July 28, 2007

Vick Co-Defendant Flipping

I said that the "superseding indictment" announced by the Feds July 26th indicated that a co-defendant had flipped, and that we would know about it by the end of next week. Well, we'll know about it on Monday. The man has flipped and the plea will be entered soon. The other two co-defendants are probably lining up to be right behind him.

July 27, 2007

Simpsons Movie: Worth the Ticket Price

Homer with Spiderpig (aka Harry Plopper) who was spared from death at Krustyburger

Alright. So those of you who know me know that I have been a Simpsons fan since 1991 when I started watching regularly. I used to VHS the reruns on Fox 5 and at one point had ten VHS tapes with 14 episodes each (minus commercials that I manually cut out). All of this was rendered moot when the DVDs came out. I am in the group of people who feel that The Simpsons lost much of its luster after Season 10, and I feel that the episode where Homer is accused of sexual harassment is the funniest episode ever.
That said, I was one of those people (I considered calling myself a nerd but decided against it) who was at a midnight showing of The Simpsons Movie last night. The movie is fantastic from the opening credits, which contains a great Itchy and Scratchy movie, Homer calling out everyone in the movie theater as "suckers" for paying to see what they could get for free on TV, and an extended opening credit montage.
The movie spends a little too much time with plot, which seems a little forced... specifically Marge gets pissed at Homer, leaves Homer, Homer tries to get her back. I suppose the movie needed a plot to get green-lighted. But there are so many one-liners that had me and the other Simpsons fans in the audience cackling throughout the movie. There are also allusions back to Simpsons episodes of old where you can spot the true Simpsons fans in the audience by those who are laughing (and the others in the crowd who have that confused look on their face like they're missing something).
Lindsay Lohan's tits
Homer is the star of the show. But Moe, Wiggum, and Krusty shine in whatever line they may be saying. Tom Hanks and Green Day have cameos, Tom Hanks' cameo is especially funny.
Scarlett Johannsen upskirt
If you're a Simpsons fan, go see the movie. You won't be disappointed. I may catch it a second time to listen for things I didn't hear the first time because I was laughing too hard. I'm dreading this becoming the new catchphrase movie for high schoolers in the proud tradition of Borat and Napoleon Dynamite.

Michael Vick knows Football Terminology

Courtesy of Foxsports.com, the following is a statement that Michael Vick's attorney, Billy Martin, stressed was written by Vick and that Vick had urged Martin to read following the initial appearance. I thought I had misheard Martin reading the statement when I watched Sportscenter, but it turns out that I hadn't. Read the statement carefully, and see if you can spot anything funny or awkward about the statement. Try not to be influenced by the bold and italicized portion. I promise that's not a hint:

"Today in court I pleaded innocent to the allegations made against me. I take these charges very seriously and look forward to clearing my good name. I respectfully ask all of you to hold your judgment until all of the facts are shown. Above all I would like to say to my mom I'm sorry for what she has had to go through in this most trying of times. It has caused pain to my family and I apologize to my family. I also want to apologize to my Falcon teammates for not being with them at the beginning of spring training."

Option 1: Mike Vick doesn't know yet after six seasons as an NFL player and countless other seasons before that as a casual fan (and dogfighting Don) that this time of year for NFL teams is commonly referred to as "training camp."

Option 2: The statement really wasn't written by Mike Vick at all, but was really written by some overpaid, over-worked associate at Billy Martin's law firm who has never picked up a ball or watched a sporting event except for during his 2L summer when he was mandated to attend summer associate events.

Yeah, I'm gonna go with Option 2. Nice job, Billy Martin. Way to get off on the right foot showing all of us sports fans your competency in that you can't even fake a statement of sympathy correctly.

Another Argument for Legalized Sports Betting

Today in the New York Times, Professor Justin Wolfers argues that legalized sports betting can prevent point shaving. He suggests that we allow sports betting, but only on the outcome of the game (money line) and not on point spreads or over/unders. By doing this, you would avoid the situation where a player can change a meaningless (in his mind) outcome like the margin of victory in order to make a gambler more profit.

It's an interesting suggestion. I prefer money line bets myself, for similar reasons. I figure that you're better off having your interests aligned with the team's interests so you don't end up in a situation where you need a field goal to cover the spread, but the team kneels to run out the clock.

It's nice to see more arguments for changing the absurd anti-gambling (unless it benefits the state) legislation around the country.

July 26, 2007

Vick in More Trouble, We'll Miss Prosser, F1 Espionage

Triple Play of the News of the Day....

1) Michael Vick's arraignment was a ho-hum affair, except for the part where prosecutors informed him that they would be filing a superseding indictment (and no, Fox Sports, Newsday, WRDW, and 24 other news sources, it's not superCEDING indictment. I know that because superCEDING isn't a goddamned word.). What is a superseding indictment? It's when the prosecution replaces the original indictment with one with more charges. I am willing to say, with confidence, that we'll eventually find out (perhaps even by next Friday) that one of Vick's co-defendant's flipped on him prior to today. That's probably not a bad idea either. Most prosecutions will take pleas so long as it gets them closer to the kingpin. Guess who that is in this case? Yup, Mike Vick.

2) Wake Forest mens basketball coach Skip Prosser died today at the age of 56 while jogging. I would make the obligatory point about the irony of dying while jogging, but I'll pass. I can say, as a Maryland fan, that I've never heard a negative thing ever said about Prosser. I remember being disappointed when he took over for Dave "Scrotum" Odom, but Prosser endeared himself to most ACC fans. Given the speed with which guys like Jay Bilas, Andy Katz, and former players like Chris Paul emerged to share their own great memories of Prosser, I can only assume he was as good as he seemed on television and in person.

blahblahb Win one for the Skipper. May we suggest at Cameron Indoor Stadium?
3) I don't watch anywhere near enough Formula One (F1) to comment deeply on this story. To make a long story short, the wife of a McLaren-Mercedes executive was caught trying to copy 700 pages of Ferrari technical specs at a public copy shop blocks from the McLaren-Mercedes headquarters. Ferrari was notified when the only not-stoned copy shop clerk in the known world thought the documents were suspicious. An arbitrator will decide whether the trade secret theft (a violation of the International Sporting Code, not to mention an offense that sometimes attracts criminal liability and nearly always attracts civil liability, as it is industrial espionage) should incur any penalty. The documents were recovered in a police raid (which lends strength to the idea that there might be applicable criminal industrial espionage laws at play.)

McLaren's defense: We didn't (have time to) use the documents. Sadly, that's a defense to some crimes. You aren't guilty of DUI if you haven't "operated" the vehicle yet. You aren't guilty of attempted murder if the cops stop you before you fire a shot. However, as should be obvious to anyone who can wipe their own ass effectively, the crime is the espionage, not the damaging use of the information gained therefrom.

It could be trouble for the wonder rookie Lewis Hamilton. The arbitrator could strip McLaren of wins, including Lewis Hamilton's. Of course, Europe has no hitlerstory of racial discrimination, so such a move wouldn't cause any tension.

Can you imagine if such a thing had happened in NASCAR? What if Hendricks had secreted the plans for the Car of Tomorrow (CoT), and then used that knowledge to completely humiliate every other ownership team this season? That would be scandalous! Oh, wait.....

The Onion Does it Again...

The Onion

Barry Bonds Home-Run Scandal Somehow Becomes Feel-Good Sports Story Of Summer

SAN FRANCISCO—Although Barry Bonds remains the target of criticism over his possible—some say almost certain—use of performance-enhancing substances, the fact that Bonds has not been implicated in dogfighting, nightclub...

Deion Sanders Weighs in on the Vick Saga

J-Red sent me a link to Deion Sanders' column on the Vick situation and asked me to comment on it since he's away form his computer for the rest of the day.

My first reaction, of course, was "What?!? Deion Sanders has a newspaper column?" I've never been a huge Deion fan, but I can understand his appeal on TV: he's loud, flashy, and has controversial opinions. He never struck me as someone with a gift for the written word, though. With that in mind, his column on Vick doesn't disappoint.

Deion tries to stay focused on Vick and dogfighting, but he rambles through thoughts on how much he pays for suits, the fact that his dogs respond to German commands, how far away from a police station he lives, and his feelings on parents monitoring their children on MySpace. Maybe he thinks the rambling makes him sound like Bill Simmons? I would hate to be the TV producer who has to try to keep Deion's ADD in check.

I'm not sure exactly what his main point about Michael Vick was supposed to be, but jumped around between a bunch of different arguments:

  • It's a macho thing to have the biggest meanest dog around
  • Vick wasn't the ringleader of the dogfighting operation (so he doesn't deserve to be punished?)
  • Many (unnamed) other athletes have "a passion for dogfighting"
  • The police should be looking for Darrent Williams' killer instead of investigating dogfighting allegations (pointing out the logical flaws in this line of reasoning is left as an exercise for the reader)
  • This is only a big story because it's a slow time in the sports year
  • Falcons fans should be worried because Joey Harrington might be their starter
I gather this column has stirred up quite a bit of controversy based on people reading it as an endorsement of dogfighting. I don't see it that way. Like everything else surrounding Deion Sanders, the article was about one thing: Deion. Since he can't gin up national coverage by threatening another comeback this year, the best way for him to get back in the spotlight was to inject himself in the Mike Vick circus. Mission accomplished.

Here's how Deion's column ends: "God bless and God willing I'll hollah at you next week."

Right after that is this line, courtesy of the News-Press: "For similar stories search our paid archives dating back to 1999." Ummmm... No thanks.

Nats to Resign Dmitri Young

This just in on http://www.nationals.com/:

Nats near two-year extension for Young

PHILADELPHIA -- First baseman Dmitri Young is close to signing a two-year extension with the Nationals, according to multiple sources. The move would come a few days after the team signed infielder Ronnie Belliard to an extension.

Young is the most important player on the Nationals this season. A leader in the clubhouse and on the field, he was pacing the Nationals in hitting (.331), RBIs (52) and on-base percentage (.386) entering Thursday's action.

The Nationals want Young play outfield and first base in the future.

Wow. I can't think of something that I disagree with more. There is no question that Dmitri is having an incredible year, but what are the odds that what we're seeing this year is who Dmitri Young will actually be for the next two seasons. Pretty slim. I trust Kasten and Bowden to hold on to guys if the offers aren't that good, but it did blow up in their face last season with Soriano. However, Sori wasn't willing to sign a multi-year deal before the deadline at a price the Nats could pay.

There are two things that console me with this deal. First is the possibility that the Nats could actually be INCREASING Young's trading value by signing him. If Team B signs Young, they know that they have him locked up for two more seasons and that he's not going to pull the hired gun move, play for Team B for the remainder of the '07 season, and then leave, leaving Team B down two or three prospects and with a big hole in their lineup. Second is the possibility that Kasten and Bowden are taking the Detroit Tigers approach, an idea that has been thrown around a lot on the DC sports radio circuit, and that allowed the Tigers to reach the World Series last year and be contenders this year. The Tigers approach was signing vets at a low price to play in the field, and making sure these vets are good in the clubhouse. Then the Tigers used the draft and trades of veteran pitchers to bring in young arms to build a rotation and bullpen. So in short, older lineup composed of clubhouse leaders, and younger pitchers.

July 25, 2007

Arizona Sheriff Names Vick Person of Interest

Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio has stated that Michael Vick is a person of interest in his own local dogfighting investigation. Sheriff Arpaio is famous for forcing inmates to live in tents, work in 110+ degree weather, and eat only bologna. He's very popular not only in his county, but nationwide.

On the other hand, Arpaio is a bit of an attention whore. When it became apparent that Paris Hilton would not serve his full sentence, Arpaio was the first to step up and volunteer space in his own Arizona facilities. This earned him appearances on CNN, MSNBC, and radio shows across the country. He also has written a bestselling book about his brand of tough punishment.
It's not clear whether Vick is simply a possible witness, or a name that has come up in the investigation, as opposed to a possible suspect. It should be noted, however, that the Feds would love a little Arizona/Virginia/possibly Georgia component to their trial. That would certainly make the interstate commerce part of their indictment easier to prove.

Another Ruined Tour de France

For the past two weeks, I've had big plans of writing a Tour de France post explaining how much fun it is to watch (no, really). The riders are amazing athletes, the strategy of the race is fascinating, and the announcers are some of the best in any sport. Unfortunately, last night I saw this story on yet another doping scandal in cycling. This time it involved one of my favorite riders, Alexander Vinokourov, and allegations of illegal blood transfusions.

I realize most people don't care about the Tour now that Lance Armstrong retired, if they even cared before that. But it is one of my favorite random sporting events each year. It comes at the slowest point in the sports calendar, when basketball is over, baseball is in its most boring stretch, and football hasn't started yet. Wimbledon and the British Open occupy a few days here and there, but the Tour de France gives me great sports to watch for three straight weeks.

The only problem is that I have to avoid thinking about the fact that most of the riders are probably cheating. Normally, I don't have much of a problem doing this. I watched Floyd Landis last year without even thinking of what drugs he might be taking. When the positive test came out after the Tour, I didn't want to believe it.

This year, I had managed to ignore doping yet again. I watched the first few weeks just enjoying the racing. Now, I'm not sure I can ever do that again. I was really looking forward to tonight's final mountain stage. I was ready to write about how exciting it is to watch world class athletes hit the wall and drop back from the pack. Now I have to wonder if those stragglers are the only ones playing by the rules.

July 24, 2007

Lindsay Lohan = Robert Downey, Jr.?

Lindsay Lohan was arrested for DUI and cocaine possession (again) last night when police responded to reports that a car was chasing another car through a parking lot. Her BAC was .12, putting her well over the legal limit. I'm not sure what the legal limit is for cocaine possession. Of course, none of these charges prevent her from being charged in her previous hit-and-run accident that also involved cocaine possession.
blahblahblahbblah Lohan prepares to do a line off of each finger

So is Lindsay Lohan the biggest trainwreck in Hollywood since Robert Downey, Jr.? Other candidates include Nick Nolte, Britney Spears, and Paris Hilton. I'm going to give the nod to Lohan due to her propensity for being arrested, and since she just left rehab five days ago. Of course, I'm not comparing her to Robert Downey, Jr., because Robert Downey, Jr., is a talented actor. She's just the biggest trainwreck SINCE Robert Downey, Jr., held the undisputed unified heavyweight substance abuse championship a few years ago.

In other news, reports out of Promises, the rehab facility Lohan used as a hotel, in Malibu, indicate that Lohan refused to wear clothes while there. She supposedly liked to parade around nude in front of the men. Oh Wilmer Valderrama! When you took her virginity and then left her, you made her crazy.

July 23, 2007

Vick's Attorney

So Vick has retained prominent white collar criminal defense attorney Billy Martin to represent him. I have seen Martin in action myself during the summer I interned at the federal courthouse in Baltimore. Martin represented Nate Chapman, the former Chair of the University of Maryland Board of Regents, on trial for 23 counts of mail fraud and other similar white collar crimes. I poked my head in and sat in on the trial two or three times each week.

While Chapman (and Martin) did not ultimately prevail (to the tune of a seven-year prison sentence and $5 million fine), Martin was a wonderful trial attorney. He appeared to really captivate the jurors and is a charismatic guy. He had a talent for examining witnesses in that he seemed to have a sixth sense for when there were buttons that could be pushed to get to the secret compartments inside a witness' mind, and when he should just lay off a witness. He was the antithesis of government prosecutors who were overprepared and underwhelming in their delivery. But like I said, it didn't help his client in the end.

Vick made a good choice... Martin's a good attorney. But even the best attorney won't help Vick if the evidence against him is there. The fact that he hired Martin indicates to me that he has a very good sense, likely from legal advisors, that this case will be a jury trial, and that there will be no pleas nor a bench trial (a trial where the judge is the finder of guilt or innocence as opposed to a jury).

See 'Ya in '08, #7 (maybe)

So news across the wire that Roger Goodell ordered Michael Vick to stay away from Falcons Training Camp and not to participate in any team activities until the NFL investigation can be completed.

Goodell took one for the team here, quite literally. He saved the Falcons the P.R. nightmare of having to make a choice that would have alienated any one of their large groups of fans. The primary choices the Falcons had were:

a) Do the same thing Goodell did, alienating a black community in Atlanta (and nationwide) who looks at this situation as having the same possibility as the Duke lacrosse scandal had for somebody to be adjudged guilty before due process plays out, or;

b) Give Vick a paid leave of absence which would've allowed the Falcons to say that they wanted to compensate Vick until he was found guilty but that they didn't want him to do the impossible of splitting time between court and the practice field but that would have been totally transparent to white and black fans alike, or;

c) Let Vick play and risk P.E.T.A. picketing every practice, game, and appearance by a Falcons official.

Now, the Falcons don't have to make that choice. The Falcons can say that the NFL made their decision and that it was out of their hands.

Was Goodell correct in his decision? Time will tell. Certainly these allegations against Vick are egregious and disgusting. Unlike Keystone cops in Eagle County, CO and Durham County, NC, these charges are being prosecuted by federal officials who very seldomly screw up and who very seldomly throw charges out. Unlike those other cases where it was a he said/she said, here there's a pile of dead dog carcasses as evidence (and who knows what else that may directly link Vick to the action). Do I agree with Goodell's decision? Absolutely.

Nevertheless, after Thursday, this story will quiet down for a few months, likely until October when the real legal process begins. I see Barry Bonds, the NBA Ref Issues, the start of NFL and college football, and the baseball playoffs dominating the headlines from now through the end of October. However, come October 26, the ink will be spilled.

Colts Will Miss Tarik Glenn

Multiple sources are reporting that Indianapolis Colts' LT Tarik Glenn has informed the team that he is retiring, though he has not spoken publicly. The importance of Glenn, a three-time AFC Pro Bowler despite playing Jon Ogden's position, to the Colts cannot be understated. A large part of Manning's success lies in the time he has been given in the pocket by his excellent OL and backfield blockers. Manning gets rattled easily and his performance drops significantly when he gets popped a few times.

Add Glenn to a long list of Colts who have departed this offseason, including starters like Mike Doss, Monte Reagor, Cato June, and Dominic Rhodes. Manning was upset when Edgerrin James left, not because he didn't think the yards wouldn't be replaced, but because he trusted Edgerrin as a blocker and blitz pick-up man. Joseph Addai eventually earned Manning's confidence, but he's not quite up to Edge's abilities. Now Glenn, the blindside protector for Manning, departs. I have a feeling Manning is campaigning hard to get Glenn to change his mind.