In Case You Missed It...
If you find something noteworthy, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and if I use it, I'll cite you as the contributor.
--So in 2017, Mark Cuban went on the Dan Patrick Show and openly admitted his team did "everything possible to lose." In other words, the Mavericks tanked. Cuban and Patrick had a laugh about this. The NBA did nothing. Flash forward less than a year, and Cuban went on Julius "Dr. J" Ervin's podcast, saying essentially the same thing, only this time, Cuban told Dr. J that the Mavs were currently tanking. Immediately, the NBA slapped Cuban with a $600,000 fine for "conduct detrimental to the league." Now, here's the funny part: current NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN four years ago that tanking doesn't exist. Um, who finally woke him up to this reality? I mean, if the 76ers "rebuilding plan" (aka "The Process") wasn't evidence enough, I guess it took an owner's admission to finally open Silver's eyes to the fact that NBA teams are currently fixing games -- yes, tanking a game is fixing a game. Am I really supposed to buy into the NBA's integrity after all of this?
--My favorite athlete defense when criminal activity is afoot: "I dunno." In this instance, former NY Giants TE Jeremy Shockey was questioned by the FBI about his ties to an illegal drug and sports gambling ring. What's the odds there's zero follow-up stories/investigations regarding this (unless the FBI starts making arrests)?
--Just one question: why isn't ESPN et al. not up in arms over this James Harden may have hired a hitman story?
--So, how likely is it MLB conspired against the Washington Nationals in Game 5 to ensure the Chicago Cubs advanced to the next round of the playoffs? Two key, game-changing plays both went against the Nats, and neither outcome was correct. In the first play, Cubs' batter Javier Baez's bat hit Nats catcher Matt Weiters on a dropped third strike which, by rule, should've made the play dead instantly. Instead, the ump wrongly allowed the play to continue which led to a Cubs run (and more as the inning progressed after what should've been the third out). The ump later admitting to seeing the bat hit Weiters, but decided not to follow the objective rule, instead turning it into a subjective call. Tough break, Nats. Then, as the Nats attempted to come back, this pickoff play killed their 8th inning rally. How this is overturned from an on-the-field safe ruling into an out is beyond me based on the video evidence...unless MLB had an agenda--which it did. It wanted LA v. CHI and not necessarily LA v. WAS.
--I really don't care that the US Men's Soccer Team didn't qualify for the World Cup. And given how much sportswriters enjoy attacking FIFA for being corrupt, you would think it wouldn't matter much that the US isn't playing in FIFA's corrupt tournament. But these pundits boo-hoo'd nonetheless. However, it is interesting to note that politics may have played a role in why the US team lost as a "coaching decision" left America's best defender, Geoff Cameron, on the beach while his replacement Omar Gonzalez scored an own-goal which capped Team USA's loss. Cameron may have been sitting simply because he is a vocal Trump supporter on a team full of liberals.Believe it or not, that could have been the reason Team USA will be watching the World Cup from their couches.
--Here's a bizarre soccer match fixing moment. Peru and Columbia agreed to fix their match midway through playing it, agreeing to a 1-1 draw in order for both teams to qualify for the World Cup. Soccer may be the "world's game" but it is unbelievably corrupt.
--Boxing is corrupt. It always has been. So the split draw decision in the highly touted Canelo Alvarez v. Gennady Golovkin match shouldn't surprise anyone. But, of course, it has. When will people learn? But the interesting part of this story is that the judge, Adalaide Byrd, was first said to have just had a "bad night" when her lopsided scorecard was made public. Now, 48 hours later, she has been "stood down" and will not be allowed to judge a major match...for a while. Let's see if the Nevada State Athletic Commission has the guts to really investigate this controversial decision... or if the inevitable rematch will just happen as if this never occurred.
--Sorry, fans, that it has been a while since I updated the site. I've been busy writing a new book which is about 2 to 3 chapters away from being completed. That said, here's the newest tidbit I've found--for the first time in years (decades?) an American professional sports league has had an athlete indicted for match fixing. The lucky league? The one and only UFC. Apparently MMA fighter Tae Hyun Bang agreed to throw a fight, then had a last second change of heart. The gamblers who paid him off were none too happy to lose $2 million what they thought was a fixed fight, and promptly began sending Bang death threats. Bang, in turn, went to the South Korean police and spilled his guts. If you like this, then look for more UFC dirt in that forthcoming book I'm writing!
--Twice now in the past week, writers have pointed out how "bad" officiating/umpiring has altered the outcome of games in two different sports. The first example came from the New York Post about the NHL's Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals in which a "mystifying" call helped the Penguins advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. In the second case, we have a writer from SB Nation questioning the seemingly unfair strike zone home plate umpire Will Little used against the A's when they took on the Yankees in New York. Amazingly, though it was on the tip of each writers' tongue, neither would call the games in question what they likely were--fixed. Or at least manipulated to benefit the home team in what's often wrongly deemed "home field advantage."
--To directly quote Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban: "We did everything possible to lose games." If tanking for draft picks isn't a clear indication that the NBA is far from a legitimate sport, I don't know what other proof I could show to convince fans this league has issues. (And I'll be covering this concept in greater detail in my upcoming, as-yet-to-be-titled book)
--The finale of the Washington Wizards v. Boston Celtics series was interesting for two reasons. First, in Game 6, the NBA retroactively admitted its officials (supposedly the best on the planet) screwed the Celtics out of a very important second which prevented them from having a shot to tie the game in its final moments. I'm sure the league was broken up that this miscue led to a Game 7...a Game 7 which may have been predetermined. The Twitter account for the "NBA on TNT" posted a picture with the Celtics playing in the Eastern Conference Finals prior to Game 7's tip off. Of course, that's exactly what came to pass. While I don't put a lot of stock into these "oops" media incidents, I haven't seen many of them be wrong.
--Long-time EPL midfielder Joey Barton was suspended 18 months for his gambling on soccer matches which he claims happened because he has a gambling problem. Over a 10 year span, Barton bet on over 1,200 matches--including games he played in--and admitted to betting against his own team. But Barton stressed that he wasn't fixing games and his integrity shouldn't be questioned. Ok. Sure. But the Barton incident does raise a question I've asked many time: where are all the American athletes with gambling problems? Players have been arrested and suspended for everything from child abuse to gun charges to DUIs to PEDs, but no gambling related incidents have come to light. How is this possible? You're telling me the last MLB player to have a gambling problem was Pete Rose? I don't think so. But who these players are, what sports they play, and who/what/when do they bet on remains a total mystery.
--Let me just say this about the entire Aaron Hernandez tragedy: If he did indeed murder his friend because he was worried that friend would reveal that Hernandez was bi-sexual (and that one of his three suicide notes was written to his prison lover), then consider what another player in a similar situation might do to keep such a secret from becoming public. In other words, would a player be willing to shave points or fix a game to keep such information from becoming sports page headlines?
--"Take THAT for data!" You'll have to forgive me for being a bit lax in posting here, but I'm in the middle of writing a new book which is slated for a 2018 release. However, such a comment could not be overlooked. Memphis Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale had a good reason for the statement. His team was jobbed in its Game 2 versus the Spurs in the first round of the 2017 NBA playoffs. When a single player on the Spurs racks up more free throw attempts than the entire Grizzlies team, you know something's up. SBNation did a great breakdown of the game and its non-calls against the Spurs, but of course, though the refs did "hose" the Grizzlies, SBNation won't state the obvious--the game was fixed. More of the same in the Adam Silver era of the NBA....
--Back-up soccer goalie Wayne Shaw ate a meat pie on the sidelines of a match. Why? Because some upstart bookmaker posted an 8-1 line saying such a thing would happen. This, my friends, is spot fixing. It may seem harmless in this instance given it didn't affect the match in any way, but as this great article points out, it's the beginning of a very slippery slope that has been steeper by the day. And if both the leagues and the bookmakers don't step in to stop this immediately, it's the sort of thing that will give the legalization of sports gambling an extremely bad name.
|Apparently the Russian outfit responsible for hacking WADA released info stating that US swimmer Michael Phelps used PEDs. Now I a little leery of the source, but I'm also a little leery of Phelps success. I think most rational people would also question how Phelps was able to do what he did--especially during these last Olympics in Rio--at his age. Granted, he's only 31, but in a sport that's usually dominated by teenagers, his success is an aberration. And yeah, I know the press fawns over him and will protect him until his grave, for everyone else there's two words that should remind you to question everything surrounding such an athlete & his story: Lance Armstrong. (Thanks to Jessy for the tip!)|
--People tend to say I'm making things up when I write/say that many sports media members censor themselves due to fear of losing access to their respective teams/players because that would effectively end their job/career. Well, here's (another) proof: Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman threatened to have a reporter's credentials pulled for saying the wrong thing to him. And believe it or not, this was reported on the NFL's own site.
--A bit of personal news here. I'm no longer Brian Tuohy, game fixing expert (or "king of the sports conspiracy theories," take your pick). I'm now officially Brian Tuohy, scholarly authority. The American Gaming Association cited my book Larceny Games in its amicus brief filed to the US Supreme Court in regards to the state of New Jersey's latest attempt to legalize sports gambling. I'm told this is a big deal. Even if it's not, I do like that title: Scholarly Authority.
--After you watch the video, check out Football is Fixed's blog (especially if you're a soccer fan). Great stuff!
--Want to know why the Cubs v. Indians World Series is going to at least six games at this point? It's what FOX Sports executives wanted. In this must-read NY Daily News article (sent in by James, John, and few others), it's all laid bare. And if you are too lazy to click the link and read it, my favorite highlight is this quote by Colin Cowherd who perhaps understands more about the reality of sports than he's ever admitted. To quote Cowherd:
"I'm speaking not on behalf of my management, but we all know how movies are made: conflict and resolution to conflict. I compare it to a sitcom where two people flirt, and then the moment they get together, it’s like, ‘OK. Now what?’ There’s something to be said about the Cubs getting to Game 7 and losing. Baseball has never done a great job of creating stories. The NBA gives you one every year, the NFL gives you one every week; this is arguably the last great, big, broad, embraceable baseball story. We had the Red Sox, they couldn't get past the Yankees, and then they did. How many stories in baseball do we have that my sister, who doesn’t watch sports, totally understands? Baseball has a lot of qualities that are very endearing, but it doesn’t always tell great stories that a casual sports fan can get his or her arms around. It just feels like this is such a great story, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to string it out for a couple years.”
--This is a new favorite of mine. The #12 tennis player in the world, Nick Kyrgios, completely tanked a match 6-3, 6-1 in the Shanghai Masters. And when I say tanked, he clearly, without a doubt, threw his second round match. The ATP did react to Kyrgios' antics by fining the player over $40,000 and suspending him for the rest of the season. He is also being forced to see a sports psychologist. Yet no one to this point (as far as I've been able to ascertain) has looked into the gambling aspect of this tanked match.
--More baseball talk: Jose Bautista thinks there's a conspiracy against the Blue Jays. I'm not saying I agree or disagree, but the balls & strikes calls in the first two games played in Cleveland certainly seemed to favor the Indians' pitchers and helped them jump out to a 2-0 lead in the ALCS.
--Can anyone explain to me why Sergio Romo was laughing prior to getting yanked just after he gave up Ben Zobrist's two-run double in the 9th inning the SF Giants historic Game 4 loss to the Chicago Cubs? Is this a legitimate reaction to what just occurred on the field, or a telltale sign of the reality of sports?
--A two-fer for you: First, here's a story told by Hall of Fame QB Steve Young in his new autobiography in which he talks about how a NFL referee--in the middle of a game--asked Young to date his daughter and then gave him a favorable call in order to "butter him up."
Second, just days before Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish was lit up by the Toronto Blue Jays in the playoffs, his brother was sentenced in Japan for running a small (only a couple of million dollars) gambling ring in which he accepted bets not only on MLB games, but games in which is brother was pitching. Of course, MLB took the "there's nothing to see here" route with this by claiming Yu was not involved. Believe it if you want to...
|Not to make light of the tragic death of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, but wasn't it a given that the Marlins would win the very first game they played in the wake of the news of his passing? And to have Dee Gordon (of all players) hit a lead off home run for the Marlins in that game? C'mon. |
I know I'm cynical, but I'm just not buying into this narrative. This is Boston Strong all over again. It's the Saints post-hurricane Katrina. How many times can a team "rise up" when the people "need" them to and pull off an emotional win?
Fernandez's death was horrible, but don't try to profit off of it in this fashion, MLB.
--I've mentioned this many times in interviews, and here it is in action: Houston (NCAA) football coach Tom Herman has cut ties with a local radio station because he apparently didn't like how that station covered his team. This is how teams and leagues ensure they get the sort of coverage they like. If a reporter won't self-censor, then you limit that reporters access--essentially forcing unemployment. It's effective, and it occurs more often than is reported in piece like this.
--"Let's get cynical for a moment. (It's easier for some than others, I know.) Suppose a sports/entertainment corporation -- we'll call it the NFL -- wanted to make more money. What might it do? Like any business, it would search for undervalued markets and explore ways to capitalize on them. This profit-driven corporation -- I mean, the NFL -- might turn its attention to the 6.3 billion people on the planet who live outside the borders of the United States. That's a lot of people, and a whole lot of money, just waiting to be exposed to America's obsession." Now if I had written that--and I didn't, ESPN's Kevin Seifert did--it'd be labeled "conspiracy theory." But in this case, it's part of a mainstream ESPN story which expands on the idea of the NFL using European players as marketing tools. And despite Seifert's writing, it's not cynical, it's the reality of this business called the National Football League. (Thanks to Perry for sending).
--This is one press conference I'm eagerly awaiting: thrice suspended (and now banned for life) Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia and his lawyer are accusing Major League Baseball and its Commissioner's Office of (among other things) "mob-like activity." This could very well be a whistleblower-like situation which will be interesting for several reasons. Perhaps the most telling will be how the media takes what Mejia and his lawyer have to say, and then how quickly the league, Mejia's former teammates, MLB agents, etc. line up against him. Stay tuned! And thanks to Keith for the initial tip on this one.
--So this ESPN the Magazine article actually suggests that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, you know, the "progessive" commish who's all in favor of legalized sports gambling, forced the Philadelphia 76ers' hand in firing their GM Sam Hinkie. Why? Because Hinkie was effectively gaming the system by having the 76ers tanking games to build its roster with game changing athletes. I mean, if NBA fans don't find this story all kinds of wrong and wonder what it is they are buying tickets to see, they're beyond help.
--It never happened in FIFA, claimed the disgraced former head of perhaps the world's most corrupt sporting institution Sepp Blatter, but "cool balls" were used to rig the draw for major soccer competitions. It harkens back to the theory that the NBA and ex-Commissioner David Stern rigged the 1985 NBA Draft Lottery for the Knicks so they could land Patrick Ewing. All this shows is once again, where there's money, there's corruption.
--Despite the impassioned plea from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver that the NBA is not rigged, fans seem to believe the exact opposite (or at least 77% of the people who bothered to answer the Fox Sports poll by 6/1/16 do). Thanks to Beau for the tip!
--Here's an incredibly moronic story courtesy of MSN. The headline reads: Don’t hate LeBron for flopping; hate him because he’s bad at flopping. What the hell is that supposed to mean? Is flopping--or faking a foul--really what sports fans want? To me, it just further proves that athletes are entertainers willing to perform when called upon to do so. What else can flopping be described as but acting? And if the players are acting here, whose to say where else they will do so? The bizarre part is that LeBron James later said of his "flop" that launched the MSN article, "I'm not trying to sell a call."
--You know how I know that the 2016 NBA Draft Lottery wasn't fixed no matter what Dikembe Mutombo tweeted? Because every sports media outlet is talking about "the conspiracy." The NBA has actually gone to incredibily great lengths (short of actually airing the event live) to show that there's no way the league can/is rigging the pick (now). Yet Mutombo tweeted out hours before the event a "congrats" to the 76ers for winning the right to the number one overall pick. He then deleted the tweet and apologized for stirring the pot. It probably was an accident but it fails to explain two related items: One, why did Mutombo care that the 76ers won the pick? Why wasn't he instead rooting for the Nuggets--you know, the team that originally drafted him and for which he played about half of his career? He was a 76ers for one season. Why acknowledge the franchise's fortunes? Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the 10-win 76ers were the first NBA team to sell advertising space on its team's jerseys. Interesting then that perhaps whomever becomes that #1 overall pick might also be the first NBA player to officially sport an ad on his uniform. That's a bit of a coincidence.
--This should've made bigger headline than it did, but former NBA All-Star turned commentator Chris Webber stated on the Dan Patrick Show that he believes he has played in at least one fixed game. He was most likely referring to Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals where his Sacramento Kings were completely robbed from advancing to the NBA Finals when the refs literally handed the game to the LA Lakers.
--So is Major League Baseball finally getting serious about steroids and PEDs in the game? This season has already seen a spate of players, including last year's NL hit leader Dee Gordon, suspended for positive tests. ESPN is even reporting that more suspensions are forthcoming. But let's face it: despite these suspension, players are still using. No league's testing policy is stopping athletes from using drugs that clearly help their performance. And why should they? While Dee Gordon's 80-game suspension will likely cost him nearly $2 million, he's still signed to a $50 million contract. If PEDs landed him that deal, the $2 million hit was well worth it. There is a push within baseball to make the penalties for players caught using even more harsh, but with the chemists usually two or more steps ahead of the testers, only the foolish and rash will likely be caught.
Cheaters will always be a part of the modern game. Sniffing them out will only get more difficult. To teach your children the "right" and "wrong" way to play the game will only get more difficult as the cheaters get the headlines, records, and monster salaries...because no one knows they were cheating until its too late. And if you think things are bad in baseball, just wait until the 2016 Summer Olympics start in Rio.
--One week, four fixing stories:
- First, Detriot Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy said, "LeBron's LeBron. They're not going to call offensive fouls on him, he gets to do what he wants." Or, an NBA coach admitted the league is a bit rigged.
- Second, heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury stated he believed former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko may have thrown his fight against Fury, saying, "You don't know what effect it has on a man's mind getting beaten when he thinks he is unbeatable, but I think he might have lost on purpose in Germany I have contemplated that as well."
- Third, and on a similar theme, former Premier League midfielder Emmanuel Petit pondered if he and his teammates on The French national team may have been used as "puppets" by FIFA when France won the 1998 World Cup over Brazil. In other words, the guy who scored the third and championship game cinching goal wondered aloud if the game was even legitimate.
- And finally, a UK journalist contacted me wondering if Leicester City's current (and completely unexpected) success in the Premier League was real, or merely a league created fantasy. Of course, my thought is that it's just a little too "Hollywood" to be trusted. And if the Foxes' last game in which Leicester City tied their game during extra time on a questionably awarded penality kick is any indication, I may not be too far from the truth.
--Since baseball season is upon us, here's a little story that once again exposes how unnatural our modern athletes have become. Former NY Mets pitcher Ron Darling writes in his new book about how drugs and alcohol fueled the 1986 World Championship. He claims this was in the era prior to steroids, but even if true, does it sound like this team - or any team - would really avoid using such substances?
--So while the NFL fights with the New York Times over its claim about the league ignoring certain concussions in its "study" of the issue, perhaps a more important story to the readers of this site is being overlooked. Apparently the league cut a deal with the (former) St. Louis Rams, agreeing to let the team out of appearing on HBO's Hard Knocks in exchange for the Rams drafting Michael Sam in 2014 (Sam, for those unaware, is the LB that came out as gay prior to the draft). No team ever seems to want to be the focus of Hard Knocks, but that doesn't stop the NFL from forcing one of its 32 franchises into that spotlight. Well, apparently one way out is to cut a deal with the league. The Rams did so, and now that the team is in Los Angeles, it finds itself the focus of HBO's cameras this season (in order to drum up promotion for a team the city didn't really want). This story means more and shows more about how the NFL truly operates than the NY Times piece, but this is the one that will get overlooked and shunned.
--Is this the most ironic advertisement ever run?
How can CBS post the NCAA's "Don't Bet on It" slogan on its bracket-choosing page? I mean, are there people out there filling out brackets through CBS's "pool manager" website without money being on the line? And speaking of lines, CBS also regularly posts the point spread/betting line on each and everyone of these games. It's a seriously confused message.
--For once, something produced by ESPN I approve of. This article on the backdoor investments the NFL, NBA, and MLB have made with gambling companies shows just how far their "integrity" goes. If the leagues can find more way like this from which to profit, then when the push comes for sports gambling's legalization, the leagues will put up nothing more than a show fight. Just another example of the leagues' greed taking presidence over actually integrity.
--Match fixing in tennis? The second most gambled upon sport in the world? You better believe it happens, and happens often. Of course, tennis wasn't naive enough to believe it was clean. They even formed the Tennis Investigative Unit nearly 10 years ago. But now, the BBC and Buzzfeed (Buzzfeed?!) got a hold of some inside information that revealed that top ranked players in Grand Slam events were believed to be involved in fixing matches and the ATP did nothing about it. Really, this should come as no surprise to anyone who took the time to read the TIU's original report. Heck, I devoted most of a chapter in Larceny Games about the corruption in tennis. And yet even now with the BBC/Buzzfeed story, without naming the names of the suspected athletes, what's going to change? It's just like the FIFA scandal: Shock, outrage, a call to action, blah, blah, blah. Same sport, same corruption, same people profiting off foolish fans believing everything is on the up and up. If you really think this is a new story, go back and read Michael Mewshaw's Short Circuit. That book showed that tennis, betting, and match fixing goes back at least 30 years.
--Did you happen to notice the subtle change in the NFL's copyright announcement during Wildcard Weekend (the first broadcast games of 2016)? Games used to be copyrighted by the NFL. Now they are copyrighted by NFL Productions LLC (aka NFL Films). Perhaps it doesn't mean much of anything, but I have a feeling (which I'm digging into) that having a LLC (limited liability company) owning the copyright to the games means a lot in terms of this being strictly entertainment and not truly a sport as fans believe it to be. It also may protect the NFL from any fraud-related lawsuits stemming from these differences. Just something to note for the future.
--In the wake of the undefeated Patriots loss to the Broncos on Sunday Night Football, I received a lot of emails about the game, questioning the apparently lopsided officiating which leaned heavily in the Broncos' (the home team) favor. Now Sports Illustrated released a new issue with a photo from the game on its cover which shows a clear flag-worthy holding penalty on Denver which wasn't called. USA Today unleashed a writer to quell any conspiracy talk about that photo and the game in general, referring to those who dared question the NFL and its officials as moaners. This is how such logical theories and intelligent questions get dismissed in the sports media world: by name calling.
--I've probably been ignoring the NBA for far too long on this website. But let's face it, David Stern's version of the game wasn't worth the time or effort to follow. Some fans think new Commissioner Adam Silver is changing things. That's it's not all about the big markets and big names now. That very well may be. But then again, as long as the follow is allowed to occur - as it does on a regular basis - fans should recognize that as bad as the NFL refs are, their NBA counterparts are not any better (and they serve the same purpose: control the game).
--This one's just strange. Miami Heat G Gerald Green was hospitalized, then suspended for two games for "conduct detrimental" to the team. No one in the sports media world seemed to know why (or really question the situation). Now, the story is starting to unfold, and like I said, it's odd.
--I've been telling sports radio hosts, sportswriters, and many fans this for years. Now here's a bit of confirmation backing my statement, straight from former All-Star Lenny "Nails" Dykstra:
Oh, I know detractors are instantly going to say, "He's a criminal. He'll say anything for attention and money." Both statements may be true, but that doesn't make what he's saying a lie. If anything, it makes his statement more believeable because Nails has nothing to lose at this point. The bigger questions raised from this is (a) where was MLB Security in all of this? and (b) who else has does this, and to what extent? (Thanks to all my fans who alerted me to this story!)
--If you're a frequent visitor to this site, you know that I often write about how I believe the leagues direct their officials to call games in certain ways to favor one team/player over their opponent. Well, out of Spain comes some proof of such behavior. According to a report in the UK's Telegraph, a Spainish linesman tabbed to officiate an upcoming Real Madrid v. Barcelona match was told - "pressured" as he stated - to favor Real Madrid in the contest. The claim, as expected, is "under investigation."
--I wrote about this in my new book A Season in the Abyss, but now the state of Nevada confirmed it: daily fantasy sports IS gambling. And if any state knows gambling when it sees it, it has to be Nevada.
Drop everything and watch this video NOW:
It's the long lost 1983 episode of the PBS investigative program Frontline which details information about the NFL, gambling, and game fixing. It only aired once and might not be available for too long on YouTube. If you don't have the hour to spare (though you should make every effort to watch this), skip to about the 30 minute mark when reporter Jessica Savitch (who died not long after this aired) asks then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle about what NFL Security has unearthed. He stumbles like Goodell usually does, then flat out states the league covers things up. Awesome stuff! And a HUUUUUGE "Thank You" to Michael for sending this to me.
--"We didn't watch incompetence. We just watched corruption." Those are strong words, and seem much like something I'd write. But I didn't. Scipio Tex did in reference to the Oklahoma State v. Texas football game which OSU won 30-27. I highly recommend follwing the link above and reading his piece, but to cut to the chase, the Big 12 officials in this game seemed to be trying to make sure OSU won this game with several questionable penalties against the Longhorns. Tex concludes: "Texas finished the game with 16 penalties for 128 yards. Half of them were mythology made up on the spot or over-officious nonsense which wasn't being applied to both teams. The officials created or altered 24-28 points while doing so. OSU had 7 penalties for 40 yards. All of them minor motion penalties or clear infractions that you can't swallow a whistle on. Except the ones they did. We just watched a fixed football game."
--It should come as no surprise, but according to a New York Times report, "In dozens of studio emails unearthed by hackers, Sony executives; the director, Peter Landesman; and representatives of Mr. [Will] Smith discussed how to avoid antagonizing the N.F.L. by altering the script and marketing the film more as a whistle-blower story, rather than a condemnation of football or the league." Of course. While the trailer below looks interesting, to get closer to the real story of the NFL and concussions either read or watch League of Denial. Why fictionalize this story if you're not going to antagonize the NFL?
--Here's Cleveland Browns OT Joe Thomas: "I'm not sure if he [Roger Goodell] realizes what he's doing is brilliant, but what he's doing is brilliant because he's made the NFL relevant 365 [days] by having these outrageous, ridiculous witch hunts [Deflategate]. It's made the game more popular than ever and it's become so much more of an entertainment business and it's making so much money. That's why I'm sure there's plenty of people saying this is embarrassing for the league. But it's an entertainment business when it comes right down to it. When the game gets eyeballs in newspapers and on TV, that's what in the end is the goal for everyone. And that's what this controversy is giving them....But I think we're talking about a different NFL now. Like I said, before it was more about the game. Now it's such an entertainment business. It's almost like the Kim Kardashian factor that any news is good news when you're in the NFL....It's an entertainment business. It's turning into the WWE really. It's like the Vince McMahon stuff. Basically Goodell is like Vince McMahon."
--Been quite busy with the new book, but here's something I shouldn't overlook: the revelation that perhaps nearly every athlete is cheating by using PEDs. This is important because in the past WADA has claimed that organized crime controls the international PED market, making many athletes susceptible to blackmail due to their PED usage.
--Two questions I get repeatedly asked: Is the UFC/MMA real? and Should Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame? Although I'm happy to discuss both subjects, answers to these questions were published recently. For the MMA, look no further than the recent Kimbo Slice-Ken Shamrock debacle which some have claimed was rigged (as I believe many other MMA fights have been). As for Rose, I wrote in both The Fix Is In and Larceny Games that Rose was known to be betting on baseball -- while a player -- in the late 1960's-early 1970's. John Dowd, who investigated Rose for MLB in the 1980's, discovered that all of these investigative notes had been destroyed by MLB. Now, proof has surfaced that Rose indeed bet on baseball while playing. Is there still a question about his induction into the Hall?
--Here's everything you need to know about the latest FIFA scandal in an entertaining 15 minutes:
--Well, well, well. It might be a decade or two in the making, but a law enforcement entity finally has gone after the corrupt heads of FIFA. Shockingly, it was America's own Department of Justice which offered up a 47-count indictment against 14 international soccer officials. No one's surprised that FIFA might be corrupted to the core, but to see someone actually take them legally to task for once is interesting. It doesn't mean it'll really lead to anything or actually alter FIFA (for the better), but it's an attention-grabbing moment in sports. Now if the DoJ would just look into the NFL...or MLB...or....
--When I spoke to a Columbia College sports journalism class a few weeks back, I told them that the sports media world is rife with self-censorship because if you write/produce the "wrong" sort of story, you can lose access to the player/team/locker room and essentially unemploy yourself. I don't think they fully believed me, but it just played out with the Mayweather v. Pacquiao fight. Turner Sports reporter Rachel Nichols and ESPN/HBO’s Michelle Beadle both had their credentials revoked after reporting on Mayweather's history of abuse against women (which was a known fact for those with any sort of memory. It's not like Nichols or Beadle dug up something new.). Yet discussing this issue prior to the fight cost them an entrance into the big match. Of course, Mayweather's camp denied this, but in this instance I'm going to believe the media reporters rather than the boxer's PR team.
--The second part of this rant by Keith Olbermann is frightening, but reinforces much of what's written about on this site: the sports leagues are in firm control of its media partners. And what's worse is the media itself tends to back this position, jumping down the throats of those outsiders (like me) who don't toe that line. This is business, people, and they can't allow media reports - whether true or not - to interfere with making money.
--Maybe this is just poor writing on ESPN's part, but I think it's actually the MLB talking out of both sides of its mouth as it stated, "Earlier this week [MLB] commissioner Rob Manfred said that although he considered daily fantasy different from gambling, playing fantasy for prizes became part of Rule 21, which prohibits players from gambling. Players will be subject to discipline if they are found to have violated the rule." So which is it? Gambling or not? With MLB actually invested in DraftKings (one of the top daily fantasy sites), my guess is they have to continue to say it's not gambling, if only to protect themselves from criticism (which isn't forthcoming...at least not from ESPN which is also invested in DraftKings).
--It's Opening Day for the MLB, but does the league really have its house in order under new Commissioner Rob Manfred? Let's see. First we have Angels OF Josh Hamilton experiencing a "relapse" and using cocaine, but MLB doesn't care and won't suspend him despite violating the league's substance abuse policy. When the Angels' team president is expressing shock at that, you know something odd is afoot. Next up is new Minnesota Twins P Ervin Santana. The team signed him to a 4-year, $55 million contract and just this week, he was suspended for 80 games (that's half of the season) for testing positive for PEDs. I thought MLB had cleaned up its game. Apparently not. Lastly, there's Marlins P Jarred Cosart and his illegal gambling. Somehow, MLB managed to investigate these allegations, prove them true while proving he didn't bet on baseball, and fine Cosart (but no suspension) in the matter of a week. Um, forgive me for being so cynical, but there's no way the MLB really did its due diligence here in that time frame. It actually opens up more questions than "clearing" Cosart resolves. Who was the bookie? Was he turned over to authorities? What did Cosart bet on? How much? How often? For how long? Who "hacked" his Twitter account (as he claimed)? Etc? To me, all of this is a sign that though baseball is beginning another season, its players are running rampant and revealing that this game is nowhere as clean as it's purported to be. But nothing to see here...move along.... (Hat tip to Steve for this post)
--So Marlins P Jarred Cosart got himself into a bit of hot water with MLB due to a twitter conversation with a guy known as Ghostfade Killah about sports gambling that was made public. MLB didn't seem to buy Cosart's claim that his twitter account was hacked and that the messages weren't from him, and have launched a full investigation of the matter. Most likely, Cosart's messages were about college basketball betting, not MLB betting, meaning he won't be in that much trouble because players are allowed to gamble on sports - just not baseball. Of course, one type of sports gambling can lead to another, landing a player in a hole he can't climb out of...until he fixes a game. It'll be interesting to see how the new MLB Commissioner - who is suddenly in favor of legalized sports gambling - reacts to this brewing scandal.
--Why is UCLA one of the 64 teams in the 2015 NCAA College Basketball Tournament? Is it just an "honest mistake" that they were included, or is it yet another sign of outright corruption within college sports? If you're reading this, my guess is you'd agree with the latter opinion.
--So I hear the argument all the time that "Players are paid too much these days to fix games." I don't completely dismiss it because it would be hard to bribe a smart multi-millionaire into taking such a risk. But not all players are multi-millionaires...or smart. Instead we have this report from SI in which it's revealed that members of the Seahawks were dealing with ticket brokers in order to make a couple thousand dollars reselling their comp Super Bowl tickets. Is it illegal? No. But the key quote in the piece is this: "A league spokesman told The MMQB that if a team’s employees were found to have engaged in reselling tickets at above face value, those individuals and the club would be fined." So it is against league policy, and no doubt the players know it. But they do it anyway. Why? For a couple of grand. And yet there's no way a desperate player would fix a game for cash? Please...
--Don't believe in the possibility of game fixing and/or point shaving? THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES SHAVED POINTS!
--From the pre-crime division of the NFL: a Steelers fan was kicked out of Heinz Field for tweeting that if he got enough re-tweets, he'd run out on to the field. Look, I don't advocate such bafoonery, but what I want to know is how did the Steelers hear about this, locate the guy, and capture him prior to anything actually happening?
And an UPDATE: Despite in the story below in which Goodell says there won't be an NFL team in LA in 2015, Rams owner Stan Kroenke is building a new NFL stadium in LA. Yeah, okay, it won't be ready by 2015, but what sort of BS announcement was that, Roger?
--Two from the Commissioner's Office: First, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell proclaimed "no team can move to LA for the 2015 season." Excuse me, but I thought Goodell worked for the owners, not the other way around. I thought all 32 NFL franchises were independently owned and operated businesses, not one conglomerate (well, I actually know this isn't the case, but most fans don't). If a team wants to move, how can Goodell just say "no?" It's up to the owners, not him...or so we thought.
Elsewhere, I had held out a bit of hope regarding new NBA Commission Adam Silver. He seemed to get it when talking about sports gambling. Then he dropped this bomb: In regards to the perception of teams tanking, "I absolutely don't think any team is trying to lose." Silver went on to explain, "No player is going out there to lose. In terms of management, I think there's an absolute legitimate rebuilding process that goes on. It's so hard to win in this league, and it's so complex. I think what's happened in the case of Philadelphia [who are currenty 2-23 at the time of this posting] -- their strategy has been reduced into a tweet. This notion 'be bad to be good.' ... When it gets reduced into a headline, I understand the reaction." No, Adam, you don't.
--I'm a month behind on this one (and in reality this should be common knowledge anyway), but I have to point out when another writer out-and-out states that something is rigged. In this case, it's the new college football playoff system being fixed, and the author makes a good case in the "hows" and "whys" it is. He then follows up on the piece by pointing out that Florida State should not only be forbidden from being in the playoffs - but shouldn't be allowed to field a football team. Good stuff, and thanks to Steve for the tip!
--Remember the big hub-bub in the London Olympics about Badminton being rigged? Yeah, apparently the world cares enough about the sports to not just wager on it, but attempt to fix matches. Two Danish players were approached by a "Malaysian" to throw a match. They refused and reported the incident. If badminton isn't safe from this, what sport truly can be?
--"This is an unprecedented raid on a professional sports league." Now we have the NFL versus the DEA. It's funny to listen to the NFL's lawyers as they now say the league isn't 32 teams acting as one, it's 32 teams all on their own (because if the NFL is a 32-team entity, this investigation is going to get ugly).
--This is your NBA summed up in a 3-second video clip. So real, so graceful. Do you really want to gamble on this? And does NBA Commissioner Adam Silver really want outside oversight on this league?
--Minnesota Wild left-winger Thomas Vanek has some explaining to do. Though it doesn't seem that the NHL is overly interested in the fact that a $230,000 paycheck of Vanek's from the New York Islanders wound up in a bookmaker's hands, the revelation that he's testified before a grand jury in this investigation is raising a few eyebrows ("few" seems to be the key word here). Amazing that only NHL players are seemingly repeatedly tied to sports gambling: Vanek, Jaromir Jagr, the unnamed 15-18 players betting which Rick Tocchet's gambling ring, the list goes on....
--A two-fer: First, "I think it’s time to challenge the SEC’s credibility and integrity when it comes to officiatingI think it’s time to challenge the SEC’s credibility and integrity when it comes to officiating." Not my quote, but that of Mike Pereira of FOX Sports (and formerly of the NFL). Interesting to read him calling out the SEC's officials and their apparent use of a "mystery man" influcencing calls on the field.
Second, Michael Franzese - the former mob capo - was on the Jim Rome show, discussing the NCAA, gambling on college sports, and apparently how easy (and often) it is for kids to shave points. Amazing that the NCAA (as well as the NFL, NBA, etc.) would hire this guy to talk to their athletes if he had no idea what he was discussing. So don't believe me, but listen to him.
--"It's an entertainment business. We are all entertainers." Quote courtesy of Chicago Bears TE Martellus Bennett. Need I post more?
--Everyone was talking about the A's-Royals Wild Card game (and when's the last time anyone was excited to see those two teams match up?). The Royals made what? Three? Four? Comebacks in that game to pull out the win in the 12th inning? Good stuff right? But is it possible they had a little help by way of the home plate umpire in that game? This article from the Swingin' A's website was oddly prophetic, and it questioned - rightfully so - how Gerry Davis wound up being the behind the plate in this winner-take-all contest. It should make you rethink the strike zone in that game as well as the allowed interruptions of A's starter John Lester. (Thanks to John - not Lester - for the tip).
--"The script is there. The last page is in Derek's hands...." Yeah, that about sums this up:
--So we know Reality TV isn't real. But this story gets us one step closer to the disclosure that sports are just a cog in that entertainment wheel: Floyd Mayweather's stint on Showtime's "All Access" was completely fake. Seemingly every phase of the show featuring him was a manufactured story. Now if/when we learn HBO's "Hard Knocks" is just the same but featuring NFL teams instead of boxers, we'll be one small step away from flushing it all away.
--Ever hear the phrase, "Once CIA, always CIA?" This seems to apply just as well to NFL employees. For example, I once interviewed former head of NFL Security Warren Welsh. In order to speak with me, as a "courtesy" he said, he had to "clear it" with the NFL prior to talking with me. I found this odd since he no longer worked for the league in any capacity. But that's the power of the Shield. Now Deadspin points out a glaring example of this power, as former NFL executive Bill Polian seems to do a complete 180 on a statement given to ESPN in the matter of 20 minutes. Think that "technical difficulty" was an accident? (Thanks to Jason for bringing this to my attention)
--In a report obtained by the UK's Daily Mail, the English Football Association admitted they had several players on a "watch list" for possible gambling and game fixing. According to the article, "More than a dozen alleged fixers could be playing in England, according to law enforcement and football integrity sources." But, "the FA will not put a figure on the number." This could include Premier League players. No league is safe.
--Longtime NBA referee/alleged (by some) game-fixer Dick Bavetta retired. Who's going to fill those shoes for the NBA and become their "go-to guy" when a playoff game/series needs to go a certain way?
--It shouldn't surprise anyone, but the Teen Choice Awards were rigged. Amazingly, the broadcast outright stated this during their end credits (see photo below). It's just another example of the show-biz world staging events to make them more entertaining. Why don't people believe sports - clearly a show-biz entity - wouldn't do the same? I'm certain more is at stake in the 2014 NFL season than was at the Teen Choice Awards. If the latter was fixed, why wouldn't the former?
--Spot fixing, the scourge that has damaged soccer, tennis, cricket and rugby, can add another sport to its victims: hockey. Here's an interesting (but not in depth enough) story on an admitted spot-fixer in international hockey.
And in other news, here's the results of a recent ESPN poll. My first response upon seeing this was: Really, America? Really? Then I suddenly wanted to move to Oklahoma. But lastly, I came to the realization that if this many people want to see LeBron win another ring, what're the odds the NBA and its partner ESPN make it happen?
--This is an emerging story, but the Minnesota Wild's Thomas Vanek was part of a federal investigation into a gambling ring (my guess: Sports gambling). Details are sketchy at this point, and Vanek is not the focal point of the investigation nor charged with any crime, but it's never a good sign to see a professional athlete tied to a gambling ring.
--"Cheating pays," or so says BIG 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, and I agree. He hits the nail on the head when discussing the NCAA's inability to police, investigate, and punish colleges violating every sort of rule on the book. Of course, why should it do so when everyone's making money hand over fist and most fans could care less of said "infractions?" In fact, the last time I checked/heard, the NCAA has 44 investigators for the entire nation. If they operate anything like the NFL, MLB, etc. so-called Security Divisions, then it's no wonder they're ineffective. The only fix? Hope the lawsuits (and possible unionization of athletes) all go against the NCAA.
--Just a personal note for followers of this site: While I cannot go into detail at this point, suffice it to say that I now have proof--first hand, personal proof--that ESPN has ZERO journalistic integrity. Yeah, I know, who thought they did, especially after the Frontline fiasco (which was recently nominated for an Emmy)? But after what I just experienced, I can reaffirm that ESPN cares more about its money (well, Disney's cash) and their relationship with the sports leagues than actual reporting. NEVER trust one of their reports again, no matter the supposed subject matter.
--The NY Daily News broke an exclusive story relating to the DEA "probing" the NFL for its use of pain-killing and other drugs amongst its players. This should come as no surprise with the number of players "playing through pain." But here's the thing about this story: ESPN, with all its "NFL Insiders" and such, had no idea about this apparently. You'd think with all the access the network has with the league, it'd would be the one breaking these sorts of stories. Instead, we get Johnny Manziel at the Red Sox game. You really trust this network with its "news?"
--Please don't buy into LeBron James' return to Cleveland because either (a) it's for his family, (b) it's for the fans or (c) both of the above. I'm not saying the NBA hand-crafted the "Decision II" but this is playing out more and more like the WWE: first, LeBron's a hero, then a villain, and now with his triumphant return, he's labeled a hero again. If Cleveland fans don't resoundingly boo him upon game one back in a Cavs uniform, you know how duped they all are...and my guess is, most will buy this act hook, line, and sinker.
--The Telegraph in the UK did a little investigative reporting, and learned how easily Ghana would sell its national soccer team. Of course, Ghana's in the World Cup and America beat them in their first match despite being outplayed by Ghana at every turn. Any chance our deep-pockets could've purchased a win? Ghana's officials were selling out for under $200,000. I think the US Team keeps more than that in their duffle bag. It just goes to show that this problem is out of control around the world, yet America continues to wear blinders.
--Sometimes--not often, but sometimes--The Fix Is In gets credit in the mainstream press. Here's two recent representations: The first comes in a quote in the USA Today in a piece on sports gambling Billy Walters. The second is from The Classic in a piece about betting on soccer. Speaking of which, did you catch the first game of the World Cup played between Croatia and Brazil? Total rig job, right? I warned people about this in my latest Sports on Earth piece. FIFA is looking to outright give Brazil the trophy, and this game was the first step. Luckily, FIFA is running commercials warning against the very practice we saw in play:
--There's a very good reason why the NFL wanted to keep its demands for potential Super Bowl hosting cities secret: they're unbelievable. You can read all the dirty details here - and thanks to whomever leaked this document to the Minneapolis Star Tribune - but be warned: your jaw may hit the floor. By the way, while reading every little demand & detail the NFL requires, just ask yourself this: If the league goes this far and wants this much from just hosting the game, why does everyone assume that they do not do the same thing when it comes to the most important aspect of that day -- the game itself? (Thanks to Ethan for the heads up on this story)
--This is exactly what sports reporting should be. My hat's off to John Canzano for his 5+ part series on NBA referees. He asks a lot of great questions, gets a few answers, and really makes the NBA's officiating program look questionable - especially it's ties to network television. It's a must read, and includes the recent revelation of Mark Cuban's hiring (or not...if you believe him) of a former FBI Agent to look into the league's officials after his Mavericks lost the 2006 NBA Finals - while Cuban was assessed nearly half a million dollars in fines.
As a postscript to this, Indiana Pacers Paul George was fined $25,000 for remarks about officiating in his team's series vs. the Heat. Some call the huge disparities in free throw attempts seen in some NBA playoff games as "conspiracy theories" and that there's ration explanations for them. Sure, same as there was for "home field advantage" - it's the referees that cause it, but never because of bias, intention, or direction from above.
--In the wake of the NFL Draft, I was reminded of the following tweet/quote. How true was this?
. @AdamSchefter tells the show he thinks some NFL people will call teams to encourage them to draft Michael Sam in the later rounds.— Dennis and Callahan (@DandCShow) May 6, 2014
--Is the NBA becoming more like the NFL? Recently, the league has admitted to certain outcome-changing referee decisions that have been incorrect. Of course, like the NFL, these admissions amount to nothing as the NBA then doesn't go back and give the win to the team that was jobbed by their officials. So I guess on one level, this is "transparency," but on another, it's just more bunk.
--See the map below? Does it frighten you as much as it does me?
--Rashard Mendelhall retired at the age of 26. He's smart. He also wrote about why he made this decision, writing in part, "I've always been a professional. But I am not an entertainer. I never have been. Playing that role was never easy for me." Need I say more?
--Tanking (or intentionally losing) is rampant in today's NBA. What's worse is that not only do people realize this, but former and current members of the NBA are openly talking about it. So go spend that hard earned money on NBA basketball, fans. You'll certainly get what you paid for....
--Three (likely soon-to-be-yanked) videos: the first (which has some NSFW language in it) shows some incredibly bad tackling in the Super Bowl along with an interesting gesture from Seahawks WR Baldwin. The second is a nice breakdown of the NFC Championship Game officiating (largely in the Seahawks' favor). The final one, dating back 4 month prior to the Super Bowl, is interesting. Why was he worried about his teammate being mic'd up? You tell me....
--I used to collect baseball cards, but I slowly lost faith (go figure) in the legitimacy of the autographs and jersey swatches the card companies were supposedly including in packs. Worse still were those dealers selling supposed "authentic game-worn or used" memorabilia. I assumed most of it was fake. I might not be that wrong in that assessment as this NY Post story discusses a lawsuit which accuses Eli Manning and the NY Giants of doing exactly that - selling fake game-used goods.
--Don't know how much faith I'd put into this, but according to this guy - a supposedly recent (and now former) NFL employee - the Chargers will beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. This has been pre-determined since May (like all the other Super Bowls). Is it true? Who knows? But it's interesting nonetheless.... (Thanks to Matt for the tip!)
--YouTube yanked my video (posted originally below). Why? Well, the website stated, "This video contains content from NFL, The Harry Fox Agency, Inc. (HFA), ATO Records and Warner Chappell, one or more of whom have blocked it on copyright grounds." But the email notice I received said, "Your video, "The Fix Is In Presents: The NFL & Its Referees Rigging the 2013 Season ("Bad" Calls)" may have content that is owned or licensed by NFL. As a result, the video has been blocked on YouTube." So I reposted the video sans music but with the same visual content. Let's see what happens next....
--While I just wrote a Sports On Earth article about fixing the World Cup draw, a fan sent me this video showing perhaps how it was done. It does raise some good questions. Take a moment and watch....
--Spygate Part III? Yes, I wrote "Part III" because many forget that current Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was busted back when he was the Broncos head coach for doing exactly when his mentor Bill Belichick was caught doing - video taping opponents' coaching signals. Now, a member of the Houston Texans believes that the Patriots are at it once again. I've heard rumblings from others in the New England area that despite the scandal associated with Spygate, it actually never ceased. Will the NFL "investigate" this matter? What do you think?
--Guess what? Sports can be fixed in the United States. Which one? Well, horse racing is still wide open for corruption as four people were arrested in relation to an alleged fixing scandal. How come this isn't a headline on ESPN or NBC Sports (home of the Triple Crown and Breeders Cup)?
--Uncatchable? I think not. And shockingly, ESPN's backing this one...
--I almost loved this article. It was making an excellent point as it kicked the NFL in the ribs while it tries to recover from the concussion controversy stirred up by PBS. Then came the line, "[the NFL is] impossible to do without." Writer Bill Dwyer then begins salivating over Peyton Manning. Sheesh. The guy can't even hold a salient point through an article. He becomes his own punchline as the blame for the NFL getting away with this B.S. lies with squarely with writers like him.
--A double shot of news for y'all: First, this is a highly interesting article coming out of Canada's The Globe and Mail. Seems as though the Toronto Raptors wouldn't mind tanking the entire 2013-14 NBA season to get a shot at home-grown talent Andrew Wiggins (currently playing at Kansas). The highlight of this article is the following: "Knowing that the topic is a landmine, new Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri would not enter into a discussion involving tanking in sports when asked about it on Friday. However, Ujiri offered an intriguing answer when he was asked how he would feel if the Raptors were to fall into the NBA’s draft lottery in his first year in charge. 'It would be a fantastic season,' Ujiri said."
The second piece of info comes from ESPN (no, really, ESPN...even though they shunned me as seen below). Don Van Natta Jr. covers the soon-to-be-released book League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth written by brothers Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru. Van Natta's article here is basically the Cliff Notes version of the book. And after reading his piece, if you still don't think the NFL would stoop to fixing a game, then I can be no further help to you.
--In case you missed it, I went "viral" as the New York Post ran a front page story on its Sunday September 15th edition in relation to my work. Based on my new book Larceny Games, Gary Buiso interviewed me and cited the book (and the FBI files within it) in his article about members of the New York Knicks shaving points as a "favor" to their cocaine dealer. Subsequently, Sports Illustrated, Fox News, the UK's Daily Mail, and others picked up the story. CNN called my house...but what's the one outlet which didn't run with the story? Could it be the one that spends the most money broadcasting NBA games? Why, yes, the answer is:
--This video kinda speaks for itself. You can't even boo in America anymore with The Man coming down on you.
--Winning Dos a Cero (that is, 2-0) is a tradition. It was meant to be. And that's why American soccer player Clint Dempsey may have intentionally missed the goal on a free kick (you could've seen his attempt at the link, but YouTube's already pulled it. I wonder why....?) But it's all fun and games as no one had bet on this game, right? And no one would've dared wager on a 2-0 final score, would they? Despite the fact that it's proven that soccer fixers often fix games for exact final scores - and make them happen.
--Ray Lewis may have been suspected of murder at one point - and that was forgotten about as time wore on - but in the new "America's Game" he says what we all thought - that the Super Bowl blackout was BS - and he's instantly labeled a conspiracy theorist in the first sentence of this USA Today article.
But this is the key quote from Ray, "I'm not gonna accuse nobody of nothing — because I don't know facts," says Lewis. "But you're a zillion-dollar company, and your lights go out? No. (Laughs) No way. Now listen, if you grew up like I grew up — and you grew up in a household like I grew up — then sometimes your lights might go out, because times get hard. I understand that. But you cannot tell me somebody wasn't sitting there and when they say, 'The Ravens (are) about to blow them out. Man, we better do something.' ... That's a huge shift in any game, in all seriousness. And as you see how huge it was because it let them right back in the game." (Thanks to Bill & Mike for the tip)
--Apparently the "journalists" at ESPN are up-in-arms over the entire PBS Frontline fiasco. They should be. They should also be strong, stand together and make a public statement about their dissatisfaction about it instead of hiding behind anonymous quotes. Could they lose their jobs by doing that? Perhaps (though after this I don't think ESPN would want to be seen as even more against their own investigative reporters). But if they did lose their jobs, so what? Is that an entity they really want to work for? One that forces them not only to pull out of something like this PBS project, but also causes them to self-censor? Myself, I'd prefer my integrity over a paycheck.
--This is a GREAT piece from ESPN's Outside the Lines about Bobby Riggs possibly fixing the famous "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match versus Billie Jean King in 1973. Nearly 40 years later, people still cannot agree about whether an exhibition tennis match was rigged.
| --I know this isn't exactly the subject matter of Yahoo Sports article about UFC fighter Joe Lauzon, but read this piece and consider what I'm writing here. |
First, boxing's history shows an incredible amount of corruption. If you want to know about the mobsters that used to run the sport alongside "legitimate" businessmen, I suggest you read my new book. To think similar dark influences are not lurking within MMA and the UFC I feel is ludicrous.
Second, I don't think the UFC is that far removed from the WWE. Ring girls get about as much internet attention as the fights (think WWE Divas), and this no-hold-barred fighting style is tantamount to what professional wrestling brings to the table. "But it's real..." you say. Fine. Believe that.
For third, and most importantly, the Yahoo article mentions the UFC "Fight of the Night" bonuses Dana White hands out. This amounts to $100,000 or more at each event. This contractual stipulation will undoubtedly lead to fixed fights (if that hasn't happened already). It doesn't take much for two fighters/managers to come together and decide how to earn that extra cash - which is sometimes more than the fighters are earning for their actual bout. And once it's prearranged, would fans really notice a difference between a "real" tap-out and an arranged one? Even in the Yahoo piece, White talks about needing to bring more "entertainment" to each pay-per-view event. The bonus is the lure, yet that bait might be snatched for all the wrong reasons.
--NCAA all-everything Johnny Manziel was allegedly paid $7,500 to sign a few autographs for a "broker." Now I can't believe Manziel is dumb enough not to know that getting paid for signing his name is against NCAA rules and might make him ineligible for the upcoming season. So why do it? For the money, no doubt. This begs the question: could someone have paid Manziel to shave points or throw a game? The argument has always been, "You might be able to pay off a player who is clearly not NFL or NBA bound, but you couldn't get a certain first round draft pick to throw a game." Might not this incident - if true - make one rethink that position? All money is green, and while signing autographs isn't fixing a game, both might cost a player his eligibility, his "free ride," and several slots in the draft.
--The sad state of America: The city of Detroit is bankrupt, yet they found $284 million to spend on an sports arena to "create jobs." Yeah, the Red Wings will singlehandedly turn the city's financial fortunes around.... (Thanks to Yehuda for the tip)
--Defying medical othrodoxy, Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson ran for over 2,000 yards last NFL season on a knee that suffered a torn ACL not 10 months earlier. Peterson wants everyone to know he didn't use drugs like HGH to make such a stunning comeback...yet at the same time he wants the world to know that HGH use is prevalent in the NFL.
--You can learn almost anything by watching clips on YouTube....like how to fix a soccer game. At least that's what one former Lebanese referee stated at his recent trial. He traded games for sex - not money, not because of a blackmail situation - just sex. That's all it takes. (Thanks to Ethan on the tip)
--If you've taken a gander at my Rap Sheet page before, you know that it's not uncommon for athletes to break the law. The Sports Geeks took this one step further and put together an interactive graph of arrests in the NFL. It's worth checking out. (Thanks to Robert for the heads up.)
--Look, athletes have been gambling since...well...forever, and poker is often their game of choice. So, is it bad that Paul Pierce was playing in the World Series of Poker? On the surface, no. But if you know that professional poker players are often fronts for professional sports gamblers, then perhaps Pierce shouldn't be causally sitting there getting a massage. By the way, he did bust out of the tournament not long after this picture was taken.
--It's all about winning championships, right? If so, then someone needs to explain that to (now former) Boston Bruins center Tyler Seguin as the team needed to hire a guard to keep him in his hotel room so he wasn't out partying every night.
--MLB umpire Brian Runge was reportedly dismissed by the league due to a failed drug test. If these reports are correct, this is the first ever dismissal of its kind in baseball. Also, this was reportedly not Runge's first failed test.
The NFL and NBA are being recruited by the federal government to help push ObamaCare. As if anyone in either league really needs affordable healthcare...
The city of Glendale may sell - then lease back - it's own city hall to help pay the $15 million in subsides for the Phoenix Coyotes.
And most importantly, writer Patrick Hruby is bold enough to ask: does tennis have a gambling/match fixing problem?
--Welterweight boxer (and part time Showtime Boxing analyst) Paulie Malignaggi said after a split decision loss to Adrien Broner, "In my hometown, as the defending champion, I felt like I should have got it. Tom Schreck is a New York judge and in Al Haymon's pocket. That's all there is to it. I thought it was an entertaining fight and the fans got their money's worth, but it's a lot of bulls---. There's politics, and you get bulls--- like this. It's part of the game, and somebody should do something about it. I don't have to fight again. I made good money in boxing and I work with you guys at Showtime. I'm not saying it was fixed, but it's always the more connected fighter who gets the decision." Um, that's saying it was fixed. And he has a point: two judges split 115-113 each favoring a different boxer, but the third judge, the aforementioned Schreck, scored it 117-111 in Broner's favor. Boxing, of course, has had corruption at its heart for more than 100 years. Malignaggi may not be right in this case, but certainly boxing matches have been fixed - recently and repeatedly.
--Multiple incidents of game fixing: Russian tennis player Sergei Krotiouk was fined $60,000 and banned for life, and three players and seven bookies were arrested for spot-fixing in cricket in India's Premier League (IRL). On US soil, former Auburn Tigers point guard Varez Ward was arrested on allegations of point shaving and game fixing during the 2011-12 season. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
--Tottenham Hotspur's Andros Townsend was given a four month ban for "breaching" the league's rules against gambling. He was also fined 18,000 English pounds for the offense, although exactly what misconduct caused the ban has not yet been detailed. (Thanks to John for the heads up on this)
--Was this just a major brain cramp on the part of Germany's B Team goalie, or was this a blatant fix for Team USA which is celebrating its 100th year anniversary? You decide.
--"Cheating" can be a subjective term. Very subjective if one is an athlete apparently. ESPN surveyed 83 athletes regarding the subject with the most interesting questions/answers regarding people on "the take." Question one was, "Have you ever suspected during a game that a ref was on the take?" Thanks to the NBA players polled, the final tally was 12.3% of respondents saying, "Yes." Question two was similar, "Have you ever suspected during a game that a player was on the take?" Amazingly, 5.5% of players also saying "Yes" to this. Who was suspected? In which game(s) did this take place? Was it reported to the team and/or league? Was an investigation launched? Sadly, none of these follow-up questions seemed to be asked or answered, but these responses are a tad frightening.
--A rare follow-up in the sports reporting world: It seems as though anyone could buy the top scorer on a college basketball game for as little as $1,000. Though the University of San Diego fixing story received some press, it was not nearly the national sports news it should have been. Why? Because you make a fact like this known, as college basketball might get even dirtier than it already is.
--"The fans that came to watch us play, they weren't there just to see the tennis. We had to be the fight on the hockey arena, we had to be the walk-off home run in the seventh game of the World Series, we had to be the 100-yard kickoff return on the gridiron. We had to do that to get those sports fans to come in and be a part of us." So says tennis legend Jimmy Connors in an interview about his new memoir in which he admits to both a gambling addiction and betting on himself during Wimbledon (a la Pete Rose).
--This interesting tidbit comes courtesy of soccer guru Matt Agosta: Manchester United won its 20th English Premier League title (which was no surprise - these are the NY Yankees of English soccer) by beating Aston Villa 3-0. All three ManU goals which came in the first half were scored by Robin van Persie, who as this ESPN article states, was "the top scorer in the league with 24 goals." What the article fails to mention until the very end is that the top goal scorer going into this game was one Luis Saurez of Liverpool - the same Luis Saurez who for some strange reason bit an opposing player. As Matt pointed out to me, the cause of concern here is that leading the league in scoring is akin to being named MVP in the Premier League. Had Saurez won that title (which will be nearly impossible now with a likely suspension to follow), the league would've been forced to promote a player suspended for biting another as it's top star. This could merely be a "coincidence" as van Persie led the league in scoring last season, but it's an awful convenient one for the league given the circumstances.
--Since the Lakers, sans Kobe, still managed to make the playoffs as a #8 seed, I thought these two tidbits still mattered. First, this article details how the refs not just gave the Lakers the wins they needed to reach the post-season, they also snatched games away from the Jazz. Interestingly, this article comes from a Trailblazers-related site (so it's not really "homerism" at work). One of the comments after the article provides even more insight on this debate - and none of it paints the NBA or its refs in a good light. (Thanks to Ethan for the tip).
Adding on to this idea is the following video which depicts one of the worst screw-jobs in recent history, of course favoring the Lakers. What I really enjoyed in this video is the host's ("Coach Nick") assertion that in the past, "we all knew and understood" that the NBA was forcing Knicks-Bulls playoff series to 6 or 7 games. Really? This is common knowledge that the NBA was rigging games through its referees to make their wish of a 7-game playoff series a reality? And if so, why wouldn't the league then be doing the same today with the Lakers? Coach Nick needs to think things through a bit more if you ask me....
--Only a few games left in the NBA season. Will the league allow the Jazz to make the playoffs as the 8th seed in the Western Conference, or will the Lakers rise to the occasion? This video might give you a clue....(thanks to Stephen for the tip).
--I don't know how much one can trust the word of former NBA referee Tim Donaghy, but he claimed on his Facebook page that former NBA referee Ed Rush "did this all the time with Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavs..." What is "this?" It's target the coach (or in Cuban's case, owner) for more fouls. That's the allegation against Rush by the PAC-12 according to this article. We'll see if it costs him his job (update - no), but the fact that personal vendettas could easily influence a referee's performance for or against certain players/coaches/teams...something Donaghy has alleged was routine in the NBA.
--"Can't be fixed." I hear that all the time. Well, one a former Turkish referee was told the same thing regarding the recent UEFA Champions League draw for match-ups, he went on live TV and proved it could be done. Was it a simple slight of hand magic trick? Does it matter? If he could do it, who is to say the league can't do the very same thing for their own reasons? Watch it below. And thanks to Rodney for sending me the tip!
--The website Awful Announcing asked the question, "Did Roger Goodell cancel an NBCSN/SI segment talking about wives and caregivers of former players?" The answer, of course, is HELL YES HE DID! Their piece (based in part on an ESPN Outside the Lines piece) basically lays out the proof Goodell had the story squashed since it never did air. The conclusion? Player safety is pure PR, nothing more. Thanks to Ethan for the heads up on this!
--I really enjoyed this short doc film about the San Diego Padres. It shows how poorly ownership can treat its fans, and this case against the Padres' owners could be made to several other franchise owners as well.
--I don't understand how "national signing day" has become such a big deal. I mean, don't we all know that these exploited kids are being paid under the table to sign that letter of intent? To make matters worse, since this is now a televised event, coaches FAKE THEIR REACTIONS to each players' announcements. Once again proving that nothing in the sports world is as it appears.
--Would you confuse "Harbowl" with the Super Bowl? The NFL thought you might, so it attacked and defeated an enterprising man who attempted to trademark "Harbowl," even though I don't believe the NFL can lay claim to either the word "har" or "bowl." Plus, wouldn't the Harbaugh Brothers be the ones fighting this? It's their name, or does the NFL own that as well? But here's the real kicker--the NFL didn't force this action now, with the Harbaugh Brothers about to face each other in the Super Bowl. No, the NFL did this in August, prior to the start of this season. What, did the league just have a gut feeling about who was going to play in this year's championship?
--Hey hockey fans! In case you missed it, the NHL is back in action! And players are already fighting! AND IT'S STAGED! I love how the author of that article has no problem writing that the fights are staged (in one instance, the gloves were off within 3 seconds of the first puck drop), but he doesn't go a step further and ask the implications of such play acting.
--Former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona's new book may be more revealing than some people expected. In an excerpt released, Francona wrote how one of the members of Red Sox ownership Tom Werner "talked about slumping television ratings and whined, ‘We need to start winning in more exciting fashion.'" On top of that, according to this article, "The owners hired a consulting firm, paying $100,000 to find out what the Red Sox can do to regenerate public interest in the team. 'They told us we didn’t have any marketable players, that we needed some sizzle. We need some sexy guys,' [Red Sox former GM Theo] Epstein said." The book will be released shortly.
-- But I've been told that games can't be fixed today....
Notice, by the way, the ESPN anchors just chuckling over these calls, rather than showing any sort of indignation like they did regarding the NFL's replacement refs.
--Former Detroit Lions offensive lineman Lomas Brown admitted that he intentionally missed a block in hopes of getting his quarterback Scott Mitchell injured way back in 1994. Mitchell did, in fact, get injured on the play in question. This revelation has left Mitchell flabbergasted, but should any of us really believe more shenanigans like this don't occur in all sports? Remember when Brett Favre intentionally took a sack so Michael Strahan could set the single season sack record? Think players don't work out pre-game arrangements similar to Favre's with Strahan so someone can reach a contract incentive or look good for his family, etc.? I've heard all sort of stories similar to this. But Brown's admission is a bit of a first. It should prove to fans that not all you see and believe in a game is as you assume it to be.
--A fan, Ethan, sent this to me: the results of the Champions League draw for match-ups in the soccer tournament wound up EXACTLY THE SAME as the "rehearsal draw" conducted the day before (why there even is a rehearsal draw is beyond me). There are all sorts of debates as to the odds of this occurring, but it has more than a few fans wondering if something else (read: a fix, or as the UK's Mirror stated immediately after the drawing took place, "start the conspiracies now!") was actually going on. Imagine a "rehearsal draw" for the NBA Draft Lottery ending the same as the actual drawing, and you get a sense as to what this seems like for European soccer fans. To what ends this would be set up remains to be seen as certain first round games (such as Real Madrid vs. Manchester United) would seeming be better served in the later rounds.
--Players normally don't get fined for doing what it is they are supposed to do out on the field; however, in the case of Arizona Cardinals DT Darnell Dockett, this wasn't the case. Losing 7-6 late in their game against the Jets, Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt and defensive coordinator Ray Horton ordered their defense to allow the Jets to score a touchdown (which would've made the Jets cover the -6.5 point spread) thereby giving the Cardinals' offense the ball in hopes of doing something they hadn't been able to do all game (score a touchdown) to tie the game (if they could score the ensuing two-point conversion) at 14-14. Dockett refused the order, and got into a heated on-the-field argument with teammate Kerry Rhodes. In the end, the whole episode was rendered moot when Jets RB Shonn Greene downed the ball short of the endzone for the Jets win. No matter, the Cardinals fined Dockett $200,000 for his insolence. To which Dockett stated:
"It's something that I don't believe in, something that I didn't understand. It was frustrating at the time. At the end of the day, I am never, never going to lay down and quit. I've been playing football for over 20 years. I've given this organization, I've given Florida State, I've given my high school everything I've got. I love the game. I play with passion and I'll never quit."
Apparently few other NFL players have a similar mindset. (Thanks to Rodney for the heads up on this story).
--"Tulsa athletic director Ross Parmley was placed on paid leave Tuesday as the university investigates allegations that he may have been involved with an alleged bookie in Oklahoma City." That's how this AP article begins. According to other reports, Parmley stated to the FBI that he has bet on college and professional games for "multiple years." This could just be the beginning of something more spectacular as there is no doubt that the shady worlds of college sports and sports gambling often intersect. How far all this goes remains to be seen....
--Three Guatemalan soccer players were banned for life by FIFA for match fixing. As regular contributor Matt Agosta pointed out to me, one of the matches occurred in the CONCACAF Champions League. This may not be of note to non-soccer fans, but this is a tournament in which MLS teams are desperate to achieve a win against Mexican and Central American clubs in order to gain higher status in the soccer community. And now we know, these games can be rigged.
--Many people seem to forget that sports gambling outside of Nevada is illegal...including those involved in the business. Case in point, Cantor Gaming sports book director Mike Colbert was arrested by Nevada gaming agents. Those details are still emerging at this time, it's believed the arrest is tied to a New York State investigation relating to offshore sports book giant Pinnacle. Stay tuned to this one...
--Did you know the NFL has a non-profit status which allows the league's HQ to not pay any taxes? It's true: read this. And then ask yourself just how much the government funds professional sports and how close these modern gladiators are to their Roman ancestors as well as the purpose the Romans used them for: distraction.
--Two admissions related to the NFL: First, Doug Gottlieb who recently left ESPN for CBS Sports told Dan Patrick that ESPN instructed all of its talent that, "You can't talk enough [Tim] Tebow." On top of that, when Patrick (who should know better from his days at the network) asked Gottlieb if ESPN reports news or creates it, Gottlieb replied, "Both."
Patrick - to his credit, and perhaps verbally jabbing his ex-employers - added, "They've [ESPN] lost that credibility, a large portion of the credibility of covering news. I think that it's now: ‘What's trending?' Focus groups. You're trying to create things there. Bernie Fine story at Syracuse. Where's that? The New Orleans story with the Saints with Mickey Loomis? Where's that? Where are those stories? Those are big stories that you guys created. You were late on the Joe Paterno story. I think there's just a different mindset from what they're doing and how they're covering it. And they always fall back on ‘Well, Bob Ley covers the serious news stories.' SportsCenter should be covering sports, they should be covering the news."
Then, on Showtime's Inside the NFL, two former replacement referees told hosts James Brown and Cris Collinsworth that not only did the NFL instruct its officials not to call pass interference on Hail Mary plays (like the blatant one on Monday Night Football between the Packers and Seahawks in Week 3), but that there are "philosophies" behind when and when not to throw a flag. This means, in short, that the NFL dictates to its officials how to call a game...and therefore how to manipulate it.
--The USA Today got on board with this idea of game fixing, albeit in a simplified form and only because of the NFL's replacement refs. But it's a start. Thanks to "Apollo Creed" on Twitter for giving me the heads up.
--Three men out of the 10 arrested have plead guilty to attempting to fix University of San Diego Toreros college basketball game(s). You can read more about the case here. Suffice it to say (a) game fixing is alive and well in the United States, (b) this sort of activity - especially on the collegiate level - occurs more often than most people believe, and (c) this case reads like amateur hour (or, in other words, these guys were so sloppy, they were bound to get caught). Thus far, however, the true depths of the case - as in the amount of money involved and the number of games - remains a tightly guarded secret by federal investigators.
--The world's biggest sports franchise - Manchester United (which is owned by the Glazer family who also own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) - recently signed a deal to have Bwin be its official "online gambling and betting partner." Comforting, no? How soon after sports gambling is legalized in the U.S. will we have teams brought to us by Cantor Gaming or Harrahs?
--Remember back in the day when ESPN used to thrive off of Australian Rules Football? Well, apparently the Australian Football League (AFL) has had its issues with match fixing as of late with the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation (VCGR) looking into allegations of tanking. The AFL has maintained that tanking does not occur. Others, including former Melbourne president Paul Gardner, claim that is not true.
The VCGR is exactly the type of institution the NFL, NBA, etc. don't want to see erected here in the US as it's stated goal is maintaining and improving public confidence in the integrity of sports with regard to their betting environment. This is perhaps why the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and NCAA have filed suit against the state of New Jersey over its attempted legalization of sports gambling. Amazingly, this is a case of a private entity suing to enforce a federal statute - something the government is supposed to do.
--Tyson, a fan of the site, sent me this article about how the Minnesota Vikings paid their former GM Mike Lynn (the man who gave away the Vikings future for Herschel Walker) millions of dollars because of his role in making the Metrodome a reality, even after he left the team. In fact, he took in 10% from the luxury boxes on every event/game held at the Metrodome. This has nothing to do with game fixing, but it's a rare piece of actual investigative reporting and a great read.
--I hate to cite Rick Reilly, but one aspect of the Penn State tragedy not covered was the media's role. They, too, did nothing as Reilly's article indicates. Instead of actually doing its supposed job of being a muckraking watchdog for fans everywhere, the sports media has become nothing but idol worshipers happy to create illusionary fairy tales for soulless athletes, coaches and owners. If something as horrific as what when on at Penn State can be covered up for 14 years (and only come to light because of law enforcement's involvement), what else can be held back from public scrutiny in college and professional sports? Anyone who dares argue that sports cannot be fixed because someone would talk now will face the immediate and undeniable counterpunch of this story.
--Thanks to being the league's (and professional sports') only publicly owned team, the profits of the Green Bay Packers were released. The team's net profit for 2011 (when it went 15-1 and then lost to the NY Giants in the playoffs) was $42.7 million. Add to that $64 million the team took in on sale of its "stock" (which is completely valueless and cannot be re-sold), the Packers netted $106.7 million in 2011 alone.
--Steve Nash's agent Billy Duffy on his client's trade to the Lakers as quoted on SI.com: "As a fan, the NBA is about rivalries, but stories and storylines. Here's another major storyline in a major market city." So is that to say the league orchestrated the deal to ensure the Lakers remained a force (read: story) in the NBA?
--Listen up, NASCAR fans & let's see how fast these statements get retracted. Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith flat out called for mandatory yellow flags to create more excitement in the sport. He said (in part), "If you have one [yellow flag] every 20 laps, I don't care. It adds to the show. Someone once said we're in show business. Well, if we're in show business, let's deliver that show. Right now, we're not delivering it. Other sports have mandatory timeouts and TV timeouts. All that stuff creates things in those sports. We need to be creative in this sport." Read the entire article here. Thanks to Michael for the heads up on this one!
--Three possible cases of someone attempting to reveal private information about a professional athlete by way of extortion made recent headlines. The first involved Washington Redskins rookie QB (and number two overall draft pick) Robert Griffin III. The second focused on Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson. The third centered on former NFL WR Terrell Owens. I only have one thing to say about all three cases: THIS IS EXACTLY HOW YOU GET A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR ATHLETE (OR COACH) TO FIX A GAME. How many other unreported incidents like this have occurred?
--First the Miss USA pageant came under suspicion, now the HGTV series House Hunters appears to be faked. What can we trust, America?
--A little while ago, I wrote an article about game fixing occurring in competitive video games (specifically StarCraft). Now comes the news that Miss USA contestant Sheena Monnin contended that the outcome of the Miss USA pageant was rigged. Specifically the Pennsylvania representative Monnin stated on her Facebook page, "I witnessed another contestant who said she saw the list of the Top 5 BEFORE THE SHOW EVER STARTED proceed to call out in order who the Top 5 were before they were announced on stage. After it was indeed the Top 5 I knew the show must be rigged; I decided at that moment to distance myself from an organization who did not allow fair play and whose morals did not match my own."
Donald Trump, who owns the Miss USA pageant, has threatened to sue (the Donald then switched gears, offering to let the matter go if she apologized publicly). Meanwhile, the Miss Universe Organization has filed an arbitration action against Monnin for "ongoing defamatory statements." We'll see how this plays out shortly.
--I was interviewed for a feature-length ESPN article on sports conspiracies in 2009 (ESPN bought me lunch). That article was published on May 30, 2012...by Yahoo Sports. Apparently there were certain editorial changes (read: censor) ESPN wanted that author Patrick Hruby wouldn't remove. Read the piece for yourself and see if ESPN was being paranoid, or truly didn't want certain things to come to light.
--Yeah, yeah, yeah. The NBA Draft Lottery was rigged...again. As Yahoo Sports Adrian Wojnarowski wrote, "The reaction of several league executives was part disgust, part resignation on Wednesday night. So many had predicted this happening, so many suspected that somehow, someway, the Hornets would walk away with Davis. That's the worst part for the NBA; these aren't the railings from the guy sitting at the corner tavern, but the belief of those working within the machinery that something undue happened here, that they suspect it happens all the time under Stern." I have no idea why Wojnarowski finds this shocking, but read his whole piece here (thanks, Michael).
--Wired recently published a story about "robot" reporters--using an algorithm, a computer can write a solid newspaper/magazine article. Perhaps not remarkably, this got its start in sports journalism. As I've been saying for some time now, sports reporting--especially investigative reporting--is dead. The fact that a computer can to the same job a human can when it comes to writing up a sports article doesn't come as a shock to me.
However, it should put a bit of fear into every fan because even more objectivity is being removed from covering sports by using such a program. Wouldn't this be exactly what a league would want? A program that can produce intelligent articles based on the parameters a league requests? There would be no more uncomfortable questions (and there aren't that many anymore as it is). As one commenter wrote, "it's the journalists' job to question everything and trust no one." That's what I do here, but I'm a "conspiracy theorist" (at least to some). But I guarantee you, the more this technology is utilized, the saner I'll appear to everyone.
--This is a personal story: A member of the Professional Football Researchers Association began a thread on their website with The Fix Is In as it's topic. He wondered if anyone else had read the book or were aware of the allegations of game fixing included. I just so happened to stumble across this on my own, asked to join the site, was welcomed in, and promptly engaged in the debate to defend myself, the book, and to post information that was lacking.
After this thread grew for about two weeks and as the debate heated up, suddenly the rug was pulled out from under everyone as the administrator locked the thread, ending it by citing "ruffled feathers and nit picking." Excuse me, but since my book and by extension myself were the center of this debate, wouldn't I be the one to complain? Shouldn't I have a say in the matter? Apparently not. Is it censorship? Well, I'm sure certain members there didn't take too kindly to me pointing out possible fixes in what they feel may be a "pure" sport. But something like this shows you that the free and open debate and exchange of information on the internet isn't all it's cracked up to be. Before they probably delete it, you can check this thread out for yourself here.
--Thanks to Rodney for sending this one to me: Eric Mangini - the currently unemployed-by-the-NFL former head coach of the New York Jets - now openly admits he's sorry he turned in Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick and started what became the Spygate scandal. He said, in part, "never in a million years did I think it was going to translate into what it was going to translate into. It doesn't tarnish what we achieved there. It doesn't tarnish what they achieved after the fact. I think when you look at the history of success that they had after that incident, it's pretty obvious that it didn't play any type of significant role in the victories we had or the success that we had.[emphasis added]" That doesn't mean it didn't play a role, though, just not a significant role....if you believe him and if he's not apologizing because he's been blackballed for being a snitch.
--So for a second time this NHL season, a member of the New York Rangers went on a post-game rant stating that the NHL was looking to control the outcome of a game. This time it was goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who stated in regards to a kicked-in goal that was allowed to stand by the referees after an instant replay review, "Someone wanted them back in the game, for sure." See/hear his whole complaint here. I would've posted the video here on the site, but ESPN wouldn't allow sharing of the post game interview video.
--A fan of this site, Kathleen, sent me this Financial Times article which discusses how soccer has been trying to take the personality out of players, replacing that individualness for a corporate facade. The key line comes at the end when author Simon Kuper writes, "Manchester City needs Balotelli, and so does football. All the talk since last Sunday's mach has been about him. Balotelli is an entertainer and football needs to remember that, like rock music, it is a branch of the entertainment industry." This reflects what the NFL has attempted which led to it's "No Fun League" moniker, and for good reason.
Kathleen also sent this screen capture of the original article, featuring both a glaring typo as well as a note (?) from the editor (?) which spells out the basic premise of this website...even if it no longer appears on the article's webpage.
--I'm not going to say former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Greg Williams doesn't sound crazy. He does. But I suspect there are several other NFL coaches (and a few NCAA coaches to boot) who sound exactly like this in team meetings. I also know he's not alone in running a bounty program, but only the Saints are going to take the fall. Supposedly the video to go along with this audio (which is loaded with f-bombs) is even more damaging:
--Does the NHL need to be more "Hollywood?" Edmonton Oilers head coach Tom Renney outright said so and was promptly fined for it. Need I remind everyone of how another NHL coach - New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella - openly wondered if the NHL and NBC attempted to fix the Winter Classic this season.
---NFL demigod Roger Goodell handed down a multitude of suspensions to members of the New Orleans Saints coaching staff and front office for their bounty program. Commentators will blab on and on about whether those punishments were appropriate or overbearing. Who cares? The NFL made their hay with the Saints after Hurricane Katrina and now could care less if the team spends another 40 years chalking up their once-usual 3-13 record with each passing season.
What no one has mentioned--besides myself--is if a bunch of million dollar defensive players can be motivated to injure opponents for $1,000 or $1,500, what sort of money can be paid to demotivate them? What's the cost for them to miss tackles (a la Marshawn Lynch in the 2011 NFC Wildcard game)? What kind of bread can I lay down to get a DB to let a WR get behind him for a touchdown? Perhaps fixing a game isn't as costly as many would lead you to believe.....
---So there's this New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils "fight" from March 19, 2012:
Here's my gripe - and further proof of the connection between a league and its broadcasting partner - listen to NBC Sports announcer Mike "Doc" Emrick at about 3:05 into this video. He states, "It was Wayne Gretzky who once said, 'If any of this were fixed and any of it were false, I'd have been in more of them.' They are for real. The hits register...." Notice the invocation of the Great One's name, as if it lends credence to his words. As if Gretzky is infallible, despite his connections (and denials) to the Rick Tocchet gambling scandal.
But why was Emrick compelled to say that? Was it because this fight was clearly staged as it started upon the opening drop of the puck and featured not one, but three separate fights? Were those comforting words meant to dispel any linger thoughts that this fight may not be 100% real? And if the NHL doesn't like fighting, why does the NBC cameraman focus on the blood left behind on the ice? Why not mandate - as leagues do when fans run out on to the field/court - that the networks don't show such events? Certainly fighting could be kept off the air in a similar fashion...if the NHL truly desired the practice to fade.
---Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers has had personal demons to wrestle with, but even he knows that "When it comes down to it, people don't understand, fans don't understand, this is a business, this is an entertainment business." He's not the only player to say something like this. Read the source of this quote here.
---The BBC knows game fixing occurs in soccer as does FIFA. The question is are they doing anything significant to curtail the practice? Considering this piece cites the fact that, "Almost a quarter of players (23.6%) are aware of match-fixing in their league" every soccer fan should hope they will. Read the entire article here.