…or not. The Rockets are making me consider League Pass already. James Harden had 37 points and 12 assists in this game. He’s been a Rocket for 72 hours. Lin didn’t out up a colossal stat line, but he looked like the guy we all fell in love with last year. Look out, NBA.
There was a soccer match yesterday.
There was a soccer match yesterday in which the 18th place team in the Premier League, Reading, led the 4th place team, Arsenal by 4-0 in the first half.
There was a soccer match yesterday in which the 18th place team in the Premier League, Reading, led the 4th place team, Arsenal by 4-0 in the first half, and were leading 4-2 AFTER 88 minutes of play, yet subsequently lost the game 7-5.
Reading this article about Brandon Roy, I was immediately reminded of this one about Greg Oden. What’s most striking is the way both players felt about their treatment at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers. Roy felt pressured into a medical retirement he didn’t want, Oden felt pressured to return to the court sooner than he felt he was ready to play. Roy, Oden and Lamarcus Aldridge could have formed as formidable a Big Three as any other in the league right now. Unfortunately, their potential was wasted by a subpar medical staff, as documented here.
1. The guy who bodychecked Darren Collison in the open court five months ago called a not-particularly-hard foul a “punk play”.
2. The Lakers haven’t won a basketball game since May 18. Including the preseason. Everyone panic!
3. Anderson Varejao’s stat line: 9 points, 23 rebounds, 9 ASSISTS.
4. Kevin Garnett is ice cold. The whole thing feels manufactured, sort of like every Celtics storyline since Ubuntu.
5. This blurb, from Cavs/Wizards: “Before the game, Gilbert said he regrets guaranteeing the Cavs would win an NBA title before LeBron James, who left Cleveland as a free agent in 2010. ‘Looking back now, that probably was not the most brilliant thing I’ve ever done in my life,’ Gilbert said.”
6. Dwight Howard attempted 14 free throws and missed 11 of them. He also fouled out.
7. Steve Nash: 7 points, 4 assists, 1 questionable outfit.
8. Kyrie Irving still looks like he’s a really good basketball player.
9. Washington’s leading scorer last night was Jordan Crawford, who had 11 points on 4 of 13 shooting. Their leading rebounder was Earl Barron, who had 8. Neither player started the game.
10. The Heat’s leading scorer in their win was Dwyane Wade with 29. The Mavs leading scorer in their win was Darren Collison with 17. Such is the cyclical nature of life.
Another great story from Frank Deford’s “Over Time: My Life As a Sportswriter”, which I’m officially moving into my recommendations list.
When Deford was on assignment in Baltimore, his favorite hangout was a place called Club Tracadero.
This seemed to be a place for the high and low end, all gentlemen were welcomed. Deford, being a regular, became friends with a few of the exotic dancers at the Club and was in on the gossip.
Now what does this have to do with Mickey Mantle?
Turns out the Yankees were in a town for a series a few days earlier, and a few guys on the team including Mantle came by the Club to enjoy themselves.
One of the dancers, known as Fern The Flower Woman, ended up going back to Mantle’s hotel room.
When Deford asked Fern for more detail on her encounter with Mantle, she had this to say: “That sonuvabitch. I spend the whole night with him, and I know how good it was because he gave me a hundred. So I figure anybody who spends that kind of night with me is not going to be playing much baseball the next day. Plus, I seen the pitcher have a few drinks, and I know because it’s the Yankees, we’re giving them good drinks here. So I take the hundred, bet it all against the Yankees, and what does Mantle do? He beats the Birds with a home run.”
I know we’re trying to stick with original content but this is too good not to circulate.
So now that every single RSS feed everywhere have made that scab-calling thing finally catch hold, we can look back and see that all it took was one of the crappiest ever officiated football game in Monday night’s Packers–Seahawks comedy of missed calls to get there. When a game is decided at the meeting point between whim and duress by the under-qualified 5th string refs, will we get some kind of meaningful discussion of labor in sports (despite that gray area of disinterest when millionaires and billionaires bicker about money)? Not really, but at least $150m in bets were affected because of it. Let’s say Nevada has enough guns and gamblers that next time the refs need to get from Utah to California, they should probably take the long way around.
To recap, a partial list of the missed or make believe calls would include when the refs, given two tries, got a call wrong both times, and this didn’t just happen in the immaculate non-interception that closed the game. There was also that missed call on a clear first down in the 3rd quarter that burned a GB challenge followed by the make-up pass interference call not long after to even things out a bit. Before the 4th quarter there had already been 230 or so yards that the ball had moved on penalties. Musing on that info-graphic, the announcers finally acknowledge that hey, most of the penalties do not reflect what we’d all been watching happen on the field. “These penalties are making the games hard to watch,” they add.
We at Doing it to Death, avowed union supporters (at least in the way that I was forcibly turned into a union member of the adjunct faculty at Hudson County Community College), can’t help but see the NFL’s “replacement” referees for the scabs they are. Brian noticed a sign in the Seattle stands calling out the refs as that at Monday night’s game. But it’s Seattle, so, sure, WTO protest site and all that. But if the refs were even just mediocre, let alone halfway decent, it’s pretty clear (and no surprise here) we wouldn’t see those scabs sign.
As far as fun parallels to draw go, we can point out that, after all, the state of Wisconsin led the charge towards the pending death knell of collective bargaining everywhere. And hey, if there was no collective bargaining these unionized refs would still be out there and the Packers would have won. So maybe that Scott Walker guy isn’t so bad?
For what it’s worth, the numbers I’ve read suggest paying the real, competent referees would mean approximately $1.5 million per team, or, all told, $48 million, so not a lot of money for a $2 billion industry. I have nothing new to add to all the animosity aimed towards Roger “Fidel” Goodell (“Castro”), and really, you can look at what’s happening in the NHL and say he’s still not the worst commissioner of a sport.
Enough commentators have pointed out that we’re all still watching the games though, so there’s not all that much incentive to get back to the negotiating table. Also, it just so happens that the Ravens-Pats games Sunday night, terrible calls notwithstanding, was easily among the best regular season games I’ve seen in some years now. Equally interesting was how after each play the game devolved into that spiral of pushing and shoving thing they do. So what is the over/under on a fight that rivals that Malice in the Palace brawl breaking out before halfway through the season?
For those who read and might not know me on a personal level, I currently live in Milwaukee, yet as a New Jersey native I don’t have the same level of Packer-related insanity as most others in my immediate surroundings. Naturally, I got to experience the full-bore fallout of Monday’s egregious referee decision which I’m going to go ahead and assume you’re already well aware of.
The other day while watching the thrilling Champions League match between Manchester City and Real Madrid, I realized something about who I am, both as a man and a sports fan. The simple, plain truth seems a bit obvious, but, like certain simple statements, it holds some deeper truths within. The statement is this: I watch sports the same way I watch movies.
It is one thing to be bad at baseball in the sense that you do not win, or, on a micro level, do not hit well, or field well, or throw well.
It is entirely another to be bad at baseball in the sense that you have a difficult time getting to the point where you can actually participate in the game.
The Kansas City Royals are bad at baseball.