There was once upon a time a great band of Wolverine warriors who prowled a region of earth known as The Big Mitten. Proud and fierce, they were led by a god like creature known as Bo. Merlot that is. Three yards and a clod of sod Schembechler. A fine wine was named in honor of the great god Bo. They were hailed as victors far and wide, everywhere they went. Except the Rose Bowl of course, that rarely worked out very well because, you know, PAC teams can actually pass the football.
Anyhoo, enough about ancient history, let us talk about the present. It is bleak. In Ann Arbor, the locals no longer bother with chattering about great wars with the hated Tattooed SweaterVests of Ohio State, for they must spend all their time hiding from their in state Sparty neighbors in green. Green is good, unless you are Blue. You see, the Green Meanie Spartys are 5-1 against the Michigan Men in the last six years, and are looking to get their swerve on yet again today in East Lansing. And Sparty is, frankly, starting to get bored. When asked this week about the looming battle for the coveted “Paul Bunyan Trophy“, pretty much all Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio could muster (apparently while yawning) was:
We have to keep our edge regardless of who we play. If we can’t do that, then we’ve not succeeded.
Ooof. Brutal. But, well, what is he supposed to say? The Wolverweenies have not scored a touchdown on Michigan State in the last two years, and last year Michigan rolled up an impressive negative 48 yards rushing for the game. And that was in Ann Arbor, today Sparty is eighth ranked and home cooking. Brady Hoke is right about one thing, this is not Devin Gardner’s problem. The problem at Michigan is far greater than that, it is systemic, and it appears to go all the way up to state Republican apparatchik Dave Brandon, who is the current athletic director. There won’t be a riesling, much less a merlot, named for Dave.
Which leads to the question asked by Marcy, who will fire old and hire new, coaches sooner, Michigan or the Florida Gators? Great question. My guess goes to Florida because I think they are more stable at the athletic director position. Michigan has issues across the board at this point. Jim White can flesh out the Gators’ details further, but things are not good in Gainesville with Will Muschamp either. I kid a lot about both of these programs, but it really is sad. Football is infinitely better when these storied programs are healthy and not woebegone.
Okay, let’s take a brief look at other things sporting in the news. The Royals last night stole a win in San Fancisco to go up 2-1 in the World Series. Ratings for this series are in the dumper, but I cannot fathom why. These are both compelling teams, and the series itself seems great. The Giants are a close to a dynasty as there is in baseball the last decade, and the Royals were once glorious and are finally back on the big stage. That is good stuff, and worth watching.
In the student athlete portion of this weekend’s schedule, apart from the Paul Bunyan fest in East Lansing, ‘Ole Miss at LSU and South Carolina at Auburn could both be surprises and look worth a look. USC at Utah is another upset special in the making. The Trojans are up and down this year, but Cody Kessler is running up impressive quarterback numbers along the way, and Utah can be thrown on. But Utah can score too, and they are always tough as nails in Rice Stadium. I have actually been to Rice Stadium by the way, but it was for a Rolling Stones concert, which was plenty proof the joint can rock. On a more sober note, I hope USC pulls off a big win because the Trojans are the team of my friend Kevin Drum, and life has dealt him a very bad card. Marcy and I have been together at this blogging thing a long time now, but long before that, Kevin became one of the first people in the blogosphere I came to know and interact with off blogs. He is a prince of a man, and I send him all my best wishes, and hope you will too.
In the professional football sporting side of things there is much ado about something. First off, in the supposedly game of the week, closest pairing evah etc Thursday night tilt between the Donkos and Bolts, ‘ole Noodle Armed Washed Up Lemon Sucking Face Peyton Manning skewered San Diego. Denver better find a way to sign and lock up BOTH Thomases, Julius and Demaryius, because Peyton looks like he easily has another 2-3 years in him. And those three are magic together. Can the Bungles rebound with a win over the Ravens home in Cinci? I wouldn’t bet on that; Flacco and the boys are on a roll. The Bills at Jets might actually be interesting. By the way, no, that is not a photo from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Acid Adventure there on the right, that is the Tennessee Titan’s new starting quarterback, Zach Mettenberger.
The three real games of the week are, however, Green Bay at the Saints and the Eagles at Arizona. Obviously I will be watching the latter, and think it ought to be a hell of an interesting game. The Iggles offense is, on paper, far more potent than that of the Cards. But this will be Carson Palmer’s second week back from his shoulder nerve injury and Larry Fitzgerald has mad a career of going wild on the Philadelphia defense over the years. So, the offenses may be a wash. Right now, the Cards’ defense seems to be the better of the two and, therefore, and I KNOW I will regret this, I think the edge has to go to the Cards at home. Lightening will strike me down for that I am sure.
Okay, that is it for this week’s trash talk, whoop it up people. Music this week by the great Mose Allison. On a melancholy music note, it has just been announced that Jack Bruce, the great bass player for Cream, has passed away. In his honor, here is my favorite Jack Bruce/Cream song ever, SWLABR, which Bruce both wrote and sang. It has always been a little disputed what the title stood for, but I have always bought that it really was “She Was Like A Bearded Rainbow” instead of “She Walks Like A Bearded Rainbow”. Either way, RIP Jack.
The week got off to a good start as the Patriots outlasted the Jets Thursday night. Barely and, really, the Jets should have won, they played better. Then, yesterday, the Jets traded a conditional draft pick to Seattle for Percy Harvin. Seems like a horrid deal for the Squawks, but apparently Harvin was a locker room cancer. Man, that is a big loss for Seattle talent wise, so they must have really wanted him gone. If the Jets had had him a couple of days earlier, they might well have beaten the Pats. The Seahawks probably won’t miss Harvin too much against the woeful Rams on Sunday, but may later in the year.
The two best games of the weekend are Chiefs at Bolts and 49ers at Broncos. In the former, you have to like San Diego. They finally seem to be getting rid of the Norval Turner syndrome, and Philip Rivers is playing soundly again. The Chefs are capable of blowing out even a good team on any given weekend, but are more than capable of sucking too, especially on the road. The 49ers at Broncos looks like a tossup, but I will take Peyton and the Donks at Mile High against pretty much anybody, and do here. Denver’s receivers are just too good for the so so defensive backfield of San Francisco.
The big game out west is Stanford at ASU here in Tempe. Stanford has pounded the Devils in the last few years, including twice last year (regular season and in Pac-12 championship). ASU is flaky, but they are more than capable of pulling off the win. They now have two quarterbacks as Taylor Kelly is returning from injury, but Mike Bercovicci, who has played well, is expected to get the start. Devils may actually have the better ground game for once too. Still, the odds are Stanford walks out the winner. The Washington Huskies have a great record so far at 5-1, but don’t have nearly enough juice to beat the Oregon Quackers in Eugene. Texas A+M at Alabama has been a fantastic game the last couple of years, and should be again. Both teams have looked out of sorts lately.
The marquee game nationally is, of course, Notre Dame at the Florida State Rapists and Coddlers. Hard to find a team to root for in this matchup. Maybe they could battle to a 0-0 tie, yeah, that would work. The Domers may be undefeated and fifth ranked in the country, but they don’t seem to have the talent or game to compete with the likes of FSU. There is currently a 9.5 point spread on the game in favor of FSU, and that seems about right.
No baseball as the World Series doesn’t start until Tuesday, but how bout them Royals! Formula One is off until November 2nd, when the US Grand Prix in Austin goes off. This week’s music courtesy of Neil Young and Crazyhorse. So, with that, I bid you adieu and chat it up.
Last week we opened up with discussion of the stunning announcements of Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso to change teams for 2015. That was a titanic sized announcement the likes of arguably never seen before in F1, certainly not with so many races left on the calendar. All that was lead unto the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, which unfortunately was scheduled at the same time a rather large typhoon was rolling in. The conditions were horrible on track, and in fact the first dozen or so laps were run at a crawl behind the safety car.
And then unspeakable tragedy struck Adrian Sutil went off course in his Sauber and a lap later, young Jules Bianchi went off at the same exact location and his Marussia car went into the side of and under a tractor crane present to remove Sutil’s car. frankly, it is so graphic that I am not going to embed it, but if you want to see it, it is here. It seems almost inconceivable that Bianchi survived, but he has, although his condition is grim and with serious head trauma.
The accident has cast a pall over this weekend’s inaugural Russian Grand Prix in Sochi. Team Marussia will run only a single car for the race, a dedication to a down teammate not seen since Damon Hill of Williams ran solo after the death of Aryton Senna 20 years ago. Bianchi is young, personable and a fantastic up and coming driving talent. Get well Jules.
Baseball is back, and there was yet another extra inning barnburner involving the Kansas City Royals last night, with the Royals pulling out the win – again – on the road in ten innings. Today is game two between the Royals and Orioles, and the start of the NLCS between San Francisco and St. Louis. MLB has been incredible this October.
Hey, who would have thought the road to the college football national championship would run through Starkville and the Mississippi state Bulldogs? But today it does as the second ranked Auburn Tigers come to town to face the third ranked Bulldogs. Mississippi State has beaten LSU and Texas A & M in back to back weeks. Can they beat Auburn too? Tall order, not so sure about that, but should be one heck of a game. The aforementioned Aggies host the ‘Ole Miss Rebels, and may be in danger of losing two in a row after a hot start. Two other games are huge, and in the Pac-12. Oregon at UCLA and USC at Arizona are both big games with huge post season implications.
In the pros, Dallas at Seattle looks like the best matchup of the weekend. Dallas is way better than people thought, and their defense and running game are really coming into their own. But Seattle at home is a tough hill to climb, don’t think the ‘Boys have enough juice for that. Giants at Eagles also could be decent. Giants have looked better last couple of weeks, but I will take Nick Foles over Bad Eli here. Pats at Bills, Steelers at Browns and Skins at Cardinals also may have interest.
What you have to talk about?
A fairly minimalist week on the sports criminal docket front other than the announcement of former SDNY Judge Barbara S. Jones to hear the Ray Rice appeal against the NFL. She looks like a decent pick.
There is, however, a lot going on in the actual sporting world. Exciting MLB playoffs, and week five of college and pro football. But, by far if you look to the global sporting stage, the biggest news broke late yesterday: Sebastian Vettel is leaving Red Bull for Ferrari, and it seems almost certain that Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso is leaving the Scuderia for his old team, McLaren.
This is simply stunning. Frankly, not sure I have ever seen such a seismic shift with this much time left in the current season. Vettel is certainly younger (by about a decade), and would look to be with Ferrari for the long haul, but Alonso is for now a superior driver. For the next couple of years, not sure the boys from Maranello got the better part of this change. And the Circus is in Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend. Rosberg and Hamilton have the front row locked out after qualifying, and Suzuka is a great course. Worth the watch.
Then there is baseball. We don’t usually do much baseball here, but holy cow has there been some fantastic playoff action in the MLB. Especially any and all of the games involving the Kansas City Royals. First they beat the Oakland A’s in one of the most gripping baseball games you will ever see to make it past the initial knockout 1 game wildcard playoff game – in 12 innings. It was mesmerizing. Then they have followed it with back to back 11 inning wins over the Angels in Anaheim. Just wow. The Cardinals and Dodgers series seems similarly charged, and there are hard feelings between the two teams. And once again, Detroit, with all their talent, is self destructing in October, this time with two 8th inning collapses against the Orioles. Great stuff across the board for baseball.
In college football, I think we have to open with credit due for Rich Rodriquez who took his Arizona Wildcats to Autzen Stadium, knocked off the second ranked Oregon Ducks and walked out 5-0. Maybe Rich Rod wasn’t the problem in Ann Arbor. Sixth ranked Texas A+M at Mississippi State has the biggest buzz about it. Don’t sleep on the Bulldogs at home, they have a superb QB, Dak Prescott, and a tough fast defense. Same thing goes for Alabama at ‘Ole Miss. Big day in Mississippi.Stanford at Notre Dame, LSU at Auburn, and Nebraska at Michigan State all look to be good games. Before being exposed in the nightmare against UCLA the last time they took the field, I would have thought ASU at USC would be a good game. Not so much now, the Trojans will roll them.
Not a great week in the NFL. Man, the Packers just destroyed the Vikings on Thursday Night Football, and the Pack is back to 3-2 and looking better. The big game this week is – go figure – the still unbeaten Cardinals in Mile High against the Broncos. The Cards are a solid team, but won’t be unbeaten after Peyton is done. Could be a really good game though. Both teams are coming off a bye. Chiefs at 49ers and Bengals at New England are the only other really interesting games on the schedule. I will take the home team in both of those, though I am starting to wonder if Bill Bel, Brady and the boys deserve the respect any more. We shall see.
Okay, that is it for this week. Chat it up.
Not nearly as much criminal docket news this week, but one thing is notable. The NFL has started its pushback on the AP story of the “law enforcement official” who sent the full elevator video to the league now that AP has supplemented its original report to reflect that the law enforcement official sent the tape addressed to Jeff Miller, the head of the NFL Security Office in New York.
This is a sizable problem for the league. So now the NFL is shopping, through its oh so subservient mouthpiece ESPN, the posture that the tape story is all a lie:
“Our office has found absolutely no evidence to support the claim of the anonymous ‘law enforcement source’ that he sent a video to the NFL office or that he received a telephone call to his ‘disposable cell phone’ from an unidentified female using an NFL line,” the league said.
This is simply pathetic. As if they had not already engaged in enough mendacity and duplicity over their handling of the Rice case, now they are doubling down. Their defense to the tape allegations is it is all a lie. That the AP got hoaxed on their huge story. The AP, who knows exactly the full identity of their source, his law enforcement status, and presumably has confirmed details. The NFL is the truth teller and everyone else, from Ray and Janay Rice, to Ozzie Newsome, to casino security, to the cops, to the venerable AP…they all are lying. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Roger Goodell and the NFL grow exponentially more pathetic with each passing day.
After Thursday night’s debacle here at Sun Devil Stadium, it is hard to talk about football at all. Very ugly. A possible upset special might be Stanford at Washington. Tough conference game and the Huskies are improved under Chris Peterson. The national interest seems to be on FSU and Heisman criminal Winston at NC State. Hard to see the Wolfpack making a game of it, but one can hope. Really not a lot of interesting games this week.
On the beleaguered NFL side, there are a few games worth watching. Starting, of course with the best rivalry in the history of pro football, Packers and Bears. It is at Soldier Field, so I am not sure why the Cheese is a one point favorite. The Pack is playing like crap so far this year, no running game and an unusually ineffective passing attack. I’ll take the Bears here. Can the Lions stay on their early season roll and beat the Jets Jets Jets? Yes, they can. Eagles at Niners is really interesting. Eagles are rolling, and San Fran is reeling. Oh, and Jim Harbaugh really is a giant flaming detestable asshole. So, I will be rooting for the Iggles, plus they are more fun to watch. Patriots have been horrible so far, especially on offense. Still hard to see them not beating the Chefs to go to 3-1 despite how bad they have been. KC is still hung over from the Royals making the playoffs.
On a sad note, this blog has lost another of our old friends dating back to when we started. She has been absent for about two years now, but Skdadl was a great and wonderful presence in our comment threads for a very long time. Now she is gone. The full obituary for Susan Kent Davidson is here, and she had a full life. RIP Susan.
On that melancholy note, I leave you to chat it up.
Another week, another series of missteps and embarrassment for the National Felon League. More facts surface showing Adrian Peterson to be a backwards horrible human, the Cardinals’ Jonathan Dwyer is charged with felony assault for head butting his wife and breaking her nose and Roger Goodell held a news conference yesterday where he came off as even a bigger dissembling jackass than he seemed before.
Lost, at least somewhat, in the relentless shuffle of negativity surrounding the NFL were significant developments in the Ray Rice case that set everything off to start with. As an excellent report by ESPN’s Outside The Lines lays out, both the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL knew everything about the Rice incident immediately and colluded to minimize the impact on Rice. From the New York Daily News:
According to the ESPN report, the Ravens’ director of security, Darren Sanders, was made aware of the inside-the-elevator video just hours after Rice clocked his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, at the now-closed Revel Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City in mid-February. Sanders, according to the report, had reached out to an Atlantic City police officer, who described in detail what transpires in the elevator video. Sanders then conveyed the information to Ravens executives, according to ESPN, although the report does not name which individuals Sanders contacted.
The report describes how Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, team president Dick Cass and GM Ozzie Newsome worked behind the scenes to try to have their star running back get off with a lenient punishment. According to ESPN, the three men campaigned with prosecutors in Atlantic City — where Rice was charged with assault — as well as with Goodell, since he would mete out punishment for Rice, and with organizational personnel.
The full NYDN article linked above is worth a read, and the long form detailed ESPN OTL article is chock full of further details and a tick tock from the night of the incident through the present day. Literally the only person who seems to have consistently been honest in this mess is Ray Rice. As I said in last week’s Trash Talk, I think he has a pretty good chance in his appeal with the league and the Ravens over his suspension in light of the Article 46 §4 single penalty clause. The Players’ Union formally noticed that appeal last Tuesday, and it is supposed to be heard within ten days.
Hey, it is not just the NFL that is chock full of criminals, the NBA has them too! Rex Chapman, former sharp shooting guard for the Bullets and Suns, and former NBA team executive, just got arrested for shoplifting $14,000 (yes, $14,000!!) of Apple products in Scottsdale. Oh, and career criminal Jameis Winston is in trouble again.
Welp, in addition to all the criminal docket activity, there is purportedly actual football to be played. It seems kind of secondary any more.
The Florida Gators are in Tuscaloosa and look ripe to get rolled by the Tide. I actually think the BYU and Virginia game may be decent. Don’t sleep on the Cougars, they have a good team and a favorable schedule this year. They are capable of going undefeated, but the Cavaliers will be a test. FSU may not have Career Criminal Winton at QB, but they should have enough at home to get past Clemson. Mississippi State could be a tough matchup for LSU.
The big game in the National Felon League is, of course, the rematch of the Super Bowl when Peyton and the Broncs meet the Seasquawks in Seattle. This game will be a lot closer that the SB was; I rate it a toss up, but would not be surprised if Peyton pulls off the win. The surprising Bills host the Chargers in an early game that should be pretty interesting. The Packers are in Detroit. Both teams are 1-1 and need the win. As much as I hate to say it, I think Detroit is the better team right now, and it will show. But Aaron Rodgers is starting to heat up again, so it could go either way. While the rest of the country is watching Peyton versus the Squawks, I will be stuck with Niners at the Cards. Carson Palmer is out again it appears for the Cards, and Drew Stanton will start for a second week in a row. With Palmer, I would like the Cards, but not sure there will be enough offense without him, so I will take the Niners there.
Well, that is enough. Talk some trash amongst yourselves.
Welp. Not a particularly banner week for the National Football League. In fact, I am not sure I have ever seen a league, any league, take quite the self inflicted beating that Goodell and the NFL have this week.
The Ray Rice affair was already quite the ugly black eye before all hell broke loose, and appropriately so, with the release of the TMZ tape clip from inside the elevator at the Revel Casino in New Jersey. Marcy already covered the tape and some of its implications. I don’t have a ton to add here, but I do have a couple of things to say. First, the NFL and Goodell are just flat lying through their teeth about the video. I have dealt with pro security offices before, including one in the NFL. They are almost always run by either ex-FBI or ex-state police. Experienced people that know what they are doing and are very connected to police and other local authorities (say, for instance prosecutors). If the Ravens and NFL security wanted the video, they would have the video, whether from the Atlantic City Police or from the Revel Casino itself. The thought they couldn’t get it is absurd. And that is irrespective of the law enforcement member that says he gave it to the NFL.
Secondly, a lot of people are shocked and outraged that Rice was give a diversion plea. Frankly, I am not all that shocked; diversion is not at all uncommon where there are no serious physical injuries, no prior convictions and the victim uncooperative as to prosecution and requests that diversion be given. That is certainly the case here, and from talking to a couple of experienced attorneys in New Jersey, it is not at all unheard of there. Here is the actual prosecutor’s reasoning for doing so. Here is a TMZ report citing anonymous junior prosecutors in the Atlantic County DA’s office saying it is very rare and expressing outrage. Frankly, in Arizona, I think the Rice case would be filed as a misdemeanor to start with and while diversion would be discretionary, it would not be uncommon. Time, and their own conduct, will tell if diversion was the right Continue reading
NFL officials are everywhere claiming that no one saw the Ray Rice video released today by TMZ back when they considered his punishment.
There is one other thing I did not write or refer to, and that is the other videotape the NFL and some Ravens officials have seen, from the security camera inside the elevator at the time of the physical altercation between Rice and his fiancée. I have heard reports of what is on the video, but because I could not confirm them and because of the sensitivity of the case, I never speculated on the video in my writing, because I don’t think it is fair in an incendiary case like this one to use something I cannot confirm with more than one person. I cannot say any more, because I did not see the tape. I saw only the damning tape of Rice pulling his unconscious fiancée out of the elevator.
But I don’t think Deadspin emphasizes the implication of this enough.
King raised the reports of the video he got to explain why he had said he thought it was fair for Rice to get just a 2-game suspension (though he thought 4 to be more fair). That is, people told him this video exonerated Rice.
There is a certain (perverse) logic to that. It suggests that because Rice’s then fiancée swung at him, he was justified in belting her, which led her to lose consciousness. (It’s not clear to me whether the blow itself or hitting her head on the railing knocked her out). That might explain why she issued an apology at the time, because obviously swinging at Rice and getting knocked out in response makes it all her fault.
That is, the scandal of the video — in addition to the fact that they appear to be lying about having considered it in their discussion of Rice’s punishment — is they believed that because Janay swung at Rice he was justified in swinging back.
Even assuming that was their logic, though, remember that Roger Goodell was at this same time giving long, long punishments to various people for doing the harmless thing of smoking dope.
Update: In a follow-up post, now showing that Chris Mortenson and several other reporters also got the same report, Deadspin does emphasize this. NFL was telling reporters in July this video exonerated Rice (because Janay “attacked” Rice). Now they’re claiming they never saw it.
There is a LOT going on this weekend in the sports of Trash department. It is pretty early for in depth analysis (not that my analysis is ever particularly deep, mind you), so think we will do an overview of all that is going on and a couple of side stories of note.
As I write, I am watching qualifying at Monza for the Italian Grand Prix. As I try to convey every year, there are two GPs that are the living epitome of the sport at its best. Two weeks ago was the Belgian GP at Spa, hands down in my book the most beautiful full circuit (i.e. Monaco excluded). This week is Monza, the oldest and fastest circuit. Simply great racing. Tune in tomorrow morning on NBC Sports channel; coverage starts at 7:30 am EST.
Even though Marcy has abandoned her one time main girl, Brittney Griner, Brittney and the Phoenix Mercury are in the WNBA Finals, which start Sunday. They face the Chicago Sky and Elena Delle Donne. That said, the best player on the floor will be Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi. Bob Schacht would be proud.
But, of course, the big ticket is football, and this is the first full weekend with both college and pros. Not a real promising start Thursday night, but, man, the Squawks look like they are picking up exactly where they left off.
The big game is not in The Big House, but is instead at South Bend, where the Continue reading
Yo. How y’all doing out there? Yeah, yeah, trash talk has bee a bit thin for a while. And some “other” blogger at this site has been carping at me about that. I would say it was righteous carping…BUT no can do.
One of the first humans I ever saw hopping on the Brittney Griner train when she was a Baylor Bear was Marcy. Yet when Brittney, the Phoenix Mercury and Diana Taurasi advance to the WNBA Championship, I hear nothing. What is a self righteous Emptywheel denizen to do?? I ask you! This would never have happened if our old friend Bob Schacht were around to scold us. I miss Bob.
But, tonight, the WNBA is an afterthought because real live genuine NFL Football is here. At long last love.
Tonight is all about the Heroes of Titletown, the one and only Green Bay Packers, going to the land of clouds and rain to visit the Seattle Seasquawks.
Pretty awesome opening game, no? Yeah, don’t mess around, of course it is. It is on NBC, tune in or get out.
Seattle is one tough joint to play a gig in for a football team. But, that said, the Arizona Cardinals, of all people and teams, went in to the Emerald City late last season and knocked off the Squawks. If the local yokel Cardinals can do it, then Aaron Rodgers and the Pack can.
Will they? Okay, I am not betting any of my fleeting real money on it, but I think Aaron Rodgers can out fox Richard Sherman. GO PACK GO!