Fake Tickets for the Stanley Cup Finals

I wonder how often this goes on:

Pittsburgh police say two Massachusetts men printed up bogus Stanley Cup Final tickets and tried to sell them outside the Penguins arena.

Police say Quincy resident John Green and Wareham resident Ronald Seeley were spotted Wednesday outside Consol Energy Center, where the Penguins were hosting the San Jose Sharks in the second game of the best-of-seven series.

One witness told police the men offered to sell him six tickets for $200 each. Police say the face value of the tickets is at least $235 each.

Police say the men tried to drive away but were caught with nearly $1,400 in cash and 18 fake tickets. Police say the men were trying to rip some of the tickets up.

Professionals? Irate Bruins fans? Or were they just preying on people who showed up for the game and tried to buy some tickets from scalpers outside of the arena?

None of the above. Anyone who sells you tickets for LESS than their face value in a ridiculous quantity isn't holding the real thing. We're talking about the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals. These guys should have held out for five hundred bucks a ticket and they should have gone with selling them in pairs. Now they get to deal with the cops in one of America's best hockey towns. I still don't know how they thought selling the tickets below face value was a winning strategy.

If you're going to scam people, at least know your product. Maybe this is how Bruins fans operate--to them, a Pens-Sharks matchup probably looks like a $200 deal.

The Texas Rangers Need a New Stadium

The shelf life for a baseball stadium is now about 25 years:

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Texas Rangers and the city of Arlington Texas are set to announce that the Rangers will soon be getting a new, retractable-roof ballpark to replace their current home, Globe Life Park.

Their current lease on Globe Life expires in 2024 and can be ended a year early by the club at its discretion, but Grant says the new ballpark will be up and operating before that. He says that construction of the park would be subject to an election by Arlington voters, likely to approve the dedication of sales taxes and other public revenues to the project. Ownership of the park would be split between Arlington and the ball club.

Globe Life Park, previously The Ballpark at Arlington, opened in 1994. That was relatively early in the stadium building boom of the 1990s-2000s, making it tied for 11th oldest among current ballparks. Age, however, is not so much of an issue as the park is in fine shape. Nor is location, as Arlington has been and remains the sports stadium capital of the Metroplex and continues to have multiple projects in the works making it a sports and entertainment destination.

Rather, the issue is heat and the depression of attendance and revenues the current open-air stadium experiences in the hot, hot summers of north Texas, even when the Rangers are winning. When the Ballpark at Arlington the cost of a retractable roof was seen as prohibitive and the technology of such beasts was nowhere near as advanced as it is today. As such, the choice to eschew a roof was understandable, even if has led to a couple of decades of Rangers fans sweltering in sometimes dangerous heat.

They didn't know it was hot in Texas in 1994? They spent $191 million dollars to build it and it is still in good shape. Someone somewhere probably knows how to retrofit and cool a stadium for way less than the nearly a billion dollars it will take to replace a perfectly good ballpark. I realize that they're never going to accept the concept of global warming in Texas, but, honestly--what a waste of resources.

Boycott the Hell Out of the Olympics


I would applaud this:

U.S. women’s soccer team co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn said players could decide in July to boycott August’s Olympics if nothing has changed regarding a wage-discrimination complaint filed against U.S. Soccer two weeks ago.

“It [an Olympic boycott] would still be on the table,” Sauerbrunn said in an ESPNW interview published Sunday. “We are reserving every right to do so. We’re leaving every avenue open. If nothing has changed, we don’t feel real progress has been made, then it’s a conversation we’re going to have.”

Sauerbrunn’s comments were firmer than Alex Morgan‘s response on March 31 to Matt Lauer‘s question if players would boycott matches or strike.

“I think that’s why we’re here taking this action and filing this complaint,” Morgan said then.

The women's game is the only game in town. If you have never watched the US Women's soccer team play, that's your loss. These women represent American soccer throughout the world; three World Cup wins is what counts. The men's team is a joke, and a bad one at that.

Pay these young ladies what they are worth and be grateful that they have dedicated their lives to this sport. 

Tiger Woods and His Brand

Do you feel sorry for Tiger Woods yet?

Woods, who missed the cut at the British Open after another brutal showing Friday and Saturday, was the ninth-highest paid athlete of the past 12 months according to a ranking by Forbes.

He made more than $50 million. Most of that money came from endorsements. Nike (NKE) has continued to back Woods even though he has been a shell of his former self.

Woods won just $600,000 in prize money from golf tournaments in the past year. He missed the cut at last month's U.S. Open too.

Tiger Woods has to find a new gig, fast. He could be a stunt car driver, a spokesmodel for polo shirts, or a salesman for lifestyle products. He could go into the entertainment business and make fun of himself by doing cameos in movies, but that won't last more than a few years. He no longer dominates anything other than the overrated and overpaid lists mentioned above.

It doesn't sound like Tiger's brand is going to be worth a lot in a few years, unless we're in the nostalgia business.

The Mainstreaming of Problems in the NFL

This is the way it starts.

When they are discussing your major and minor controversies on entertainment shows, you're in trouble. And this year, the NFL borrowed more trouble than it knows what to do with.

It's not enough to name bullshit committees and dump a little money on research and give out pithy payouts. It's not enough to run a few Public Service Announcements. It might not be enough to simply break a player and drive them out of the league.

Marshawn Lynch is the number one problem in the NFL right now, if you're an owner trying to control the labor pool. Lynch is the one thing that the NFL won't tolerate, and that's a star who defies the League's inviolate rules on maximizing revenue streams and exposing the players to good publicity. So, of course they're going to do whatever they can to make him worse than Hitler and eliminate his defiant pronouncements from the public consciousness.

The problem is, Lynch is not being unreasonable enough and the popular culture has latched on to the excessive zeal that the NFL has used to break the man. This is the unexpected outcome that exposes the NFL for not only being unfair and ridiculous but overly punitive as well. The NFL is an owner's league and operates as if the rise of powerful stars is anathema to the business model. Stars are fine, so long as they do nothing to impact revenue streams.

I just can't figure out what Marshawn Lynch's refusal to mouth cliches is doing to hurt the league. If anything, congratulate him on being thoughtful enough to hold back, right? No, the NFL can't do that. Lynch is breaking through to the fans by refusing to play along with the need for sports writers to fill their columns and their wire stories with what amounts to little more than moral lessons and conformity. Lynch, being a Millennial, sees through the phony world of sports writers and their magnification of inane details (those gold shoes are a distraction! you can't be a cancer in the locker room! we have to establish the running game!) and he represents a modern threat to the outdated morals of the game.

If You Win, You Can Get Away With Anything

Like I've been saying, if Johnny Manziel had won anything during his brief tenure with the Cleveland Browns this past season, his off the field behavior would be a non-issue. There are plenty of losers out there and no more than a handful of winners. The winners can do whatever they want and the losers will be subjected to the NFL's stodgy lifestyle analysis and the whims of billionaire owners, none of whom are losing any money by putting a lousy product on the field. Pardon me if I'm not impressed by the idea that him partying had anything to do with the fact that the Browns were pleading with Rex Grossman to come back and save their season.

Did Jimmy Haslam give his team a chance to win this past season? Does that even matter anymore with free agency and parity in the league being what it is nowadays? If Haslam cared what his fans thought, he'd discount tickets for next year as an apology for the fact that he didn't find the best players. Call me when that happens.

Chris Kluwe Was Gotten Rid Of

The Minnesota Vikings have proven, once again, what a classless organization they are when it comes to dealing with players.

Chris Kluwe "had to go" because of what, exactly? Because he was a "middling" punter? The distance between him and the best punter in the NFL amounts to a few yards per punt and little else. That can certainly make or break a game or two, but so can having an inexperienced punter try to break into the league and so can having a guy who has played multiple games against your division opponents. If Kluwe had collapsed, statistically, and been the worst punter in the NFL last season, I wouldn't argue against him being cut. He did not do that. He played adequately for his position which, I'm sorry to say, isn't even that important.

The Vikings are free to do whatever they want but don't tell me getting rid of Kluwe was a "football" decision. They got rid of him because he was an outspoken supporter of ending bigotry in professional football. The NFL has a lot of problems, and hating people who are gay is one of them right now. If you area  player and if you speak out against this, you are going to be gotten rid of.

That's all.

Randy Moss Retires at 34

In this age of the 42 and a half year-old professional athlete, it's a shock to see Randy Moss retire so young, but, there it is. He's called it a day:

Randy Moss never found a place in the NFL where he could be himself and play with a team that wanted him around. Too often, he found himself playing with scrubs and has-beens, or, in the case of the Patriots, with a team that just didn't think he was their guy. I suppose there will always be those who say that he was a head case. Well, so what? Even a head case can play the damned game. The NFL is full of head cases. Randy Moss was just one of the more talented head cases.

Can Plaxico Burress Come Back?

Michael Vick showed that a player can go to prison/jail/detention and come back in top form and win games in the NFL. Is Burress tough enough? Did he wow them with a great workout? All well and good. His debt to society is paid, give him a chance.

And when I say, give him a chance, I mean, give him just that one chance to show that he isn't a violence-prone headcase. Give him a chance to prove himself. And if he screws up, cut him.

I wonder if he has a clause like that in his deal. Any of that headcase stuff, and his money is gone, something like that.

Tiger Woods is Giving Up on Golf

Getting rid of the guy who was there for most of your major wins doesn't seem like the sort of thing a champion or a winner or a guy trying to build himself back up would do. It's not like Williams needs Woods. It's the other way around. The only thing that links Tiger Woods to his bygone days of actually being able to compete is Steve Williams.

Golf is a game of consistency of physical prowess and mental toughness. Woods dumped his swing coach, and now he's gotten rid of his caddie. Consistency is now eliminated, utterly, and it may be physically impossible for an oft-injured Tiger to get back into the form he needs for golf. Can he find the mental toughness he once had? Or is it really just a case of the physical and not the mental?

Whose idea was it to leave? Was it Woods saying "I need to change things" or was it Williams who went to Tiger and told him it was over?

Does it even matter? Can Tiger ever win another major, let alone win another tournament?

When you say "I wish him great success in the future," it means, "so long, and thanks for breaking my heart you jerk."

Or something like that.

Is it Really the Ball?

JabulaniThe most important thing in the whole entire world right now is the sport of World Cup Soccer. Adidas gets to decide what technology the ball uses, and no one is happy about it:

Several players are going all out against the new World Cup ball, with more than one comparing it to those bought at a supermarket.

And this time it's not only goalkeepers who are complaining. Strikers, defenders and midfielders are also lashing out at the Adidas ball just a few days before the monthlong tournament is to begin in South Africa.

The ball is called Jabulani, which means "to celebrate" in isiZulu, but not many are celebrating it so far. It's hard to find a player who is happy with it, and those who don't like it are not saving adjectives to describe their feelings.

"It's very weird," Brazil striker Luis Fabiano said Sunday. "All of a sudden it changes trajectory on you. It's like it doesn't want to be kicked. It's incredible, it's like someone is guiding it. You are going to kick it and it moves out of the way. I think it's supernatural, it's very bad. I hope to adapt to it as soon as possible, but it's going to be hard."

Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar on Saturday called the ball "terrible" and was the first to compare it to those plastic ones bought on a supermarket. Italy striker Giampaolo Pazzini said the same thing, calling it a "disaster."

Here's how jacked up that article is over at Sports Illustrated. It really is one of the most incompetent news stories I've seen in quite a while. When you write a story about a ball, you should probably find a good picture of the ball. I know it sounds like the demented ranting and raving of a man wearing pants that are too tight and with ideas that were flushed out of his ears with hydrogen peroxide, but this is a visual medium. It's where you can put up a simple photo, perhaps a video, maybe an interactive graphic, and do something for a reader or a blogger. I don't know. It's where you can make a token, half-assed effort at trying and see it pay off for you.

I've never been above half-assing it, and I'm not going to start now. What?

Never mind. I'm on a roll, homes. Am I that kind of a blogger? Absolutely. I found and cropped (read: stole) a photo of the Jabbablouyouaniyappidy-whatever ball and I am making a heck of an effort here to give you something useful and informative. I'm asking the question--really? Is this ball really like the cheap ones purchased at supermarkets? I have to find out if this is true. I have to go to work for you and make something happen. Blogging is more than just finding an article and saying something about it--it's. Blogging is more than...hold it. My roll just came to a stop.

I found a picture, you see. I did what I should have done. I made this about me.

So, after my nap and a little apple juice, I went out to a supermarket and tried to buy a soccer ball. They just laughed at me. They told me I was crazy. Supermarkets don't really sell soccer balls unless they are an impulse item or a key buy added to a section of the retail establishment where toys and accessories and other purchased-in-bulk items are sold off of end caps or out of tables full of assorted pieces of merchandise that can be bought by people who don't really go looking for their ilk in supermarkets. You know, like hamster balls, duffel bags, soup can crushers, beaded seat covers, and Christmas ornaments that won't offend anyone Jewish.

It was a total bust. I must have gone to two supermarkets. Wow. I could have bought a new shower mat and made a soccer ball out of that, but I'm avoiding the impossible and trying to bring you the probable. I could have bought a beach ball. I passed. So, okay, fine--I went online and I ordered a soccer ball.


It's going to take about three weeks to get to me, so. You know. I'll post something. That's how blogging works. I bought it out of some supermarket chain that allowed me to select items for purchase and throw them into a consolidated shopping cart after I spent a half an hour setting up an online profile. Oh, this wasn't entirely for buying a soccer ball--this is how I'm going to get some Archway cookies. The lemon ones. 

I know it's a waste of time, but I'll probably check the mail tomorrow. Well, that's kind of stupid. The ball--and, more importantly, the Archway cookies--are all being shipped from an Albertson's in San Antonio, Texas, but I did choose UPS expedited shipping, I think. I might have clicked on that wrong. Let me check the confirmation E-mail and I'll get back to you.

Anyway, I was going to take the soccer ball that I bought in the supermarket and see if it was any good. Miranda played soccer when she was in high school, and she actually has the ability to "bend it like Beckham" because she has these incredibly fat legs and can kick things really hard.

This post was going to be about what Miranda told me about the supermarket ball. Oh, and I was going to get a World Cup ball as well. Maybe do a little side by side comparison. Maybe film Miranda kicking the two balls and giving her opinion. I don't know. Miranda doesn't really humor me when it comes to blogging.

Posted via web from An American Lion is on Posterous

South American Kidnappers and Major League Baseball

This is sad:

The mother of former major league pitcher Victor Zambrano was kidnapped Sunday, Zambrano's agent Peter Greenberg said late Sunday night by phone. Elizabeth Mendez Zambrano was abducted sometime Sunday morning from her son's farm, about half hour from the central Venezuela city of Maracay, Greenberg said. Venezuela has been haunted in recent years by the kidnapping of rich and famous people. Yorvit Torrealba Jr., the son of Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba, and his uncle were kidnapped this summer. They were left unharmed on a road a couple days later. Torrealba has since moved his family to Hollywood, Fla. Former Angels infielder Gus Polidor was killed in April, 1995 while trying to prevent the kidnapping of his infant son via a carjacking. Zambrano played seven years for Tampa Bay, the New York Mets, Toronto and Baltimore. His last game in the big leagues was Sept. 30, 2007.
The attraction is, of course, money, and big league players have certainly been flush with cash. While a player like Zambrano may not have played under a lucrative contract in recent years, there is a perception that anyone who has played in the big leagues has money, and in South America, that means the threat of kidnapping. Throughout Latin America, kidnapping is used to extort money from the rich, or from people perceived to be rich. Here's an older article about the situation, but I think it is indicative of how the crime has perpetrated itself throughout the world, not just Latin America:
Kidnapping is defined as "to hold or carry off, usually for ransom", and encompasses a wide variety of crimes. Economic kidnapping – or the kidnapping business – is where a financial demand is made, which could be either hard cash, or some other financial resource. Political kidnapping, on the other hand, is where political concessions, such as the release of prisoners, changes to the law and policy retreats, are demanded. This distinction may seem straightforward, but in reality cases are rarely this clear cut. There are often grey areas between political and economic kidnapping. For example, the FARC in Colombia is a Marxist-Leninist guerrilla group, but kidnaps for money and is thought to earn hundreds of millions of dollars from it each year. Criminals with political aspirations have also been known to diversify. Definitions are often regarded as the preserve of hair-splitting academics, removed from the reality on the ground. But effective policies and practices for tackling kidnapping are not possible unless they respond to the motivations for the crime and take account of the way kidnappers will react to pressure. For this reason, it is vital that kidnapping cases are defined in terms of the immediate demand rather than any higher order political, religious or other goals a group may have. Economic kidnapping is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. It is estimated that kidnappers globally take home in the region of $500 million each year in ransom payments: the hostage is a commodity with a price on his head. Reliable statistics are hard to come by, but it is estimated that there are approximately 10,000 kidnappings each year worldwide. The undisputed kidnap capital of the world is Colombia, where the activity has been described as 'a cottage industry'. In 2000, the Colombian National Police recorded 3162 cases. Colombia's problem has not been contained within its own borders. Colombian kidnapping groups often cross over into Venezuela and Ecuador to take hostages, and both countries feature in the top ten. Other hot-spots around the globe include Mexico, where the problem has risen dramatically in the last five years, Brazil, the Philippines and the former Soviet Union. The following table shows the top ten hot-spots in 1999.
Global Kidnapping hot-spots – 1999 1 Colombia 2 Mexico 3 Brazil 4 Philippines 5 Venezuela 6 Ecuador 7 Former Soviet Union 8 Nigeria 9 India 10 South Africa
As the table above shows, Latin America is an important hub for kidnapping. However, it would be wrong to see the crime as a uniquely Latin American problem. Over the past decade or so, kidnapping has risen in parts of Africa, most notably Nigeria and South Africa. This can largely be traced to the expansion of multi-national companies into these countries following the rich natural resources on offer. Similarly, companies moved into parts of the Former Soviet Union following the collapse of communism at the start of the last decade, and the kidnapping rate has grown there, too.
How sad is it that, ten years later, this sort of thing is still prevalent, even in Venezuela? Let's hope that Zambrano is able to get his mother back safe and sound.

Posted via web from TalkingSmackAboutSports