Thursday, March 22, 2012

Old School Thursday: early Everlast

The video says 1988, and I believe, based on Everlast's look and his James Brown heavy sample.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Old School Thursday: Blackstreet

Play on, playa. Also, I too would like to ponder the prospects of bagging it up.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Vikings Stadium: Definitely Not A Matter of When

I'll admit, the title of this post is meant to be another in a series of reminders that Peter King was full of excrement when he said on national television that it was of "when" not "if" the new Vikings Stadium would be built.

The Vikings stadium funding bill came to the legislature after month upon month of wrangling and it exited with the grace of an act getting chased off the stage at the Apollo by the Sandman. The reason why the newest variation of the Vikings Stadium bill is failing is pretty simple--the State's plan for funding is pretty terrible.

I know that not every state in this fine nation has embraced the most ridiculous version of gambling out there--Pull Tabs. If you have never played Pull Tabs, please allow me to describe. Essentially it is a combination of lottery tickets and slot machines. You buy some tiny cards that have tabs (that you pull) revealing whether you are a winner or a loser. Obviously, more often than not, you are a loser. The original Pull Tabs are called "Cardboard Crack" among those in the know for a reason.

But actual pull tabs are not part of the funding bill. Electronic pull tabs are the future, and the funding source of the almost $400 million that the State of Minnesota is being asked to pay. So, in an effort to avoid actually getting anyone to pay any sort of tax, the sponsors of the bill decided, "Hey, why not just grab some of those degenerate gambler dollars?"

Minnesotans have a high tolerance for the taxing or screwing over of degenerate gamblers. We don't think twice about the totally awesome commercials from last year for the Vikings Scratch Off that starred John Randle; we rarely even ponder the free charter buses cruising poor neighborhoods taking the elderly to various Indian Casinos.

But there's a problem with that money on a couple of fronts. The first, most basic one is that a pull tab investment, technically, is supposed to go to a charity, not a private stadium (politicians and sportswriters can call it a People's Stadium, but it ain't). It's pretty lax, as far as I can tell. I'm pretty convinced that the pull tab machine I used to play at a bar that will be unnamed was funding a charity that was probably a front for the IRA. But all the same, that machine had the name of a nonprofit over it. Not a sign that said, "Play here and fund a stadium."

The second problem is that the numbers seem rather bogus.  Here's MPR:

"The Spring Lake Park Lions Club sells pull-tabs at four sites in Spring Lake Park and Blaine. They do about $5.9 million in annual business. They're the seventh-largest charitable gambling operation in the state.

The projections for Vikings stadium funding have the Lions sales more than doubling to $11.8 million annually."

Also, please note their description: charitable gambling. Vikings don't count, last time anyone with a brain and/or without a boner for their legacy checked.

Which is why the Vikings Stadium bill debuted and was swept off the stage so quickly today. Consider this exchange, reported by Mike Kaszuba (a reporter doing yeoman's work)  in the Star Tribune:

Sen. Julie Rosen, the chief Senate stadium proposal sponsor, conceded that negotiators were scrambling to come up with a backup plan in case charitable gambling revenue fell short. 

The financial uncertainty came amid criticism from charitable gambling organizations that want more tax relief in the legislation, which could further reduce the state's take. "In the event that not enough people gamble, what is the backup plan?" asked Sen. Pam Wolf, R-Spring Lake Park, who has co-authored a rival proposal to give the Vikings only a state loan for the project. 

"We're working on that," said Rosen, R-Fairmont.

I'm sorry, but could a plan for a stadium be more clearly put together with duct tape and chicken wire? I mean, the main sponsor of the bill is just now "working on that" problem in which the projected gambling revenue is clearly bogus and still hasn't been agreed to by the agencies that actually collect the money?

I'd say that maybe I'm exaggerating with that duct tape thing, but...

And now, here comes the City Pages to say a bunch of things we've been saying here but the City Pages took their time to research and write. Read it. It is a devastating take down not just on this Taj Mahal of a stadium in Minnesota, but for almost every other stadium argument coming up. Our Friend Neil at Field of Schemes (who literally wrote the book on this shit) thought the City Pages argument important.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Ricky Rubio, Remember When?

Look, I could dwell on the craptacular nature of his injury. I watched it in real time (with 20 seconds left in the game), and at the time, I thought, "Oh, he banged knees with Kobe, no big deal." And then I saw him trying to walk it off, and I was like, "Oh, shit."  And yesterday, the news came down. You probably know it.

And hey, I could gnash my teeth and rend my garments, and talk about how the Wolves, as the 8th Seed in the playoffs really match up well with the OKC Thunder and now we won't know, because we won't make the playoffs now.

I could also talk about how righteously the Timberwolves GM David KAAAAAHN made sweet gentle love to the brains of the Washington Wizards when he got the pick that became Ricky Rubio by trading Randy Foye and Mike Miller, two players that the Wizards did not trade and did not re-sign, thus making Ricky Rubio literally a guy the Wolves got for nothing, in that the Wizards got nothing out of the trade.

But what I'd rather do is use this opportunity to be a huge dick to look back on the all those guys who said that Ricky Rubio would never play in Minnesota. And let's preface that look with one of my more prescient paragraphs ever, written way back in 2010, when I was deservedly giving Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo the business. I was describing with whom an "uninterested [according to Dwyer] Ricky Rubio" would be playing with:

"He'll see Milicic and Pekovic at Center, both under 26 years of age; he'll see Love and Beasley at Power/Small Forward, with Martell Webster and Wes Johnson at small forward; he'll see Wayne Ellington at shooting guard, and he'll have Jonny Flynn pushing him. And a team with a ton of money to swing a sign and trade, if that's what it takes. That's a team that improves on last year's 15 wins. Guaranteed."

That team is in the hunt for the playoffs, and aside from Jonny Flynn being replaced by Luke Ridnour, that's pretty bang on. Oh, and Kelly was a dick about Luke Ridnour, too.

There was Bitchy Jay Mariotti.
There was the vague discomfort of Ball Don't Lie.
SlamDunkCentral wrote: "It seems that Rubio will never play with the Timberwolves."
local favorites(?) 1390 in St. Cloud (The Fan)
The Sports Headaquarters: "The T-Wolves aren’t losers because they’ve never won the lottery, have never improved their spot or have dropped lower 7 of 13 times. Ok, maybe they are, but in this instance they are losers because they missed out on Irving. Cue the 18,000 David Kahn point guard jokes, but seriously they needed one this time. Johnny Flynn is terrible (thanks to being mismanaged and playing in the wrong system) and I still hold firm Ricky Rubio will never play for Minnesota."
There is at least one terrible BleacherReport slideshow.
And a weird reactionary BleacherReport article, in which the authour (who clearly knows what he's talking about as he describes Ricky Rubio as an egomanaic who sees himself as the next Michael Jordan. I HAVE NO IDEA WHY PEOPLE SHIT ON BLEACHER REPORT*)

Unrelated: Duluth Radio gets the poopstain for dimissing Nikola Pekovic way too soon.

*I totally know why BleacherReport gets pooped on. It is managed, produced and written by idiots who don't know anything beyond SEO. That is all.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Washington Gives It All Up for Griffin: UPDATE

Although the deal isn't yet official, the Rams and Washington have agreed to trade draft picks. What did DC give up to jump four spots in this year's draft? A metric shit-ton.

Three first rounders and a second rounder is a helluva heaping bowl of oatmeal for one player. Thanks to clever structuring by the front office, DC is also many millions under the salary cap. I fully expect the dams to burst: they will overspend in the areas of WR, D-Back and interior O-line.

With QB decided upon, WR is the next position the team will target. Supposedly, free agents will be excited to play with RG3. But they will mostly be drawn to Snyder's spread-eagled wallet. Again, the front office deserves credit for inking smart deals the last couple years. We could easily be yet another shitty team which is inexplicably way over the cap (see: Raiders).

Robert Griffin the Third
Those draft picks won't be missed if DC has truly found their franchise QB. Football experts have been wowed with his intelligence and leadership. That should help with the inevitable Vick comparisons. Physically, he might be the fastest QB to ever play in the pros. He has quick instincts and verifiable belly-fire. Overall, the Heisman Trophy Winner is acknowledged as the best player in college football.

But will he be a good QB in the NFL? Physically he is closer to Vick than Newton. He will need to pack on muscle if he has any hope to survive behind an O-line which gave up 41 sacks last year, tied for 8th worst.

According to scouts, RG3 hasn't yet shown a proficiency in looking off safeties, pocket comfort or making his progressions. By most accounts, he should be amenable to improving these areas.

I have watched a lot of highlights and I remain unconvinced that he can drop back and throw from the pocket. In the NFL he won't be able to run around and heave a long ball on a broken play, which seems to have been his forte.

Nobody will say it yet, but Shanahan's future in DC is now going to be determined by RG3's success or failure. As big-name free agents are added, the weight of expectations will grind on the young QB. I worry. I feel like I've seen this movie before.

But RG3 is our future, whatever that will mean. I am going to work hard to convince myself that we have made a good deal for an outstanding, long-term answer. A good place to start is with his defining game, an upset over Oklahoma. Griffin sparked a two-TD comeback and finished with over five hundred yards. The singular moment of the game, a strike in the end zone with 8 seconds left, begins at the 3:42 mark.

Last year, RG3 hit 72.4% of his passes at almost 11 yards per completion, and finished with a gaudy 37 TDs to 6 INTs. But start feeding that young man some oatmeal!

UPDATE: Roger Goodell just announced that Washington will be penalized for front-loading contracts during the cap-free 2010 season. This was the practice I was referring to when I said the front office wrote smart contracts. Ex post facto, DC is getting ripped for being clever, even though they did not violate any league rules and the contracts had already been approved by the NFL. Ripped for $36 million, which brings down our space under the cap to peanuts.

Goodbye Vincent Jackson. Hello Andre Rison.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

God Bless You, TimberTrolls

you Crazy Spaniards. We fucking love you guys!

Yes, Flopping In Basketball is Soccer's Fault. Sure

I was listening to Tom Pellisaro on 1500 ESPN in the Twin Cities Wednesday evening, and he was talking with Star Tribune malcontent Jim Souhan. They were discussing the Timberwolves complaints about the rough treatment Ricky Rubio has gotten of late. (A legit beef, I think, having watched about as much Timberwolves basketball as one can). Rubio has been getting hammered by moving screens.

And if you can count on one thing the local sports guys in the Twin Cities have in common (aside from girth), it is a given that with even the smallest window to bag on soccer, they will (Star Tribune Twins beat writer LaVelle Neal excepted).

Sure enough, Jim Souhan suggested that guards of the Wolves might be flopping a bit--Rubio is occasionally (not often) guilty of that charge, while JJ Barea is guilty of it about five times a game. But then Souhan said what I knew he was going to say, even as I was hoping against hope he wouldn't. He said, and I paraphrase*, "Well, of course they do--it's the influence of soccer. They come from soccer-influenced countries and they learn the flop there, and now they bring it to the NBA."

Which is a nice and tidy story, but also total bullshit. The flop and assorted other foul-drawing techniques were alive and kicking out their legs well before the wave of South American and European soccer-floppers were in the NBA or NCAA. Greg Paulus didn't learn how to flop from the Italian National Team; he learned from John Stockton. JJ Redick learned the leg kick flop from Reggie Miller. Reggie, who in his own self-produced ESPN 30 For 30 feature (which was awesome) basically admitted to transforming a John Starks glancing headbutt into one of the most violent acts witnessed in a NBA playoff game.

Not to mention, Bruce the damn Bowen!**

On the opposite side of the coin, I could easily mention that Steve Nash doesn't have a reputation for flopping, and seeing as he grew up loving soccer and watching soccer and playing soccer, and recognizes the obvious connections between basketball and soccer (myriad, by the way), he seems like he would be a great candidate for the Souhan Axiom. But he doesn't fit, because as I previously mentioned, the Souhan Axiom on Basketball Players who Grew Up With Soccer is total bullshit.

Not to say that soccer doesn't have flopping. Of course it does. It is often egregious. But to be fair, soccer can be much more violent than basketball  as well. At least, I don't remember the last time I saw bone poking through a sock in a NBA game. I can't watch the video of Eduardo's leg getting broken, but maybe you can!

And it is worth stating that the best player in the World, Lionel Messi, never dives. Sometimes to his own detriment. I mean, for real, watch this highlight real of him getting savaged, and tell me that soccer players are all a bunch of flop artists who don't take real contact, or however that tired argument goes. Soccer isn't "The Beautiful Game" every single time it is played, but I think if you come away from a highlight package of Messi slipping tackles and shirt pulls and takedowns and go "Enh" then there is probably something wrong with you.

*You want his exact wording, you can go here.
** Yes, that was an odd reference to NewsRadio's Jimmy James "Kermit the Damn FROG" But seriously, Bruce Bowen was a flop-artist extraordinaire, and he didn't grow watching soccer, I'm guessing.

Old School Thursday: Boogie Boys

They are correct--you ain't fresh.

Hypothetical Vikings Stadium is to Lucas Oil Field

As I've mentioned before, a bunch o' times, the proposed Vikings Stadium is being compared to Lucas Oil Field, for reasons I can't quite determine.

But here's a fun question for you to ponder during your lunch break/dog walking/opium haze (I don't judge):

If Lucas Oil Field is the stadium the Peyton Manning built (and it undoubtedly is) than who is the player that will hypothetically "build" the new hypothetical [Sponsorship Pending] Vikings Stadium?

Will it be the stadium that Adrian Peterson built? The stadium that Antoine Winfield started to help build, before  his shoulder acted up and he had to go home? The Stadium That time-traveling Christian Ponder built, after he had a glorious ten-year career in which he put up Manning like numbers? Or will it be the stadium that Peyton Manning built again?

I've ridiculed the notion that the purposed Vikings Stadium is anything like Lucas Oil Field, despite the constant, unexplained comparisons the local media like to throw around.

But one, really obvious glaring difference is that the Indianapolis Colts had won the goodwill of the City of Indianapolis, and many of its denizens, by being an incredibly successful franchise for a over a decade.

Vikings fans are so desperate to have a team they can believe in that if they had the kind of run that Peyton Manning had given the Colts, they would have agreed to a stadium on the moon, if the ownership of the Vikings, The Wilfs*, had requested it.

There are a whole truck load of reasons that the new proposed Vikings Stadiums isn't like Lucas Oil Field, but one of the most obvious is still the one least talked about--does a team, that vacillates between criminally average and mercenary deserve a House That The Taxpayers Built? Adrian Peterson can only do so much, especially coming off that knee injury. Does a team that has been terrible for most of a decade (one Brett Favre fueled season aside) really have leverage? We'll see, I guess.

*There is some truth to the rumor that if the Wilfs get a Moon Stadium, they will change their last name to SWilf, which is short for Space-Wilf. That's TRUE.

Monday, March 05, 2012

New Rule in Minnesota Stadium Writing

If the sports columnists of the Twin Cities (to a man, supporting just about any stadium deal that comes along, including the newest one) are going to keep vaguely asserting that the model of the new Vikings stadium is going to be Lucas Oil Field (happens every day), then they need to start explaining why the new Vikings stadium is going to cost $200 million more dollars and yet be less functional.

You can't keep comparing this new stadium to Lucas Oil Field when one of those stadiums has a retractable roof, and the other doesn't. And again, the stadium with the retractable roof is also the cheaper one? By 200 million dollars? Explain yourself, dicks.

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