Tondar's Daily Rant

Prepare yourself for the writings of Tondar the Destroyer, Baron of Atlanta, Rightful Heir to the Throne of Spain, from whom all babies come. As his will be blogged, so let it be done.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

WORSE THAN HELL

If you read Dante's Inferno you will notice that the souls of the damned are eternally punished in appropriate retaliation for their earthy sins. In Latin this is known as Contrapassum or roughly "Counterpassion" punishment. This concept originated with Aristotle, but was given a Christian context by St. Thomas Aquinas as it applied to justice:

I answer that, Retaliation [contrapassum] denotes equal passion repaid for previous action; and the expression applies most properly to injurious passions and actions, whereby a man harms the person of his neighbor; for instance if a man strike, that he be struck back. This kind of just is laid down in the Law (Exodus 21:23-24): "He shall render life for life, eye for eye," etc. And since also to take away what belongs to another is to do an unjust thing, it follows that secondly retaliation consists in this also, that whosoever causes loss to another, should suffer loss in his belongings. This just loss is also found in the Law (Exodus 22:1): "If any man steal an ox or a sheep, and kill or sell it, he shall restore five oxen for one ox and four sheep for one sheep." Thirdly retaliation is transferred to voluntary commutations, where action and passion are on both sides, although voluntariness detracts from the nature of passion, as stated above (59, 3).


Recently I blogged about Reggie Evans "goosing" Chris Kaman in the balls. But if you read The Sports Guy's take on the incident he comes to a humorous conclusion...

Reggie Evans. The definition of a terrible contract run in the playoffs: Not only did Evans fail to emerge from a three-man rotation that includes Eduardo Najera and Francisco Elson, he guaranteed himself a lifetime of "NUT GRABBER!" shouts and insults after that whole Chris Kaman grabbing-the-crotch-from-behind debacle, which the league apparently decided NOT to suspend him for because it was so over-the-top weird that they just wanted it to go away as fast as possible. Well, it's not going away. At the Clippers game on Monday night, at least five different people in my section held up bags of nuts and screamed at him any time he was within 20 feet. And that's his career for the next 10 years. He's the Nut Grabber. Welcome to hell, Reggie Evans. Welcome to hell.


As funny as that is. Truthfully, hell would be much easier on Reggie. He would simply have his nuts tugged and that would be the end of it. Contrapassum punishment, and we are done, eye for an eye and a gonad for a gonad. At worst, he would face an eternity of Kaman-demons pulling on his junk with 7 feet and 265 lbs of force. Evans is facing temporal justice, which in this case is something far worse than hell. He is experiencing what St. Thomas Aquinas labeled the distributive justice of the community. First, Reggie Evans was shoved and belittled by Kaman (see the postgame locker-room interview). This satisfied the harm to Kaman. But now the NBA and fans are extracting a punishment to restore the common good of our society. Evans' behavior will not be forgotten soon and will affect his earning potential on whatever contract he may have in the future. Secondly, Evans has crossed a line in society, and fans are making an example of him to show that the nuts are off limits and that goose grabbing will not be tolerated in our society.

The Sports Guy is wrong. The NBA doesn't have to take any action at all. Being a great leader of men, I'm sure David Stern is familiar with distributive justice and understands that what will happen will be more than enough to satisfy the injury to Kaman and society.
IF YOU'RE STILL DOWN

Tondar has washed his hands of the NHL. However, I will be keeping an eye on the Gwinnett Gladiators of the ECHL. You gotta love minor league hockey. It's cheap and you don't have to invest as much emotionally either. In other words, t's like a booty call for true hockey fans. But for those of you quite not so willing to let the NHL go, Seth has a handy guide for what's left of the mess of a hookey league...

"If you still insist on watching hockey, and if the officials agree to allow hockey to be played, I've got some teams you can get behind...

1. Buffalo -- Quietly been turing their team into a group of fast scorers who don't mind dishing out the checks. They quietly had one of the best, and most consistent, records in the NHL, just a few years after the team was facing a possible shut-down. They got jobbed in '99 so the NHL could give Dallas a championship, and their coach Lindy Ruff has always preached playing "hungry" hockey. Rookie goalie Ryan Miller (you might remember him from his Michigan State days) can turn in a shutout any day of the week.

2. San Jose -- They built their team right, then had to take it apart and sell off expensive pieces (Kiprusoff, Owen Nolan, Vincent Damphousse, et al.). Then they took a chance to bring in Joe Thornton and it turned them around. They play a strong-skating possession style of hockey that's really fun because their offense sets up like a basketball one. And if a guy gets open anywhere on the ice, Mr. Thornton (hockey's Steve Nash, but bigger) will set him up.

3. Carolina -- In football, I say you can never have too many Big 10 guys. Well, if that holds true for hockey, then the Carolina Hurricans' FIVE CCHA alums -- Brind'Amour (MSU), Doug Weight (Lake Superior State), Aaron Ward (Michigan), Kevyn Adams (Miami-Ohio), and Andrew Hutchinson (MSU) -- could do the trick. You also gotta like the Canes' Eric Staal (Maine), who was one of the best players all season, Cory Stillman (St. Johns), Craig Adams (Harvard), Mike Commodore (N. Dakota), Bret Hedican (St. Cloud State), and Matt Cullen (St. Cloud State). In other words, it's a team of former college players, and they do play a very college game of defensive positioning and spreading the shots around. Plus, they're owned by Detroiter Peter Karmonos.

4. Ottawa -- Rookie goalie who stepped in for Hasek, and is now charged with stopping Hasek's old team. The Senators are the most similar to the Wings, as a top seed who plays a possession, cycling game in which every possession is meant to look like a football drive. They're actually more like the Wings of 1994-1998, as they've been consistently finishing at or near the top of the league in scoring while using a ferocious back-check to keep shots away from their net. Jason Spezza is becoming a real star, Daniel Alfredsson became a brighter one, and Mike Fisher is a Draper clone. Maybe Dany Heatley will be their Brendan Shanahan? They're as susceptible to the trap and grab-ass hockey as we are, but if the NHL lets them play hockey, they're good at hockey.


What to root for in Round 2:

1. Pronger tries to whack Joe Thornton and ends up getting whacked by cousin Scott. Refs ignore the diving greaseballs.

2. Both teams come out in a trap, end up staring at each other from their respective blue lines for 60 minutes, then the NHL declares both teams losers and gives San Jose a bye to the Finals.

3. The rookie goalies keep the Hasek-Returns storyline below the radar just a little bit longer 4. Carolina can score on New Jersey. The Devils are still really hot, and the 'Canes are still really injured, and they're riding a rookie goalie against one of the best the game has ever seen. Root for this one to not get ugly.
HAT EATING PREDICTIONS

While doing sports previews it becomes inherent that one must go out on a limb and make a few predictions. For example, I predicted that the Memphis Grizzlies would win a playoff game this year. I also predicted that the Washington Wizards would upset LeBron and the Cavs. Oops! But anyways, this sort of thing is bound to happen. However, I think what sets The Daily Rant aside from mainstream media outlets, is that we will take the time to go back and breakdown what changed. Along the same lines, here is Seth on the amazing rise of the Detroit Tigers baseball...

"Sometimes, I think we should all know that I do not know what I'm talking about. Like when I said the Wings and Stars would face off for the Western Conference championship. Or 4th seed Kansas would emerge victorious from a bracket in which Gonzaga was a 3rd seed.

But seldom have I been so wrong as this:

"More Like a Chicken Coup:
Ugh. Compared to the rest of the league, we stink. Compared to the International League, we stink. This spot has been in constant flux, and was a weakness of the team last year, with a couple surprises. It was also devastated by personnel moves, as we traded Kyle Farnsworth and Ugueth Urbina, and Troy Percival just got too old. Jones is a big question mark, but he was good last year. Setup man RHP Fernando Rodney can throw a psycho-fast fastball, but that's about it. RHP Franklyn German was awesome before the All-Star break and disintegrated after. RHP Chris Spurling was the opposite, but he's not consistent. The only guy you could apply that word to was LHP Jamie Walker, who's always up for facing an 8th-inning lefty. Basically, the bullpen overachieved last year and still weren't all that impressive, and this season they're starting with a less.

UPSIDE: The loser of the 5th starter battle becomes a great long reliever so the starters don't get so worn out. Jones flourishes like he did in 2000, German and Spurling blossom, and pigs learn to fly.

DOWNSIDE: Pigs don't learn to fly, we don't bring in any help, and we lose 60 games in the 6th-9th inning, which kills team morale and leads to an awful finish."



To date, the Tigers have the best bullpen in the bigs. They haven't blown a single lead! How can this be? Is this the same bullpen that I called worthless?

Nope.

German was released. Spurling is a no show. Troy Percival is on the disabled list, Jones just came off it, and Craig Dingman will be out most of the season with bypass surgury. In those rare instances this year when a starter hasn't cruised to the late innings, it's been Jordan Tata (a future starter prospect) and Jason Grilli handling things. We haven't seen much of Walker, except as an 8th inning out. That's partly because of all the lefty starters (Rogers, Robertson and Maroth) who force other teams to use right-handed lineups. But he's also got another lefty friend for late innings, Bobby Seay, who warms up a lot but usually doesn't have to come in.

Learn these names fast: Joel Zumaya, Fernando Rodney.

Zumaya was competing for a starting job at the beginning of the season, but he's found a role as a middle reliever, led by his psychotic fastball. The fact that it flirts with 100 mph makes it nasty enough. But it also dances like mad. Supposedly, Einstein had a theory for fast-moving objects, but unless Zumaya's warping time itself, there's no explanation for that thing. I think it needs a name. Pitches that have Detroit radio personalities talking about Walter Johnson's fastball need to have names.

Fernando Rodney is something else. He has a very fast fastball, but what makes him impossible to hit in late innings is his changeup. Rodney can throw it 80 mph, or 85, or 82 mph, or 89 mph, or have it stop dead in front of the batter, knock his helmet off, give him a wedgie, then cruise over the corner of the plate. But like Zumaya's peek-a-boo fastball, Rodney can make it move, and not just one way. Facing righties, it's a normal offspeed pitch, tailing a bit to the left. But when facing lefties, it screws to the right instead, and much more violently than the normal changeup. It drives 'em nuts. They can't touch it.

Rodney's also developed that confidence you need in a pitcher, and that makes him dangerous. In that Oakland game, which I shall from now on refer to as "Inge at the Plate," Rodney was brought in to close after the Tigers came back from 3-1 to take a 4-3 lead in the top of the ninth. With the bases loaded and one out, the A's hit a grounder to Brandon Inge, who went to the plate with it for the force. Pudge was set to relay it to 1st for an attempt at an out, but suddenly Rodney jumped in his way. "Don't do it," he waved. "I got this next guy."

Fernando then fanned the last batter on three straight pitches, the last a nasty 96-mph fastball that the batter could only stare at.

The theme with good teams in May is always "if they can keep it up." But I think we're far enough along now to look back at my negative predictions, slap me on the face and say "What were you THINKING?!?"

Thursday, May 04, 2006

PIC OF THE DAY


In 64 much of Rome was destroyed in a nine-day fire. Nero set about the necessary rebuilding, but also appropriated much of the centre of the city for a new palace for himself. This was the architecturally and artistically innovative 'Golden House' (Domus Aurea), which still survives. Posted by Picasa
SHA-GA

I wonder if it was Mike Mull that codified the Shotgun Rules. Regardless, it's nice to have official rules. Now if only we could do something about Brado single handedly stinking out the car. I don't know what crawled into that boy, but I know that it was dead and trying to get out.
TASTE OF THAT A.T.L. STYLE

It's been a while, but I couldn't pass up this gem from the AJC...

But now the area conjures nothing but dread because of what happened to her Boston terrier on a recent morning. Oreo fell into an open manhole at the back of the enclosure and was swept away by flowing sewage.

Firefighters couldn't save the animal, and sewer officials couldn't find the dog in time to recover its body. "They said because he was solid he would have been taken away with the solid waste and incinerated," Scarbrough said.

Sewers already occupy a low place in urban lore, a home of rats and, some imagine, even alligators. Now Atlanta's sewers can claim another distinction: pet killer.


To remember poor Oreo I offer I Haiku I wrote in Mrs. Anderson's 7th Grade English Class...

What is that bad smell?

Your pet dog has passed away

Bury him out back
LAUGH UNTIL YOU CRY

Maybe it was the fact that we had a full sized version of this in Ann Arbor. But to tell you the truth, I was not that amused. On the other hand, my lady coworkers thought this was the funniest thing they had ever seen. Just imagine every joke based on falling down, making fun of retards, and the hilarity of bodily functions all rolled into one. That's how funny it was for them. Of course, I had to laugh too. But that was mostly because they have boobs and therefore should be patronized.
DOES THIS SEEM ODD TO YOU?

I know that I have been posting a great deal lately on the "New NHL." However, now that I have sworn off that entire league, I can't help but notice some of the oddities such as this from the AP...

"The sixth-seeded Mighty Ducks' win meant the top four seeds in the Western Conference - Detroit, Dallas, Calgary and Nashville - were all eliminated in the first round."


Now there were certainly some injuries, but this appears to be a systemic rot when the regular season has no relevance whatsoever on the post-season. It's gonna be a long time before I give 2 dooks about the NHL again.

Seth had some thoughts on the matter as well...

"Baseball's smart enough to realize any team can get hot for a month, and that's why it resists the temptation to expand its post-season to let more markets in on the playoff dollars.

Hockey needs to go to an 8-team playoffs.

The Wings, Stars and Predators were all injured badly. The Predators were without Vokoun, and they were little better than an 8-seed without him during the back end of the season. But that's the only series where injury was the key factor.

By promising to officiate NHL games based on the rules of the sport of hockey, and keeping that promise throughout the regular season, the league allowed the teams who play a passing/skating/deking/shooting game -- otherwise known as a the sport of hockey -- to get the higher seeds. Had we played this other sport -- which is a cross between pro wrestling and a gay orgy on ice -- all season, you would have seen different teams getting the top seeds and those teams advancing. They might as well have played basketball for 82 regular-season games, then taken the top 16 squads and had them play football for the playoffs. Playoff Hook-ey and regular-season hockey are entirely different sports, for which you need entirely different types of athletes and strategies to have success.

The problem is, they lied to us about what sport we were going to play when we got to the playoffs. Ken Holland is a savvy GM; had he been told we were going to play Hook-ey instead of hockey in the postseason, he would have signed Ray Lewis as a defensive forward and Orlando Pace to play defense. Instead, when the post-season began, everyone got equally surprised by the unnannounced rule changes. Even between playoff hook-ey games we were promised that the next matchup would be a hockey game. The teams who were built to play hockey were unprepared for hook-ey, and the teams who were lucky enough to have a bunch of good hook-ey players on the roster took advantage.

Officiating doomed the top seeds. The Wings and Stars were built around passing and shooting and 4-line possession, wheras the Avs and Oilers both brought back the trap-and-dump for the playoffs (neither used it much in the regular season). And because officials stopped called penalties, this more defensive strategy was much more effective.

The Calgary/Anaheim series should go down as the worst playoff series in NHL history. It's no accident that these are two teams who out-trapped and out-cheated the Wings in '03 and '04. And they both went at each other with the same strategy, egged on by the same total lack of officiating. The Ducks even had a guy whose job it was to "push the limit" on interference to soften up the refs and allow another guy to spend every shift just sitting on Iginla. This wasn't like Draper on Iginla or Hecht on Forsberg, where Drapes used his speed and tenacity to basically just make sure Iginla had a guy on him at all times. This was a large goon sent out to make sure the Flames' best player couldn't ever get where he was going.

The last game was by far the worst, as a freak goal by Teemu Selanne (he gets official credit, but the goalie's water bottle should get the goal with the back-glass and Kiprusoff's monstrous shoulder pad getting assists) was the only tally in a retarded 1-0 (not counting 2 empty-netters at the end) game of
grab-the-nearest-guy-then-take-the-puck.

I thought the Wings had it bad, but every time a Flame passed the puck, the guy receiving it would get mauled, and another Duck would steal it. Then the Ducks would come down the ice, get mauled by trapping defenders, everyone would hug each other on the boards for a few minutes, then someone would chip the puck out of play.

Of all the players bodies littering the floor all night, I think only two guys actually hit the ice from being legally knocked down from the front, but it was the referee who administered both of those checks. Once it was obvious they weren't going to call a penalty even when the Niedermeyers came out in the 3rd with longer sticks* (the better to hook you with, my dear), each team basically played four guys on defense, with one poor forward whose job it was to dump the puck in then have the other team converge and beat the sh!t out of him while the goalie played the rubber behind the net.

They're going to have to either play the same sport in the post-season as in the regular season, or at least let only the top 8 hockey teams compete so the winner is at least a team that knows how to play hockey.

*I recorded the following conversation in the Ducks' lockerroom between
the 2nd and 3rd periods:

Bryzgalov: You guys gotta keep Iginla's line from driving to the net.

Getzlaf: But how? No defense has ever withstood a charge of heavy horse.

Scott Niedermeyer: I know! We'll build spears. Long spears -- twice as long as a man.

Rob Niedermeyer: That long, eh? You know, some men are longer than others.

Scott Niedermeyer: Your sister-in-law's been telling stories about me again, eh?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

PIC OF THE DAY


I wanna go to Kazan. Katherine gets to go to all the fun places. Posted by Picasa
NOBODY LIKES TO GET GOOSED

If you haven't seen this video, check out what happens when Reggie Evans puts his hands in Chris Kaman's "cookie jar." I remember Karl Malone used to stand on his opponent's toe when he was setting a screen. It was said that John Stockton used to pull the hair on the legs of bigger guards that would post him up. However, I have never seen the ole groin pull used as a dirty trick. But judging from Kaman's reaction, I can see why this was usually avoided.

Monday, May 01, 2006

DETROIT 3 - EDMONTON 4


'Cause I'm a trainwreck
Waiting to happen
Waiting for someone to come
Pick me up off the tracks
The wildfire born of frustration Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 30, 2006

LET 'EM PLAY

Seth on Dan Wetzel and age restrictions in the NFL...

"Dan makes a good libertarian argument, mostly. However, what you forgot to mention is that the NFL and NBA make more money from this, too. The reason the draft is so marketable is because it concerns well-known players who've been given national exposure by the college game and are ready to step in and play for the pro team the following season. MLB and NHL drafts are a parade of high school never-heard-ofs who usually won't be in the lineup for several years. Those drafts are also rife with busts, and who ends up a regular star is more up to luck than scouting.

The NBA and NFL didn't institute age limits arbitrarily, nor did they do it to protect the college game. They did it because there's no room to develop talent in their sports; you're either playing or you're on the bench. So having a draft system in which teams have to guess on 16-year-old talent, then hold the kid on the bench for five years 'till he grows up (see Darko), only serves to make the league less competitive, less marketable, and ultimately, a worse product. These leagues have every right to make this business decision for themselves.

What's more, the NBA and NFL face grossly inflated salaries (the NBA has limits, but top-10 NFL draft picks sign incredibly lucrative bonus-laden contracts). This value comes from the national exposure of the college game.

Brittney Spears and your typical college star are not comparable. There is no market (except reality TV maybe) for amateur pop icons. If high school plays were big money, and the pop music industry determined value based on musical talent and performance acumen rather than the marketability of one's body, then yes, you'd see Brittney performing Once Upon A Mattress. Conversely, if the college game were less interesting to the public, the NFL and NBA would develop farm leagues commisserate with their NHL/MLB counterparts.

Those sports who draft youngers to develop them need to finance farm systems (and pay huge sums to buy off foreign contracts). And truth be told, farm leagues are a joke. You can't get behind a team whose sole purpose is to be a training ground and dumping ground for someone else's team. Were the NFL and NBA to open up their drafts to kids on the principle of the matter, the next thing we'd see is a bastard-child farm system develop. Farm systems are suitable when there isn't a college fanbase available, but if there is, why ruin it just so that very rare 17-year-old who's ready to compete against the very best doesn't have to wait a few more years before he can cash in on his ability to run/throw/defend/pass/score/shoot/block/catch.

College football and basketball aren't very libertarian, but this one socialist program works fairly well. The ridiculousness of keeping someone worth sure millions like Reggie Bush as an amateur is the exception to the rule, not the rule. Most of NCAA Div. 1 players on all but the very best teams will never become regulars in the NFL or NBA. The money that these kids bring in to their universities helps pay for scholarships and keeps other campus sports funded. In response, the kids get to play in a real system, with a free college education, free room and board, and a real coach. And it's the super talents -- the guys on the cusp of pro-league readiness or already there -- who make it possible for the non-future-pros to fill out the college ranks and create a couple of great national amateur sports.

It's unfair to Reggie Bush, but the college game interest is essential to the success of the pro leagues. The stars can afford to lose one year off the beginning of their careers in the interest of the overall health of their sport. Even if he can't drive the same car as Snoop, he's still invited to the same parties, which is more than you can say for UCLA's 2nd-string punter. Life isn't horrible for Reggie, and the world doesn't owe him a shinier pair of shoes with which to impress the dingbats who populate the top league of LA culture. On the other hand, in a free market economy, if he's already worth millions, it's utterly ludicrous that his parents should have to tough it out in the slums for another year so USC, the NCAA and a slew of others can profiteer from college football.

It's true that this system creates substantial unused value for the players, and as with any other banned item of worth, a substantial black market. But keep in mind that this is future worth. His stock is inflated because there's potential, but the Reggie Bush company is certainly not yet earning at full capacity. He could have gone in the 1st round coming out of high school based on potential, but Reggie probably would not have been able to compete at the level expected by the NFL until last season, if ever. All we can calculate before we see Reggie's pro career is potential worth. As a player gets older, that potential worth will get closer to actual worth. Maurice Clarrett looked like a sure 1st rounder after his freshman year at Ohio State. Did the NFL have an obligation to pay Clarrett Fortunately for NFL teams, his true value became more apparent after a few years. The NFL and NBA, because of the popularity of NCAA Men's football and basketball, afford themselves a much more informed decision when determining the value of prospective candidates. A business certainly has the right to define prerequisites of age, level of maturity, and level of college education (if that's what you call what Bush was doing at USC) before making its hiring decisions. I had marketable, potential value to my current company when I entered college; they still expected me to get a 4-year degree before they agreed to give me a paycheck.

But that's not enough reason to start telling the NBA and NFL they need to pay for their farm systems. There are other steps the NCAA can take to curb these kinds of things. The first is to take some of those big TV contract dollars and hire a fleet of agents and advisors for their kids. The poachers are going to move in on these kids anyway, so let's have legitimate agents, paid by the NCAA, who can advise college athletes hoping to matriculate to the the NFL or NBA on decisions such as when to leave early, what shoe company to sign with, and whom to choose for their pro agent.

The next thing the NFL can do is allow for petition of release in special cases like Reggie Bush. Since running back careers have a much smaller window, it probably would be best for the player and the league to allow exceptions. But you have to leave this decision up to the NFL, which has the quality of its product to protect.

The NFL and NCAA could also realize the position it's putting these kids in, and send some assistance to the college kids' families in the form of a general scholarship. If the kids have such commercial value, work with that college agent guy and get him some sponsorships, then use the money for a general fund for the needy families of college athletes. Buy Mr. and Mrs. Bush a house. Call it Habitat for Ability. Since the money isn't going to Reggie Bush, but rather a general fund for the benefit of college athletes, his amateur status remains as much of a joke as it did before. The only difference: you've got a good PR welfare program in the place of a bad-PR series of NCAA rules violations, punishments, and exposure of the predators who feed off the black market of amateur athlete worth.

We agree that the NFL, NBA, and NCAA creates an unfair, and hypocritical system for amateur athletes. And we agree that the NCAA in particular has become psychotically greedy about raking in the bucks by selling the efforts of college stars. But I think if your typical future-pro college player could seek advice from an unbiased agent, could petition the pro league for an evaluation of his ability to enter the draft early, and could get some real financial support for his family so that while he's stuck in college, they don't have to spend an extra four years in the ghetto, all parties would be better off for it.

I know it's not an entirely capitalist approach, and thus subject to all the corruptive result of any such attempt at control of the free market, but if you want to keep away the poachers, maintain the markets for the NCAA, NBA and NFL, maintain the amateur status that's so intrinsic to the integrity (and thus marketability) of the college game, but allow players to reach and earn to their full potential, I think creating a stronger support system for the benefit of college athletes is preferable to turning basketball and football into baseball and hockey for the good of a few

We both agree something needs to be done. But we need a solution that serves the needs of the players, the leagues, and though it sounds selfish, the fans too. That's business."