Trash Talk

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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.

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.

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bmaz RT @billmon1: CNN: America's Most Trusted Name in Hysterical Fear Mongering --> https://t.co/xhiv2ZXv1G
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bmaz @seattletimes @nigelduara 30 hours overtime in a day?? "Lax" seems a wee bit 'o and understatement.
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bmaz @ArizonaLuke @brahmresnik @noprezzie2012 @cocoasaurus That's pathetic. Grow up little punk.
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bmaz @ArizonaLuke @brahmresnik @noprezzie2012 @cocoasaurus Right back at ya, Mr. Mindless "Producer of Events"
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bmaz @JulieATate @attackerman Isn't it like 4 am or something there on the other side of the country? What you doing up girl?
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bmaz @ArizonaLuke @brahmresnik @noprezzie2012 @cocoasaurus Do you get paid to troll people with that bogus Alinsky shit, or just have no life?
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bmaz @fordm Lorde knows
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bmaz @fordm Matt.....
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JimWhiteGNV @biasedreporter Somehow they wound up in spam. Don't know why. I freed one copy.
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JimWhiteGNV @biasedreporter Hmm. Not sure what went wrong. I don't see it in moderation, either.
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