Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Deflategate lawsuit: American jurisprudence will never be the same

It would be easy to react to a lawsuit filed by New England Patriots fans over Deflategate by laughing so hard it's difficult not to pee one's pants.

But if you read the claim a little more carefully (after changing your pee-stained pants, of course), you will soon realize the is some potentially groundbreaking legal doctrine here.

For instance, there is the claim that "Plaintiffs have dealt with embarrassment, ridicule and depression due to the rest of the country who is jealous of the Patriots 'piling on' and criticizing the Patriots and their fans for being 'cheaters.'"

Yes, the concept of "They hate us 'cause they ain't us" is now part of a lawsuit. In response, I'm sure the defendants' lawyers will introduce "No, they hate the Patriots because the Patriots cheat and are arrogant, and what's this 'us' crap, anyway? What position do you play? Have you no life?"

I imagine they'll both sound far more regal once their translated to Latin in time to be studied by first-year students in all the finest law schools.

But beyond that, "embarrassment, ridicule and depression" from other fans? I'm a Yankees fan who lives in Massachusetts. How much f---ing ridicule do you think I get? Granted, not so much recently -- three last-place finishes in four years will do that to a fan's smart mouth -- but still enough that I could possibly own the state of Massachusetts if this whole thing plays out!

Job No. 1 should that happen, by the way ... dynamite the Braintree Split, one of the most-ridiculous examples of traffic engineering outside the state of New Jersey.

Yet there's even more to this lawsuit. A common theme throughout is that the whole controversy makes them feel stinky as fans, for lack of a better term. So if you can sue someone who makes you feel stinky as a fan, even though they don't do anything to you directly, oh the lawsuits you can file!

I could take Joe Torre to court for not bunting on a one-legged Curt Schilling in 2004. Talk about something that led to "embarrassment, ridicule and depression"!

Jose Mourinho parked Chelsea's bus against Liverpool, quite possibly costing them the Premier League title. I was sooooo upset! Sure, it happened in England, but I watched in America, so that gives me standing, right?

Daryl Gross not only hired the totally unqualified Greg Robinson as Syracuse's football coach, he then hatched a ridiculous scheme to make Fab Melo eligible. Perhaps you heard about it, since it was part of what got Jim Boeheim suspended.

Aaron Craft and the officials who refused to call fouls on him for manhandling Syracuse's guards conspired to cost the Orange the 2012 East Regional final.

The San Diego Chargers have managed to screw up just about everything they've touched for at least 15 years now.

And there's more, much more. If you're looking for me, you can find me at the local courthouse.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Aaron Rodgers ... not your trained seal

The headline reads "Some Packers fans are starting to think Aaron Rodgers has an Olivia Munn problem."

I'm assuming that's because an editor decided "Some horribly confused Packers fans think Aaron Rodgers is their property, instead of being a guy they enjoy watch playing football" was too unwieldy.

Side note: Since I'm a James Bond nut, Mrs. Last Honest went to see "Spectre" the first time we got a chance, and were treated to a preview of "Ride Along 2," because apparently someone's Venn diagram generator was apparently at the bottom of a lake.

The surprise appearance of one Olivia Munn in the preview did nothing to make the movie seem any less ridiculous, but if the movie is terrible, will people blame Aaron Rodgers?

Side note 2: One of my favorite scenes, and favorite lines, from one of my favorite shows.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Stuff shouldn't matter this much

I came home from work the other night to bizarre message on Facebook from a friend of mine, apologizing for something he wrote during a baseball discussion, that he was having a bad day and shouldn't have taken it out on me.

I literally had no idea what he was talking about.

Actually, I knew what he was talking about, as he was taking part in some trash-talking I was doing with my Red Sox fan friends over the previous week. They were all happy that the Red Sox beat the Yankees a few games, delaying when the Yankees clinched the wild card, and then when the Astros beat the Yankees in the wild card game.

I asked if they enjoyed their team's third last-place finish in four years, with one fluke World Series thrown in (which I called the "Jonas Gray" baseball season because Gray was a scrub who had one great moment). I told them the Yankees would have trouble making tee times after being eliminated because the Red Sox took all the good ones in July, and said the next thing Red Sox fans had to look forward to was Dave O'Brien welcoming them to spring training. (O'Brien replacing Don Orsillo as the Red Sox NESN play-by-play man is both an injustice and a serious thing around these parts, so the reference was hitting way below the belt.)

But even though I think very little of Red Sox fans as a whole, I knew this was just friends giving each other crab, and didn't find any of it offensive, certainly not offensive enough to block my friend (which I didn't know I had done) and then him unfriending me. Blocks were undone, friend status re-established and everythng is cool now.

Always remember folks ... it's only sports. Nothing wrong with throwing yourself into it, but it's not that important in the grand scheme of most of our lives.

* * * * *
Guys, we really need to get over ourselves.

Yes, Jessica Mendoza called the Astros-Yankees game. If you think she analyzes poorly, fine. Maybe she makes bad points, and doesn't know a lot about the game but tries to sound like a know-it-all ... wait, sorry , just had Harold Reynolds on the brain because I saw him do an ad for the MLB At Bat app, saying it's where he gets his information from. Personally, I'd hate to see how uninformed Reynolds is if he didn't have that app.

But I digress.

Jessica Mendoza doing color commentary isn't going to ruin a game because she's a woman, in spite of what some idiots were saying on Twitter, which Molly Knight did a fine job of recording. No one will have to give up his man card for listening, and it won't do any damage to any of the various parts of our anatomy.

I promise.

* * * * *
"First of all I hope your entire family contracts HIV."

The article on the health problems faced by ESPN NFL reporter Ed Werder's daughter and son-in-law is a tough read, even without what the idiot Patriots fan wrote to Werder after he defended Chris Mortensen's Deflategate reporting.

However, while I think Deflategate severed the last bit of the twine tethering most Patriots fans to both humility and rationality, I'm not writing this to pick on them, because who knows if this person even knew of Werder's family situation?

And it could have been a fan of any team who was upset about anything, because apparently, wishing disease on a person's family is what you do.

Just ... stop.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

It was just a matter of when for Brendan Rodgers

When I first started watching Premier League soccer several years ago, Martin Jol was the manager of Tottenham Hotspur, and even though I didn't know the details that led to it, I knew that he was going to get sacked sooner rather than later.

Every time I watched a highlights show, whenever talk turned to Tottenham, it was always a matter of whether this game, if it wasn't a win, would be Jol's last. Eventually, it happened, and my mate Gardner and I came up with a term for the drip-drip-drip of rumors followed by more rumors followed by talk of replacements and eventual sacking ... the Martin Jol Memorial Death Watch (even though the man himself is very much still alive).

Which brings us to Brendan Rodgers, the man for whom the Jol tolled today.

I was among those fooled by the second-place finish two seasons ago in thinking that Rodgers was a great manager, but at some point last season, a combination of the realization that Liverpool's great season was largely due to Luis Suarez's presence, the players brought in with that money from Suarez being sold being mediocre at best, the crashing out of the Champions League, the poor Premier League form, the circumstances of Steven Gerrard's departure announcement caused someone to first say publicly the Rodgers could or should be fired.

Once that kind of talk starts, there's only one way to steer out of the skid, and that's to win a lot. And for a time, Rodgers pulled it off, with Liverpool going on a long unbeaten streak that pulled them to the verge of returning to the Champions League.

But then came a loss to Manchester United, complete with embarrassing Gerrard red card, and then the utter capitulations to end the season (3-1 at home to Crystal Palace, 6-1 to Stoke) were enough to get the "sack Rodgers" talk started all over again. He even acknowledged it was possible.

Realistically, the only way for Rodgers to save his job would have been for Liverpool to come flying out of the gate this season, but when that didn't happen, the sacking was never in doubt. The only question was when ownership would pull the trigger.

Today, that question was answered.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Why should Leonard Fournette have to decide anything?

Today's USA Today has a column from Christine Brennan arguing that even someone as talented as LSU running back Leonard Fournette should be allowed to declare for the NFL draft before he's out of high school three years.

I don't particularly agree with her argument, especially her statement that she'd rather trust talented college football players like Fournette in the hands of college coaches and adminstrators than agents, but I also think we're looking at the whole issue of when college football and basketball players are eligible to go pro the wrong way.

Whether it's after one year out of high school (men's basketball, women's is a little more complicated, but bascially four years; otherwise Breanna Stewart wouldn't be getting ready for her senior year at UConn) or three years (football), when the time comes, we are asking 18- to 21-year-olds, plus whoever is advising them, to make irrevocable decisions about their futures.

Remember ... irrevocable. Once that final decision gets made, before the draft, you can't go back, even if it doesn't turn out as well as hoped. (At least for now ... it could change if a rule allowing basketball undergrads to test the waters goes through.)

Why should the player have to make that decision? Why shouldn't the teams, with the adults who are getting paid to make decisions, have to make them?

Let teams draft whatever players they want, whenever they want to draft them, even if it's after high school. Make the teams responsible for making offers to the players they draft, so the players know exactly what they're getting into. If the player likes the deal, go ahead and sign. If not, go to school and see what the next year brings.

There would be a deadline to sign, and a team that doesn't sign a player it drafts could get some form of compensation. Oh, I'm sure there would be some outcry, since teams wouldn't have full control over the futures of the players in their uncompensated minor league systems, but again, they hire people to make those decisions.

So force them to make them.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Welcome to Patriots World

As a San Diego Chargers fan, I can certainly attest to their ability to screw up even the most well-organized two-car funeral without anyone's help.

But then ... this.

"On Jan. 14, 2007, the Chargers hosted the Pats in an AFC Divisional Playoff Game. San Diego was 14-2 and the No. 1 seed, winner of 10 straight. New England won 24-21. Did the Chargers screw it up? Sure. They were better than those guys and it got Marty Schottenheimer fired.
Did the Patriots cheat? Well, it fell into that ESPN time line.
The next year the Chargers lost again to the Pats, this time in Foxborough, 21-12 in the AFC Championship Game. Quarterback Philip Rivers had knee surgery a few days before. Tailback LaDainian Tomlinson, injured, had two carries and sat sulking on the sideline. Tight end Antonio Gates played on one foot and decoyed. Still, the Bolts trailed only 14-12 after three quarters. Healthy, no question, they were better.
Did the Patriots’ cheat? We’ll probably never know. Possible? Absolutely. You have to be incredibly na├»ve or blinded by the Patriots’ light to believe they didn’t."
"Did any of this cost the Chargers Super Bowls? Can’t say. The Chargers had superior personal and should have played better, especially in the Divisional game. If they had won one or two, would we even be talking about L.A. or Carson today? I think we’d already have a new stadium."
Are Nick Canepa's grapes more than slightly sour? Perhaps, but without any evidence that anything untoward happened to the Chargers other than an ESPN report that covers the time those two games were played, he was able to say there's a possibility San Diego was not only cheated out of a Super Bowl, but potentially its NFL team.

And I'm willing to bet he didn't even have to try that hard.

This is the world that the Patriots (with, it appears, a healthy assist from Roger Goodell) have created.

I will grant that the Patriots haven't been too popular outside New England for a while, but now it's getting far too easy for everyone but the people who think Tom Brady was "freed" -- and I will continue to ask, "What prison was he in?" -- when his Deflategate suspension was overturned to think they literally haven't been able to win anything on the up-and-up.

The NFL has been able to withstand Michael Vick's dog-fighting, Ray Rice cold-cocking his future wife in an elevator, Adrian Peterson beating his kids, Greg Hardy's domestic violence case, players fans and media would be screaming "STEROIDS!" about if they picked up a baseball bat instead of a football helmet, Junior Seau's suicide and a seemingly incompetent commissioner.

And while I don't think this will bring the league down, either, believing the marquee franchise with the most-powerful owner, the brilliant coach (who, by the way, how can you talk about how brilliant he is as a strategist if you think his strategies are developed by breaking the rules?) and the face of the league are a bunch of cheaters isn't a bad way to alienate fans.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Rain, rain, stay away, at least on baseball days

Ever since I was a small child, rain has been an enemy.

Why? Because rain meant no baseball.

Through my youth, there was probably nothing I loved more than baseball. I loved watching it. I loved practicing it. I loved playing it. I loved being around it. I used to look forward to my brother's practices and games, just so I could be at the field.

But rain (well, rain or cold, growing up in the Northeast and all) was the one thing that could take it away. If I was home, and the forecast was for rain, I'd hope that it was only raining where I lived, and not the town where we played our games, about seven miles away. I actually think that delusion bore fruit at least once or twice.

Now that I'm older, baseball has fallen down a little on the list. For one thing, I'm married, which is obviously on top, and I realize that rain is a necessary part of life, especially when I see stories about the epic drought in California. (Ironically, even during the massive drought, the Angels had their first home rainout in 20 years in July ... because baseball is like that.)

So rain is a thing that has to happen sometimes.

Just not on baseball days.

* * * * *

Last night, I was ending a boycott.

I had vowed that I would never attend Lowell Spinners game. Why? Because the Red Sox single-A team had something called the Yankees Elimination Project, where they bought uniforms for local youth baseball leagues that dropped teams with the name Yankees and replaced them with Spinners.

Yes, the rivalry is the rivalry and there's a lot of stuff on both sides that's largely in good fun, but this actually made me angry. As a Yankees fan who has lived in Massachusetts since 2003, most of what I've seen has been relatively harmless, but there is that group who believes any association with the Yankees means there's literally something wrong with you.

The Yankees Elimination Project, in my mind, was teaching kids that the Yankees were so bad, they literally had to be cast out. So, I decided I would never go to one of their games.

It wasn't that much of a problem, though. I had the Cape Cod League. Pawtucket was only an hour away. I should have gone to more Brockton Rox games. 

I even made a few trips to Fenway. (While I obviously dislike the Red Sox, baseball games are baseball games, and if their games or their affiliates' games are what's around, I'll go, except for Lowell.)

I've even been able to hit Yankee Stadium for the thrill of seeing Stephen Drew play instead of that no-good Jeter guy.

Then I moved, and guess which team is the closest to where I live now?

Yup, the Lowell Spinners.

Fortunately, the problem was solved with an email ... the one that I believe actually came from the owner of the team, answering my query about the Yankees Elimination Project by letting me know they stopped the program a few years ago. If memory serves, interest had dropped off, and I think he was actually a bit sad about it.

So I could go to see the Spinners in good conscience, and once my work set up a night at the ballpark for last night, off to LeLacheur Park we went.

Even better, last night's opponent was the Staten Island Yankees.

* * * * *

My wife had noticed the raindrops first. We had just finished eating in the Home Plate BBQ when the sprinkles first fell.

The sprinkles quickly turned into a downpour that didn't stop for about a half-hour. We went inside and talked to a couple of my co-workers, but mostly I fumed, and not quietly. The delayed start was obvious, but we decided to check out the scene when we saw the tarp was off the infield.

It was not promising. The crew appeared to be five or six guys with squeegees and another with what looked like a leaf-blower, and it was all they could do to clear the standing water off the grass in shallow left field. It was no fault of the crew; it's not like the Lowell Spinners have the resources available to the Red Sox.

However, the longer it took, the more likely it was that there would be no baseball, even though the rain had stopped, and that became clear once the crew stopped out in left field. The game probably would have been called off sooner, but they had a bit of business to do first.

The world record was for the most people fist-bumping at one time, trying to "bump out cancer" in honor of Liam Fitzgerald, known for doing fist bumps with the Boston Bruins. My wife and I made our contributions, although the woman next to me, realizing I was wearing a Yankees hat, wondered if it would count if she "accidentally" punched me in the nose. I think she was kidding, and she accepted it when I said my fist-bump counted as much as anyone else's.

As soon as it ended, the announcement came that the game was called off. I was so ticked, I didn't even stay an hour for fireworks, and I never pass up a chance for fireworks.

Our tickets are good for any home game the rest of the season. I hope we go.

By the way ... today's weather? Perfect.

Of course.