Monday, May 26, 2008

Arena Football Rankings Week 13

The Rattlers are playing well with Jeff Smoker at QB and have improved to 6-6.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Time to Move

BBC News reports here that more violence against foreigners has hit South Africa today. With over 40 foreingers killed, things are out of hand.
The LA Times comments today:
If the troubles in South Africa keep escalating and the attacks on foreigners keep spreading, the 2010 World Cup is doomed and might as well be moved elsewhere right now.

These rumors have been around for some time. Moving the Cup is a good idea. I'd love an excuse to see South Africa, but it would be incredibly expensive and if it isn't "guaranteed safe", as a father of three, I can't afford to go. Better for SA to host in 2018 or 2022 --when things are more stable. Simply put, the World Cup is too important to risk a failed venture. To be fair, South Africa pulled off the much smaller 1995 Rugby World Cup with little violence or problems.

So if the Cup is moved, it will probably be to the USA or Germany. Both of which are fine with me. The 2006 World Cup in Germany was darn-near perfect and as far as I'm concerned, Germany can host every cup. As for USA, that would be a blast and it would be much cheaper for me to attend in my own back yard.

Its time for FIFA to make a statement about South Africa and either explain how the problems are being addressed (instead of generalities and platitudes) or prepare to move the 2010 tournament.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Blueprint for UFL "success"

Something called the United Football League (UFL) has announced it will be playing professional outdoor football in the FALL of 2009 in cities that do not have NFL teams. What sets the UFL apart from this history of failed NFL rivals is that it has a number of experienced NFL folks at the helm and a number of big-money backers set up as owners --including Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks.

UFL Commisioner Michael Huyghue has recently announced some of the league plans including 4 West Coast teams (out of the 8 the league plans to have at opening kickoff). (UFL Access has everything you could want to know about the UFL and more.) The UFL plans to play on Friday and Saturday nights --so as to avoid direct competition with the NFL. Allegedly, several networks are interestedin televising games --and clearly a legit TV contract is the make-or-break aspect of this league.
But the most intersting and promising factor to me is Huyghue's statement that they plan to recruit MLS owners and use MLS Soccer specific stadiums for the UFL teams. In order to succeed, the UFL must create demand for tickets. This requires a good product (and the UFL plans to go after NFL 2nd stringers and the like --so the players should be better than, say, what the XFL had), good promotions, good community ties. But it also means that tickets should be worth something and that season tickets should actually benefit the purchaser. This means that tickets should be scarce. In a start up league, playing in huge stadiums is a losing proposition. It means tickets have no scarcity and the atmosphere is dead and empty. This is what hurt the NASL and the XFL (to some extent) that the WLAF's attempt to play in the USA back in '91.

Playing in MLS Stadiums achieves two important goals: 1) Fans get a state-of-the-art stadium experience (which delivers a message of a quality product); and 2)Tickets will be limited to the size of the smaller MLS stadiums. No cavernous 50,000 seat holes here. Just 16k-25k stadiums --which means sell-outs and a demand for tickets (is possible). This is essential, because sold out stadiums create excitement which breeds a fun, festive atmosphere.

Given the unserved NFL market goal, Los Angeles and Las Vegas (to be owned by Mark Cuban) are obvious picks. Huyghue said markets would also likely include San Francisco and Salt Lake City, Utah. Orlando is a strong East Coast contender, while San Antonio, Texas, appeals to the Hispanic fans that the UFL plans to court aggressively. (thanks to UFL access)

The XFL's Las Vegas Outlaws did well at Sam Boyd Stadium and the UFL will play there as well. But the other teams should look to the MLS stadiums.

Here's a list of MLS Soccer-Specific Stadia. The UFL should look there as a starting point for Utah, L.A., and other non-NFL markets.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Rubric for Evaluating College Sports Rivalries

[Ed note: This is written by DRage in response to our (other IAI bloggers) claim that he is a midwest football hater and a UCLA apologist. He has come up with a mathmatical formula for his hate. But there is no way to defend UCLA calling its girly light blue unforms "powder keg blue". I mean come on.]

DRage writes:

Yes I am a hater. But in the name of transparency here is my hater

Location: East of the Mississpi = minus, West of the Mississippi = plus (extra negative points if you are North of the Mason Dixon line and east of the Mississippi.

Academics: Minus points for schools with no academic cred, (i.e.
Memphis, Miami - can we talk about how stupid it is to put a U on your helmet for University?), Even more minus points for schools that brag about their academic standards as if they apply to their athletes (see Notre Dame, Duke, Stanford, etc)

Private/Public - Private is negative, public good

School Size: Super large = bad, smaller = underdogs = good.

Integrity and self righteousness - these are directly related - If you are crooked but swear you are not, very bad - see Lou Holtz and Notre Dame.

Coach Obnoxiousness: Related closely to integrity and self righteousness. Admit we love watching Spurrier and Stoops turn red on the sideline.

Wussness of Conference and Scheduling

Style of play - you have to have the forward pass in the playbook beyond third down.

Uniforms - Admit it, its hard to hate on the UM Flying Wedge. I also hate red and white - get original, sorry buckeyes but Grey andred looks like you washed your whites and darks together - hate it.

Ubiquity - Am I forced to watch them every week?

Band Wagon Factor - Why is everyone in Ohio a fan of OSU, not Ohio U - can you say bandwagon. Same for SC, Notre Dame (when they don't suck).

Based on these criteria - here ismy NCAA Hater Heirarchy from best to worst.

10) UCLA - public school, sweet unis, So Cal, coach smarminess countered by academic integrity, history of excellence. HMMM HMMMM Good!

9) Pac 10 Teams
Breakdown (best to worst)- Washington, Washington St, Oregon (Nike unis only make it worse),Arizona (really who cares - they are much higher if discussing basketball and Lute Olson), ASU (such losers and chokers hard to hate, do hate the high school reject unis with the mustard non matching helmets), Oregon St. (unbearable when they win), Stanford (BS holier than thou neo con bastards allowed to drop classes during final - everyone eligible), CAL (the sleeziest recruiters in the PAC, will take anyone, last Pac 10 school to stop taking Prop 48 atheletes, paid athletes, no relationship between football and b-ball teams and academic reputation of the school, unbearable when they win).

8) USC - the worst of the PAC, cheaters, no academic credibility, will take anyone, smug, private school bastards. At least they always suck at round ball.

7) Other small west coast schools - really who cares - the WAC is wack.
Its embarassing watching ads paid for by the conference on Fox and ESPN begging them to show Mountain West games on tv.

6) Big 12 - at least no one pretends to be academic - we'rea football factory, so what? Too much red and white in the color schemes - Texas, AM, Nebraska, OU - enough.

5) Other Mid Major schoolsEast of the Mississippi - would be lower but tired of insistent argument that they deserve more respect - that and crappy running backs who lead the nation in rushing but can't play professionally (see Garrett Wolff).

4) SEC - Pussy scheduling, no academic integrity at all (makes ASU look like Oxford on the Salt River), credit for slapping down Big 10 on regular basis.

3a) ACC - more for basketball, Duke is probably one of the three most annoying teams in any sport. Acts like any of their players could have gotten in for anything but basketball.

3) Michigan - Big 10 team, fight song calls themselves champions of the West (yeah in 1850 although I think the Sioux or Apaches could have taken them easily), but damn those uniforms are sweet.

2) Big 10 - Big 10 but 11 teams= academically suspicious; crappy, over rated teams every year; still have not discovered the passing game; Wisconsin owns UCLA in bowls (dammit); Too much red and white (Wisconsin, OSU, Indiana), too many crappy never competitive teams (Indiana, Northwestern, Illinois, Minnesota),

1a) OSU - I think we have covered this ad naseum, plus Todd is right - it's fun watching OSU fans go all apoplectic when you mention Maurice Clarret, their stolen victory over the Canes, Tressels sweater vest, hee hee hee. It's too easy.

1) Notre Dame - The standard by which all other hate is measured - they are a ten on every critera Location, Check, Check Academics - check, double check for claiming that their recruiting problems are a factor of their academic scrutiny - please didn't Randy Moss originally play at ND? Brady Quinn, yeah he's a rocket scientist private school - check school size - definitely not small or underdog integrity and self righteousness - Lou Holtz flat out paid players, atty my wife worked with who attended ND told story about football player having sex in front of audience in dorms despite "honor code", LB admitted a couple years back to dating head of the booster club and recieiving cash benefits - let's just say check coach obnoxiousness- check - fat guy tries to sue for his failed gastro by pass surgery - how about trying to by pass the buffet - extra loser points for hatable qb - Jimmy Clausen the third in the line of mediocreClausen brothers (two played at Tenn. - they are like thespecial ed Mannings) showed up at signing conference in limo wearing his threeCA statechampionship rings and promised to win more at ND - douchebag spent hisFRyear on his ass running the worst offense in the country (don't mention the UCLA game) Wussness of Conference and Scheduling - check - it is not 1950, Purdue, Navy and Army let alone Michigan State are jokes. Just join the Big 10 and shut up Uniforms - I have to admit the blue home uniforms are slick but how about a logo?; Style of play - hard to say - like what I saw last year; ubiquity - no team should have their own TV deal or guaranteed BCS slot, check; Band Wagon - theirs is the absolute worst - being a catholic apparentlymeans you haveto automatically root for ND. Luckily they have been horrible so the band wagon is limping.

But back to USC. We didn't all see this one coming? Carroll runs one of the sketchiest programs in the country despite the west coast laid back appearance. Quick run down:

Leinart's family paying for wr Jarrett's rent in a $4000 a month apartment The Ting twins leaving the school amid allegations of steroid use Two players having thousands of XTC pills in their apartment for sale. Winston Justice Mc Knight academically inelligible and Bush involved in his possible illegal recruiting Multiple players and cheerleaders taking spanish classes at a local tech school to keep their academic ratings up. This year's starting qb, Sanchez accused of rape, mysteriously dropped Three white players startingracist my space page - no punitive action by Carroll Multiple arrests by key players - no discipline by team We won't even talk about OJ I and their willingness to display his memorabilia in heritage hall.

Add on OJ II - if you have been following the story, the sleezy agent rep who brought the money was persona non grata at USC since he pulled the same crap with a player in late 90's/OO's. They knew the guy was trouble. It is a bad sign when a player is investigated for amateur violations prior to being signed. It's also a bad sign when no major program will offer a schollie to the "best" player in the nation - except for Bob Huggins who graduated all of 0 players during his tenure at Cincinnati. Just read the story of his "recruitment" facilitated by Gilloury. Also don't forget that their starting line ups average age was like 21 despite not having any seniors on the team (I think Mayo was a
21 year old freshman as was Davon Jefferson) - they will take anyone to be competitive.

SC is out of control. My guess is that they will get a slap on the wrist under the argument that the school should have known, but really this was the athletes fault. The NCAA needs a west coast power for ratings. It is also interesting to note that the first year USC won the title (the year they split with LSU), SC received the largest one year donations of any school in the country (Ivies included) - this is big business at SC just like OSU. They need to go down hard but it won't happen.

Of course the one mitigating factor for SC, is that unlike OSU, when SC cheats it pays off, two titles,4 and one in BCS bowls (and the wins weren't closeor relied on bail outs by the refs like OSU needed)includingtwo routs of the Big 10.OSU cheats and still gets steamrolled, it's one thing to sell your soul, but at least get something in return.

My hope is that SC gets busted in two years when the investigations are done which gives slick rick time to get UCLA out of the doldrums to take SC's place as the West Coast Super Duper Power. Yeah right.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Crystal Ball: The Toronto Bills?

Big news is that the Buffalo Bills will be playing one regular season game and two pre-season games in Toronto beginnging this year when they "host" Miami in Toronto on December 7.

Buffalo fans fear that the Bills will eventually move to Toronto. They are bitter. But Buffalo fans good news: I doubt that will happen because the CFL will fight that tooth and nail (and probably be backed by the Canadian government). Far better to work with the CFL and share games between Toronto and Buffalo. This allows the Bills to enjoy fan support in both Western New York and Ontario (where they already have some support). By playing late NFL season games in Toronto, the Bills get a huge revenue boost, the opportunity to play December home games in decent weather (Toronto has a domed stadium), and stay out of the CFL's dog house. This is because the CFL regular season ends in early November and the Grey Cup championship game is before USA's Thanksgiving.

So long as Buffalo plays half their games in Toronto (in the future) they will enjoy a huge revenue boost. They can play all of the Toronto games in November and December to maximize their weather benefits and avoid hurting the Argonauts as much as possible. The Argos are actually working with the bills on this, and co-hosting youth clinics and the like with the Bills. Check it out here. Argos season ticket holders get first shot at the very expensive bills seats too.

This split schedule worked for another small market team --the Green Bay Packers-- who play 2 games a year in Milwaukee. It should work for the Bills and actually serve the bitter Buffalo fans by ensuring the team won't move (completely) away and will stay long term in Buffalo (for half the year). Hey Bills fans: half a piece of candy is better than nothing at all.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Defending Speed Racer

I know, I know. This is a sports blog, not a film discussion forum. But my love for auto racing was cemented at a young age when I became a huge fan of the old Speed Racer cartoons. The cartoons were early Japanese anime, but I had no idea about that. All I knew was that it had tons of cool cars --full of gadgets--, lots of racing, and lots of bad guys. The names of the bad guys were inspired (or corny if you're a grouch): Cruncher Block, Inspector Detector, Snake Oiler, Captain Terror, Ace Ducey, etc.
Upon review as an adult, I was surprised by how bad the orginal 60's cartoons were. Terrible animation, hackneyed plots, etc. But as a young kid, I just loved the racing.

So now there's a major Speed Racer motion picture out. Directed and created by the Wachkowski Brothers of The Matrix fame, no less. I've seen the film with my 8 and 6 year old kids and they loved it! But then again, I loved it too. In my view it was a perfect update with numerous homages to the orginal cartoons. Goofy over-the-top animation, great diaologue, etc. The intense colors and visuals are perfect for this kind of fantasy racing adventure.

But the critics aren't happy. They whine that there isn't serious plot or character development. Typical review here. Hilarious. The reviewer complains that there isn't enough "substance." Hello!?! It is SPEED RACER for God's sake. This isn't Kurosawa or Herzog or even Coppola. This is a high-tech update of a anime fantasy --directed at kids and families. The critics are missing the whole point --or they just forgot how to relax.

The movie's plot is predictable and obvious, the characters cliche, and the scenes overwhelmingly bright. Just as the Wachkowskis intended! The movie is a blast and the racing scenes intense and fun. There's even a anti-corporate message. Spoiler alert: This film is not realistic. Danica Patrick can learn nothing about racing by watching it. But if you're looking for a fun kids movie, this one has everything.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Arena Week 11

A tough week in Arenaball. The Rattlers played SJ even for 3 quarters and then laid a big fat egg in the 4th Quarter (though the halftime ceremony to retire Randy Gatewood's jersey was worthwhile). Philly choked against Georgia and gave up 3 unanswered TDs to lose by 1.

For the first time this year, both Utah and KC won on the same week. Suddenly that playoff guarantee by the Rattlers is in some jeopardy. Utah and KC have 2 wins each and AZ has 4 wins. If either Utah or KC passes AZ, then we might get refunds!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Roller Hockey Quiz

Okay, how many of you remember professional roller hockey? Happy 10th Anniversary (sorta) of the death of pro roller hockey. Guess how long Roller Hockey International (RHI) lasted as a "professional" league:

RHI lasted:

A)1 year
B)2 years
C)3 years
D)5+ years

The answer?

Amazingly the answer is D. Who knew? Luckily Wikipedia tells all.

Wiki sez:
Roller Hockey International (RHI) was an inline hockey league in North America between 1993-97 and 1999. Teams competed through a regular and playoff season in hopes of winning the Murphy Cup (like the NHL's Stanley Cup). The league appeared during the inline skating boom of the early 1990s, but lost steam as the fad died down. In its five combined years of activity, the league saw seven franchises move and eight franchises change names. After folding in 1998, there was a movement to revamp and come back the following year as the Major League Hockey (MLH) that year, but it never came to fruition. The RHI was revived in 1999, but cancelled the 2000 season and the league finally folded operations in 2001 when their team sites were limited to arenas in California.

How in the world did this league last so long? Was it promoted by hockey equipment companies? Did it have any legit fans? I remember several of the teams were owned by NHL players, so I suppose there were some real hardcore hockey fans behind it.

I just remember the games looked like fun, but as TV fodder they were unwatchable.

Check out all the teams. RHI makes indoor soccer look stable. What gives with a team called the "Minnesota Brown Shirts"?

Note: RHI 1993-97, Major League Roller Hockey 1998, revived RHI 1999-2000 and California Roller Hockey League 2001, folded before 2002 season.

Anaheim Bullfrogs (1993-1997;1999 and 2001)
Calgary Rad'z (1993-1994)
Connecticut Coasters (1993)/Sacramento River Rats (1994-1997)
Florida Hammerheads (1993-1994)
Los Angeles Blades (1993-1997; 1999 and 2001)
Oakland Skates (1993-1996; 1998-99 and 2001)
Portland Rage (1993-1994)
San Diego Barracudas (1993-1996)/ Ontario Barracudas (1999)
St. Louis Vipers (1993-1997;1999)
Toronto Planets (1993)
Utah Rollerbees (1993)/Las Vegas Flash (1994)
Vancouver Voodoo (1993-1996)
Atlanta FireAnts (1994)/Oklahoma Coyotes (1995-1996)/Las Vegas Coyotes (1999) and (2001)
Buffalo Stampede (1994-1995)
Chicago Cheetahs (1994-1995)/Michigan Cheetahs (1996-1997)
Edmonton SledDogs (1994)/Orlando Rollergators (1995)/Orlando Jackals (1996-1997)/ Miami Jackals(1999)
Minnesota ArcticBlast (1994; 1996)
Montreal Roadrunners (1994-1997)
New England Stingers (1994)/Ottawa Loggers (1995-1996)/Ottawa Wheels (1997)
New Jersey Rockin Rollers (1994-1997)
Philadelphia Bulldogs (1994-1996)
Phoenix Cobras (1994-1995)/Empire State Cobras (1996)/Buffalo Wings (1997; 1999)
Pittsburgh Phantoms (1994)
San Jose Rhinos (1994-1997;1999 and 2001)
Tampa Bay Tritons (1994)
Minnesota Blue Ox (1995; 1999)
Motor City Mustangs (1995)
Denver Daredevils (1996-1997)/ Detroit Renaissance (1999)
Long Island Jawz (1996-1997)
Toronto Trojans (1999)
Chicago Bluesmen (1999)
Dallas Stallions (1999)
Utah Sun Dogs (1999)/ Spokane Sun Dogs (2001)
Austin Chiles (1999)/ Arizona Chiles (2001)
Fresno/Bakersfield Bombers (2001)
Idaho Idols (1999; 2001)
Milwaukee Blue Waves (2001)
Minnesota Brown Shirts (2001)
Phoenix Phantoms (2001)
Ventura County Surfers (2001)
San Diego Jackals (2001)
Virginia Seagulls (1997-1998)/ Oakland Seagulls (1999)/ San Diego Seagulls (2001)
Washington Web Warriors (2001)
Washington DC Power (1998-1999)/ Portland Power (2001)
Iowa Roadhogs (1999)/ Reno Roadhogs (2001)
Kansas City Chiggers (1999)/ Fresno Chiggers (2001)
Kansas City Rollerhawks (1999)/San Bernardino Rollerhawks (2001)
Reno Redskates (1999)/ Redding Redskates (2001)
Sacramento Golden Wheels (2001)
San Francisco Hippys (2001)
Santa Rosa Radikals (2001)
Stockton Silver-Kats (2001)
Note: The Palm Desert Silver-Cats (1995) and later in Ontario, California (1997) were a semi-pro team that played exhibition games with the Blades and Bullfrogs of the RHI league.

Click HERE to check out all the goofy/ugly/cool logos.

This logo is pretty cool and I remember seeing this team on TV (I think):

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


The lede was that Lebron James had only made 2 of 18 shots. Yep that was bad, but so was everyone else on the floor. Both the Cavs and the Celtics managed to squeeze 3 quarters worth of scoring into a full game.

If you like mauling defense and sloppy ball handling this was your game. For the rest of us it was awful. Clearly both sides are willing to play negative defensive tactics to keep the other side’s offensive stars in check.

Lebron might need to add Tai Kwan Do to his repertoire. This series will give Anderson Varejao plenty of opportunity to work on his Bill Laimbeer-esque game.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Boy Who Would Be King

Landon Donovan has been, undoubtedly, one of the bright lights of the American soccer scene over the last decade. His play in the 2002 World Cup gave American fans a tantalizing glimpse at a truly creative player wearing an American strip. Alas, came 2006, with the US in a challenging group, Donovan was a shrinking violet against the bigger, more physical Czech Republic yet redeemed himself in a truly courageous performance against Italy.

Even more vexing is the perception that Donovan is a callow boy. His failure at Bayern Leverkusen in addition to his intermittent flashes of brilliance in international play accentuates this perception. This article does not exactly disabuse skeptics of this notion. In the article Donovan says:

“Sometimes in this league, we play a midweek game in front of 6,000 and you
think: this stinks. Now with David, these have become real soccer games all the
time. Other teams are reaping rewards, too. Now we get to play in real games and
take it all seriously because of the spotlight.” (Emphasis mine)

Note to Galaxy fans who paid their money to watch a midweek game in which poor Landon was bummed out: You threw your hard earned bones down on a game that wasn’t real.

“The main thing on a week-to-week, day-to-day basis, it’s what I’ve been doing
to prepare myself to be successful in training and the next game,” he said. “I
didn’t always do it in the past. We’d play on Saturday, then it was kind of
ho-hum to get through the week. Now it’s become ... this is my job and it’s what
I do, and I feel it would be like letting myself down if I’m not taking things
more seriously.”

At age 26, Landon Donovan finally figured out what it took to be a professional.

2010 is around the corner - time to man up and prove your brilliance, pal.

Arena Rankings Week 11

I'm still pig-biting mad over the LA-AZ game. AZ should have, could have, would have won that game. They came close despite some of the most bone-headed calls in Arena history. I can't talk about it. But AZ is home vs. SJ this Friday, so I'm looking for a sweet, sweet win over those Sabercats (why don't they spell it "SabREcats"?)
After Philadelphia's dominating win over Dallas in "The Battle of the Undefeated" the Soul failed to show up against Cleveland and were quickly knocked from the ranks of the undefeated. That will teach the Soul to be prepared no doubt.
This weeks rankings:

Monday, May 5, 2008

Born To Be Down

In Jean-Paul Sartre's novel "Nausea" Antoine Roquetin becomes filled with an existential angst that drives him mad with self-loathing. Roquetin's life is filled with sickness in the form of dread about every facet of his everyday life. Antoine Roquetin should've been a Cleveland sports fan.

Another chapter in Cleveland's version of "Nausea" is about to be written by the Caveliers in their upcoming series against the Celtics. Cleveland fan is well justified in his playoff induced existential dread; this year's NBA playoffs are but one of many stories of inevitable failure that he has suffered over the years.

Last year's emasculation in the NBA finals wouldn't psychologically scar the fans of other cities, but Cleveland fan has grown to expect spectacular failure in the theatre of sport. Let's recall some of the tragic failures of Cleveland sports teams:

"The Fumble" - Earnest Byner's fumble near the Denver goal line in the '88 AFC Championship game that deprived the Browns of their first Super Bowl berth

"The Drive" - John Elway's 98 yard winning TD drive in the final 5:39 of the '87 AFC Championship game to snatch the Super Bowl from the clutches of the Dawg Pound

"Red Right 88" - Brian Sipe's interception on the Raider 12 yard line that led to a 14-12 loss in the '81 AFC Divisional Playoff

"The Shot" - Michael Jordan's last second shot over Craig Ehlo in the 5th game of the first round of the '89 NBA playoffs (Youtube enshrines this moment in the Cleveland sports psyche here )

In addition to years of failure the Indians have made a decent dent in the Cleveland fan's reflected glory with their collapse in the 2007 playoffs.

To add insult to injury, the Ohio State Buckeyes have lost three national championship games in the last two years in basketball and football. (But, the Buckeyes did win the football championship improbably in 2002)

Suffice to say, Cleveland has a lot of baggage.

Remember that this year as LeBron and the Cavs face the Celtics. The only question for Cleveland fan is not whether the Cavs will lose, but how spectacularly it will happen.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Factoid that may be of interest only to me

(Okay okay, it is almost certainly of interest only to me).

During the Rattlers last-second loss to Los Angeles last night, the first two Rattlers touchdown passes were thrown by a guy named LANG to a guy named TODD.

You can't get that kind of info anywhere else but IAI!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Dance of Deception

So the Suns season is over. More importantly, it is apparant to all that it is an end of an era. The run-and-gun Suns are probably done.'s Bill Simmons has a column that eulogizes the end of the running Suns and sums up why the Suns were so fun and why they weren't more successful. He really hits just about every point and it by far a worthwhile read. Check it out here.

Meanwhile, SI.'s Jack McCallum reported a few days ago that Mike D'Antoni is out as the Suns coach. He should know. He is as close to an "insider" as a news guy can be --having written an outstanding book on the Suns two years ago. D'Antoni doesn't feel "supported" by management (Duh!) and Mgmt isn't happy with D'Antoni's shortcomings as a defensive coach. But GM Steve Kerr denied this, as did D'Antoni (though half-heartedly).

The Republic reports here that the Suns brass (Kerr and Sarver) are meeting w/ D'Anoni and his lawyers today or this weekend. The claim is that nothing has been decided.

So what's going on? Kerr and Sarver are unhappy with D'Antoni and basically forced the Shaq trade on him. D'Antoni is miserable and is not getting much support from his players. But they are meeting, right?

What is really going on is simple. Both sides want to end the relationship. But D'Antoni has a contract and so alot of money is at stake. D'Antoni can't just walk away from that pile of cash. The Suns don't want to pay D'Antoni after they fire him, so they're trying to hound him into quitting. The meeting isn't going to resolve anything. What it might do is lead to a settlement --D'Antoni walks away with a cash settlement. Both sides want this, though neither will admit it. So we get the song and dance crap in the press.

Sarver's parsimony ruined the Suns (See Bill Simmons' article at the link up top). Now his attempt to save money forces everyone to pretend that D'Antoni might stay. It ain't happening. Its a new era for the Suns. Too bad.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Old Book Titles - New Subject Matters

I was reviewing some of the old pop culture novels from the 1980s on my bookshelf. While some are still interesting, many have not aged well. But what struck me was while I was scanning the old book covers was how many titles could apply to today's sports stories.

Top TEN Pop-Culture Book Titles from the 1980s that are still relevant to sports today:

#10. "Generation X" --A sociological and psychological investigation into the sketchy fringes of American society who called themselves "Fans" of the WWF's unholy offspring --the XFL--, during its single (only) failed season.

9. "Wonderboys" --The story of the team with all the potential and upside -yet that can never quite meet expectations. The 2005-2008 Phoenix Suns.

8. “Slaves of New York” --The heart-wrenching tale of the pathetic losers who wait in line overnight to attend the annual NFL Draft.

7. "The Secret History" The hidden-in-plain-sight explanation for Ben Jonson, FloJo, Marion Jones, Floyd Landis, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte... With a special appearance by Bud Selig as Inspector Clouseau.

6. “Mysteries of Pittsburgh” The investigation into why the hell NFL HOF’er Lynn Swann ran for Governor of Pennsylvania

5. “American Psycho” The Unauthorized Biography of Al Davis –the Man who Destroyed the Oakland Raiders.

4. “Ransom” An investigation into the attempt by new owner Clay Bennett to move the Seattle Super Sonics to Oklahoma City after Seattle refused to give in to Bennett's financial demands.

3. “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” –The Story of the 2007 NBA All-Star Game.

2. “Rules of Attraction”
– The Story of Professional Athletes and the Underage Women they “Date”. Featuring such young leaders as Matt Leinart, Boris Diaw, and Roger Clemens.

and #1...

1. “Less Than Zero” The Story of Roger Clemens’ Credibility. Featuring Brian McNamee, Mindy McCready, one of John Daly's ex-wives, et. al.

Thanks to DRage and Pagondas for two good suggestions. One was a little early (70s) and one a little late (early 90s), but both fit the pop-culture theme. DRage came up with the "Fear and Loathing" update --perfect. And Pagondas suggested "The Secret History". It is actually very early 90s, but as Pagondas points out, it was big with the folks who were into the whole McInerney/Ellis/Janowitz pop-culture thing, so I'll allow it. I still think only east-coast liberals read the damn thing. Also, I had to add "Generation X" since it was such a key book, but it did come out in '91.

Also, if you want to remember what the books were actually about back in the day, click on the book covers to go to a description of the original book. For what its worth, I thought "American Psycho" was garbage when it came out. Don't let the movie version fool you, the book is much worse than the movie.

I can't think of a good update for "Bright Lights, Big City" so if you have one, let me know. Or if I left your "favorite" out, please let me know.