the reputation of that high school girl. It cost us all of our mad money for the month, but it was worth it.

The Insider Briefing can be as simple as having a troubled player go around and talk about what he thinks is right or wrong about being an NFL player who runs afoul of the law. It should not be about shame. It should be someone at that very elite level being able to go into a room without being judged to talk with men at his elite level and it should be a conversation, not a lecture. I realize that these men play on teams. In point of fact, they play on teams that are a part of a League, and that league is an ever-changing and evolving thing. I would like to see something put in place that takes a player like Chris Henry, who has had trouble, and maybe a Peyton Manning and three guys who don't start who play on other teams and has them go around during training camp to spend some time with other players to talk about what they see, what they know about groupies and hangers-on, what they think can be done to deal with a girlfriend who is spending too much money, what can be done about family members who ask for money, and what guns, violence and fear of failure can do to someone who is exalted above all others.

I hate to tag you with this, Mr. Manning, but, so far, you haven't screwed up and driven your vehicle into a crowded Outback Steakhouse with a naked grandmother on the hood and an Uzi on your lap. Let's help other players avoid such a thing, and let's help you with their perspective on keeping the media, the whores, the drugs, the politicians, and the Disney Corporation at bay.

Don't think I'm not looking at you, Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson. I see you flirting with Disney. We're here to bring you back, brother. I know you didn't get to play in the NFL, but let's be honest--Miami is damned near the NFL, and is practically the development league. Mr. Johnson has a nephew drafted by the Browns and another nephew at UCLA--and we need to save him from the Disney Corporation. We need to reach out to a brother in need and see if someone can hook him up with some honest cheddar.

It's probably not realistic, but it can't be about blaming this young man just for doing something stupid and dying too young. There are so many people who live at the intersection of fame, fortune, and celebrity who can help. It doesn't matter if you're the late Steve McNair or someone who got cut and never made it. Everyone needs help understanding what can happen and what can go wrong with you mix money, family, and fame or near fame in a big ol' bowl and try to fight over who gets to take the first drink and how much and when they can drink it.

On the off chance that someone who plays on special teams for another team who had a thing with a fiancee three years ago can go into a room and talk to people like Chris Henry and say, "you know, sometimes, it's better to just let her drive away. Let her go have a moment. Let her think about things and come back when she's ready." That may or may not have been the thing that caused Henry to pause and walk back into the house. I don't know.

Realistic? I don't know. I don't want to write a condemnation when writing something a little more constructive might go down better than a poison pill or just some tut-tut joke at someone's expense. This is not a joke--there's no reason this young mad had to fall into the road and die in a hospital.

Monday, October 12, 2009

That Which He Dare Not Utter

Someone has finally decided to snap:
For much of the decade during which Daniel Snyder has owned the Redskins, many fans and members of the media have blamed Snyder for the team's struggles.

Rarely, if ever, do any of the employees of the organization point a finger at Snyder.

Cornerback Carlos Rogers has done it.

His broader point? Everyone is to blame. The message? The first one to blame is the guy who has the keys.

"It not only starts with the players, coaches," Rogers said, per the Associated Press. "It starts with the ownership."

Rogers is right, and it is time someone said it out loud. There appears to be no one, save perhaps Joe Gibbs, who can sit down with Snyder and explain to him that a professional football team needs to have an empowered general manager and a certain hands-off structure in order to operate. That Gibbs has failed to get that across to Snyder by now indicates that it would take a real come-to-Jesus meeting between the two, one where Gibbs would be willing to sever ties to the organization out of embarrassment for what it has become.

Snyder should sit down with the ownership teams in Pittsburgh or New England in order to better understand the role that a general manager should play under the supervision of an owner. At some point, you have to stop pretending you know how to judge talent when most of the talent you've gone out and signed has failed to mesh with the system you keeping having to change because you can't find a stable situation at the coaching position. When Snyder went out and got Jim Zorn, you knew that Zorn was going to be thrown under a bus.

The question is--who has the courage to say that Rogers is right?

[Image - Carlos Rogers...]

Who Cares If Limbaugh Buys into the St. Louis Rams?

I'm pretty sure that, even if you are a Hefty bag full of horrible crap, you are still allowed to buy things in this country:
The Rev. Al Sharpton wants the National Football League to block conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh from bidding on the St. Louis Rams.

Sharpton sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday. He said Limbaugh has been divisive and "anti-NFL" in some of his comments.

Limbaugh did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

Limbaugh said last week that he is teaming up with St. Louis Blues hockey team owner Dave Checketts in a bid to buy the Rams. He has declined to discuss details of the offer, citing a confidentiality agreement.

In 2003, Limbaugh worked briefly on ESPN's NFL pregame show. He resigned after saying Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was overrated because the media wanted to see a black quarterback succeed.

NFL Players executive director DeMaurice Smith on Saturday made a move to solidify the union against Limbaugh's bid in an e-mail to the union's executive committee.

"I've spoken to the Commissioner [Roger Goodell] and I understand that this ownership consideration is in the early stages," Smith wrote in the e-mail. "But sport in America is at its best when it unifies, gives all of us reason to cheer, and when it transcends. Our sport does exactly that when it overcomes division and rejects discrimination and hatred."

I won't defend the things that Rush has said--he's an entertainer, and sensible people should take whatever he says with a grain of salt, and, oh by the way, any influence he has is directly because people over-react to him, not because he is telling the truth. Every time there's an uproar about Limbaugh, I should ring that bell that sent Pavlov's dog into a tail-wagging drool. It would signal the phony outrage and the hand-wringing to begin.

Do we really want Reverend Sharpton telling us who can own NFL teams? What if the St. Louis Rams fold up because no one will buy a sufficient ownership stake in the team? How would it go over to see an NFL franchise collapse over something like this?

So what if Limbaugh becomes a minority owner in the Rams? Minority ownership means nothing in the NFL. When was the last time a minority owner was able to ruin a team? You have to be Danny Snyder to ruin a team, and I'm pretty sure he's not a minority owner of the Redskins. Limbaugh's real passion is the NFL, and he would trade his political commentary to be taken seriously as a football pundit.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Great One Ends His Coaching Career

The ownership struggles of the Phoenix Coyotes proved to be too much for The Great One:
Wayne Gretzky has stepped down as head coach and director of hockey operations of a Phoenix Coyotes franchise that remains dogged by its unsettled ownership situation.

Gretzky, who is also a minority owner of the team, made the announcement on his Web site Thursday. His departure had been rumored as the bankruptcy court battle between Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie and the NHL over the sale of the financially troubled team dragged on.

"This was a difficult decision that I've thought long and hard about," Gretzky said in a statement posted on his site. "We all hoped there would be a resolution earlier this month to the Coyotes ownership situation, but the decision is taking longer than expected.

Having compiled a winning percentage of, ballpark, .473 or so, Gretzky didn't wow anyone with his coaching results, and he certainly didn't help himself, public-relations wise with some of his dealings as a coach, but is it fair to say he's done as a coach? Or does he have one more chance with another club, one that he, preferably, isn't tied to through a minority ownership deal?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Something to howl about in Phoenix?

Doesn't sound too good for the Phoenix Coyotes:
Finally, auction day has come for the Phoenix Coyotes. It's two days, actually.

The NHL franchise is to be sold at auction in a two-day hearing that begins Thursday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in downtown Phoenix.

Only two bids have been made. One by Canadian billionaire James Balsillie is contingent on moving the team to Hamilton, Ontario, over the overwhelming opposition by the NHL.

The other is by the NHL, which says it will resell the team outside of the bankruptcy process, either to an owner who would keep the team in Glendale or, failing that, to someone who would relocate the franchise.

I have long believed that contraction might be a good thing for the NHL, and this case clearly demonstrates that eliminating one or even two cash-strapped franchises (to maintain a balance) might save the NHL the embarrassment of dealing with Balsillie.

I realize that the travel costs are prohibitive, but it's too bad the NHL can't expand into Scandanavia or Russia. I would hate to see the Coyotes go under, but the NHL apparently wants nothing to do with a corrupt figure like Balsillie, and it might want to find a way to stay economically viable by making some hard choices. Canada, especially, has shown that it cannot hang on to franchises, having lost several already to big cities in the US. What makes Balsillie think he can make an NHL team work in Hamilton?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Washington Redskins Sure Hate Their Own Fans, Don't They

What a disgrace:
One night last fall, thousands of fans walked into FedEx Field carrying gold towels. From the opening kickoff, it was clear that they were not part of the Washington Redskins burgundy-and-gold. The towel-waving throng cheered for the Pittsburgh Steelers, so loudly that on some downs the Redskins couldn't hear quarterback Jason Campbell call the signals.

Redskins players and many others were puzzled that Steelers fans were able to get their hands on so many coveted tickets. For more than 70 years, the Washington Redskins have boasted that they have sold out every game. Seats are so scarce, the team says, that the waiting list for general admission season tickets has 160,000 names on it.

But the reality is that those who want tickets can often find them online through ticket resellers such as StubHub. And in recent years, the Redskins ticket office itself has sold tickets into this secondary market, making it easier for fans of opposing teams to invade FedEx.

Thousands of general admission tickets were sold to brokers, who resold them on the secondary market, often at higher-than-retail prices, according to interviews and internal Redskin documents. These were often tickets to the very seats that Redskins fans have waited years to get.

The Redskins acknowledged that the sales were made but said they were against team policy.

Redskins General Counsel David Donovan said the prohibited sales were discovered in the spring during an internal audit of last season's ticket contracts and involved about 15 ticket brokering companies. He said the ticket sales employees involved were disciplined. He declined to name the employees or specify the discipline because it was a personnel matter.

"Somebody in the ticket office was doing something they shouldn't have been doing, and when it was discovered, it was all dealt with," Redskins Senior Vice President Karl Swanson said. "If the story is, this is a scandal, uncovered by Redskins, verified by The Post, or whatever, yeah, we're telling you: People got tickets who shouldn't have gotten tickets, and they were dealt with."

Washington is a money-grubbing, stab-you-in-the-back, I-gotta-get-mine kind of a town, and that's just when Congress is in session. Apparently, you can extend that to the jackasses running the ticket enterprise for the Washington Redskins. No amount of money is ever enough, and the shocking greed of such people renders them incapable of understanding the importance of being a fan.

Now, here's where the insidiousness of this is even more evident. Sports Talk 980 (WTEM, AM-980) is, essentially, the only listenable sports talk radio station in the Washington D.C. area. It regularly runs ads by StubHub, the reseller which undercuts the fans by using this broker method, as outlined above. WTEM-AM is, in fact, owned by Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins. Now, explain to me how this process of allowing the company that resells the tickets to advertise on the radio station you use to connect with the fans of your sports team does not tell them to go take a hike when it comes to their own efforts to come by a couple of decent seats to a Washington Redskins football game. It's an incestuous, money-making proposition, and any fan that falls for it deserves to have every dollar in their pocket sucked into Daniel Snyder's teenaged-boy sized pants.

That's right. That guy? Shopping next to Mike Lupica in the boy's department? That's Danny Boy himself, trying to save a few bucks on something off the rack in a 32 Small.

When is it ever going to be enough? When does an organization finally say, okay, we're milking our fans enough, let's stop the gravy train? The NFL doesn't care--the Redskins did nothing illegal. That's all well and good. From a public relations standpoint, doing something perfectly legal still screws the fanbase. There is a finite number of people with the resources to pay these prices and there is a finite number of people who will accept being screwed. The Washington Redskins are betting that the Washington D.C. area, which has a high turnover rate of people moving in and out of the region and which has a relatively high employment rate will continue to see those finite numbers shift just enough to catch the suckers who haven't figured this out yet.

It's never enough. Spare me the phony outrage--whoever was working in that ticket office wasn't putting the money into their own pants. They were sticking that money back into the organization. With a wink and a nod, of course.
The Washington Post basically destroys the credibility of Dan Snyder's money-printing operation and exposes it as a charade and a fan-hating machine that prints money by allowing real Redskins fans to suck wind trying to get tickets that are then sold to the fans of other teams, or are not even sold at all.

Here's how a broker works the Redskins system:
The story of one ticket broker shows how employees of the Redskins ticket office bundled club seats with general admission to make sales.

ASC owner Jeff Greenberg said a Redskins official first reached out to him in 2007 because sales agents were having trouble selling premium-priced club seats, with many fans declining to renew 10-year contracts signed when the stadium opened in 1997.

Greenberg, 42, who has been a ticket broker for 17 years, works out of a storefront in a building he owns in Gaithersburg. The company, which occupies two floors and has 12 employees, sells tickets to concerts, shows and sports events in almost every major venue in the United States.

Constantly switching between his cellphone and land lines, he sits before three computer screens, listing every ticket he buys or sells.

The 2007 arrangement that Greenberg had with the Redskins covered 1,360 individual tickets that he bought for about $60,000, team records show. Most of them were general admission tickets -- 710 in the upper deck and 366 in the lower bowl.

In 2008, ASC bought 217 season tickets (for 10 games) and 2,000 seats to individual games during the season. About half of those seats were in the lower bowl, with most in sections 101 to 142. About 40 percent of the seats were premium, and the rest were in the upper deck.

Greenberg said the contracts required him to buy the premium seats for two years in exchange for being allowed to buy the 169 lower bowl season tickets "in perpetuity."

Remember that the next time someone suggests that professional sports is on the up and up and that the Redskins are a great organization. They're not even bothering to spend an extra nickel and use lube when they give their fans the shaft.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Turmoil for the National Hockey League's Players Association

Things do not look so hot right now for stable relations between the players in the National Hockey League and the owners:
Less than two years after his hiring, Paul Kelly is out as as executive director of the NHL Players' Association, union sources confirmed to

The story was first reported by TSN on its Web site.

Kelly's firing came Monday following an hours-long meeting by the 30-member NHLPA executive board.

Kelly was hired in October 2007 following the firing of Ted Saskin, who was alleged to have ordered the spying of NHLPA player e-mail in the midst of a membership uprising against his leadership.

Before joining the NHLPA, Kelly was a partner at Kelly, Libby & Hoopes, a Boston law firm that specializes in internal investigations and complex civil and administrative litigation. He previously served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, and was involved in the investigation of former NHLPA leader Alan Eagleson.

This kind of turmoil can either lead to finding a good replacement who will represent the players or it can lead to the hiring of someone who will take them into yet another labor stoppage and yet another disaster for rookies and aging veterans. The head of a players association is a make-or-break position for a sport. Find the wrong person, and you end up with a disaster. Find the right person, and you end up with everyone getting a reasonably good slice of the pie that's out there.

Bottom line, though, is that the National Hockey League needs to continue repairing its image and it needs to keep the product on the ice. Bad relations with management could kill the sport.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What Happens When the Cheering Stops?

I'm not sure where this series is going, but this is a kick in the pants:

At least once every few days, someone walks into Findlay Toyota in Henderson, Nev., spots the 6-foot-8 car salesman with the familiar face and wonders, "Is that Ed O'Bannon, the former UCLA star and NBA flameout?" Yes, it is.

Ouch! How'd you like your pals to read that back to you over the phone?

Anyway, the Washington Post is doing a series on "These Athletes Retired as Multimillionaires, But Has Money Bought Them Happiness?" and it goes into the struggles and choices of some familiar names and faces.

Here's an excerpt from the piece about Bret Boone:

Bret Boone's 2008 comeback attempt with the Washington Nationals, after two full seasons out of the game, may have been born into a world of wealth and tranquillity -- a world made possible by a total of nearly $50 million he earned in his career -- but it was spawned from darkness. From the descent into the hell of alcoholism and the climb back out. From primal urges -- conquering demons, proving something to oneself, gaining closure.

If the athlete's playing career is life, and retirement is death, Boone -- or at least the ghost of him that showed up in 2008 -- refused to go into that good night until his career was given a proper burial.

"I struggled for that 18-month period where I was just kind of lost," Boone, now 40, says. "Your whole life, [baseball] is . . . not exactly what defines you -- but it's all I've done my whole life. You're Bret Boone, the second baseman, and all of a sudden you're not that guy anymore."

In all but a few pockets of the country that still cared about Bret Boone, the news went by in barely noticed flashes on a television screen or small headlines in a newspaper, stretched across a time frame that, in the mind's eye, could have been weeks or years: March 2006 -- Bret Boone Retires. February 2008 -- Bret Boone Making Comeback. April 2008 -- Bret Boone Retires Again.

But when it's your life and your career, it can consume you. The comeback lasted all of two months, encompassing one final spring training in Viera, Fla., and exactly 13 games in Columbus, Ohio, at the time the home of the Nationals' Class AAA affiliate, where Boone found the answers he sought and buried his career the proper way -- with dignity and finality.

"I had some closure," he says of that spring, when he hit .261 and played passable defense at second base for the Columbus Clippers, but walked away before the Nationals could call him up. "I could still play. I wasn't going to be what I used to be, but I could compete. I knew where I was. And I was okay with it."

It's interesting to consider the wealth being a fixed number, and then thinking of it as a lump sum paid to the players. That's, of course, not the case at all. This is money they were paid, and then everyone came for their cut, and they probably spent a good share of it thinking another bigger payday was around the corner.

Seven million dollars sounds like a lot of money, but when you get past buying three Bentleys for your moms--one for church, one for the store, one for going to the beauty parlor--it adds up quickly. I don't know if anyone has ever had to buy 3 Bentleys for their mother, but I can assure you, it's a pain in the neck to find a dealer with three identical ones on the lot.

UPDATE: Go check out for more information on coping with post-sports issues.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Rolling Freak Show in Philly?

The Philadelphia Eagles are looking to shake things up in the NFC East. After picking up Michael Vick, and indicating that the team may use both players at the same time on offense, there's an indication that they may be looking to add another element to the mix:

Donovan McNabb lobbied for the Eagles to sign Michael Vick. Could Plaxico Burress be next? It's highly unlikely, but McNabb joked yesterday about urging the team to sign [Plaxico] Burress the same way he did with Vick.

Given that the Eagles held it pretty close to the vest with Vick, signing Burress would be a good thing. Oh, sure--you have your scolds out there who claim that there is a thing called "team chemistry."

In the NFL, there is no such thing as "team chemistry." The special teams, offense and defense are all separate squads within the organization. Those squads are broken down into units, like offensive and defensive lines, the backfield, etc. Because of substitutions, injuries, the practice squad, and picking people up off waivers or in trades, these units are a revolving door of personnel. Either the quarterback has his timing down with his receivers or he does not. Good coaches know how to fix that quickly--bad coaches let the players look like clowns on the field. There is no chemistry involved--there is practice and coaching involved. Lazy sportswriters intone, with as much phony outrage as they can muster, "is the chemistry so bad on the home team that they may end up dwelling in the cellar for the next five years?!?"

With such disparity between the groups, and with natural frictions and animosities over who gets credit for wins and blame for losses, there is always this phony veneer of "chemistry" that is cited when discussing who is a "cancer" and who is a "leader" on a football team. This is fodder for the lazy sports press when things go south for a team. This is used to cover up the fact that the offensive coordinator is lost and cannot connect with his players and give them winning formations and plays. Lazy sportswriters don't bother trying to find out if the coaches are competent. They don't bother going down to watch the practices, which are either tightly run affairs or screaming matches between guys who know they're going to be out of a job in January and guys who figure that if the coach doesn't start coaching, they're going to be playing alongside T.O. up in Buffalo and there's no way I'm leaving Miami or Atlanta to go up to no dag-gone Buffalo. Lazy sportswriters write about superfluous things, such as, "can Coach Joe Blow overcome the devastating loss of his pet parakeet and find a way to beat Dallas on the road?!?"

Suddenly, when a team turns it around, chemistry is forgotten. Players still hate one another, but they're now being coached in a way that more than adequately allows them to overcome timing and mental issues. The difference between winning and losing can come down to a split second of timing, which is translated into being able to hit a receiver with a pass he can catch in a part of the field where he already knows he must be in and is willing to do anything to be there. Lazy sports writers then decide to tackle the issue of chemistry as a negative--is there so much good chemistry on this team that one injury or one loss to free agency could doom the home team to oblivion?!?

Signing Plaxico Burress creates a headache for any team that has to play the Eagles. You have an untested, but likely still explosively fast, Michael Vick, and you have Donovan McNabb ready to win at all costs. Lazy sportswriters have two pieces ready--the collapse piece and the bandwagon piece. If there's a collapse, they'll put it down to signing a "cancer." If the team is rolling to victory, the bandwagon piece will intone, "it sure was smart to ignore a little thing called team chemistry and sign that fellow who was such a cancer on his old team, wasn't it, and aren't I as smart as Mike Lupica for pointing it out to you slackjawed cretins?!?"

No one asks the question--what about AJ Feely? What do the Eagles do with him now?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

This isn't going to end Stephon Marbury's career

I had a good laugh at the phony outrage expressed here:
That should do it for Stephon Marbury's NBA career. Sure, there's a chance it might have been over anyway, but it should be official now.

Marbury was shown the other day on his livestream smoking marijuana, then later acknowledged that he occasionally smokes weed. He added the caveat that "he's not under contract right now" so he's "following the rules."

Let's not even get into that right now. Forget about where you come down on the whole legalization of pot thing.

This is about judgment, and Marbury has shown he no longer has the judgment to run an NBA team. Of course, it's easy to insert a one-liner here about whether Marbury ever did, but the point is that this is likely the last straw with him.

What self-respecting NBA owner is going to go out and sign this guy right now?

What those of us in the know call "The Chronic" has become synonymous with life in the National Basketball Association. It's as essential to the experience of being an NBA player as are the expensive headphones used in lieu of iPod earbuds, the ill-fitting $9,000 suit, and the cluster of groupies waiting in the hotel lobby. Dealing The Chronic to an NBA team is a guaranteed ride on a year-round gravy train for any self-respecting entrepreneur.

The only way this would be news would be if Marbury had passed three different independently-administered urinanlysis tests. Season's over. They're all toking it up over the line. They're obliterating the line. Half of the NBA is so stoned right now that they're watching old episodes of CSI and they're laughing themselves into a bleary-eyed stupor because they don't know why everyone on that show is so serious.

If the NBA stopped using The Chronic, all hell would break loose, and there would be fights in every quarter of every game.

Friday, August 7, 2009

ESPN and the Dominance It May or May Not Have

In what has to be a shocker, Frank DeFord of Sports Illustrated doesn't think that much of ESPN:

Imagine if Vogue was not only the country's single dominant fashion medium but also produced most major runway shows. Imagine if The Wall Street Journal was not just the nation's only powerful business outlet but it also owned the rights to the listings on the New York Stock Exchange.

Well, essentially so it is with ESPN and sports. ESPN rules the land, the sea and the firmament of sport, and ESPN sees that it is good. What it covers is so often what it owns the rights to -- in almost every major sport. ESPN has multiple channels, a magazine, a radio network and now it's starting local Web sites in many cities to compete on that level.

To be sure, other networks share some rights to the various leagues, but only ESPN is a critical mass. ESPN can make you. For example, it signed a 15-year contract with the Southeastern Conference for more than $2 billion, thereby sending every other conference into a panic mode, fearful that ESPN will make the SEC preeminent, America's conference. It can do that.

In no other significant part of American culture does one media entity enjoy such domination.

Well, I hate to disagree with you there, Mr. DeFord. Have you, perchance, heard of a thing called NASCAR? It's true that NASCAR has a split contract with ESPN and parent company ABC, Fox, and TNT, but the main event, the Daytona 500, has remained with Fox Sports. Almost no one cares about any other race except for the Daytona 500 in NASCAR. It is a sport ESPN cannot control or dominate because, in point of fact, NASCAR's popularity dwarfs that of most everything else.

This split, however, reveals that ESPN is not entirely the evil entity that one might think it to be. Major League Baseball, the NBA, and especially the NFL are all carried on other networks besides ESPN. There's actually quite a bit of parity here--you can still watch all of the major sports and never land on the ESPN part of the dial. I rate the NFL, NASCAR, Baseball, College Football, the NBA, College basketball, then everything else starting with Hockey as being separate in many ways from ESPN. In point of fact, Hockey isn't even on ESPN anymore, and serves as the model for how a sport can exist entirely outside of ESPN's sphere of influence.

That has led some to speculate that ESPN has tried to kill the NHL:

It is without hyperbole that one can argue that ESPN is killing the National Hockey League. By creating and reinforcing an expectation of failure regarding the NHL, ESPN is shaping public perception and contributing to the “death” of the NHL in the United States.

At first glance, the argument that ESPN has the power to “kill” anymajor sport may appear sensationalist. However, the impact of ESPN on the average American sports fan can be easily underestimated. As the first national sports television network, ESPN has developed a loyal following and widespread credibility among sports fans — so much so that it can brand itself The Worldwide Leader in Sports without appearing too self-aggrandizing or sensational. Via a combination of business savvy, competent self-promotion, and responsible coverage of major sporting events, ESPN has more than lived up to its promise and is now the first choice for sports news in over 100 million U.S. homes. The network’s commentators and personalities have become larger than life and the de facto sources of sports information and expertise.

While ESPN’s stock has been rising, there can be little debate that the NHL’s stock has been dropping on ESPN. Since the NHL made the questionable decision to abandon the cable network as its broadcast partner in favor of the fledgling Versus network many have argued that NHL coverage on the Worldwide Leader in Sports has ranged from underwhelming to disrespectful. Even ESPN’s ombudsman, Le Anne Schreiber, felt compelled to examine hockey coverage on the network. In an article last month, she confirmed that hockey coverage has indeed diminished 28% on Sportscenter over the last three years and that hockey-oriented shows such as NHL 2Night were cut altogether since ESPN’s loss of NHL rights.

That article was written in 2007, and the NHL has had two fantastic seasons since then. The NHL isn't going anywhere. ESPN will, at some point, have to come back around and play the game. And I have two words for that: Sidney Crosby.

To wit:

[as of the end of the 2009 regular season] The National Hockey League has set an overall attendance record for the fourth consecutive season. Total attendance of 21,475,223 and the per-game average of 17,460 were 1.1% higher than the corresponding record figures of 21,236,255 and 17,265 from 2007-08.

Chicago Blackhawksestablished an NHL club record by attracting an average of 21,783 to their 40 home dates at United Center (not including the 40,818 who filled Wrigley Field for the Winter Classic on New Year's Day). With sellout crowds of 21,273 at Bell Centre for each of their 41 home games, the Montreal Canadiens ranked second in per-game average. The Minnesota Wildsold out their season for the eighth time in their eight NHL campaigns and the Pittsburgh Penguins completed back-to-back sold-out seasons for the first time in franchise history. Other clubs to attract sellout crowds to each of their games were the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks. Several other clubs, including the Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, San Jose Sharks and Washington Capitals, were virtually sold out.

The NHL, then, is thriving in attendance, but perhaps suffering the effects of the bad economy like everything else. It could probably stand to lose two clubs, which I won't name, but when you're selling out in San Jose, all things considered, you can survive without ESPN.  In and of itself, ESPN is an immature entity, and sports is not, as Mr. DeFord tries to point out here, all that damned serious:

For instance, the network has a very unbecoming habit of subtly claiming it alone uncovers all the news. Typically, a valid report will come out, but hours later, ESPN will declare that it has "confirmed" such-and-such. That kind of tacky stuff. Exclusive: ESPN hereby confirms that it is Wednesday.

Or a couple of weeks ago, ESPN initially refused to report the news that was headlined everywhere else, that Pittsburgh's Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Ben Roethlisburger, had been accused of sexual assault. The network's excuses were too noble by half, because there's a double standard, and ESPN is known to cozy up to the very superstars it purports to cover.

Sports is diversion. When ESPN started up, there was precious little coverage of sports, beyond watching ABC's Wide World of Sports and whatever game of the week was on. I can remember a time when cartoons were only seen on Saturdays, sports were only seen on weekends, and Monday through Friday nights was a time for jiggly boobs and serious dramas. Oh, how far we have fallen.

We already have complete and utter obeisance to politicians from our Main $tream Media, sir--ever heard of a thing called Meet the Press? Ever heard of a thing called the Washington Post, which is a newspaper that cannot make up its mind as to how it can race to the bottom and cover itself in excrement fast enough? There is no equivalency to the ridiculousness of ESPN breathlessly covering every aspect of Bret Favre's game of chicken with his destiny and having an utterly incompetent and failed working media deliver lies, distortions, and rote stenography into our public discourse. When Kellen Winslow put on army fatigues and said he was going to war, of course we laughed--what a clown. When our media failed to tell us why the men and women in the real fatigues were really dying, well, that should tell you where this argument rests.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Gambling in Delaware Wins One Legal Round

As I have said many times, legalized sports betting in Delaware will ruin us all. That horrible, horrible possibility moved closer to reality:

A federal judge on Wednesday denied a request from the major pro sports leagues and the NCAA for a preliminary injunction that would have prevented the state of Delaware from offering sports betting.

Barring intervention from an appeals court, U.S. District Judge Gregory M. Sleet's ruling clears the way for Delaware's plan to begin single-game and parlay wagering in time for the NFL's regular-season opener, Sept. 10.

After denying the injunction, Sleet set a series of October deadlines related to the leagues' request for a summary judgment ruling on its lawsuit against the state; such a ruling would come without a trial. Still, Sleet also scheduled a trial date, Dec. 7.

"The state is moving full speed ahead with our plans to implement a sports lottery by the start of the NFL season," Michael Barlow, lead counsel for Delaware Gov. Jack Markell's office, said in a statement.

"The Delaware Supreme Court gave us permission to initiate a sports lottery and today's decision reaffirms that we can move forward."

At a hearing in Wilmington, lawyers hired by the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NBA, NHL and NCAA argued that Delaware's plan violated the federal ban against sports betting. Kenneth Nachbar, the leagues' lead attorney, said his clients are evaluating their options, including appealing Sleet's decision to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

Someone better pray that the judges in Philly can stop this thing.

If sports betting in Delaware goes through, it will allow people on the Eastern seaboard to bet on Big East and ACC games. Think of the implications inherent in the nightmare of all of this. The economy has already turned suckers into fat, juicy marks. Internet scams, fake mortgages, birth certificates printed on toilet paper, and disenfranchised princes from West Africa abound. It means that we are headed for meltdown, horror, bank failure, government bailouts for sports betting clowns, subsidies for high rollers who go bust, all of that jive. Every slackjawed goober with an extra hundred dollars is already slavering over the possibility of making it turn into eight hundred dollars by betting on Georgetown vs St. Johns, or Duke over Maryland at Maryland.

Think it won't ruin college basketball? Think again, Poindexter. College basketball will become almost, but not quite, as bad as the NBA, which is fixed, I tell you, fixed.

They want to bet on the NFL, and on the rivalries that have turned the NFC East into a nightmare of screaming fans, broken dreams, and shattered players. The amount of money bet on an Eagles-Cowboys game would likely drain hard currency from the banks, causing many of them to fail outright if a fourth quarter miracle pass from Romo to someone playing third string were to connect for an upset. You'd have Joe Sixpacks jumping off roofs throughout the state of Pennsylvania. The strain on our first responders would leave hundreds of people stranded without help for days if the Giants were to beat the Redskins at Fed Ex field by thirty in a blowout that would obliterate the point spread. It would lead to a forced return of the barter system because money would cease to mean anything. People would be forced to trade their loyalty to a football team for seeds with which to grow food.

It would all end in drunken yammering into a wet sleeve, lone gunshots, rope burns and broken tree limbs from half-assed suicide attempts, television movies about trust and honor being thrown away by point shaving middle school players with draft prospects, distant howling into the cold night, families evicted from squatter homes, loan sharks being driven before crazed mobs by loan shark eating dogs, people migrating to Oklahoma in order to take advantage of the Big XII's dominance over the Mountain West, chaos in the schools, violence in the workplace over fantasy football teams run amok, wives beating their husbands over gambling losses...the mind reels. Stop sports betting, for the good of all mankind.

Stop it now. But only in Delaware. In Vegas? Cool beans.

Plaxico Burress and an Unfair Double Standard

I believe that I do agree with Mr. Scoop Jackson here:
There are things your mother says that you let go in one ear and instantly out the other. Then there are things she says that you should carry with you throughout life, because one day you will desperately need them.

Take this one: "Never put yourself in a position to be used as an example."

Now that the grand jury indictment has come down on Plaxico Burress, we all are about to witness a lesson in what happens when one doesn't heed that advice.

From the judge and jury who will hear the possible trial to the office of the NFL commissioner, the future of Burress' career and several years of his life now sit in the hands of those who might use him to send a message to a much larger audience.

Plaxico Burress faces a minimum 3½-year prison sentence if convicted of gun possession.This didn't begin when the shot heard 'round New York was fired or when Burress decided it was necessary to leave his crib with a loaded .40-caliber Glock tucked into a pair of sweatpants (?!?). It began when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau began speaking out, basically saying that there would be no preferential treatment of the former Giants star and that he would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

What I want to know is, why can't Mr. Burress just be treated like any other idiot who goes into a nightclub and shoots himself in the leg with a handgun? It happens all of the time. I live just outside of Washington D.C. and I can't tell you the number of times I have had to sit and tsk tsk at a story about how some fool got dissed all up in his grille and shot off his gun and hit himself in the arm, the leg, the right butt cheek and made his girl fall and break her heel trying to get to the limousine. We should punish said individuals, as a matter of course. I'm not arguining leniency. I'm arguing consistency.

It would be a better country if we could just forget that Plaxico Burress is Plaxico Burress, and just treat him like everyone else. I would imagine that his ability to hire a good lawyer and his ability to reach a plea deal would spare him some jail time. The public embarrassment alone has been worthy of several jail terms. For a young man to act tough, shoot himself, and lose his ability to play professional football is to hand him a punishment that probably fits the crime. Now that he has entered into the criminal sphere, he should be treated like everyone else. Singling him out to "send a message" makes a mockery of the rule of law anyway.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Arena Football Comes to an End

A sad day for sports:
The Arena Football League soon will announce that it is folding, multiple media outlets reported Monday.

A league source told ESPN that the AFL is "suspending operations indefinitely," and an official announcement was forthcoming.

Arizona Rattlers owner Brett Bouchy said the league will also declare bankruptcy, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

"It's just unfortunate we're in this situation," Bouchy said, according to the newspaper. "Everyone knows myself and Arizona fought hard to avoid this day. The league was divided into two groups and factions. You had one group of committed owners who contributed capital and willing to do whatever it took to bring the league back in 2010. I have been in that group the entire time. Then there was another group that just wasn't willing to make the investment. We could never get a consensus."

Tampa Bay Storm owner Jim Borghesi posted a message on his Facebook page, saying: "The AFL will be having a press conference to announce that the league will not be returning," according to the Albany Times-Union.

In December 2008, the league suspended play for the 2009 season. In March, players and management agreed in principle on a new collective bargaining agreement, and in April a business plan for the league was put together for the owners to review.

But Columbus Destroyers managing partner Jim Renacci, who was in charge of coming up with the adjusted financial plan, told the Columbus Dispatch that despite efforts in the past six to nine months, and with the economy still in a recession, the requisite 75 percent of owners could not agree on the plan.

"When you have 22 different owners in 17 ownership groups, it's very difficult to get a supermajority on most any plan," Renacci said, according to the Dispatch.

I'm shocked that the AFL couldn't figure out a way to make it in this economy. It is a sport tailor-made for small markets that normally miss out on professional sports in the off-season. Was it a mistake to put teams in large markets? Would it have been wiser to go after mid-tier cities that did not have professional football franchises? I don't have a clue as to what would have been a successful business model with regards to the sport.

Arena Football has been around for over twenty years--that's an amazing statistic. It had real fans, it survived Jon Bon Jovi, and it made perfect use of space and time. Basically using a hockey rink with no ice, some pads, and some astroturf, the AFL filled arenas and gave people a dose of forward-pass football that captivated audiences.