August 17, 2007

Vick: To Plea Or Not to Plea

It's obvious, right? Michael Vick has to take any plea deal that will get him less than 18 months in prison, considering he's facing 3 times that, plus a fine, plus racketeering charges that will be sent to a grand jury on Monday. He'd be a fool not to take a plea bargain, right?

Consider this. If you're a Vick supporter, and you're black, and you take everything you read in the light most favorable to Vick, you have to think he's getting railroaded. The Surry County Commonwealth's Attorney, a Virginia official, has been steadily investigating the crime for state charges. That man happens to be black, and happens to have strong ties to the Civil Rights Movement in southeast Virginia. Along come the Feds, under a law strengthened just this past May, and suddenly Vick and alleged co-conspirators are indicted in the federal court's most "efficient" district.

bblahbla Nike's "Michael Vick Experience" ad campaign is suddenly less appealing

Then the one co-conspirator who Vick allegedly had a falling out with ago two years flips and turns Feds' evidence. That pressures the other two, who know their only leverage is what they can give the Feds on Vick, the alleged kingpin and financier. Now Vick's facing three witnesses who are only out to save their own hides. Then the Feds come along and say, "oh by the way, plead guilty or we're adding racketeering charges which carry a 20-year sentence."

If Vick enters a guilty plea, what Vick supporter will ever believe he's actually guilty? He's been forced into a corner by a combination of the Feds and his own former friends. Typically, the sentiment is that an innocent man never pleads guilty, but that comes from the natural trust we have in the criminal justice system, and that natural trust is different for blacks than it is for whites. In many people's experience, an innocent man with a good attorney has a 99+% chance of being acquitted. In some parts of the country, that same level of confidence has to be below 80% for black defendants.

So if Vick pleads guilty, we're going to have another O.J. divide along racial lines. There will be exceptions on both sides, but most whites will think he's guilty as hell and got away with as little jail time as possible. Most blacks will think he got screwed by the government, and they'll point to a long line of other cases with the same unfair result.

On the other hand, if he ever wants to play football again he has to take the plea bargain. If he is guilty, and the trial is as ugly and nasty and I suspect it would be, the NFL could never let him on the field again. More importantly to the NFL, some upstart league would LOVE to let him on the field again. Goodell has to be pushing Vick into a plea agreement with both hands.

So we're all screwed. We either have to live with another racially dividing incident caused by our not-exactly-colorblind criminal justice system, or we have to live with daily SportsCenter coverage of a gruesome trial. Given how the Bonds, Donaghy and Vick incidents are playing out, I have to think Vick is now taking the cake.

And, yes, I understand this isn't "A Time to Kill" or "Mississippi Burning", but the fact that Vick is an NFL superstar, and at a position where blacks have suffered the most discrimination (save head coach and GM), makes it all the more polarizing. The NFL is one of the few aspects of American society where we all really do get along, black, white, hispanic or anything else. You won't see the ridicule the NBA endured after it's weekend in Las Vegas turned out like just about any other weekend in Las Vegas, and you won't see the irrational hatred of players, largely due to race, like you see of MLB players like Bonds. When Ray Lewis, one of my favorite players, was indicted, I became indignant. I couldn't understand how the Atlanta DA couldn't grasp that Lewis clearly had nothing to do with it. In that respect, I see where Vick supporters are emotionally right now.

If you think I'm wrong, tell me. If you think I'm right, tell me that too. If Vick enters a plea agreement early next week, we'll never know the answers, but only the aftermath.

Erik Bedard: Cy Young Winner? has a great article today on Erik Bedard and his difficult relationship with the media. I've just recently realized how good Bedard is, since I haven't been watching the Orioles almost at all since May. I think you'd have to say that he's clearly the best pitcher the Os have had since Mike Mussina.

Which makes me feel kind of bad that I haven't been following the team at all. Between Bedard, Markakis, Cabrera, and others, the Orioles have one of the more likable teams in the majors. I feel like I should be watching the games, reading articles, basically following the team at least a little bit. Am I a bad fan because I'm not following a likable team just because they're losing?

UPDATE: Oriole Post comments on the article.

August 16, 2007

NFL Experimenting with Putting Umpire in Backfield

Don't be confused, you have been seeing the Umpire (U) in the offensive backfield this preseason. The NFL is conducting an experiment in Weeks 1 and 3 of the preseason to see if positioning the U next to the Referee (R) reduces the risk of injury to the U.

Under the traditional setup, the U sets up five yards behind the defensive line. The R stands 10-12 yards behind the QB. A Line Judge and Head Linesman (LJ and HL) cover each end of the line from the sideline to look for pre-snap violations, then release and move downfield with the play. The Field Judge (FJ) starts about 20 yards downfield from the LJ. The Side Judge (SJ) starts on the HL's side about 20 yards deep. The Back Judge (BJ) is the one who starts 25 yards deep in generally the middle of the field, favoring the TE's side. He will go further back if the defense is in an extreme prevent. Obviously, the three d-backfield positions are discretionary, in that it might make more sense to line up somewhat differently, especially if the defense is using Oakland's 2000-2001 "Sticks" defense on third on long.

Ice Bowl. Note the Umpire wears a white hat, which is only worn by the Referee in the NFL. In the CFL, only the Referee wears a black hat.
The experimental positioning puts the other six in the same spot, but puts the U parallel to the R in the offensive backfield. Normally the R watches the near lineman, FB, H-Back and TE for holding and watches the QB for roughing the passer. The U watches the three interior linemen and associated defensive lineman, and makes sure lineman do not release downfield too early on screen or pass plays.

The U's primary responsibility, however, is for ball placement in the two-minute mechanics. He always places the ball, but in the two-minute mechanics he is the one who must hustle the most and get the ball quickly and accurately spotted. The NFL has taken care of this by still putting the U in his normal spot during the two-minute drill and when the offense is inside the 5.

My biggest complaint, as pointed out by my co-blogger Brien, is that line action is only seen from one point of view, from behind the O-Line. Hands to the face can be more easily disguised behind a larger offensive lineman's body. Plus, the experiment creates a large sphere of uncovered space at about the linebacker level in the defensive backfield. According to NFL_Czar on FoxSports, this already cost the Rams a preseason TD. Frankly, we don't need two sets of eyes on the back of the offensive line.

This isn't the first time the experiment has been attempted. Apparently the NFL tried the same thing in the 2001 preseason. Why do I think they're throwing the officials a bone the year after a U gets hurt? I recall one relatively serious U injury last year.

Ever Wonder What Road Life is Like for NFL Players?

Well somehow The Smoking Gun obtained a copy of "The Pittsburgh Steelers 2007 Hotel Requirements" which was distributed by the team to each of the hotels where the team will stay prior to home and road games. Needless to say, the excess and luxury that these players receive is unbelievable, not to mention the detail that the handbook goes into and the hoops that all the hotels have to jump through to host the team. Interestingly, the minibars are not allowed to be stocked with any booze, booze can't be ordered by players via room service, and unfortunately for Ravens fans who might like to fuck with the Steelers players when they visit Baltimore, only the Steelers traveling secretaries are allowed to set up wake-up calls. Anyway, it makes for interesting reading.

August 15, 2007

This Post Includes the Phrase "Slayer Statute"

As a lawyer, I know that even a double-murder suicide can be fun and educational.

Remember Chris Benoit? He killed his wife, then his kid, then himself. Or did he? None of the three had a will. Benoit was worth upwards of $5M, and those assets have to go somewhere.

Reports are that Benoit killed his wife, then his kid, then himself. By that progression, when he killed his wife he inherited his wife's property. When he killed his kid he inherited his son's property. When he killed himself, next of kin got everything. Next of kin is two children Benoit has from a former marriage.
Space Invaders
blahblahblah Madame Justice is totally checking me out. Look at that leg!

But wait, there's more! Every state has a "slayer statute", which basically prevents someone from benefiting through inheritance if they murder someone. Think Eric and Lyle Menendez. In Georgia, and in all states I'm familiar with, the slayer statute pretends that Benoit predeceased (died first mouthbreathers) his wife and son.

So now the progression is Benoit "dies", then asphyxiates the wife, then smothers the kid. So Benoit's money went to his wife, then temporarily to the kid, and then to Benoit's next of kin, the prior marriage children.

But wait, there's more! Benoit's wife's estate is contending that the kid was killed before the wife, or in the alternative that Benoit killed both of them simultaneously in different rooms of the house. If that were true, Benoit "dies", then kills his kid giving the wife everything. Then he kills the wife and the wife's family gets the $5M windfall.

And you didn't think murder suicide could be fun? If you really want to be entertained, the foremost case on simultaneous death involves a newly married couple who both took cyanide tainted Tylenol AT THEIR WEDDING RECEPTION. One brain died first, the other died died first. The families both wanted a piece. Check out the opinion here: Janus v. Tarasewicz, 135 Ill.App.3d 936, 482 N.E.2d 418, 90 Ill.Dec. 599 (Ill.App. 1 Dist. 1985).

As if things could make Appalachian State University seem worse...

After the average high school junior or senior sees this video, they are absolutely, positively, 100% never going to apply to Appalachian State University. The sad thing is that somebody in their Admissions Office thought this would be a good idea.

August 14, 2007

Vick's Triple-Covered

It appears the the other two defendants are prepared to plea in Michael Vick's dogfighting case. That means they're going to join the third co-defendant and flip. Vick is now nearly certain to receive jail time, and his NFL future is more and more bleak.

August 13, 2007


West Salisbury Little League is representing the Bury 'HARD. Despite going 1-3 in Mid-Atlantic pool play, the SBY represented and came out of the bracket. They'll face Chandler, AZ, Lubbock, TX, and Coon Rapids, MN in Pool B play. Most importantly, WSLL got a little SportsCenter love tonight.

I always preferred playing in West 'Bury because they had a sewage treatment plant right next door. You never had to lick your finger to figure out which way the wind was blowing, you could just sniff. I also always hit and pitched better on the Westside fields.

Maybe Brian Roberts Had a Point...

Fan video of the last out being recorded in the Red Sox 6-2 win on Saturday at Camden Yards. This video is why I agree with J-Red about Red Sox fans. This video also really sickens me as somebody who remembers waiting on hold on Ticketmaster phonecharge in 1992-1996 to try to get O's tickets the day they went on sale because otherwise I stood no chance of getting into a Camden Yards filled with 48,500 Orioles fans.

Sonics On Their Way Out

As previously speculated, the Oklahoma City-based owners of the Seattle SuperSonics intend to move the team to OakCity.

Since the drive-in food chain Sonic is also based in OkC, we can only hope the uniforms will be changed to give them more of a double-bacon cheeseburger look and taste.

Unless something changes, this will be the third major professional sports team to depart Seattle, after the MLB Seattle Pilots left town after one season in 1969 and the Pacific Coast Hockey Assoc. Seattle Metropolitans folded in 1924 after 10 seasons (and one Stanley Cup win (1917), one Stanley Cup loss (1920), and one Stanley Cup Finals cancelled due to Spanish Flu (1919)).

August 12, 2007

Orioles Win On Walk-Off

"Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together - mass hysteria."
--Dr. Peter Venkman

The Red Sox Nation collectively cringed today, as the Yankees won 5-3 and Eric Gagne choked away an 8th inning 3-1 lead, with the Sox eventually losing in 10 on Kevin Millar's cowboy up three-run homer.

The partly hated, mostly feared Yankees are now only 4.0 GB for the AL East lead, and that means a repeat of last year's Yankees sweep of the Sox could possibly put Boston totally out of the playoffs...again.

If I told you Dice-K, Beckett and Schilling would be starting in a three-game series against the Orioles, and the Orioles hadn't won a series against Boston in 11 tries, you wouldn't expect too much. The Orioles, however, stole two come from behind victories.

Again, I still feel myself rooting so hard against the Red Sox, and more to the point the Red Sox Nation, that I'm rooting for the Yankees. Hence, I give you the wisdom of Dr. Venkman above.

Check this Blog Out

A project by a blogger to visit all 119 Division 1-A football stadiums

So far he has hit about 45 of them, including Maryland, UVA, and just about all of the Big 11 stadiums. And Navy fans who have posted comments that indicate that you may be about to put on your dress whites, find me, and show me your Service Academy hand-to-hand combat training, I would note that the blog has some great things to say about Memorial Stadium... far more than it has to say about Byrd. At least you don't have a picture of a used condom littering the field at Memorial Stadium like he found at Byrd. Anyway, check it out, it's always fun for me to see a fellow stadium geek. We'll probably even link to it.

Article on Steve Blake in Baltimore Sun

The Baltimore Sun has a nice piece on Steve Blake's new contract in Portland and his life in general.

bblahblahThe child's name is Nicholas. Steve wanted "Drew Fucking Nicholas".

See Maryland Basketball: Where Are They Now? for more in-depth treatment on this and other Terps alumnus stories.

And you might not realize how popular Blake is in Portland. Check out this blog entry from Mike Barrett, the television voice of the TrailBlazers.

Feats of Futility

Since football season is rapidly approaching, I thought I'd remind everyone that their team sucks. Here's how long it has been since each NFL team has made a Super Bowl appearance:

Cardinals - 41*
Lions - 41*
Browns - 38**
Saints - 29*
Jets - 28
Chiefs - 27
Vikings - 28
Dolphins - 22
Bengals - 18
Redskins - 15
Bills - 13
Chargers - 12
Niners - 12
Cowboys - 11
Jaguars - 11*
Packers - 9
Broncos - 8
Falcons - 8
Titans - 7
Giants - 6
Ravens - 6
Rams - 5
Bucs - 4
Raiders - 4
Texans - 4*
Panthers - 3
Eagles - 2
Patriots - 2
Seahawks - 1
Steelers - 1
Bears - 0
Colts - 0

*Never made it
**I won't hold 1996 to 1998 against them