Archive for October, 2004

October 31st, 2004

What’s Your Halloween Costume? (redux)

Just was watching ESPN’s coverage of the Bears-49ers game, and during one crowd reaction shot, I saw a fan wearing a Chicago Blackhawks sweater.

He had a paper bag over his head. An apt metaphor for trying times.

Meanwhile, it seems like the Bears have decided to masquerade as a real football team for Halloween. Good for them.

POSTSCRIPT: Craig Krenzel threw a 49-yard touchdown pass on the second play of the game. Does anybody know whether he ever completed a pass that long at Ohio State? My guess would be no.

 
October 29th, 2004

‘Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy

From today’s Phil Mushnick:

Jerome Epstein, a reader from Monmouth Beach, N.J., has a hearing impairment, thus he watches many sports via closed captioning. CC transcribers must type on the fly; what they hear is what they type. Naturally, mistakes happen.

For example, Epstein was watching Oct. 9′s Oklahoma-Texas game on ABC, when he read that Texas LB Derrick Johnson “will certainly be considered for the Butt Kiss Award.” Close. Johnson is a candidate for the Butkus Award.

Really? I always thought they reserved the Butt Kiss award for former Up Close host Roy Firestone.

 
October 29th, 2004

Selective Amnesia

My TiVo picked up HBO’s Real Sports last night, and I had intended to write something about Bryant Gumbel’s monologue on sports and politics that ended the show, but Charles Austin beat me to it.

And Charles, in Gumbel’s world, Pat Tillman doesn’t count.

 
October 29th, 2004

Don’t Believe The Hype

Yesterday, I said that Yankees fans were in denial, but something tells me Boston fans are in a whole different kind of trouble too.

From the New York Times, I give you Samantha Power, expert in genocide at the Kennedy School of Government and a Red Sox fan (is Ken Burns lining up the interviews at the NYT these days?):

“A team that loses in some ways is going to be easier to identify with for most Americans than one that wins,” Ms. Power said.

Which of course explains why the Yankees are so unpopular, and teams like the Milwaukee Brewers play to overflow crowds.

Maybe not.

How about this explanation: For many years Red Sox fans (but not all) have believed that sticking with their team through heartbreaking losses has conferred some sort of nobility on them (after all, there is something to be said for loyalty). But now that they’ve won, some of these fans think that rooting for a winner isn’t terribly noble.

Hence, the identity crisis.

As for me, screw nobility. I want to win. And if I have to wait another 35 years for the New York Jets to win their next Super Bowl, I still won’t posess one more whit of nobility than anybody else.

 
October 29th, 2004

What’s Your Halloween Costume?

Here’s Jeff Cooper’s answer.

As for me, I’m, going as a UN Weapons Inspector. Photos later if I manage to pull it off.

 
October 29th, 2004

Creeping Toward Irrelevance

Random thoughts from The Sporting Life:

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October 29th, 2004

Just Another Challenge For Armstrong

At Augusta, they take pride in trying to “Tiger-proof” the Masters. And at the Tour de France, it looks like they want to try to do the same to Lance Armstrong.

Why do I think it isn’t going to work? Sort of like the Maginot Line?

 
October 29th, 2004

Band Of Brothers

Denver Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer got a surprise when he opened his fan mail recently:

The white envelope arrived in a large cardboard box stuffed with hats and T-shirts, a package that looked like an ordinary piece of Jake Plummer’s weekly fan mail. But when the Denver Broncos quarterback read this particular letter last week, his eyes nearly filled with tears. An Army Ranger had written to thank Plummer for attempting to honor Pat Tillman’s death by fighting the NFL two weeks ago. The man had served with Tillman, and he said Plummer’s actions had lifted the spirits of the entire battalion. They had lost a brother when Tillman was killed in April. Suddenly, the Ranger wrote, they had found another.

One more time: Thanks to Jake Plummer for standing up to the NFL. And thank you to the members of that Ranger battalion. Thank you more than you can ever know.

 
October 29th, 2004

The Lowdown On Holdsclaw

Back over the Summer, guest blogger Jim McCarthy pointed out what he thought was a double standard with the way the press handled the extended and unexplained absence of Washington Mystics star Chamique Holdsclaw from the team’s lineup as it struggled to win a playoff spot. Now, in a Friday morning piece by columnist Sally Jenkins, Holdsclaw and her lawyer finally explain what happened:

Holdsclaw suffered from depression. So much so that she says it ruined her competitive heart and derailed her season, and has caused a five-time WNBA all-star and one of the most gifted and recognizable players in women’s basketball, to consider quitting altogether. Yesterday, in her first interview since leaving the Mystics in midseason in July for “undisclosed medical reasons,” Holdsclaw acknowledged that she has been in the care of a psychiatrist. She said she has regained her enthusiasm to play and will seek a place with a team overseas this winter, in hopes of regaining her WNBA career. However, she would not rule out the specter of retirement. “It’s a possibility, I can honestly say,” she said.

Holdsclaw went on to say that it was the death of her grandparents that triggered the episode, one that she responded to by cutting off communication even with her old coach with Tennessee and Mystics General Manager Pat Summit. Eventually, she informed the team of the problem, with Summit and team president Susan O’Malley being “remarkably supportive,” according to Holdsclaw.

At first glance, this explains a lot now doesn’t it? Sure, plenty of people say they understand that mental illness is real, and not an excuse, but I’d be a fool not to acknowledge that a something of a stigma remains attached to anybody who admits to a problem.

Here’s a passage that made my ears prick up, though:

Summitt and O’Malley even declined to tell head coach Michael Adams why Holdsclaw was absent. “We just wanted to work with her,” O’Malley says. “Chamique is a very private person who was very worried about her confidentiality and that’s why we kept the circle very small.”

In other words, the head coach couldn’t be trusted to keep his mouth shut. I wonder how Adams feels this morning as he reads that passage?

 
October 28th, 2004

Earth To Manhattan

It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon and bash the New York Times, but sometimes they make it too easy. Such as this lede from a story on Boston Red Sox GM Theo Epstein by Gina Bellafante:

Until Theo Epstein became the general manager of the Boston Red Sox two years ago, at 28 – an age when many young people are still wrestling with decisions over whether to become novelists or prosecutors . . .

Yeah, I remember those days, wrenching as they were.

I’m sure that’s a demographic group that totals somewhere around, oh, 150-200 individuals, nationwide.

Hey Gina, get out a little more and try to talk to somebody besides your friends from college.

 
October 28th, 2004

The No-Fault Labor Impasse

So whose side are you on when it comes to the NHL lockout, the players or the owners? I only ask, because so many other hockey bloggers seem to be lining up on one side or another, casting aspersions and moral judgements willy-nilly on either side.

But as I’ve said before, that’s all pretty silly stuff:

But what we need to understand, no matter what the sport may be, that labor disputes in this area are normally between the haves, and the have mores. Any resemblance to traditional labor negotiations are entirely coincidental.

That’s why I have to second the feeling that Ben Wright first put into pixels last week when he read the following from ESPN’s John Buccigross:

I’ve been in the same room as NHL players and NHL owners, and I can tell you I’d rather Steve McKenna have a few million dollars than Ed Snider. Nearly every NHL player grew up in similar economic and social circumstances as you did. Nearly every NHL owner did not. While Steve Yzerman grew up playing Battleship, Stratego and Strat-O-Matic baseball, most of the NHL owners were getting their chest hairs tinted at a Four Seasons spa.

And in a way, Buccigross has a point here. Let me explain. Just a few weeks ago, an old friend of mine from back on Long Island actually ran into Michael Peca at a local Toys ‘R Us. There he was in a baseball cap, with a pair of jeans and sneakers with his family and looking to buy some toys. And Peca couldn’t have been friendlier to my old buddy when he approached him, even when he decided to ask some questions about the labor impasse.

Michael Peca — nice guy, suburban Dad, hockey player. Maybe I’ll invite him over next weekend to play some Yahtzee.

But here’s a question for you: How many of my readers know what it’s like to voluntarily take a year off from work without getting a paycheck?

Still nobody? Is there anybody in that category at all?

Yes, indeed there is, and his name is Michael Peca.

Don’t forget, that when Peca was with the Sabres, he sat out a whole season rather than sign with Buffalo because they wouldn’t meet his asking price. Sure, it was his right, and I don’t begrudge him one penny that he’s earned — Lord knows he’s given the Islanders everything he had over his three seasons with the team, and I wouldn’t want anybody else to be Islanders captain.

But to say he’s just like you and me is a bit of a stretch, and suggesting that aren’t part of the larger problem with what’s wrong with the NHL is too.

After all, last time I looked, not one, but two franchises wound up in bankruptcy last year. It should be pretty clear something is seriously wrong with the system financially (something which Buccigross concedes), and the players are going to have to give something back in order to fix it.

Now, does that make them evil when they turn tough at the negotiating table? Not by a long shot.

But if there’s anybody we ought to be sympathizing with, it’s the hundreds of team employees, like the 25 that will be let go in Buffalo at the end of next month, that we ought to be feeling a little sympathy for.

And as this article about the impact of the lockout in Buffalo makes clear, there are plenty of other folks who are suffering, as the money they used to make in bars, restaurants and parking lots in and around NHL arenas just isn’t there anymore.

What does that mean? Less money for the mortgage, the car payment and a kid’s college tuition.

Oh, and beer too. Shouldn’t forget that.

I know I don’t hate the players, and I don’t hate Ed Snider either — who by the way built pro hockey in Philadelphia, and couldn’t have done it without risking some of his considerable fortune in order to get it done.

But what do you say to the folks at the bottom of the ladder? Why no sympathy for the only innocents in the NHL labor war?

 
October 28th, 2004

The Question Of Divine Intervention

Skip Sauer on the improbability of the way the Red Sox won:

The odds against LLL-WWWW-WWWW in a sequence of coin flips are 2047 to 1. Yes, Sox fans, deliverance from the curse of 1918 was a near miraculous event.

Actually, as I recall, when we add the Division Series against the Angels, the sequence was actually WWW-LLL-WWWW-WWWW.

 
October 28th, 2004

And In A Bizzare Parallel Universe. . .

Denial: A river in Egypt that runs straight through the collective soul of Yankees Nation.

Folks, I can’t say I’m surprised, since as a New York Mets fan, I’ve put up with nonsense like this for most of my life. As far as I’m concerned, the idea that the greatest choke in the history of Baseball will have to be borne by Yankees fans is one of the most wonderful acts of cosmic justice I can imagine.

Thanks to Baseball Crank for the link.

 
October 28th, 2004

D.C. Baseball Update

D.C. taxpayers got some interesting news this morning, as the city’s Chief Financial Officer sent a letter to the Chairman of the D.C. City Council saying that the stadium is going to cost $91 million more than the original estimate:

In an eight-page letter to D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D), Natwar M. Gandhi said the total cost of the stadium package could reach $486.2 million, not the $395 million stated in the agreement between the District and Major League Baseball.

The additional costs are in three areas: $50 million for improvements to roads, sewers and Metro; $11 million more than estimated to renovate RFK; and $30 million more than estimated for contingency funds for likely cost overruns.

“As a result of the increase in project costs, more money will have to be borrowed and debt service will increase,” Gandhi wrote.

Gandhi’s figure does not include an additional $40 million in financing costs, which would put his estimate for the total package at about $530 million. City officials have estimated the total at $440 million.

Ouch. And if the debt service increases, the amount of revenue recovered from all of the taxes needed to support the project needs to increase — something that makes it all the more likely that revenue raised won’t be enough to service the payments on the bonds that will pay for construction.

And when the shortfall hits, it will fall on the back of District taxpayers, who will have to make up the difference in either: 1) higher taxes or 2) reduced city services. Expect to see this point made repeatedly at this morning’s City Council hearing on the stadium. Somebody is probably going to wave this study by the CATO Institute around as well. It makes for interesting reading.

Capitol Punishment just shrugs and says it’s time for the city to take its fiscal medicine. As for me, I’m just glad as a Virignia resident, any taxes I pay on this project are going to be voluntary.

And in the front office, Bob Watson, Major League Baseball’s first choice to take over as GM of the Expos on an interim basis here in Washington, has told his current employers that he isn’t interested:

“I’m not coming that way,” Watson said, “and that is final.”

Watson, who now serves as baseball’s director of on-field operations, declined to go into detail about his thought process — “It’s my decision,” he said — but acknowledged that the new owner’s right to bring in an entirely different management structure was a factor.

“I understand why you can’t [make a commitment for] any longer,” Watson said. “You don’t have an owner. I understand that. That person should make the decisions.”

Why would Watson be their first choice? M-O-N-E-Y of course.

Because Watson is a current employee of Major League Baseball, he’s already on the payroll, and sliding him into D.C. to keep the seat warm for whoever the new ownership group wants to hire probably woudn’t have cost much more money. But having to bring somebody new on board from the outside means ponying up some cash — cash that has to come out of the pockets of the other 29 teams in Major League Baseball.

In better news, former Toronto, Baltimore and Seattle GM Pat Gillick is interested in the job — and that’s whether or not there’s a guarantee of employment from new ownership. I’m sure everyone knows Gillick’s track record, where he’s built winners in all three of those cities before leaving each job on his own terms. For more on next season’s lineup, check out Distinguished Senators.

Finally, Senators and Sabermetrics is connecting the dots, and thinks that the name Grays is a lock for the new team. I hope he’s right.

 
October 28th, 2004

The Good News: Nobody Died

Thankfully, nobody died in Boston last night as tens of thousands of Red Sox fans flooded the streets after their heroes Series-clinching win in Game Four (to take a look at some of the photos of the revelers, click here). Here’s the account from the Boston Herald, which gives a different arrest count (21 instead of 35), but generally conforms with most of the good news from the streets.

As for the victory parade, fans will have to wait until Saturday.

Meanwhile, details surrounding last week’s death of Victoria Snelgrove keep trickling out. One Boston Police source told the Boston Herald that cops decided to fire on the crowd only after a one fan stabbed a mounted officer’s horse. Elsewhere, the focus of events that evening is shifting to Deputy Superintendent Robert O’Toole, who took a shot or two from another unnamed source inside the department concerning his actions that night:

“By firing, he’s taking his eyes off the rest of the scene,” said a Boston police supervisor who didn’t want to be named. “If you pick up a gun, you’re not supervising them anymore. Now you’re basically a patrolman yourself.”

Though O’Toole, a 36-year Boston Police Officer has been removed from duty, it’s been confirmed that he didn’t fire the shot that struck Snelgrove. Meanwhile, a columnist for the Boston Globe took a look at O’Toole’s record as an officer, and has found it wanting.

In the wake of the incident, the City of Seattle, which had its own high profile problem with civil unrest in the recent past, has suspended use of the FN 303 rifle that was used that night in Boston.

UPDATE: Closer to home, about 1,000 students got a little out of hand on campus at George Washington University. Thanks to DCist for the link.

 
October 27th, 2004

Game Four

Here’s a question: As Derek Lowe was rushing to the baseline to tag Scott Rolen, how many of you were thinking about Alex Rodriguez swatting the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove?

1-0 already. Amazing.

ANOTHER SCORELESS INNING IN ST. LOUIS . . . And the boobirds are out in force as the Cards strand another runner.

3 OUTS AWAY . . . From ending all this silly curse talk. But who’s MVP?

CONGRATULATIONS RED SOX . . . 2004 World Series Champions. And if anybody in Boston is reading, please, PLEASE, refrain from acting like a bunch of animals on the streets of your city tonight. One tragic death is more than enough.

WAS THAT JIMMY FALLON . . . Laying some Major League liplock on some unidentifed woman on the field in the midst of the postgame celebration? Just checked TiVo, and Jimmy Fallon it is.

MANNY RAMIREZ IS MVP . . . But perhaps it’s time to re-think the whole postseason MVP thing. Instead, why not vote for an MVP based on the entire postseason?

AND WHO GETS TO TALK TO LARUSSA? . . . We need to hear from the St. Louis manager sometime. In the meantime, click here for a primer on the postgame loser interview with Bob Cook.

AND AS THE WORLD SERIES TROPHY IS AWARDED . . . I have to wonder what Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane is thinking right now. After all, it was only a few seasons ago that Beane was offered the GM job in Boston, one that he turned down to stay in Oakland.

AND HERE COMES LARUSSA . . . “If the club wasn’t ready to play, then I take responsibility.” He also said that he thinks missing a chance to steal the first game of the Series, an 11-9 loss, was a real setback.

SCHILLING TAKES THE FIFTH . . . When it comes to whether or not he could have pitched a potential Game Six in Boston. Instead, he’s just going to “go drink.” Beautiful.

NOTE TO JEFF COOPER: You’re not the only sap watching tonight.

BEFORE SAYING GOODNIGHT . . . My heart goes out to Cardinals fans, who have to be in some serious pain right now. I just saw a few seconds of LaRussa in his postgame press conference, and it was difficult to watch, as he was on the fighting back tears as he tried to answer a question.

Back in 1998, I was in the stands at MCI Center when the Caps dropped Game Four of the Stanley Cup Finals, and know something of the feeling of being swept. After fighting through weeks of games with plenty of success, it’s over all so suddenly. It was a shock to leave the building that night, and look up around the streets and think that all the playoff decorations were meaningless, and would be coming down before long.

And after the pain of the moment subsides, you want any and all reminders of to be banished from your sight so you can forget about the disappointment (good luck). In the living room of my apatment that season, I’d dressed an inflatable Godzilla (the nickname of Caps goalie Olie Kolzig) with a Caps jersey. When I woke up the next morning, it was all I could do to toss the jersey in the laundry, and deflate Godzilla as quickly as I could.

I’m sure there will come a day when St. Louis fans will celebrate the 2004 season, and applaud as oldtimers like Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen come on the field to take their bows before a cheering crowd filled with more than a few folks who never saw them play. But for those who did, and will cheer as well, the pain will never, ever be far from the surface, no matter how hard they try to forget.

22 years and counting.

 
October 27th, 2004

The Latest On The Snelgrove Death

Up in Boston, a former U.S. Attorney has been appointed to head an independent probe into the death of Emerson College student Victoria Snelgrove. Snelgrove was killed after being struck by a pepper ball fired by Boston Police in an effort to control unruly crowds outside Fenway Park after the Red Sox’s ALCS victory over the New York Yankees last Thursday night.

New details are emerging concerning the riot that night:

As officers attempted to bring an unruly crowd of students on Lansdowne Street under control after the Red Sox won the American League pennant, [Boston Police Deputy Superintendent] O’Toole grabbed a pepper-pellet gun from a police supply vehicle and fired at a group of students who had climbed the girders of the Green Monster, according to accounts from the sources.

O’Toole then handed his gun to Patrolman Richard B. Stanton, who had told the commander he was not trained to use the gun and did not fire it, according to information from the sources.

O’Toole handed another gun to Patrolman Samil Silta, who also had told O’Toole he wasn’t trained on the gun. But Silta took the weapon and fired into the surging crowds, the sources said. A fourth officer, Patrolman Rochefort Milien, was trained and also fired at the crowd, the sources said.

This description of the event in the Boston Herald is a little more dramtic. It also happens to come from an identified source, rather than an anonymous one:

“I saw (Deputy Superintendent Robert O’Toole) and the other special operations officers flailing their guns from side to side like machine guns,” said Giovanni De Francisci, 30, an Emerson College graduate student. “They were just popping off shots at the crowd.”

O’Toole has been moved to desk duty pending the outcome of the investigation.

Elsewhere in the Globe story, we finally hear from a spokesman for FN Herstal, the Belgian company that manufactures the FN 303 weapon that fired the pepper ball that struck Snelgrove, setting off a chain of event (to this point not fully reported) that ended in her death the following day:

The manufacturer of the guns, FN Herstal, trained 29 Boston police officers to use the weapons, said Bucky Mills, deputy director of law enforcement sales, marketing, and training for the company. Mills said Boston police have not confirmed to the company that its weapons were used in the shootings that night.

”During this training, officers are told never to intentionally target the neck or head, because death or serious injury can occur (emphasis mine, EMc),” Mills said. ”The warnings are repeated several times throughout the training manual we provide while we teach the class and reinforced throughout the class and during the live fire qualifications.”

Also in the Herald, that paper reported that before using the FN 303, the police department in Santa Ana, Ca. equipped the weapons with a special sight to help officers better target suspects without causing serious injury. Here’s what another anonymous Boston Cop told a Herald about the department’s non-lethal weaponry:

“These things were supposed to help us repel the 12 anarchists who never bothered to show for the DNC,” the cop explained. “Oh, we were ready for them. We had a hundred guys for every anarchist.

“Terrorists, we can handle,” he said. “What we haven’t quite figured out is how to deal with 80,000 drunken (expletive). It would be nice if we could just spray them all with some kind of general tranquilizer that would put them to sleep. Next day, they’d wake up, hungover and late for class.”

For more Boston-based discussion, check out Boston Common.

 
October 27th, 2004

Rink Notes Lockout Edition

The MSM is lockout log.

Looks like TSN jumped the gun a little on this story, with the headline: Ribero not against capping salaries:

“The free-agent market is what drives up salaries for all players. It’s up to the owners as well as the players to try to resolve the situation. They should start talking,” [Montreal Canadiens Center mark] Ribeiro told the paper.

Several players have commented recently about their desire to have meetings resume, but Ribeiro is one that publicly doesn’t seem bothered by the idea of a salary cap. The Journal reports that, last spring, Ribeiro said the salaries of $11-million US were ridiculous and that no player should have a salary of more than $6-million.

Last Spring? Way to jump on that story. Then again, Bob Goodenow can’t like talk like this. But then, you already knew that.

Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press is blaming Gary Bettman for the league’s financial troubles. Hardly original, but a point that does bear repeating.

Click here for some predictions regarding the rules experiments down in the AHL, and whether or not we’ll ever see them adopted in the NHL. Thanks to Steve Ovadia, the funniest hockey beat writer in New York City, for the link.

Now that Scott Nichol of the Blackhawks has joined the London Racers, the count of NHL players in Europe has reached 228.

Despite the flow of talent to Europe, New Jersey’s Scott Gomez is going to play for his hometown team in Alaska. Chris Chelios would like to play for the Chicago Wolves in his hometown, but that playing Senior ‘A” hockey back in Ontario.

If the season gets wiped out, the league already has a backup plan for the 2005 Entry Draft.

It’s been four years since he sold the Devils, but John McMullen still thinks the players need to be more flexible. A shocker, I know.

UPDATE: Here’s the latest from John Buccigross.

 
October 26th, 2004

Role Reversal

During the ALCS, I noted how the Boston Red Sox seemed to be prone to baserunning mistakes that could cost them a ballgame sometime. Well, tonight in St. Louis, it’s the Cardinals who are making the baserunning mistakes that may just cost them the World Series.

In the bottom of the first, with the bases loaded and one out, Jim Edmonds hit a fly ball to shallow left field that Larry Walker tried to score on. He was thrown out easily by Manny Ramirez. And as it turned out, Walker might have tried to score, in part, to distract Ramirez from the fact that Albert Pujols was completely caught off second, and could have been easily doubled up anyway.

And just now, in the bottom of the third, with runners on second and third and none out, Cardinals pitcher Jeff Suppan failed to run home from third on a routine grounder to second. Instead, Red Sox first baseman David Ortiz caught Suppan lingering in no-man’s land between third and home, and threw him out at third easily.

Folks, you cannot throw away scoring opportunities in the post season, never mind tossing them away carelessly with Pedro Martinez on the mound.

Every time I turn on the TV, the breaks go Boston’s way. Maybe this is the year.

UPDATE: What in the world is up with Fox running a faux interview with the actor who plays “Leon” in the Budweiser commercials during an at bat in the top of the eighth inning?

For a second I thought I was watching ESPN.

3 OUTS AWAY FROM 3-0: The fans in St. Louis have got that hang dog look in their eye. They just don’t know what hit them.

LARRY WALKER HOMERS: But it isn’t enough, as Keith Foulke puts down the rest of the order: Red Sox 4 Cardinals 1. And you can hear some boos raining down on the Cardinals as the teams head for their respective clubhouses.

FINAL UPDATE: Just saw the replay of the Ramirez throw to the plate that got Walker, and Bill Mueller just missed cutting off that throw by an inch. Bet he’s glad he did.

 
October 26th, 2004

Putting A Woman To Rest, But Not A City

500 mourners filled St. John’s Catholic Church in East Bridgewater, Mass, to remember the life of Victoria Snelgrove, the 20-year old Emerson College student who died last week after being struck in the eye by a pepper-spray pellet during a rolling riot that formed outside Fenway Park in the wake of the Boston Red Sox’s victory over the New York Yankees in the ALCS.

Let’s cede the floor to Rev. Wally Keymont:

“Why did this have to happen?” he said. “I don’t know why. Some people feel it’s their God-given right to riot, to destroy property and cause mayhem. … It is destructive and it is deadly.”

Why indeed?

While the exact cause of death has yet to be officially disclosed, CodeBlueBlog has some definite ideas about exactly who knows for sure:

The radiology resident who read her STAT CT of the brain the night she was brought to Brigham.

If Snelgrove died from “cerebral” trauma, as was mentioned in some reports, then the location and type of trauma will tell whether the death was indeed caused by a pepper ball.

Here’s some more details from the Boston Globe concerning injuries that were sustained during the riot on Thursday as a result of the use of the compressed air weapons:

Shots from the pepper-pellet guns . . tore a hole in the cheek of 24-year-old Cambridge resident Paul Gately. Pepper pellets fired by officers that night also pierced the skull of 19-year-old Boston University student Kapila Bhamidipati.

As I mentioned yesterday, the manufacturer of the weapon, Belgium’s FN Herstal, makes clear on its Web site that the FN 303 rifle is unsafe at short range, and should never be aimed anywhere but the legs and torso.

And for those who might be quick to blame police solely for what happened, you might want to read this unsigned Globe editorial that says, “there appears to be ‘no clear and effective strategy’ in big city police departments for dealing with the kind of massive disturbance last Thursday that turned a Red Sox victory celebration into a wake.”

Then there’s this anonymous quote from a member of the Boston Police Department that appeared in today’s Boston Herald, warning what rioters might encounter if there’s a next time:

“We’re not going to stand back this time,” said one source familiar with the BPD’s plan to control crowds during Boston’s series with the St. Louis Cardinals. “Once they start acting up, we’re going to go in and take them out. We have a lot of people (from other departments) helping us. We have significant resources and they are going to aid us in quelling disturbances as they arise.”

Stay tuned.

 
October 26th, 2004

An Idea Good Enough To Steal

The Rodent reports that an outfit called Denik Sports is negotiating for North American television rights to the Czech Extraleague, something which creates some interesting possibilities:

Euro games are generally played on a wider ice surface, with zebras who actually whistle interference… all making for a wide-open game more reminiscent of the Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oiler days.

And who’s to say that programming ends with ExtraLiga – which convenes three days a week?

Other days could be dedicated to Sweden, Finland, Russia and Slovakia.

Now if you’re Gary Bettman, do you wait to see if this catches on?

The Rodent seems to think that the good Commissioner might make some moves to prevent the games from being shown in North America, and might use some of the strike fund to buy off the interested parties.

He might be right, but I think Bettman should hijack the idea. Instead, he should use some of those strike fund dollars to buy the rights on behalf of the league (just like MLS has purchased the rights to the World Cup), and then partner with CBC/TSN/ESPN/NBC tp produce the broadcasts with North American broadcasters.

Then, make the games available both on NHL Center Ice, as well as to each team’s broadcast partners as a show of good faith with the fans. In addition, let each team choose just what games they want — something that would allow them to showcase games with players from their own teams.

This does a couple of things: it opens up a revenue stream for the league and its teams (albeit small, but when some teams lose less money during a lockout, every little bit helps). Two, it buys some more goodwill with the fans, something the NHLPA seems unconcerned with. Three, if the quality of play really is that much better, it will help create some momentum for reform of the North American game.

What do you think?

 
October 26th, 2004

D.C. Baseball Update

With D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams in the Far East, he sent one of his minions to confront an angry crowd in Captain Off Wing’s old neighborhood that wasn’t happy about the stadium plan:

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” said Doris Barnes, 60, who lives in the neighborhood. “We need schools, jobs and homes. We don’t need a baseball stadium.”

A spokesman for the Southwest Advisory Neighborhood Commission, which co-sponsored the meeting, said the group voted 5 to 1 after the meeting to oppose the stadium proposal.

The next big event for stadium opponents: Thursday’s hearing before the D.C. Council’s economic development and finance and revenue committees — reported to be a 10-hour ordeal. From the looks of it, one possible outcome is an increase in the gross reciepts tax on large businesses that’s being used to finance the stadium.

Meanwhile, preparations for the arrival of the Expos continue apace. It looks like Bob Watson, the man who was responsible for the revival of the Yankees in the mid-1990s, is set to become General Manager. Another D.C. blogger reminds everyone that it’s time to choose a name for the team, and it ought to be the Senators.

And from Monday’s Washington Times, there’s word that the city is doing all it can to keep D.C. United at RFK — including making some accomodations when it comes to premium seating for their best supporters.

My guess: while sharing RFK with a baseball team might not be ideal for D.C. United and its supporters, there are few, if any, more palatable alternatives.

Thanks, as always, to William Yurasko and Distinguished Senators.

 
October 26th, 2004

Flogging The Dead Horse

Cam Cole in the National Post:

t’s a shame, therefore, that one’s Canadian media colleagues feel moved to beat the bushes daily for non-stories on the non-season; otherwise, the point might be driven home that a very large swath of the populace of our combined countries couldn’t give a rodent’s butt when the next NHL game is played … or, in the case of 99% of our American cousins, whether it is played at all.

All too true. So how long do we carry on? And when is it time to move on?

 
October 26th, 2004

Actions Speak Louder

New Jersey Devils Goalie Martin Brodeur:

“It’s funny,” Brodeur said. “We’ve started skating together, five or six of us here in New Jersey. In ’94, there were tons of guys here, but this time, there’s nobody here. Back then, nobody knew what was going to happen, but now, it’s like nobody expects this to end soon.”

The three-time Stanley Cup champion added that he plans on attending his sons’ youth tournament in Lake Placid this coming March, saying “you can see that I don’t think there’s going to be a season.”

He’s not the only one.

 
October 26th, 2004

Buffalo Needs The NHL

America’s Rust Belt can’t afford a lockout.

 
October 26th, 2004

Capitol Punishment

Looks like I’ll be rearranging the blogroll when it comes to D.C. baseball — and I’ll be adding Capitol Punishment to the list.

 
October 26th, 2004

Disappointment, Deep In The Heart Of Texas

Lots of folks complain about East Coast bias in sports, and they’re right to. With that in mind, here’s list of top 10 “stomach punch” losses (the Bill Simmons definition — subscription required) from a Houston native.

Thanks to the Mad Hibernian at Baseball Crank.

 
October 26th, 2004

Andrew’s Smell Test

Gary Bettman says there’s a tight correlation between salary and success in the NHL. Andrew’s Stars Page puts the claim to the test.

 
October 26th, 2004

Johnny B. Lays The Blame

In his column last week, ESPN’s John Buccigross interviewed, Richard Gordon, former owner of the Hartford Whalers about what he thought about the lockout:

No. 1: Who is lying and who is telling the truth?

Gordon: Many years I ago, I met Bob Goodenow. I said, “You know, Bob, things aren’t going well. We’re not making any money and we have no chance.” He said that was tough. That if you go out someone else will take it. That’s your problem. That’s Bob Goodenow’s attitude. And you know what? That’s when I sold. Bob Goodenow couldn’t care less about anything. There is no question the owners are bleeding. I gave them all my books for crying out loud. When Peter Karmanos, who I’m not a big fan of, says the Hurricanes will lose less money not playing he is absolutely telling the truth.

No. 2: Why did you buy the Whalers and why did you sell?

Gordon: I bought them because the league was stabilized, I like hockey, and I had an investment in downtown Hartford. There was a commonality of interest between players and owners. I sold them when I met Bob Goodenow. I was convinced he would destroy the league.

By my reckoning, he’s about one-third of the way there at this point.

 
October 26th, 2004

“Our Bonnie”

Or at least that’s what her fans call her.

Along with Suzy Kolber, she’s the best sideline reporter in the NFL.