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Newz Forum: OTHER: Soccer violence, Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery, St. Paul Saints, NBA labor situati

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posted on May, 18 2005 @ 02:41 PM
The fans who get drunk at Raiders and Eagles games have the reputation for being rowdy and tough on other fans who might be wearing the colors of an opposing team. There was that liquored up father and son act who rushed the field to beat up a first base coach at a baseball game.

But these fans have to tip their tough guy hats today to the soccer fans in Bogota who began a melee and one fan got stabbed and then tossed out of the upper deck of the stadium. He's dead. A total of 23 fans were wounded; three of them are listed in "serious" condition. It all began when one fan charged at the field and punched the referee; somehow, that ignited tensions in the upper deck; no, I don't know what the connection here is.

Those Congressional steroid hearings are continuing and the next extravaganza will include the commissioners of MLB, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL and MLS. Various and sundry union officials from those sports will also testify as will Frank Shorter as the former head of the US Anti-Doping Agency. Since my expectations of any revelation from this hearing are nil, I shan't be disappointed but I have two questions for the Congressthings:

1. Since the NHL isn't playing, do you really expect to hear they are rigorously conducting drug screenings?

2. Why not get down to the real business at hand and call in the folks from the National Surfing League (there is one, you know) and ask them what their steroid and drug testing policy is? Most likely answer to that would be, "We always test our drugs before we use them to be sure they are top quality stuff, Dude."

In the entire hullabaloo about Ontario Smith and "The Whizzinator", a lot of folks have concluded that he had this device to use to cheat the NFL drug-testing regime. That may be true; I suspect it is more likely true than false; nonetheless, the NFL is correct to take the position that Smith is not in violation of their drug policy by the act of possession of “The Whizzinator”. If you own and register a handgun, you are not guilty of any of the crimes that one might commit using that weapon; that's why Smith gets laughed at for the time being AND gets himself put under the microscope for even closer observation under the NFL substance abuse program in which he is already "enrolled".

Leave it to Scott Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle to put The Whizzinator Affair into perspective. Here is the opening to his column yesterday:

"It must have been embarrassing for Ontarrio Smith, the Minnesota Vikings' part-time running back and full-time substance abuser, to have airport security people find a plastic penis and bags of dehydrated urine in his luggage.

"Hey, I blush when the airport security people examine my electric nose-hair trimmer. I never want to be asked, 'Sir, is this your penis?' '"

With summer approaching, the track and field season is upon us. In Europe, several dozen track and field events are run by an organization called Euro-Meetings Group. Those folks announced earlier this week that Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery will not be invited to participate in any of their meets. You might argue that Jones' performances have deteriorated over the last couple of years and there is a "competitive basis" for that decision. Montgomery, on the other hand, is the world 100-meter champion at the moment unless something changed very recently. Despite a clean drug-testing history for both of these athletes, their links to BALCO and the ongoing steroid investigations made this decision for the folks at Euro-Meetings Group. And before anyone gets bothered by the lack of a presumption of innocence in this matter, let me remind you that "innocent until proven guilty" applies in a court of law and only in certain nations of the world. Euro-Meetings Group is not a court of law and isn't in the US so that standard does not apply. A spokesperson for the group said that Jones and Montgomery "carry far too much baggage to be invited to our meetings." That's the thing about "invitations"; the host can pick and choose the people he wishes to invite. To paraphrase the old Leslie Gore hit from the 60's:
It's my party and I'll invite whom I want to...

Minor League baseball teams come up with great promotional ideas every year to attract fans. The St. Paul Saints are particularly good at this; on Mother's Day, the Saints hosted the Sioux Falls Canaries. They played the earliest game in baseball history starting at 5:35 AM. Three hundred fans chose to arrive at the stadium the night before and sleep over there so those fans were treated to a 4:00AM wake-up call and a breakfast of doughnuts and coffee for Mother's Day. The attendance for the day was 2253 people. After nine innings, the game was tied 6-6 and it was "called by mutual agreement". After all, the players had to get showered and changed so they could go and spend Mother's Day with their families, right?

The Los Angeles Lakers stunk this year and have gotten an early start on their summer rounds of golf. That has not deterred the team from raising season ticket prices for next year's games. Those courtside seats that give fans around the country the opportunity to see celebrities watching a basketball game cost $2K per game this year; next year the price will be $2.1K per seat per game. I know that is chump change for the celebs that sit there and that these folks actually derive some celebrity status by this act of “conspicuous consumption”, but Laker management has to have a real set of big ones to raise ticket prices for a team as uninteresting as the Lakers were last year. They put Kobe Bryant on the court and surrounded him with players equivalent to Anita Bryant.

Jerry Greene reported in the Orlando Sentinel that the Rockets/Mavs playoff game on TNT drew an average of 3.7M viewers last week while the pro rasslin show "WWE Raw" had 5.2M viewers on a different cable channel. The Kentucky Derby had a rating of 11.5 last Saturday; if the NBA has two games out of its entire playoff menu with ratings that that level, there ought to be hosannas emanating from NBA HQ. So what is the league up to? They are looking at the possibility of a lockout starting on 1 July because the labor negotiations are stalled. The league continues to focus on age limits publicly but they really want to cut back on the maximum length of guaranteed contracts (a really good idea) and to cut back on the percentage increase that can be allowed from year to year within contracts (a less than really good idea).

Memo to NBA and NBA Players Association:

1. You have the NHL model staring you in the face. It doesn't work.

2. Your product is losing its appeal and a work stoppage is unlikely to cure that problem.

3. Move the negotiations forward quickly and heed the advice of "Larry the Cable Guy":

Git 'er done!

Finally, former Twins' first baseman Kent Hrbek was asked recently if he ever used performance enhancing substances during his career. His response:

"Budweiser and Michelob Golden Draft Light. Mix those two together and wow!"

But don't get me wrong, I love sports...

Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon

[Edited on 5/18/05 by SportzWriter]

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