Inside College Sports Bag Men

It’s a tad long, but you really should go read the article about bag men in the SEC over on SB Nation.

While it specifically talks about SEC schools, I think we all know this sort of thing goes on all over the country. It maybe goes on a little more down here in the South, because I have noticed in my time here that there is a certain attitude about sports in general, but especially college sports. It can best be summed up in the phrase “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying”.

Let’s face it, do you really think ‘Bama fans care if the program is clean as long as they keep winning national championships? Most don’t. They don’t bother with the self-righteousness that some fans of other schools have. They know there’s probably some payoffs happening, and all kinds of other illegal activities, but they don’t care.

Fans up north like to pretend they care, and that their schools are clean. They’re not.

Look, I’ve seen the southern attitude toward college sports over the last few years, but I lived in Columbus for about 25 years, and went to school at Ohio State. You’ll never convince me these same kinds of payouts weren’t happening there. When the Columbus Dispatch can run articles talking about athletes coming out of the ghetto and getting a college education, and you see these same kids on campus and driving around town in nicer clothes, and much nicer cars than the middle class folks who are in Columbus, that money is coming from somewhere, and it’s not all in memorabilia sales.

So this Fall, enjoy the start of college football season once again, I know I will. But let’s not pretend that anyone is clean. This is big, dirty, business, masquerading as amateur athletics.

NHL Playoff Preview

Yes, sure, the Islanders aren’t in the playoffs this year, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some great hockey and intriguing story lines to follow.

To whit, will the Blue Jackets get their first ever playoff game victory? Will the Pens self destruct again? Are the Blues the team that flirted with the first seed in the West, or the one that lost their last 6 games? Can anyone on the Avs actually grow a beard?

In the East, I think it’s clearly a two team race. The Bruins and Penguins have been far and away the two teams to beat in the East and I don’t see that changing, especially in the first round. Obviously, you never know if Bobrovsky or Howard will catch fire and steal an entire series, but I just don’t see it happening. I do think the Jackets get over the “never won a playoff game” hump, because somewhere in there the Pens will mail in a bomb, like they always do, but if the Pens don’t, it might be another 4 and out for the Jackets. (I’d increase their odds of stealing a couple of games if Nathan Horton were playing, but alas…)

The Rangers-Philly and Montreal-TB series are absolute toss ups to me, but if anything could stop the Pens-Bruins conference final, it would be the Pens having to face the team that is most in their heads, the Flyers, in round two.

Prediction- Boston wins the East. They are just too deep and too steady.

In the West, it’s like the inverse of the East. I think there are at least 5 teams who could win the Cup. In fact, a couple of the first round match ups will eliminate a couple of teams who probably could win it all.

Anaheim should take care of business, as should Colorado. The Kings-Sharks and Blackhawks-Blues series will be ridiculously good. They will be the kind of series that make you wonder if the winner has anything left for round two. They will, so don’t get comfy Ducks and Avs fans.

At the end of the day though, I like the Ducks and the relative ease of their first round will matter in comparison to the bloodbaths the other teams will face.Like Boston, they’ve just been too steady all year long to not pick them, but I could also see the Kings, Blackhawks or Blues as well. They just have one or two more question marks than the Ducks do. The Avs, as young as they are, I suspect they are due for a playoff flame out. One to learn and grow from, like many of the great teams.

Besides, who doesn’t want Teemu playing in the Cup finals this year, and winning the whole thing?

So, who you got?


Did Phil Ivey Cheat or Was the Casino Stupid?

Given the description of what Ivey did while playing baccarat at the Borgata Casino, I’d say yes, he did cheat. What he did was actually less ethical than counting cards in blackjack, so if that’s not allowed by the casinos, then this definitely shouldn’t be.

On the other hand, he could only get away with it because they stupidly agreed to all of his special requests just so they could get him to play at their casino, so they made victims of themselves in this case. After all, simply changing out the deck instead of reusing it, makes the entire edge he gained through his actions pointless, but they didn’t find his request to keep playing over and over with the same deck suspicious?

That’s just dumb!

This Week’s Sports Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Congrats Blue Jackets Fans

Despite my promise to quit rooting for the Blue Jackets when they moved into the same division, and thus into direct competition, with my Islanders, I am happy for the Jacket fans back in Columbus.

And yes, there’s no way I can miss the significance of the Jackets making the playoffs and having their best season ever after I stop rooting for them.

Maybe it was me all those years.

This Week’s Sports Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

This Criticism of Daniel Murphy is Insane


The guy took 3 days, and missed two games, to be at the birth of his first child and help his wife in the immediate aftermath, and somehow the culture of sports finds this to be totally unacceptable?

There is something seriously wrong in the sports culture when this is even questioned. I was surprised that three days is actually the max allowed by the collective bargaining argreement, which is what I saw mentioned elsewhere.

Apparently being dedicated to your team, where if you’re lucky you’ll spend a few years before they shove you out the door for someone younger and cheaper, is now more important than being a husband and father. That’s a great message.

What to do About Josh Bailey

I realized last night that we are watching another streak of good play from the Islanders Josh Bailey, in games that don’t really matter much. What can we take away from it? Is he, finally, living up to the promise he had when the Islanders drafted him 9th overall in 2008? Is this just a good streak that will ultimately end and go back to a bad streak?

For all the ups and downs, mostly downs, of Bailey’s career, he is only 24. He’s also signed through the 2017-2018 season, so unless someone steps up and wants him in a trade for a goalie, he’s going to be with the Islanders for awhile longer. Given the pedigree, contract and production he’s had thus far, I don’t see a lot of teams clamoring to include him in a trade.

We’ve also been down this road before. Continue reading

How the Skills Competition is Shaping the NHL Wildcard Races

I’m not a fan of the shootout, let’s go ahead and get that out of the way. It’s not that I don’t see the entertainment value of it, sure it can be exciting. (Though many times it really isn’t) My complaint is that it’s a contrived way to end a hockey game that has very little to do with the actual game play itself. I feel the same way about going to penalty kicks in soccer as well, though I do see the validity there that as players tire, there is less likelihood of anyone ever scoring, since they aren’t taking shifts like hockey players are.

Still, the many supporters of the shootout hype the fact that it adds an entertaining conclusion to what would otherwise be a tie game, so that’s a good thing. The problem with that argument is that rewarding the winner of the shootout two points, as if they had won the game, is problematic in a league where playoff spots come down to a point here and there. Take a look at the current wildcard standings for the Eastern Conference, from Yahoo! for example. They are kind enough to include the ROW column (regulation and overtime wins), so we can clearly see the difference being made by the “extra” shootout point.

wcstandingsDetroit is currently sitting in the first wildcard spot, despite the fact that they have only the 4th most non-shootout wins. If we sorted the wildcard chase by the teams who have managed to win the most actual hockey games it would look very different: Continue reading

This Week’s Sports Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.