Thursday, April 28, 2011

Old School Thursday: The Fu-Schnickens

Look!  You can prove to your kids that Shaquille O'Neal was once able to move!


The DC Skins played the first round well, avoiding the Gabbert-hole and gaining a desperately-needed 2nd round pick from Jacksonville.

They filled one of their needs (though not a top need) with Ryan Kerrigan from Purdue, who projects as the OLB opposite Brian Orakpo. He reportedly is solid rushing the passer as well as versus the run, ball-hungry with more effort than athleticism. Holy shit, that sounds like a good pick. My own sources claimed that Washington was going to re-pick Heath Shuler.

Detroit is trying to build a serious D-line (why didn't Millen think of that?), the Vikings reached for a QB, the Packers smartly went O-Line and the Raiders didn't have a first-round pick because they are retarded.

My favorite pick? Steelers take DE Cameron Heyward from Ohio State. Son of the late legendary Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, I'll be keeping my eyeballs on this monster prospect. Great lineage, fills great need, great pick.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

NFL Lockout Ends, Redskins Sign Jevon Kearse, Brandon Marshall, Elvis Grbac

Not entirely true. But the lockout is temporarily over until the owners get a temporary stay from the federal court's decision. Rather than re-hash the upcoming appeal battle, read this clear and concise explanation.

At this moment, there is a window of a few dozen hours wherein players could meet with coaches and teams could negotiate trades and contracts. However, there is no CBA in place, and it is unlikely any teams will act while the situation remains volatile. If further rulings support the players, both sides will still need to agree on a CBA.

The owners still want more money. That is the real fight, and the battleground remains empty. Pro football is still in peril.

But this was the first step necessary for football's return. If the journey proves fruitful, and I am able to write about the anguish for my team and my disdain for yours during the 2011 season, we will have the federal court system to thank.

If football comes back, Judge Susan Nelson ought to be remembered with a large statue in a public square.

Yeah, something like that.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Roger Goodell Complains a Bunch to USA Today

As promised, let's get into Roger Goodell's latest attempt to play the Sad Wise Man who just doesn't understand why his counterparts are so willing to blow up his perfect world.  Why don't they see?  Roger Goodell is beginning to sound like a buttoned up, suit-wearing version Taylor at the end of Planet of the Apes.

Let's get into some of his quotes from the interview in question.

1. "I think it's a positive whenever you're negotiating, but clearly the litigation strategy that the union is pursuing is delaying some serious negotiations that really are going to lead to a collective bargaining agreement. That part of it is frustrating. I think valuable time is escaping us, that's putting financial risk and other risk in play. That's unfortunate for, most importantly, our fans, but also for our players and clubs."

First of all, I love the fact that Goodell always mentions the fans first.  It is a mantra the Ownership (of which the Commissioner is undoubtedly an arm of) to always mention that the FANS WILL SUFFER!!  Also, that he never calls the Owners the Owners, but always "clubs" or "teams".  But when he says those words, he means the "owners".  I'm guessing "owners" doesn't test well in their Market Research.

Of course, if the owners hadn't opted out of the old CBA, we would have guaranteed football this year.  It is the owners who were looking to take a Billion Dollars of salary away from the players.  But never you mind that!  It is the players who are being jerks, for fighting that, and having the nerve to go to the legal system!

Secondly, the NFL Ownership has a great reason to dislike litigation.  They lose.  All the time.  Look at the USA Today timeline, and look for all the court cases the NFL has won over the players.  You'll be looking for a while.  Hell, remember that American Needle case?  That one, the NFL had won, and kept pushing for a greater antitrust exemption, and eventually got kneecapped.  Outside of Bellerophon, you'd have a harder time coming up with a more classic definition of hubris than the NFL Owners.

Let's not forget, again, that the owners opened this can of worms, by backing out of the CBA, by attempting to take $1 Billion Dollars away, and by planning for this lockout for years (hell, we were talking about it in 2009, and we aren't sharpest sheds in the ax.)

2.  "They're challenging fundamental aspects that have made the league successful and popular with the fans. They're going after the draft, as an example, pursuing the draft as illegal. They're pursuing free agency restrictions as illegal. They're pursuing aspects of the salary cap as illegal. That's what they're saying. We don't believe that. It's been negotiated. We think they've been good for the players, the clubs and, most importantly, the fans. It's what's created a successful product. So the union attorneys are attacking everything that we think has made the league successful."

Most importantly, the fans!  Oh, Roger.  You would be so much more trustworthy if I believed you could pass a Turing Test.

But seriously folks, Goodell is complaining that the entity that was the NFLPA is now pursuing their legal case as hard as they can, just as the NFL did against American Needle, or has done against the players of the NFL, time and time again.  It is blatant hypocrisy to complain about seeking satisfaction from the courts when you are a representative of a business that did the exact same thing a year before.

Look, the players aren't really trying to overthrow the draft, they are just attempting to show that they could.  And you know what?  They actually have a pretty good argument.  Let's say that you or I, instead of being some Liberal Arts dickwad, went to the best Law School in the country, and graduated Summa Cum Laude. After making some really gross orgasm jokes*, we would have our pick of jobs--as a top potential lawyer in the land, it would be up to us.  Top firms would be fighting for our talents, and we would be compensated very, very well.  We would not be drafted, and forced to work for the worst Law Firm in the Country (Guy, Kumin, & Phace).  Only in the world of professional sports are you forced to go to work for a specific employer, or simply not work.  This isn't a fight the NFL wants.  Which is why Goodell isn't saying the Draft System is super legal, and the players are crazy to go after it, when it is so obviously legal.  He says, "It's been negotiated."

What the players are saying is, "If you try to take $1 Billion Dollars of salary from us, we will fight you."  Which they should do.  Goodell can whine about it all he wants, and he should--that's his job.  But at the end of the day, the owners picked this fight, and they need to realize that they are now losing it, get over it, and get to work placating their Golden Gooses.

*Summa Cum Laude?  When I was working them, they all did! And so on.

Fox Sports, and Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

The USA Today had an exclusive interview with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell today.  In it, he complained a lot.  I'll get to that.  But first I'd like to touch on the coverage of that interview by Fox Sports.  It is somewhat amazing that the Fox piece, which is basically just paraphrasing an article from another media source, managed to sneak in what I consider to be an amazingly biased and inaccurate depiction of very, very recent events.

In the article, which you can read here, Fox Sports (no byline--good move!) describes the breakdown of talks thusly (emphasis emphatically mine):  "The 'union' Goodell is referring to is the NFL Players Association, which decertified as a union last month after more than two weeks of federal mediation did not produce an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement. The owners responded to the decertification by locking out the players."

There's a definite problem here with the implied cause-and-effect.  We've seen all the evidence anyone could want to see that the owners were planning on this lockout for years.  They opted out of the old CBA early; they structured TV money deals that had third parties paying what amounted to lockout insurance.  If the NFLPA hadn't decertified, the wording of that paragraph suggests, the owners would not have locked them out.  Which is of course bollocks.  They were going to lockout the moment the CBA expired.  The idea that the lockout was a response to anything the players did is laughable.  Yes, the lockout started after the player's union decertified, but it also happened after the CBA expired, which was the key moment in this particular timeline.  That's what's known as shitty journalism (as opposed to just plain old shitty writing).  It's also got a fancy Latin name--Post hoc ergo propter hoc.  How to properly write it up?  Jarrett Bell of the USA Today gets it right in his timeline: "Unable to reach agreement on a new CBA, the NFLPA applies to decertify as the collective bargaining agent for the players at 5 p.m. ET. Seven hours later, the NFL locks out the players after the expiration of the CBA at 11:59 p.m. ET."

Was that so hard, Fox News?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Old School Thursday: Craig Mack

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Scheduling Our Limbo

Rather like the end-of-the-world kook who nevertheless brushes his teeth, the NFL has released the full 2011 schedule. And have they ever ... the pretty & colorful interactive team-by-team chart is chock full of nuts and nuggets.

Are we to assume that the league organization is a many-armed octopus, and that the scheduling people are just doing their job without being influenced by the current lockout?

The other possibility is the NFL's desire to tighten the vice by dangling the luscious fruits of the next season just out of our grasp. For example, the season kickoff would be Saints at Packers. I want it!

Tantalus indeed. The DC Skins would have one of their easiest schedules in recent memory, ranking 29th. Even better, our out-of-division games are either against pushovers or (Jets, Patriots) are at home. Sure would be a shame to miss out on a season which has a realistic 9-7 look.

By contrast, the Panthers have the hardest schedule in the NFL which just seems intentionally cruel. They may have a hard time reaching two wins.

Of course, it's all rather pointless if there's no 2011 season. You fucks.

Friday, April 15, 2011

That Quote Suggests the Obvious About Stadiums

In another pretty well done article by the Star Tribune's Kevin Duchschere, we get a discussion of the underlying costs of building a new stadium--namely, the infrastructure required to make it a reasonable destination.  With enough money, one could build a most amazing stadium anywhere, but if said stadium is impossible to get to, then you haven't built a great stadium.  In the article, Duchschere gets thoughts from a bunch of folks about what the potential new Vikings stadium locations will need to make them reasonable destinations.

But there is a quote in there that is pure gold to people like me, who think that when your state is facing a huge deficit you shouldn't pour money into private enterprises.  And that quote was perhaps accidentally revealing.  

Every backer of a stadium that is publicly financed makes the same argument--"In the long run, with all the businesses that will spring up in that area, the bars and the shops and all that--it will basically pay for itself in the long run!"  Now, the Vikings are looking for somewhere well upwards of Six Tenths of A Billion Dollars of taxpayer to build their new stadium for them.  The idea has always been--build a stadium somewhere, and business will come.

Cue Sam Grabarski (presumably pronounced "Grab Arse Key") who is one of the folks who want to move the location of the borderline mythical new Vikings Stadium to a location closer to Target Field.  Of the Metrodome Location (which is about as easy of a location to get to in Minneapolis.  It is blocks away from two major Eisenhower Era Interstates), Grabarski says, paraphrased by the Star Trib:  In its 30 years anchoring the southeast end of downtown the Dome has never been an economic draw.

Hear that?  Admittedly, Grabarski is a guy with an agenda all his own (namely, to get a new Vikings stadium in the location he wants) but he makes a point.  A very good point.  Stadiums don't necessarily generate all of this awesome local income that they are supposed to.  You don't have to go very far to prove the point.  Cross the river, and hit downtown St. Paul, and see what the Xcel Center has done for that neighborhood.  For the first couple of years, it did gangbusters.  New bars, new restaurants, all that shit.  But the Wild have been pretty terrible for the last few years, and downtown St. Paul is all about, once again, places barely hanging on to their mortgages.

It is a reminder, at the end of the day, that stadiums don't generate revenue and new business all by themselves. And before the State and the County spend $300 million apiece to build a new stadium for the Vikings, they would be right to ask for a Guarantee that The Vikings Won't Suck.  Because spending well over a half billion dollars for a team that doesn't bring people in is a bad deal.  Even people who want the Vikings stadium know that much.  Do the Vikings know that much?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Old School Thursday: House of Pain

And you know what?  They are back, motherfuckers!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Photographic Microcosm of the Timberwolves Season

That sums it up, no?  The graphic is supposed to read "Back to Back Road Wins".

Friday, April 08, 2011

That's Some Horrible Writing, ProFootballTalk

Alternatively, Mike Florio writes like the thing that will hit water when you sit on a ceramic basin, and a certain sphincter relaxes.  


"The folks in Minnesota are trying to build a new stadium for the Vikings before the Vikings join in California the NBA team that once played in the Twin Cities."

That's the lead sentence in a post.  Using the same word twice in a sentence is kind of frowned upon.  Using the same proper noun four words apart?  Craptacular.  And why not just say, "The Lakers".  Why make it a goddamn riddle?  It's like someone went out of their way to write this as clumsily as possible.  

That's leaving aside just how many "folks in Minnesota" are actually trying to get a new stadium built.  It ain't that many.

But here's a stab at that sentence, properly done:  "Attempts at getting a stadium deal for the Vikings are reaching a fever pitch, with some worrying that they may follow the former Minneapolis Lakers to Los Angeles."  

See, that wasn't all that difficult.  Again, it isn't particularly true, but at least it is clear.  Florio can warn all he wants, but the fact is, the "folks" in Minnesota have seen bridges collapse, schools close, and public health dollars disappear, all while a state budget goes deeper and deeper in deficit.  If the state can find a way to raise $600 million dollars, it better go to people who damn well need it.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Old School Thursday: Goodie Mob

Now that's a taunt.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Homoeroticism, Cleveland Style

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Some Details of the Vikings Stadium Bill Seem Crazy

Please note:  I said seem crazy.  Maybe there is perfectly justifiable reasoning lurking just under the text of this plan, but I'm not seeing it yet.  From the Star Tribune's article by Mike Kaszuba and Kevin Duchschere , who have been doing yeoman's work on this stuff [emphasis below mine]:

The bill would have the Vikings pay $1 for every $2 paid by state and local taxpayers for the project. The state's contribution, up to $300 million, would come from naming rights revenue and a buffet of user taxes, including a sports memorabilia tax, a pro football player income tax surcharge and a Vikings lottery game. Local governments could levy a sales tax of up to a half cent, as well as separate entertainment, lodging, liquor, food and beverage taxes.

I'm at the point where a plan in which the State passes an exemption to allow localities to raise taxes without a voter referendum doesn't shock me (though, it would be nice if they did that with something like schools and bridges, as opposed to stadiums).  I'm at the point where raising money from lottery games, as despicable of a lower-class tax as there is, doesn't surprise me.  I'm at the point where the entity that gets to keep all of the profits of said stadium are asked to pay only a third of the costs doesn't shock me.  Essentially, you have to come up with something pretty gobsmackingly hypocritical to surprise me anymore.

And taxing the very NFL players who work in the state to pay for your stadium is pretty goddamn ridiculous.  The owners right now have locked out players because they say they need another One Billion Dollars, at least in part, to build new stadiums.  At the exact time they are making that argument public, The Vikings are (presumably) helping to craft legislation that singles those players out again and taxes them to pay more of their salary into the building of their stadium.  No one knows what the exact percentage of the proposed "pro football player income tax surcharge" would be, but whatever it is would be unfair to the point where I wonder if it would even be legal.  Can one's taxes be altered based on an individual's profession?  Could the State of Minnesota just one day decide, "Doctors do pretty good--they all now pay one extra percent compared to everyone else in their tax bracket?"

Dear Vikings:  here's an idea--the next time a year with no salary cap rolls around, instead of handing a 40 year old QB almost 20 million dollars, you stash that money away in a Rainy Day Stadium Fund.  Just a thought!  Seriously, if you can tax professional football players a "surcharge" on their taxes, maybe you can do that with all of the very well compensated front office guys at the Vikings who made decisions like the one I just mentioned.  Don't they deserve to have to help pay for this thing?

I say all that, knowing full well that this bill, as it has been discussed so far, doesn't stand a chance of getting passed.  But I feel it is important to highlight really bad ideas, even the ones that doesn't stand a chance of passing, just so everyone knows what kind of people are in charge of coming up with this stadium plan.

An Absolute Thunderclap

Dejan Stankovic got his stank on all over this ball in the Champions League this afternoon.  Check the Inter Milan veteran midfielder finishing from about 50 yards out against Schalke.  Also note that it took about 30 seconds from the opening whistle for this to happen.

In2-5Sch - Watch a funny movie here

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Shocking News: The Vikings Stadium Plan Isn't Going Over Well

Two years ago, the Vikings were coming off a particularly Viking-like end to their season, what with the Almost-In-The-Super-Bowl and all that.  Even after a season that saw them piss away the NFC Championship, the mood at the Capitol was very much one of, "Umm, are you really asking us for money?"

And now that T-Paw's jerry-rigging of the books has been laid plain, (and his Presidential run is getting strangled in the crib by Colbert), and the Vikings are coming off a 6-10 season, it seems that the Viking's stadium finance plan is maybe the only thing that will have bi-partisan agreement.  Unfortunately for the Vikings, it seems to be borderline unanimous that they are crazy to be asking for money right now.

You know you are in trouble when Minnesota Democrats and Republicans agree that you aren't getting the money you are asking for.  On the national level, consider that Minnesota is home of both Keith Ellison and Michele Bachmann.  This is a weird state, with crazy divides between the left and right.  And yet, everyone seems to be in agreement that the Vikings stadium is really, really, really low priority.

And they don't have a ton of support on the local level, either.  From the Star Tribune's own reporting (seriously!  Not the AP!), they have Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin saying that the Vikings stadium bill is "badly timed, badly designed and I hope it comes to a bad end. I wouldn't even start talking to the Vikings until they bring half a billion dollars to the table."

The Vikings have been nowhere near $500 million in their own proposed contributions to their new stadium.  They've claimed, hilariously, that they would receive no benefit from a stadium with a retractable roof, and would therefore not help pay for that part of the new stadium.

The Vikings are getting the cold water in the face that they desperately need.  The State of Minnesota is running a huge deficit and isn't going to spend taxpayer dollars on them when they could be (liberals=spending it on schools) or (conservatives=cutting taxes!).  Either way, the Vikings picked a bad time to get all demanding.
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