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New York's Crazy Sports Day
[Posted Wed. a.m. With everything that happened the last 24 hours, it was impossible to get to it all to the degree I normally do. I’ll fill in some blanks next chat.]
NCAA Tournament Quiz: What four schools have still not made the NCAA tournament since being part of Division I at its inception? [Johnny Mac is ineligible] Answer below.
AP Poll (Mar. 11)
1. Gonzaga (41) 29-2
2. Virginia (23) 28-2
3. North Carolina 26-5
4. Kentucky 26-5
5. Duke 26-5
6. Michigan State 25-6
7. Texas Tech 26-5
8. Tennessee 27-4
9. LSU 26-5
10. Michigan 26-5
11. Houston 29-2
12. Florida State 25-6
14. Nevada 28-3
18. Buffalo 28-3
20. Wofford 28-4
--Monday, Iona (17-15) punched its ticket to its fourth-straight NCAA tournament with a 81-60 win over Monmouth (14-21...after an 0-12 start to the season) in the MAAC tourney final.
As Johnny Mac said of Iona coach Tim Cluess, who has been guiding the Gaels during this run, St. John’s could do worse than tabbing him should they decide to part ways with Chris Mullin.
Wofford is a gaudy 29-4 after its 70-58 defeat of UNC-Greensboro (28-7) in the Southern Conference final.
--Tuesday, local Hofstra will not be dancing despite a terrific 27-7 season, falling 82-74 to Northeastern (23-10) in the CAA tournament final.
And a school I have a soft spot for, Fairleigh Dickinson (20-13) is NCAA tournament bound after an 85-76 win over St. Francis (Pa.) for the NEC championship. [Years ago, I attended a lot of FDU games when my buddy, the late Mubby Swain, was on the team.]
But the biggie last night was Saint Mary’s (22-11) upset of No. 1 Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference tourney final, 60-47, holding the Zags, who had been averaging 90 points per game, to 18-of-48 (37.5%) from the floor, 2-of-17 from three.
So Gonzaga falls to 30-3, but there is no way they lose their 1-seed.
One more from yesterday, another nightmare season for Wake Forest ended Tuesday, falling 79-71 to Miami in the opening round of the ACC tournament; the Deacs 11-20, as we wait on the fate of coach Danny Manning. [A friend in the know says the buzz at the ACC tournament is that Kansas State’s Bruce Weber is in circulation; Wake’s new AD having been the AD at K-State.]
--There has been a lot of talk in the New York area concerning an incident Saturday involving Knicks owner James L. Dolan and a fan. Dolan took exception to the man yelling from off camera, “Sell the team.”
Now understand, this is the sixth consecutive season the Knicks have failed to make the playoffs, with 50 losses each of the last five. It is a godawful product that the ever patient Knick fan has been shelling out huge money for, though it also needs to be noted that going to a Knick game, regardless of how crappy the team is, is a ‘happening.’ Many folks go just to be ‘seen.’
Also understand, owner James Dolan is, how should I put it, a real [jerk]. Total [jerk].
In the video released by TMZ, Dolan is seen leaving the courtside area late in the loss to Sacramento, with his entourage of babes and goons, and the fan yells “Sell the team.”
Dolan stops quickly and responds, “You think I should sell the team?” and beckons the fan to come nearer. “You want to not come to any more games?”
“Why?” the fan asks.
“That’s rude,” Dolan says.
“It’s an opinion,” the fan contends.
“No, it’s not an opinion, and you know what? Enjoy watching them on TV,” Dolan says. He walks away and seems to signal with his eyes to guards, and then some assistants call out, “Hold him,” apparently in reference to the fan.
As Victor Mather reported in the New York Times: “It was not clear if any fan was actually banned. The Knicks said in a statement, ‘Our policy is and will continue to be that if you are disrespectful to anyone in our venues, we will ask you not to return.’”
Dolan has a pathetic reputation, which goes with being a [jerk]. Last year he struck back at sports radio station WFAN after one of its hosts, Maggie Gray, sharply criticized him. In response, he forbade his employees from doing any business with the FAN and other stations run by its parent company, Entercom.
And there was the time Dolan had a verbal altercation with a fan outside the arena, that fan also encouraging him to sell the team. And then we have beloved former star, Charles Oakley, who has been critical of Dolan. Oakley said security guards asked him why he was sitting near Dolan. The team claimed Oakley had acted abusively, and then Dolan goes on a radio program and, without providing any evidence, says Oakley might have an alcohol problem.
After this weekend’sincident, Oakley said Dolan is a “bully” for threatening fans. “He just bullies people because he has money and power,” Oakley said.
Well, Tuesday, Dolan told “The Michael Kay Show,” on ESPN radio, a rival to WFAN, that the fan was banned from Madison Square Garden, Dolan calling the confrontation an “ambush” and alleging the fan sold the video to TMZ.
“They were stalking me,” Dolan said. “You can’t do that in Madison Square Garden. You are not allowed to stalk the owner and then confront him like that.
“Those particular guys had planned on making that video and selling it on TMZ.”
Dolan said Tuesday he had originally planned on inviting the fan back and letting him meet the team in an effort to show him that the franchise was headed in a positive direction. However, he said, that changed when it “became clear that the whole thing was planned.”
Dolan added: “For the record, I am not selling the team and I am not quitting.”
--Dylan Hernandez / Los Angeles Times...on the plight of the Lakers...
“The Lakers are ravaged by injuries and deprived of talent, but above all, they are without direction. And that’s more or less how they have operated since the late patriarch of the Buss family relinquished control of the storied franchise to his well-intentioned but overmatched offspring.
“ ‘Always question the judgments of people who didn’t make their own money,’ an older friend once told me, and nothing in the track records of Jeanie Buss or her since-exiled brother Jim has contradicted that piece of wisdom. Never mind the blame-the-media gambit Jeanie attempted last week at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston.
“Compare the Lakers to their co-tenants in Staples Center. The difference is astounding.
“The Clippers have an identity. They know who they are. They know what they want to do and they know where they are headed. Owner Steve Ballmer is a significant part of that, not only for issuing clear marching orders but also empowering the right people to execute them.
“Jeanie Buss, the controlling owner of the Lakers, placed her franchise in the hands of the inexperienced Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka.
“The most that can be said about the Lakers is they know who they used to be. That vision of their glorious history is what they are desperately holding on to. But the past is a dangerous place to live, as doing so can be interpreted by others as arrogance.
“The Lakers didn’t make a serious attempt to trade for Paul George, as if they figured he would come to them as a free agent simply because they were the Lakers. They were wrong.
“They could have made a similar mistake with Kawhi Leonard. The verdict will be rendered this coming offseason.
“They allowed themselves to be suckered into drafting (Lonzo) Ball because of his made-for-Hollywood story.
“Johnson and Pelinka created the salary cap space that was necessary to sign (LeBron) James, but neglected to make plans beyond that.
“The Lakers are caught in some awkward place between a youth movement and trying to win now. So of the four lottery picks they had in the last five years, the two best players from that group are playing elsewhere, Julius Randle with the New Orleans Pelicans and D’Angelo Russell with the Brooklyn Nets. And who knows what the Lakers were doing when they let the Clippers steal Ivica Zubac from them.
“The Lakers being the Lakers, a sacrifice will have to be made and coach Luke Walton is expected to be the victim. The widespread presumption effectively stripped Walton of his authority, further destabilizing a team already on shaky ground.”
So now budding star Brandon Ingram has deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in his right arm, is out for the season, and who knows beyond that.
“The Lakers aren’t positioned to deal with that kind of setback.
“The leadership necessary...hasn’t been provided by ownership or management, and there’s no reason to believe that will change. The burden will belong to James, their purported savior.
“James will have to define the team’s culture. He will have to convince other star-caliber players the Lakers are a franchise for which they should want to play.
“James should have a role in that, but not to the extent that will be required of him to drastically alter the franchise’s trajectory.”
I truly hate this time of year in the NFL. A ton of rumors prior to the ‘official’ start of the league season, someone like me wastes their time writing about one thing or another, and then it ends up not being true. [Of course it’s an exciting time if you’re a fan and don’t have such responsibilities.]
So I wrote the following early Tuesday:
--With the league season beginning officially Wed. afternoon, free agency started Monday in terms of negotiations, which means I’m not going to even attempt to try to keep up with all the moves.
But I was very happy to see my Jets, with oodles of cap space and a franchise quarterback under a rookie contract, sign two very good, young, linebackers – Baltimore’s C.J. Mosley and Anthony Barr – both having made four Pro Bowls.
And the Jets, among their other moves, signed a solid slot receiver in Jamison Crowder, who is also young, put up good numbers in Washington, and is a Duke grad, so you assume he has a good head on his shoulders.
Good job thus far, GM Mike Maccagnan.
Now, will the Jets sign Le’Veon Bell? I would have said ‘I don’t want the guy’ months ago. Now I’m like, ‘Do it!’
Only Anthony Barr, the bastard, ended up staying in Minnesota, after totally using the Jets. So now the Jets really need to draft an edge rusher with their No. 3 pick, and at least here, they have many to choose from in a terrific class for defensive linemen / linebackers.
--So the above was an example of what can happen in the blink of an eye. And thus the stunning news hit Tuesday night that the Giants had traded Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns, the Giants to receive a first-round pick in 2019 (No. 17 overall), the Browns’ second third-round pick this year and safety Jabrill Peppers.
As I’m posting Wednesday morning, you’ll have to understand that commentary will be pouring through for days on this one, so I’ll pick through it for next time.
For now GM Dave Gettleman should be skewered. At the NFL Scouting Combine last month, he repeated the team had no plans to trade OBJ, as he had in January.
“We didn’t sign Odell to trade him,” he said then. “That’s all I need to say about that.”
The Giants last August handed Beckham a five-year, $90 million contract extension, $65 million guaranteed.
But then late last night, the Jets signed Bell! Four years, $52.5 million, including $35 million guaranteed. It’s a roll of the dice...I think it will work for two years, and at least they’ll be two fun ones for us Jets fans.
Bell is still just 27, but, yes, he has a ton of mileage on his body (1,541 combined NFL carries and catches over his five seasons of playing).
Mike Vaccaro / New York Post
“They say this is the city that never sleeps.
“Because if you slept at all during the 24 ½ hours from 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, March 12, until around 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 13...well, there’s no telling how much you missed, so hopefully it was a good nap....
“6 a.m. Tuesday: Jets get C.J. Mosley
“Just in case you thought we were kidding about how bonkers-crazy the NFL free agency period is as opposed to baseball’s, it was exactly 73 minutes before the sun rose over New York City that the Jets rang the bell on the Craziest Day Ever, agreeing with Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker C.J. Mosley on a five-year, $85 million contract ($51 million guaranteed).
“Most days, that would be more than enough news to carry you through a cycle. Mosley is a four-time Pro Bowler and exactly the kind of fierce presence the Jets have been hungering for. Did they overpay for him? Sure they did! And that would’ve been one of the best parts about debating this all day, along with the fact that he’d be joining ex-Viking Anthony Barr for an instant jolt on the Jets defense.
“Not a bad news day before you even order your lead-off coffee...
“9:02 a.m.: Tim Tebow reassigned to minor league camp....
“It (allowed) a spotlight to be placed, however briefly, on just what a fun story Tebow has become. There is little doubt that his original signing was a novelty act. But there is also little doubt that he has improved as a baseball player. Significantly, in one important observer’s eyes.
“ ‘He’s honestly one of the most improved players I’ve ever been around,’ Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. ‘Of course he still has a way to go. But that really tells you how hard this game is.’
“The Tebow Effect is real, too. You can be walking in the bowels of a spring-training ballpark and know when he’s entered a game by the surge in crowd buzz. And as one Met official said, ‘He walks in a room with Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, and it’s like those are two guys who walked in off the street. All anyone sees is Tim.’
“10:54 a.m. Aunt Becky was indicted? ....
“12:51 p.m.: Barr ‘Dewey Versus Trumans’ the Jets
“And, well, the Post, too, since we’d all gone to bed thinking that the Vikings’ stud edge rusher was trading in his purple for green. As someone with the Jets told our man Brian Costello before Coz tried to get his 15 minutes of sleep for the week: ‘You never know until the pen hits the paper.’ And Barr’s pen scrawled his name on a contract to stay with the Vikings rather than bolt to the Jets, and for less money.
“That was a gut punch. And so was....
“4:21 p.m.: Center Matt Paradis Picks Panthers over Jets....
“5:00 p.m. Dolan [Ed. see above]...
“7:44 p.m.: Giants trade Beckham to Browns
“The first reaction: shock. Dave Gettleman had scoffed at the whispers that had swirled around Odell Beckham Jr. since practically the moment the two men agreed to a $95 million contract. Yes, OBJ was a handful. Yes, he hadn’t led the Giants to any significant glory. But from the moment he donned a No. 13 it was impossible to keep your eyes off him. He was – what’s the popular new term? – a generational talent.
“And now he was a Brown, swapped for Jabrill Peppers and two draft picks.
“Talk about your ‘Holy #@$#’ moments.
“The second reaction: melancholy. In the space of about eight weeks New York has been relieved of both Kristaps Porzingis and OBJ. They had a lot in common: so much of what we saw from them had come in flashes (and many of those flashes had come in defeat), and so much of their value was always in what they COULD do. Now that value will either be realized or capsized in Dallas and Cleveland.
“Say it again: Dallas and Cleveland.
“New York’s collection of true athletic stars has dwindled down to a precarious few. At least there’s Aaron Judge. At least there’s Jacob deGrom. At least there’s Saquon Barkley.
“At least there’s Le’Veon Bell.
“12:19 a.m. Wednesday: Jets agree to terms with Bell
“And, suddenly, the James Dolan interview felt like it was conducted around Labor Day.
“And, suddenly, the Jets, who looked to be having one of their best offseason days ever, until it became one of their worst offseason days ever, were ready to go back to best-day-ever status as long as they could extend the clock an extra 20 minutes or so.
“Bell was the jewel of what they wanted to do this free-agent season, a bellcow of a back who brings immediate star power to the locker room and a priceless weapon to the offensive huddle, all for $61 million, which was only $17 million more than he’d scoffed at on Twitter a year ago when a Jets fan volunteered to come up with the cash.
“Quite a day. Quite a time. Are your eyes heavy? Really?
“Close them at your own risk.”
Yes, indeed...it was the craziest sports day in New York history.
Back to Giants GM Dave Gettleman, if he now doesn’t draft Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins next month, the NFL should haul him out of the team offices. He trades a big weapon for 38-year-old quarterback Eli Manning, and he allowed another of his most talented players, safety Landon Collins, to walk away for nothing, Collins signing a massive contract with Washington.
From a cap standpoint, he’s also getting killed in the OBJ trade.
Here’s what some are observing in these parts. He could have franchised OBJ last season (the Giants didn’t use the tag at all), and franchised Collins this season.
So Beckham is gone and Manning is a year older.
Pat Leonard / New York Daily News
“(Beckham) escapes a Giant franchise drowning in its misplaced loyalty to Eli Manning, with eight wins in its last 33 games. And he joins a rising tide in Cleveland led by Baker Mayfield, OBJ’s best friend Jarvis Landry, mentor and wide receivers coach Adam Henry, and an excellent GM in John Dorsey....
“Ultimately, Gettleman paid Beckham $21.5 million for 12 games in 2018 ($20 million signing bonus, $1.459 million in base salary) to then trade him.
“And now by dealing Beckham, Gettleman assumes a $16 million dead cap hit on the Giants’ books for 2019. This on top of failing to rebuild the offensive line sufficiently for his first season with a 5-11 record.”
Well, now Gettleman has the No. 6 and No. 17 picks in the draft. He better nail them.
Finally, back to Le’Veon Bell, yes, us Jets fans know he can be a load, a la Beckham, and we’ll see what happens during training camp in terms of team chemistry.
Bell also made a really dumb decision, monetarily, in sitting out last season and turning down a five-year, $70 million offer from Pittsburgh that would have paid him $30 million in the first two seasons.
Instead, he took a stand, only to eventually accept a marginally better deal in terms of the guarantees, but inferior in terms of total compensation, and for a team that hardly has a rich history to point to.
As for Browns fans...how psyched are they?! For good reason. Suddenly, their time is now. Certainly in their division, Pittsburgh has nothing to show for Bell and Antonio Brown. The Ravens lost C.J. Mosley, safety Eric Weddle, and outside linebackers Za-Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs to cuts or free agency. The Bengals? Ha.
So the division is Cleveland’s, for starters. Print the playoff tickets today.
--Jacksonville is signing quarterback Nick Foles to a four-year, $88 million deal, with $50.125 million guaranteed. Seems like a perfect spot for Foles.
--The Eagles reacquired receiver DeSean Jackson from Tampa Bay, Jackson, 32, receiving $13 million guaranteed as part of a reworked three-year deal. Tampa Bay is freeing up $10 million in cap space.
--The Raiders are signing New England left tackle Trent Brown on a four-year, $66 million deal that would make him the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history. $36.75 million is guaranteed.
Brown, who had been acquired by New England prior to last season from San Francisco, had a solid season as Tom Brady’s left-side protector.
--From Dan Wolken / USA TODAY Sports
“Fox Sports announced Monday that it has hired Urban Meyer for its new college football pregame show this fall, meaning the former Ohio State coach is ready to jump right back into the spotlight after a tumultuous final season that put all of his worst qualities on display.
“Meyer, of course, has the right to do whatever he wants with his post-coaching life, and Fox executives have the right to put anyone on television that they believe will make their show better.
“But one question came to mind about Meyer’s new role alongside Matt Leinhart, Brady Quinn, Reggie Bush and host Rob Stone on a show designed to compete with ESPN’s College GameDay: After the mess last year at Ohio State, who exactly is clamoring for more Urban Meyer?
“Truth is, when the eternally self-righteous Meyer announced his retirement due to health reasons at the end of last season, it lifted a major burden off of college football fans: No longer would they have to strain to roll their eyes every time he opened his mouth.
“Make no mistake, outside of Ohio State fans, there’s not much fondness these days for Meyer. Even before the scandal last August that brought into question how he handled domestic abuse allegations against a longtime assistant coach, it’s not like Meyer was a particularly warm or charismatic public figure.”
Meyer was on television before in 2011, spending the season after he left Florida and before he went to Ohio State as an analyst for ESPN.
“Meyer certainly showed an aptitude for breaking down plays, but he was stiff and boring and ultimately less-than-truthful with viewers when it became clear he was going to Ohio State.
“In fact, during the Nov. 19 broadcast that year of the Nebraska-Michigan game, Meyer was asked on air about the job after reports began swirling that he was going to take it. Rather than dance around the issue or deflect the question like most people in that situation would, Meyer responded by saying there was ‘no truth’ to those rumors, which of course turned out to be yet another demerit in his career-long relationship with the truth....
“It’s one thing to be unlikable as an analyst; it’s another to be chronically inauthentic, and Meyer has done little since the Zach Smith controversy to repair the biggest issue viewers will have with him.
“Why would we trust anything he says?”
I won’t be watching.
--My, baseball has changed. Last year, outfielder Adam Jones made $17.3 million for the Orioles, the guy a five-time All-Star.
But it was his walk year and while he batted .281, his power numbers were way down...just 15 home runs and 63 RBI in 145 games.
So he waited and waited this winter, and finally he got a deal. One year, $3 million from Arizona. This is a guy who wanted to stay in Baltimore, where he’s established deep ties in the community, a great ambassador, but the Orioles were in no position to give him a big deal, and now? He has to be depressed as hell.
--The Champions Tour event last weekend in Newport Beach, Calif., wrapped up after I had posted so need to note that Kirk Triplett picked up his seventh win on the senior circuit, Triplett winning a playoff against Woody Austin.
But Jeff Maggert tied for third (with Scott McCarron) and if you didn’t see what Maggert did in the first round, making his finish rather remarkable, YouTube it. Maggert five-putted No. 18 for an opening 76, yet came back with a 63-65. Pretty gutsy, though for a number of reasons I’m not a Maggert fan.
--Rory McIlroy was in the final pairing at Bay Hill Sunday for the ninth time since January of last year, and for the ninth time he couldn’t close it out. But he now has five top-six finishes in five starts this calendar year.
That said, c’mon, Rory. Golf needs you to win...and win again...
--Gary Van Sickle, longtime golf writer, commented on his favorite Dan Jenkins books:
[Van Sickle italicized.]
1. “The Dogged Victims of Inexorable Fate” (1970): If you only read one Jenkins book, this is it, the bible of golf. It’s a time-capsule collection of his classic magazine pieces...and timeless inside tales of Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead and assorted other celebrities, thanks to insider access that only Jenkins could finagle.
If you don’t laugh out loud during “The Glory Game,” please check your driver’s license. You might be Bill Belichick. Grade: A-plus.
2. “Saturday’s America” (1970): I was a diehard college football follower in the 1960s and ‘70s and read and re-read this paperback so many times, it was more worn than a doggie toy....
Jenkins wrote with such hilarious irreverence. He imagined Woody Hayes happily piloting the Enola Gay, and he dusted Ara Parseghian and the Fighting Irish with a withering rewrite of Notre Dame’s school song (sing along, kids: “Old Notre Dame will tie after all...”) following 1966’s titanic “game of the century” with Michigan State that ended 10-10, with the Irish shamelessly killing the clock.
The best chapter is personal, once again. It’s two football-crazy men and their long-suffering wives who spend weekends attending as many Southwest Conference football games as they can stay sober for, sort of. It ends when the lead guy’s wife asks her husband, Joe Coffman (or Jenkins), if they’re really driving all the way to Little Rock (or some other distant venue) next weekend for the Texas game. Jenkins wrote: Joe Coffman looked offended: “They’re playin’, ain’t they?” Grade: A-plus.
3. “Semi-Tough” (1972)...This is the ballad of Billy Clyde Puckett, a good ol’ boy from Texas who’s now the star running back for the New York Football Giants, who just happen to end up in the Super Bowl playing against the “dog-ass Jets,” as Jenkins describes them.
Did I mention this is a novel? It’s hilarious, vulgar, completely politically incorrect now, sexist and probably racist, but Jenkins has Texan culture from the ‘50s and ‘60s nailed. He is Texan culture. He’s a creature of the ‘50s....
4. “Dead Solid Perfect” (1974): The raunchy, sexy, vulgarity of ‘Semi-Tough” moves to golf as Kenny Lee Puckett, a relative of ol’ Billy Clyde, tries to win the U.S. Open....
Three memorable highlights (among many):
Puckett and sportswriter Jim Tom Pinch finagle a way to insert fake high school football scores onto the wire service, and as the weeks pass, they add fake write-ups and more details. The point? They bet on their fake team, the Corbett Comets, and put their winnings on the fake conference championship game. They lost! The bookie outsmarted them...
Selfish tour pro Donny Smithern’s all-too-familiar view of life: “[Bleep] mankind. Just let me make some birdies.”
The title became a cultural catchphrase. It came from the bookie’s teaching moment to Puckett about the failed betting scam. He said: “A man can travel far and wide – all the way to shame or glory and back again – but he ain’t never gonna find nothin’ in this old world that’s dead solid perfect.”
Well, Mr. Van Sickle goes on to list the others that Jenkins’ wrote and we get to....
10. “Baja Oklahoma” (1981): Jenkins insures his literary immortality with “Mankind’s Ten Stages of Drunkenness.”....
He also invents the phrase, “That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it,” now an oft-stolen cliché.
I never knew this was his.
Well, following are Dan Jenkins’ 10 Stages of Drunkenness:
1. Witty & Charming
2. Rich and Powerful
5. F--- Dinner
7. Crank up the Enola Gay
8. Witty & Charming, Part II
--The Birmingham City fan who ran on the pitch and hit Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish was quickly jailed for 14 weeks, Paul Mitchell, a pub worker, admitting assault and encroachment.
Mitchell claims he was not drunk. His attorney (solicitor) said he “cannot explain what came over him yesterday morning.”
Mitchell was also ordered to pay a small fine, but banned from attending any football matches in the UK for 10 years.
Additionally, following the game in which visiting Aston Villa won, 1-0, ironically on a Grealish goal, West Midlands police said they were investigating “offensive social media posts” that appeared after the winning goal referencing Grealish’s younger brother, who died when the midfielder was four.
So Birmingham City said it banned another supporter for life over the “vile and malicious” tweets.
The sentence handed down to Mitchell I feel was totally appropriate. But as Dr. W. observed, “Why can’t U.S. justice be this swift?!”
Phil Neville / BBC Sports
“We have reached the point where banning individual fans for going on the pitch is simply not enough of a punishment.
“It cannot be a sufficient deterrent, because it keeps on happening, and my worry is that it is going to take an incident where a player is stabbed or seriously hurt before things change....
“What has happened in the past few days has highlighted the size of the problem, but I actually think things have been getting worse for a while and the situation should be a major concern for the clubs and the governing bodies.
“Drastic action is needed – either through points deductions or by emptying stadiums and making clubs play behind closed doors....
“I don’t want to over-dramatize things, but everyone remembers what happened to the tennis player Monica Seles, who was stabbed on court during a match in 1993.
“We need to start protecting players properly because all it takes is for one of these people who get on the pitch to have a knife or other weapon and it will be a footballer who is badly hurt next time....
“In the past few months, there have been displays of racism at grounds, with a banana thrown towards Arsenal players...and derogatory chanting about the Pakistani community during the Millwall versus Everton FA Cup tie.
“Homophobic abuse is a problem too, and now we have had these attacks and confrontations from people running on to the pitch....
“One of my players on the England women’s team, Karen Carney, received death threats on social media last year. It was disgusting, but that just seems to be seen as part of being a public figure these days, whether you are male or female....
“It has now become acceptable in our society to treat people like that, and not just professional footballers either...
“I don’t want to see fences back up at football grounds as they were in the dark days of the 1980s, but there needs to be a way to control the fans and it is clear just banning one person from the stadium is not having an effect.
“Everyone needs to sit down together – the game’s governing bodies, the players’ union, supporters groups and the authorities – and accept things have to change.
“If they don’t, I am seriously worried about what will happen next.”
--In Champions League play Tuesday, Manchester City moved on to the quarterfinals with a 7-0 blitzing of FC Schalke04, prevailing on aggregate 10-2!
Juventus had a stirring 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid to move on, 3-2 aggregate.
Today, Liverpool looks to join fellow Premier League rivals Man City, Man U and Tottenham in the quarterfinals as they play Bayern Munich, while Barcelona squares off against Lyon.
The draw for the quarters is held Friday.
--So there was another big story yesterday that, frankly, is a topic for that other column I do more than Bar Chat.
The Justice Department on Tuesday charged 50 people – including actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, with being part of a long-running bribery scheme to get privileged children with lackluster grades into big-name colleges and universities.
The alleged crimes included cheating on entrance exams, as well as bribing college officials / coaches to say certain students were coming to compete on athletic teams when those students were not athletes. Georgetown, Yale, Stanford, USC, UCLA, Texas and Wake Forest were among those cited.
In the case of Wake Forest, our volleyball coach, William Ferguson, allegedly accepted a $100,000 bribe to accept a student for his women’s team. Ironically, our long-time athletic director, Ron Wellman, had just announced his retirement, though it is highly unlikely he knew anything about this operation.
Yes, for those of us who went to these schools, it’s embarrassing, but federal prosecutors did not charge students or universities with wrongdoing...yet. Hopefully, for us Wake Forest fans, this passes quickly.
But as Marc Tracy and Billy Witz write in the New York Times:
“The Justice Department investigation revealed how this alternative admission path can be exploited and corrupted, especially at the dozen elite universities that were a target.
“Unlike in football and basketball, there is little in the way of formal rankings or general knowledge about who might be good at what are seen as minor sports, so admissions officials usually have to take coaches at their word when they tell them that an applicant is worthy of a spot on a volleyball or soccer or sailing team, leaving them open to exploitation.
“That is more difficult to do in big sports. ‘In basketball and football, it’s out there in the open, compared to the less financially driven sports,’ said Corey Evans, a basketball recruiting analyst at Rivals, the recruiting website.
“In short order Tuesday, the sailing coach at Stanford was fired. The UCLA men’s soccer coach was placed on leave, as was the Wake Forest women’s volleyball coach, and the men’s tennis coach at the University of Texas. J.B. Bird, a university spokesman, said Texas was ‘cooperating fully with the investigation. Integrity in admissions is vital to the academic and ethical standards of our university.’ The university stated it believed Coach Michael Center’s actions did not involve ‘any other university employees or officers.’
“The water polo coach at the University of Southern California, Jovan Vavic, who has won 16 national championships, was fired after he was arrested at his hotel room early Tuesday morning in Hawaii, where he had traveled with the top-ranked women’s team for a match.
“The practice of reserving spots for athletes in minor sports has grown in recent years, people involved with college sports say, as more colleges have committed to pursuing excellence in every activity, from the chemistry lab to the tennis courts. Also, as the population continues to grow, slots at the most selective colleges are more competitive than ever.”
Stanford had an acceptance rate of 4.29 percent last year, the lowest in school history.
“No wonder, according to the complaint, the prominent Massachusetts real estate developer John B. Wilson paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2018 to secure a spot for his daughter at Stanford.”
Here’s the thing that I’m shocked isn’t being mentioned, specifically, the impact of Title IX in terms of the shenanigans with the parents and the minor sports.
Those in the know for a sport such as women’s volleyball, for example, may have an idea about the starters who their school is recruiting, but you won’t know the walk-ons.
So while it’s unclear if some of the students finding their way into the noted schools for volleyball, or rowing/crew, were handed scholarships to boot, here’s the fact.
In Division I, you have 4.5 scholarships available for men’s volleyball, but 12 for women’s volleyball (and you know how many are required to field a competitive team).
Men’s soccer has 9.9, women’s soccer 14.
Women’s rowing has 20!
Just sayin’. From the criminal complaint, it was clear in some cases the fake athletes were slotted into sports that the admissions folks would understand there are openings for, but then sometimes the ‘athlete’ never played...just say the kid is injured. It’s not like the starters on the teams would really give a damn, though you can imagine the whispering going on.
To be continued....
--I saw a story in the Irish Independent that read, “Two men have been arrested in connection with the robbery of a taxi man in Dublin on Thursday night.”
The driver picked up two passengers, who assaulted and robbed him.
So the assailants then left the scene with the taxi driver’s car keys, mobile phone and a sum of money.
In a follow up search, the two men, 21 and 18, were arrested a short distance from the scene.
Not Bar Chat worthy, except.... “Garda dog Sheeka of the Dog Unit helped members of her team recover the car keys...in a flower pot.”
‘Dog’ remains No. 1 on the All-Species List.
--Drummer Hal Blaine, one of the most recorded musicians in pop music of all time, died Monday at age 90. Blaine’s signature beat can be heard on countless hits by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel, Neil Diamond, the Byrds and many more.
“I’m so sad, I don’t know what to say,” Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson said of the man he typically called first for many of his group’s recording sessions in the 1960s.
Blaine was a key member of the ace Los Angeles studio musicians who came to be known as “the Wrecking Crew,” and is credited with coining the term. The name is an allusion to the way a new generation of professionals emerged in the 1960s and “wrecked” the careers of their predecessors, who mostly disdained playing on rock, soul and R&B recordings.
Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts said Monday, “Godspeed Hal....Feeling very blessed to have celebrated his life with him.” Watts was among those participating in Blaine’s 90th birthday gathering in Studio City last month.
As Randy Lewis of the Los Angeles Times wrote: “Blaine’s floor-rattling ‘thump, thump-thump, crack!’ drumbeat that opened the Ronettes’ 1963 hit ‘Be My Baby,’ one of many produced by ‘Wall of Sound’ creator Phil Spector, remains one of the most influential musical introductions in rock history. It was a key reason that Wilson, who has consistently cited ‘Be My Baby’ as his favorite record of all time, tapped Blaine to play on many of that group’s most important recording sessions. ‘Be My Baby’ directly inspired the Beach Boys’ 1964 hit ‘Don’t Worry Baby.’ Blaine’s relationship with Wilson included work on such signature Beach Boys songs as ‘California Girls,’ ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ and ‘Good Vibrations’ that helped expand the sounds and textures of rock music in the ‘60s.”
Blaine was among the first five studio instrumentalists ever elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Hall noting Blaine “has certainly played on more hit records than any drummer in the rock era, including 40 No. 1 singles and 150 that made the Top 10.”
Blaine was born on Feb. 5, 1929, in Holyoke, Mass., and after moving to Los Angeles, he participated in thousands of recording sessions, including most of Elvis’ movie soundtracks as well as TV movie themes including “Batman.”
Other hits featured Blaine’s drumming on Paul Revere & the Raiders’ “Kicks,” Roy Orbison’s “It’s Over,” Simon & Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound” and “Mrs. Robinson,” The Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man” and the Mamas & the Papas’ “California Dreamin’” and “Monday, Monday.”
Randy Lewis: “When Byrds lead singer Roger McGuinn entered a studio surrounded by such journeymen, it took only an hour to lay down the group’s career-launching hit ‘Mr. Tambourine Man.’
“When the rest of the group joined McGuinn to create a follow-up single, the full band needed 77 takes to perfect ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’
“ ‘It’s kind of a shock to the general public when they find out that a lot of [musicians in famous bands] didn’t play on their records,’ Blaine told The Times in 2000. ‘But not everybody can be a plumber and go fix a broken pipe. Sometimes you need an expert, and that’s all there is to it.’
“ ‘Most of it was economics,’ he said. ‘We could go in and do an album in six hours. Kids today, sometimes it takes them months to get one song down.’
“Of the wildly varied demands placed on studio musicians, Blaine recalled, ‘One minute I’d be playing with Count Basie, the next minute I was with Lawrence [Welk] and the next minute I was with the Beach Boys,’ he told author Ken Sharp for his companion book to Denny Tedesco’s ‘Wrecking Crew’ documentary, ‘Sounds Explosion.’”
“Such was the respect that Blaine and his cohorts commanded among the singers, producers, composers and others who worked with them that songwriter Jimmy Webb, in his 2017 memoir ‘The Cake and the Rain,’ said that he remembered only one thing about winning the Grammy Award for song of the year for his 1967 Fifth Dimension hit ‘Up, Up and Away.’ ‘I had not prepared a speech and I don’t know what I said,’ Webb wrote, ‘except that I thanked Hal Blaine.’”
Top 3 songs of 3/16/68: #1 “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” (Otis Redding) #2 “(Theme From) Valley Of The Dolls” (Dionne Warwick) #3 “Love Is Blue” (Paul Mauriat)...and...#4 “Simon Says” (1910 Fruitgum Co.) #5 “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” (The First Edition) #6 “I Wish It Would Rain” (The Temptations) #7 “La-La-Means I Love You” (The Delfonics) #8 “Valleri” (The Monkees) #9 “(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone” (Aretha Franklin) #10 “I Thank You” (Sam & Dave...A-...Ken P. said 1967 was the best year ever, after last Chat’s list...and I’ve always felt it was ’65 or ’67....further examination in a few weeks...)
NCAA Tournament Quiz Answer: The four schools to still never make the Big Dance despite being part of Division I since its inception: Army, The Citadel, St. Francis of Brooklyn, and William & Mary.
Next Bar Chat, Monday.