Archive for January, 2005

January 27th, 2005

Steve Nash For MVP?

After watching the Suns hang 133 on New York last night, Jamie Mottram is convinced:

[T]hese are the simple facts:

1. Phoenix was 31-4 (an absurd 73-win pace) when Nash went down two weeks ago. Then they went 0-4 w/out him.

2. The Suns were 29-53 last year, and, aside from Q. Richardson, Nash was their only major addition. Well, Nash and Amare Stoudemire’s newfound greatness.

3. He leads the league in assists (10.8 per game — 16% more than anyone else) and is the only player in the league in the top-14 in field goal, 3-point and free throw-shooting percentages (52%, 41% and 91%, respectively).

4. He has dated a Spice Girl and partied hard w/ Dirk.

That’s good enough for me.

 
January 27th, 2005

Turning The Heat Up On Howard

Last week, I told you about how 60 Minutes was putting airbrushing the troubles out of Tim Howard’s stint at Manchester United, as well as the program’s lame response to some followup questions from Tom Biro at The Media Drop.

Well, after the Red Devils’ 2-1 home loss to Chelsea in the semifinals of the Carling Cup yesterday, the heat on Howard can’t be much higher:

Howard stood frozen as Damien Duff’s long-range free kick from the right wing bounced in front of the goal and curled inside the far post late in the game . . .

Howard made two standout saves earlier to keep the Red Devils in the game, but his indecision on Duff’s goal was the major talking point.

Duff’s kick floated over the heads of all the strikers and defenders. Howard didn’t react, apparently expecting his defenders to clear the ball . . .

Several commentators said Howard should have either come out of his goal to punch the ball away or moved to block it on the line.

British newspapers were more blunt.

“Dim Howard,” the Daily Mail said in a backpage headline.

As I’ve said before, I’m sure all of this would be a big surprise to anyone who watched that 60 Minutes segment.

 
January 27th, 2005

New Feature: The Mark Sterne Award

Named in honor of the WTEM-AM radio personality who in the course of detailing the starting lineup of the Washington Nationals during a public rally in support of D.C. Baseball, forgot to include 1B/CF Brad Wilkerson in his rundown.

And don’t forget, as Tony Kornheiser says, “We kid because we love.”

And the inagurual award goes to: Tom Boswell of the Washington Post, who, while detailing the 2005 Nationals lineup in his column this morning . . . Aw heck, I’ll let Nationals Inquirer handle the honors:

Yo, Tom! You are the lead baseball columnist for the Washington Post! Your city is now a big-league city! This is your moment! This is what you’ve pined for! Your city, our city, the whole city, the whole nation . . . we’re looking to you!

SHOULDN’T YOU KNOW THAT JUAN RIVERA WAS TRADED TO THE ANGELS????!!!!!!

Congratulations to Tom on this singular achievement! Welcome to the D.C. Baseball Blogosphere, and don’t forget, we’re always watching!

 
January 27th, 2005

NHL Lockout Digest

Well, nobody is saying much, other than the fact that there will be talks in New York either today or tomorrow.

ESPN.com’s Scott Burnside talked to a leading Canadian labor lawyer who says that it’s time to bring in a mediator, but I can’t see that happening.

Why? I’m convinced that if the owners can’t get a decent approximation of what they want at the negotiating table, that they’re more than happy to declare a labor impasse and bring in the scabs to start the 2005-06 NHL season.

Why do I think that? If they’ve held out this long, and they still have yet to touch their $300 million lockout warchest, there simply isn’t any reason for them to do a deal.

Tom Benjamin thinks there are potential cracks in the owner’s united front:

It is hard to imagine an owner exit strategy and their corner is much tighter. They have maintained a united front that is contingent upon a salary cap without significant revenue sharing. No revenue sharing is what keeps the big boys on board the Gary Bettman Hockey league, while the salary cap keeps the small ones happy.

In other words, cost certainty is about the only thing the owners can agree upon. If that goes, interests quickly diverge.

Have they just agreed to thoroughly examine the other side’s proposals before flushing a season? Has one side blinked? Is one side about to blink? If so, which side is reaching for the Visine?

Your guesses are as good as mine.

If you believe the noises coming out of Edmonton, the Oilers can’t survive without a salary cap. Steve Ovadia has his doubts, and Tom does too.

Stop by The Rodent for his translated interview with Dominic Hasek. He thinks the players should start their own league. I’ll believe it when I see it, and like John Buccigross says, the first thing they’ll institute to get it off the ground is going to be a salary cap.

Referring to professional athletes they’re more akin to movie stars, and they expect to be treated that way.

James Mirtle blogged a bit about the coaches summit I wrote about yesterday, and he gave some other details in an email message:

There’s no deal in place, but they are ‘covering their bases’ should the season start. They want to have strict obstruction rules in place so that the game is more entertaining for when the season starts (whenever that may be).

Interesting, as always. Note to the National Post: Please give James a blog on your Web site and all the room he needs to run. Next, give him a Wireless card and extra batteries for his laptop so he can post from wherever he happens to be.

Do that, and you could own the lockout story in a few minutes.

More later, as circumstances warrant.

UPDATE: The parties are at some undisclosed location somewhere in New York City. And there’s not much else to talk about.

 
January 27th, 2005

Feds Raid Victor Conte’s Home

Tossed into a story about former NFL linebacker Bill Romanowski was this tidbit concerning Victor Conte and the Balco case:

FBI agents raided BALCO founder Victor Conte’s home Wednesday as part of a federal probe into how the San Francisco Chronicle obtained federal grand jury testimony for stories that blew the lid on the sports-doping scandal.

For more I what I had to say about grand jury leaks in the BALCO case, click here.

 
January 27th, 2005

How Much Does That QB Really Matter?

Doug Drinen of Pro Football Reference is guest bloging at at Sabernomics — and he’s starts things off with an interesting post about quarterbacks and playoff efficiency:

Just to be clear, I believe that teams — not quarterbacks — win football games, so I’m not claiming this is the One True Measure Of Clutchness. Whether I like it or not though, wins are credited to quarterbacks in virtually every discussion about quarterback greatness. This is merely a way of putting a quarterback’s win-loss record into perspective.

Still, I’ll give you just one guess as to who comes out on top.

 
January 27th, 2005

Sports Blogging About To Get Big?

Both Daily Kos and Reemer are pointing to an Athletics Nation interview with Billy Beane where he isn’t stingy with his praise for blogs:

Someone emailed me something written on a Cardinals’ blog, and they had nailed all the things we were talking about. The economic reasons, the personnel reasons and the reasons we made the exchange. The world of a Web log will lend itself to a lot of investigation. And you will often stumble across the answer more than someone who has to write in two hours to meet deadline just to make sure something is out in the paper the next day.

And here’s Kos, with an interesting announcement:

I believe sports blogging will be the next “Big Thing”, which is why I’ve started a company in that realm (details coming soon)… This is a new era of grassroots media. While traditional journalists had to know a little bit about a lot of things, bloggers can focus on their areas of expertise. They can drill like no one else can.

The “next big thing”? Gee, I hope so. I’ve been at this for almost three years now and am just getting the feeling that more people are starting to notice what we’re doing.

One other note: It’s hard not to notice that there is a lot of hard core interest in the Washington Nationals these days here in D.C. — and the evidence can be found in the number of blogs dedicated to team news that have sprung up over the past few weeks alone. If I was working for the Nats, I’d find some way to establish a relationship with these folks and start to treat them just like any other member of the media.

Case in point, one full day before the Washington Post wrote about fans being upset with their seat assignments inside RFK Stadium for the 2005 season, one of the local Nats bloggers had already shot the first signal flare on the issue (not that the Post bothered to quote or acknowledge his contribution to the story).

This is only the start. And if you fancy yourself as running a forward thinking sports organization, you really ought to be paying attention.

 
January 27th, 2005

Work That Day Job . . .

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you Sergei and Fedor, the singing Fedorov Brothers!

Glad to see the boys have somethinng to fall back on if it doesn’t work out in professional hockey.

As good a reason as any to end the NHL lockout.

Thanks to Chuqui for the link.

 
January 26th, 2005

Cardinals Fans Hack An Early Bird

The Arizona Cardinals have a press conference scheduled for tomorrow, the speculation centers around a new logo and uniform. But lucky for us, the team’s fans have jumped the gun on the dog and pony show. Here’s the version that’s floating around on the message boards at the Arizona Sports Fan Network.

Over the past few days, the team has been posting some teaser Flash animations, which you can see here (though the images remain, the team has removed the actual animations). The last animation revealed just a sliver of the new logo, but that’s where things got out of control. I’ll let Dave Smith, the only Cardinals fan East of the Mississippi, explain:

Well someone figured out that you can download the Flash file and edit it with a “Flash
unlocking” application, and see the whole logo!

 
January 26th, 2005

Remembering Game Six

Gee, it’s looking like I should have shown up at Sundance this year (I’m sure they missed me). First, I miss the premiere of Murderball, and now I find out I missed Game 6, the story of a New York playwright and Boston Red Sox fan who skips out on his own opening night to watch Game Six of the 1986 World Series between his beloved Sox and the Mets.

Better yet, the screenplay was written by Don Delillo, a favorite of mine here at Off Wing. And any day a Mets fan can relive that moment, it’s a good one.

BTW — for Mets fans who want to relive the other great year in team history through the prism of Hollywood, check this out.

Thanks to

 
January 26th, 2005

Keeping The Internet Safe For Super Bowl Betting

Super Bowl Sunday is the moral equivalent of Black Friday for online betting Web sites — which means they’re also particularly vulnerable to online extortion. Here’s how they’re fighting back.

Primay assist to The Sports Grinder.

 
January 26th, 2005

For Modern Rock Refugees Only

For fans of what the late unlamented 99.1 WHFS-FM never was, and could never be again (wrap your head around that), check out http://listenmissy.com/blog/”>Missy Schwartz for the pointer.

 
January 26th, 2005

Do You Remember?

One of the most exciting hits in pro football history?

It’s always worth a second look.

 
January 26th, 2005

Michael Vick: Less Than Meets The Eye?

Rob Visconti considers the mystery that is Michael Vick:

We all have a buddy or two who worships at the altar of Vick. You know the type…he

 
January 26th, 2005

What’s Next For Sidney Crosby?

Both Steve Ovadia and James Mirtle wrote about the fix that junior hockey phenom Sidney Crosby finds himself in. If the NHL and the NHLPA can’t come to an agreement regarding the CBA in time to save this season, the 2005 NHL Draft, where Crosby was sure to be chosen number one overall, wouldn’t be held.

According to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), that would mean Crosby would remain under contract with them for the remainder of its term — in this case another three years.

So here you have this kid on the verge of reaping vast riches, and yet according to the QMJHL, he needs to toil in the minors for another three years.

Unfortunately, Captain Off Wing isn’t a lawyer, but luckily I know plenty of folks who are, including Michael McCann, newly appointed Professor of Sports Law at the Mississippi College of Law. I shot him an email last night asking him what Crosby’s options are — and while there may be a number of arguments he could make, Mike says:

However, from a practical standpoint, and assuming the NHL lockout continues, I think the sensible resolution is for Crosby to negotiate a buyout of the contract, and then sign a more lucrative deal in Europe. His legal avenues for breach seem somewhat quixotic.

Mike is filling in at Sports Law Blog this week. Stop by and say hello.

 
January 26th, 2005

Sports . . . By The Numbers

Thanks to Costa Tsiokos for finding this feature on definitive sports numbers from the St. Petersburg Times.

There’s lots of silly, but fun things to debate when a list like this comes out (ESPN.com did one a couple of years back) — such as who is the definitive no. 9? The Times’ answer might surprise, or enrage you.

 
January 26th, 2005

NHL Summons Six To Toronto For Rule Change Session

Here’s a very interesting NHL lockout story from the Delaware County Times outside of Philadelphia — Six NHL head coaches have been abruptly summoned to Toronto by league officials to discuss possible rule changes.

Among those headed for TO: Jacques Martin (Florida), Joel Quennville (Colorado), Dave Lewis (Detroit), Lindy Ruff (Buffalo), Marc Crawford (Vancouver) and Ken Hitchcock (Philadelphia):

“They told me to get my (butt) up here right away and that’s what I did,” said Hitchcock after arriving in the Ontario capital Tuesday night. “It’s a very intense situation up here and you don’t realize how intense it is until you get here.”

Hitchcock has always been optimistic that the season would be saved at the last possible minute, even going so far as preparing a shortened training camp schedule with assistant coaches Wayne Fleming and Terry Murray last week.

NHL director of operations Colin Campbell, vice president of operations Mike Murphy, vice president of hockey operations Jim Gregory and supervisor of hockey operations Kris King will also take part in the brainstorming session. The NHLPA and NHL will meet for the third time in a week in an effort to bring some closure to the lockout.

Gotta love those parentheses around “butt” in Hitchcock’s quote. Guess the Delaware County Times is a family newspaper.

In any case, the timing of all this seems very interesting, don’t you think? Over the past few days, I’ve stressed how we need to be able to cut the wheat from the chaff when it comes to rumors about the lockout. Well, here’s some solid facts for a change.

Could it still be a conincidence? Absolutely, but I don’t think so.

 
January 26th, 2005

Blogroll Updates . . .

Update your bookmarks, Give Me The Rock has a new address. And take some time to check out Sports Biz.

 
January 26th, 2005

It’s All In The Numbers . . .

Chris Needham takes a look at how numbers are used, and misused, in reporting.

 
January 26th, 2005

The Man Cannot Be Stopped

In a Slate piece about how ESPN is destroying sports writing, Stephen Rodrick reveals a bit of news I missed:

Stephen A. Smith, while judging ESPN’s Dream Job alongside [The Denver Post's Woody] Paige, once made the observation that “substance without style doesn’t mean a damn thing.” As usual, he got it exactly backward. And, as usual, so did ESPN. Last week, the network announced that Smith will get his own hourlong daily show.

NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

Thanks to Women’s Hoops for the link.

UPDATE AND CORRECTION: Turns out Slate got the Smith quote wrong. In a correction that was posted today:

This piece originally stated that Stephen A. Smith once said that “substance without style doesn’t mean a damn thing.” He actually said the reverse, that “style without substance doesn’t mean a damn thing.”

That’s a little different. Thanks to Rob Visconti for alerting me to the update.

 
January 25th, 2005

We Got Hockey Rumors . . .

Click here. Very interesting stuff.

Thanks to DJMike Awesome for the link.

UPDATE: Got a note from a friend, and this operation looks suspect — in particular one instance where “Pelle” refers to an agent for a player who represents himself. Follow for entertainment purposes only.

 
January 25th, 2005

Football’s Thin Blue Line

Richard Sandomir has a quibble with the folks who broadcast the NFL:

Can we all agree that we know what the line of scrimmage is? It seems like an inane question. The line of scrimmage is so obvious, so patently there – the highly visible spot on the football field where a ball sits until the center snaps it.

So why, when we know where it is, do we need a visual aid from Fox and CBS – an electronically inserted blue line – to show us where it is?

He also doesn’t like the arrow superimposed on the screen that points in the direction the offense is going emblazoned with the down and distance (something that looks like it was borrowed from Sky Sports which uses a similar device during Soccer games before a free kick).

As for me, I love all of it. With the blue line on the screen, I can immediately sense how a play might be developing (especially how the fight between the offensive and defensive lineman is playing out), and can quickly estimate how many yards a team might have lost once you lose the reference point following the snap.

The key here is that theses devices are unobtrusive (players just run right over them), and have never interfered with my enjoyment of the game. This is in stark contrast to the ill-fated glowing puck that Fox tried to foist on the NHL. Not only did the puck glow, it also grew a tail when shot on net, and the sensor inside allowed you to see the position of the puck through the boards (which was always weird).

As for anything new Fox might be cooking up, bring it on. Let them experiment all they want, especially since it wasn’t all that long ago that I can remember hanging around a broadcast endlessly while waiting for the on-air talent to grace me with the score of the game.

 
January 25th, 2005

NHL Lockout Digest

That top secret meeting between the NHL and NHLPA is set for tomorrow in Toronto. Ottawa’s Daniel Aldredsson isn’t hopeful, but for some reason, Chris Chelios thinks a deal can still get done.

Steve Ovadia take a hard look at Bettman-hatred:

How much do they hate him? They might be willing to negotiate a salary cap with a different commissioner. I kind of doubt that, but who knows? Bad breakups make people do crazy things.
I bet the owners are trying to figure out how true this is, though. If all it takes is a Bettmanectomy for them to get a cap and get hockey going again, you know they’ll make the cut.

The Rodent has some thoughts about player agents and rising salaries:

While I have actively argued against ownership’s intransigent position in hockey’s CBA debacle, I place the majority of blame for inflationary bids upon the player agents, who set arbitrary objectives and expectations . . .

Not to pick a fight here, but aren’t those agents simply doing the bidding of the players?

In his latest look at the league, Tom Benjamin gives the NHL a big thumbs down:

We’ve seen scandals galore, a whopping player lawsuit lost on a technicality, four separate labour disputes (including officials), four bankruptcies that all reflected owner malfeasance, ill advised expansion, a rapidly rising rate of serious injury, consistently bad ice, and one insane player personnel decision after another. The fastest, most exciting game in the world has been reduced to the slowest common denominator. They’ve even allowed cheaters to prosper!

The. Worst. Run. Sports. League. In. History.

If that’s the case, maybe the league shouldn’t rush to start things up again, even if a mircale occurs and the parties come to an agreement rapidly this week — which is exactly where Newsday’s Alan Hahn is coming from.

Again, don’t look for anything significant to arise in the press until well after tomorrow’s pow-wow is through. Right now, everything else is just rumor, and deserves to be treated as such.

Bottom line: Don’t get your hopes up — at least not until you hear that Bob Goodenow and Gary Bettman are planning on sharing a podium together at a press conference announcing the terms of a new CBA. But until then, feel free to make new sports television viewing plans for the February to June timeframe.

 
January 25th, 2005

Really Officer, I’m Just In From Stockholm . . .

Here’s a story that belongs in the priceless category:

Peter Worrell and Andreas Lilja may be friends and former teammates, but nobody will ever mistake them for each other. That includes local police.

Worrell, a former Panthers left wing with a lengthening list of legal problems, will be arraigned in Broward County Criminal Court on Wednesday on charges stemming from a traffic incident last month in which he identified himself as Lilja. The Canadian Worrell, who is black, is 6 feet 6 and 240 pounds. Lilja, who is white, is a 6-foot-3, 225-pounder from Sweden.

Lilja, who is now under contract with the Nashville Predators, was playing in Sweden at the time. Police eventually identified Worrell after finding his passport in the glove compartment of his car.

Just for fun, here’s Worrell’s fight card from Hockeyfights.com.

 
January 25th, 2005

Don’t Believe Everything You Read

A great example from Skip Sauer on how not all stats are created equal.

 
January 25th, 2005

Calling Chad Ford On The Carpet

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban doesn’t hesitate to take reporters to task when he thinks they just make stuff up. And the current object of his ire is ESPN.com’s Chad Ford:

The irony of it all, is that he writes for the ESPN Insider section of the website.The sad part is that ESPN.com charges for access to what he writes. This guy is so far from the inside of whats going on , that ESPN should be embarrased to take subscription money from its members.

That’s pretty rough, so I asked Cuban to elaborate:

Im not mad. He just does something that I think needs to be corrected. He writes what he thinks I am thinking/feeling, or what I or the mavs are doing without ever asking

You know how easy it is to get aholdof me and ask me a question and so does he.

A reporter gets facts. Chad makes things up. When he makes things up about the mavs or about me, I will make a point to call him out. Just as i have done for Vescey and Sam Smith.

I can vouch for one thing: No matter when I’ve sent Cuban an email, it’s only been a few hours before he got back to me. By contrast, I sent a note to Ford yesterday to give him a chance to respond, and I never heard anything.

And if he’s reading this, the floor is still open.

But Cuban doesn’t only talk about folks he thinks are mailing it in, he also takes time to praise folks who do a good job — in this case, former ESPN and Washington Post reporter David Aldridge — a sentiment I heartily agree with, and I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who feels that way.

 
January 25th, 2005

A “Desperate” Look Back

At a press event for Desperate Housewives, series creator Marc Cherry had some interesting things to say about the Monday Night Football promo with Terrell Owens and Nicolette Sheridan that captured everyone’s attention a few months ago:

He also apologized for the unexpected furor over the Nicolette Sheridan towel-dropping promotion for “Monday Night Football,” though he defended his original idea – using announcer John Madden, instead of Philadelphia Eagle receiver Terrell Owens.

“A woman as glorious-looking as Nicollette Sheridan throwing herself at John Madden,” Cherry insisted, “is just funny.”

“I didn’t really realize ‘Monday Night Football’ was such a family viewing experience,” he said.

I’m sure Cherry took that apology all the way to the bank.

 
January 25th, 2005

The Hoops Lowdown

Here’s a source I’m going to start to rely on: Inside Hoops: NBA Rumors.

Updated every morning by 10:00 a.m. Ch-check it out.

And don’t forget, everyone involved in the “Basketbrawl” at the Palace a few months back is due in court this afternoon.

 
January 25th, 2005

No Three Putts Returns!

After a long hiatus, No Three Putts has returned. First up in the tee box, a look at Vijay Singh’s personal skills, as well as the financial benefits of blowing off a career in high finance for golf.

 
January 25th, 2005

Gone In 30 Seconds: $2.4 Million

My friend Mike McCann is filling in at Sports Law Blog. Congratulations to Mike on being named Professor of Sports Law at the Mississippi College of Law.

First up for Mike in his guest stint: Super Bowl advertising, where 30 seconds will cost you $2.4 million.