Friday, January 15, 2010

We're Moving...

I've upgraded to the big content will now be posted on the blog's new website:

Won't be posting here anymore so stay tuned on the new blog.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Update: Arenas Offically Charged

As expected, Gilbert Arenas was charged with felony possession of an unlicensed firearm. However, the charges were filed in D.C. Superior Court through a process known as an "information," which is apparently used to notice charges when a plea agreement has been reached.

Sounds to me like Gilbert has a plea agreement-- definitely the wisest of the limited number of options Arenas had.

Agent Zero, Not Licensed to Kill...

...Let alone bring firearms from Virginia to the District of Columbia. Word on the street is that Gilbert Arenas is in negotations with prosecutors for a plea deal relating to the gun charges that could be levied against Arenas soon. If I were Arenas's attorney I would get him to cop a plea, and soon. Want to know why?

1. He's going to be indicited by the grand jury if he doesn't plead out. Currently, testimony is being heard by a grand jury which will decide whether or not to indicit Gilbert Arenas on charges related to holding an ulicensed firearm (a felony with a max of 5 years in federal pound-me-in-the-ass-prison), which I might add Gilbert has allegedly done 4 times. For those of you that don't know about the way a grand jury works, it's basically stacked against the defendant. The prosecution gets to call all the witnesses it wants to try to prove to a jury that probable cause exists to indict the defendant on the charges the prosecution wants levied. The defense on the other hand has no ability to call witnesses or testify on their own behalf. Basically it's like a trial where the prosecution gets to present all its evidence and the defense doesn't. Wouldn't you convict if you only saw one side of the evidence?

2. If he gets indicted, there's a lot of evidence against him--he'll be convicted. Basically Arenas has admitted to the public through his last appology statement that he brought firearms into the Washington Wizards locker room. Those firearms were purchased in Virginia and weren't registered in D.C. Oops, you violated the law and told everyone in public you did it. Kind of an open and shut case.

3. If he gets convicted, won't be much mercy. If you are looking for mitigating circumstances to bring down Arenas's sentence, there aren't a lot. Although Arenas released several public statements appologizing for his conduct and saying what he did was wrong, his own actions have shown he doesn't think his gun possession was all that serious. In particular, Arenas tweeted making light of the fact that he got busted ("i wake up this morning and seen i was the new JOHN WAYNE. lmao media is too funny."), laughed about the incident and said that he pulled out the guns "as a joke," and was caught on camera using his fingers as fake guns in jest before a Wizards game after the gun showdown story broke. It's patently obvious that anything relased to the media by Arenas was written by some PR guy or an attorney and that he wasn't taking the charges seriously. A lack of remorse for your crime isn't a good way to get your sentence reduced. I bet the DA will throw the book at him if they can and make an example out of him like Plaxico Burress.
So Agent Zero, your mission is now to plead out as fast as you can, especially if you can somehow avoid jail time. Otherwise, your defense is mission impossible.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Idiotic Fans of the Week

Although it's easy fodder, every week the neighborhood will spotlight one particularly egregious moment of fan idiocy per week. This week's award goes to Philadelphia Eagles fans, who aren't exactly known as the brightest or least fickle bunch on the fan spectrum.

Why you ask? Well, according to a poll on the Philadelpia Inquirer website, more Eagles fans prefer bringing Michael Vick back to play for the Eagles (33.9%) than Donovan McNabb (32.6%). Now while support for either of these guys isn't very high and the poll sure isn't scientific, that the "approval rating" for Donovan McNabb is even low, let alone lower than Michael Vick is about as idiotic as Tiger Woods thinking he could get away with sleeping with 15+ women and never get caught.

Let's break down the stats this year alone:

McNabb: 3553 yards, 60.3% completions, 22 TDs/10 INTs, 92.5 QB rating, 37 attempts/140 rushing.
Vick: 6/13, 46.2% completions, 1 TD/0 INTs, 93.7 QB rating, 24 attempts/94 yards rushing.

First of all many teams would KILL for a QB with numbers like McNabb's. Vick on the other hand worked on 37 plays all year for the Eagles and spent all last year in prison. Vick is by no means the dynamic player he was with the Falcons-- a dynacism that made up for the fact that he was not an accurate downfield passer (see the career QB rating of 75.9). McNabb on the other hand has been playing at a Pro Bowl level for years. Philly fans have hated McNabb from the time they (once again idiotically) booed him at the NFL Draft. Philly has a bad playoff game this year and suddenly McNabb is done and no one wants him back. Hmm...maybe its because this is coming from a fan base that mercilessly boos their own team at every opportunity and loves the chance to have a knee jerk reaction about something. While McNabb isn't in his prime anymore, its crazy to think that he isn't worth bringing back to a team whose offense was clicking during the season in favor of keeping a man who's been in federal prison for a few years or a QB who played in the run and shoot during college.

Eagles fans, you are the idotic fans of the week. If you don't want McNabb, I've got a bag of magic beans I can trade you for him...

NFL Under Review

Today the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of American Needle, Inc. v. National Football League, the first case to be apply the Sherman Act, the U.S. antitrust statute, to a professional sports league in quite some time. In this case the NFL hopes to obtain immunity from U.S. antitrust laws, which in turn could have a sweeping impact on the NFL and other professional sports organizations.

The plaintiff, American Needle, used to produce hats for the NFL before the NFL gave Reebok the exclusive rights to produce official NFL team memorabilia such as T-shirts and hats nine years ago. American Needle sued the NFL, claiming that the agreement among the league's 32 teams allowing only Reebok to produce NFL apparell is unfair collusion that restricts competition in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The trial court found the Sherman Act inapplicable to the NFL, which the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, claiming that the NFL was a "single entity" and therefore incapable of constraining trade.

Interestingly, both parties appealed this ruling to the Supreme Court-- American Needle hoping to reverse the ruling of the 7th Circuit and trial court banning it from bringing suit and the NFL hoping that the Supreme Court would expand upon the 7th Circuit's ruling that it is a single entity and basically solidfy an exemption for the NFL from antitrust suits into federal law. So why the big deal on both sides? Well, if the NFL's interpretation takes hold, the NFL argues that it will both avoid costly lawsuits and cement the ability to make agreements like those with Reebok that maximize league profits. The NFL Players' Association argues that such a broad antitrust exemption could then spill over into other areas, such as player compensation and ticket prices, increasing costs for the average NFL fan and lowering player compensation. The end result of such a lack of competition, according to Drew Brees in an Op-ed "written by him" in the Washington Post could be greater labor unrest and increased prices for NFL fans.

From a legal perspective though, I doubt the NFL succeeds in making its single entity argument. First, the Supreme Court seemed highly skeptical of the NFL's argument and with good reason. As Justice Sotomayor pointed out during oral argument, only the MLB has explicity gone to Congress looking for an antitrust exemption. The NFL appears to be trying to backdoor its way into something that had to be explicitly approved by another professional sports league with a similar business model. The NFL may in fact be a single entity for purposes of competing against other professional sports leagues in the way it schedules games and promotes its product in some respects, but not in others. Teams compete not just against the MLB, NBA, NHL, and UFL, but also against each other for ticket sales, coaches, and the best players. Although the league shares revenue, it is more like a hybrid joint-venture than a single entity-- one that bands together in ways to promote its product, but also has distinct entities that compete internally. This doesn't seem to be the type of "single entity" that the courts have made an exception for it its previous rulings on the Sherman Act.

Additionally, the NFL's argument that the marketing agreement is necessary to promote the league's product on the field is tenuous at best. As Chief Justice Roberts noted, the marketing of NFL apparell seems closer to selling a product unrelated to the league, like houses, rather than promoting the game of football. As such, it is at least debatable as to why the NFL needs antitrust immunity in this area, since the Reebok agreement is unrelated to the product the NFL actually sells.

My guess at the end result is that the Supreme Court reverses the 7th Circuit immunity decision, holding that while the NFL may be exempt from antitrust law in some instances where it acts cooperatively to promote its product, it is not blanketly exempt from the Sherman Act. The Supreme Court would then send the case back to the trial court, to hold a trial on whether or not the marketing agreement was essential to the sucess of the legaue (known as a "rule of reason" analysis). What does this mean? The NFL is likely in the same position it was before the case was brought-- liable for antitrust litigation in areas not essential to the sucess of the NFL and exempt in others. So fear not fans, a seachange in the business of the NFL is unlikely to come.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Newsflash: Lane Kiffin Named USC Head Coach

That didn't take long. Word is that Lane Kiffin is leaving Tennessee after one year to become the head coach at USC. Kiffin served as the Wide Receivers Coach and Offensive Coordinator at USC before becoming the Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders.

This seems like a good fit: a guy who knows USC football, but more importantly a guy who is brining a staff with serious heft with him. Kiffin has reportedly managed to pull away Norm Chow from UCLA to be his offensive coordinator, and brings his Dad, Monte Kiffin, longtime sucessful Tampa Bay Bucs Defensive Coordinator, along with him. That's a strong staff that sounds like bringing the old Pete Carroll band back together minus the head man. No one thought USC was going away without Pete and given how many faces are the same on offense from the Carroll days, and now with a great Defensive Coordinator, I doubt SC misses a step. The only question is if Kiffin can recruit as well as Carroll, which will be hard given Carroll's affable and electric personality. But Lane's got a pretty strong argument that things look as good at USC as they did before Pete left and that's bad news for the rest of the Pac 10.

The Pac 1 Conference?

Something very interested happened in today's Bracketology by the (in)famous Joe Lunardi on According to Joe, only one--count 'em --ONE Pac 10 team will make it to the big dance this year. (The great Cal Golden Bears, in case you were wondering.) Even more embarassing is that the Pac 10 has ZERO teams ranked in the top 25 of the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll this week for the first time since the poll's creation and has ZERO teams in the top 25 of the AP Poll either. As if it could get any worse, basketball powerhouse HARVARD currently has more votes than any Pac 10 team in the AP Poll at ONE. That's right-- no Pac 10 team even got a vote in the AP Poll this week. This begs the question: Is the Pac 10 that bad this year? Will it really only get one automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament?

Well, that Pac 10 isn't as good as it has been historically, and it certainly isn't a good conference by any objective measure, but there's no way the conference only gets one bid come March. The favorite right now in the conference looks to be Cal, sitting at 10-5, has no great wins out of conference but explainable losses (to Ohio St., Syracuse, then undefeated New Mexico, Kansas, and UCLA in OT). Cal has had injury problems too, with Theo Robertson previously out and point guard Jose Gutierez currently injured. Bascially, it's a team that has a chance to gel and perhaps make a run at respectability in the tournament. Cal's RPI sits at 32, well within tournament respectability.

Washington also has the potential to be respectable and make it in. Washington started out strong at 10-2, but has lost 3 games in Pac 10 play. Washington has a good core who plays fast, and just needs to right the ship. Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas could easily get things together and put a run together at seasons end.

USC has been playing well, including beating recent- number 1 topping Tennesee , but will be unable to enter the tournament due to self imposed sanctions by the University for recruiting violations realted to OJ Mayo. While that may deflate the number of teams that can make the tournament in the Pac 10, it means the conference isn't as bad as the voters think.

However, all that being said, the rest of the conference is pretty damn lackluster. The nonconference schedule was brutual for the Pac 10. The conference's best win outside of USC's beatdown of Tennessee is Washington's victory over Texas A&M, ranked 35 in the current RPI. That's not pretty compared to years past. While the Pac 10 undoubtably looks way worse than usual, I'll guarantee that at least 2 teams end up in the dance, with at least 1 in the sweet 16.