Posted on: June 12, 2008 11:56 am
Edited on: June 12, 2008 12:08 pm

Ray Ratto is a two-faced, backpedalling chump

Two weeks ago San Francisco Chronicle writer Ray Ratto posted a Sportsline column in which he labeled as a "half-wit, quarter-wit and TV personality" anyone who dared think the NBA might not be on the level.

He said anyone who concluded that the league was trying to arrange a Lakers-Celtics series by having Joey Crawford work the San Antonio series despite his history of conflict with Tim Duncan was "lazy, or stupid, or insufficiently curious." I believe in psychological circles they call that "projecting," the practice of casting your own shortcomings onto others, whether they have them or not.

You remember the May 29th column, Ray? I sent you an email suggesting that you had completely abandoned the journalistic principal of skepticism and cynicism in order to slop at the NBA trough like just another hog to be fattened up for slaughter. (OK, so I think I added the hog reference just now but, well, sorry I didn't think of it then.)

Funny how, just a mere two weeks after ridiculing anyone who dared suggest that the fix was in, Ratto's most recent column does a packpedal that would make Ronnie Lott proud: "But if Donaghy is right and can prove what he claims, then Conspiracy Nation is right, and the NBA deserves the million-pound filth-hammer coming its way. Let the firings and prosecutions commence."

And while we're at it, let the crow-eating begin. It doesn't even matter if Donaghy is ultimately proven right. What I'm enjoying is that just two weeks after looking down his nose at anyone who dared question the legitimacy of the almighty NBA, Ratto is now forced to wonder aloud about the league's authenticity. He doesn't even have to believe it, but he has to publicly question it, if only to avoid looking like a complete horse's ass in the unlikely event it all breaks reeeeeally bad. I believe the initials are CYA.

Rationalize it anyway you like, Ray, it makes you a two-faced, backpedalling chump.
Posted on: June 12, 2008 10:25 am

Defending David Stern

No, it's not what you think.
I've read several columns since the Donaghy allegations surfaced in which writters said David Stern wouldn't dare fix or otherwise manipulate the outcome of playoff games.
Let's be clear about this: With the possible exception of Kennesaw Mountain Landis, David Stern is, hands-down, the most arrogant commissioner in sports history. That's EV-VER. So, yeah, my guess is he wouldn't think twice about doing such a thing...especially since he thinks he's smarter than the rest of us and figures he could probably get away with it. Not saying he did, just saying it wouldn't come as a total shock, given the arrogance at hand.

Speaking of personalities, does anyone else think Milton Bradley might have Borderline Personality Disorder?

Poor Cole Hames...13 Ks, 2 ER in 8 innings and the poor soul gets a no decision. Can a brother get some freakin' run support?

Posted on: June 11, 2008 9:06 am

Keeping up appearances: NBA version

As I posted below, I've had my doubts about the legitimacy of the league for quite a while now (the 2002 Western Conference Finals were kind of the tipping point for me.) One of the things that has puzzled me as I've read various conspiracy postings: If the league is on the level, why haven't they slapped some of these posters with defamation lawsuits? Not saying they'd have a case, but it wouldn't be the first time a suit has been filed for the sake of appearances.

I suppose you could argue that they don't want to call more attention to the issue, but it seems to me that that train has left the station. Anybody think that's the next step for a league desperate to maintain at least the illusion of credibility?

Here's something else that has long intrigued me: Back in 2002 I sent the league office an email and told them that I thought their games were rigged. I figured they'd just write it off as the rantings of a crank. (I'm really not, but, well, you know...) To my utter surprise I received a response within about a day, in which they specifically addressed the issue of bias on the part of officials in language that was pretty polished. That told me two things: 1) It's a common enough complaint that they have boilerplate language ready to go; and, 2) They're pretty sensitive about the perception that things aren't on the up and up.

Somehow I can't imagine MLB or the NFL responding in quite the same way.

The biggest thing the NBA has going for it? The fact that they are in bed with the networks and cable companies, who for obvious reasons would love for this story to go away, lest the Golden Goose take it in the neck.

I hope I'm wrong, but I have this sinking feeing that we could be on the brink of the largest sports scandal since the 1919 White Sox.

Posted on: June 11, 2008 6:02 am

Where's the Dept. of Justice when you need 'em

Some random thoughts on the Tim Donaghy allegations that the NBA fixed two playoff series:

It seems to me that the recent allegations by former referee Tim Donaghy are exactly the sort of thing that Congress and the DOJ ought to be investigating. Hey, Arlen Specter, if you're done watching those freakin' videotapes maybe you could shut off the tv and start issuing some subpoenas.

If there is an investigation and the charges are proven, David Stern should go to jail. And I'm talking federal pound-me-in-the-a$$ prison. And he can take the entire NBA officiating staff with him.

We could be looking at the 21st Century version of the Black Sox and quiz show scandals all rolled into one.
Category: NBA
Tags: NBA scandal
Posted on: June 9, 2008 8:42 am

David Stern or your lying eyes?

Just read a thread about the officating in Game 2 of the Lakers-Celtics series and was struck by the fact that even people who didn't have a horse in the race thought the officiating was horribly one-sided. Almost as if the officials were favoring Boston on purpose.

Is that a reach? Not when there's a 38-10 disparity in favor of the Celtics staring you in the face.

I'll admit it. I'm a conspiracy theorist. I think the NBA playoffs are rigged. Maybe not so much to decide which team is going to win, but to create maximum drama so the league's tv and advertising "partners" (more on this in a moment) get the most bang for their buck.

But how could that be, you ask? Wouldn't the secret would get out if the games were really fixed?

Maybe, maybe not. Tim Donaghy had a pretty good thing going for a few years and might still be calling games (including this series) were it not for the DOJ stumbling across the crooked ref in the course of another investigation. Point being, it wasn't the NBA that exposed Donaghy, it was the government. And though the Commish stood up in front of the cameras and expressed shock (shock!) at the DOJ findings, I'm not sure I buy it. I mean, the league was at least blindly acquiescent. We find out later that there were rumblings and suspicions, so maybe 1) the league knew and chose to look the other way, or 2) the league really didn't want to know. So the notion that the fix could be in without word leaking out isn't as farfetched as it might first appear.

The other reason I think the NBA playoffs are sometimes rigged is because I've never been able to adequately explain Game 6 of the 2002 NBA Western Conference Finals between Sacramento and LAL. The Lakers went to the line 27 times in that fourth quarter on some of the most horrendous calls in the history of the game, and I believe it was because the league wanted a Game 7 for ratings.

Most of the time, though, I think the mechanism the league uses to give certain teams a helping hand is not that ham-fisted. Certain crews favor home teams, certain crews are relatively immune to homerism. When the NBA wants to extend a series by ensuring the home team gets a win, it assigns a crew of homers. When it wants to give the road team a sporting chance, it assigns a crew less likely to cave to the home crowd. Pretty simple, really.

So the NBA has set up a great scenario for itself. The Lakers go down 2-0, come roaring back to take all three home games (or at least two out of three to keep the drama alive), and the series heads back to Boston, where there will be huge ratings to see if Kobe and the gang can pull it out.

Finally, is it accurate to call the TV people the NBA's "partners?" Well, that's not the word I had in mind. Let's face it, without the lucrative television package filling their coffers, the NBA would be well, the NHL, or perhaps the NBA of the mid 1970s, when the finals weren't even considered important enough to broadcast live, and certainly not in prime time. Let's face it, the league needs TV a lot more than TV needs the league, and there's no telling just how far the league might go to placate the TV types. So from where I sit, that makes the NBA TV's Bitch.

Believe it's all on the level if you want to, but let me ask you this: Who you gonna believe? David Stern or your lying eyes?
Category: NBA
Posted on: May 12, 2008 7:33 am
Edited on: May 12, 2008 9:22 am

Julio Lugo's CAT scan

Sox shortstop Julio Lugo's CAT scan came back negative for a concussion over the weekend. His glove is scheduled to undergo an MRI later this week to help determine whether there is any physical reason that might explain the infielder's horrible fielding.

Am I the only one who thinks there might be several small-to-medium-sized animals nesting in Kevin Youkilis' goatee?
Category: MLB
Tags: Red Sox
Posted on: January 30, 2008 1:31 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2008 8:23 am

Right Field Rules; The Annual HOF Game

I see the powers that be have decided to pull the plug on the Hall of Fame Game held every year in Cooperstown.

Too bad, because a couple of the funniest things I've ever seen at a baseball game happened during the 2001 HOF game between Milwaukee and Florida, and it contributed to one of the most enjoyable days at the ballpark ever.

My daughter and I got tickets that landed us in the right field bleachers. Little did we know that there were a group of regulars who buy right field tickets for the game each year and do their homework.

Homework? Well, when John Mabry -- the Marlins regular right fielder, came out to take his position, a bunch of people around us started to chant..."October 17th...October 17th..."

That, as every baseball fan knows, is John Mabry's birthday. He turned and waved and it wasn't long before they were asking him all kinds of good-natured questions about the details of his career, making it clear they had done their homework. Since this was happening as the game was going on, he didn't respond beyond turning around to smile and waving as he trotted back to the dugout.

Then, as if by some hidden cue, a leather-lunged gentleman stood up, turned his back to the field, and shouted to the bleacherites:


NO!! said the masses, waking up the left fieldies.


NO!, they repeated, drawing protests from some center field types.



This call and response was repeated maybe a dozen times though the course of the game and each time, from the stands behind first base, came a lone tiny voice: "Right field sucks."

It apparently did if you were Geoff Jenkins, who bugged out after making the token one-inning appearance, replaced by some scared single-A kid whose name was so long that it was continued onto the back of another player's jersey. Mabry, on the other hand,, enjoyed the interaction with the Right Field rooters, played five or six innings, and when he came out in the third inning he delivered bags of chips to some of his newfound friends; the following inning he brought soft drinks.

Those Right Field rowdies -- who included lots of families -- were who I immediately thought of when I heard the HOF Game was being cancelled after this year. They weren't vulgar or obnoxious or offensive in any way. They just made a plain old meaningless exhibition game FUN!

Category: General
Posted on: January 16, 2008 1:47 pm

Ownership, Orinthology and Flying Chairs

Will I live long enough to see the Pirates be relevant again? Having grown up in the era of Roberto, Pops, Danny Murtaugh, etc., I root for them to get it going as one of the truly great franchises in baseball history.

Not that these two paragraphs are connected, but I got to thinking about this question: How important is ownership?

I don't rightly know, but I'm old enough to remember the Sullivan-Kiam-Orinthologist era in Foxboro, the Buddy Leroux era at Fenway, and the John Y Brown debacle at the Garden. As Larry the Cable Guy might say: "That right there's some bad ownership. I don't care who y'are."

Orchestra seating?
Was reminiscing today about my first game at Foxboro, a MNF affair: A brawl broke out in the upper part of the end zone stands, and when the cops started running up the steps to get to the fight, some of the, uhm, patrons let fly with the wooden chairs on which the halftime band had been assembled. Did I mention that the cops had to run UP to get to the melee? Into the teeth of said rain of chairs? And that said chairs were heaved DOWNWARD, with the full assistance of gravity?
I gotta admit, I was 13 and rooting for the chair-throwers.
Category: General
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