Wednesday, November 21, 2007

New Jersey to ban Plastic Bags

This is actually really cool. I was stunned to read today's paper and read that the NJ State Assembly is proposing legislation to ban the use of plastic bags at grocery stores by 2010. Many grocery stores, especially progressive ones like Whole Foods and Dave's (local RI chain) have been aggressive in promoting the use of cloth bags that shoppers bring back and forth, but this is a really interesting move.

Good for New Jersey as they try to shed the images from the opening of the Sopranos of Elizabeth, NJ and the NJ Turnpike just outside the Lincoln Tunnel. I guess they're trying to put the "Garden" back into the "Garden State".

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bush Pardons Thanksgiving Turkey

Yes, the annual pardon of the turkey. This "fluff piece" was reported by just about every news outlet on the planet. But what wasn't reported by anyone was the Presidential Signing Statement that went along with the pardon. While the turkey was spared execution, President Bush reserved the right to subject the turkey to waterboarding, electrocution and sleep deprivation.

There was also an unconfirmed report that the turkey was invited to go quail/campaign contributor hunting by Vice President Dick Cheney.

A senior staffer commented on background that he overheard the turkey saying "I think I would feel safer at Michael Vick's house." Apparently due to lack of news reaching Guantanamo where the turkey was being held prior to today's pardon, the turkey was unaware that Vick turned himself into authorities yesterday to begin serving his jail sentence early. There have been no further reports on the health and welfare of the turkey since today's proceedings concluded. Tom the Turkey, our prayers are with you.

Knicks Lose Again

I think I'm going to have to start getting creative with these headlines. This is going to happen a lot. Tonight the Knicks were clobbered by at home by 26 points by the visiting Golden State Warriors. Marbury started and was torched by Baron Davis. But this is one case where you can't blame Stephon. When Davis is on, he's unstoppable. Just ask the Mavericks.

But the best part is this report on the game from the AP:

Marbury scored 18 points, but the Knicks were never in the game in the second half and were booed often over the final three quarters. So was coach Isiah Thomas, who saw no results from his decision to demote Marbury last week and heard "Fire Isiah!" cries on a few occasions during the game.

I'm positively giddy. Isiah will never get fired, but you can dream :)

On a related note, I listed to "The B.S. Report with Bill Simmons" podcast today which featured a great interview with Gus Johnson, announcer for the Knicks. It was funny and bizarre at the same time. I'm going to have to listen to this one again, because I can swear that Gus supported both Isiah and Steph. The Kool-Aid must really be flowing in the Garden. I can understand that Isiah was one of the greatest point guards of all time, but why people try to give his absolutely horrific post-playing career a pass because of it is beyond me. The guy just isn't cut out to do much else than sign autographs at card shows. The only thing that made me realize that there is still hope for Gus is that he was extremely honest saying that the Knicks have no chemistry and that Marbury is cannot the leader for this team.

Marbury Starting Again for Knicks

The truth is truly stranger than fiction. Stephon Marbury, the player that the ENTIRE TEAM voted to suspend after abandoning it in Phoenix, is back in the starting lineup after 3 games. Boy, the dirt he must have on Isiah. Does anyone think this will turn around a 2-7 team? The whole thing is almost comical -- check that -- it's fall down laughing funny, especially if you're rooting for the team's demise as I am. I trust the only person laughing louder than me is Larry Brown.

Isles #5 In Yahoo! NHL Power Rankings

Wow, 2 hockey posts in 1 day! Well for a team that almost nobody picked to be in the playoffs, the Islanders are in pretty rare air. Today's Yahoo! Power Rankings has the Isles climbing to #5!

Oh Yeah, Hockey

I got a comment from a friend of mine from High School who found my blog that asked why hadn't I written about hockey yet? I haven't spoken to him in years, but he attributed his interest in hockey to my fervor for the New York Islanders during our high school years, when the Isles were a dynasty. Ah, those were the days. Bossy, Trottier, Potvin, Battlin' Billy Smith and of course Al Arbour.

So as any good Islanders fan would, I have chosen the day after the Isles beat the Rangers to write my first piece on hockey. Nothing gets better than that. And "goalie for life" Ricky DiPietro notched his 100th win of his career. Only 13+ years to go.

So a few quick thoughts:

  • I would love to be able to get into hockey again. But after the strike the NHL, which is making over $2B in revenue and in the black, decided to air their games on the Versus network rather than ESPN...or any other channel that is carried by cable. Great decision Mr. Bettman. I know the rinks are full, but now the only people who will be part of the fan base are those who actually go to the games. The only games I even have the opportunity to see are Bruins (boo!) games on NESN, which isn't available in hi-def by me. So it's impossible to really watch. So maybe I'll go to a P-Bruins game or even venture up to the (TD Banknorth) Boston Garden this year. But otherwise, except for the "Melrose Line" podcasts, it's impossible for me to follow what's going on and become the fan that I used to be. I still have my Denis Potvin jersey in the closet, but it doesn't get much use anymore.

  • The Isles are surprising again this year. Just like last year, no one expected them to be competitive. In fact, I think I recall seeing several pundits pick the Isles to be at the bottom of the standings. After the losing almost half of the scoring from last year (Ryan Smith, Jason Blake, dare I say Alexei Yashin), it was hard to argue. But I just think that it goes to show how GREAT of a coach Teddy Nolan is.

  • Was there anything cooler than having Al Arbour come back and coach his 1500th game for the Islanders earlier this month? Well one, thing, have the team come back and win in the third, by beating the Penguins 3-2. Al Arbour was as much of a symbol of the glory years of the Islanders franchise that I grew up with in high school as any player or member of the organization (props to Bill Torrey). I thought that it was a great idea and was happy to see that he's still got some coaching left in those old bones. Watch this Al Arbour tribute video

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Seriously Cool: Oracle CRM OnDemand

I was at the SIIA OnDemand conference last week as was lucky enough to see Anthony Lye, SVP of Oracle's CRM Ondemand business talk about Oracle's SaaS strategy and preview some extremely cool Web 2.0/Social Networking aspects of their new release. I thought there were a couple of important take aways for me. Some of them were covered by Phil Wainewright in his blog. Overall, I was thoroughly impressed by this presentation. This was so far from what I expected from Oracle. It was refreshing and exciting news. Everyone else in the business should watch out.

Oracle: OnDemand is for the Enterprise: I found it interesting that unlike many of the large, established ISVs, Nye was very clear that for Oracle, SaaS is NOT a SMB strategy. Clearly a swipe at SAP (at least to me). It was also a not so subtle swipe at in my opinion because he was reinforcing the size of companies that are deploying Oracle CRM OnDemand, implying that most of Salesforce's clients aren't.

Web 2.0 Apps Rock: I thought that Lye was suprisingly honest that CRM really hadn't changed since Tom Siebel introduced his product over a decade ago (I don't recall how long it really is). Lye also mentioned that they realized that sales people hate CRM systems because it never actually helped them in their job...although it "solved" management's problem of projecting sales. So the CRM team re-thought their approach to the CRM application space as part of the version 14 release. That was a big driver towards providing the Web 2.0 mini-applications that he demonstrated. These applications are really targeted towards helping sales people be more effective. And OMG, these apps were way cool. Heavily borrowing certain UI elements from Apple's iPhone & Leopard OSX, Lye demonstrated how sales people could flip through various documents using an Apple 'Cover Flow' style UI. One of the cool elements was the preview technology that they had where you could mouse over a document and see a preview, no matter what the format, similar to Apple's Quick Look technology. The different applications that he showed included:

* Campaign management tool: This allowed sales people to choose from a variety of pre-developed templates for different campaigns. Besides the UI stuff mentioned above, what was cool was the addition of social tools where each sales person could vote on how useful/effective they felt each campaign was, using Technorati or Digg style ratings. Therefore the best campaigns should rise to the top and the effectiveness of the sales people should improve.
* Document sharing application: This app allowed sales people to browse through sales decks, collateral, white papers, etc. to find what they needed. Here is where the 'cover flow' and 'Quick Look' style technology was demonstrated. Again, the social "voting" capability was built in.

Mashups that Matter: Lye also talked about, but didn't demonstate how the application would allow managers to better understand the effectiveness of their sales people based on a variety of metrics that would help predict which lead should go to which sales person. It was not clear whether this is a future concept or something that's part of the new release. This Lye thought was a mashup with value, as opposed to simply providing the sales person with a Google map of the prospect/client. Lye also mentioned that they were also incorporting mashup capabilities that automatically flowed in news, press releases that were relevent to the specific client/prospect to ensure that sales people were constantly updated on what was going on with the client's business and therefore could proactively react when new opportunities arose.

Social Networking a big focus for Oracle: Related to the Web 2.0 apps that they showed, Lye also reinforced that these apps will start to find their way into many Oracle apps. In particular, the social networking aspect of the apps is part of Oracle's enterprise application strategy. Lye indicated that they are putting a lot of effort & R&D dollars around social networking.

Pods & Grids: My recollection (and my technical understanding) is a little fuzzy here, but I believe the main point is that at some point a univesal multi-tenant architecture loses performance and coupled with the fact that energy costs have doubled in the past few years, and are expected to double again in the next 5, you want to get the most out of the infrastructure you have. So they introduced a pod structure which allows you do mix and match your computing/hosting infrastructure to optimize performance and ensure that from a datacenter perspective you're maximizing the utilization of the infrastructure at all times. You can group any number of servers together to host a single instance, multiple similar clients in a MT architecture.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Marbury Keeps it Interesting

Well maybe Marbury will be playing in Italy sooner than we all thought. After yesterday's startling news (how can we really be started by anything this knucklehead does anymore), that Stephon Marbury...Isiah's Boy...left the Knicks during their roadtrip, the clock on both his and Isiah's career starting ticking ever louder.

There were news reports beginning with the New York Daily News that Marbury was done as a Knick. That was followed by a great article by Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojarnowski that if Marbury goes, Isiah would be soon to follow. Unfortunately for Knick fans, somehow Dummy Dolan gets to stay no matter how this plays out. I even read an article today that said that Steph and Isiah came to blows on the flight out to Phoenix (a YouTube moment for sure if someone has the video).

But today it seems as if Marbury returned to the team, albeit $180K lighter, and is playing tonight versus the Clips. But wouldn't you know it, the Knicks, even with Z-Bo and Steph back on the court lost to the Elton Brand-less Clips and dropped to 2-5. What a shame.

They sure do keep it interesting at the Garden.

Bush Sure Can Pick His Friends Well

OK, so this isn't news, but Bush's ability to completely misread the reliability of his "allies" is almost uncanny. While I could be referring to almost anybody, in this case I am talking about Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf...a key ally in the war on terror. Well except for allowing safe haven to Osama and Al-Queda in South Waziristan. But why pick nits.

As many of you know by now, Musharraf imposed emergency rule (i.e. declared martial law) last week, disbanded their parliament, dismissed and detained a number of judges, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry who was originally suspended by Musharraf in March 2007 and later reinstated to Pakistan's Supreme Court in July.

Oh, he also jailed, Imran Khan, a former Pakistani cricket captain who turned to politics and founded the Justice Party, and placed opposition leader Benazir Bhutto under house arrest Wednesday. All in all, a busy week for General Musharraf.

Rumors tonight say that Musharraf has agreed to step down as head of the military by the end of the month. But he has rejected calls to end the state of ermergency and leave the political stage altogether. Anybody believe this guy? I don't.

You sure can pick 'em George.

My First Social Media Release

Well I finally put out my first Social Media Release (Symphony Services Helps ISVs Adopt Oracle SaaS Platform)!

Ever since I started getting up to speed on Social Networking and Social Media, and learned about SMRs, I wanted to try one. Well it took several months, and some convincing and education of my PR firm, but we did it. For any of you PR professional who are experimenting with social media and SMRs, I'd appreciate any feedback. I guess we'll know soon whether this gets any different treatment than a traditional release.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Halloween Fun

I just wanted to pass on a couple of funny things I saw around this Halloween:

The first one is a good friend of mine who actually dressed as quarterback Michael Vick. I have no idea how his wife let him out of the house like that. That being said, I thought it was really funny when I saw it...a little disturbing...but really funny.

The other item was a quote from President Bush about Dick Cheney's costume. Clearly he's been watching Jon Stewart on the Daily Show for some time. Not just after Lynne Cheney's appearance last month. I guess this is the funny, personable side of Bush everyone talks about that has been hidden the past 6 years.

This morning I was with the vice president. I was asking him what costume he was planning. He said 'Well I'm already wearing it,' and then he mumbled something about the dark side of the force.

President Bush, on Vice President Dick Cheney's Halloween Costume

Monday, October 29, 2007

A-Rod Opts Out; Slammed by Gammons

What cannot have been a surprise to anyone who follows baseball or Scott Boras, A-Rod announced through his agent (Boras) that he is opting out of the final 3 years of his deal with the Yankees.

What was a surprise to me was the reaction tonight on ESPN from Peter Gammons. Gammons said that the announcement -- during Game 4 of the World Series -- showed a complete disrespect for the game. Gammons went on saying that it was particularly disrespectful coming from a guy who claims he wants to play for a championship team, and that A-Rod's actions may show why he's never even played in a World Series. Gammons also added that this should act as a warning to those who are considering signing him to a $250M+ contract. Wow.

Pats Crush Skins

52-7. Wow. I guess Joe Gibbs wasn't kidding during his press conference this week when he asked if anyone had a game plan to stop the Patriots. Clearly Joe got nothing from the beat reporters and came up empty with ideas of his own.

I'm going to pass on any commentary on the actual game, but just send a shout out to my good friend Mark D, but unfortunately a Redskins fan living in Rhode Island, just miles from Gillette Stadium. I'm sure he got dozens of calls from his friends after this beat-down. He already has an email from me :)

But one stat I do want to talk about. Yes, Brady, Moss, Welker and the rest of the receiving corps are on their way to setting just about every offensive record in the book. But the most stunning stat I noticed today was point differential. The Pats have a +204 differential. That's impressive. But it's even more impressive when you realize that only two other teams have SCORED more than 204 points this year.

Next week's "Showdown in Speedtown" between the Pats and Colts should be as good as advertised.

Red Sox Win World Series

Really amazing postseason for the Sox. Pushed to the brink of extinction by the Indians, but then won 7 straight in route to their second World Series in 4 years. Definitely a lot of Red Sox Nation must have been holding their breath when Jamey Carrol lined one to the wall for the second out of the ninth. But Papelbon settled down and closed it out.

Tonight an extremely gutsy outing by Jon Lester, who last year this time was being treated for Hodgkins disease. Only 9 months after completing his chemotherapy treatment, he's the winner of the closeout game, going 5-2/3 innings and giving up no runs.

Gotta love that Mike Lowell, basically the throw-in as a salary dump by the Marlins as the "cost" to acquire ace Josh Beckett was just crowned the 2007 WS MVP. Good for him. He's a glue guy, a leader in the clubhouse and was probably the MVP of the regular season for the Sox.

Jacoby Ellsbury had an awesome series, being inserted into the leadoff spot at the beginning of the series. You're looking at the starting CF for the Sox for the next decade.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Now that brings a smile to my heart

Celtics 101 Knicks 61

I know it's only pre-season and the games don't matter, but just seeing the box score from tonight's pre-season opener at the TD Banknorth Garden made me smile. The Knicks shot 25.9% from the floor and didn't have one player reach double digits. Nice.

And on the same day, MSG and Isiah ask the court to reduce the punitive damage award to Anucha Browne-Sanders. Not overturn the finding of the jury and exhonorate Isiah Thomas, but simply reduce the amount of the award. This seems to be a very different posture than the response from Thomas the day that the jury found him and MSG liable, where he stated his disappointment in the jury's findings that he sexually harassed Ms. Browne-Sanders. Where's the indignation now? I thought Isiah said that he was not guilty of the things that he was accused of? This hardly seems the response of an "innocent" man. When will the Knicks learn that this does not reduce the damages. It merely brings the story back to the forefront and the back pages of the NY papers. If they wanted to cut their losses, they'd have just paid the money and tried to put it behind them. Ah, the Jimmy Dolan brain trust is at it again.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Isiah and MSG Found Liable for Sexual Harrassment

"Yes, and it counts!". That was my initial reaction to hearing the news that Isiah, Dolan and the rest of the Keystone Kops that inhabit the "World's Most Repugnant Arena". And yes, I danced a little jig in the hotel room as the news went across the scroll on ESPN.

There have been probably millions of words written about the trial and the result. Some of my favorite articles have been written by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, columnists Shaun Powell, Johnette Howard and Jim Baumbach of Newsday, Mike Vacarro of the New York Post, ESPN's Bill Simmons and countless others.

But of course I have to get my 2 cents in. I guess I see a few different angles outside the ordinary:
* Tawny Thomas' -- Isiah and Clarence: The irony is almost inconceivable. Could it have been timed any better than this? In the same week that Isiah, Dolan and just about everybody at MSG tries to sully the reputation of an up-and-coming black female in a sexual harassment suit, that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas releases his book 'My Grandfather’s Son' in which he recounts his clashes with, Anita Hill, the clerk that accused Clarence of sexual harrassment. Both in during the confirmation hearings, and again in the book, Clarence tries to disparage and defame the reputation of the woman making the charges against him. The same tactic that Isiah and the MSG execs used. The only difference in the two stories is that Isiah was found liable. Clarence Thomas is only a liability for the nation.

* Isiah and Imus: Where's the Outrage Now? So now what. In the aftermath, it appears that Isiah, Dolan or the Knicks will walk away nary a scratch (excepting the $11.6M that MSG and Dolan must cough up -- but who's kidding who, that doesn't affect the Knicks one bit). No suspensions, no lost draft picks, nothing that impacts the franchise. Personally I think that David Stern, the Commissioner of the NBA, missed an opportunity. He has hit players far worse for far less. But what's worse in my opinion is that the people who have the real power, the advertisers, have not weighed in at all. When Don Imus called the members of the Rutgers women's basketball team "a bunch of nappy headed ho's", Imus was widely derided, abandoned and in short order lost his job. Why did that happen, because the advertisers who supported his show for decades withdrew their support immediately. I am in no way advocating or defending Imus' conduct (although for full disclosure I was a long time listener and found Imus funny), what he did was nothing compared to what Isiah did. Imus called them names. Isiah SEXUALLY HARASSED Ms. Browne-Sanders and MSG enabled the environment and further fired Ms. Browne-Sanders in retribution. Where is the outrage from the advertisers now? Jimmy Dolan is an idiot, but even he, or perhaps his father Charles who owns Cablevision, might do something if all of their advertisers withdrew their support. So again I say, where's the outrage now?

On a related note, another show I listen to diligently is ESPN's Pardon the Interruption (PTI), hosted by renowned Washington Post columnists Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon. I love these guys, but in their October 2 episode they talked about the Isiah trial result. Both found Isiah's actions repugnant, but felt that he should still be allowed to coach the Knicks (which perhaps they felt was punishment enough). But moments after that segment, during the "Big Finish", Mr. Kornheiser mentioned that Don Imus was reportedly being given a new radio show and asked Mr. Wilbon whether he thought that was OK. Mr. Wilbon answered "no, not really". That was stunning to me. Wilbon had not even initially thought that Imus should have lost his job when the Rutgers incident occurred. But now he thought it was OK for Isiah to keep coaching while Imus shouldn't be given another chance after being out of work for 6 months? I was stunned and disappointed. I mean not only did Isiah SEXUALLY HARASS the person in this case, but he also used the term "black bitch" while referring Ms. Browne-Sanders and further stated in video testimony that it was OK for black males to use this phrase, but not for white males. How is Imus' actions worse than Isiah's, on any level? I don't know why Mr. Wilbon took this position. I don't think it was a "black solidarity thing". Perhaps it is simply a case of being too close to his sources, having known Isiah for many years as he covered the NBA. But certainly, Mr. Wilbon has fallen a few pegs in my book.

Finally, just yesterday I realized that the apocalypse is nearly upon us. Yes, it appears that Rev. Al Sharpton is the voice of reason. Clearly the end of times is upon us. But Rev. Sharpton is the only person calling on Isiah to recant his statements about the appropriateness of calling black females "Bitches". And suprisingly, has called for picketing MSG unless Isiah does so. Amazing.

SCHIP: Bush and GOP Play Poker with Sick Kids

For a guy that hadn't vetoed any legislation in his first 6-1/2 years in office, Bush is certainly making up for lost time. And true to form for this "compassionate conservative", the people at the business end of his latest veto are again poor, sick and needy.

Both the House (265-159) and the Senate (68-31) passed nearly identical legislation to increase funding of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) by $35 billion over 5 years. SCHIP provides health insurance to children whose parents cannot afford health insurance, but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. The legislation would have increased the number of children covered by this program from 6.6 million to over 10.5 million -- roughly a 60% increase. And how would this be paid for? A $1 tax increase on cigarettes.

So let's recap, more poor children who have no healthcare would receive coverage and the cost of the program would be borne by cigarette smokers. Sounds good, right?

If you agree, you clearly have fallen for the trap that Bush was too clever for (first time for everything?). Lost in the shuffle of these good deeds is the evil undercurrent of socialized medicine. For this program, surely begins the slippery slope towards having the government responsible for health care for everyone in the country. Aha! Bush has caught you devilish democrats.

It's a joke. Bush is calling for a smaller increase that according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will actually take 1 million children off the program over the next five years. The bickering over $6 billion a year is ludicrous given the $200 billion request that Bush has made for the war in Iraq for this year only. It's amazing that the President who has been a driving force for "No Child Left Behind" is against this. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) captured this sentiment best when he said "it's a bizarre thing that a president who believes in testing kids for math does not believe in testing kids for measles and mumps." But then again, this is the same president who recently stated that "Childrens do learn" in front of elementary schoold children while promoting "No Child Left Behind".

It's sad that the White House and the GOP have been able to gather enough support in the House to enable Bush's veto. Pelosi and the Dems have scheduled another vote this week to try to get the 15 more votes they need to make the legislation veto-proof (the Senate margin already is). Let's hope they are successful.

Requiem for the Mets

I've been meaning to get to this and other subjects, but I happily spent most of last week on vacation with my family at Disney World in Orlando. I had a great time watching my daughter enjoy her first visit to Disney and meeting all the princesses. It was also good because I didn't have to be home watching the games or the lowlights on ESPN as the Mets completed their collapse.

The 5-12 finish to the season put the Mets in the pantheon of losers that include the '51 Dodgers, '64 Phillies and '78 Red Sox. Rare company indeed. But what I think makes this collapse worse than all of them is that 8 of the 12 losses came from the bottom of the division -- the Marlins and Nationals. If they got beat by good teams, contenders down the stretch, this would have been somewhat more bearable. But in the final week, the Mets showed less heart than the Tin Man, less courage than the Lion and with 12 errors in 3 games versus the Marlins, less brains than the Scarecrow.

The only other saving grace is that the Phillies and the Cubs (servers you right Wilbon...more on that in another column) were swept out of the playoffs. So the bragging rights by my brother-in-law Steve will be kept to a minimum.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Mets Lose Another, Fall Into Tie with Phillies

Or maybe I should say "Mets fall into oblivion" because right now that's the only place they are going. There are 4 games left and at the end, the Mets will be on the outside looking in watching the Phillies play the Rockies in the first round of the playoffs. I'm so disgusted at the way the team completely collapsed. Bring on the NHL and NBA.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Trading Spaces: NBA Style

Wow, has there ever been such an exciting offseason in the NBA? Big names like Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Zach Randolph...and yes, I'm including Al Jefferson in the mix too, have changed teams. Other lesser players have also changed zip codes. So far the Celtics and Rockets seem to be the clear winners of the offseason, although the Blazers and the (Seattle-Oklahoma City) Sonics have made moves with an eye towards the future.

But in recent days two more prominent players -- with perhaps the best nicknames in the NBA: The Matrix and AK-47 -- especially in the fantasy ranks, have asked to be traded. Now will their pleas go unheeded like those of Kobe and Jermaine O'Neal? That's still to be seen, but GMs and fans around the league are hoping to take advantage of the Suns and Jazz.

What's amazing to me in all the coverage is how little trade value Kirilenko seems to have. When motivated and given a chance to participate he's still a top player in the league. But of all the commentary, the most shocking was this one from ESPN's JA Adande: "And if Kirilenko does want to go elsewhere in the NBA, he should be wary of following in some dubious footsteps. There's a steady trend of players who have left the Jazz -- including David Benoit, Howard Eisley, Bryon Russell and Donyell Marshall -- only to see their stats decline when they got to their new teams." I usually like Adande, but what is he smoking comparing AK-47 to those guys. Kirilenko is a thousand times better than those guys.

Now many newspapers are talking about proposed trades. Few, if any make any sense. The one that makes the least sense is the Marion for Kirilenko swap. In my opinion, Marion will suffer the same ills that Kirilenko does in Jerry Sloan's plodding system. It's one thing for the Matrix to be 3rd fiddle to Nash and Amare. It's another to take a backseat to Boozer and Williams. Plus it doesn't solve any financial issues on Phoenix's side, so this is not happening.

Of course, the New York papers are talking about how nice it would be for either player to come to the Knicks. But they have nothing that anyone wants.

My thoughts? I think that either AK-47 or Marion would be awesome in Cleveland's maroon and gold. Both would thrive next to LeBron (who wouldn't) and solve a lot of problems on the offensive and defensive end. Plus the Cavs have some assets to send back and cap issues should fit. Here are 2 trade scenarios:

* Cavs trade Larry Hughes and Donyell Marshall to Jazz for AK-47. The salaries are a virtual match. Hughes has been a bad fit in Cleveland, but would satisfy the huge hole at shooting guard that has been there since Jeff Hornacek left. Marshall would still be good off the bench and would help stretch the defense to open the middle for Boozer and Paul Millsap.

* Cavs sign/trade Andeson Varajeo and Aleksander Pavlovic and a #1 pick to Phoenix for Marion. This solves the Cavs issues with both of their restricted free agents and brings possibly one of the 10 best players to put next to LeBron. The upside for Phoenix is that they get one very active big man back, a good shooter, one of the thousand draft picks they've traded away for cash the last 3 years...and continue the parade of foreign players onto the Suns roster.

Will something happen? Probably not unless one of these players flat don't report to camp and hold out. Otherwise, I don't see either team taking the proverbial "bag of donuts" that they will be offered. But if something does happen it could change the course of the NBA and fantasy leagues around the world.

Bush Taking a Beating in the Press

Expecting an article on "Dubya"? Nope this one is about Reggie.

The once sure-fire future HOFer from USC is having a tough second season with the New Orleans Saints. Even before the beat-down that the Saints got from the Tennessee Titans the sharks were starting to circle Reggie. There were open questions about whether Reggie was really a franchise-back or just a feature-back. Paul Kuharsky, covering the Titans for the Tennessean, called Bush "overrated" before the Titans game. Shortly after the game, ESPN's Matt Mosely and Scout's Inc's Matt Williamson seemed to agree, especially after Bush couldn't fill the shoes of Deuce McAllister who left the game early in the first quarter with a torn ACL. Check out this quote from Mosely:

I know he scored two touchdowns, but when am I allowed to point out how overrated Reggie Bush is? We're led to believe that the Saints sit around dreaming up plays for a guy who can't run the ball effectively. I'm already sick of hearing how great he is at the second-level. Doesn't he have to get there at some point.

Now Bush will have plenty of time to provie his doubters wrong with Deuce out for the season. But first he's going to have to show he can run between the tackles. If he can't and the Saints continue to regress towards their infamous 1980 1-15 season and the "'Aints" heritage, his only highlight for the season will be kicking it with Kim Kardashian.

Another Devastating Loss for the Mets

I'm actually glad that I can't get Mets games on TV up here in Rhode Island. I don't think I could turn the TV on at this point.

With the season basically on the line, the Mets trot out former 1st-round pick Philip Humber for his FIRST EVER major league start. OMG, is this waht we're down to? I guess so. And the predictable result followed. Staked to a 5-run lead after 3 innings, Humber and the bullpen couldn't hold on. Humber, the former Rice standout is recovering from Tommy John surgery. The former strikeout king at Rice, couldn't log one in his 4 innings as he gave up 5 runs.

And the bullpen followed suit. Joe Smith the sidearm picture that was the surprise in spring training, gave up 2 more without recording an out.

The Mets pitching staff has given up more than 8 runs per game over the last 11. I don't see anything turning around either. Even if the Mets make the playoffs, and it's a BIG IF, I can't see them getting past the first round with this pitching. The hitting has been pretty good, but how many 9-8 games can you expect to win?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Justice and the 10-Year Warrantee

So you thought white-collar criminals get off easy in America? Get this. Earlier this month it the Chairman of South Korean carmaker Hyundai, Chung Mong-koo (it's just fun to say, try it), had a 3-year sentence -- for embezzling $100 million -- suspended.

According to the Boston Globe "[the] Presiding Judge Lee Jae-hong told the packed courtroom that Hyundai has great influence over the nation's economy and Chung, its hands-on leader, is the symbol of the company. "I am also a citizen of the Republic of Korea," Lee said. "I was unwilling to engage in a gamble that would put the nation's economy at risk."

South Korea - what a country. The real irony is that the funds that were embezzled were used to pay lobbyists to gain government favors and for personal use. I wonder if Judge Lee's name was found in any of the books uncovered by the prosecution.

Hyundai has become the 6th largest automaker in the world, starting from obscurity about a decade ago. While the 10-year warrantee that they provided helped assuage buyers concerns over substandard quality (remember the Yugo?), I believe it was their sponsorship of the TNT NBA Halftime Show -- and especially Kenny Smith's lyrical pronunciation -- that really improved it's brand image and helped sales take off.

Bridge to Nowhere Goes Nowhere

A piece of good news. The boondoggle of all earmarks has fallen short of funding and is officially canceled. The pet project of crazy Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) is finally dead. The bridge that would have connected dozens of people on Ketchikan island to another small island would have cost almost $400 million.

This had to be a terrible blow to Ted Stevens who has been lampooned mercilessly -- not without merit of course -- by Jon Stewart of the Daily Show. While there have been many collages of Stevens screaming at Senate colleagues from the Senate floor, none was better than the bit about Ted Stevens' description of the Internet as a series of "tubes". Sit back and enjoy the show.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Another Loss to the Nats?

You've got to be f-ing kidding me. Another loss to the lowly Washington Nationals? And this time it's Glavine that gets lit up? The only saving grace is that the Phillies also lost and they still have to face Smoltz and Hudson.

But the Mets right now are terrible. They have to win the games against the teams they're supposed to beat. They have another chance to do so tomorrow night, but with rookie Philip Humber making his first major league start, I'm not so confident.

Games Left: 5
Magic Number: 4
Blood Pressure: through the roof :(

Monday, September 24, 2007

7 Games to Go...I Can't Look

I'm sure for the true baseball fan what's happening in the NL East race is exciting. Probably so for a Phillies fan too. But I'm a Met's fan. Have been all my life. A week ago, all was good. A 7 game lead with a little more than 2 weeks to go. Then a death swoon that has the Mets holding on for dear life. And it really is for their playoff lives. It's pretty good odds that whoever loses the division will not make the playoffs. I really can't bear to look at scores in the morning or at night on the scroll on EPSN2. It's gut wrenching. At least after tonight, the Mets have a 2.5 game lead with 7 games to go. Please guys, hold on just a little longer.

And please don't let the Phillies get the Wild Card. After 10 straight losses, I have no confidence that the Mets can beat them head-to-head.

Political Roundup: A couple of quick hits

I'm woefully behind in half the stuff I want to write, so I'll hit some of these issues quickly.

Russia Rejects Stronger Sanction on Iran: It's hard to say if this even qualifies as news. Of course Russia would object to sanctions. They are selling a lot of equipment, especially nuclear related equipment to Iran. Other than oil and gas (which were private institutions before Stalin, I mean Putin, "nationalized", the only burgeoning market for Russia is to sell dangerous materials to dangerous countries. The only thing surprising about the story is that the push for these sanctions came from -- wait for it, wait for it -- France! The pussies from Old Europe getting tough? Maybe this Sarkozy guy is actually pretty cool.

Can Someone Please Explain Why John Edwards is Popular?
: I don't get it. Somehow this bozo is still in the top half of the Democratic field for President. Yes, he's good looking, affable and so on, but he's still just a shyster lawyer. He rails against high medical costs, but he made his millions through frivolous law suits which helped to raise the cost of medical care and insurance. He's pandering to the left of the party by flipping his position on the war in Iraq. Big deal. First, it's ingenuous. He's only doing it to be popular with the most activist parts of the party. Like Mitt Romney, I'm not sure I will ever believe him when he tells me the color of his eyes, let alone his "current" position on any issue. But there he is running 3rd or 4th (depending on whether Gore is included in the poll). Yet a guy like Joe Biden, who is arguably the smartest guy running for President in either party, is only polling at 2-3%. I guess voters are stupid. What's worse is that it looks like in an election that the Democrats can't lose, they are leaning towards nominating the one person that has absolutely no chance to win in the General Election -- Hillary. Exasperating.

Lebanon's Bloody Road to a Stable Democracy: Another anti-Syrian member of parliament, Antoine Ghanem, along with 4 others was killed a week ago. He was the 8th Anti-Syrian legislator killed since the February 2005 assassination in Beirut of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which sparked widespread protests that led to the ouster of Syrian forces from Lebanon (known as the Cedar Revolution). Of course this is happening leading up to Tuesday's scheduled Presidential Election in Lebanon where they are about to vote for a successor to Emil Lahoud, the current President and lap dog for the Syrian regime who must step down at the end of November. The timing of the assassination was so bad, even Hezbollah objected. The latest is that it appears that Lebanon will postpone the election by at least a month. The sad thing is that I don't believe that there's anyone on the planet who doesn't think that Syria was involved. But similarly, I don't think that any country of international body (think the UN) has the balls to do anything to help the citizens of Lebanon. The bloody march to democracy continues.

Petreus' Testimony to Congress
: Did anyone expect anything different? Other than the opening line (let me paraphrase -- 'nobody helped me with my homework'), it sounded eerily like Bush's position on the war. I'm not a military analyst by any stretch, but it seems like the same story we've heard since the run-up to the 2004 election -- we're making great progress and the Iraqi military forces should be able to take over soon. Back in the first Bush-Kerry debate Bush stated that by January 2005 there would be over 125,000 Iraqi troops trained to take over some of the military and security duties of US-Coalition forces. I don't think we have that level today, nearly 3 years later. Especially when many non-partisan organizations like the GAO are painting a very different picture of the situation in Iraq, it's hard to believe General Petreus' "interpretation" of the situation.

Progress in Israeli-Palestinian Relations?: OK, here's another one where I won't hold my breath. Nothing would make me happier than a safer Israel and the end to the 60-year old conflict that began when Israel repelled a 5-nation attack on the very day it was formed. But while PM Abbas seems to be a reasonable partner in peace, most of the sticky issues (Jerusalem, right of return) aren't close to being solved. And it's not like Abbas represents the entire Palestinian people. Hamas is quickly turning Gaza into a fundamentalist Muslim theological state, and there is great suffering within those borders as the economy is in tatters. I'm not sure I see an end in sight. I wish I did, but peace still seems out of reach.

Continued Fallout from ADL Position on Turkish Genocide of Armenians

It continues to sadden me to see what's happened on the suburbs of Boston in relation to the ADL's position on the Turkish Genocide against the Armenian population during WWI. To recap, see my earlier post.

Since then a lot has happened. Let me shortcut it:
* Andrew Tarsys, Director of New England chapter of the ADL, breaks with the ADL party line and calls the killing of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during WWI genocide
* ADL fires Tarsys
* After much pressure from various groups in the American-Jewish community, the ADL reverses itself and Abraham Foxman, Executive Director of the ADL calls the actions of the Ottoman Empire "tantamount to genocide".
* ADL re-instates Tarsys

All of this happened in a matter of little more than a week.

Now you would have thought that the actions of the ADL, and especially the defiant stand taken by Tarsys would have had a significant impact on relations between the Armenian-American community in Watertown and the ADL. But instead, the Town of Watertown decided not to re-join the "No Place to Hate" initiative that was started by the ADL to promote racial unity and make neighborhoods safer and nicer. What's worse is that Newton, an affluent neighboring town with a large Jewish community, also pulled out of the "No Place to Hate" program.

It disturbs me on two levels. First, the action by Watertown to pull out of the "No Place to Hate" program had its intended effect -- the ADL changed it's position to be essentially in line with what the community has been asking for, actually for decades. This was a huge deal for a prominent national organization like the ADL to reverse itself so quickly. But apparently it was not enough. I personally think that it's unreasonable to have expected more. Certainly there was fallout for the ADL, Israel and the Jewish community in regards to it's relations with Turkey, one of the few Muslim nations that has good relations with Israel. To have gotten what you wanted and then still walk away seems disingenuous.

That leads me to my second point. The results of these recent weeks is that a program that was designed to bring different groups together is now being used to drive wedges between them. I have read that leadership from both sides are trying to work things out together and re-build bridges, but I don't buy it. I think it's a shame that the divides between the Jewish and Armenian communities in the suburbs of Boston seem to be getting wider.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Titans Sign Simon

This really feels like one of those great name, but not great impact signing. If this was 2004, I'm really excited. But 2007, not so much. Simon hasn't played a down of football in over a year and has some sort of arthritis. Some like Scout's Inc. analyst Jeremy Green don't think he's got a lot left. He makes a great point -- if Simon did have anything left, don't the Colts havea greater need for a run-stuffing DT than almost any other team in the league? I guess we'll see. All he's really being counted on for is for about 25-30 plays per game, stuffing the run on first and second down.

Coach Fisher and center Kevin Mawae seemed upbeat about the signing, but not everyone was so excited. The most telling quote that I saw was from Albert Haynesworth in The Tennessean: "The defensive line has been playing really good, the best we have played in the last three or four years. He is definitely an upgrade, I guess, but I think we were really good before," Haynesworth said. "We stopped the run, we rushed the passer. What else could you want? … Hopefully he can catch up in what, 12 days?"

I guess at the end of the day this is a low risk deal (1-year $1M). Let's see what happens. I guess it provides some depth in case Rien Long can't come back after Week 6.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Does the Fine Fit the Crime?

I was reading Tuesday Morning Quarterback on EPSN and I'm baffled at the lack of overall quality in this article and will probably never read TMQ again. Besides the fact that the article was close to unreadable, I couldn't believe what Greg Easterbrook wrote about the whole Vick situation, comparing killing dogs to what happens in the food service industry. I won't quibble about methods of killing. Killing is not a good outcome and there is no "nice" way to do it. It comes down to WHY are you doing it. Vick killed the dogs because he wanted to. Because he could.

But I must address Easterbrook's STUPID positions on the extent of Vick's punishment. So Vick is a "first-time offender"? He's been doing this for years. At least 7 years and reports, even from his Dad, say it dates back to his early teenage years. This may be the first time he was caught, but not the first time he committed the offense.

Secondly, I am not crying for Vick's loss of $75M in salary, bonuses and endorsement income. He only lost so much because he was MAKING so much. The deal is, if you go to jail, you lose your income during that time. I'm quite sure that Arthur Blank, Nike or anyone else who gave Vick boatloads of money would have done so if they knew about these criminal and utterly reprehensible activities. The whole thing about the dollars involved is relative. If Vick was an "average joe" making $50K a year, he wouldn't have lost so much in raw dollars -- although it might have had a greater impact on his life. And there are other white-collar criminals who have "lost" much more than Vick in potential income because they made more. Thats' how it goes. That's why money isn't factored into sentencing.

Yi "brinks" -- Signs with Bucks

Yes, the game of General Tso's Chicken that began on draft night is over. Yi and his team "brinked", and has decided to sign with the Milwaukee Bucks who picked Yi 6th overall in this years NBA Draft. Larry Krystowiak, Lenny Harris, Sen. Herb Kohl and David Stern can all exhale. This is excellent news, not only for the Bucks, but for the NBA in general.

After all the posturing from Yi's handlers about Yi holding out until next year's draft, particularly from agent Dan Fegan and many from the China Basketball Association was nothing more than bluster. The truth is that the Bucks are an excellent landing place for Yi. He's surrounded by great, young talent with Redd, Mo Williams and Andrew Bogut and Charlie Villanueva. A potential front line of Bogut, Villanueva and Yi is exciting to think about. All three are not only 6'11" or taller, but all are good rebounders, above average shooters and excellent passers. The only negative is that not one of them are shot blockers. Redd, Williams and Yi all possess excellent range and should also stretch the defense giving Bogut and CV more room in the blocks. This can be an interesting team in a year or two.

And Then There Were Two

Well Alberto Gonzales finally resigned. One more down, two to go. Unfortunately for the country, Bush and Cheney will hang around for the next 16+ months.

It's not worth re-hashing all the episodes that led to this moment: the obfuscations, denials and changing stories. I think that many in the country are happy to have Gonzales leave office. I wonder what was the final straw that broke the AG's back to make him resign. The rancor -- from both sides of the aisle -- against his behavior as Attorney General have been long and loud. Nothing really new that I'm aware of happened. But again, let's not look a gift-horse in the mouth.

There was a lot of reactions to his resignation from the President, members of Congress and others. But I continue to be amazed at how Gonzales' (and by extension the Administration's) defenders try to turn the situation upside down and portray Gonzales as the victim of a 'great left wing conspiracy'. Take Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's response:

"I thank Alberto Gonzales for his public service and wish him well in his future endeavors. It is my hope that whomever President Bush selects as the next attorney general, he or she is not subjected to the same poisonous partisanship that we've sadly grown accustomed to over the past eight months."

This boggles my mind of two levels. First, I'm confounded by the remark about poisonous partisanship. First of all, the calls for Gonzales' resignation came from both sides of the aisle. Presidential candidate John McCain, Arlen Specter, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee and others were as or more critical of Gonzales as most Democrats. Further, McConnell reacts as if the Republicans never acted in a partisan manner before they lost control of the Congress this year. I don't think you'll find many who would objectively state that Republicans were not more partisan in their dealings in the preceeding six years and certainly far more so in the Whitewater investigation and Lewinsky sex scandal.

Secondly, for a party that takes personal responsibility as a core value, I'm amazed how they never apply it to themselves. I'm actually with Republicans on the idea that personal accountability for one's actions is incredibly important. The only thing that Gonzales could have done to bring more criticism on himself would be if he admitted involvment with Michael Vick and Bad Newz Kennels. But from bad intelligence, to bad "war" strategy and the inability to respond to a natural disaster that was forecast for a full week, this Administration has never taken responsibility for the choices that they have made.

That leads me to my next area of concern. One of the rumored replacements for Gonzales seems to be DHS secretary Michael Chertoff. How could Chertoff, who presided over the botched response to Hurricane Katrina, be given greater responsibility? What does it take to get in trouble? I guess the good news is that at least he hasn't shot anyone in the face yet.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Omar: Waive Mota Already

For the love of God. Please get rid of this guy. Another game blown by Mota (not that the rest of the bullpen helped at all). I really don't understand why they put him in games anymore or why he's even on the major league roster. His ERA is now 6.26. It's hard to believe that there's not one other pitcher in the minors or even on the LI Ducks who can be any worse.

Glavine throws 7 scoreless and then the bullpen implodes over the next 3 giving up 4 runs. Now the lead in the division is down to 4. I can't take it.

Nate Robinson Maturing? Nah.

I'm convinced that no one at Newsday knows anything about the NBA. In today's article in Newsday Alan Hahn writes that Nate seems to be growing up. The evidence -- he passed the ball in a practice instead of going 1-on-5 against the defense. Wow. That's impressive. Let's just crown him the next John Stockton. But this may in fact be great progress for someone who is being pushed for the backup PG spot by the great [please read with all of the sarcasm that was intended] Mardy Collins. Just not someone who will ever be a starter in the league. At least however, Hahn says he remains skeptical about Robinson's ability to "shed his class-clown personality". But was this article worth writing at all? About a guy who is in double-digits, not in any statistical category, but on the depth chart?

I am starting to think that Cablevision secretly bought Newsday though. How else could articles like this, or the drivel written by Ken Berger, be published unless it was part of James Dolan's media empire? Next case in point is that in the same article Hahn suggests that Nate Robinson's progress was hurt by Steve Francis' presence on the team. Nice to throw a former player under the bus. Does no one think that the example set by Marbury undermining Coach Brown's authority or Isiah's directive to a bunch of scrubs to be thugs (against the Nuggets) or his unwanted smooching of an employee helps set the tone for Robinson's bad behavior? Not at Newsday at least.

But the final insult of my intelligence was Hahn's asking "Is he the point guard of the future? Or with the emergence of Mardy Collins, is he merely a trade asset to be used to acquire an established veteran such as Ron Artest?". Nate a "trade chip" to get Artest? Zach Randolph is a trade chip. David Lee is a trade chip. Next year's #1 is a trade chip. Nate is a "throw in".

Friday, August 24, 2007

Mets and Red Sox fans have a lot in common

I've been living in New England for almost 5 years now. Hard to believe. As a sports fan, it's been tough at times because it's hard to find my local teams on TV without shelling out for a "League Pass". Which when you've got several teams to follow and you probably only get to watch a few games each year anyway, it hasn't seemed worth it to me.

But living up here for a while, in the heart of Red Sox Nation, I have found some several major characteristic that Mets and Sox fans have in common:
* we are both utterly paranoid about our team's performance and ability to hold a lead in a game or the standings; we just wait for the team to go into a tailspin, and at times expect it.
* we are both tired of, scared of -- yet deep down -- respect the Yankees. But there's nothing more fun than hating the Yankees and rooting against them. Certainly , having a guy like A-Rod makes it more fun.

But there's been an interesting turn of events that I didn't expect. I've actually found myself rooting for the Sox. I didn't like the Yankees anyway and with being in different leagues, it's not so bad. And I guess just being up here, they're on TV, in the paper, you just start to get into it. But if they meet in the Series -- and with the Mets bullpen, I'm not that confident -- there are no questions where my allegiances lie. And I'm hoping history will be on my side :)

Vick Pleads Out...Sort Of

Well why am I not surprised. Michael Vick's plea deal only admits to some of what he's been charged with. Yes, he admitted guilt around organizing and funding a dogfighting enterprise, Bad Newz Kennelz. But the big news is that he DID NOT admit to being involved in either killing the dogs or betting on them. According the the article in ESPN, he will admit to being present for killing the dogs, but not participating in the activities.

There is no doubt in my mind that Vick's plea was done, not to reflect the truth, but to preserve his ability to play in the NFL in the future. No NFL owner was going to want to make a dog-killer the face of their franchise and Vick knew that Roger Goodell would come down with an extensive suspension (whether it was concurrent or not is besides the point) for the gambling charges.

Now I don't believe that Goodell and the NFL will believe that Vick was not involved in the killing or gambling. At least not publicly. But the NFL is not going to just accept the "summary of facts" from the plea deal. I believe they will continue their own investigation and continue to look into these charges further. I believe that the NFL will take the plea agreements of the other 3 defendants, as well as other information resulting from the VA prosecutors investigation, into consideration in which Vick was implicated in both gambling and the torture and killing of the dogs. While the torture and killing of the dogs is utterly reprehensible, gambling is the third rail in the NFL.

The end result is that Goodell will come down with a of those big ones used to ring the bell at carnivals. Not only will he come down because of the facts, but because Vick once again is not showing contrition about what he did and is purposefully going out of his way to evade responsibility for his actions. As Goodell has laid out with all of the other suspensions he's come down with in his short tenure, honesty and contrition are mandatory. If you pass on either, you're done. Vick passed on both counts. I believe this will be the only pass Vick completes for at least 3 years.

Vick just better hope that he can use his speed to stay out of the arms of much of the prison population. As a good looking guy and a dog-killer, he's going to pine for the days when he only had defensive ends and linebackers chasing him.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Stephon Backs Off Vick Support

Well that didn't take long. I guess Dolan or Isiah called to tell him to recant, because clearly Stephon's not smart enough on his own.

Marbury's Lucky Vick Doesn't Own the Knicks

Ah Stephon, once again you have graced us with your wisdom. In an article in Newsday yesterday it was reported that Marbury said in an interview aired by Capital 9 News in Albany. "From what I hear, dogfighting is a sport. It's just behind closed doors and I think it's tough that we build Michael Vick up and then we break him down ... I think he fell into a bad situation."

Truly amazing. I can imagine he's trying to defend Michael Vick's indefensible actions. Why, I can only speculate. Maybe they're friends, maybe he's just trying to show solidarity with another black athlete who came from humble beginnings. But it's one thing to ask as others have (including the head of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP) that IF Vick is contrite and IF he abides by the provisions of his plea deal that he be given another chance to play in the NFL.

But to say that dogfighting is a legitimate sport and to imply that Vick "fell" into this situation is completely absurd. First of all dogfighting is illegal. Pitting to animals, who have no ability to determine their own actions, against each other in a fight to the death is horrific, despicable, reprehensible and an affront to most people's sensibilities of right and wrong -- Black or White. And for all those that try to make the Vick case simply about race is similarly distasteful.

Secondly, Vick did not "fall into" dogfighting. He had been actively involved in it since at least 2001. His friends did not bring him into this unknowingly or unwillingly. Vick funded the entire endeavor. He paid for the dogs, paid for the kennels, the "training" pits. And he of course was directly involved in gambling on these illegal fights which is also illegal activity.

Lastly, Marbury also improperly compared dogfighting to hunting. I am not a hunter. I only kill bugs. But hunting is totally different. Yes the end result is the same -- the animal dies -- but the intention and method behind it is completely different. Hunting is done for sport, but in almost all cases, it's also tied to maintaining a proper balance of the animal population, the kill is quick and hunter's typically eat what they kill or sell it to someone who will (unless you're Dick Cheney). What Vick did -- hanging, drowning, electrifying dogs who lost a fight -- is TORTURE. There's no sport involved.

BTW, there was a great chat with Howard Bryant from ESPN that discussed a lot of these issues. Check it out. But let me wrap up.

Marbury should just be happy that Vick doesn't own the Knicks. Because based on Marbury's level of play and the awful record he has led them to (and just about every other team that he has played for), Vick would probably have electrocuted him too.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

From TNT to Riding the "T"

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the headline on that Reggie Miller was contemplating a comeback...with the Boston Celtics. So many things crossed my mind, like:
* "Reggie, you're 42, stay behind the mike"
* "Reggie, on the Celtics?"
* "What's Spike Lee thinking right now. Definitely having nightmares."
* "What the hell is Ainge thinking?"

I know that Reggie would only play for 15 minutes a game. I'm sure he can still stroke it. And he still wants a ring. It's not crazy, it's just impossible to get my mind around Reggie Miller wearing the Green. Or any colors other than Yellow and Blue. Mind boggling.

Almost as mind boggling is the about face that the Celtics have made to their roster. Last year they had a bunch of kids (not counting Ratliff, but who would). This year, they average age of the team might be 10 YEARS older than last year...even without Reggie. I guess PJ Brown can't be far behind. I wonder what kind of coverage Harvard Pilgrim has for broken hips. With guys that old on the squad, it's probably worth investigating.

But how great would it be to see Reggie lay another 9 points in 22 seconds on the Knicks to knock Isiah's crew out of the playoffs. I guess we may find out. Celtics-Knicks are scheduled on April 14th. Second to last game of the season. I love it. Spike, sweet dreams.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

"Never Again" is not just a slogan

Recently I was reading the Boston Globe and saw an article about a situation in Watertown, MA. What I read was confusing and concerning.

The short story is that there is a very good project going on in Watertown called "No Place to Hate". The concept is that the residents of the town set up an expectation within the community that racism or any sort of targeting of religious, social or sexual groups will not be tolerated. A very good goal indeed. One of the main sponsors of this program, not surprisingly is the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The ADL is generally a force for good. The title bar of their website pretty much sums up what they stand for: Fighting Anti-Semitism, Bigotry and Racism.

But here's where the story takes an odd turn. There's a lot of upset people in Watertown, and the anger is directed at the ADL. The reason was stunning to me. A sizable segment of the local population is Armenian-American. And there has been a long-running dispute between the Armenians and Turkey about recognizing the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during WWI as genocide. Many, but not all countries have recognized the events during that time as genocide.

The recognition of the genocide became an issue in Watertown because the Armenian-American population asked the ADL to recognize the genocide and the ADL declined. The ADL did not deny the genocide, but they sidestepped the issue and said it was not their place to make the determination of what did or did not happen. That's not acceptable. Many countries have made the determination and so has the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity.

As a Jew, I am thoroughly disgusted with this position. One of the reasons for the creation of the ADL was to ensure that the Holocaust against the Jews of Europe during WWII was not repeated again. Whatever reasons the ADL purports to have for staying out of the debate are crap. The core tentant of "Never Again" is that it does not just apply for Jews. "Never Again" is for any group. That's why the Jewish people stand up for the tragedy in Darfur, stood up with African-Americans against segregation and bigotry in the 60's and should stand up and be counted again in this discussion. The ADL would be all over a Holocaust denier and should not play a similar role in another "dispute" over history. Period, end of sentence.

I sincerely hope that Abraham Foxman and the ADL reconsider their position and reclaim the high road that they have been on for the past 90 years.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Brand Achilles Ruptured; Clips Season Scuttled

Absolutely terrible news for a great guy. Elton Brand is one of the best power forwards in the game and a great person. And by far the best player on the Clippers. Now after rupturing his achilles tendon he's out for 6 months. Elton, don't rush back. There's no reason. Get healthy and get ready for the 2008-09 season. Even if you can make it back in 6 months as reported, don't. By the time you take the court, the Clips will have already lost 30+ games. This year's Clips will be fighting history, trying not to have the worst record of all time.

What do Clipper fans have to look forward to this season. Corey Maggette will average 27 ppg, Tim Thomas will put up numbers that make up for last year's awful (but utterly predictable) season -- 18 & 7 are not unreasonable expectations. Chris Kaman should see some improved productivity too. We'll give him a mulligan for his sophmore slump campaign and hope he can move up to 15 & 11 with more space on the block. And without having to worry about win totals, we should see if Jared Jordan (a great second-round pick) is the next John Stockton or the next Dan Dickau. No reason to give Cassell 30+ mpg, especially in his walk year.

And the 08-09 season will see a lot of cap room for the Clips to reload with, probably close to $18M. Maybe more if they can move Maggette's expiring contract or better yet the Mobley and his last 2 years/$19M. And they're almost a mortal lock for a Top 3 pick (after this year, you can never say top pick), although there's no Durant or Oden to be found.

Titans DL Woes

I just had the "pleasure" of reading yet another article about how the Titans will be fine at DE with 4th year players Antwan Odom and Travis LaBoy. Not coincidentally, this is the 4th year of such articles. To paraphrase Rick Pitino's classic rant from 10 years ago as the Celtic's coach, "Jevon Kearse is not walking through that door." I get it. These guys aren't very good and are almost never healthy, but that's what we've got.

But it didn't have to be that way. Mike Reinfeldt, the Titans new GM can't be blamed for these failed second rounders. But at the same time, he can be blamed for not doing anything about it. Yes, the Titans had 12-year pro Simeon Rice in on Friday for a meeting/physical. But he's not the same player he was even three years ago. Reinfeldt had opportunities to address this during the draft (Anthony Spencer, Tim Crowder) or via free agency (Patrick Kearney). But instead we're staring at Odom and LaBoy again. And it's not like he hadn't thrown a Floyd Reese draft pick under the bus before. The Titans pick of Chris Henry in the 2nd round was a direct slap at the drafting of LenDale White just last year. I'm not saying I'm sold on White, but Henry was a HUGE REACH.

But I'll go a step farther. Reinfeldt's draft was terrible. Sure Michael Griffin is a good player and after I had a few minutes to calm down after they passed on several good WRs, I was happy at the pick. LaMont Thompson sucks and they needed a good FS to start opposite Hope. I felt good about the secondary, even with the PacMan situation. I liked both Finnegan and Hill. But then to try to convert this guy to CB! OMG. And if they wanted to take a S that could play CB, why not go with Brandon Merriweather from Miami...who actually played CB in college. And the rest of the draft was a mess. A couple of questionable receivers, not much else.

And the draft wasn't the only thing he screwed up. The Titans still have major holes at DE, DT, and WR (while I liked the Moulds acquisition he's not an elite receiver anymore). Yet the Titans did little to address these holes with FAs and have over $15M in salary cap money left. When did Bud Adams turn into Donald Sterling? I'm disgusted. If I had more spare time, I'd start Please, somebody else take up the banner.

Marbury is my President Bush

You know how the late night hosts and other comedians love having President Bush around for constant fodder? I feel the same way about Stephon Marbury. You can always count on him to say something stupid or so petty that it makes it almost too easy to make fun of him.

Let's not even bring up his comments from this past season where he continued to live in the fantasyworld in which he believes he's the top point guard in the NBA. More recently there was the truly laughable self-delusion that if he did go play in Italy when his contract ran up, he would be hailed as the basketball version of David Beckham. As I've written about before, Marbury is clueless.

But this all leads me to his latest incredibly stupid comment. In the aftermath of the deal that sent KG to the Celts (and likely the Knicks back to the lottery) Marbury, in an exclusive interview in the NY Post, states that the Knicks have nothing to fear from KG and the Celtics. Is this the same Stephon Marbury who was almost begging to play with the very same KG...either in NYC or MSP? And what were the pearls of wisdom that Marbury came up with: "I'm not thinking about Boston," Marbury added. "I'm only thinking about the New York Knicks. Our new nickname is nice and nasty. That's how we're coming." That's so lame -- it sounds like a white guy trying to sound street.

What's better is that it didn't stop there. Marbury said that he was happy for KG because he knew KG was tired of losing. Like Marbury can be considered a winner? KG's record with the T-Wolves is dramatically better than Marbury's record wtih the Wolves, Nets, Suns and Knicks. In 11 years Marbury has only had 2 -- count 'em -- 2 winning seasons, one with KG. In comparison KG has had 8 seasons of .500 or better with one trip to the Western Conference finals. All on KG's back. One could say that Marbury's team records were similarly attributed to his own performance. He was not good enough to put a team on his shoulders, but always felt that he was on par with the top players in the game.

And of course, so interview with Marbury would be complete without throwing somebody under the bus. Today's victim was Kevin McHale. First, there is no question that McHale, while one of the greatest players, is a terrible GM. And he could easily be mistaken for Herman Munster (I wonder if he's related to Fred Gwynne?). But to say that he's worried for his cousin (the supposedly talented Sebastian Telfair -- who is on his 3rd team in his short 4 year career) who will now play for McHale. Marbury seems to be worried -- not because McHale is a poor GM -- but because he blames McHale of leaking that Marbury was jealous of Garnett, forcing his trade out of the Twin Cities back in the 98-99 season. Once again Marbury blaming someone else for his own actions. Poor Stephon. Look in the goddamn mirror once in a while. You've left 3 teams so far. In each case the team you went to got worse, while the team you left got better. You're a millstone around the neck of every franchise you've been with. Man up and take some responsibility and stop hatin' on a guy who was 10 times the player you ever thought you were.

I mean he should finally learn to shut up and that it's best not to talk at all. It's inconceivable that MSG gave this guy a talk show.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

KG's a Celtic: Another Blow to the Knicks :)

I loathe Isiah Thomas and Jim Dolan and what has befallen my previously beloved New York Knicks. However, I have vowed that as long as those assholes are involved with the Knicks, I renounce my support for the team. In fact, after the way Larry Brown was treated nothing makes me happier than to see the Knicks suffer.

And that brings me to the KG trade. I love it. It almost virtually dooms the Knicks to missing the playoffs again. I had a temporary set back when the Knicks acquired Zach Randolph for the proverbial bag of donuts. Oh, I shouldn't say that. Those were players that Thomas drafted/acquired. And according to Stephen A. Smith Isiah Thomas is an amazing evaluator of talent, especially when it comes to the draft, so they must be great players. Except for the fact that Channing Frye who was the #8 pick in the 2005 draft is softer than the Stay-Puff marshmellow man.

Anyways, while I never understood how Randolph and Curry would play together and how they would keep the opponents score under 200 with no interior defense, it pained me to see Isiah actually get the better part of a deal and potentially have a chance at the playoffs next season.

Even better, Isiah had floated the idea that the Knicks could be a player in the KG sweepstakes and buffoons like Ken Berger of Newsday actually printed that drivel. But alas Isiah was outmanuvered by DANNY F-ING AINGE of all people. The one GM that most people thought was more incompetent than Isiah. Just great, great news. A smile has come back over my face.

Trade Deadline Blues for Met Fans

My head is going to explode. I really do think that Omar Minaya is a great GM, but tonight I watch Guillermo Mota blow the 300th win for Tom Glavine. Another blown hold for Mota another grey hair for me. I swear to God that Omar should start personally injecting Mota with steroids again so that he'd at least be effective in the bullpen. Otherwise, I think the Mets are better off with Mota suspended rather than blowing leads.

I can't take it. The Red Sox get Gagne for next to nothing (a 5th starter and a 5th outfielder) instead of the Mets while at the same time the Braves get both Texiera and Dotel. No Gagne, no Dotel, not even Chad Cordero or Jon Rauch. Oh my God, is that what I'm willing to settle for, Jon Rauch? Please kill me.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Marbury Still Clueless

Italy is one of my favorite countries to visit. That's why today's report that Stephon Marbury intends to play hoops in Italy in the Euroleague is both preposterous and upsetting. The Italian people are wonderful, nice and certainly don't deserve to have a moron like Marbury foisted on them. The idea saddens me.

But the most galling thing about the report is Marbury's reasoning. He acts as if the only reason that the Knicks wouldn't want to sign him (or any other team for that matter) is because of creaky knees. Hey Starbury, ever think it has anything to do with the fact that your a cancer on every team you've been associated with? You don't make your teammates better, every team you leave gets better and every team you go to gets worse. Oh, and I forgot that you pout, complain and disrupt a team when things don't go your way. The way you undermined Larry Brown, the one guy who could have actually helped your development as a player, was completely despicable.

But I will say that Marbury's self-comparison to David Beckham is pretty on target. He would be an aging "star" (although never the elite player that Beckham was back in the day) who went to another league in another country where 99% of the population won't give a damn that he came.

To all my friends in Italy, I can only hope for your sake that Marbury either has a career ending injury or convinces the Knicks to pay him again when his contract is up. With boobs like Isiah and James Dolan running the show, that's as likely an outcome as any.

"Dog Days" Ahead for Michael Vick

Hard not to resist the pun on this one. I was stunned to see the breaking news on ESPN as soon as I got to the pool hall last night. Not surprised, but I didn't expect the announcement. And it's reported that Vick or his posse didn't expect it either from reports on ESPN.

No question that Michael Vick is in trouble. The issue has never abated since it was first reported that illegal dog fighting training facilities were found on a piece of property that he owned in Virginia. While he's owed his day in court, I never thought that his public statements -- that he had no idea what was going on in his own property -- were credible. It's the same sort of "I'm a star, so I can't get in trouble" attitude that we've all unfortunately become to expect from professional athletes.

Vick is basically screwed at this point (as are the Falcons). The Feds typically don't indict unless they're pretty sure of a conviction, as evidenced by their 95% conviction rate. And the odds are pretty good that one of Vick's friends (i.e. co-defendants) will roll on Vick for a reduced sentence.

It will certainly be interesting to see how this plays out over the coming months.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Fantasy Hoops - Initial Installment

One of the other things that I'm going to write about (and may even launch a separate blog once the season starts is fantasy basketball. I've been in a fantasy league for almost 20 years, and quite successful, especially recently, having won it all 3 of the past 5 years. I feel that the insights and projections from the many national writers aren't any better than mine, so I will contribute my own info.

Anyway, the NBA season never really stops. We had the finals end last month along with the NBA draft (one of my favorite days of the year). And this month is began the Vegas and Orlando summer leagues. But yesterday started the official free agency signing period.

Only a few major moves so far:

Rashard Lewis to Orlando: While Otis Smith has been blasted for overpaying for Lewis, at least he used his cap money to get the best player available. There are so many years where GMs get killed for hoarding all their cap money only to have no one take it, that I'm glad to see someone be aggressive and get the player they targeted. From a fantasy standpoint, this doesn't really help Lewis' value tremendously. His scoring should increase slightly to the 22-24ppg mark, but all else should stay about the same. The real beneficiaries should be man-child Dwight Howard who will now get a little more spacing down on the block because there is a shooter that needs to be guarded. Jameer Nelson might see his assist numbers increase as now there's someone who can actually put the ball in the basket on a consistent basis.

Darko Milicic to Memphis: Can't talk about Lewis without following up directly with Darko. I haven't seen an agent blow up like Cornstein did in a while...especially when the result is that his player becomes an UFA which would ostensibly allow for a bidding war and let the player choose the opportunity that they think will be best for them. Anyway, Darko teased us at the end of the 2005-6 season and again in last year's playoffs. But 12 & 7 are not truly great numbers in any case. Add to the fact that Darko couldn't even beat out Tony Battie for the starting job to begin the season and never averaged 30 mpg. Now I understand that Memphis has a coach in Iavaroni that should put in a system that should be good for Darko, but I still don't expect much. Yes there's no other true center on the team, but I have a hard time thinking that Darko will average more than 28 mpg on Memphis either. Too many athletic energy guys like Warrick, Kinsey who will earn their minutes. Gay and Miller (if he can stay healthy) will eat a lot of minutes too. So look for Darko if you need blocks, otherwise, he's not going to have much impact.

One last guy I want to mention has yet to sign -- Mo Williams. Mo (who I astutely drafted in the 8th round last year) seems to be leaning to the Heat even though all he can get is the MLE instead of bigger money ($8M+/year) from the Bucks. Defintely would be a huge upgrade from Jason Williams, but he goes from a second option with the Bucks to a third option behind D-Wade and Shaq (other than during Shaq's normal 40 game vacation in the middle of the season). I think would help Miami's chances of going deep in the playoff's, but probably modestly hurt Mo's stats in fantasy-land. The Bucks were all perimeter and Shaq will need the ball. Also Wade will handle the ball much more than Redd did, and is a much better rebounder so it should bring down Mo's assists and rebounds slightly.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Introducing My Blog

Hello, I just wanted to say hi. I'm going to be using this blog to talk about all sorts of things, as the title of the blog says. I'll be blunt, honest and hopefully sometimes funny. I aspire to write like Bill Simmons, ESPN's "The Sports Guy", who for those of you like Jon Stewart on the "The Daily Show", would simply love...if you like sports. Anyway, I'll post when the mood or topic strikes me.