Recent Comments by Howard_T

Gotta give a shout out

Could it be that Fiers had a little help?

posted by Howard_T at 12:39 PM on August 23

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Just like their two legal mavens who've spent the last 6 months telling us Brady has no hope.

From all that has been reported from Judge Berman's courtroom, it sounds as if the NFL is in trouble. The little voice in my head says there is something going on that is not being heard. My feeling is that the NFL has put itself into a position where it must have the full 4-game suspension in order to maintain some semblance of credibility. Brady might or might not accept a lesser suspension or no suspension and just a fine. If he has to admit guilt, there will be no such settlement. Meanwhile, Berman is trying to tell both sides in no uncertain terms that they won't get a settlement on those terms and they have to back off. Berman truly wants a negotiated settlement if one is possible. If he is forced to rule, it will be an all or nothing call -- 4 games or a complete vacation of the suspension. The last thing he wants is to have to make a judgement against either party and wind up having the case go to the Court of Appeals. If the case does go to a higher court, the possibility is there that Berman's ruling will be reversed, and no judge ever wants that to happen, right or wrong. Thus, I suspect that Brady isn't quite out of the woods yet. Even if Berman throws Roger Goodell out of his courtroom, there will be an appeal, and on and on we go. Consider it a welfare project with long-term employment for lawyers and sports writers.

posted by Howard_T at 10:45 PM on August 20

Little League Team Throws Game at World Series

I had a situation when umpiring a Babe Ruth entry league (13-year-old kids who were of marginal skills) where one team could win the top seed for the playoffs, while the other team was going nowhere. The problem was a strict time limit that prohibited a new inning from starting after a certain amount of time. The game was not yet official, time was running short, and the team with playoff aspirations, leading on the scoreboard, could not afford a "no game" ruling. (Ties were not replayed or played as a suspended game. They were just treated as if they had not been played. Blame a shortage of fields and umpires and the competing pressures of other activities.) The coach of the team leading asked me what I could do to make sure the game got past the top of the 4th, and thus became official. I advised him I could do nothing other than encouraging hustle, but that he could make sure his batters swung at anything reasonable, did not waste time getting to the plate, and if all else failed, deliberately make outs. I made sure that the other coach was aware this was going on, and that if he objected, I would try to stop the other team from doing this. As it turned out, he did not care, his kids understood the situation, and all went well.

This is quite different from playing to lose in order to gain advantage, but it still involves a failure to give one's best effort at all times. Perhaps I wold have better said that speeding up the game was his responsibility, and how he did it was up to him, as long as it was within the rules of baseball. Losing a game in order to gain a more advantageous playoff situation has happened a number of times, but doing it in so blatant a manner should be punished.

posted by Howard_T at 01:51 PM on August 19

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

being outside the base paths, those runners would have been out for that reason, I believe.

The base paths aren't exactly what most people think they are. The base path is not defined as the nice straight line between those canvas sacks. The base path is established once the play on a runner begins. Now usually the runner is trying to take the shortest route, and this is on that nice straight line. Now picture this. With one out the batter-runner hits a base hit to the outfield. On the play a runner, let's say from first, is thrown out attempting to get to third base. The batter-runner, thinking that this is the third out of the inning turns to run directly across the infield toward the third base dugout. About the time he gets halfway to the mound (closer to second than first), the fielders and the batter-runner wake up to what's going on. The ball is thrown to the second baseman at the bag, and the batter-runner heads directly to the bag. Instead of setting up a rundown or otherwise attempting to make a tag, the second baseman looks at the umpire and asks him to declare the batter-runner out for being out of the baseline. While this is going on, the batter-runner makes it to the bag and the umpire says "safe". Why? The play on the runner was started when the runner was on the grass of the infield between the mound and second. Thus his baseline is the line directly between where he is and the bag, and he is given a 3-foot margin on either side to evade a tag. As long as he does not go outside this line, the runner is not out. When the second baseman chose to ignore him, and the runner sneaked in, the umpire correctly ruled "safe". Nobody ever believes me when I tell them this, but it was in the case book, and was on the exam one year.

posted by Howard_T at 01:27 PM on August 12

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

but in this instance would it still matter?

No run may score if the third out of an inning is the result of the batter-runner being put out prior to reaching first base or if the third out is a force play on a preceding runner. I have never heard of any call being made after a fielder abandons an attempt to make a play on a ball, whether or not the ball is subsequently touched by a non-player.

Here is the excerpt from the rule book of the exceptions to a run scoring:

EXCEPTION: A run is not scored if the runner advances to home base during a play in which the third out is made

(1) by the batter runner before he touches first base;

(2) by any runner being forced out; or

(3) by a preceding runner who is declared out because he failed to touch one of the bases.

(b) When the winning run is scored in the last half inning of a regulation game, or in the last half of an extra inning, as the result of a base on balls, hit batter or any other play with the bases full which forces the runner on third to advance, the umpire shall not declare the game ended until the runner forced to advance from third has touched home base and the batter runner has touched first base. An exception will be if fans rush onto the field and physically prevent the runner from touching home plate or the batter from touching first base. In such cases, the umpires shall award the runner the base because of the obstruction by the fans.

What saves the umpires from having egg all over their faces is the fact that the batter-runner passed one of the preceding runners. He is out, but since he has already touched first base, exception 1, above, is not satisfied, and additionally, since the batter-runner is out, all forces are removed. Runners failing to advance to a base may be called out by the umpire, but since it becomes a time play, the run would score anyway. The rule of equity (what umpires use when the situation is FUBAR -- a great acronym used often in the US Armed Forces) would say in this case that had all things gone according to the normal course of play, the run would have scored and the game would be over. As I said before, along about January the rule books and case books come off the shelf, and the study begins.

posted by Howard_T at 11:11 PM on August 11

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

in a way that helps their team

It might also hurt their team. Spectator interference is a judgement call on the part of the umpires. They judge what bases would have been gained had the interference not occurred, and since it is a judgement call, it cannot be appealed nor is there replay involved. The umpires will usually get together and work out the call, but it is not without possibility that they might go a little heavy on the home team if they suspect some deliberate act. The best example I can think of is spectator interference vs the ground rule double, or to put it into rule book language, a 2-base award for a batted ball that bounds over a fence into dead ball territory. In this case, a runner at first is also awarded 2 bases and is stopped at third. In the case of spectator interference, the 2-base award is not automatic. The umpires could award 3 bases to the runner and 2, or even 3 or 4, to the batter-runner.

posted by Howard_T at 09:22 PM on August 10

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Marshawn Lynch revisits the play call that determined the outcome of the Super Bowl.

posted by Howard_T at 02:40 PM on August 10

Texans RB, Arian Foster Publically Declares Himself an Atheist

Oh man, I am so close to agreeing with the sentiment on that shirt...

posted by Howard_T at 02:38 PM on August 10

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

You have it exactly correct, grum. Once the batter-runner reaches first, and the runner from third base has touched home plate, the game is over. Any subsequent action is meaningless. If indeed the batter-runner is out because he passes a preceding runner, his being out negates any force play, and the "time play" situation (run scoring before the third out is recorded) comes into effect. The other possibility, that of force plays at 3rd and 2nd, if they are the final 2 outs of the inning, could negate the run, but having a security guard touch the ball causes a dead ball. Thus, the runners and the batter-runner are placed at the last base earned, unless forced to advance, in which case the batter-runner is awarded first, and the others are awarded 2nd and 3rd, as appropriate. To be really specific, the security guard touching the ball should be considered spectator interference, and the umpires will award bases as their judgement determines where everyone should end up. It is situations such as this that make umpires at every level stay up late at night studying the rule book and the case book.

posted by Howard_T at 02:36 PM on August 10

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Seven

I thought I was going to have to miss out on the BC vs Edmonton game, but I see they're not scheduled for another 15 or 20 minutes. No lengthy prognostications, just the facts, ma'am (and if you remember who said that, you might be as old as I am). BC wins it by 12.

Montreal at Ottawa: I still refuse to be fooled by Redblacks' early success. Montreal by 8.

Saskatchewan at Toronto: Argos are at home, sleeping in their own beds, sleeping with their own partners (we think), and blissful in their own city. Does this make for an easy win? No, it does not, but they will win anyway. Toronto by 4.

Winnipeg at Hamilton: Tigercats looked good against Argos last week, but Blue Bombers have done well also. Still, the cats are in the doughnut shop, and that has to mean something. Hamilton by 9.

posted by Howard_T at 09:48 PM on August 06

Roger Goodell Upholds Tom Brady's 4-Game Suspension on Appeal

I just ran across this blog tonight. It is perhaps the most reasoned analysis of the whole thing. It is written by a lawyer, Steph Stradley, who is also an NFL fan. The blog article is rather lengthy, but it is worth the read, if only to see a more or less neutral view. In response to rcades comment about leaks, above, MS Stradley makes note of the leaks and puts them in the category of "a bright, shiny object" intended to distract people from paying attention to the main point of contention.

My take on the leaks is that it is a deliberate attempt by the NFL to sully the reputation of the Patriots and Brady, thus making it more difficult for them to defend themselves in the so-called court of public opinion. This string of e-mails should be indicative of the NFL's attitude during this whole thing. Admittedly this is from a Patriots' web site, but the e-mails were sent and were not edited before being published on the site. Take them for what they are.

posted by Howard_T at 10:35 PM on July 31

Roger Goodell Upholds Tom Brady's 4-Game Suspension on Appeal

I find compelling the legal analysis offered by the lawyer and sports journalist Lester Munson.

Who works for ESPN.

There seems to be a pattern here of sources within the NFL leaking information, both false and somewhat accurate, if incomplete, to ESPN. (Absolutely false statements about the ball pressures and an incomplete statement about Brady's 'phone records.) The tactic seems to be to get the focus placed on supposed misconduct by Brady and the Patriots, rather than any stretching of the CBA. It's a bit like handing a can of gasoline and a book of matches to an arsonist and making him promise not to start any fires.

posted by Howard_T at 03:42 PM on July 31

The IOC announces Beijing as the host of the 2022 Winter Olympics.

It's like the bad joke about Chinese food: Have the Olympics and 13 years later you want to have the Olympics again.

posted by Howard_T at 03:30 PM on July 31

Roger Goodell Upholds Tom Brady's 4-Game Suspension on Appeal

I was shocked the NFL filed a suit pre-emptively to defend itself within minutes of announcing the appeal decision.

Why be shocked, rcade? The NFL was dead sure that the NFLPA would follow through with its stated intention of going to court over the suspension. They filed as soon as they could in order to have the idea of "first to file" in their favor, thus having a better chance of New York being the venue for the actual hearing. The motive for doing this is that their case might not be as solid as many think. When I skimmed through the NFLPA's filing, I noted that there was precedent that precluded Brady from being punished for violations related to equipment; such violations were found to be the fault of the team and not the individual. There were also precedents that players had not been punished for "general awareness" of violations. The New Orleans "Bountygate"* and the Miami bullying** cases were specifically cited. The NFLPA is claiming that the specific punishment by suspension of Brady would be an illegal expansion of the NFL's disciplinary procedures. Much is based on "The Law of the Shop" labor practices.

*The NFLPA claims that members of the New Orleans defense other than those actually punished for offenses must have been "generally aware" of the bounty practice, but were not punished.

**Similarly, the NFLPA's claim is that in the Miami bullying case, members of the offensive line other than Richie Incognito must have been "generally aware" of the bullying and did nothing to stop it. They too were not subjected to discipline.

posted by Howard_T at 12:37 PM on July 31

Roger Goodell Upholds Tom Brady's 4-Game Suspension on Appeal

The NFLPA based its filing in MN on the facts that the NFL did business there and had a franchise there. It's the same idea as suing Walmart in Detroit, for example. You would rather get a hearing there than to enter the suit in Bentonville, Arkansas. The NFL offices being in NYC is one of the reasons that the judge who initially ruled on the appeal in MN gave in his decision to move it all to NYC.

posted by Howard_T at 04:51 PM on July 30

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Six

It was nice to read that I was missed, at least by one or two, during my work camp week. Much to my disappointment, I did not get to build a deck. We did manage to put skirting on two trailers, so if any of you are living in a mobile home, I will gladly donate my labor. All I ask in return is transportation, lodging, meals, and at least one person to assist. You have to buy the materials as well. Skirting a trailer is not a difficult job, but it can be a real pain in the neck. I actually had the kids believing that one of them would have to crawl under the trailer before the last panel was installed and chase the skunks out.

So on we go to the prediction business. Having no hope of winning this thing (like I ever did anyway), I press on.

BC at Winnipeg: Blue Bombers have their star quarterback under center once again, which gives their offense a real boost. Will it be enough against a tough BC defense? In the meantime BC's offense is solid once again. This game is billed as two clubs needing a rebound. After they bounce off one another, which will be standing? BC by 11.

Saskatchewan at Edmonton: Roughriders are 0-5 to start, and now, with a quarterback making his first CFL start, they face the top defense in the league. It does not look good for the Riders. On the other hand, Eskimos have James Franklin at quarterback. Wait a minute, did they hire Penn State's head coach to play? I guess not, but Franklin did give their offence a bit of a boost. Edmonton by 16.

Montreal at Calgary: Most are picking the Stampeders to run all over the little Larks, but Calgary is a bit banged up. They have been inconsistent, and Jon Cornish is among the missing. Alouettes have played some good defense, and Cato has been efficient at QB, so there is some hope of an upset here. I shall cling to that hope. Montreal by 4.

Toronto at Hamilton: It's a quick trip along the western shore of Lake Ontario for the Argonauts. What awaits them at the end of their journey? The Tigercats and the Argonauts seem very equally matched in this one. I will go with the home team. (Do the Tigercats really play at Tim Hortons Field? Do they call the place the 'Doughnut Hole' or the 'Coffee Cup', or other such nickname?) Hamilton by 3.

posted by Howard_T at 04:47 PM on July 30

Roger Goodell Upholds Tom Brady's 4-Game Suspension on Appeal

For anyone who cares to wade through 54 pages of legalese, it is on the NFLPA web site. To lessen the effort needed, it is at least double spaced.

I skimmed through it, and my take is that the appeal is largely based on procedure and precedent. It also makes mention of the NFL's unfortunate habit of allowing damning but inaccurate information to find its way into the media. The league is then very slow to set the record straight. NFLPA calls the report of Brady destroying his cellphone a "red herring", and maintains, as Brady did, that all of the pertinent information was available to the Wells team from the cellphones of McNally and Jastremski.

The big problem for the NFLPA is that the case has been moved from Minnesota, where the hope had been that Judge Doty, who had ruled against the NFL in the Peterson case, would be the judge. The NFL outmaneuvered them by filing in a federal court in the Southern District of NY as soon as the suspension was upheld. Thus, "prior filing" was cited and the appeal will be heard in NY. The judge slated to hear the appeal has already told the two sides to tone down the rhetoric and try to work out a mutually acceptable solution. In other words, "shut up and deal with it".

posted by Howard_T at 04:12 PM on July 30

Mookie Betts Turns Out into Homer With Tumble Over Fence

The rule is pretty explicit on this. The fielder must demonstrate control of the ball after the catch, and specifically states that contact with the ground or with a fence that results in the ball being dropped renders the play "no catch". As a bonus to losing the out, Betts is being treated for a possible concussion.

posted by Howard_T at 02:35 PM on July 29

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

The Mexico vs Trinidad and Tobago CONCACAF fixture last night was a madhouse, especially in the last minutes of the match. The Trinis spotted Mexico 2, came back in the 2nd half to take a 3-2 lead, were tied and then down a goal in furious action. Finally, at 4-3 Mexico, late in extra time, T&T had a corner. As the T&T player placed the ball for the corner, he was ducking a rain of bottles and other trash. The pitch looked like the local landfill. Sure enough, the cross was true, the striker was free, and T&T pulled out the draw. Games like this could go a long way toward making soccer a lot more popular in the US.

posted by Howard_T at 12:00 AM on July 17

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Four

With great regret, I find I will not be able to continue to show SpoFites how to succeed at making a fool of oneself when picking football outcomes. My schedule over the past week or 2 has been such that I have limited time to follow the CFL. Next week I will be entirely media free while I am off with the church youth group to a work camp in upstate NY. Instead of picking football teams, I will be picking up 2X12 joists and building a deck or a wheelchair ramp. I get to work with a bunch of teens who not only feel like they want to help others but also will get in and get their hands dirty. This will be my 4th camp, and when I have come home from the first 3, I always feel just a bit better about where the USA is headed. See you in a week or 2.

posted by Howard_T at 11:43 PM on July 16

GoFundMe Campaign Raising Money for Fenway Fan Struck by Bat

I hope they don't mandate nets along the sidelines.

It's happening already, rumple.

posted by Howard_T at 11:23 PM on July 13

Top women tennis players balance body image with ambition

As far as speed on the service goes, it is much the same as in golf. A long lever arm will mean a higher racquet speed in tennis or a higher club head speed in golf. It has nothing at all to do with build, beyond maintaining flexibility and good strength. I believe having too muscular an upper body could actually decrease flexibility, thereby decreasing swing speed.

posted by Howard_T at 10:46 PM on July 11

Oakland Raiders Great Kenny 'The Snake' Stabler Dies

.

posted by Howard_T at 11:07 PM on July 10

Zach Lowe's NBA Free-Agency Winners and Losers

The Clippers were already the most hated team in the league, I can't imagine this is going help matters.

The Celtics are pleased with this. They own a Dallas first round draft pick from the Rondo trade. It was protected this year, thus it rolls over to 2016, although it is protected if it is in the top 7. The same is true through 2018, with the pick unprotected in 2019. Without DeAndre Jordan, Dallas could be very ordinary this year. A pick in the range of 8 through 15 would be very nice, thank you.

posted by Howard_T at 09:17 PM on July 09

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Three

I thought I had missed the deadline, but lo and behold, the game is still 10 minutes away. OK, I will make the pick for tonight's game and follow up with the rest of the stuff tomorrow. My apologies for putting you to extra work, Dr. John.

I will never sell the RedBlacks short again. After all, red and black are the colors of my alma mater, Northeastern University in Boston. I have doubted them twice, and now I will pick them. They get Edmonton at an opportune time, what with the Eskimos having their lead dog, Reilly, out with a case of mange or something. Ottawa has some ability to defend and have managed to put some points on the board in their first two. Ottawa by 8.

Tune in tomorrow for the rest of the picks.

posted by Howard_T at 09:00 PM on July 09

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

I like it!!!

posted by Howard_T at 11:49 PM on July 08

Zach Lowe's NBA Free-Agency Winners and Losers

...the C's have swapped Gerald Wallace for David Lee.

Basically this is an exchange of an end-of-bench splinter magnet with an expiring contract for a nightly double-double whose idea of defense seems to be playing traffic cop as people go by him, and who has an expiring contract. Boston is taking on $5 Million more in salary with Lee, which is one of the reasons Golden State was so anxious to move him. Thing is, if Lee can play at all and does not get injured, he becomes a very valuable bargaining piece as the trading deadline nears. Look for Ainge to move him to a playoff contender that needs his scoring in exchange for either draft picks or a younger prospect type. There could well be a third team involved too.

Also note that Amir Johnson's contract does not have a guaranteed second year. True, he's an upgrade over Bass (who I will miss watching for his hustle and grit), but if the opportunity arises to replace him with something better come trade deadline, it will happen. Perhaps a 3-team deal with Lee and Johnson both involved will happen. Come February I will have to look at this to see if I qualify for the "Swami" award.

posted by Howard_T at 11:47 PM on July 08

U.S. Wins Women's World Cup

Well this final is over after 15 minutes.

"It ain't over until the fat lady sings", goes the old saying. I don't see any fat ladies on the pitch. While a 3-goal deficit is close to insurmountable, the US cannot afford to lay back. Japan will recover from the initial shock, indeed already appear to have done so after their goal. IS has to keep the offensive pressure going for no other reason than to keep Japan in their own end as much as possible.

posted by Howard_T at 07:55 PM on July 05

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

Phil Kessel traded

So now all of the players/draft picks that were part of the original trade between Boston and Toronto are no longer with their original post-trade team. Seguin is in Dallas, Hamilton is piling up the Loonies in Calgary, and now Kessel goes to Pittsburgh. At the time, it looked like Boston had committed highway robbery. Now this appears to be a trade that truly benefited neither team, at least for the long term.

posted by Howard_T at 10:03 PM on July 01

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Two

When I looked a the scoreboard of last week's games, I was certain I was destined to flirt with the Costanza. Then I looked at the Pick 'Em standings, and I see things certainly could be worse. So brimming with confidence, we go bravely to the keyboard. We're on vacation this week. My wife and I try to get away around the end of June every year. It gives her a chance to unwind after another year of working with special needs kids in the schools, and believe me, with the class she had this year, she needs it. So here I am in New Hampshire's White Mountains, and it's raining. I can't even see the ridge on the other side of the Kancamagus Highway because of the low-hanging cloud. It's a good day to work on the picks.

Hamilton at Winnipeg: The Kitties were just about to dine from the cat food dish when it was rudely pulled away from them. This makes for a very angry kitty, and since they have not yet been declawed, they could do some damage. Blue Bombers would like to fly away out of range of the Tiger Cats, but can they get off the ground in time? The most useless things in the world are runway behind you and altitude above you. Hamilton by 6.

Calgary at Montreal: Stampeders managed to prevail by a whisker (pun intended) at the last minute over the aforementioned Tiger Cats, while Montreal lost at the last minute to the checkerboard guys. Will the home cooking help Alouettes make it through he full 60 minutes? Little larks will avoid the rampaging quadrupeds, but it won't be easy. In another close one, Montreal by 3.

BC at Ottawa: Now that Ottawa has thrown the ladies who kick things out of town, the big guys can take over the field. No yellow or red cards, no nets, just red flags and lots of contact. RedBlacks pulled off a significant win last week over an unsuspecting Montreal team. Now they have to take on a bunch of roaring lions who have yet to compete. BC has a decent offense and a supposedly tough defense. Ottawa won with an excellent air attack and a late pick. Lions should be able to keep the Ottawa guys from getting that close. BC by 12.

Toronto at Saskatchewan: Argonauts sailed past a bunch of Eskimos last week, but perhaps the Wood Buffaloes in the national park had something to do with it. Meanwhile the Roughriders had a rough ride against the Bombers. Look for the Argonauts to enjoy their western swing. Toronto by 7.

Before I forget, happy Canada Day to all.

posted by Howard_T at 03:41 PM on July 01

NHL Playoff Pick 'Em Champion: Cixelsyd

Ah yes, comfortable mediocrity once again. The old saying is that the nail that sticks up feels the hammer. Perhaps a better ability to pick results will make me the hammer. Of course, by that time we will be using screws instead of nails. Thanks, rcade, for another fun time. The pick 'ems are one of the better parts of SpoFi.

posted by Howard_T at 11:15 PM on June 25

The 11th Annual chicobangs Memorial SpoFi CFL Pick 'Em

In the words of Donald Rumsfeld, "...as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know."* One thing I know I do not know is a lot about the CFL. I know this because I often have embarrassed myself in the past few years of the Dr. John Classic. I will not let these unknown things that I know prevent me from trying once again to prove my ignorance. To paraphrase an old saying, "It is better to be thought a fool than to take to the keyboard and remove all doubt." Here goes:

Ottawa at Montreal: The colour-confused team from the Capitol City should be better than last years 2-win club. This will not be one of the games they win. Montreal found a QB last year, have improved in other areas, and look to challenge for the top of the East. Allouettes by 9.

Hamilton at Calgary: Is it deja vu all over again? Didn't we see this matchup in last year's Grey Cup? There's nothing to be feared more than a hungry Tiger Cat, and the Cats have just missed feasting on the Cup. Trouble is that Stampeders look to be as loaded as they were last season. I will go with the home team in this, but it will be close. Calgary by 4.

Edmonton at Toronto: Fort McMurray is between Edmonton and Wood Buffalo National Park. This has absolutely nothing to do with my prediction other than to recall the phrase "don't take any wooden nickels". I guess wood buffaloes are the Canadian equivalent of wooden nickels. Back to the game. Argonauts are without someone to handle the rudder with Ricky Ray recovering from shoulder surgery. The defence (please note the use of 'c' in place of 's') was also suspect last year, and might not have been improved. Edmonton last year was my "contrarian" team. If I picked them to win, they lost, and the converse was true. Eskimos promise to be better by a bit than last year, and with the injuries to Toronto they should prevail. Edmonton by 12.

Winnipeg at Saskatchewan: Bombers were Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde last season. To help the situation they have tried to improve the offensive line as well as give Drew Willy some security and continuity. Roughriders too had their problems late in the season, but these were the result of injury to a key player. This has been addressed by the signing of a proven backup QB. This early in the season picking a winner between these two is more a guess than any sort of prediction. The coin flip came down for the Bombers. Winnipeg by 5.

*Then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in a press conference on Feb 12, 2002.

posted by Howard_T at 10:14 PM on June 23

Max Scherzer Has Perfect Game Through 8 2/3, But Hits Tabata

It's the judgement of the umpire that determines whether a hit batsman is awarded a base or not. The general guidelines involve an attempt to avoid getting out of the way, the location of the pitch (in or out of the strike zone; in a place where the batter had no chance to move, such as the feet), swing or no swing. At the MLB level, the umpires are aware of a batter's ability to see the pitch in time to attempt avoidance. dfleming accurately states that possibility. In this case the hit batsman decision was likely correct.

What bothers me is the batters who do not try to get out of the way, or worse who try to make it look that way while actually making sure they get hit. This is not called often enough for what it is. The call should be a dead ball, pitch called a ball or strike as applicable, runners returned to their bases unless they had advanced a base prior to the pitch, and the batter kept in the batter's box. I don't want to say it is a lack of testicular development on the part of umpires, but I do feel they have become too comfortable in awarding the base when not justified.

posted by Howard_T at 12:31 PM on June 21

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Norwegian national team players talk about how much they suck at football.

Pure gold, goddam. My wife is in the other room yelling at me to find out what I'm laughing at. I love the bit about the offside rule, but really, this has to have been rehearsed. Still funny anyway.

posted by Howard_T at 09:54 PM on June 19

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Has a member of the losing team ever won Finals MVP in the NBA?

Jerry West, LA Lakers, 1969. He had a game 7 vs Boston (42 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists) that was as enormous as any of James' efforts. LA lost by 2 after coming back from a 15-point deficit entering the 4th quarter. Don Nelson hit a desperation 18-footer to beat the shot clock when John Havlicek had the ball batted away, but it went directly to Nelson. A free throw for Boston and a late 2-point shot for LA determined the final margin. For the series, West averaged 37.9 ppg, while playing 43.9 minutes.

posted by Howard_T at 11:07 PM on June 15

Warriors Win Game 5, Need One More for NBA Championship

I do not understand playing Mozgov for 9 minutes last night

I believe the theory is that if you have the biggest and best "small" guy on the floor, you should have an advantage. This would hold true if your other 4 small guys were a match for the other team's small guys. It is pretty obvious that they are not, and why Blatt persisted in the strategy for so much of the game is beyond me. In his defense, perhaps he realized that Mozgov could actually be a defensive liability despite his length and shot blocking ability. Golden State has the ability to penetrate down the lane, and Mozgov, when he moves to help, is not quick enough to get back and cover a pass to another Warrior underneath. Once Golden State is making its 3-point shots, packing the defense in down low is not a solution. It's sort of a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation for Cleveland now.

posted by Howard_T at 10:52 PM on June 15

Golden State Exposes Cleveland in Game 4 Rout

Way back when Cleveland swept Boston in the opening series of the playoffs, I made the comment that Boston's bench was better than Cleveland's. This when Love and Irving were healthy. It does not surprise me that the Cleveland starters are playing heavy minutes and are beginning to wear down. Dellavedova in particular seems to be affected by having to play more minutes than he is used to playing. His play in games 2 and 3 was very effective, but last night seemed to be lacking some of his usual energy. The extra day of rest will help, but will not be enough.

It seems to be LeBron's sad lot to have found another team that does not have enough behind him to win a championship. I know it's not over yet, but all the signs seem to indicate the ultimate outcome. This time it is the fault of the injury spirits rather than team management or any other circumstances. In a way I feel badly for him, but at the same time, being no fan of his, I enjoyed his tribulations last night. Over time I will mellow towards him as I did with Kobe Bryant, and recognize that his talent far outweighed his early immaturity and apparently self-centered behavior. Thank ESPN for much of that.

posted by Howard_T at 05:34 PM on June 12

NBC Sports to NHL: Hey Good Lookin', Shave Those Playoff Beards

Young and attractive? Get their faces out there? How long will it be until the first closeup of a clean-shaven, generously scarred face that smiles broadly -- revealing some serious dental deficiencies? You want clean-shaven? Switch to something a bit more genteel. Swimming might be an alternative. The beards tend to slow down a swimmer.

posted by Howard_T at 09:52 PM on June 09

James Scores Triple-Double as Cavs Even NBA Finals at 1

Isn't that exactly what they're doing Howard?

It is, but it will take time for it to work. It is now a 5-game series, LeBron is single-handedly carrying his team, and has succeeded, at least for game 2. As you correctly point out, Golden State suffered from uncommonly bad shooting in game 2, and I'm not sure Cleveland's defense had all that much to do with it. Curry got the touches he needed, but Dellavedova (interesting that spell check says that "Dellavedova" should be "levelheaded") was sufficiently disruptive to put Golden state's offense off of its usual efficiency.

posted by Howard_T at 04:53 PM on June 09

Football Coach Creates Rivalry Game Without Rival's Knowledge

But I couldn't come up with a name. I needed a river that divided us.

No rivers, but how about the Llano Estacado (Staked Plain) "Stakeout, or the Jornado del Muerto "Death Trip"? This latter terrain feature is a bit too far north to be in between the 2 schools, but the Llano Estacado area around Amarillo, TX, is sufficiently bleak to serve as a terrain feature.

posted by Howard_T at 04:45 PM on June 09

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

A new take on switch-pitchers.

posted by Howard_T at 04:37 PM on June 09

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

And on Sunday I saw something happen in a MLB game that I had never seen before.

It's a first for me at the MLB level, but I have had 2 or 3 arguments with coaches at the Babe Ruth or interscholastic level over this rule. The coach of the team on defense will always argue that interference must be called, even though the judgement call is that the runner was in contact with the base and did not interfere deliberately. The coach of a team on offense will always plead that it was not intentional when his runner interferes with a fielder, and will argue that interference should not be called. One call that I truly hate being faced with is interference on a batter with a catcher attempting a throw in order to put out a runner at a base. If the batter does not move into the catcher's path, there's no interference, but when the batter has swung at the pitch and falls into the catcher's path, it is really difficult to judge. I usually go by the rule "when in doubt, call them out". The rule is clear, the determining factor involves umpire judgement, and coaches are always wrong. Just ask the umpire about that last statement.

posted by Howard_T at 04:06 PM on June 08

James Scores Triple-Double as Cavs Even NBA Finals at 1

It is time for Golden State to use "The Formula". This is the way the Boston Celtics of old (Russell, Cousy, Sharman days) would defeat teams that had the best player on the floor. The idea was that this "best player" was going to get his points. You could not stop him, so do not waste a lot of extra effort. Instead, make sure that no one else is able to go off for points, rebounds, or any other offensive statistic well above his normal output. At the same time, you exert enough offensive pressure on the "best player" to make him play full-time defense, thus tiring him somewhat. Note that this formula must be applied over a series; it does not work for just one game. In the case at hand, LeBron James, having to play minutes in the 30s game after game, will, if the formula is properly applied, be worn down by game 7 of the finals.

What did in Golden State last night was their inability to hit much from the 3-point arc and the ability of the Cleveland defense to pack it in down low to prevent the Warriors from attacking the rim. Give full marks to Dellevadova for his defensive work. It was not so much any ability to stop or influence shots. Rather, he was able to exert the defensive pressure needed to disrupt Golden State's offensive timing.

posted by Howard_T at 03:53 PM on June 08

A bit of history

His performance in The Belmont was outstanding. His start was not too good, but Espinoza took him to the lead easily. While he was in the lead he appeared to be "saving" himself, yet he was not giving up any ground. It was only as he turned into the stretch that he appeared to begin working hard, and even then it looked like he had something left to stave off a late challenge, should one have arisen. The plan is to continue racing him, at least for this year, with a major stakes race in August a possibility. Should all go well, look for him to attempt the "grand slam" in the Breeders Cup in October. He would be the first horse to accomplish this, and perhaps it would place him in the ranks of the greatest of all time.

posted by Howard_T at 08:40 PM on June 07

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

The A's just called up switch pitcher, Pat Vanditte to the bigs.

He came into the game tonight in Boston. The oddity is that he faced Swihart, Boston's catcher, and a switch-hitter himself. Vanditte was pitching left-handed, but wanted to move Swihart to the left-hand batter's box. The rule was that the pitcher had to signal his intent prior to making a pitch to the batter. This he did, Swihart batted left vs the now right-handed Vanditte, and struck out. Interesting to watch. Vanditte's glove is constructed with two "thumbs", so that he can switch hands without having to get a new glove each time.

posted by Howard_T at 10:59 PM on June 05

Warriors Win Game 1 of Finals Despite LeBron's 44 Points

hope it's not meniscus.

That would be the least of his worries. Heard tonight it's a broken kneecap. Ouch!!!

posted by Howard_T at 10:54 PM on June 05

SpoFil NBA Playoff Pick 'Em

In my defense, I hit "Post" about 5 seconds before the tap-off.

posted by Howard_T at 09:12 PM on June 04

SpoFil NBA Playoff Pick 'Em

Winner: Golden State Duration: 7 games MVP: Curry Rebounds: Draymond Green Assists: James Free throws attempted: Irving Steals: Shumpert Blocks: Mozgov Fouls: Bogut Turnovers: Curry Technicals: 5 (not including 3-second defensive calls) Largest margin of victory: 18 Triple doubles: 3 Leading scorer's points: 177 Turnovers: Irving

posted by Howard_T at 09:10 PM on June 04

NHL Playoff Pick 'Em, Stanley Cup Finals

After long and thoughtful reflection, it is time to make my humble effort. With no less than 13 categories to predict, it will stretch my powers of prognostication to the limit, but we will persevere.

Series winner: Before watching game 7 in the west, I might have called the Lightning for this. But it appears Blackhawks have played a little better with each game. Of course, as with any series in the playoffs, it comes down to one man. Bishop has been really good, but Crawford has gotten stronger. My choice is Chicago. +1

Number of games: I have a strange feeling that NBC Sports might like to be rid of ice hockey for the year. The season seems to have drawn out, and now is a bit stale. While the TV will have nothing to do with it, the series will be rather quick. The pick, 5 games.

Longest game: No marathons like the Chicago - Anaheim series. 1 OT, and that a quick one.

Average TV rating in the US: What do I know about that? Nothing. Try 1.6.

First goal: Toews.

Conn Smythe Trophy: Goaltenders seem to have somewhat of a lock here. Crawford.

Most Goals: Kane.

Most Assists: Toews.

Most Points: Toews.

Plus/Minus: Keith. +1

Most PIM: Oduya

Best GAA (starters): Crawford. +1

Winning SpoFite: With his 4-stroke lead as we turn the back 9, I have to look to cixelsyd. +1

posted by Howard_T at 03:56 PM on June 02

Matthew Dellavedova and the Australian Way.

I will always remember my one trip to Australia in USS Midway in 1987. We made a port visit to Sydney, some of the wives chartered a Malaysian Air flight from Japan (our home port), and we had a wonderful 10 days or so. The wives had to leave a couple of days before we sailed, so there was some time to enjoy a bit different side of Sydney. It was then I learned that in the late afternoon getting a beer in a bar near Circular Quay was a contact sport. Not that there were any fights, or even unpleasantries. No, it's just that the place was so damn crowded one had to really wriggle through the bodies to get close enough to put in his order. Finally figured out that it was a cooperative sport as well. Yell out your desire, and soon enough a cold one was in your hand. Put your money in your outstretched other hand, and it was on the way to the bar. More than a few times, the money just stayed there as someone stood the round for you. Attitude? Give me more of it.

posted by Howard_T at 03:36 PM on June 02

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

other fans react predictably

Really old school: 8-mm or 16mm films, shot from your stadium press box, in order to better see what your offense or defense looks like.

Old school: Video shot from a lift truck, boom truck, or equivalent, usually placed in the end zone. Video editing techniques make it possible to concentrate on single players or small player groupings.

Today: Use of an unmanned aircraft to carry a video camera in order to observe the field. The advantage is the flexibility of positioning the camera to obtain the exact angle and player groupings desired.

Those fans who believe this is just another way to spy are somewhat out of touch with reality. The aircraft would need to be large enough to have the endurance necessary to loiter in the airspace and still carry the video equipment. The cameras are small, but the gimbel mechanism to steer them is not so small. How long would it take for someone to notice the aircraft?

Spell check just tried to tell me that "gimbel" was not spelled correctly. The suggested alternative was "Gumbel". Is ESPN trying to tell us something?

NBC Sports is starting its own documentary series

I read the Sanderson biography. My son gave it to me one Christmas or birthday, I forget which. It was pretty much standard stuff, but the details were alternatively, interesting, frightening, and salacious. NBC will have to be careful with a lot of the stuff in the Daisy Buchanan's era. I will definitely try to watch this. On or off the ice, one never knew what Sanderson might do next.

posted by Howard_T at 03:15 PM on June 02

FIFA President Sepp Blatter Announces His Resignation

Hold the celebrations. Keep the hilarity down to a minimum. He ain't gone yet. In his own words, he will "organize an extraordinary convention" to elect his successor. Based on past events, some delegates to this convention are about to receive some "extraordinary" financial rewards. Vote buying at this event will make Chicago politics look like a neighborhood yard sale. In the interest of improving my retirement fund, can anyone tell me how to get myself named to the convention as the representative of some obscure nation?

posted by Howard_T at 02:52 PM on June 02

LeBron Takes Cavaliers to NBA Finals in First Season Back

I got to see Wiggins once this year. I focused on him because my rheumatologist is a Kansas grad, and he was a one-man rooting section for Wiggins. So as I watched him against the Celtics in December, at a time when the Celtics' roster was in a state of flux, I couldn't help but think he was the invisible man. He was most unimpressive that night. Most likely it was just "one of those games". but I am still not really in the "Wiggins is wonderful" camp.

posted by Howard_T at 04:26 PM on May 27

LeBron Takes Cavaliers to NBA Finals in First Season Back

I think Ainge would overpay for Love.

(I know that at various times in my life, I would have done so.)

The Celtics could be a much better team with Love, but their more immediate need is a defensive rim protector. Those are few and far between.

I overpaid for love once, but that was in my misspent youth. I don't regret it, though.

posted by Howard_T at 02:02 PM on May 27

Henchmen arrested, but the Joker is still at large

all of the men arrested or charged are Western Hemisphere nationals

The key here is that the charges are all based on US banking regulations. The Western Hemisphere guys can be shown to have run some of their ill-gotten gains through US banks, and thus to have violated US law. If any of the rest of them can be shown to have used US banks, charges might be issued there as well.

The big question is whether or not any of the accused will ever come to trial in the US. Right now they are in Switzerland. Will the Swiss pull their passports and keep them there? If they contest extradition to the US, the procedure could take years. Will the Swiss allow them to travel? If so, they might head for one of many countries with no treaty of extradition with the US. Freezing, and eventually seizing their assets in the US might or might not work, since they probably have something of an emergency stash somewhere.

All in all, this might just be the impetus for FIFA reform, but I will not hold my breath. Also, keep an eye on the officiating when the US Women's team plays at the upcoming tournament. There could be some really interesting calls.

posted by Howard_T at 01:56 PM on May 27

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

My Dad always said that you have 2 ears and 1 mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you speak. Unfortunately, Twitter has allowed us the use all 10 fingers, thus overwhelming by a factor of 5 the idea of listening prior to commenting. Ah yes, Twitter, idiocy in 140 characters or less.

posted by Howard_T at 01:45 PM on May 27

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Truly, this is all about the Xs and Os.

Huntsville was picked by the army (NASA had nothing to do with it at first) because of the real estate available at Redstone Arsenal. The place is huge, and it has several miles of frontage along the Tennessee River that serves well as a heat sink for the testing of rocket engines. The base itself was once quite remote from settled areas; not so any more. I spent a total of about a year down there over the course of about 7 years, and it's one of the few places in the South I would consider living in. The influx of professionals into the area for the space program meant that the infrastructure developed strongly. There are 3 universities in the city, some really good restaurants, and Nashville is just a little over an hour away.

Dogs and chimps were used originally because they couldn't trust the locals in Houston not to screw up the rocket flight.

posted by Howard_T at 12:10 PM on May 26

Hall of Fame Harlem Globetrotter Marques Haynes Dies

That would be a great movie.

My memory tells me there was a movie made about the Globetrotters back in the late '40s or early '50s. I do not remember the plot, but I think it had something to do with getting the Trotters into some sort of professional tournament. The film used to be a staple on late night TV until monster flicks took over that time slot.

Aha! Found it. This is the synopsis. I remember the plot vaguely now, and the Celtics team the Trotters were playing was the "New York" Celtics (ugh, disgusting), not the Boston variety. There was a second Globetrotters film called "Go Man Go". I remember the title, but nothing at all about the film.

The good news is that this film showed up on turner Classic Movies a few years ago, so it might come around again. While the film is nowhere near factually accurate, and according to some was poorly made, it at least features a number of the former Globetrotters, including Haynes himself.

posted by Howard_T at 10:14 PM on May 25

Hall of Fame Harlem Globetrotter Marques Haynes Dies

I saw the headline in an on-line sports source a few minutes ago. Now I cannot get the tune "Sweet Georgia Brown" out of my head. I remember when the Harlem Globe Trotters' visits to Boston were mandatory attendance for my dad and I. It was great entertainment, and it never seemed to grow stale.

posted by Howard_T at 08:25 PM on May 23

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Here's the rule, straight from the horse's mouth (or at least from the summary of rules).

When a team scores by touchdown, field goal, extra point, or safety and either team commits a personal foul, unsportsmanlike conduct, or obvious unfair act during the down, the penalty will be assessed on the following kickoff.

posted by Howard_T at 09:57 PM on May 21