December 20, 2014

A Referee Shall Do No Harm

Missed calls at home plate, the poor spot of the football after fourth and inches or the blown call of an obvious charge has angered coaches, players and fans alike. But that human element is one of the things that attracts every sports fanatic to their sport of choice.

A missed call is part of the game.

Doesn’t matter what sport it is, officiating has had a hand in deciding the outcome of games long before the last couple of weeks. As sports have evolved and technologies advanced there are many ways referees can get it right with an eye on letting the play on the court or the field decide the outcome of the game rather than them making a wrong call because they did not have a clear view of the play.

I think most fans can accept that….even begrudgingly when that call or call reversal costs their team the game.

What we can’t and should not accept are referee’s not knowing or following the rules as they are instructed and taught to do.

Over the last couple of weeks, during this one-and-done party that is March Madness, there have been three glaring cases that should at a minimum have the offending referee’s monetarily penalized or sent to officiate a local YMCA game. Not only did they not follow, know or understand the rules they were entrusted to enforce, their actions may very well have altered the outcome of games.

Some Non-Shining Moments

Wednesday, March 9, 2011
St John’s vs. Rutgers – Big East Tournament

This game ended with what will go down as a top 5 referee gaffe.

With Rutgers throwing the ball the length of the court, St. John’s Justin Brownlee stole the pass and proceeded to walk with the ball, step out of bounds and throw the ball into the seats. Replays showed that Brownlee stepped out of bounds with 1.6 seconds still left in the game.

But referee’s Jim Burr, Tim Higgins and Earl Walton made no call and actually walked off the floor as time expired ending the game.

So egregious was their non-action, that John Adams, the national coordinator of men’s basketball officiating stated, “Not officiating to the end of a game is unacceptable.”

This isn’t a missed call – this is three “seasoned” referees somehow collectively not seeing three…count ‘em…three violations of the rules and robbing Rutgers an opportunity for a last second win.

Sunday, March, 20 2011
Arizona vs. Texas – NCAA Tournament

You would think that a grown man would know how to count to five, especially when he is allowed to swing his arm to count from one to five. But for some odd and unknown reason referee Richard Cartmell decided that four is the same as five in the Arizona/Texas game this past Sunday.

After handing Texas guard Cory Joseph the ball on a crucial inbounds play Cartmell started his five second count down. As Cartmell counted to number four Joseph, realizing he can’t inbound the ball, calls for a timeout. Somehow this short circuited Cartmell’s brain cells as he immediately called a five second violation without ever making the required 5th chop.

This mistake gave Arizona the ball, which lead to an amazing play by Derrick Williams of Arizona that sent the Longhorns packing.

Sunday, March, 20 2011
Syracuse vs. Marquette – NCAA Tournament

With less than one minute to go in this Big East battle and the game tied, Syracuse guard Dion Waiters inbounded the ball to fellow guard Scoop Jardine who jumped in the air from the front court to catch the pass and landed with his right foot on the half court line. The referee blew his whistle calling Jardine for a back court violation…that wasn’t.

This is a case of either the referee not knowing the rules he is charged with knowing or he is blind as a bat.

Here’s the rule:

NCAA men’s basketball rule book (Rule 4, Section 3, Article 5 and Article 8):

Art. 5. Regardless of where the throw-in spot is located, the throw-in team may cause the ball to go into the back court.
Art. 8. After a jump ball or during a throw-in, the player in his/her front court, who makes the initial touch on the ball while both feet are off the playing court, may be the first to secure control of the ball and land with one or both feet in the back court. It makes no difference if the first foot down was in the front court or back court.

The proof is in the video.

The change of possession led to a Marquette 3-pointer breaking the tie and giving Marquette the lead they would never relinquish.

This is not to say that these referees cost the teams above a win – but they did prevent the outcome to be completely decided by the players on the court. As a general rule referees do a great job – and like it was said earlier – missed calls are part of the game.

But these are not missed calls. These are referees who failed at their job miserably and because of that failure cost three teams the opportunity to have the outcome of a game decided by them and their opponent.

Tiger Woods Talks

“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

Today Tiger Woods finally broke his silence about his “transgressions” that have been revealed over the last few months. A lot will be said over the coming days and many will analyze his statements until we all are sufficiently sick of hearing about it.

But here is what I want to know…do Tiger’s words even really matter?

I mean what he did and what he will do in the future do not affect me in any way what so ever. Other than the fact that we now know he is not the person we thought him to be, what he is doing to fix his personal life means nothing to mine. To be honest if he never spoke or played golf again I am certain I would not lose one moment of sleep over it.

However, on hearing he was going to face the world – I along with millions of others – did stop what I was doing to listen to the man speak. Why I wonder did we all just do that?

Was I hoping to hear some scandalous details about his affairs? – Nope, I couldn’t care less.

Was I needing to know if he would be playing golf again? – I would be miffed if he was.

Or am I just another accident rubber-necking yahoo looking to see if I could see some carnage? – No sir…ok…maybe a little.

What I did find myself thinking during his press conference was that there was a part of me that wanted to know – could we admire this person again one day? Would we want our children to aspire to be like him?

I started this post with a well know adaptation of a popular bible verse. Not because I think we should forgive Tiger Woods or any other individual that breaks our collective, but because I think we owe it to ourselves to allow these people an opportunity to right their wrongs.

Tiger made a big mistake and hurt is family in a major way. Like it or not he has also hurt millions of people around the world who aspired to be like him. So now in addition to trying to heal his family he has an obligation to mend his relationship with his fans. That is part of the deal when you become a beloved public figure as he had. That part of fame comes with a pretty hefty price tag.

It is his to win or lose – we owe him nothing…except the opportunity to make us believe he is the man we thought he was again.

In this case I think I will watch and see what he does – off the course. If he is true to his word and he returns to his roots to find his “center” then I think I might do as he asked and “believe in him again.”

Syracuse IS The Real Deal!

All right…enough is enough.

Will someone please tell me what the sports world has against the Syracuse Orange? In particular the 2009-2010 edition of the men’s basketball program?

I just finished watching the ever brilliant Doug Gottlieb make another astounding back handed compliment about the Orange.

Here’s the clip:

First off – when the hell is ESPN going to let go of Syracuse’s loss to the D2 Lemoyne Dolphins. It was a stupid EXHIBITION game!!!! In EARLY November!!!! Did you notice how Gottlieb made it sound like Syracuse lost the game during part of its regular non-conference schedule? Straight out of Gottlieb’s mouth – “The one time they tried to play man to man, they lost to a non division 1 team, in the non-conference.” Maybe it was a slip up but with Gottlieb’s open disdain for anything Orange…I don’t think so.

I mean (and don’t hate me for this UNC fans) the Tar Heels lose to the College of Charleston (out of the Southern Conference) in early January and it gets one maybe two days worth of coverage. And by the way UNC has lost 4 of the last 5 and they are STILL in the top 25. I’m not trying to disrespect the Heels…but if it was the ‘Cuse…they would have been dropped out of the top 25 after the loss to the College of Charleston.

But let’s get to what really has me steamed. This whole notion that Syracuse’s 2-3 zone defense is not a quality defense and therefore not capable of winning a National Championship or even beating a team such as Texas.

Some facts:
Syracuse holds teams to 37.4% FG%
Syracuse holds teams to 30.3% 3-PT%
Syracuse averages 7.1 Blocks per game
Syracuse averages 11.7 steals per game

All from a zone.

Syracuse shuts down hot outside shooting all the time. Many games this season teams come out shooting like mad men from beyond the arc. In the 2nd half the ‘Cuse adjusts its zone, pushing out on the shooters and slowing down the number of 3’s allowed and then they run away with almost every game (the average margin of victory so far this season is 19.9 points).

Syracuse is holding teams to 30.3% from 3 and 37.4% overall and still the sports prognosticators – like Gottlieb – say the zone will not work well enough to be used as a full time defense against teams like Texas and Kentucky. After 19 games of this season that argument is getting very old. This is an extremely talented defensive team playing a solid defensive scheme.

Is this team good enough to beat anyone in the country? I would say yes. Is the defense good enough to get a number 1 seed in the tourney? Arguably yes. Is it talented enough to win a National Championship? You betcha! – It seems to have worked in 2003.

I am not sitting here saying that it will happen; too many things have to go the right way for even the best of teams to win and make it all the way to a national championship. But I am going to argue that if this trend continues and the Orange continues to play the way they have been playing, it is a distinct possibility.

800 Wins..and Counting

Through 30 years of being a fan of Syracuse University basketball I have watched, listened and defended the team’s hall of fame coach, Jim Boeheim.

Many have maligned the permanent fixture on the Syracuse sidelines for the last 33 years as a mediocre coach.

Well after last night’s win against the Albany Great Danes another bullet was added to the list of reasons why Boeheim deserves to be included among the elite in college coaching and why he is a hall of famer.

Consider this:

  • 800-288 coaching record (.735) – all at one school. Only three other coaches can make that claim – Dean Smith, Adolph Rupp and Jim Phelan.
  • 8th all time in career wins
  • 3rd among active coaches
  • 356 Big East wins – #1 all time
  • 7 Big East regular season champions
  • 5 – Big East Tournament Champions
  • 31 – 20 win seasons, an NCAA record. And he has never had a losing season. Ever!
  • 2003 NCAA National Champions (4 Final Fours)

All this from a gangly walk-on to the Syracuse basketball program in 1963 who by his senior year had been promoted to team captain, and teamed with Dave Bing to lead Syracuse to the second NCAA berth in school history.

Not bad for a “mediocre” coach.

Jim Boeheim 800 Wins – Music Video

Dan Snyder=Kim Jong Il

Sorry, but you asked for it Mr. Snyder.

Snyder has single handedly destroyed a storied program. I am a die hard Redskins fan for 35 years but you know what….Snyder needs to go. Unfortunately he can’t be fired.

The legions of dedicated ‘Skins fans had already started calling for his head but after the horrific show on Monday Night Football, Snyder better hire extra security and ask President Obama for the keys to Air Force One so he can make a quick getaway when the mobs come a knocking.

And now in his infinite wisdom Snyder had security take, destroy, confiscate any and all posters/banners that were in or coming in to FedEx Field. According to USAToday.com:
“Scores of angry fans took to Twitter, blogs, e-mails and message boards on Tuesday to assail Snyder and protest what they considered unfair and repressive tactics by security at FedEx Field to prevent criticism of the team owner.”

The policy concerning Banners read as follows about a month ago (according to Dan Steinberg at the www.washingtonpost.com):

Banners:
Banners are permitted at FedEx Field; however, Guests may not display banners that advertise or mention products or services. Banners may not cover existing FedEx Field equipment or signage. Signs may not be made with metal or wood. Management reserves the right to remove any sign, including those deemed to be obscene, inappropriate or which obstructs the view of other Guests. For the safety of all Guests, banner poles are not permitted.”

But now reads:

Banners:
Banners of any size are not permitted at FedEx Field.”

This sign was brought into the game Monday:
redskinsisgnx-inset-community
“Five security guards came down at halftime looking for [it],” Jennifer, the sign’s creator, e-mailed Dan Steinberg on Tuesday. “Everyone in the section played dumb, including the ticket guy for our section.”

Give me a break Snyder!

No one has to agree with your methods of running the team (G57…BINGO!!!) or how much money you spend trying to win a Super Bowl with players that should be collecting social security (Come on in Bruce Smith).

But this is simply crazy. You want to squash the first amendment in “your” stadium which puts you on the same playing field as Kim Jong Il. And in our nation’s capital nonetheless.

And one last thing…you may own this team…but without your fan base you have nothing.

-One Pissed off Fan!!!!

Paulus Is a Quarterback

Many of you have already heard that Syracuse University’s new head football coach Doug Marrone announced late Monday night that former Duke point guard Greg Paulus will begin his “one and done” season at Syracuse as it’s starting quarterback.

Surprised??

You shouldn’t be. Really, this should come as no surprise to anyone.

I have to admit that I was not too fond of the idea when I first heard that Paulus was coming to Syracuse. And I was not sure how I felt about him getting the starting job. I think that the ‘Cuse nation is about 60%-40% on the whole deal; most are taking a wait and see attitude. That’s what several years of dismal performances will do to a fan. (I think fans are more upset by the fact that Syracuse’s AD Daryl Gross has decided to ship off 3 of its marquee games to be played at the new Meadowlands, but more on that another time.)

But no one should be surprised.

After a day of quiet reflection on the golf course today, I am now a BIG fan of this move by Syracuse and the powers that be. Call it a pure publicity event if you want, but the fact is its working. Syracuse is all over every news outlet. It was even on CNN.

It has Big East coach’s spewing out bulletin board material left and right.

- BE coach on Paulus: “Won’t be easy for him to read zones and pick up blitzes.”
– BE coach on Paulus: “Wonder how much fans in the seats have to do with this.”
– BE coach on Paulus: “I wish we were opening with Syracuse.”

This is a storied program that not more than 4 months ago needed some major upsets to even get a mention in the Podunk Times. Now Syracuse is getting play everywhere you turn.

Depending on what the team and the staff actually do with it is yet to be seen. This could turn out to be the story of the season. It won’t take long to find out as Syracuse takes on Minnesota, #8 Penn State and Northwestern in its first three games.

But at least for now Syracuse is in the spotlight and recruits all over the country are seeing it. That can’t be bad for business, especially when you are in the business of rebuilding a program.

Oh yea, and let’s not forget.

That 5th year graduate student that just took over the starting quarterback position at Syracuse… 4 years ago he could have played for Notre Dame, Miami or a host of other schools that he could have picked from. Instead he decided to play basketball for one of the premier programs run by one of the premier coaches in America.

It’s not like he’s been sitting on a porch belching for the last four years.

Good Luck Chuck

This past Saturday, the sports world lost one of its classiest characters with the passing of former Detroit Pistons and the Dream Team coach Chuck Daly. Detroit reached the playoffs every year he was the coach and reached the Finals three years in a row plus he won two consecutive championships in 89′ and 90′. He also coached arguably the best basketball team ever in 1992 when USA swept through the Olympics. You will be missed Chuck!

Below is a tribute to Daly from ESPN.com

Mayfield’s On Drugs

NASCAR’s most unlikely suspect – Jeremy Mayfield was suspended indefinitely after failing a random drug test last week.

According to ESPN – Mayfield is the first driver affected by NASCAR’s new random drug testing policy and he says he took Claritin D, which is an over-the-counter allergy drug that contains pseudoephedrine, a substance banned by most sports. This along with a prescription drug caused the postive result according to Mayfield. NASCAR’s substance abuse policy administrator says, that that is not even plausible.

If Mayfield violated NASCAR’s substance abuse policy, then fine suspended him. This sport is way to dangerous to have someone hopped up on drugs operating a vehicle at 200 mph with 42 others people right at their side.

But get this, the drivers are not provided a list of banned substances. The NFL, NBA, MLB, PGA Tour and NCAA each make available public lists in their drug testing policies.

Dr. Charles Yesalis, a Penn State professor who has testified before Congress on performance-enhancing drugs states “That alone to me is ludicrous. That just kind of violates your sense of fair play. The drivers don’t have a union, but if somebody did that to me I’d go get myself a nasty lawyer. What if somebody in management or ownership doesn’t like you? They can use that as a weapon against you.” (espn.com)

NASCAR will not release what test Mayfield failed.

If it turns out that this is a “false positive” NASCAR will have to call the black flag on itself.

The Players Championship

We are two days away from the start of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, so now it’s time to go out on a limb and pick a favorite to win this year’s event. Hopefully it won’t be as hard as picking the Kentucky Derby!!

tiger-woodsTiger Woods – You would think that the 2001 Players Championship winner would be a pretty safe bet…wouldn’t you? Consider this – Tiger does not have a single top 10 finish in this event since his win, his best finish being a tie for 11th. Add in there is current struggles on the tee box and well…it doesn’t exactly lead me to believe that this is his year. But then again, I’m not one who is willing to bet against Tiger..no matter the situation.

phil-miklesonPhil Mickleson – What does Phil have to do to get respect? Everyone thought it was to win a major and he’s obviously done that. But I was watching a report on the golf channel the other night and they asked several pros if Phil was number one in the rankings would they consider him to the best player in golf? The answer…unanimously was…NO!!! Poor Phil. Even though he is at the top of his game right now, this isn’t going to be his year to win again.

Sean OHairSean O’Hair – Last week’s winner at Quail Hollow will find it tough to go back to back, despite his strong record at TPC Sawgrass. Unfortunately I don’t even see a top 10 in his future this weekend.

zach-johnsonZach Johnson – Zach had the lead going into Sunday at Quail Hollow before the proverbially wheels came off the bus early in the round. Look for Zach to make a good run at this year’s championship.

Sergio Garcia – The
sergio-garciadefending champion beat Paul Goydos in a playoff last year after not having any finish better than 15th prior to last year’s event. To date Sergio has not had a finish better than 13th. Could we see a repeat?

anthony-kimAnthony Kim – Did you see the Masters in April? 11…count ‘em…11 birdies in one round. Kim has great skill and a killer putter. Look for him to be up front early, but he will drop back on Sunday as he does most of the time.

There are a whole bunch of other players who…on any day could have the weekend of their life and walk away with one of golfs most coveted trophies. But as promised, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict this year’s winner….drum roll please….

The winner of the 2009 Players Championship is…….Zach Johnson!

Ok..Ok…not exactly out on a limb.

Zach looked impressive through most of the Quail Hollow Championship. He’s a solid player who is currently ranked 7th on the money list. You know he has to be hungry after letting last weekend slip through his hands.

Mind My What???

After spending the better part of the day chasing that little white ball around the woods, I found myself sitting in a local drinking establishment contemplating my choices of beer and eagerly awaiting the 135th running of the grandest of sporting events, the Kentucky Derby.

If you thought that the most outlandish and absurd storyline that would come out of Saturdays race was who had the most hideous hat, you obviously didn’t wait for the final two minutes of on your feet excitement that begins with the starters bell.

mind-that-bird2As the bell rang, the gates flew open releasing 19 of the most graceful beasts you will ever see compete, bumping and jarring their way into position. One horse was sandwiched between two others right out of the gate, nearly tripping and he eased off falling several lengths behind.

As the rest of the field took off down the front stretch, this 50-1 odds favorite took pursuit. I’m sure his jockey urged his ride on, hoping for a miracle, but knowing that now the odds were really against them.

All eyes were focused on the top of the field and on their favorites whose numbers were listed on their betting slips. No one was noticing that the horse who was way in the back was closing a seemingly insurmountable distance with every stretch of his legs.

Then the horses reached the fourth turn and it seemed that the race would be decided between the top 5 horses.

And then that miracle happened.

Some how this horse that was in absolute dead last made a charge to the front. From at least 17 lengths down comes the most unlikely of superstars…Mine That Bird. This 50-1 long shot had somehow made up an unheard of distance and then weaved his way through traffic to not only win the Kentucky Derby, but he won it going away, by an impressive 6 3/4 lengths.

Not bad for a horse that was originally purchased for only $9,500. A horse that everyone else said should never have even been entered. Just to give you an idea of what a steal this was…Dunkirk who finished 19 lengths behind Mine That Bird was purchased for $3.7 million.

I think I’d ask for my money back.