So, yes, you're going to have to figure out what's going on with the Red Sox on your own the rest of the way. Drop by the new joint from time to time, too, OK? And, as a salute, This Blog is proud to present to you the worst song in the history of musical theater.
Be well. A chara.
"I think I'll miss you most of all..."
1) Guys, don't get caught because you were cheating for your tennis team. Really, now, have some pride.
2) This Blog's new Most Favorite Human is university president Bob Kustra. Why? Because of this, from the ESPN piece linked above.
"Boise State president Bob Kustra said Boise State's rapid growth over the last decade, from an upstart Division II program into a perennial Top 25 team, likely outstripped the school's capacity to keep tabs on compliance with NCAA rules."
In other words, "We were cheating so well that we didn't have time to notice we were breaking the rules."
Beautiful. Just freaking beautiful.
William Friday, the former North Carolina president, recalls being yanked from one Knight Commission meeting and sworn to secrecy about what might happen if a certain team made the NCAA championship basketball game. “They were going to dress and go out on the floor,” Friday told me, “but refuse to play,” in a wildcat student strike. Skeptics doubted such a diabolical plot. These were college kids—unlikely to second-guess their coaches, let alone forfeit the dream of a championship. Still, it was unnerving to contemplate what hung on the consent of a few young volunteers: several hundred million dollars in television revenue, countless livelihoods, the NCAA budget, and subsidies for sports at more than 1,000 schools. Friday’s informants exhaled when the suspect team lost before the finals.
In 1991, the UNLV Running Rebels were in a preposterous position. They were the defending NCAA champions, and they came into the tournament undefeated. They also came into the tournament knowing that a thousand-pound dunghammer was being held over their heads by the NCAA, which nonetheless allowed the Rebels to play out the season and that year's tournament. (Which, in itself, pretty much proves a lot of what Branch says about the legitimacy of the NCAA as a governing body.) Among their players was Greg Anthony, an extremely popular and outspoken point guard who'd already been knuckled by the NCAA when it cracked down on him for a T-shirt venture Anthony had launched. (Anthony is now an college-basketball analyst for CBS, where it is very unlikely he ever will be asked about this.) If ever a team was likely to feel fed up enough with the NCAA to do something like this, it was that UNLV team.
In addition, Branch says that Friday learned of the possible job action while a member of the Knight Commission, which issued its first report in 1991. In addition, UNLV indeed did "lose before the final," being eliminated by Duke in the semifinals in a game featuring a whole bunch of curiosities in its final few minutes.
This is a good thing because stupid sports owners are (I think) the banes of our existence, and because it gives This Blog an excuse to make (yet again) the following comment on the American legal system.
This Blog thinks Tedy Bruschi should dunk his head in some cool water and chill the heck out. Really, now, you're going to rip the guy for tweeting how much he was impressed by Tom Brady's performance on Monday night? Seriously? This Blog has heard for years about players who had not "earned the right" to be critical of their teams because their play didn't measure up, as though you could measure IQ by an ERA. But this is new, unexplored ground -- a player has to earn the right to be complimentary about a teammate? It's against The Patriot Way -- a concept which we all know doesn't really exist -- for somebody who spent their entire career in Cincinnati to express public admiration for the way Tom Brady played against Miami? This is about eight bulbs short of an chandelier.
Look, This Blog doesn't know if Chad Ochocinco ever will catch on to what the Patriots are trying to do offensively. He might not. If he doesn't, there's very little lost here. But to turn him into a punching bag because he's active in the social media, and because he went out of his way to express admiration for what was literally a historic passing performance, is to engage in mindless pot-stirring and kabuki contrarianism. Period.
(And the house record for consecutive hyphenated descriptives falls at last.)
Now, though, he has brought his formidable skills to bear on the entertainment-industrial complex that is college sports. Branch sees the economic system under which college athletes labor as both inimical to education, and as a civil-rights issue. He especially focuses on a series of lawsuits now in the courts that may bring the entire system to the point of collapse, as well as eviscerating the legal defenses mounted by the NCAA.
As someone who's been applying his head to this particular wall for more than 30 years, This Blog is happy to have someone with the intellectual clout of Mr. Branch joining the argument. This Blog has a feeling that we're coming fast to a tipping point on college sports. Even some of the most hidebound defenders of the indefensible current system are starting to talk about stipends. If you offer athletes stipends, then you're into pay-for-play and that's the ballgame. People should realize that, and they should realize that amateurism never has been a sustainable model for a sports-entertainment industry. It wasn't in tennis. It wasn't in the Olympics. And it's not in bigtime college sports. There's already a briskly humming underground economy in operation to which not even the worst of the "scandals" has brought so much as a hiccup. (And those Miami football revelations are about as bad as it gets.) The present system will collapse and, as Bill Veeck vainly warned his fellow owners about the reserve clause, all the people running things can do about that is to take steps that the collapse is as controlled and equitable as possible. Otherwise, they're in for a couple of decades of chaos.
As the kidz on the Intertoobz say, read the whole thing.
The thing This Blog was really, really dreading about the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 atrocities was the inevitable, militaristic, tribal hoorah that it knew was coming from the National Football League, which occasionally is treated as though it is the fifth branch of the US military by its acolytes, its courtier press, and itself. Things ran pretty much as This Blog feared on Sunday, except for one thing.
Where was Pat Tillman?
This Blog is open to anyone who saw a tribute to him, or even heard his name mentioned, in the flood of tinny banalities coming from the various broadcast crews. It didn't, and it was listening hard.
Oops, it appears the ever-essential Dave Zirin got there first on this one. The weaselly comments from the NFL spokescritter are telling. This Blog guarantees you that, had Pat Tillman come back from Afghanistan hale and hearty and brimming with the old America-hell-yeah, he'd have been on both networks, and and yukking it up with Boomer and TJ on ESPN on Sunday. If he had been killed in a conventional manner, we'd have had soft focus and piano music telling his tale. But, he was a guy who was killed by his own side, and whose death was shamefully covered up by an administration itching to fight another war, one of which he disapproved, in a conspiracy that reached to the top levels of the military and civilian leadership, including the shameful Donald Rumsfeld, who actually was on TV last weekend. And, of course, the Tillman family had the bad form to be publicly outraged about the way the fraudulent narrative of his death was exploited by lesser men.
What Pat Tillman did remains an extraordinary act of sacrifice. He remains so much better than the people who used him. And television should be ashamed that it did not reckon him as such.
Oh, and if gooey banality were oil, we'd have invaded Jim Nantz's head.
This Blog firmly believes that, without gambling and the wish for authoritarian solutions to all of life's problems, the NFL would have been out of business 30 years ago.
That is the first impression This Blog had of the first weekend of college football, which is a And, now, it appears, the ND coach has been caught out using language unsuited to Holy Mother Church. However, This Blog would like to state that it will align itself always with anyone who is attacked by both the National Catholic Reporter and the National Review, and that the whole kerfuffle forces it to bring out, again, Aunt Pittypat Hamilton and her fainting couch:
Elsewhere, the state of Utah came dangerously close to locking up the SEC championship, what with BYU stealing one at Ole Miss and Utah State nearly beating Auburn, which played as though it were laden with exotic herbicides. (Too soon?) And LSU is just too dang good.
As always, this is for amusement only, and your mileage on all this may vary.
Apparently, we are now asked to believe that, in the highest profile case pending in the highest profile sports "scandal" since the Black Sox, our dedicated public servants accidentally did what the judge already had told them was precisely the thing that would occasion a mistrial. Yes, and This Blog is the Tsar of all the Russias.
Sorry, fellas. You're as full of stuffing as the Christmas goose. Either deliberately, or because you're the biggest courtroom bunglers since the Stooges sought the moiderer of Kirk Robin, you did something you were specifically ordered not to do. In either case, there is no reason for the court -- let alone the defense -- to trust that you'll ever act in good faith in regards to Roger Clemens ever again. And, in doing so, you violated Clemens' Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial. If This Blog is the judge, you don't get a do-over on something like that.
Move along, lads. There are Wall Street crooks for you to chase.
"When did we turn this office over to the Marx brothers?"
OK, however, now we know.
It looks like the people defrauded by this human piece of dryer lint may try to claw back from the athletes some of (their) money that Shapiro passed along. Here's my advice to Wilfork, Jonathan Vilma, all the athletes caught up in this, and, for that matter, all the athletes from The U who want to salvage the microscopic remains of their university's dignity before Shapiro's inevitable book appears.
Give it back. All of it. And more. Do it now, before a court makes you do it.
Call a press conference. Say you're sorry to have taken money that you now know was the result of the swindling of widows and orphans. (You can even apologize for breaking NCAA regulations, but This Blog never would advise anyone to do that.) Moreover -- and this is where all the rest of you come in, and This Blog means you Michael Irvin and Jimmie Johnson -- announce the formation of the Hurricane Give Back Trust Fund. You all contribute (heavily) to a fund benefitting the victims of Shapiro's crimes. If an elderly couple he swindled is losing their home, the fund pays their mortgage. If a kid can't go to college because mom and dad got taken, the fund foots the bill. Behind on your medical insurance because you got fleeced by this crook, old timer? Vince Wilfork and his pals will be happy to pay. Give, give, until it hurts.
This Blog is not lawyer enough even on the Intertoobz to know whether or not this kind of thing is legal, or whether it will prevent the folks from clawing back what they need to claw back from the slug at the bottom of this sordid tale, but that's what This Blog would do.
Be a big man, Vince.
And the rest of you clowns, too.
Sorry, This Blog's been dark for a while. Thought I'd drop in for an August lagniappe -- which generally comes before an actual nap -- and, instead of dealing with anything serious, like the University of Miami's four-year road production of Caligula, or the Barstool Sports Guy's The-First-Amendment-Was-Made-For-Bottom-Feeding-Slugs-Too Tour of the Americas, This Blog thought it might bring you perhaps the most pointless discussion in the history of American sports journalism. Dersh 'n Doris means only that somebody found an old rolodex that Charlie Rose threw away. But, really, now. Bill Donohue? This Bill Donohue, the world's sweatiest homunculus, and the worst thing that has happened to Holy Mother Church since we ran into the Saracens?
And they say August is a slow news period.
This Blog is impressed -- No, really, it is. -- by the speed with which Commissioner David Stern has resorted to the my-way-or-the-highway tactics in the ongoing NBA labor dispute. Colleague Gary Washburn had an admirable survey of the state of play in Sunday's Globe. This Blog is not a lawyer. It just plays one on the Intertoobz. But it also sees Stern's attempt to have the decertification of the union declared an unfair labor practice the same kind of through-the-looking-glass redefinition of terms that came upon the country's labor-management dialogue 30 years ago, when Ronald Reagan broke PATCO and changed the rules so that government lined itself up on the latter side of the argument.
(And This Blog does not intend to take the league's poor-mouthing about its financial condition -- Twenty-two teams losing money? -- seriously. Not until Stern tells the Chinese the same things he's telling ESPN.)
The guy quoted directly in Gary's piece to the effect that the players should just simply accept managment's inherent right simply to declare a new economic universe and cave now, before the plutocrats really get tough, is one Jay Krupin, whose career in "labor law" has pretty much been from the management side of things. (In the link, you will see him arguing in favor of giving management more time to pressure employees prior to union elections. The euphemism, if you're scoring at home, is "making informed decisions.") His firm -- Epstein Becker Green -- has a fairly lengthy track record in busting unions -- or, as the firm itself boasts, "maintaining a union-free workplace." If Stern has his union-busting buddies floating quotes on his behalf, he means truly business.
After about 12 hours of careful reflection, This Blog has decided that, on the list of all the things it doesn't care a monkey's about, right at the tippiest toppermost of the poppermost is how Tiger Woods's thuggish ex-caddy is getting along these days.
Honestly, what did the greenskeeper think of Adam Scott's win yesterday? The valet-parking guy? The lady who drives the beer cart? I mean, if the nation's sporty punditariat is going to go trolling the servant classes for comment, why not stick with the people who do honest work and not a guy who's spent the last decade-and-a-half treating everybody else as though they were there to inconvenience him?
And, even if you're an I'm-glad-Tiger's-getting-his-comeuppance person, you can't root for Steve Williams. The guy gives dance-hall goons a bad name.
(To believe that, you must have a undiagnosed head injury of the type that Roger only recently has become concerned about, but we continue anyway...)
Our pals over at Deadspin have been admirably dogging the wholly frivolous lawsuit brought against the Washington City Paper by Dan Snyder, the Kellogg's Variety-Pak of Stupid who owns the Washington Redskins, once a very important NFL franchise. The paper hurt Snyder's fee-fee some time in the dim past and he has responded by taking the little publication to court. Now we have this latest development in what would be the greatest insult ever to American jurisprudence if Clarence Thomas weren't still reporting to work every day. Here's what This Blog thinks -- if Roger Goodell were half the commissioner that his acolytes in the media think he is, then he would have taken Dan Snyder in hand months ago, informed him that this lawsuit was making the entire NFL look idiotic, and that it should go away, like, yesterday. And, if Snyder refused, he would be suspended from appearing at any NFL function, including his own games, until the suit was dropped.
This isn't something that will ever happen.
I mean, is that adorable or what?
And then the whole GOP caucus went out and lost the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.
Some day, I wanna go 7-4 as a congressman, coach.
And this guy?
On the same day?
Say what you will about the Belichick Era, it's not dull any more. Foxboro couldn't be more intriguing a place if they put in a water slide at the Bass Pro Shop and opened a tactical nuclear weapons counter.
(Yes, yes. Don't give them ideas.)
To This Blog anyway, Haynesworth is by far the most interesting of the two gambles. (For all his off-field goofballery, Ocho Cinco answers the bell like a 15-round fighter every week.) If Haynesworth has anything left at all, then the whole pass-rush problem could be solved simply by having him gum up the middle on passing downs, opening lanes for all those linebackers that Belichick loves to play with.
These are the chances you take. This is the business you have chosen.
But, still, wowser.
The NFL is back.
If we're looking for winners in this whole interminable exercise, we might as well accept the fact that management "won" this thing at the start simply by kicking the previous CBA to the curb and locking the players out. It looks as though they've clawed back as big a percentage of the revenues as they reasonably could have expected to get. As for the players, they managed to fend off the idiocy of the 18-game season and won a change in free agency, which isn't bad considering they were playing the whole hand with a low pair.
This Blog is a little distressed by the ease with which the NFLPA threw future rookies overboard, not that every players association with a chance to do so hasn't done so for the past 10 years. The NFL is different. There's no guaranteed money in any contracts. (There should be, but that's a whole 'nother argument.) The shelf-life of a player is comparatively very short. The unavoidable physical damage inherent to the sport is massive and self-evident. Given all that, for many players, their rookie deal was the only real chance they had for a big payday. Now, they're going to have to wait until their fifth year in the league to cash in, and then only at a "tender offer," whatever that may be. Too many NFL careers don't last that long. This Blog wishes that both sides could have taken into account even more than they did how different an NFL player's career is from that of almost every other professional athlete.
And This Blog is going to be very interested in seeing what the league and the reconstituted NFLPA comes up with as regards worker safety rules.
But NFL football is back. Give This Blog a call when they start playing games that count.