Trash Talk

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Are New Sealed Filings in Barry Bonds Appeal More Dirty Tricks By DOJ? Update: YES!

The handling of the BALCO series of investigations, both by lead investigator Jeff Novitsky and the US Attorneys office, has been relentlessly aggressive and marked by dubious, at best, tactics. Considering that the DOJ, during the entire time period, could not find the resources to prosecute the banksters who brought down the entire economy, BALCO was one of the most hideous wastes of taxpayer money imaginable.

Remarkably, the questionable tactics by DOJ may well be raising their ugly head yet again. Bonds’ appeal in the 9th Circuit is a somewhat mundane legal issue that has been fully briefed on the en banc petition for the better part of a year. The en banc hearing, before KOZINSKI, Chief Judge; and REINHARDT, O’SCANNLAIN, GRABER, WARDLAW, W. FLETCHER, RAWLINSON, CALLAHAN, N.R. SMITH, NGUYEN and FRIEDLAND, Circuit Judges is set for 2:00 pm tomorrow, Thursday September 18, 2014

Yet, less than 48 hours before the en banc rehearing is scheduled to commence, the DOJ has suddenly, and mysteriously, lodged sealed filings at 8:00 pm last night. These are Docket Numbers 64 and 65 respectively:

Filed UNDER SEAL Appellee USA motion to file a letter to the court under seal (PANEL). Deficiencies: None. Served on 09/16/2014. [9242886] (JFF)

Filed UNDER SEAL Appellee USA letter dated 09/16/2014 re: constructive amendment argument. (PANEL) Paper filing deficiency: None. [9242910] (JFF)

Here is Bonds’ Petition for Rehearing En Banc. Here is the previous panel decision in the 9th Circuit. If you don’t want to bother with the full pleadings, this article from the Orange County Breeze gives a nice synopsis of the scope of the en banc proceeding for Bonds.

As can quickly be discerned, the appeal centers really on common statutory interpretation as applied to the facts in the public trial record. The issue is whether there was sufficient evidence to convict Bonds because his statement describing his life as a celebrity child — in response to a question asking whether his trainer ever gave him any self-injectable substrances — was evasive, misleading, and capable of influencing the grand jury to minimize the trainer’s role in the distribution of performance enhancing drugs, and whether, under the law, that can properly constitute obstruction. I wrote an extensive piece arguing the weakness and infirmities of the verdict at the time it was handed down by the jury. Which is when the jury also acquitted Bonds of all the substantive underlying perjury counts.

Yes, the appeal is really that simple. So why, pray tell, does the DOJ need to be interjecting last minute sealed documents? What possible need could there be for anything to be sealed for this mundane criminal appeal? There may be a valid explanation, but it is nearly impossible to fathom what it could be.

I am willing to bet Bonds’ attorneys, Allen Ruby and Dennis Riordan, must be apoplectic.

UPDATE: Well well, I am sitting in Alice Cooperstown having lunch, waiting for my preliminary hearing to reconvene, and Josh Gerstein just sent me the answer to the question of this post. YES! Indeed the sealed filings are a slimy last minute trick pulled by the DOJ. DOJ was trying to insert grand jury testimony from the aforementioned government BALCO investigator, Jeff Novitsky, into the appeal when it has never, at any point of the proceedings, whether in the trial court or 9th Circuit, been part of the record or indictment.

Here is the responsive pleading just filed by Bonds’ attorney Dennis Riordan. Here is the pertinent part:

The grand jury transcripts referred to in the government’s motion and letter are not part of the record on appeal. Had they been before the district court in any form, the proper method of adding them to the appellate record would have been by means of a timely motion to correct or modify the record under Rule 10(e) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure. The transcripts which are the subject of the government’s motion, however, were never placed before the district court in either pretrial, trial, or post-trial proceedings. Notably, the declaration of AUSA Merry Jean Chan which accompanies the government’s motion makes no claim that the transcripts were filed with the district court. “Papers not filed with the district court or admitted into evidence by that court are not part of the clerk’s record and cannot be part of the record on appeal.” Kirshner v. Uniden Corp. of Am., 842 F.2d 1074, 1077 (9th Cir. 1988) (citing, inter alia, United States v. Walker, 601 F.2d 1051, 1054–55 (9th Cir.1979)).

Should the Court nonetheless wish to consider the transcripts in question, they fully support Mr. Bonds’s argument that the district court constructively amended the indictment by instructing on “Statement C” as a basis for conviction on the Count Five obstruction count, although that statement was not contained in the indictment. In his testimony, in discussing Statement C, then labeled “Statement F” before the grand jury, Novitsky admitted that Mr. Bonds had responded to the pending question—“Did Greg ever give you anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with?”—with a “denial” before veering off into a digression about “being a celebrity child.” (RT of February 3, 2011, at 110.) Novitsky’s admission that the prosecutor’s question was in fact answered by Mr. Bonds constituted a good reason why the grand jury would not have relied on Statement C in indicting on the obstruction charge. The only manner of accurately ascertaining whether a grand jury relied on an act in indicting is by the inclusion of that act in the indictment itself. Here, Statement C was expressly excised from the indictment by the use of asterisks. See Appellant Bonds’s Petition for Rehearing En Banc, at 16.

Hilarious. DOJ tries a patently inappropriate punk move and Dennis Riordan turns it around to bite them in the butt. Quite well deserved. You have to hand it to the DOJ in the BALCO cases, they are nothing if not consistently ethically dubious.

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

Last Dance for MI/ND and NFL Week 1 Trash Talk

BwKKlz7IgAA50kYThere 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

Real NFL Trash Talk: Packers Fair and Square

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!

Appalachian State Trashnado: The Second One

Hey there Lugnuts, how the hell you doing? That’s right, Trash Talk is back. Bigger. Better. And more trashy than ever. This ain’t no party. This ain’t no disco. This ain’t no fooling around. There are probably other things this ain’t. But I cannot find David Byrne to tell us. But he obviously would. Cause he would be one of us.

To be honest, there would still be no Trash until the start of the proper NFL season. But for one little thing from Appalachia, i.e. the Mountaineers. And the most glorious September 1, 2007 battle in the Big House where the Mountaineers bathed in the glorious defeat of the hometown Michigan Bo Merlot Wolvereenies. I have been to some outlandishly kick ass monumental college football games, but this one I had to consume by giant TeeVee. Nevertheless, glorious it was. Wiki has an awesome entry on the gig.

And here we are, seven years later, quite nearly to the day. YAY! So, after some concerted badgering by Marcy and Jim, it was unquestionably time to trash the place up. And so we shall.

Before we take a brief look at the weekend’s festivities, let us stop for a second and bow down to Texas A + M. Kevin Sumlin has got something going on down there. And, yeah, I am pretty sure this will draw the Gulf Coast Pirate out of his rum filled Galveston area cove. But truth abides (as does The Dude). Wait. Where was I? Oh yeah, Texas A+M just blew up #5 rated South Carolina, and ‘Ole Ball Coach Steve Spurrier. 55 – 28. Ouch. Wow. Keep your eye on the Aggies and new QB Kenny Hill. Who killed Kenny?? Nobody, Kenny killed Johnny Football. Also on Thursday and Friday, ‘Ole Miss put some hurt on a game Boise State team, ASU held back and still blew out Weber State, and Sparty from that other Michigan School took apart the other Gamecocks, from Jacksonville State. Bad weekend at Black Rock for all things Gamecock it seems.

Okay, yeah, yeah, on Friday night, BYU whipped UConn and Arizona and Rich Rod looks on their way to the same against UNLV. Nevada might be a better match, but UNLV is cannon fodder for the Kitties down here under in teh Old Pueblo.

But Saturday AM brings the Mountaineers back in the Merlot land of Ann Arbor. The scene of such hope and glory past. Can it be the future? Ah, fate has a fickle finger, you never know! Okay, maybe that Emptywheel lady will chafe at all this fond recollection of the glory of 2007, but this is fair and impartial peoples! That’s right, I have an official military man, Col. Morris Davis on my side. (If he flip flops now, he is dead to me!).

So, some other games of interest this weekend include: Ohio State Blecheyes visiting the Navy Midshipmen and their awesome new helmets. Seriously, these Navy helmets are bad ass. After this use, Navy is gonna contribute them to some riot police in a small American hamlet in order to suppress the peoples. Like Ferguson.).

UCLA at Virginia may be a great test for a UCLA team that a few are putting in the National Championship game. I like the Bruins here, but not to get to the big one. The other Mountaineers, of West Virginia, can often hang and play, but Alabama will rock them. Don’t sleep on Rice at Notre Dame. Cause, you know, teh Irish will probably be freaking out obsessed over their fake girlfriends and all. Clemson at Georgia is kind of interesting this early. Both superb programs with a boatload of transition. LSU will take the Badgers from Wisconsin, but it may not be easy. The Seminoles SHOULD take care of the OSU Cowboys. I think. But I also think Jameis Winston is shaky, if not a relentless scofflaw, and who knows? Lastly, the Fresno State Buldogs at USC. I actually think the Trojans win this, but would have no surprise if they did not. USC is a clusterfuck right now, and there is no way around that.

So, have you felt the change around here? It is subtle, but give it a go. In the meantime, get yer ya ya’s out and rip this joint. It is football season once more.

Memorial Day Foodie Talk

Hey there Emptywheel lugnuts, how is your holiday weekend going? I see there is no post since Jim White’s on Friday and thought maybe we should have a little fun. For the record, I almost did a Fast Trash post for the Monaco Grand Prix and Indy 500, but just got distracted by some family duties and the tragic news out of Isla Vista/Goleta area of Santa Barbara.

I haven’t been there anytime recent, but have been there a lot in the past during summers I spent in Santa Monica. One of my high school friends had moved to the Eucalyptus Hill area of Sana Barbara with his family and it was a great drive up the PCH for weekend fun. And, man, was IV a happening place for young folk looking to hoop it up. I’ve been there on both Memorial Day and July 4th holidays, and shoo boy, it was some fun. It is also a beachside, completely college place where there are literally people out in the streets all day and all night. It is a party place, and, sadly, must have been a shooting gallery for Rodger. I am almost surprised there was not more carnage. Unbelievably sad. There are likely a LOT of lessons and psychoses involved in Rodger’s actions, and I will leave that discussion for another day, but feel free to weigh in in the comments with thoughts on the IV deal, or anything else you have on your mind.

But the title of this post was food, and so food shall be discussed! I started off with this:

Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 10.43.29 AM

Well, here is the thing. I got busted. Seriously busted. My wife walks in from yoga and says “I smell tacos; did you have tacos? For breakfast??” Uh, yeah, I did. And I was stupid enough to think I could hide it from her finely tuned Italian culinary nose. Ooops.

But, if that were not sufficient comeuppance, Ms. Wheel tagged in with this:

Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 10.48.35 AM

Yeah, well, that sounds pretty awesome actually!

Here we plan on steaks and burgers for the next two days. And probably some good beer for good measure. Did I note that we now have Founder’s Beer here? Ms. Wheel can no longer hold that over my head.

Well, Monaco is over. Rosberg wins from pole and Hamilton second from P2 on the grid. I am sure Hamilton is sulking and brooding as usual. As I whip this out, the Indy 500 is on. Nearing lap 130. dixon, Montoya, Hunter-Reay, Hildebrand and Power are the top five. All have the chops and car to win. So too does Castroneves. We shall see. Kurt Busch, the NASCAR driver trying to be (I think) only the second driver to drive both Indy and the NASCAR World 600 in one day, has never really been a factor, although he is currently at 15th in the running order. The race has been ridiculously clean and yellow flag free so far, which is refreshing.

Open thread, what you all eating and thinking about?

Did Northwestern Unionizing Just Cause Real NCAA Reform? No, Not At All

Well, the likely answer is no, but the ground is certainly finally shifting underneath the NCAA to such an extent that they are worried. The step of trotting authoritarian boob Mark Emmert out on for a series of television appearances sure didn’t work.

But, yesterday, somewhat quietly, the NCAA announced a proposed restructuring of its root governance model:

The board endorsed the restructuring process, which is aimed at allowing the division to be more nimble, streamlined and responsive to needs – particularly the needs of student-athletes – during its meeting Thursday in Indianapolis. The Steering Committee on Governance, made up of university presidents, drafted the restructuring plan.

Under the proposal, the division would still be led by a Board of Directors composed primarily of university presidents. However, new voices would be added: the chair of the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee; the chair of a new group tentatively called the Council; and the most senior Division I member of the Faculty Athletics Representatives Association’s executive committee. The council chair would always be an athletics director, giving that constituency an automatic spot on the board.

The Board would focus chiefly on oversight and strategic issues, while leaving much of the day-to-day policy and legislative responsibility to the council.

The council, composed of at least 60 percent athletics directors, would have 38 members: one from each conference plus two voting student-athletes and four commissioners (one from the five highest profile Football Bowl Subdivision conferences, one from the remaining FBS conferences, one from the Football Championship Subdivision conferences and one from the remaining conferences). The council would be the final voice on shared-governance rule-making decisions.

The steering committee suggests creating three bodies that would assist the council in its work and comprise the “working level” of Division I: an academics-focused group, a championships-focused group and a legislative group. Council members would determine implementation details, including what other groups are needed, how the groups will be populated and reporting lines. The steering committee also emphasized the need for a nomination process that is competency-based and diverse.

In order to allow the five highest-resource conferences (the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12 Conference, Big Ten Conference, Pac-12 Conference and Southeastern Conference) to address their unique challenges, the model would grant them autonomy to make rules on specific matters affecting the interests of student-athletes.

Sounds all nice and glossy, no? Not so much though upon closer inspection.

First off, it appears timed to be a direct attempt to deflate the unionizing vote at Northwestern today. Emmert and the NCAA just can’t help but be oppressive jerks can they?

Secondly, it enshrines into the root NCAA governance that the major football and basketball conferences are all that really matters and the rest of the universities and colleges in the NCAA are second tier and unimportant. As the AP stated in their report:

If approved later this year, schools in the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC could implement some rules on their own and would get more voting power over legislation that would affect every NCAA member school.

Sadly, that looks exactly right under the restructuring plan. Now, there is some value in giving a bit of autonomy to the super conferences, but not to where they can exercise their greed to the detriment of all the rest of the smaller conferences and member institutions.

Notably, while the NCAA proposal has taken care of the NCAA’s own institutional power, and cravenly concentrated more of it in the big money conferences, notably absent are attendant concrete proposals that actually aid the student athletes, provide for their well being and insure their existence in the face of injury.

As further evidence of the NCAA’s continuing malevolence, at the same meeting in which the restructuring proposal was approved, the NCAA also voted to screw the athletes just a little more by restricting their ability to transfer. The exact provision is to eliminate hardship waivers that permit athletes having a just cause for needing to transfer to another school the ability to be immediately eligible and, instead, just gives them an extra year of eligibility. In short, the NCAA just decided that instead of helping such athletes, they would screw them by stringing them out.

In other related news, the National Labor Relations Board announced also announced Thursday that they would grant the request/appeal lodged by Northwestern University challenging the previous regional decision to permit the players’ attempt to unionize. From the NLRB official announcement:

The National Labor Relations Board has granted Northwestern University’s Request for Review of the Regional Director’s March 26, 2014 decision in 13-RC-121359. The Regional Director found the University’s grant-in-aid scholarship football players are employees under the National Labor Relations Act. The election will take place on April 25, 2014 but the ballots will be impounded until the Board issues a decision affirming, modifying or reversing the Regional Director’s decision.

The Board intends to issue a subsequent notice establishing a schedule for the filing of briefs on review and inviting amicus briefs, to afford the parties and interested amici the opportunity to address issues raised in this case.

It is not totally clear, but it strikes me that should the Northwestern players vote to not unionize, the NLRB matter may be technically moot and die of its own weight.

However, what is clear is that should the players vote to form a union, their secret vote won’t be know and/or certified anytime soon, and will play out over months, if not years.

So, in short, status quo for the corrupt NCAA.

The Circus Returns: Formula One 2014

The lads are back from the winter off. The 2014 F1 season opens this weekend in Melbourne down under Australian way. But things are different this time. After several years of relative stability in the top teams, there has been all kinds of driver movement. And, of course, there are entirely new specs for the cars and engines. In short the whole snow globe is turned upside down.

Qualifying will be at 2 am EST Saturday morning (11 pm tonight PST) and the race goes off at at the same times one day later, all coverage on NBCSports Network.

Four time defending World Champion Sebastian Vettel is back to defend his title. But no longer will he pair with Mark Webber, who has moved out of F1. Instead, Vettel is partnered with young Daniel Ricciardo for Red Bull. Likewise at Maranello, Fernando Alonso returns for Ferrari, but longtime partner Felipe Massa is gone and replaced by the aging, but still very fast, Kimi Raikkonen. Massa has moved over to Williams, where he will be paired with up and coming hopeful Valtteri Bottas. It is good to see Kamul Kobayashi back in the show, but he is saddled with a back bench team in Caterham. Jenson Button is back at McLaren, and can’t possibly have a worse year than he did last year. Button will be paired with another unknown quantity, Kevin Magnussen. Lewis Hamilton returns again for Mercedes, where he will be paired again with Nico Rosberg. A rundown of all the teams, drivers and principles can be found here. Somewhat sadly, Vitaly Petrov once again could not find a ride, even as a tester.

More importantly, the equipment is vastly changed for 2014. Gone are the naturally aspirated screaming engines of the recent past and in are turbocharged 1.6 litre power units with enhanced energy recovery systems (ERS). An extra gear has been allowed in the gearbox which, combined with the more efficient motors, allows reduced on board fuel load. Aerodynamically, the noses have been substantially lowered and the rear wing architecture tailored. The new lower front wing design makes this year’s car (with the possible exception of the somewhat pug nosed Ferrari) quite a bit more attractive. The tire compounds seem to be overall harder, resulting in longer life, but reduced cornering grip. It also results in less rubber being laid down on the course, which also reduces grip. Bottom line is the cars look a little squirrelly early on.

So, who is fast coming out of winter testing at Jerez and Bahrain? Not Red Bull. Despite having Vettel and Adrian Newey, the airflow design engineering genius, Red Bull is lagging badly. Mercedes powered vehicles are the clear leader so far, and this was borne out in the first practice session in Melbourne. Ferrari and Williams are close but not quite there. But the Renault engines are just flat bad right now, and poor Lotus is behind even Red Bull in the Renault pecking order.

One thing should also be mentioned. The season starts with a bit of a cloud over it as Michael Schumacher still seems to be languishing in a coma. The latest report is Michael is showing “small, encouraging signs” of progress in awaking from the medically induced coma he has been in. That is certainly good news, but it still seems rather bleak. The sport is just better with Michael in it. Wake up Schumi.

There is so much that is different that there has to be a shakeup. Good, things had gotten too predictable the last few years, it was time for a change. One thing I don’t care much for so far is the voice of the new engines. They are quieter and the awe inducing scream is gone. The sound is going to take some getting used to.

Okay, that is it for now. We will check in with the circus at key points as the season progresses. Consider this wide open Trash Talk, all subjects welcome whether sporting, food or political.

Super Bowl Sex Trafficking Trash Talk 2014

Now that the super exciting Pro Bowl is over (shoot that thing and put us all out of its worthless misery), we are down to just one last football game. But it is a good one, with the top ranked team in each conference representing, and the best offense versus the best defense. And all that jazz.

And, really, what else is there to say about the game at this point? It has been the fascination of sports, general and entertainment media for two weeks of hype now. I could take you through the normal rundown on the teams, but why? My one real take is that the game boils down not to Denver’s offense or Seattle’s defense, but rather to Denver’s defense. Peyton and the Broncos will score some points no matter how well they are defended. The same cannot necessarily be said about the Seahawks. So, if the Broncos defense plays big, Denver wins. If not, they don’t.

Can’t wait to find out; will be one hell of an exciting game to watch. If you can’t wait and want a simulation, this Breaking Madden piece is pretty great.

So, let’s talk for a bit about the game itself in terms of what it means and does for the host city. Does hosting a Super Bowl mean as much to a city as is commonly claimed?

Here is a report on the effects of 2008 Super Bowl XLII on the greater Phoenix area by the Arizona State University WP Carey School of Business. The results claim:

Super Bowl festivities generated a record $500.6 million in direct and indirect spending by visiting fans and organizations, according to the newly released Super Bowl impact study produced by the W. P. Carey MBA Sports Business program.

The gross impact of a half billion dollars in the Arizona marketplace brings rejuvenation to an economy that has been weakened by a recession.

The ripple effect of return visits, family and company relocations, and word-of-mouth marketing nationally could equal or exceed the record Super Bowl spending in years to come.

That is in line with many of the claims that are commonly pitched for Super Bowls, but is that right?

Well, maybe not. There are a lot of demands on a host city, and they really add up. One of the best journalists out there writing on the intersection of sports and society is Travis Waldron, and he reported this on the eve of last year’s Super Bowl in New Orleans:

Those estimates, though, are likely fool’s gold, according to an assortment of academic research into the actual economic impact of Super Bowls and other major sporting events. When professors Victor Matheson and Robert Baade studied the economic impact of Super Bowls from 1973 to 1997, they found that the games boosted city economies by about $30 million, “roughly one-tenth the figures touted by the NFL” and an even smaller fraction of what New Orleans officials predict. A later Baade and Matheson study found that the economic impact of a Super Bowl is “on average one-quarter or less the magnitude of the most recent NFL estimates.”

Similarly, a 1999 paper from professor Philip Porter found that the Super Bowl had virtually no effect on a city’s economy. Research on other events New Orleans has hosted, including the men’s Final Four, is similar. When Baade and Matheson studied Final Fours, they found that the events tend “not to translate into any measurable benefits to the host cities.”

There are multiple reasons the estimates are often overstated. Impact estimates usually take into account how much money will be spent in the city during an event like the Super Bowl without examining how much potential spending will be lost because people don’t visit or leave the city to avoid the crowd — that is, the impact studies account for gross spending, but not net spending. And the estimates rarely include the additional cost of putting on the event, further distorting the disparity between gross and net spending figures.

Frankly, I find the Williams College study undergirding Travis’ argument far more persuasive than the happy face one put out here by ASU that is cited above. Still, even if the net impact is “only” 150-200 million dollars, that is a good thing for a city’s economy. And I don’t know what people going to the Super Bowl in cold weather place like New Jersey/New York are going to come away Continue reading

The Conference Championships Trash Talk

Sadly, this is our penultimate weekend of football here at the Wheelhouse. Down to two games, San Francisco versus Seattle and New England versus Denver. And, really, it is fitting, as these were probably the two best teams in their respective conferences when the season started, were throughout, and are now. So, we are where we are supposed to be.

Patriots at Broncos: While the NFC Championship features two new school mobile kids on the block, the AFC features two of the classic, and classiest, traditional pocket passers in NFL history. Any discussion of best ever quarterbacks has Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in it, irrespective of who you put at the top of the list. Personally, I have Joe Montana still at the top and think some older players, to wit Otto Graham and Bart Starr, are given far too short a shrift. But Brady and Manning have earned their spot in the discussion, and this is a real treat to be able to see them face off, yet again, in such an important playoff game.

The Patriots seem to have stabilized on defense, the Broncos seem to still be reeling from the loss of Von Miller. On paper, Denver has a significantly better defense, both against the pass and the rush. But paper doesn’t count for this game, and I think it is a draw on the D side of the ball. On the offensive side, both teams have been known to rely on their quarterbacks too much. But both have recently found, and relied on, their running game. LeGarrette Blount was a monster for the Pats last week, and Knowshon Moreno ate the Pats up earlier this year. You already know about the QB’s; they are a wash. There is one area where there is a difference though. Receivers. Bill Bel and Brady have been geniuses with what they have gotten out of rooks and scrubs, but Denver has serious ballers in Welker, Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas. That is a real edge. Then give the coaching edge to Bill Bel….and you end up with a pick em.

49ers at Seahawks: They may be newfangled, but both QB’s in the NFC Championship are superb, and, apparently, evenly matched too. But not so fast. Kaepernick has been rediscovering his groove down the stretch, and Russell Wilson has been looking a little shaky in the confidence (and performance) category. Edge to Kap. Niners also have far better receivers, with Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis and Crabtee, than do the Squawks. Percy Harvin would have helped level that playing field, but he won’t be playing. Gore and Lynch are both studs, and thus a wash, but the QB and receivers are a huge plus for SF.

The defensive paper actually seems to favor the Niners but, again, toss the paper out the window. Seattle’s defense is bad ass, and they will have the 12th Man noise that comes with their home field. That is an edge. Coaching is a wash between Harbaugh and Carroll, but man do they completely dislike each other. The game is really probably another pick em, to slight favorite for the Niners; however, I am going to take a flyer on the Squawks. I don’t feel good about it, but there you have it.

Penalty Flag Department: Yeah, the hanky has to be thrown on Peyton Manning. Really? Bud Light? Get the fuck out! And, big ups to the Colorado craft brewers for calling him out on it.

Music is by by It’s A Beautiful Day, featuring Pattie Santos and David LaFlamme. A completely killer band out of the 60′s heyday of San Francisco. Shame they never hit it bigger and are mostly forgotten now, because they were really good. And to tie it all together, this song, White Bird, is a song about some melancholy times LaFlamme and his wife spent in Seattle. See, it all ties together for the NFC Championship Game!

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
JimWhiteGNV Tragic: "2 adults, six children dead in Gilchrist shootings" - via @GainesvilleSun http://t.co/icorlFfx0N
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JimWhiteGNV RT @ionacraig: Sporadic gunfire and very tense by tv station. Gunmen behind sand bags on one side of road, soldiers on other. #Yemen
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emptywheel @jilliancyork And domestically, the dragnet is equally designed to coerce informants.
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bmaz Today Maricopa County Attorney @MontgomeryforCA @marcoattorney proves himself an ignorant Islamophobic hateful bigot http://t.co/b7tAohI841
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bmaz @BeckyPallack Excellent job tweet covering it.
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bmaz RT @kasie: Hey, America -- if you're unhappy with Washington, maybe look to the Scots and try voting in huge numbers. #rights #ScotlandDeci
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bmaz @robertcaruso Congress will give him the authority, they are too chicken not to, just go ahead and do it right.
7hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @robertcaruso Tired of separation of powers being eroded
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bmaz @robertcaruso @nytimesworld And if that is Obama's tact, he should be impeached on the spot.
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bmaz @Will_Bunch Wow. I blew that off (yeah, Bai, you know) before seeing your tweet. Glad I read it. And you're right about the end. Jeez.
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bmaz RT @Will_Bunch: Don Spirit has killed 4X as many Americans as ISIS
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bmaz @JoshMBlackman @mucha_carlos Actually, my understanding is Virginia Seitz left OLC at least partially over the targeted killing of citizens.
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September 2014
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