Tuesday, March 31, 2009
At the Sweet 16, one of my famously awful calls with the boys at the Palazzo Sports book was the UNDER in the Missouri wipeout of Memphis. My reasoning was rather anecdotal. The floor at the Cardinals cavernous dome looked dead, the players were out of synch, and the shooting backround appeared to create many clunkers. And even though the TOTAL in that game seemed oddly low (142.5) I figured the oddsmakers knew something I didn’t. I was wrong. Loud wrong.
But I was hardly the only one. The bookmakers missed the total by a staggering 51 points themselves (something very rare, mind you) and so did other handicapping experts. This explanation from Kevin O’Neill, a guy I very much respect for his in depth research and thoughtful approach to analyzing point spreads.
Memphis and Mizzou had two of the strongest D's in the country and I figured medium-paced Memphis would do everything they could to slow down their game last night after the scare put into them by Cal State-Northridge, I was intrigued with the under. Researching the games when Calipari coached against Anderson in the Memphis/UAB rivalry showed that these two played slower, lower scoring games than expected. I thought the combination of factors were impressive, so I played the under. It took only 31 minutes for the game to go over the 142.5 we released it at. Memphis D, so strong all season, was easily penetrated by both Cal State-Northridge and Missouri and a lot of CUSA coaches are probably sitting in their office formulating similar game plans for next season right now.
FINAL THOUGHT: That’s why it’s called “gambling” folks. You just never know…
I was reading a story recently about a man in Nevada who got attacked by Killer Bees. Apparently, he was operating a back hoe, unearthed a giant nest under a boulder, and proceeded to absorb over 1,000 stings! He lived.
Experts, however, said that had the man run to a nearby pond or pool – ala Winnie the Pooh – it would have been a mistake.
They say, bees can see you under water, and will wait for you there, to attack again when you resurface for air. Instead, experts say you should run as fast, and as far as you can.
Hmmm. I’m skeptical.
Even though this link says basically the same thing, I gotta believe going under water is a good bet. Even if the bees were waiting for me above the surface, I would breach the surface violently like a missile shot from a submarine, flailing my arms and splashing wildly. I would take a big breath with one hand over my mouth and nose to avoid inhaling any bees, and then go back under.
Total attack window for the bees would be maybe 3 seconds, tops. Eventually, I think they would get bored and go home. Or not, then I’d be screwed.
Many people have emailed asking about the epic story in S.I. last week about how and why pro athletes go broke. Flat… busted.. broke! Here’s the link. I recommend a full read, and then a re-read just to cement in the anecdotes.
Here’s my favorite passage.
(Rocket Ismail detailed his many failed investments…)
It began in the winter of 1991 when he sank $300,000 into the Rock N' Roll Café, a theme restaurant in New England designed to ride the wave of the Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood franchises. One of his advisers pitched the idea as "fail-proof, with no downsides," Ismail recalls. He never recouped his money and has no idea what became of the restaurant.
Lesson learned? If only. After that Ismail squandered a fortune funding not only that inspirational movie but also the music label COZ Records ("The guy was a real good talker," says Rocket); a cosmetics procedure whereby oxygen was absorbed into the skin ("We were not prepared for the sharks in the beauty industry"); a plan to create nationwide phone-card dispensers ("When I was in college, phone cards were a big deal"); and, recently, three shops dubbed It's in the Name, where tourists could buy framed calligraphy of names or proverbs of their choice ("The main store opened up in New Orleans, but doggone Hurricane Katrina came two months later"). The shops no longer exist.
Monday, March 30, 2009
As you know, I have talked about the "Sports Bubble" for some time now. Maybe the dynamics are far different from "real" economic bubbles like real estate or dot-com, but I do think that the entire house of corporate cards that pro sports have been built on for 20 years now is crumbling.
My main man Rick Horrow - aka The Sports Professor - has been a weekly contributor on my Fox Sports Radio show the last few years. Rick also runs a sports biz website, and sends out a weekly newsletter hi-lighting the latest sports biz trends.
This week, Rick delivered a very intriquing 3-list trifecta of gloom, hope, and creativity in the sports biz marketplace. Enjoy the list, and visit Rick's site for more.
“BUST”: TOP TEN REASONS THE ARMAGEDDON IS NEAR
1. The MLBPA is challenging a clause in 109 player contracts that requires them to donate money to charitable causes. The grievance is aimed at the 22 clubs with players in question, and seeks to have money that has already been donated refunded by the team.
2. Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks has confirmed that he will be taking $20 million off the team’s payroll for 2010. Hicks is also looking to add investors for both the Rangers or Dallas Stars.
3. This year’s Forbes billionaire list includes 30% fewer names. Among those dropping off the list are Browns Owner Randy Lerner, Pacers co-Owner Herb Simon, and SMI Chair Bruton Smith.
4. The Skins Game is at risk of not being played in 2009, and according to execs at ESPN, will need major changes in order to survive. The event has had low ratings and little interest in recent years, and now that LG is no longer the title sponsor, one is desperately needed to help keep the Game alive.
5. First and second round tickets for the NCAA Tournament were down 5-10% from last year. In Miami, American Airlines Arena was at only 50% of capacity.
6. Yates Racing has suspended the operations of Travis Kvapil’s No. 28 car because of a lack of sponsorships. RFR President Geoff Smith is not optimistic that sponsors will come for Kvapil this season.
7. Although 90% completed, the opening of Xanadu, a retail and entertainment compound at the Meadowlands Sports Complex, will again be delayed. In addition, construction of the last 10% of the facility is being slowed.
8. Gary Bettman has confirmed that the Phoenix Coyotes are struggling financially and seeking new investors. A recent polling of 300 Glendale residents indicated that 72% of people asked do not care if the team leaves.
9. Montreal Canadians owner George Gillett has retained BMO Capital Markets to look into selling the team. Like many other recent "busts," Gillett is citing the economy as the reason he is considering a sale.
10. Florida International University is cutting their athletics budget by over $1 million, and the cuts will include significant layoffs within the department.
“BOOM”: TOP TEN REASONS THAT PROSPERITY IS RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER
1. The Miami Dade County Commission approved the Marlins’ plans for a new baseball stadium, with construction is set to begin this summer, and the team taking the field in 2012. Ironically, this is 70 years after the WPA funded the Orange Bowl (on the same site) as part of a stimulus package to end the Great Depression.
2. MLB Network is on track to meet Q1 ad revenue projections despite having not received support from any of the league’s 18 official sponsors. MLB partners are expected to contribute financially in the near future.
3. Final figures from the World Baseball Classic showed an 8.7% increase in attendance and 14% more TV viewers than the 2006 event. Critics mostly praised the Classic, especially after Japan’s thrilling 10th inning victory to claim the title.
4. DirecTV has renewed its deal with the NFL to serve as the exclusive satellite provider for out-of-market games. Signed through 2014, DirecTV will give the league $1 billion a year.
5. The USOC and IOC have reached an agreement to negotiate a new revenue-sharing deal. The two committees had been at a stalemate in recent years over how to divide TV and sponsorship money.
6. Despite current economic conditions, Sprint will remain committed to NASCAR through the duration of their contract that ends in 2013.
7. MLS’ Houston Dynamo recently secured 25% of the $80 million necessary to build a new stadium. The new financing will clear the way for the Houston City Council to put the issue on their agenda.
8. The New York Giants are sold out of non-club level PSLs at their new stadium. In all, over 70,000 PSLs have been sold at the New Meadowlands, which is slated to open in 2010.
9. Despite not receiving one of the new MLS franchises, Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has confirmed that he will continue to seek a club as the league ponders future expansion. The extra time should allow Melnyk to secure a new stadium deal.
10. Even though the Capitals have increased next year’s ticket prices by 7%, they have still sold 3,500 new season ticket packages. The team has also added 25 new sponsors and expects to make their first-ever profit next season.
“HOPE”: TOP TEN REASONS THAT CREATIVITY IS THE KEY TO ECONOMIC SURVIVAL
1. The Yankees are selling officially licensed sod at NY-area Home Depots. The large patches will put you back $7.50.
2. Rogers Communications is seeking the opinions of fans in deciding whether to play three more Bills games in Toronto. If they move forward with the plan, one additional game will be played in each of the 2010, 2011, and 2012 seasons.
3. Bermuda has signed a $650,000 promotional deal with the Boston Red Sox to increase tourism to the island. They had a similar (yet less expensive) deal with the Mets last season.
4. Coca-Cola has unveiled a new green initiative for the 2010 Vancouver Games. One aspect of the plan includes having workers wear uniforms made from recycled bottles.
5. The NFL is exploring the possibility of allowing sponsor logos on team practice jerseys. The issue was brought up at the NFL owners meetings and further discussions will be held at the league’s May meetings.
6. Golf retailer Golfsmith is promising to refund the price of a Taylor Made driver if Sergio Garcia wins next month’s Masters. The company bought an insurance policy against the odds of Garcia winning the tournament.
7. The NFL is offering Sunday Ticket’s Red Zone Channel to cable providers with the hope of leveraging companies to provide NFL Network to subscribers. The league owned and operated channel is currently available in less than 40 million households.
8. The PGA Tour and NBC will experiment with putting microphones on caddies at this week’s Shell Houston Open, to test audio quality and see if any conversations are TV worthy. None of the test audio will be aired on TV, but if the experiment is deemed a success, the practice could be put into effect soon.
9. Women’s Professional Soccer will allow players to post to their Twitter accounts from the sidelines during the season opener.
10. High-end watchmaker Nubeo has teamed with Kobe Bryant to create a line of “Black Mamba” watches. They will retail from between $21,000 and $285,000.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
“So how was Vegas?”
Fabulous. Did you really need to ask?
Wish you were there, but those who did jump on the Inaugural Czabe Field of 64 promotion got a real treat. A killer rate, on perhaps the swankiest digs on the strip, with a state of the art sports book, and VIP treatment with their favorite radio personality during the Sweet 16.
Thanks to Michael Larragueta of the Palazzo for making this happen. From one Gaucho to another, this was above and beyond even my expectations. I can’t wait to take it to the “next level” in 2010.
There is a Czabecast coming from the boys at SIM (and thanks again, Kirk and Jeff for coming along and doing some filming!) but let me give you some bullet points of the trip.
Believe it or not, I did not play a single hand of blackjack all weekend. Nope. Not one. And it was totally by accident. I was so busy going from the golf course, to my room for a needed 2 hour mid-afternoon nap, to the sportsbook from 4-9 p.m. and then off to various “Performing Arts Centers” or dinner at night, that I didn’t realize this “feat” until I was checking my bags at McCarron International on Saturday afternoon.
My Sweet 16 wagers sucked. I started out 2-0 and then flat out tanked, finishing 0-6 on a variety of sides, totals, and money line plays. My worst calls were the UNDER on Memphis v. Mizzou (an inexplicable 142, which seemed like a trap, so I ran toward the smell and got clobbered!) and Duke -2 vs. Villanova. Xavier money line was still a good play, it just didn’t come home (damn you Levance Fields!). So was Kansas over Michigan State, it’s just that Izzo’s boys laid some seriously suffocating defense on the Jayhawks down the stretch. I played Gonzaga as a money line play only, based purely on my heart. So much for that. Someday, I’ll learn my lesson on the ‘Zags. Carolina was great, and I quickly lost heart when it was apparent that Mark Few had decided to play so up-tempo, that the game resembled a pick-up run at the YMCA. Good night now, you won’t win that one vs. UNC’s studs.
I hesitate to say this too loud, because I want it to remain my new favorite spot, but I owe it to the good folks at the Palazzo. Their sports book is THE BEST I HAVE EVER SEEN in my 14 year history of going to Vegas for the tournament. First, thanks to Jay-Z for not paying his bills on the place and defaulting it back to the Resort. Originally, the whole place was Jay-Z's "40/40 Club" but that agreement went south in a hurry according to my source. Thankfully, he spent the money for HD everything, and it was well worth it. Secondly, they put the main theater screen in the middle of a two-level bar area, with a stadium seating set of risers right in front of it. The lounge chairs and recliners are phenomenally comfortable. Like you should be kicking it in your PAJAMAS while watching the games. Now as you might expect, during big events (football, college basketball) those seats are at a premium, and you must reserve them for a price with the casino. I have no problem with that. Still, you can easily watch the games from the catwalk railings on each side for free. Better yet, the bar/sportsbook has literally HUNDREDS of HDTV’s mounted in every nook and cranny. These are easily viewable from a bunch of seating “clusters” that accommodate your group of homies for drinks, food, and shenanigans. Outside the bar/theater area, there’s two different “windows” where you can make bets or cash tickets. The lines are very manageable, because they designed the sportsbook to be a destination for sports fans, not a big open area that gets crushed by general casino traffic. They did this thing right, in every conceivable way.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have connections either! Because my group was riding with The Czabe, we also had a 25 person capacity private room where we lounged in front of 3 different 60-inch plasmas running true HD and both games at once. There was a pool table, a video game machine, and hors’ d’ouvers. From 6-7 p.m. each night, my trip guests drank for free. And drink, they did!
Thanks too to “Drunk Larry” (his nickname, I swear!) from Atlanta, a devoted listener of the Steve Czaban Show on Fox who did the advance scouting on the best HD sports books over Super Bowl weekend. Larry helped hook me up with Larragueta and we just went from there. Larry, you are one serious degenerate. And I love you for it!
The Rhino. My god, the Rhino. There is simply, no place on earth like it. My recommendation is to get there at about 9 p.m. It’ll be stocked with “performers” (all 8’s, 9’s and 10+’s) yet not so crowded that you can’t find a seat. Then take 200 bucks you would have otherwise easily flushed at the craps table in about 20 minutes. Spend 5 of them 20-at-a-time “trying out” some un-restricted free agents at your table. When you find one you like, sign her to the VIP contract for $100 in the back. Repeat as needed. My god, the Rhino!
Phrase of the night: “Horn, tickets, Rhino!” I kept repeating this to my guys as the games wound down on Thursday night. “Horn, tickets, Rhino.” I wanted them focused. Horn. Tickets. Rhino.
Manage your clock. I love my guy Gitter, but he was drinking so hard, so fast, and for so long, that about 9 p.m. on Friday night he went “Blackhawk Down” in the middle of dinner. He got up from his seat, claimed he would be back, and then just disappeared for the night. Booo! I know that taking naps is “gay” in Vegas, but wouldn’t you rather spend two hours in the afternoon recharging for a good hard wild night, than just hitting the wall Dale Sr. style?
Vegas has a new slogan. And you won’t believe how lame it is. “Las Vegas. America’s Affordable Meeting Destination.” Uhhhh huh. No really. Because of politicians successful demonization of Vegas junkets, the whole “What Happens In Vegas…” thing is being phased out by the tourism board. When Citibank cancelled their junket this year, the $1.5 million trip rippled through the local economy. Citi re-routed the junket to San Francisco, and had to pay a $500,000 cancellation fee to MGM Grand, but losing that trip cost many people down the food chain money. Cab drivers, maids, dealers, and the like. And like I said, Citibank still took people to San Fran on a junket. It even cost the company (and thus, taxpayers) more money due to the re-schedule. But hey, it sure did “feel” good, didn’t it, sticking it to evil Las Vegas? Right. Ridiculous.
The Perfect Storm. Vegas is currently being hit with the near perfect storm of economic headwinds. Sub-prime mortgage crisis, recessionary caution from travelers, and political grandstanding. You won’t really notice it walking around the strip, but you will notice how great the rates are, how many free “perks” are being handed out (drink tickets, free appetizer coupons), and how much easier it is to get tee-times on local golf courses. The town will survive and thrive, but it’s gotta hang tough the next 24-36 months.
Plus, they got greedy. After years and years and years of building bigger, fancier hotels. After the same years of nearly 97% occupancy at rack rates, I can understand why so many developers would double down. But guess what, the shoe just turned ice cold. Not like you and I haven’t had that feeling before at the blackjack table, right?
Maybe the worst idea somebody had, was to build on-the-strip condos. Excuse me for having to ask this question, but who the hell would want to OWN a condo on the strip? How many trips to Vegas can you take per year, without the magical feeling wearing thin? Five, six, maybe? So if you go to Vegas 6 times a year, and stayed at the Palazzo for each trip at $250 a night for 3 nights, you are only going to pay about 3 months worth of condo mortgage on a 5-star hotel experience. With no downside, no downpayment, no property taxes, and no need to make your own bed our scrub a toilet. Well, right now the massive City Center condo project is teetering on bankruptcy. MGM stroked a huge check from their own bank account to keep it alive for another few months. The whole thing is a massive eyesore in the dead middle of the strip, has been that way for OVER two years now. Furthermore, it has seriously crimped traffic flow, and the ability to walk the strip. Who knows what will happen when MGM finally runs out of cash on this, but I wish they would either push it to completion, or just demolition the whole thing and write it off.
Finally, a quick re-cap of the golf. We played The Chase at Coyote Springs on Wednesday. Awesome new layout, literally in the middle of nowhere right now. You go up 15 like you are going to Mesquite, and then take a left for like 20 minutes on a desert road. Nicklaus designed, it was in flawless condition. Highly recommend. Wolf Creek on Thursday in sustained 20 mph winds, with gusts to 40 mph. Oh, what fun. Still, a must see course if you have never been there. Awesome. First look at Bali Hai on the south end of the strip. It used to be very, very, very over-priced at about $350 a round in prime time. We got on it at 8 a.m. on Friday for $200. At that price, it’s a very nice course in excellent condition. The holes do tend to look alike, because they had to take a flat piece of desert and make something out of it, but the par-3’s are all very strong. Then on Saturday we played Royal Links, a British Open “knockoff” course about 20 minutes east of town. I was pleasantly surprised. The mounding and heather was quite well replicated. The pot bunkers were authentic and a bitch! Greens were very healthy, and in perfect condition. It didn’t hurt that the weather finally turned nice. By the 11th hole, I peeled off my long sleeve windshirt for the first time all weekend.
All in all, a fabulous trip. I can’t wait for next March!
Monday, March 23, 2009
Forgive my two days off from the blog, oh dear readers. I am currently in Los Angeles, hosting my national and local shows from the Fox Sports Radio mothership in Sherman Oaks, California.
Internet has been spotty, and I have been screwing around by myself in the hotel room, if you.. ahem... know what I mean.
That said, I must give myself a hearty pat on the back. (I know, it's so rare!)
When Missouri coach Mike Anderson made the controversial move to replace star J.T. Tiller at the end of the game for his winning free throw attempts, by claiming injury I thought that on a scale of 0-Horseshit it ranked about a 7.
Not totally egregious, because Tiller was sent to the floor very hard, and also because he sent a technically inferior FT shooter (by percentage) and a freshman to boot, to the line instead, Kim English.
English nailed them both, Lazar Hayward (bless his clumsy heart) stepped over the line, and then the refs took the rest of the night off and declined to either a) call the obvious foul on Acker's attempted 3 or b) decide if the game was actually over in a timely fashion?
Anderson's move was risky. It could have blown up. But didn't. So I hesitate to crush him on it. Plus, Jim Calhoun pulled the same thing this year with noted bricklayer Hasheem Thabeet, and Creighton did the same at the end of their NIT game (or so I'm told).
My main point in arguments on both shows Monday, was the this loophole needed to be closed, because it violetes the equity spirit of sports rules, and is wide open for abuse.
Namely: who determines what "injured" means? Is "sore" considered "injured?" Is "tired" considered "injured?" Is "dizzy" considered "injured?"
Right. There IS no standard. And their couldn't be, short of X-rays or an MRI.
So, there MUST then be a strong counter-weight to shenanigans in the rulebook. In college, the rule says you can replace the shooter with anybody, including bench players, and the "injured" player can return at the next whistle without penalty.
Too lenient, I insisted.
My solution - one I swear I just thought up on the fly - would be to say in the final 2 minutes of the game, a player too "injured" to shoot, would be replaced by a player of the OTHER team's choosing, from the 4 non-injured players on the court at the time.
Well, Seth Davis of CBS Sports laughed at the suggestion.
Seth Davis is wrong. And here's why.
Little to my knowledge until a listener notified me, THIS IS ALREADY THE RULE IN THE NBA!!!!
Here it is:
Rule #9 Free Throws
(1) If the offended player is injured or is ejected from the game and cannot attempt the awarded free throw(s), the opposing coach shall select, from his opponent's bench, the player who will replace the injured player. That player will attempt the free throw(s) and the injured player will not be permitted to re-enter the game. The substitute must remain in the game until the next dead ball.
My prediction is that this loophole will be closed in the next few years because it offers too much of an advantage to a team willing to accept a few boos in exchange for a much better chance of winning.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
A year ago, the Memphis Tigers and John Calipari were right where they are now. Only they were a #1 seed. They had a dynamic freshman point guard, and were destroying their conference.
Names have changed, but not much else.
I'm buying in. Call me a fool. I remember last year when Coach Cal said about his team's woeful free throw shooting: "We'll make them when we need 'em."
This year, Memphis is just as athletic, nasty, and hungry. Only they shoot 70% from the charity stripe, not 61%.
You can see my bracket here at Czabe.com. Now for a few thoughts, cranked out as I walked through the top seeds one more time.
KEY QUESTIONS... BRACKET BY BRACKET...
PLAY ENOUGH DEFENSE FOR 6 GAMES?
IS TY LAWSON'S FOOT REALLY HEALED?
ARE TEAMS SHUTTING DOWN HANSBOROUGH?
IS ONE SUPER-STUD ENOUGH TO WIN IT ALL? SOMETIMES...
WHICH WILLIE WARREN WILL SHOW UP?
CAN THEY AVOID THE “SAVE US BLAKE” MENTALITY IN THE CLUTCH?
CAN THABEET STAY OUT OF FOUL TROUBLE?
DO THEY HAVE DEPTH AT GUARD?
WILL CALHOUN DONATE WINNERS' CHECK TO STATE FUND?
IS THEIR LEAGUE REALLY THAT BAD? OR ARE THEY THAT GOOD?
CAN THEY REALLY HAVE BACK-TO-BACK FR. PG'S TAKE THEM TO FINAL FOUR?
NOT THE BEST THREE POINT SHOOTING TEAM, BUT THEY CAN ALWAYS TAKE MORE
4 TIMES TO THE SECOND WEEKEND IN 7 YEARS.. CAN THEY BREAK THROUGH?
SOLID ALL AROUND... ONLY GRIPE: 67% FREE THROW SHOOTING
ANY LINGERING LEVANCE FIELDS INJURY ISSUES?
ARE THEIR FIRST AND SECOND ROUND LOSSES LAST 2 YEARS MOTIVATION?
WILL ELLIOT WILLIAMS AND NOLAN SMITH ADD DEPTH
CAN JON SHEYER HANDLE ACTIVE, PRESSING TOURNAMENT DEFENSE?
CAN RICK PITINO WIN WITH A BUCKET OF INTERCHANGEABLE 12 AND 8 FORWARDS
HOW COME THEY GOT DRILLED IN SEASON BY UCONN AND NOTRE DAME?
HAS THE WHITE “TONY MANTEGNA” SUIT BEEN DRYCLEANED AND READY?
HAVE RAYMAR MORGAN, GORAN SUTON, DELVON ROE OVERCOME INJURIES?
DO THEY SCORE ENOUGH POINTS?
WHAT IF GAMES AREN'T OFFICIATED LIKE THE BIG 10?
ALL THAT SAID... LET'S THROW OUT ANYBODY IN THE TOP 8 WE DON'T THINK CAN ACTUALLY CLIMB THE “OFFICIAL LADDER OF THE NCAA” - WERNER LADDERS – AND CUT DOWN THE NETS.
YES: UCONN, PITT, UNC, MEMPHIS L'VILLE
NO: DUKE, MICHIGAN STATE, OKLAHOMA
Of the “yes” group, I am going to “shade” the following: UNC and PITT. I am going to “lean” MEM or L'VILLE.
I think whomever emerges from the Louisville, Memphis side of things, wins it all. I like their “side” of the bracket a little better, so even if neither one makes the Final Four, whomever beat them will have proven to be title worthy.
VCU: Eric Maynor is a pro who can be almost un-guardable.
FLORIDA STATE: Toney Douglass and company can win close games.
SYRACUSE: Hot at the right time, and they have all the needed components.
W. KENTUCKY: Beat L'Ville this year. Hello? Return many elements of last year's team.
GONZAGA: No longer just Dickau or Morrison hitting three's. Solid all around.
THE DUDS: “They are who we thought they were!”
UTAH STATE: Stew Morrill is now 1-6 in tourney play, Aggies didn't schedule anybody.
SOUTHERN CAL: Worst program ever in terms of NCAA focus. You suck, Floyd!
OHIO STATE: Siena will eat your lunch, Buckeyes, and they aren't even in the SEC!
UCLA: Their NBA defections hurt much worse than Memphis. Inconsistent and plodding.
ILLINOIS: I know it's the Big 10, but would it be too much to ask for 40 points?
TOO BAD, BECAUSE THEY ARE JUST TOO YOUNG
TOO BAD, BECAUSE THEY GOT HURT AT THE WRONG PLACE
TOO BAD, BECAUSE THEY ARE FUN TO WATCH
TOO BAD, BECAUSE YOU GOT A HORRIBLE DRAW
North Dakota State
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Today is the day, where you can feel a calm before the storm.
Tomorrow, it’s on. Buzzer beaters. Brackets getting folded up and put in your back pocket, unfolded and cursed at. Lying to your boss and wife about where you are, and what you are doing.
Ah, such giddiness.
Sadly, I miss Billy Packer. And I thought I would utter the phrase: “I miss rampant syphilis” more than that phrase. But there it is. As loud, antagonistic, and so often flat out wrong he was, Packer was instrumental to the vibe of this week.
My “official” bracket will be posted by COB on Wednesday night. So sit tight. You want my BEST effort, yes? Not just a “slap-chop” effort.
In other news…
Did you see Phil Nippleson hit a ball RIGHTY with his club turned upside down from underneath a palm bush en route to winning at Doral?
I tried to YouTube it. No luck. But if you saw it, it was amazing. The guy may be a world class tool, but he can do things with a golf club that are simply sick.
His caddy Bones, was going through their options, and the parabolic mic picked everything up clear as day.
Bones: “I like taking a drop back here, and trying to make 5 the hard way.”
Mickelson: (pained annoyance) “Ohhhhh…. Come on….”
Mickelson caught a TON of ball, his right handed form looked perfect, and if not for a tree which caught his ball, would have been perfectly down the fairway some 150 yards.
It reminded me of his unbelievable “backward flop shot” I saw on Inside the PGA Tour years ago. THAT puppy I did find on YouTube.
NOTE: Lotta big steak dinners for Phil since then, but who am I to talk?
CHUTZPA AWARD: How about CBS and Greg Gumble calling the advertisers on the Selection Show “our corporate champions.” Champions? Did I miss the Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Sprint Mobile bracket.
When UNLV ripped through their weak-sister conference, the Big West, back in the 1990’s, why didn’t as many people THEN dismiss their chances as people are today with Memphis?
I have pondered this for a while now, and I think I have the answer. It was because the Runnin’ Rebels played such an athletic, aggressive, next-GEN style of play, that everyone else in the country was almost in fear of them.
Except of course, my Gauchos, the last team to beat the Rebels before Duke stunned them in the Final Four rematch a year after getting humiliated.
Now, every team plays athletically, and so the premium on Memphis’ style and record, is discounted. Just a theory.
The Baltimore Sun’s David Steele had a good take on the decidedly lame Michael Phelps interview with Matt Lauer.
With that, then, Phelps should know that more talking isn't helping and is brushing dangerously close to hurting. Because on NBC the Baltimore resident came off as someone with less substance than even the average twenty-something, obsessively trained, socially repressed jock who struggles to express himself even when armed with an encyclopedia of canned public-relations responses.
For Phelps, the image from the magazine covers, cereal boxes and ad campaigns are much more beneficial. Unbeatable, majestic, confident - and silent. Barring a transformative change of personality and awareness, he should not stretch beyond that.
REACT: Futhermore, Phelps let Lauer lead him down the false road of blaming people who are “out to get him” for the photo, instead of just cutting that question short by saying: “That doesn’t matter. I made the mistake. I put my face where it should never have been.”
Tim Sullivan in the SD Tribune makes a strong case for coming down hard on Florida State’s athletic department.
If you're going to throw the book at Florida State, be sure it has plenty of pictures.
Be sure that the text is targeted for maximum comprehension and minimum exertion. Stick to small words, and not too many of them. Otherwise, you're asking for trouble.
Academic fraud has run rampant in Tallahassee, so much so that 61 athletes have been implicated and 10 different university teams will lose scholarships in an NCAA cheating case of staggering scope.
Yet the most troubling aspect of the Seminoles' seventh “major” infractions case – one more and FSU matches the record shared by Arizona State and SMU – is the reluctance of university administrators to accept part of the standard punishment, the part that involves vacating victories.
Florida State's appeal may cite an Oklahoma precedent involving quarterback Rhett Bomar, one of several Sooners who were paid for work they did not perform in a summer job. Oklahoma victories that were initially “vacated” were later restored through the NCAA's appeal process.
The difference here is that academic fraud strikes at the core mission of a university and no-work jobs do not, and that a case involving 61 student-athletes and three university employees can hardly be characterized as an isolated event or an oversight.
It is an outrage. It's time to read the riot act to Florida State. That is, of course, assuming someone can read it slowly enough to be understood.
REACT: I think the real reason Florida State is digging their heels in on the wins counting, is to make sure Bobby Bowden can be gently pushed out the door to his porchside rocking chair as the all-time wins leader in D1 football. If the set him back 14, he’ll never catch JoePa, but that doesn’t mean he won’t try to hang on another 2 years and keep trying.
Rick Telander reviewed the Maurice Clarett blog. He’s not a fan….
We have now a world in which no less a person than Toledo (Ohio) Correctional inmate Maurice Clarett, the former Ohio State football star and hero of the 2002 national championship team who is doing time for aggravated robbery and carrying a concealed weapon, can reach everyone on our planet.
All you have to do is type mauriceclarett.wordpress.com in your command line, and you can read all the wisdom the jailbird has for you.
Trust me, it's crap.
That is, unless you think entries such as, ''I have a little rule now, everything before 11:30 a.m. is Maurice Clarett time,'' is good stuff.
Nothing screams credibility on hoops like Digger Phelps calling Gonzaga’s Josh Hytvelt, Josh “HEIN-felt.” Good work, highlighter boy. I’ll take that “analysis” right to my pool sheet.
The best thing I saw on ESPN on Sunday’s selection show, was NOT Jay Bilas punking the bald-headed “Hall of Famer” over his St. Mary’s lovefest.
Rather, it was a blinding montage of great moments from Championship Week set to the tune of a group I had never heard of: “The Cab” with “I’ll Run”.
Watched it about 3 times IN A ROW. Freaking un-real athleticism. Wish I had a clean, no-crawl marred, hi-def version for my archives.
If you know of it, or find it on YouTube, pass it along.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Sometime around midnight eastern, a little less than a month from now, I am going to curl up under my covers and cry.
"One Shining Moment.... sniff, sniff. It's over. Bwah... bwahhahaha. Noooooo!"
Nobody loves this uber-cheezy David Barrett ditty more than me, so it came as quite a disappointment to hear that the CBS executive responsible for getting this awesome yearly montage on the air had passed away.
His name was Doug Towey, and the boys at AwfulAnnouncing.com do a great job with all the details.
Being a huge fan of OSM (doesn't everything need to be abbreviated today?) I have many of them saved on my video iPod. I don't have them ALL, but perhaps someday I will.
On this blog post, the boys mention the ORIGINAL OSM when Indiana stunned Syracuse on Keith Smart's jumper. It's well worth another watch, if for no other reason, than to remember when Bobby Knight was still a very relevant college hoops sideline BADASS!
But please note something else on the original OSM. How lame the highlights are.
Now maybe the editing equipment was more crude (it was), and maybe they didn't have much time to throw it together (not sure). But even factoring out those issues, please note how stiff, gawky, and straight foward the BASKETBALL was back then.
A simple two-handed dunk makes OSM? Get outta here!
I'm not saying the modern game is "better" than before, because that's a long argument meant for many beers. But this much cannot be argued. The modern game is FAR more "electric" in it's athleticism.
It's not even close.
One play from the Syracuse v. Louisville Big East final really brought that fact home. It was when 'Cuse's "Belgian Waffle" Kristof Ongenaet went crashing to the floor on his head after a fast break dunk ahead of pursuit.
Had Ongenaet not landed so horrifically, it might be a play you don't even think twice about. But with the 1987 OSM montage still fresh in my brain, I thought of how athletic the game has become now at every level.
Johnny Flynn delivered a low-skip, 30 foot one-handed bounce pass on the DEAD RUN to a white kid from Belgium (Belgium!) who scooped it up effortlessly and finshed with authority.
Transported back to 1987, that play alone would have humiliated the tame-ass stuff on the original OSM.
Again, I make no judgment on whether the current game is "better". Certainly, early NBA defections, selfish stars, bad fundamentals, and AAU coaches have deteriorated much of what could be called "solid" team play.
But today's players just move so much more fluidly, they slip between defenders with greater audacity and stealth, and soar over guys with such regularity, that you can see how the game has evolved.
Meanwhile, I'm still working on my brackets. They will be posted here with notes tomorrow.
Happy March, everbody!
Sunday, March 15, 2009
I hate to say it, but the greatest month-long sporting event in the World is being bastardized, BCS Style.
When 30 of 34 at large bids go to “power” conferences (please, replace that term “power” with “BCS”, the insult stings more) you know that the money men have strengthened their grip on this event and it’s attendant riches.
Did you know each conference gets more money, the more teams that are in the event?
Of course you did, silly. I just wanted to bring that up again.
Too bad then, that CBS must tiptoe gently on guys like Mike Slive when trying to grill them on this “rich get richer” mentality. Greg Anthony did his best – although it wasn’t nearly pointed enough – to put Slive on his heels.
The question I would have asked is simple: “Mike, it sure looks to everybody, that the BCS is running the basketball post-season now as well. Am I wrong?”
Just let him choke on that one, while he spews doublespeak.
Here’s the regression on so-called “mid-majors” in the Big Dance since 2003.
2003 – 10
2004 – 12
2005 – 9
2006 – 8
2007 – 6
2008 – 6
2009 – 4
The argument this year – and remember, these arguments change yearly, to suit whatever Committee bias exists at the time – was that this was a “down year” for mid-majors.
Yeah. It sure is, when you don’t invite any!
See, what has been happening, is that mid-majors are showing more and more capable of pulling down the pants of the so-called “power” schools.
It was fine to invite them in greater numbers, so long as they knew their place.
Then they started getting uppity. Butler deep into the Sweet 16. Gonzaga a consistently under-seeded threat. VCU beats Duke. Davidson like a buzzsaw with Stephen Curry. And horror of horrors, GASP!, George Mason actually makes the Final Four!
Well, now. We must put a stop to that.
So the NCAA powers that be are steadily choking off the mid-major lifeblood, assisted greatly by the fact that most “power” schools are chickenshit and won’t schedule even a 2-for-1 home and home against an opponent with a stadium whose endzone seating area is a wall.
You had to know that Tony Soprano was cracking down when the NCAA refused to reduce at-large berths by just one, 34 to 33, and instead set up a card-table game for the extra conference qualifier on Tuesday.
If anything, this “down year” for majors and mid-majors alike (and I don’t contest that fact, by the way) is a perfect time to give the tiebreaker to mid-majors with great overall records, and RPI’s that dust your cronies like Arizona.
Here, here’s the two charts CBS threw up and let you gaze at for about 30 seconds each, without any meaningful dissection of what a joke it all is… (Note: God bless TIVO and the “pause” button.) Teams are followed by record and RPI.
LAST TEAMS IN
Arizona (19-13) 63
Wisconsin (19-12) 41
Dayton (26-7) 25
Maryland (20-13) 56
Michigan (20-13) 45
Minnesota (22-10) 43
San Diego State (23-9) 37
Creighton (26-7) 39
St. Mary’s (26-6) 48
VaTech (18-14) 60
New Mexico (21-11) 61
Auburn (22-11) 62
UNLV (21-10) 67
Penn State (22-11) 69
John Feinstein’s Saturday column in the Washington Post nailed the three-ball without even grazing the rim. Here’s the money quote….
“In a situation like this there's only one guy [on the basketball committee] who can really stop the Big Ten from getting all the bids they're talking about and that's the guy assigned to follow the league during the season," said George Washington Athletic Director Jack Kvancz, who spent five years on the committee. "Every committee member is assigned three leagues to follow all year. If the guy who has the Big Ten this year stood up and said, 'Hey, I know these teams all have 20 wins, but they aren't that good,' people would listen. If someone else does it, unless the guy who has that league backs him up, nothing is going to happen."
Remember when the smaller schools threatened to sue the BCS unless they loosened their grip on the money? It worked enough that now a school like Utah can at least sneak into the big bowls so long as they are undefeated.
That same kind of lawsuit is coming in basketball. You heard it here first.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Kayne West appeared on American Idol last night, a show I had SWORE I was thoroughly done with.
(I know, it's the one show my wife and I can watch together and carve up mercilessly. She doesn't let me do the same to Housewives or Lost.)
Last I checked, Idol was primarily a SINGING competition, not a rap fest. He "sang" a song called "Heartless."
To me, it sucked. But I'm old and white, what the hell do I know?
Of course, I'm not the only one who thought the whole concept sucked worse than the Paula Abdul/Randy Jackson single "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow."
So did this Idol Blogochick.
Let's face it, Kanye may have appeared as the marquee guest on Idol this week, but if under very different circumstances he'd entered Simon Cowell's audition room as a no-name nobody and delivered this sort of vocal, the only way he would have ended up on American Idol would've been in a bad-audition blooper-reel montage.
Yeah, the whole "singing" thing was a mistake. He shoulda just picked one of his harder edged "street raps" and knocked that out. Like this one I found called "We Don't Care."
Uplifting. Wonderful. Perfect for teens and families at home.
And all my people thats drug dealin jus to get by
stack ya money till it gets sky high
We wasnt supposed to make it past 25 but the jokes on you we still alive
Throw your hands up in the sky and say we don't care what people say
If this is your first time hearing this
You are about to experience something cold man
We never had nothing handed took nothing for granted
Took nothing from no man, man i'm my own man
But as a shorty i looked up to the dopeman
Only adult man i knew that wasnt a broke man
Flickin starter coats man, Man you ount no man
We don't care what people say
This is for my niggas outside all winter
Cuz this summer they aint finna to say next summer im finna
Sittin in the hood like community colleges
This dope money here is Lil Treys scholarship
Cause aint no to tuition for havin no ambition
And aint no loans for sittin your ass at home
So we forced to sell crack rap and get a job
You gotta do something man your ass is grown
Yeah. He shoulda sung dat shit! Fer real, dawg! An' like dey shudda put da wurds up on the screen, yo! I bet Randy Jax wouldda thought it was dope!
Meanwhile, Kelly Clarkson seems to have regressed. Despite professional songwriters backing her, and years of pro experience, her rendition of her new hit song was also very shaky, at best.
Seeing as how Carrie Underwood dusts Clarkson in both looks and chops, do we really need to see her any more?
One last thing, in case anybody still cares. They've totally fucked up the batting order for the judges. Kara Dioguardi is the un-wanted (albeit snicky) 4th wheel on the tricycle, and her opinions are almost always un-necessary and un-remarkable.
Worse, some producer decided to have the judges shuffle up the order of comments for whatever reason. Idiots. In the past, it was always the same: Randy, Paula, Simon. Randy, Paula, Simon.
And you knew what Randy and Paula were going to say (for the most part) but Simon was the wildcard in the cleanup spot.
Now, it's like Joe Torre picking the dodgers lineup out of a hat. Ridiculous.
Oh well, I just want Anoop Desai - the nerdy-chic cross-eyed Indian-American pre-med student with a booming voice - to make the finals.
He's a dreamboat. I bet he'll sell at least as many records as Taylor Hicks.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The NHL is out chasing it's own shadow again.
Apparently, somebody thinks that fighting is a "problem" in the league, and so the Board of Governors meeting this week took it upon themselves to consider a renewed crackdown on the good ol' fashion hockey tussle.
Question: what survey shows that fighting in hockey has an adverse effect on attendance, merchandise sales, television contracts, or sponsorship deals?
Forget the occasional pansy dad who says "I won't take my kids to another game until they eliminate fighting!"
For one, those guys aren't real hockey fans to begin with. They obviously can't rationally explain to their kids that a fight in hockey, is far less physically damaging than a slapshot to a padless area of your body, or a hard check into the boards. They also can't explain to their precious little kids that there still remains a code to fighting, and that it is almost always tough guy on tough guy, and usually at the appropriate moments in a game.
Once the playoffs begin, fighting evaporates like a morning fog at lunchtime.
Besides, have you ever been to a hockey game where a fight broke out and the fans booed? I haven't. Every time, even if your hometown boy is getting pummeled, there's a rousing cheer for a good honest scrap. The intensity of a shift in which you just KNOW two guys are going to "drop gloves" is electric.
I've railed before about how ruinous the safety nets in NHL arenas have been. There was ONE tragic incident in 80 years of the league, and now some of the best seats in the house (end zone, mezzanine level) are permanently marred. If you now take out fighting entirely, you should just shut down the league.
The days of entire benches clearing to go fist city are over. I'm fine with that. Even though I vividly remember the days in high school when me and my buddy Andy Janowiak (his dad had the tickets) would go to games at the Cap Centre. We were at the final pre-season game one year, and got to witness an annual ritual in the NHL back then.
Since this was the last chance for marginal minor league players to impress the organization, they would make sure to show their bosses that they could always be valuable as a third-line enforcer if needed.
These last games before the season were usually epic donnybrooks. Benchclearing melee's that involved 3 active fights at a time, with goalie-on-goalie action, and penalty minutes into the 200's.
In short, it was fucking awesome. Period.
And that was well before modern society was as acclimated to marketed barbarism as it is now. This was before the movie genre of "torture porn" like "Saw" and "Hostel." This was before ultimate fighting.
Right now, fighting is perfect right now in hockey. It's there. It's conducted with proper honor (take off your visor, sweetie), and it doesn't take 30 minutes to clear the ice and benches of sticks and helmets.
Memo to the NHL: leave it alone.
Besides, Don Cherry is getting old, and he still needs something to live for.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
The war of words on how to save newspapers continues. My post last week has been followed by a provocative piece in the New York Times that follows rather closely my stance that you can't keep giving away free journalism under the premise that nobody under 30 years old reads a physical newspaper.
Writes David Carr in the Times' column "The Media Equation."
1. No more free content. The Web has become the primary delivery mechanism for quality newsrooms across the country, and consumers will have to participate in financing the newsgathering process if it is to continue. Setting the price point at free — the newspaper analyst Alan D. Mutter called it the “original sin” — has brought the industry millions of eyeballs and a return that doesn’t cover the coffee budget of some newsrooms.
The big threat would be that newspapers could lose the readers they have, lots of them. The mitigating factor is that a lot of those readers aren’t paying anyway. And keep in mind that people are already paying for quality content all over the Web: The Wall Street Journal, Consumer Reports, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Tiered Web access — from a bare-bones free product to a rich, customized subscription — could be among the solutions.
2. No more free ride to aggregators. Google announced that it would begin selling ads against Google News, with almost no financial accommodation to the organizations that generate that news. The book industry — of all Luddites — has extracted cash from Google, as did the wire services. Google, The Huffington Post and Newser have built their audiences and brands on other people’s labors.
Most aggregators are not promoting newspaper content; they are repurposing it to their own ends. Newspapers’ audiences are harvested and sold divorced from the content that attracted them in the first place. The risk would be making Google, the kingmaker on the Web, angry.
It's a thought provoking column, and one worth reading, even though I am not paying the NY Times a red nickel for it, and I probably should! I am also using it for content on MY site, also without a nickel of compensation.
Do you see how nuts this is?
This has spawned predictable pushback from some readers/listeners who think that a dumb-dumb sports talk radio host can't/shouldn't have opinions on anything more complicated than batting averages and shooting percentages.
Here's an email exchange from George Lambiris...
You are as dumb as you are stupid. You keep talking about newspapers abandoning the internet and boldly sticking to their printed product. That is incredibly short-sighted. It's important to realize that internet news and newspaper news hit two completely different audiences. It's not like one trumps the other.
Printed papers appeal to the baby boomers and even to many of us Gen-Xers, because that's what we're accustomed to. Baby boomers, by the way, make up the majority of news hounds solely because they make up the majority of the US population. But that doesn't mean you abandon the internet, because again internet news mostly appeals to a completely different generation/audience.
Those news hounds 30 and under use the internet for everything….EVERYTHING: dating, news, fun, entertainment, movie watching, gaming, homework, libraries, and the like. There will be a transitional period that will last a few more decades and then there could be a time with those who use the internet for news outnumber those that are accustomed to reading news from a newspaper.
At that point, it might make sense to abandon print….and subsequently charge for internet based news and up the cost of advertising. However, I strongly believe that majority of eyeballs that read papers rarely cross over onto the internet and that's because the Boomers still make up the vast majority of the population and this 50+ crowd is used to using papers.
How would Kodak have done if they had stuck to their film-based camera business and not embraced digital. What if the Post Office only allowed stamp buying at the post office and not via the internet. There are several other business examples where businesses were forced to adopt and morph over time or die.
Also, having people pay for internet news is not a bad idea, but you wouldn't expect anyone to pay more than the 50 cents per issue: the cost they can get a newspaper for. And if you think that papers make money off the 50 cents they collect for a paper…well I can't imagine you think that. The bulk of the revenue is made from ad money. Papers are having a hard time in this economy…like everyone else….because companies can't afford to advertise like they once could.
It has nothing to do with the free internet news. Also, it is much, much cheaper to put news on the internet than to print it on paper, load it into trucks, deliver it to the thousands of newspaper retailers than to post it on line. They may not make as much for internet news ads, but the cost isn't nearly as much either.
The fact that the NY Times sold part of their building has nothing to do with how their business is doing. Sale lease backs are a common practice across all industries. My company just did that, because we are not in the real estate management business. We are in the consumer products business. We should focus our efforts on that and not on maintaining property. They probably only sold part of their building because no one wanted the whole building. Otherwise they might have sold the whole building and leased it back.
Another thing you have been spouting off about lately…that is driving me crazy… is the blasting of overpaid NBA players. There are as many underpaid professional players as overpaid players. Look at Ryan Howard until this year…or Maurice Jones Drew. There are several people I work with that don't deserve more than me and peole under me probably say the same about me. What about your salary vs that of a school teacher or cop? Are you saying you're more valuable than those professions? I say no.
If it was a problem for the pro team owner, they would fix it. But they probably realize that is all about evens out because few of them are trying to fix those great players who are underpaid. Just like many of us will continue to let you make the money you undeservedly make.
I love listening to you because you are opinionated, but you need to realize that you are wrong much more than you are write. I think Scott needs to get a pair and challenge you more. But seriously, keep up the good work. You are definitely getting a reaction from your listeners. At times it's only when I'm red with frustration at your comments and opinions that I know I'm alive. Thanks
from the 703
Some good points.
However, your misconception about the "under 30" crowd is way exaggerated by you and others. I know plenty of under-30's who very much like to read the newspaper, and many of whom who do NOT own the latest, fanciest, text messaging phone.
Besides... those types aren't reliable NEWS readers in the first place, they are narcissistic dopes who will likely end up at Starbucks for their "career." They are texting, downloading YouTube videos, or emailing pics of their girlfriend to others.
Newspapers are confusing their product (news) with a delivery system (the internet.) They think (incorrectly) that their alt delivery system (web) IS their new "product."
It is not.
I think the Kodak analogy is off, because film is a physical product that was rendered obsolete by 1's and 0's. Journalism is a human endeavor, that takes time and money to produce, no matter if you receive that product via a printed page, or the internet.
Until you can create a self-sustaining computer program that PRODUCES journalism at ZERO cost (the equivalent of digital cameras) then the analogy falls apart.
A more apt analogy is of businesses that branch out into areas that are WAY beyond their expertise. What do newspapers know about "the web"? Nothing, really. They aren't web companies, will never be, and can't compete with more nimble enterprises.
Plus, it's insane that they are giving away their PRODUCT (journalism) for repurposing and repackaging by their competitors (Google News).
As for the NBA argument, I am a free marketeer in that "good for them" when it comes to stiffs nobody cares to see play can make $8 million a year. You are correct. They are "worth" that much, because somebody paid them that.
As for my salary vs. a teacher or cop, come on, you are smarter than that, right? Different industries create different pay scales, based on totally different criteria. And I can assure you, my employers are ALWAYS looking for the next guy who can do what I do, for less money. So I am hardly immune or ignorant to that search.
My point about the NBA (and believe me David Stern is right there even though he won't say it) is that the closed loop system (30 franchises competing against each other for limited talent) needs to be restructured or torn down to better allocate salaries. The Cuttino Mobley's of the NBA are necessary, but not inherently valuable. Therefore, they should be paid much less than the stars, because they are essentially bongo players in a Jimmy Buffett concert.
I would much rather see Dwayne Wade make 40 million a year (because he's truly worth that much in home and away gate receipts) and many other veteran roster pigs make a decent (but much less) $2-3 million per year.
All that said, a similar dynamic exists in all sports where salaries are guaranteed. The NFL is the only league that approximates a logical pay scale for the stars vs. the jobbers.
Now, chew on that for a while.
Try getting that from another sports radio host.
AND ONE LAST THOUGHT FROM GEORGE...
I was obviously jabbing at you to get a response...and I appreciate the response by the way.
Your points are very good ones, especially the one on the news "aggregators", but sadly there is no way to stop that. Newspapers can just hope to make it harder to aggregate the news for free or try to charge. But once it's printed is out there, it's hard to keep people from using it. I rarely cite the Post when debating someone with information I gleaned from one of their articles.
I appreciate your show and insights...and yes, you are are worth more money than my 6th grade teacher or the cop that recently pulled me over.
I am not AT ALL trying to "beep bop and scat" on newspapers and their plight. I am a newspaper man at heart, having a short, but very cherished career at the student paper at UC Santa Barbara.
I loved working at the paper, and it was my social circle in college. Maybe not as fun or wild as being in a frat house but I'd say it was certainly more worthwhile for my educational development and ultimately my career.
I am rooting for newspapers to stay alive, vibrant, and relevant. My favorite week of the year, comes at the beach in the summer with my family at the Outer Banks.
A local bagel shop, has a news-stand outside. LOTS of newspapers. Expensive, yes. The NY Times and other northeast papers cost upwards of $2.50 each for a M-F edition and don't arrive until 9 a.m.
I don't care.
I buy about 8 of them, and me and my dad, brother, sister and family go through them throughout the day. It's awesome. If only I had the time to do so every day at work.
I repeat for the last time: you can NOT replicate this experience via electronic devices. You can't. I hope that day never comes in which we are forced to squint at little screens to read the sports page.
As one newspaper writer said to me the other day after an edition of "The Sports Reporters": "If they just invented the print newspaper a year ago, people would be saying: 'This is the greatest invention ever!"
Monday, March 9, 2009
Ever wonder what the Redskins might look like if only the “Draft Pick Closet” was securely locked the last 5 years?
Well, you don’t want to know.
Here’s a very thorough breakdown of all the deals with what “might have been” as researched by ace Redskin-ologist Chuck Sapienza, producer of the John Thompson Show on ESPN980.
2007 - Jason Taylor traded to Washington.
Miami gets Skins 2nd 2009 pick and 6th round 2010 picks.
(Lost Player Impact: TBD)
2006 – Rocky McIntosh Drafted
Skins had the 53rd overall pick and traded the 2nd round and 6th round pick in 2006 as well as a 2nd round pick in 2007 draft to the Jets for the 35th overall pick
2nd round pick 2006
Jets send pick to Dallas, they draft – Anthony Fasano – Norte Dame
Players missed 10-30 picks after actual selection
Devin Hester – CB/WR/KR – Bears
Tony Scheffler – TE – Broncos
Jerious Norwood – RB – Flacons
6th round pick 2006
Drew Coleman – CB - TCU
Players missed 10-30 picks after
Sam Koch - P – Ravens
Cortland Finnegan – CB – Titans
Marques Colston – WR – Saints
2nd round pick 2007
Jets send pick to San Diego - Eric Weddle – S – Utah
Players missed 10-30 picks after
Tony Ugoh – T – Colts
LaMarr Woodley – LB – Steelers
David Harris – LB – Jets
Eric Wright - CB – Browns
2006 - Brandon Lloyd
Washington trades a 3rd round pick in 2006 and a 4th round pick in 2007 to San Francisco.
Lost Player Impact
3rd pick in 2006
San Francisco –Brandon Williams – WR – Wisconsin
Players missed 10-30 picks after
Owen Daniels – TE – Texans
Stephen Gostkowski – K – Patriots
Brandon Marshall - WR – Broncos
4th pick in 2007
San Francisco – Jay Moore – DE – Nebraska
Players missed 10-30 picks after
Le’Ron McClain – FB – Ravens
Brandon McDonald – CB – Browns
2006 - T.J. Duckett
Traded to Skins in Three team trade
Ashley Lelie traded from Denver to Atlanta.
T.J. Duckett traded from Atlanta to Washington
Washington send 4th round pick in 2008 and a 3rd round pick in 2007
Lost Player Impact
4th round 2008
Denver – Jack Williams – CB – Kent State
Players missed 10-30 picks after
Quintin Demps – S - Eagles
Tashard Choice – RB – Cowboys
3rd round 2007
Denver – Ryan Harris – OT – Norte Dame
Players missed 10-30 picks after
Jacoby Jones – WR - Texans
Trent Edwards – QB – Bills
Michael Bush – RB – Raiders
2005 - Trading up for Jason Campbell
Skins trade 1st, 3rd, and 4th round pick for 25th pick overall from Denver.
1st Round Pick
Denver to San Francisco – Manny Lawson – LB – NC State
Players missed 10 – 30 picks after
Santonio Holmes – WR – Steelers
DeAngelo Williams – RB - Panthers
Nick Mangold – C – Jets
Joseph Addai – RB – Colts
Mathias Kiwanuka – DE – Giants
Demeco Ryans – LB – Houston
3rd round pick
Karl Paymah - CB – Washington State
Players missed 10-30 picks after
Kirk Morrison – LB – Raiders
Ellis Hobbs – CB – Patriots
Domonique Foxworth – CB - Broncos
4th round pick
Denver pick Brandon Marshall – WR –UCF
Players missed 10-30 picks after
Dawan Landry – S – Ravens
2004 - Mark Brunell
3rd round pick traded to Jacksonville in 2004
3rd round pick
Traded to Green Bay by Jacksonville – Joey Thomas – CB – Montana State
Players missed 10-30 picks after
Max Starks – T – Steelers
Landon Johnson – LB – Bengals
Nathan Vasher – CB – Bears
Bernard Berrian - WR – Bears
2004 - Clinton Portis
In 2004 Washington trades Champ Bailey and 2004 2nd round pick for Clinton Portis
2nd Round Pick
2004 – Denver picks – Tatum Bell – RB - OK State
Players missed 10-30 picks after
Travis LaBoy – DE – Titans
Julius Jones – RB – Cowboys
Bob Sanders – S- Colts
Tank Johnson – DT – Bears
Darnell Dockett – DT – Cardinals
Nate Kaeding – K – Chargers
Nick Hardwick – C- Chargers
SUMMARY of PICKS THROWN AWAY!
Jason Taylor – 2nd round 2009
6th round 2010
Rocky McIntosh – 2nd round 2006
6th round 2006
2nd round 2007
Brandon Lloyd - 3rd pick 2006
4th pick 2007
T.J. Duckett - 3rd round 2007
4th round 2008
Jason Campbell – 3rd round 2005
1st round 2006
4th round 2006
Mark Brunell - 3rd round 2004
Clinton Portis - 2nd round 2004
Sunday, March 8, 2009
The Bills, huh? Really.
Terrell Owens joining what he (or maybe Ralph Wilson’s marketing department) calls “North America’s Team.” Team Snowblower. Team Toronto.
Drew Rosenhaus said he’d have a deal done within a week, and he sure delivered. Not much of a deal – 1 year trial, $6.5 million ($4 million signing bonus). What could it hurt, right?
This is a franchise with an aging owner trying to beat his own mortality clock with another Super Bowl run. It’s a franchise with such a low self-esteem, that they were already pawning off home games north of the border.
If you are already this desperate, then signing emotional baggage boy is hardly any worse.
Which brings me back to the Redskins. I said on my local show in D.C. on Thursday last week that we should ABSOLUTELY bring in T.O. for the “right price and right number of years.”
One for $6.5 is less than what we paid for absolutely nothing from Jason Taylor. This would have been a bargain for us. So what if he’s “difficult” in the locker room? So is Clinton Portis. The two diva’s could fight for the title of “King Diva.”
I need to remind Vinny Cerrato - who huffily declared “why would we want him now” when the team passed on Owens three years ago - that his trade for Brandon Lloyd was far more expensive and less productive than what Owens would author here next season.
Lloyd, KNOWN cancer on the worst team in the league, was on the verge of being released by Mike Nolan. Then Vinny rushes in with a 3rd and a 4th round pick, and the Niners laugh themselves wet in the pants on the way to draft day.
Compounding matters, Joe Gibbs rationalizes ripping up Lloyd’s final year of his contract to give him a new deal with $10 million guaranteed in a new – UN-NECESSARY! - contract by saying lamely “we felt it was the right thing to do.”
Okay, I’m ready to check out. What’s my total?
Brandon Lloyd total: 25 catches in 23 games, no touchdowns. 1 missed game for disciplinary reasons. 1 “R&B” album released while a Redskin. (Note: Not a hit..)
And Vinny has the balls to come out and mock the notion of signing T.O. at this point in his career. Puh-leaze.
The one shrewd (stupid?) element of this deal for Buffalo, is that it will almost CERTAINLY land them 1 or 2 more prime time games than they would have before this. It’s good for national exposure, but bad because there’s pressure playing under the lights, and other teams bring an even greater intensity to the game.
Looking at the Bills opponents, I could see Colts and Saints at “home” (Toronto?) being national TV games and possibly (certainly) at Patriots (T.O. vs. Moss? Come on!)
As you know, I hate to attempt to size up Hall of Fame credentials for players who have yet to even retire, but T.O. is going to be one HELLUVA tricky debate. He’s #2 ALL-TIME in touchdowns. You can’t just dismiss that number easily.
Yet, if ever there was a player who deserved LESS to be “honored” as one of the all time “greats” it’s him.
Wait until Peter King weighs in, and then go the other way.
Final Thought: You know how scared/desperate Drew Rosenhaus was to get his guy a paid deal for 2009, if he took a 1 year deal for just $6.5 million in just 2 days. I can see how Rosenhaus was thinking: “We better take this deal, before they change their minds.”
Thursday, March 5, 2009
I like Dwayne Wade. I do.
But thank god the NBA has at least some minimum standards for the appearance of its players. That's why they shut down Wade's growing collection of designer Band Aid's he started wearing under his left eye.
This is not dress up time. It's a professional basketball league. Do you think Dr. J. would have every put something like this on him when he played?
(Agreed: The Doctor's pimp-tacular outfits came off the court, where he was like Kramer wearing the technicolor dreamcoat and sporting a cane.)
On first blush, it seems harmless. After all, Wade is one of the few totally tattoo-less NBA players these days. Why not let him accessorize a little?
Well, because you know it will get out of hand in a hurry. Nothing like an NBA player who finds out he can add some "aftermarket" items to his on-court "look."
Just look at the typical NBA player's ride: 5 headrest DVD players, spinner rims, ground effects, plush mink-fur seats.
What begins as a mere bandaid for one guy, becomes a dozen or more others adding rhinestone elbow pads, Italian designer thread wristbands, and little beanie-hats with propellers that shoot lazer logos of their name on the ceiling.
You think I'm kidding?
Go watch an episode of MTV Cribs and get back to me.
As for Wade, dude, you are a badass. You don't need this kind of gimmick. Let your thermo-nuclear explosions like the 24 in the 4th quarter against the Knicks do all the talking for you.
Besides, I believe a guy named Derrick Chievious of Missouri once used a band-aid as his "signature" accessory.
It didn't go anywhere.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…
“Soon, everybody will be reading newspapers on their portable electronic devices.”
No. No they won’t.
Not soon, and not for a long, long time either. If ever.
And “everybody?” No chance.
The electric toothbrush hasn’t made the manual one obsolete yet. And I wouldn’t wait for it either.
Newspapers will be around in the current, inky “analog” format for a good 50 years or more.
Why do I say this with such certainty? Because a printed newspaper is a SUPERIOR product in almost every way to a “newspaper” you can get for free online.
Let’s count the ways..
1. It can “download” probably 10x the content in pictures and text of even the fastest computer and T1 connection. Flip. You just “downloaded” 8 stories, 3 charts, and 5 big pictures in about 1 second. Flip. You just did it again. The browsing of the newspaper is the most under-rated aspect of “reading” it. Ho do you find interesting stories you would otherwise never read? By having them catch your eye. This doesn’t happen on a website.
2. The newspaper does not require batteries, a wi-fi connection, or a computer. It works on the bus. It works in the bathroom. It works on the beach. It works and works and works and works.
3. You can share pieces of your newspaper over lunch with friends.
4. The newspaper travels very easily. Under your arm, in your handbag, even tucked in the back of your pants a golf tournament or baseball game.
5. The newspaper will not break. It does not require a password.
6. The newspaper has wonderful secondary uses. Flyswatter. A dry seat on wet grass. Fish wrap. Spray paint protection. Fake volcanoes for science projects. Packing material for boxes. And on and on….
This wonderful product, is NOT going away. Trust me.
It’s like what people would say about my industry, radio. “It’s a walking dinosaur! It’s not long for this modern world!”
Oh yeah? Until they outlaw the car, and that thing called a “commute” then radio is gonna still be a pretty spiffy thing to have.
Will more people be reading newspapers electronically? Sure. But only if newspapers continue their folly of providing this information for free.
It’s their death spiral, not mine. So they can ignore what I am about to say as they wish.
They are cutting off generations of future newspaper readers, because they are not trained to read a newspaper. They cherry pick what they want via the internet. They don’t even know what they are missing, because you have enabled them to make your actual product – a physical newspaper - irrelevant.
Your product is not “news.” News is all around these days, and of varying quality. Your product is a news-PAPER! A tangible, foldable, browseable, cheap, voluminous daily source of information that you cannot get from other places. With coverage, connections, reporters, columnists, and traditions that cannot be duplicated.
Kids won’t stop reading. This is fallacy. Not every young punk kid is a text-messaging zombie who watches 80 hours of YouTube a week. Plenty of them are smart, well mannered, and like to read and learn.
Meanwhile, more nimble dot-com’s come along and grab your hard fought content, slice it, dice it, comment up on it, repost it, email it, and generally rape that content for absolutely nothing!
Stop the madness. Just print the paper. Get out of the internet. Keep your core readers, and grow the next generation. Make no apologies. Chalk it up to an experiment tried, and a lesson learned.
You know, once upon a time, McDonalds experimented with selling a “McPizza.” I kid you not. They got smart, and stopped that pretty quickly.
Slim down your journalistic approach to suit this new sustainable reality. Close down far flung foreign offices that track the regional conflicts in East Krapistan. Let an international service do that. Besides, those low level conflicts have been going on forever, and rarely if ever affect your actual readers. You are not National Geographic. Get back to what matters in your hometown.
Newspapers have a tremendous edge over every other quasi-journalistic website out there. It’s called “printing presses.” No website would open a print version of their “newspaper” and invest in printers, ink, delivery trucks, and the like.
This is your world. Live in it. Dominate it.
If you MUST have a web presence, then make it no more than 3 pages. Front page of the site is one good story for free from each major section. Then teaser stories for what’s in the print version. One page for coupons. One page for Classifieds. That’s it. You could staff the web portion of your newspaper with 6 people.
If blogs want to transcribe a story word for word and post it, then god bless ‘em. Have fun. They’ll never finish doing that to your whole paper in a day. And there’s another one coming tomorrow. Good luck keeping up.
You have a constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. You don’t have a right to read free newspapers on the internet.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
I saw your recent Czabecast on your bowling experience and I am quite offended. ((not really..lol))
((queue the cheesy violin movie music))....the following is very, very true...
You were mocking the entire bowling community on this czabecast, Czaban, and all peoples who worked at a bowling alley. That mechanic you spoke too had to go through fluent training to learn those AMF 82-70 Machines. I once was a bowling mechanic at a bowling alley while I attended Kent State University, and like me,, I am quite sure Steve Solomon is quite offended.
The bowling alley I worked at... Rainbow Lanes in Warren, Ohio -- we busted our butts as mechanics at this crystaline 36 lane house, we worked hard for the money!! A full house every nite,, and ya maybe the house did run like shit.
There were many a days where we even unable to eat our pepperoni rolls from brothers pizza on the clock -- but we managed to survive. Yes, we would sneak to the walk-in cooler for a case of beer every now and then -- but thats besides the point.
And we also came very close to joining the steel workers union for higher wages -- unsuccessful -- but the three of us ((the mechanics)) decided it was in our best interests to stand pat for the time being.
We also had peep holes in the back of the lanes to watch the females bend over, but thats also besides the point -- us mechanics, Solomon, and the entire bowling community are sticking together on this one.
We have rights too. we are educated, BEYOND 3rd grade. lol.
If you would took that pin off of the distributor ((that finger thingie that sorts the pins)) I would of threw out of the bowling center, which lurch should of done, because all knowledgeable mechanics know you need 20 pins in each machine.
-- I'm kidding fat man.. keep up the great work. :)
REACT: I am glad I got this email, because I wanted to address what came off poorly in that video. Namely, my comment about “what grade did you have to drop out of” to become a bowling alley mechanic.
I’m a dope. Forgive me.
I couldn’t re-paint the pins with a clearcoat gloss and a step-by-step manual. These mechanics who know how to tame a beast like these AMF pinsetters are certainly no dropouts.
In fact, it was always my dream to go behind the back of a bowling alley and see what ingenious mechanical design allowed for the seamless pick up, sorting, and replacement of pins – time after time after time.
And I am sure they work their asses off night after night, getting dirty, putting out fires, and going deaf in the process. CRASH! CRASH! CRASH!
I suppose what struck me when I saw the mechanic, was that it smacked of Igor underneath the bell tower, pulling the rope. I probably assumed that pinsetters were sufficiently tuned to run without full time supervision behind the lanes.
So for all the hard working pinsetters, mechanics, and guys under the bell towers of modern life, I apologize.
If you want to know what profession allows for 3rd grade dropouts?
Radio show hosts. That’s who.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Now, for a rare moment of Peter King praise. King points out that the Patriots are so in tune with real player value, that they don't just mindlessly accumulate as many high draft picks as possible.
The accumulate a lot of relatively inexpensive high draft picks. It's partly why Belicheck didn't break the bank for Matt Cassell, taking only a high second, and not holding out for a first. Shrewd...
KING (Edited by me, to get to the point..)
Back to Belichick. New England now has four picks in the first two rounds -- the 23rd, 34th, 47th and 58th. Belichick wants late ones and twos because the difference in talent between the top of the draft and pick 34 is not nearly as big as the difference in money. And the third pick in the draft this year would command a bigger contract than Tom Brady's. Thus, New England has no use for very high picks.
Let's examine the financial commitment those four picks (23, 34, 47, 58) required last year, and compare it to the top of the draft:
Pick Guaranteed/Avg. $$ Per Year
23 $7.12m $1.97m
34 $3.07m $1.17m
47 $2.20m $904,000
58 $1.72m $857,000
Total $14.11m $4.94m
The eighth pick in the draft last year, defensive end Derrick Harvey, got $17.47 million guaranteed in a contract averaging $4.6 million a year. In essence, in the way the NFL pays rookies, the eighth pick's compensation is equivalent to the combined pay of the 23rd, 34th, 47th and 58th picks. Insane. Imagine if someone tells you they'd trade the eighth pick in the draft for a lower first-round pick and three second-round picks. You'd do it in a second. The Patriots will draft at least a couple of keeper players on Day 1, and they'll have the kind of salary manageability with those players that great teams with big stars have to have.
REACT: Good, Peter. Gooooooddddd boyyyy!!! Come here, Petey. Good boy.
Indeed, the Patriots are like a pinball wizard, that knows not only how to play the machine, but can execute subtle little bumps to nudge the ball into JUST the right spot.
When I think of how they operate, I envision a short-bus Vinny Cerrato just mashing the flippers mindlessly on the Skins pinball machine.
Oh yeah, in a much lesser hyped move, the Skins had to release Jason Taylor yesterday after he refused to accept an off-season workout clause that would keep him in Ashburn, and not Miami.
So, if you are keeping score at home...
Jason Taylor for a 2nd and 6th round draft pick.
Redskins Record: 8-8
Games Played: 13
Sacks: 3 1/2
Salary: $8.5 million.
Good times... good times.
That 2nd and 6th could have turned into another Chris Cooley and Chris Horton. But hey, the draft is over-rated, just ask Vinny.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
A few years ago, Joe Gibbs 2.0 told me and Andy Pollin on the Sports Reporters that the “salary cap was the most over-rated thing in sports.”
We laughed at the notion - especially in the NFL - and for years now have used that as a poster-blurb indictment of how Dan Snyder goes about acquiring talent for his football team.
But I am now shocked to think, that Joe might have been right all along.
The conventional wisdom has been, that eventually, the Skins would be faced with an insurmountable dead-cap “bill” and be forced to reckon with it by purging vast amounts of players.
We never get that bill for some reason. The accounting trick has continued to escape me.
So maybe the cap IS over-rated, and maybe I should fully embrace this coup of landing the 100-Million Man Albert Haynesworth. After all, it’s not MY money, and if other teams were just a few million dollars behind us, then what’s to complain about? He didn’t cost any draft picks in exchange, and he’s in his prime.
If only it all worked.
This stuff doesn’t work, has never worked, and will almost certainly not “work” once again. Gibbs might have been right in that a rich owner like Snyder can buy buy buy without any real cap consequence, but at the same time it will not translate into sustained winning of any sort.
It won’t work most likely, because it’s methods are so amateurish in nature. To rush out and buy a player at retail price (+10% for no better reason than ego and impulsiveness) is a failed experiment for the Snyderskins with many case studies.
If this kind of thing “worked” then football would be nothing but an arms race, with the richest clubs quickly and easily outdistancing the rest. Hell, it’s not even working that well in baseball - an uncapped league - where one individual talent can lift a team to an additional 5-10 wins on his own!
To wit, the Yankees might still finish in 3rd place in their own division!
In baseball, the numbers nerds have come up with a statistical measure that I think makes a compelling argument about the true “worth” of talent. It’s called VORP: Value Over Replacement Player.
In short, it is a statistical attempt to assess just how MUCH better is Manny Ramirez as a hitter, than another average “dude” that could fill his spot in the lineup. Some players have a VORP that justifies their premium salaries. Others, do not.
Football doesn’t have a VORP, but if it did, I don’t think there’s ANY way that Haynesworth would be worth this much money. He could have a 4-sack day and Skins could still lose if Campbell throws three picks and DeAngelo Hall muffs a punt return for a score.
Similarly, Haynesworth might be out with an injury one week, and the Skins could still win because Portis has a 200 yard day rushing against a bad team like the Rams.
A game in which the Skins are well on their way to winning without any great contribution from Haynesworth, might then feature 3 sacks and a fumble recovery in the 4th quarter of a blowout. The talk on Monday will no doubt center on what a “great acquisition” this player was!
Why? Because the team won, AND the expensive player registered statistics that make fans and sportswriters drool.
Any lack of causal effect, however, will be glossed over or ignored. Football fans can be embarrassingly dense at times, as long as they got their “W” and some blood to go with it.
But I guess if money is no object, if the cap consequences can be constantly outflanked with good accounting, if 2010 is going to be an “un-capped” year in advance of a labor showdown in 2011, then what the hell, we’ll take him.
But it’s not going to work. And I’m resigned to that.