Friday, May 19, 2017

And if anyone wants to question that I believe the TV partners might be forcing the NBA's hand, I submit this...

Good grief.  The games seem to be getting LESS competitive.

Once Kawhi Leonard went down in Game 1 of Golden State-San Antonio, the Warriors outscored the Spurs by 27 to win by 2, then won Game 2 quite comfortably...

Here's how we got here:

Cleveland:
  • Was tested by Indiana in their sweep, winning by only 1, 6, 5, and 4 points.  16 points total.
  • Toronto was never a test:  11, 22, 21, and 7.  61 total.
  • And Boston has been a complete joke:  117-104, a game far more a rout than the 13 point final margin, and 130-86 (44!) tonight!  That is a record margin for an Eastern Conference Final.  (The Western Conference record is 56 (Lakers 126-Warriors 70, 1973 WCF -- according to landofbasketball.com.)  The 44 is tied for the eighth-largest margin in any playoff game.
Since the tough series with Indiana, Cleveland's last six wins, including two on the home court of the #1 seed Celtics, were by a total of 118 points, almost TWENTY A GAME.  And only one single-digit margin, and that was three possessions at 7!

Golden State:
  • Portland gave them one test:  12, 29, 6, and 25 for 72 total.
  • Utah gave them none:  12, 11, 11, and 26. 60 total.
  • 2 and 36 for the San Antonio Series.  (The 36 also makes the Top 50 list for largest playoff margins.
And that 2, recall, was a 27 point swing.

For the entire playoffs:  170 margin for 12 games, over 14 a game.  Since the first round:  96, for an average of SIXTEEN.

There have been TWO single-digit margins since round 1 -- and one of those was a 27-point swing.

I am positing, right now, that ESPN and TNT are done dealing with non-competitive basketball.

In 2016, effective for this season and going until 2024-2025, and are estimated at $2.66 billion per year.

Especially with ESPN hemorrhaging money (Mike and Mike in the Morning is the latest casualty, as the two Mikes will be split into two different morning shows -- Golic gets the radio and ESPN2 show in the "divorce", Greenberg gets a new ESPN morning show), you can't tell me that there isn't some desire to force the NBA's hand for a third (or more!) super-team!

Yes, I know Boston had Brooklyn's pick and had the best chance at the #1 as a result.

But it sounds awfully damned convenient, at this rate, for the Eastern Conference's #2 team to basically get this shot in the arm now...

And then who in the West?  Start pumping up that punk-ass jerk Ball and the Lakers and rebuild a new era for that franchise?  Team Griffin up with Westbrook in Oklahoma City and get them help?


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Wow, the third NBA head-scratcher in a week!!!

Boston, through a trade with Brooklyn in 2013, just won the #1 draft pick in the NBA Draft Lottery.

This is beginning to beg a real question here:

Is the NBA (or, possibly, more correctly, it's television partners) all but ordering more super-teams to broaden the spectrum of the league beyond Golden State and Cleveland?

(As an example for tonight:  With 8:30 to go in the second quarter in Oakland, Golden State is up 44-19 on San Antonio.)

Consider:  For this year's Eastern Conference Final with Cleveland, even though Boston had the better regular-season record and has home court advantage, ESPN reports that the Superbook in Las Vegas (the largest legal sports-book therein) now has Boston a 6-1 underdog (+600) to win the series.  Cleveland, who has 10 days off for the series, is a 1-9 favorite. (-900)

According to one offshore sportsbook through Vegasinsider.com, Cleveland is only +320 to sweep the series.  Golden State, and it's noted these were before the series started, is +300 to sweep theirs, and +180 only to drop one game.

As things even stand now with only four remaining teams, the Superbook has Boston at 40-1 to win the title, Cleveland at 5-2.

My anonymous friend talked to me last night, after reading of the NBA on TNT Twitter account and all such, and researched the box score.

If last night was fixed, it wasn't anything out of the David Stern playbook.  Boston got more fouls called against them (24-17), and Washington got more freethrow attempts (WAS:  23-29  BOS:  20-25).

So if last night was rigged, I can only think of one real possibility:  Given the complete non-competitive nature of NBA playoff basketball, did Turner themselves pull the trigger and ask Washington to take a (the more believable, the better!) dive?

Without a reversal of fortune in Oakland tonight, the Cavs and Warriors, leaving tonight, would be a combined 18-0 in the playoffs.  Perhaps Turner felt that four games with some intrigue with Boston might outdo four with Washington...

But, as Brian Tuohy points out, though he does not believe them, he does hearken back to that one Vikings-Packers wild-card call from a number of years back when he asks:

Monday, May 15, 2017

Another NBA "live one"?

Deadspin tonight.  Posted at 8:11 -- I assume EASTERN.

Their title says all.

Celtics 115
Wizards 105

Nice job TNT.

Game 1, Cavaliers at Celtics, Wednesday night:  On TNT.

(NBA) We may have a VERY live one here!

And, if so, I would suggest that James Harden (and the rest of the Houston Rockets) start answering some very real questions about what went down Thursday night.

Brian Tuohy has a new article on his site regarding what might well be the biggest story in sports at the moment:  What the Hell happened to James Harden and the Houston Rockets on their elimination game against the San Antonio Spurs Friday night?

Go there.  Read it.  I'll wait...

OK, let's do the TL;DR on this one:
  • Kawhi Leonard, the best player on these Spurs, was out for this game with an ankle injury (one he re-aggravated in the Game 1 loss to the Warriors -- he being so important that he Spurs were up 25 while he was in that game, but the Warriors went 9-0 (and them and the Cavs to 17-0!)  in the 2017 NBA Playoffs.  Tony Parker was also out for the Spurs.
  • As a result, the Rockets were taken from 6-point favorites to 9-point favorites in the game.
  • Harden went 2 for 11, 10 points, 7 assists, 3 rebounds, and the Rockets lost by THIRTY-NINE POINTS -- 114-75.
  • The Warriors and Cavaliers had already swept into the Conference Finals.  Washington and Boston are going 7.  There is NO REASON for the NBA not to have this series go 7, because (as Brian points out, and any sane sports fan understands) we're getting another Golden State-Cleveland Finals, and there's nothing more to say about it.
So, why?

Brian posts some thoughts from Max Kellerman (who believes Harden is too good not to be The Man on some (lesser) team, but he chokes in any feasibly real spot and has no business thinking title, plus that Harden is a person who games the system by forcing contact to get fouls called against his opponents -- something that would not (ostensibly) happen in the Playoffs) and Stephen A. Smith (who actually DOES, on ESPN, do the RIGHT THING (for once)...)

Stephen A. Smith says the same thing I say here:  There MUST be an investigation as to James Harden and the Houston Rockets in that Game 6.  If the NBA won't do it, bring in the FBI.

Brian says that he believes Harden tanked it.  That's enough, right there, for an NBA investigation, with an assist from the FBI.

One of the points in which Brian and I strongly disagree (I think!) is that I believe ANY game can be fixed for enough money.  I think people got to the Brazilian soccer team for their home World Cup semifinal, and 1-7 to Germany was the result.  I think people got to Joey Barton to pay him princely sums to try to get Queens Park Rangers relegated (just over five years ago).

But one thing is clear:  If this is a nefarious action, this IS NOT A LEGAL ONE.  The NBA was NOT part of the fix, by most accounts.  Hell, Stephen A. Smith actually said (and this is where things went well south of where they should've gone) that the possibility existed that James Harden was drugged that night, probably by his description, on something like marijuana!

And Brian points out that Harden made $28,000,000 this season.  That's fine.  I point back to one of the most eye-opening underground-gambling stories in the recent history of Las Vegas:  The reported $5.9 million bet Floyd Mayweather made on the Miami Heat to cover in Game 7 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals against Indiana.

Mayweather was seen to only make $600,000 from this bet.  A lot of the legal books were asked, and no one would take that kind of action from someone like Mayweather.

To which I guffaw...

That was done underground.  You can bet your bippy that somebody underground (perhaps even some of the Asians?) took that kind of action.

Remember:  Houston was favored here.  A potential underground bet with point-shaving to have San Antonio win would make a lot of money, especially with the injuries to Leonard and to Parker.

The NBA LOSES a potential Game 7 here, so there's almost no reason to believe that the NBA is involved here.

So I decided to go try to find the same source that was one of the parties who investigated the Mayweather bet:  Incarcerated Bob.

To say the least, he's a Your Mileage May Vary type as to whether you believe him, but this handicapper, etc. definitely has some tentacles in the underground.  He believes Harden straight-up tanked to get Houston eliminated after some words with teammates in Game 5.

That WILL come out if it happened, and that will be the end for him in Houston.

I don't know what kind of action places like the massive Asian underground has with American basketball.  That said, SOMEBODY had to lay some serious cash on the table to get Harden (and perhaps the other Rockets) to dive like that, if this was a dive.

And if it was a straight-up tank, it's clear he's probably going to try to go to some forming super-team to try to be that third team to the Warriors and Cavs.

But the thing is:  This is the NBA.  The pro sports league most likely, over the years, to be seen as rigged.  Adam Silver has got to find out what happened here.  I don't think this is going to be a short process either.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

I didn't think it possible to rig professional golf!!

But, at least to one extent, it appears as if the PGA is about to try it!!

With a hat-tip to my anonymous friend (a non-Tiger golf fan!!), Golf.com reports today that, as part of a ten-year extension of the title sponsorship of the season championship, players with rival sponsorships may no longer be able to play for the championship!!

That's right: If you have a sponsorship with UPS, PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan may be actively willing to exclude you from the season-long championship, even though the article on the possibility itself states that PGA rules allow the players, as independent contractors to...
"choose their sponsors, as long as they comply with maintaining the image and reputation of the Tour. The current Tour policy addresses alcohol, tobacco and gambling companies but not competitors of official Tour sponsors."
However, Monahan, in addressing the invoking of what is called a "category exclusivity clause", says:
"All I'm going to say on that front is when you're in business with someone for 30 years, and you're about to commit to 10 more, you do some things to protect each other on a long-term basis," Monahan said. "That's what we've done in this agreement, and our players know that; our players understand it; our players think so highly of FedEx and what they've meant to them in terms of playing financial opportunities. So we do everything we can to protect our partners." 
This means any player sponsored by a delivery service other than FedEx is OUT of the FedEx Cup and all associated tournaments in the event this goes through.

This would (and more thanks to my anonymous friend!) throw out of such competition future UPS-sponsored golfers from the FedEx Cup.  Two golfers, Louis Oosthuizen and Lee Westwood, are currently sponsored by UPS and would be grandfathered in and allowed to continue their contracts.

Even so, their agent (and my anonymous friend!) both see the Pandora's Box this opens, because it won't take much longer for every sponsor on the Tour to want to invoke a similar clause -- say, the Sony Open and you end up having to throw out everybody sponsored by Cricket or Verizon or the like.

EDIT TO ADD 5/10 10 PM:  And my friend just came up with another great zinger!  What of the club and ball manufacturers?  Would this not mean that there would be a competition to put a lot of zeroes in front of Mr. Monahan and try to become the exclusive ball or clubs of the PGA Tour?  Not only that, but then Monahan would spin it as a means to equalize the equipment and allow the players to decide the tournaments!

Another sign of the Donald Trump-ing of American sports.  This might even go so far as to finish the PGA Tour, when you think of it...

DUMB MOVE, Monahan!!!

Friday, May 5, 2017

This is what happens when your sport is completely out of control, European soccer...

Original source for these stories:  ESPN FC.

Perusing for other stories, I happen to come across two stories from Portugal that absolutely disturb me.

They both involve the same (ostensibly) "football club", though, given the stories, I am not sure that there is anything to do with sane soccer in this club.

In the highest amateur division of Portugese soccer rests a bunch of thugs named Canelas 2010.  They now lead this division (for a reason you will be told in a moment).

In the third round of play in the fourth-division league, Marco Gonclaves commits, effectively, the ultimate sporting offense...


Yep, that's a knee to the head of the referee of the match after a cheap shot 30 yards off the ball, a foul for which he was sent off.

The team has banned him for life, and the league has banned Marco Gonclaves for four years from all football.

Too bad they need to take the entire team with them, for two reasons.

First, this is not the first example of dirty play by this strip club-sponsored amateur side:


The second is a result of a little background on the team.  It turns out that four of the members of the team are violent "ultras" of FC Porto, the "Super Dragons".  This includes the captain, who was invited to "bring friends" to the team in 2012, 41 year-old Fernando Madureira.

And it turns out the violence is, apparently, NOT limited to the field!  The referees are routinely intimidated, and opposition supporters report a "terror environment" when they would face the Canelas supporters.

So much so that the entire competition has been turned into an absolute FARCE!

Only one team this season has even deigned to face Canelas 2010 on the pitch -- and you saw what probably happened in their match.  As of the writing of the ESPN FC article, Canelas 2010 is leading that highest amateur division with 16 wins and a draw (there is no way this should be the case, as the referee assault should've been enough to throw these fucking cocksuckers out of their league, as any amateur league worth a damn would have done so!), but this is probably only because of at least 11 consecutive forfeits, and the winning side of this amateur league gets to play a playoff with the lowest third-division side to be in Portugese professional football!!!

WHAT

THE

FUCK!!!!

The organization of this team, and probably most of it's players, should be rotting in Portugese prison, not one tie or match from professional status!!!

This is making Turkish or Italian football look civilized!!

Shut down the whole damn league if you can't control these animals!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Las Vegas: Why now? An abhorrent court ruling...

A couple of weeks ago, my anonymous friend had one of those ideas come like a bolt from the blue.

We were talking about the impending move of the Raiders from Oakland to Las Vegas (probably, to be more precise, another set of stupid stadium deals), and my friend got to thinking:  We all know that the major sports leagues, for many years, actively resisted any involvement in Las Vegas, for fear of consorting with gamblers (including, in the 1960's, bans for a number of prominent NFLers for even having ANY association with gamblers, casinos, what have you...

(Which see Paul Hornung and Alex Karras, whose association with gamblers was part of a one-season ban of both from the NFL when they were at the height of the league.)

And then, I think it was my friend who came up with the answer:

Mayer.

As in Mayer vs. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, and National Football League -- the completely idiotic ruling which made it impossible, even with all the facts in a row, for a fan (or any real agent) to take action against a sports league for the deliberate ignorance of the rules, for any or no reason.

In effect, the ruling which made sports rigging legal, as long as it is the LEAGUE which performs the rigging.

Since that ruling (more correctly, since the David $tern Era in the NBA), the sports leagues are taking the more legal route and rigging games themselves. (It always has been, and remains, illegal for players or teams to go into business for themselves -- that is sports bribery or point shaving.)

Hence, there was no material need for the limitation anymore, and now the NHL and NFL will have teams in Las Vegas by the fall of 2019.