Recent Comments by Howard_T

NFL Pick 'Em, Week 4: First-Place Jacksonville Edition

For any number of reasons Thursday is a very busy day for me, and I can never seem to get to doing my picks until the very last minute. This week I couldn't even do that. Add to that the idea that this Friday and Saturday put a lot more on the agenda than usual. So now it's Saturday night, and I sit alone without a date. Oh, wait, I'm married and my wife is in the other room. Well there goes that fantasy. Here's the picks.

NY (American Conference) by 12
Cincinnati by 5
Washington by 14
Buffalo by 3
Indianapolis by 16
Tampa Bay by 4
Oakland by 10
Atlanta by 9
San Diego by 15 Yale never built a LOCK as strong as this one.
Green Bay by 10
Arizona by 6
Denver by 13
New Orleans by 7
Seattle by 18

posted by Howard_T at 08:51 PM on October 03

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Pure gold, Mr. B.

posted by Howard_T at 09:57 PM on October 01

NFL Pick 'Em, Week 3: Indy's Bad Luck Edition

Once again we're in panic mode as Thursday kickoff approaches.

New York (National Conference) by 6
Oakland by 3
Tampa Bay by 8
San Diego by 7
Indianapolis by 12 (as the Colts finally are cured of cranial rectumitis)
New York (American Conference) by 9
Atlanta by 4
New England by 16 a bigger lock than the Berendrecht near Antwerp
Oakland by 5
New Orleans by 6
Pittsburgh by 11
Arizona by 7
Seattle by 13
Miami by 2
Denver by 9
Green Bay by 14

posted by Howard_T at 08:27 PM on September 24

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Here are some interesting facts about David Ortiz. What Ortiz would be if he didn't play baseball still requires him to swing a petty big bat.

posted by Howard_T at 03:33 PM on September 24

Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra passes away

Many, if not most, will remember Yogi for his quotes and his unique way with the English language. I will remember him for his remarkable skills both behind and at the plate. (Perhaps I can fill you in on his playing ability, goddam.) As a catcher he had a better than average arm, a very reliable glove, and the ability to manage his pitchers that was superior. In his era, pitches were not called from the dugout. It was up to the pitcher and catcher to run the game. Berra was always prepared for the hitters he would face.

One of the things I most remember was the interaction between him and the opposing hitter coming to bat. One would think that the two were old friends who had not seen each other in weeks or months; not the case in the days of the 8-team leagues without inter-league play. Berra always had a few words with each batter, always in the way of a greeting, never trash talk. With the veterans and especially the stars of the other team, it was frequently more than just a few words.

At the plate, Berra had a lifetime .285 batting average. This is pretty darned good for a catcher, but what made him special was that he was incredibly difficult to "pitch around" with men on base. Many a pitcher tried to throw him pitches out of the strike zone, hoping he would chase, swing, and miss. This was never a good move, as Berra was one of the best "bad pitch" hitters I ever saw. He had the ability to reach out for the pitch outside, high or low, and drive the ball for a base hit. He could also handle the inside pitch better than most.

There still are a lot of characters in the game, but I believe Berra will occupy a place that is unique among them all.

I guess "it ain't over until it's over", but this is pretty final. RIP Yogi, you will be missed.

posted by Howard_T at 02:17 PM on September 23

NFL Pick 'Em, Week 2: Teddy Bridgewater Fail Mary Edition

Just took another look at my picks, and I see that I did not make a choice for Titans at Browns.

Titans by 12

Please add this, and I regret causing any inconvenience due to the fact that I am rapidly becoming senile.

posted by Howard_T at 05:19 PM on September 19

NFL Pick 'Em, Week 2: Teddy Bridgewater Fail Mary Edition

OK, time to catch up on the serious business at hand. Great call by me on the KC-Denver game. Of course, one never quite expects such an ending, but at least it made for great TV.

Now the picks:

49ers by 10
Saints by 3
Cardinals by 16
Bengals by 6
Falcons by 9
Vikings by 2
(Holding my breath) Patriots by 3
Panthers by 5
Dolphins by 14
Ravens by 8
Eagles by 3
Packers by 10
Colts by 9

posted by Howard_T at 12:27 AM on September 19

NFL Pick 'Em, Week 2: Teddy Bridgewater Fail Mary Edition

Just a quick grab at the Thursday night game. I will get to the rest of the picks tomorrow. Right now I'm like a one-armed paper hangar.

Kansas City by 8.

Manning is better than last week, but not good enough. Sad to see.

posted by Howard_T at 08:04 PM on September 17

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

We're in the second quarter of the Vikings - 49ers, and I have once again recalled why Chris Berman should no longer be allowed within 5 miles of a play-by-play microphone. Trent Dilfer is trying his best to sound worse than Berman, but it is not possible. This is nearly unwatchable. Does Berman really have the naked photos of ESPN and ABC executives?

posted by Howard_T at 11:11 PM on September 14

Moses Malone, three time NBA MVP, passes away

First Darryl Dawkins and now Moses Malone. These two were mainstays of the great 76ers teams of the '70s and early '80s. Perhaps the Celtics were fortunate not to have been embarrassed by Philly in '83. Don't forget that the Celtics had lost to the 76ers -- minus Malone who was then with Houston -- the year before. That was the year the Boston fans, knowing that the series was lost as the clock wound down in the Garden, began to chant "Beat LA, Beat LA" to encourage the 76ers. Malone's years with Houston were also some pretty good ones. With Houston in 1980-81 Malone reached the finals, losing to the Celtics that year.

When we watched the great ones from years ago play, we saw them as young men. As the years passed, they remained young in our memories; we forgot that they, like us, would grow older. Now as we hear of their passing, we read the news with a measure of sadness and disbelief, but more so with a sense of our own mortality.

posted by Howard_T at 03:53 PM on September 13

Super Bowl Ditches Roman Numerals

really long time to get to M...

...but only half as long for the cheerleaders to increase to size D?

posted by Howard_T at 05:12 PM on September 11

Super Bowl Ditches Roman Numerals

The NFL is ashamed that its fitness program has taken so long to work. If you are trying to lose weight, would you like to advertise the fact that it's taken you ten years to go from size XL to L?

posted by Howard_T at 04:30 PM on September 10

NFL Pick 'Em, Week 1: Win One for the Duke

Way too many teams to pick to make a dissertation on each. (I hear a chorus of "thank you, thank you, thank you" from the great unwashed.) I will proceed apace from here.

New England by 12
Green Bay by 10
Houston by 3
NY Jets by 6 (as I hold my nose and grit my teeth)
Indianapolis by 10
Miami by 7
Carolina by 5
Seattle by 9
New Orleans by 6
Tampa Bay by 10
Oakland by 7
Denver by 12
Dallas by 17
Philadelphia by 15
Minnesota by 9

posted by Howard_T at 10:48 PM on September 09

Federal Judge Tosses Brady's 4-Game NFL Suspension

I have wanted to add my 2 cents worth to this since the decision came down. The delay is because I have a substantial piece of my forehead missing (basal cell sarcoma removal), and I haven't really felt much like writing. The doctor is sure he got all of the sarcoma, but that doesn't make my head feel much better. I guess he had to scrape down more than a couple of layers of skin to get it all.

So we're on to legal matters. I read the entire text of the decision last night, and as most have pointed out, Judge Berman confined his opinion to procedural matters and not matters of guilt or innocence. For New England fans there are plenty of little hints that Berman is quite suspicious of the NFL's finding that the balls had indeed been deliberately deflated. His continued use of quotation marks to frame the word independent in reference to the Wells report and the authors thereof shows that he believes the Wells investigation to be anything but independent.

On page 7 of the decision, the Wells Report is quoted as saying, "the reduction in pressure of the Patriots game balls cannot be explained completely by basic scientific principles, such as the Ideal Gas Law, based on the circumstances and conditions likely to have been present on the day of the AFC Championship Game." In the next sentence of the decision, Berman further cites the Wells report as saying, "[o]ur scientific consultants informed us that the data alone did not provide a basis for them to determine with absolute certainty whether there was or was not tampering, as the analysis of such data is ultimately dependent upon assumptions and information that is uncertain." The NFL has never disclosed any measurement data of ball pressure, either before the game or at halftime. The results of any such measurements would be dependent on the gauge used, the atmospheric conditions prevailing at the time of measurement, and how long the balls had been contained within that atmosphere. I have read nothing to indicate that such variables were noted in the measurement data. The one measurement mentioned in the decision comes on page 4, in the Background part of the decision, where the Wells Report is again quoted. "During the course of the January 18, 2015 AFC Championship Game, Colts linebacker D'Qwell Jackson intercepted a pass thrown by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The intercepted ball was apparently handed to the Colts equipment staff, who used a pressure gauge and determined that the football was inflated to approximately 11psi, i.e., below the range of 12.5 to 13.5 psi specified in Rule 2, Section 1 of the 2014 NFL Official Playing Rules ("Playing Rules"). NFL officials collected and tested eleven Patriots game balls and four Colts game balls at halftime and concluded that all eleven of the Patriots' game balls measured below 12.5 psi. The balls were re-inflated to approximately 13 psi and placed back in play." With the stories that the Colts had been "tipped off" about deflation and that there was possibly a "sting operation" going on, I would be very suspicious of any measurement made on the Indianapolis sideline after Colts' personnel in possession of an inflation needle had handled the football. True enough that 11 psi would fall outside the range that could be predicted by the Ideal Gas Law, but once there had been an opportunity for unsupervised handling of the ball, that measurement must be questioned.

The entire paragraph above is my opinion of why the Wells Report, being very lacking in specifics, did not impress Judge Berman. Instead, Berman focused his opinion on labor law and the CBA. The areas Berman chose to use to vacate the suspension were the lack of notice to Brady that he would be subject to a suspension of 4 games, the equating of the alleged offense to the use of performance enhancing substances, the use of the "Competitive Integrity Policy" as the basis for Brady's punishment, the refusal of the NFL to allow the NFLPA to question Jeff Pash, and the refusal of the NFL to provide the NFLPA with investigative files, including witness interview notes.

From what I have read, many attorneys feel that the NFL faces an uphill fight to get Berman's decision overturned. The lack of notice comes in part from using the "Competitive Integrity Policy" as opposed to the "2014 League Policy for Players" (Player Policies). Copies of the Competitive Integrity Policy are provided to team officials and not the players, while the players are provided with copies of the Player Policies. My analogy would be applying Interstate Commerce Commission rules for large trucks to my 2001 Mazda pickup truck. Even if the Competitive Integrity Policy were used, Judge Berman notes that the punishment for a first offense of the equipment rules is a fine of $5,512.

The refusal of the NFL to allow questioning of Jeff Pash and the denial of access to relevant investigative materials might be the most telling reasons that Berman will be upheld by the Court of Appeals. The NFL contended that testimony by Pash would just be cumulative to that already given by others. Judge Berman ruled that since Pash had a role in editing the Wells report, he should have been allowed to be questioned. The NFL claimed that the Wells Report was prepared entirely by the Paul Weiss investigative team, but Berman questioned how Pash, the NFL's General Counsel, came to edit a supposedly independent report. Thus, the NFLPA should have been allowed to question Pash The denial of discovery is also serious. Since the Paul Weiss firm did the actual preparation of the Wells Report, they had access to all pertinent materials. Judge Berman noted that the Paul Weiss firm's role in the investigation seems to have changed from independent investigators to NFL's retained counsel at the arbitration hearing. Thus, the NFL and Commissioner Goodell would have had access to the material, while Brady and the NFLPA did not. Berman states that courts have held that the absence of a statutory provision for discovery does not negate the duty for insuring that all information available to one party is available to the other.

The "general awareness" idea was also questioned. Berman questioned Jeffrey Nash about the meaning of the term, and ultimately Nash said that the term equated to "knew". The Wells Report uses the standard of "more probable than not that Tom Brady was at least generally aware..." The suspension letter from Troy Vincent to Brady never says that Brady participated in any deflation scheme. "More probable than not and generally aware" is a low standard by which to hand someone a 4-game suspension. In short, other than the opinion of some people who were out to "get" Brady and the Patriots, there is "no 'there' there".

Now let's consider what most people feel is the truly damning piece of evidence against Brady, the destruction of his cell' 'phone. To start with, there is this from the testimony of Mr. Wells at the arbitration hearing: "I want to be clear-- I did not tell Mr. Brady at any time that he would be subject to punishment for not giving--not turning over the documents [emails and texts]. I did not say anything like that." Brady's contention was that no player had ever been suspended for allegedly failing to cooperate with -- or even allegedly obstructing -- an NFL investigation. Brady was told he would not be punished for not turning over e-mails and texts, Brady claims that he agreed to provide call records that the NFL could use to eventually obtain the information, the investigators had the records from McNally and Jastremski, and that since the NFL had all that was required, why the destruction of his 'phone would be such a big deal. During the proceedings before Judge Berman, Brady admitted it was not a good idea to destroy the 'phone. One can presume anything that he wants from this, but there is no proof of a smoking gun here.

It's nice to be feeling better. I really wanted to read the full text of Judge Berman's decision before I added my contribution. Most of you know that I am looking at this through Continental Blue (the Patriots' home uniform jersey color) glasses. Even at that, there is too much in the decision to negate any idea that Tom Brady sponsored any scheme to bend the rules. To me it appears that Roger Goodell, having had players lie through their teeth to him in other matters, and having been unable to adequately punish them (Bountygate comes to mind), decided he would put an end to such things once and for all. At the same time, a couple of teams saw an opportunity to embarrass New England, and cooked up a scheme, with or without the league's foreknowledge, to trap them. The problem with this was that they could not conduct their little game with the scientific rigor required to prove anything, and if they had, it might have proven nothing other than Gay-Lussac's ideal gas law was correct all along. Could Goodell's mind set have been something like "I will screw the Patriots. The other 31 teams hate them anyway, Kraft will go along with anything and he can't touch me anyway, and I will become the all-powerful commissioner who can do anything he pleases"? It surely sounds like Goodell and his lawyers have learned nothing regarding the CBA and labor law in general. Judge Doty had it right when he asked, "Does Roger Goodell even know there is a CBA?" Thus the question really remains "what will happen to Roger and his minions?" Sadly, it appears that nothing substantial will happen. Perhaps a few of the legal underlings in the office will be asked to seek other employment, but otherwise nothing. You see, the other 31 really do hate the Patriots and are pleased with the whole thing -- that is until the vacating of the suspensions. The problem with this attitude is that any one of them could be next to be set up for punishment whenever Goodell feels he needs to. Perhaps that was part of his reasoning behind going after Brady. If he makes it stick, which owner will challenge him going forward? Looks an awful lot like the technique used by despots everywhere. Maybe the best thing that comes to pass will be the addition to the CBA of truly neutral investigation, punishment, and arbitration proceedings. Other leagues seem to be able to do this. Why not the NFL?

posted by Howard_T at 04:29 PM on September 07

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, " 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