Football

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Lake Effect Trash Talk

Whoo boy, there is a bit of snow that shuffled in to Buffalo recently. So, with the Kittehs over in Foxborough taking on the steamrolling Pats, Buffalo will be the “home team” in Detroit for their game against the Jets. And tickets will be free, which is a cool thing for fans in Motown. The Jets just stink and Buffalo ought be a little jacked up, so I’m taking the Wagon Circlers. But what about the Kittehs? The Bill Bel and Brady brigade are just flat out rolling and just signed a new/old battering ram, er running back, LeGarrette Blount to solidify their running game. The Lions might be slipping back into the penalty prone ways. Hard not to take the Pats here.

Other than Pats and Lions, the other truly big game is the Cards up at the Seasquawks. The Squawks are favored pretty heavily. The national press, especially all the chatterers on ESPN, seem fixated on the Cards being in trouble because Carson Palmer is done for the year and backup Drew Stanton is in charge at QB. But I don’t think that is the worry, Stanton is competent, and the Cards were not exactly flashy even with Palmer. I think the problem is the running game, or actually lack thereof. The Cards get a little bit out of Andre Ellington, but really just don’t have much of a ground game. I think against a still tough Seattle defense, in that noisy stadium, that will doom the Cards. The Dolphins at Broncos and Ravens at Saints will also have big implications for all four teams and their playoff chances.

It is really a weak schedule in the college ranks this week. Arguably the two best games are in the Pac-12. First up is Rich Rod and the Arizona Wildcats in Utah to face the Utes.As I said earlier in the year when ASU played Utah, the Utes are good, and especially so at home in Rice Stadium. Lot of people picking Utah, but I think the Cats will pull out a narrow win. The other Pac-12 tilt of note is the yearly grudge match between USC and UCLA. The Bruins are favored at “home” in the Rose Bowl, but home field doesn’t mean much with these two. Both Brett Hundley and Cody Kessler are having great seasons at QB. I think it is a tossup, maybe slight edge to the Trojans. The SEC seems to all be playing Eastern Podunk State this week, so who cares about them? Special shoutout for Scribe on the Lehigh and Lafayette game being played in Yankee Stadium. I rate it a tossup, because who knows what can happen when these two get together! Seriously though, this is the 150th meeting in this ancient rivalry, and the NYT has a great story about the history.

Really, that is about it for excitement. There are only the two top shelf games in the NFL, but they should be good ones. The announcement of a no-bill, the opposite of an indictment for you non-criminal lawyers, is likely to be announced from the St. Louis County prosecutor’s office on Sunday, or so it seems to be shaping up to my eye. Officer Darren Wilson will skate for the homicide of Michael Brown, and all because prosecutor Bob McCulloch designed and ran a ridiculously out of the ordinary and craven grand jury designed to insure there was no indictment. Wilson figuratively chased a boy through the park and put a bullet in his heart. So today’s music is an absolutely kick ass version of Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) by the Stones from 1972. Rock on.

Update from emptywheel. Scribe actually wrote a great piece on the Lehigh/Lafayette game so I’m making an executive decision to share it with you all.

This is the weekend someone in the marketing department decided would be called “Rivalry Weekend”. And, so it is. Even though BMAz says it’s a lame weekend for college football, he’s wrong again. Many of the greatest rivalries in the college game get played today. But there is one rivalry which stands apart from the others. Today, Lafayette College and Lehigh University will play football against each other for the 150th time. That is more than any other pair of teams have played each other, anywhere, ever. This year The Game will take place at a neutral site. Yankee Stadium.

These are two smallish Eastern colleges with campuses about a dozen miles apart in two of the small, now post-industrial, cities of Pennsylvania. The schools are justly proud of their academics and the distinction of their graduates. You can look them up, but they routinely wind up near the top of the “highly competitive” categories.

Lehigh is a full-blown university awarding all sorts of degrees through the doctorate, but it came up as a school of engineering and the hard sciences. It was founded in the 19th century by the man in charge of the Lehigh Valley Railroad and located literally up the hill – Bethlehem’s South Mountain – from the main works and offices of the Bethlehem Steel Company. For generations there were many young men who, upon graduation, would go down the hill and into the offices of The Steel, to retire from there 40 or so years later. For the longest time, Lehigh’s teams were “the Engineers”. But, in recent years either they had an attack of the marketing department or a crisis of confidence and they wound up renaming themselves the “Mountain Hawks”.

Lafayette is an all-undergraduate college sited on College Hill, a bluff overlooking the city of Easton and the confluence of the Lehigh and Delaware rivers. Its professors actually teach students in classes. It was founded in the first part of the 19th century. Its graduates have been more catholic in their fields of accomplishment, though business and Wall Street are strongly represented. Since time out of mind, its teams have been called the “Leopards”. In the days before the No Fun League, college football was the game and Lafayette was a national powerhouse as well as innovators. They were consensus national champions in 1896, 1921 and 1926. That’s right. Three-time national champions. In those old days, responding to the team from the University of Pennsylvania stealing their signals, Lafayette’s team invented the huddle. And, after tiring of getting banged around, one of Lafayette’s players invented the old leather football helmet. And in the late 40s when Texas’ Jim Crow would have stopped their star running back, a former Tuskegee Airman, from playing, Lafayette told the Sun Bowl to keep their bowl bid.

The rivalry between these two colleges is and always has been intense even as they’ve gone from I-A to I-AA in football, I-A in other sports. If you haven’t experienced it from the inside it’s quite hard to describe. It extends from football through all other sports and into the work and social worlds. That whole “Roll Tide -War Eagle” bit has nothing on this. For many years, the intensity of the rivalry required The Game to be played twice – home and home – every year. Thus, today is the 150th time The Game has been played even though they only started playing in 1884. The energy behind the rivalry played out in stunts – can you build an egg launcher that can be smuggled into the game and will reach to the other side of the stadium? – violence – both were all-male schools until about 1970 and all that energy went into … something – vandalism – once, some Lehigh students put their welding skills to work and removed the balls from a larger-than-life bronze of General Lafayette. (After that and some very professionally done repairs, all outdoor statuary was boxed over for most of November. Students often repainted the boxes to look like outhouses.)

Two schools where football players play more for the love of the game than anything else. Both schools are antipathetic toward athletic scholarships and there are no academic shortcuts. Hardly any of the players ever gets a look from the No Fun League, so today is the end of football for most of the seniors. Each school has long traditions, alumni who deeply love them and many reasons to be proud. Today is one more. For me, Yankee Stadium is too far to travel, but I might be going to a sports bar where The Game will be on CBS Sports Network.

Raise a glass. This is what college football should be.

Madame Defargewheel’s Football Guillotine Trash Talk

So, I heard on the radios today that the “sharps”, “insiders” and other “experts” were calling this weekend a “guillotine” because there were so many make or break games in both college and pros. Seasons on the chopping block and whatnot. I was doing about 85 with the sunroof open and did not quite catch who it was blathering this bunk, but it struck my fancy. What the hell, make it so, this is hereby now “Guillotine Week!” Hard to think about guillotines without good old Madame Defarge sitting there knitting. Knitting. Endlessly knitting. So, thus the title theme of Defarge and guillotines. Nothing but the most wholesome fare for our readers!

Okay, so we lead off this week with probably the most compelling game of the year, the Michigan Wolverweenies at the Northwestern Fighting Journalists. Hahahaha, just kidding. Nope, the game of the week is right here at Sun Devil Stadium where Notre Dame will be taking on the ASU Sun Devils. I will be rooting for the home team of course, but they have their work cut out for them. For starters, while ASU has had a decent team over the years, every time they have been on a big stage with real glory there for the taking, they get killed. Take last year’s Pac-12 Championship game against Stanford for instance. It is just a fact, the Devils don’t show up when the lights are the brightest.

So, will the pattern of big game disappointment hold again this afternoon? Both teams are 7-1, and they are ranked 9 and 10 in the polls currently. ASU’s loss was a blowout to UCLA, the Irish loss was a nail biter to Florida State. The Irish are two and a half point favorites. ASU’s defense is good, but will be missing their best defensive tackle, Jaxon Hood. They also have an annoying tendency of giving up big plays, and Everett Golson is one hell of a QB, both on the ground and in the air. The 2.5 spread on this game feels too small. Taylor Kelly, the Devils starting QB has just not been that good in the two games coming back from a month off with a foot injury. Honestly, Mike Bercovici, who filled in when Kelly was out, is a lot better passing quarterback, and ASU needs that vertical ability. Sad to say, but I think ASU is in for yet another big stage failure.

The other top shelf guillotine game in the college ranks is Ohio State at Michigan State. This game, like ASU and Notre Dame is a knockout round for consideration for the big playoff picture. A one loss B1G conference champ will likely get one of the four playoff bids, and one of these teams is going to be out of the race after this game. The Spartans just feel like a superior team to the Sweatervests, and are at home, so they look good here. The third chopping block matchup is Kansas State at the TCU Horned Frogs. Both teams have only one loss and they are ranked 6 and 7 in the country respectively. TCU really rolls up big scores, but they seem flaky for some reason. I am taking Kansas State in an upset. In other news, SEC studs ‘Ole Miss is playing some powerhouse known as the Presbyterian Blue Hose. Seriously, the Blue Hose?

In the pros, the Browns already laid an ass whuppin on the favored Bengals in Cinci. And the solid play of Brian Hoyer has started rumors that Cleveland will trade Johnny Football, maybe to the Cowboys (and we know Jerry Jones still pines for him). The first guillotine game is the 49ers at Saints. Both teams are 4-4. A loss hurts San Fran more than New Orleans because going to 4-5 would put the Niners in a huge hole in the NFC West, where the Saints would still be in competition in the woeful NFC South. I think the Saints roll at home i the dome. The Fish at the Lions has an air of importance about it too. Miami is quietly on a roll with their offense starting to be as solid as their defense. Detroit is at 6-2 and near the top of the NFC, but they are desperate to keep their lead on Green Bay, who is home at Lambeau against the Bears. The Chiefs at Bills is another game that seems to be a turning point for both teams. I think the Chiefs pull off the road win.

Also on tap is the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos. Hamilton seems to have locked up the drivers crown, although Rosberg is still within range. Hard to see Nico pulling it off though, he just can’t get his early season momentum back. In other news, the arbitration hearing on Ray Rice was held over the course of two full days on Wednesday and Thursday. There is a gag order, ad therefore little hard information, but it does seem that Ozzie Newsome backed up Rice regarding Rice having been honest and fully disclosing to Goodell. Goodell was crossed by Jeff Kessler, who is very good, for over two hours. That must have been interesting.

Okay, there you have it. Music this week by the late great Warren Zevon.

Big Games and the End of the Hokey Pokey Era Trash Talk

My my, there is a lot going on in the sporting world this weekend, so let’s take a look at some of the more interesting bits and pieces. First off there was some big news in Ann Arbor yesterday that pretty much answers the burning question from last weeks trash talk, namely who will scuttle their flailing football coach sooner, Michigan or Florida? The answer is in, and it is the Michigan Men! Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon has resigned effective immediately, and that will almost certainly spell the end of the Brady Hokey era for the Wolverweenies.

There are a couple of updates to items on the Docket Report. First, there was a hearing in EDVA on the appeal lawsuit of the Washington Redskins from the negative trademark decision in the administrative patent court system. The hearing was on a motion to dismiss and the early reports are the court was dubious about the dismissal effort and seemed inclined to retain jurisdiction. If so, that probably favors Dan Snyder and the Skins, because it will allow additional evidence to supplement the narrow and limited administrative record. It will be interesting to see what the decision is here. Secondly, the Ray Rice appeal hearing is set for next Wednesday, and the hearing officer, Judge Barbara Jones, has ordered Roger Goodell to testify. Some people are discussing a settlement, but I would be surprised. This could be fascinating seeing good attorneys cross-examine Goodell.

Then there are the games. The World Series is over, and congratulations to the San Francisco Giants who won a compelling series over the Kansas City Royals. The Cicago Cubs have hired Joe Maddon as their new manager after he quite suddenly up and left the Tampa Bay Rays. That is a great move for the Cubs, but the Cubbies are career killers for managers. RIP Joe Maddon. And the NBA season has started, so there is that. But we are really about football here, so let’s get to it, and there are a lot of big match ups on tap.

You would think that there is no way possible that the biggest game is not Peyton versus Brady and the Broncos at Patriots in the quarterback battle of the ages. Nope, that ain’t it. No, the biggest game this weekend is the Cardinals at Jerryworld to take on the Cowboys. The Cards, along with the aforementioned Broncos, have the best record in the NFL to date with only one loss on the season. The Cowboys were up there too before last week’s close loss to an inspired Redskins squad. This really shapes up as a great game. The Cowboys Demarco Murray has passed Jim Brown with eight straight games over 100 yards to open a season. But the Cards have perhaps the leagues best run defense. The Cowboys can be thrown on, and Carson Palmer has finally got Larry Fitzgerald untracked. Tony Romo is hurting and has not practiced all week. Oh, and by the way, the Honey Badger is back. All the factors point to the Cardinals having the edge. So I am picking the ‘Boys on the basis that they are home, and pissed about their performance against the Skins.

The other big game is of course Broncos at Patriots. Both Brady and Manning are playing lights out currently, and the Pats are on a bit of a roll. Any matchup between these two quarterbacks is an instant classic candidate, and this one is no different. I am going to assume ‘Ole Noodle Arm Manning and Brady cancel each other out. once you get past that, and even understanding Gronk is really rounding into the old Gronk, the Broncos simply have more and better weapons on offense. The Broncos also have a better defense, and they get the pick here. The only other really interesting game on the NFL schedule is Ravens at Steelers. Oddsmakers have it a draw right now, but I think Big Ben and the Stillers have found a groove and pull out the home win at the Big Catsup Bottle.

In college, the unquestioned game of the week is number 3 Auburn at number 4 ‘Ole Miss. After today, one of the teams will be done for the playoff discussion. The Rebels are favored by two at home, and that sounds about right to me. The other really good match ups are in the Pac-12, which has provided every bit as much excitement and compelling football this year as the SEC. Stanford is at Oregon, and the Trees have a history of manhandling the Ducks and giving them fits. Stanford is having an off year, but seemed to find an offensive groove last week. Still, I think the Quackers have the edge. Number 12 Arizona is at number 22 UCLA and I smell an upset here. Lastly, in a night game, number 17 Utah is at number 14 ASU. Utah is always superbly coached by Kyle Willingham and is consistently a better team than people give them credit for. But ASU has some momentum and, as long as they don’t get caught looking forward to next week’s tilt with Notre Dame, should take care of business in Sun Devil Stadium, though I expect a tight game.

Welp, that is it for this week. Rock on. This week’s music by Gerry Mulligan, Dave Brubeck, Doc Severinsen and the Cincinnati Pops with Duke Ellington’s classic “Take the A’Train”.

The Decline and Fall of the Bo Merlot Empire

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.

Michigan-Wolverines-Football-Dave-Brandon_455405196Ooof. 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.

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 5.55.27 AMIn 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.

Week Seven Pro and College Football Trash Talk

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.

Formula One and Football Trash Talk

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?

MLB Divisional Playoffs and NFL Week 5 Trash Talk

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.

Week Four Trash Talk

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.

Criminal Docket Talk

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.

The National Felon League: Week 2 Trash Talk

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

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel @KevinBankston Thanks. I stand corrected. @MiekeEoyang
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JimWhiteGNV RT @thinkprogress: REPORT: Black male teens are 21x more likely to be killed by cops than white teens http://t.co/GEl0PkEUR2 http://t.co/GU
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JimWhiteGNV RT @emptywheel: Q: If Hagel can be fired for sitting through meetings without uttering a word, can we fire Clarence Thomas on same grounds?
16mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Q: If Hagel can be fired for sitting through meetings without uttering a word, can we fire Clarence Thomas on same grounds?
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bmaz @AdamSerwer @michaelhayes ...officially on the record as a misdemeanor. Angela Corey sucks.
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bmaz @AdamSerwer @michaelhayes Further, when her probation has concluded after two years, the charge will automatically be reclassified....
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bmaz @AdamSerwer @michaelhayes I just had a client who fired a gun straight up in the ceiling during DV incident. She got probation+no jail.
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emptywheel @MiekeEoyang I get that--just saying they need to be approached in related fashion. Same w/Title 18 and Title 50 hacking. @KevinBankston
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bmaz @armandodkos @TheDailyEdge @imraansiddiqi Its barely even time to get processed; they'll never transfer. Could be wrong, but don't think so
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bmaz @F1grid None of those. The Silver Arrows of Fangio.
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bmaz @armandodkos @TheDailyEdge @imraansiddiqi but the time going forward will almost certainly be served in jail not prison.
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bmaz @BradMossEsq I started saying this from the moment the GJ process was announced by McCulloch.
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