Monthly Archives: September, 2010

My Favorite NBA Draft Disasters

Since the NBA season is fast approaching, it is time to look back at some of my all-time favorite NBA draft mistakes. In retrospect, some of these decisions were so bad they defy logic.  Sure, I get that hindsight is 20/20, but take an honest look at this list and just try to say they weren’t colossal disasters.

Joe Barry Carroll – #1, Golden State Warriors, 1980

In what will prove to be a theme here, teams that constantly make awful player personnel decisions tend to sink to the bottom and stay there. The worst kind of decision is when you not only draft the absolute wrong guy, but you way overpaid for the right to do it. Enter the Golden State Warriors. In one of the worst moves ever, the Warriors  trade Robert “Big Chief” Parish and the Number3 draft choice (eventually used to select Hall of Famer Kevin McHale) in exchange for the Number 1 pick in 1980, which they pissed away on Joe Barry Carroll.  Carroll averages more than 17 points per game in his career, but earns the dubious nickname “Joe Barely Cares” for his losing ways and complete lack of effort.

LaRue Martin -#1, Portland Trail Blazers, 1972

Portland begins a long tradition of drafting a stiff in front of a future Hall of Famer. The Number 1 overall pick in 1972, LaRue Martin is a sure-fire pick for the Afro Hall of Fame, but can’t make hair translate into success;  Martin averages a balding 5.3 points per game in his forgettable four-year career. Who could have Portland had instead? Bob McAdoo.

Kent Benson – #1, Milwaukee Bucks, 1977

Indiana University’s Benson was selected first in 1977. However, his four-club, 11 year slog through the NBA is really only remembered for his being such a douche-nozzle that in his second professional game he got shit-hammered in the face by the normally mild-mannered Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It is also reported that Benson was such a prick he was the main reason Larry Bird walked away from his IU basketball scholarship to transfer to Indiana State.

Sam Bowie – #2, Portland Trail Blazers, 1984

Bowie is often underrated in his importance in the history of the NBA. As a Portland Trail Blazer, Bowie blazed a trail for a long line of big men to be victims of guys doing poster-quality dunks on them. When not being dunked on, and when staying healthy, Bowie actually performs as a serviceable player during his 10-year career. But the Trail Blazers will always lament selecting him with the Number 2 pick; some guy named Michael Jordan goes Number 3. After all, there’s a reason why Portland makes multiple appearances on this list.

Chris Washburn – #3, Golden State Warriors, 1986

It says a lot about Washburn that it takes a guy dying for him not to be the biggest draft disaster of 1986 (see Len Bias). A high-school phenom, Washburn gets picked with the Number 3 selection, but it only takes two years for him to crime-and-drug his way out of the league. Again, it is worthy to note this is not the only time here you see the words “Golden State Warriors.”

Dennis Hopson – #3, New Jersey Nets, 1987

I told you it would become a theme, so consider yourself warned. In what somehow is the Nets’ only entry on this list, Dennis Hopson spends six seasons in the NBA just never really getting the idea of how to play the game. When they selected Hopson out of Ohio State, the Nets passed on such stars as Scottie Pippen, Kenny Smith, and Reggie Miller.

Shawn Bradley – #2, Philadelphia 76ers, 1993

See the entry for Sam Bowie. Nobody got more poster-quality “dunk-rapes” than the awkward, gangly, yet monstrously slow Bradley.  But Philadelphia saw something in him the rest of us missed since they passed on Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn, and Allan Houston to take “the Mormon Wonder.”

Pervis Ellison – #1, Sacramento Kings, 1989

When a team spends a #1 pick on a player, they expect him to play as often as possible. However, this would never be the case for “Rarely in Service” Pervis, who only played in more than 70 games once in his injury-shortened career.

Michael Olowokandi – #1, Los Angeles Clippers, 1998

How the Clippers only pop up once on this list has to be some sort of minor miracle. Nobody has made more bad decisions on players than the Clips. In the 1998 NBA Draft which featured future All-Stars Mike Bibby, Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, and Paul Pierce, the Clippers clip themselves once again by taking Olowokandi with the first overall pick. The seven-foot stiff just 8.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in his unremarkable career.

Kwame Brown – #1, Washington Wizards, 2001

Great players seldom make great managers. Micheal Jordan is no exception to this rule. His drafting of this high-schooler in 2001 as the general manager of the Wizards exemplifies the futility of his front-office career.  Brown is a colossal bust by all standards as he only manages 7.0 points per game and was plagued by injury.

Adam Morrison – #3, Charlotte Bobcats, 2006

Morrison is another Michael Jordan debacle. This time, Jordan as part-owner of the Bobcats selected in 2006, passing on soon-to-be stars Brandon Roy, Randy Foye, Rudy Gay, and Rajon Rondo.  Morrison is allegedly a great shooter, but his almost c0mplete immobility limits him to 4.5 points per game in the 2008-09 season and is traded to the Lakers midway through.

R.I.P. George Blanda

George “The Grand Old Man” Blanda passed away yesterday and the football world certainly feels a huge loss. From his days as the son of a Czech-born Pennsylvania coal miner to the University of Kentucky under legendary head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, to the NFL, the AFL, and the Hall of Fame, Blanda left a mark on the game that was uniquely his yet universally great.

Blanda began his career as a quarterback and placekicker at the University of Kentucky. Coach Bryant arrived in Lexington in Blanda’s his sophomore year, following a 1–9 season. Bryant transformed Blanda and the Wildcats into a 7-3 team each of the next three years. Blanda was the starting quarterback in his last two seasons at Kentucky compiling 120 completions for 1,451 yards and 12 touchdowns. Recalling the time he met Bryant, Blanda said: “I thought this must be what God looks like.”

Blanda’s professional career started for $600 in 1949. While the Chicago Bears primarily used Blanda as a quarterback and placekicker, he also saw time on the defensive side of the ball at linebacker. It would not be until 1953 that Blanda would emerge as the Bears’ top quarterback, but an injury the following year effectively ended his first-string status. For the next four years, he was used mostly in a kicking capacity.

Actually, Blanda retired after the 1958 NFL season because of Bears owner George Halas insistence of only using him as a kicker, but returned in 1960 upon the formation of the American Football League. He signed with the Houston Oilers again as a quarterback and kicker. He was derided by the sports media as an “NFL Reject,” but he went on to lead the Oilers to the first two championships in AFL history, and he was the All-AFL quarterback and won AFL Player of the Year honors in 1961. During that season, he led the AFL with 3,330 passing yards and a record 36 touchdown passes. That record, although tied by the Giants’ Y.A. Tittle in 1963, was not surpassed in pro football until 1984 when the Dolphins’ Dan Marino tossed 48 scores.

In 1962, Blanda  had two 400-yard passing days for the Oilers;  a 464-yard, 4 touchdown effort against the Buffalo Bills and a 418-yard, 7 touchdown blasting of the New York Titans. Blanda threw at least 4 touchdowns 13 times during his career and once attempted 68 passes in one game. Blanda would have easily been comfortable in today’s pass-happy game; from 1963 to 1965, Blanda led the AFL in passing attempts and completions, and ranked in the top ten for attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns during seven consecutive seasons. A four-time member of the American Football League All-Star team, Blanda’s already-long career seemed over when he was released by the Oilers in 1967. However, the Oakland Raiders signed him later that year, seeing his potential as a contributing backup passer and a dependable kicker.

During the 1967 season, Blanda’s kicking saw him lead the AFL in scoring with 116 points. The Raiders went on to compete in Super Bowl II, but the following two seasons ended in heartbreak as they lost in the AFL Championship games both times.  In 1970, Blanda was released during the preseason, but bounced back to establish his 21st professional season with one of the most dramatic comebacks in sports history. Beginning with the game at Pittsburgh, Blanda put together five straight clutch performances.

Against the Steelers, Blanda threw for three touchdowns in relief of an injured Daryle Lamonica. One week later, his 48-yard field goal with three seconds remaining salvaged a 17–17 tie with the Kansas City Chiefs. Against the Browns, Blanda once again came off the bench to throw a touchdown pass to tie the game with 1:34 remaining, then kicked a 53-yard field goal with three seconds left for the 23–20 win. Immediately after the winning field goal, Raiders radio announcer Bill King excitedly declared, “George Blanda has just been elected King of the World!” In the Raiders’ next game, Blanda again replaced Lamonica in the fourth quarter and connected with Fred Biletnikoff on a touchdown pass with 2:28 remaining to defeat the Denver Broncos. The streak concluded one week later when Blanda’s 16-yard field goal in the closing seconds defeated the San Diego Chargers, 20–17.

In the AFC title game against the Baltimore Colts, Blanda again relieved an injured Lamonica and had a superb performance, completing 17 of 32 passes for 217 yards and 2 touchdowns while also kicking a 48-yard field goal and two extra points, keeping the Raiders in the game until the final quarter, when he was intercepted twice. At 43, Blanda became the oldest quarterback ever to play in a championship game, and was one of the few remaining straight-ahead kickers in the NFL.

Chiefs’ owner Lamar Hunt said, “Why, this George Blanda is as good as his father, who used to play for Houston.” Although he never again played a major role at quarterback, Blanda would serve as the Raiders’ kicker for five more seasons. Blanda played in his last game at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium on January 4, 1976, in the AFC Championship Game at age 48. Blanda went out on a 41-yard field goal and one extra point as the Raiders lost to the Steelers 16-10.

In later years, Blanda would remain a strong supporter of AFL heritage, saying “That first year, the Houston Oilers or Los Angeles Chargers could have beaten the NFL champion (Philadelphia Eagles) in a Super Bowl.” Blanda said further “I think the AFL was capable of beating the NFL in a Super Bowl game as far back as 1960 or 1961. I just regret we didn’t get the chance to prove it.”

Blanda finished his 26 professional football seasons having completed 1,911 of 4,007 pass attempts for 26,920 yards and 236 touchdowns. Blanda also held the NFL record for most interceptions thrown with 277, until Brett Favre broke in 2007. He rushed for 344 yards and 9 touchdowns on the ground, kicked 335 of 641 field goals, and 943 of 959 extra points, giving him 2,002 total points. Additional stats include 1 interception, 2 kickoff returns for 19 yards, 22 punts for 809 yards, and 23 fumble recoveries. Blanda holds the following professional football records:

  • Passing Touchdowns in a game: 7 (Tied with 4 others) November 19, 1961 vs. New York Titans
  • Most seasons played: 26 (1949–58, 1960–75)
  • Most seasons scoring a point: 26
  • One of two players to play in 4 different decades: (40s, 50s, 60s, 70s)
  • Most PATs made (943) and attempted (959)
  • Most interceptions thrown, single season: 42 (1962)
  • Held record of most pass attempts in a single game: 68 (37 completions, vs. New York Titans on 11/1/1961) until 1994 when Drew Bledsoe had 70
  • Oldest person to play in an NFL game: 48 years, 109 days
  • First player ever to score over 2,000 points
  • Oldest quarterback to start a title game
  • Most total points accounted for (including TD passes) in a career: 3,418 (not an official stat)
  • He is the placekicker on the All-Time All-AFL Team, and was one of only 20 players to play all ten years of the AFL, as well as one of only three who were in every AFL game their teams played. Blanda was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981, his first year of eligibility, and also was inducted into the University of Kentucky Hall of Fame.
  • Blanda held the record for most professional football games played with 340 until 2004, when it was broken by another placekicker, Morten Andersen.
  • U.S. Route 119 in Blanda’s hometown of Youngwood, PA was renamed George Blanda Boulevard in 1985.
  • In 1999, Blanda was ranked number 98 on The Sporting News’ list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.
  • Blanda also is regarded as the first ever fantasy football draft pick when the game was first created in 1962.

Vaya con Dios, Mr. Blanda…there will never be another like you.

Ten Famous Deaths By Radiation Poisoning and Their Equivalent Sports Firings

Over on Listverse, there has been another great-yet-odd list compiled. While the subject doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that I found it comparable to a somehow-sports-related screed, it is really hard to resist a list of people who were killed by radiation. Just think, the same power that heats up your lunch in 90 seconds can also reduce you to a pile of symptoms like severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid hair loss, infections, edema, high fever, and coma and/or death.

Of course, terrible sports coaches and managers are another force that can turn you into a retching pile of guts. So, it only seems natural to compare 10 great deaths by radiation sickness with 10 notorious sackings of sports leaders.

#10) Cecil Kelley

On December 30, 1958 an accident occurred in the Los Alamos plutonium-processing facility. Cecil Kelley, an experienced chemical operator was working with a large mixing tank. The solution in tank was supposed to be “lean”, typically less than 0.1 grams of plutonium per liter. However, the concentration on that day was actually 200 times higher. When Kelley switched on the stirrer, the liquid in the tank formed a vortex and the plutonium containing layer went critical releasing a huge burst of neutrons and gamma radiation in a pulse that lasted a mere 200 microseconds.

Kelley, who had been standing on a foot ladder peering into the tank through a viewing window, fell or was knocked to the floor. Two other operators on duty saw a bright flash and heard a dull thud. Quickly, they rushed to help and found Kelley incoherent and saying only, “I’m burning up! I’m burning up!”. He was rushed to the hospital, semiconscious, retching, vomiting, and hyperventilating. At the hospital, Kelly’s bodily excretions were sufficiently radioactive to give a positive reading on a detector.

Two hours after the accident, Kelley’s condition improved as he regained coherence. However, it was soon clear that Kelley would not survive long. Tests showed his bone marrow was destroyed, and the pain in his abdomen became difficult to control despite medication. Kelley died 35 hours after the accident.

Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Bum Phillips Being Fired by the Houston Oilers

All Bum Phillips did was usher in the “Luv Ya Blue” era for the Oilers; you know, that fleeting glimpse of time when pro football in Houston didn’t suck. But much like Kelly, Phillips’ demise wasn’t his own fault. Phillips got the gate in Houston because he was unable to do something nobody in the 70’s could; beat the Pittsburgh Steelers.

#9) Harry K. Daghnian, Jr.

Harry K. Daghlian, Jr. was an Armenian-American physicist with the Manhattan Project. On August 21, 1945 he was conducting an experiment attempting to build a neutron reflector by manually stacking a series of tungsten carbide bricks around a plutonium core. As he was moving the final block over the assembly, neutron counters alerted Daghlian to the fact that the addition of this brick would render the system supercritical. As he withdrew his hand, he accidentally dropped the brick onto the center of the assembly. The addition of this last brick caused the reaction to go immediately supercritical.

Daghnian panicked immediately after dropping the brick and attempted to knock off the brick without success. He was forced to partially disassemble the tungsten carbide pile to halt the reaction causing him to receive a lethal dose of neutron radiation. He died 25 days later. Daghlian was violating safety regulations by working on the assembly late at night and alone in the laboratory.

Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Dennis Green Being Fired By the Minnesota Vikings

Nothing defines the Dennis Green era in Minnesota quite like pure, uncut incompetence. Green clearly Sadly, Green’s death took longer than 25 days; Denny lingered for ten years, a decade that saw the Vikings win absolutely nothing despite having monstrously talented teams. But as we know now, nothing destroys talent quite like stupidity.

#8 ) Louis Slotin

Louis Slotin was a Canadian physicist and chemist who took part in the Manhattan Project that created the first atomic bombs. He participated in criticality testing of plutonium cores, often referred to as “tickling the dragon’s tail.”

On May 21, 1946 Slotin and seven other colleagues performed an experiment that involved the creation of one of the first steps of a fission reaction by placing two half-spheres of beryllium around a plutonium core. Slotin was stabilizing the upper beryllium sphere with his left hand using the blade of a screwdriver to maintain the separation between the two half-spheres in violation of experimental protocol. At 3:20pm the screwdriver slipped causing the upper beryllium sphere to fall creating a prompt critical reaction and a burst of radiation. Scientists in the room observed a blue glow around the spheres and felt a heat wave.

Slotin instinctively jerked his left hand upward, lifting the upper beryllium hemisphere and dropping it to the floor, ending the reaction. However, Slotin had already been exposed to a lethal dose of radiation, equivalent to the amount that he would have received had he been 1500m away from an atomic bomb detonation. He was rushed to the hospital immediately, but the damage was irreversible and he died nine days later on May 30, 1946. The core he dropped was the very same core dropped by Daghnian the year before – causing it to be named the Demon Core.

Slotin’s story is integrated in the movie, “Fat Man and Little Boy” starring Paul Newman and John Cusack.

Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Anybody who hired, then fired Gene Mauch after 1964.

Nobody seems to learn the lesson; safety regulations exist for a reason. Somebody somewhere somewhat smarter than you already knew that you shouldn’t stand on the top rung of the ladder, nor should you grab the overhead wire.  That’s why there is usually a sign or a label; some sort of warning that what you are about to do is a bad idea.

Gene Mauch should have come with just such a label. Clearly, the other signs were not visible enough…the collapse of the 1964 Phillies, the malaise that was the Montreal Expos in the early 70’s, and the Angels’ playoff choke-jobs in the 80’s…Mauch kept a level of respect in baseball that he kept getting hired even after just having been fired for complete ineptitude.

#7)  Eben McBurney Byers

Eben McBurney Byers was a wealthy American socialite, athlete, and industrialist. In 1927 while returning via chartered train from the annual Harvard-Yale football game, Byers fell from his berth and injured his arm. He complained of persistent pain and a doctor suggested that he take Radithor, a patent medicine containing high concentrations of radium. Byers drank nearly 1400 bottles over three years. By 1930, when Byers stopped taking the remedy, he had accumulated significant amounts of radium in his bones resulting in the loss of most of his jaw. Byers’ brain was also abscessed and holes were forming in his skull. He died from radium poisoning on March 31, 1932. He is buried in Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in a lead-lined coffin.

Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Kevin McHale Being Fired by the The Minnesota Timberwolves.

Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor seems to have been drinking the Radithor for years. While Kevin “McFail” was busy taking that franchise from the conference finals all the way to the bottom of the lottery, Taylor just sat idly by, obviously letting something eat through his brain. It might as well be radium. Not only that, but when you get mistaken for the handicapped kid from “Glee,” you should just give it up.

#6) Hiroshi Couchi

Japan’s worst nuclear radiation accident took place at a uranium reprocessing facility in Tokaimura, northeast of Tokyo, on September 30, 1999. The direct cause of the criticality accident was workers putting uranyl nitrate solution containing about 16.6 kg of uranium, exceeding the critical mass, into a precipitation tank. The tank was not designed to dissolve this type of solution and was not configured to prevent eventual criticality.

Three workers were exposed to lethal radiation doses. One of these workers, Hiroshi Couchi, was transferred to the University of Tokyo Hospital and three days after the accident he could talk and only his right hand was a little swollen with redness. However, his condition gradually weakened as the radioactivity broke down the chromosomes in his cells.

The doctors were at a loss as to what to do. There were few precedents and proven medical treatments for victims of radiation poisoning. A local television crew followed the story for 83 days until Hiroshi died. Their observations are chronicled in the book, “A Slow Death: 83 Days of Radiation Sickness.”

Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Jimy Williams Being Fired by the Toronto Blue Jays.

Tony Kornheiser explained this with his coining of one of the great baseball nicknames of all time. In the 80’s, Jimy Williams found himself with a dilemma. It seemed the Toronto outfield wasn’t large enough for all-star George Bell and a rookie nobody had ever heard of. Williams was instrumental in Bell’s departure for Chicago, and his eventual firing should tell you how well that worked. This is how Jimy “I’ve got to make room for Sil Campusano” Williams essentially killed himself.

#5) Marie Curie

Marie Sklodowska Curie was a physicist and chemist and a pioneer in the field of radioactivity. In fact, it was Curie that coined the term radioactivity, though Henri Becquerel discovered the phenomenon years earlier. Curies research into the properties of two different uranium ores, pitchblende and chalcolite. led to the discovery of radium and polonium, other radioactive elements. Curie’s husband, Pierre, was so intrigued by her research that he decided to suspend his own research to join her.

The Curies undertook the arduous task of separating radium out of pitchblende ore. From a ton of pitchblende, one-tenth of a gram of radium chloride was separated. Unfortunately, the Curies were unaware of the deleterious health effects of repeated unprotected radiation exposure. Pierre Curie died in 1906 after being hit and run over by a horse drawn carriage, however Marie lived for another 28 years continuing her research and eventually winning two Nobel prizes. She often carried test tubes containing radioactive isotopes in her pocket and stored them in her desk drawer, remarking on the pretty blue-green light that the substances gave off in the dark.

Marie Curie died on July 4, 1934 due to aplastic anemia contracted from exposure to radiation. She is interred at the cemetery in Sceaux, alongside her husband Pierre. Her laboratory is preserved at the Musee Curie. Due to their levels of radioactivity, her papers from the 1890’s are considered too dangerous to handle. Even her cookbook is highly radioactive. They are kept in lead-lined boxes, and those who wish to consult them must wear protective clothing.

Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Houston Nutt Being Run Out of the University of Arkansas.

Radiation exposure would explain Nutt's obvious insanity.

There’s a link between being a genius innovator and succumbing to your own success. There’s also something to be said for getting caught banging the local news anchorette. But much like the Curies and their relentless search for radium, Nutt never seems to be satisfied with whatever job he currently holds. The aforementioned wandering eye at Arkansas contributed to an early departure. The same was true at Murray State and Boise State where Nutt always seemed to be interviewing for the next job instead of focusing on the current one.

#4) Alexander Litvinenko

Alexander Litvinenko was a former KGB officer who escaped prosecution in Russia and received political asylum in the United Kingdom . In November of 2006 he suddenly fell ill and was hospitalized. He died three weeks later and post-mortem tests showed he had been given a lethal dose of Polonium-210 via a cup of tea. On his deathbed, Litvinenko accused Russian president Vladimir Putin of being behind his death.

Subsequent investigations by British authorities into the circumstances of Litvinenko’s death led to serious diplomatic difficulties between the British and Russian governments. Unofficially, British authorities asserted that “we are 100% sure who administered the poison, where and how”. However they did not disclose their evidence in the interest of a future trial. The main suspect in the case, a former officer of the Russian Federal Protective Service (FSO) Andrei Lugovoy, remains in Russia. As a member of the Duma, he now enjoys immunity from prosecution.

Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Tubby Smith Being Fired by the University of Kentucky.

Tubby Smith clearly fell out of favor with the politburo in Lexington. But what can you say about the Soviet-style delusion of the University of Kentucky. How do you exile into the gulag a guy who won you a national championship, who wins nearly eighty percent of his games, and is universally respected?

#3)  Soviet Submarine K-19

K-19 was one of the first two Soviet submarines equipped with nuclear ballistic missiles. Several people had died during its construction earning it the nickname “Hiroshima” among naval sailors and officers. On July 4, 1961 under the command of Captain Nikolai Vladimirovich Zateyev, K-19 developed a major leak in her reactor coolant system causing the reactor temperature to rise to a very dangerous 800 deg. Celsius. Due to poor design and failure to have a backup cooling system installed, Captain Zateyev had no choice but to order a team of seven engineering officers in crew to undertake a repair despite the lethal rates of radiation exposure.

The repair crew was successful in stopping the leak however all seven were dead within a week. The incident contaminated the entire boat and within a few years twenty more crew members were dead attributed to the incident at sea.

The Soviet Navy made extensive repairs to boat and it later returned to service. It did, however, continue to experience horrible accidents including an at-sea collision in 1969 and a fire in 1972 killing 28 sailors. It was finally decommissioned in 1991.

The movie “K-19: The Widowmaker” starring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson is loosely based on the nuclear accident on the K-19.

Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Manny Acta Being Fired by the Washington Nationals.

Blaming a manager for the woeful performance of the Washington Nationals is like shooting out all your light bulbs to make the sun go down. How do you expect anybody to manage anything with no pitching and an opening day lineup consisting of Daniel Cabrera, Elijah Dukes, Adam Dunn, Jesus Flores, Cristian Guzman, Anderson Hernandez, Nick Johnson, Lastings Milledge, and Ryan Zimmerman? Sure, Jim Riggleman wriggled more wins out of this roster, but this team still hasn’t cracked the 70-win mark, unless they win three of their last five in 2010.

#2) Chernobyl

On April 26, 1986 a nuclear accident occurred on the Number 4 reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine. Workers at the plant were planning a test to determine how long turbines would spin and supply power to the main circulating pumps following a loss of main electrical power. Due to another regional power station going offline, the test was delayed and as a result, the test was conducted over the night shift where the workers had not been trained on the test procedure. Several subsequent errors, including a decision to disable automatic shutdown mechanisms, led to an unstable reactor configuration with nearly all of the control rods removed.

The reactor SCRAMed (rapid insertion of all control rods) but a flaw in the design of the control rods actually caused the reaction rate in the lower half of the core to increase. At this point, a massive power spike occurred and the core overheated. The precise subsequent course of events was not registered by instruments; it is known only as a result of a mathematical simulation. What is known is that there was a large steam buildup in the core that eventually exploded releasing tons of radioactive steam and fission products into the air. Radiation levels in the vicinity of the reactor core after the explosion were 30,000 times the lethal limit.

One person was killed immediately and his body was never found. Another died that same day as a result of injuries received during the explosion. Acute radiation sickness was originally diagnosed in 237 people on-site and involved with the clean-up and it was later confirmed in 134 cases. Of these 28 people died within weeks of the accident, six of whom were firefighters tasked with attending the fires on the roof of the turbine building. Nineteen more subsequently died between 1987 and 2004. Nobody off-site suffered from acute radiation effects, although a large proportion of childhood thyroid cancers diagnosed since the accident is likely to be due to intake of radioactive iodine fallout. Subsequent studies in the Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus estimate over 1 million people were affected by radiation from Chernobyl, however the extent of its effects may never be truly known.

Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Any coach who was fired by the Detroit Lions during the Matt Millen years.

Can you think of a bigger sports meltdown than the Lions?  Millen was President and CEO of the Detroit Lions from 2000 until 2008, an era that saw the worst eight-year record in the history of the modern NFL (31-97). The coashes under Millen (Gary Moeller, Marty Mornhinweg, Steve Mariucci, Dick Jauron, and Rod Marinelli) might as well have been the firefighters at Chernobyl.

#1) Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan at the end of World War II have been the only time in history such weapons have been used on people. The justification for the bombings has been hotly debated since, but no doubt the memory of their destruction has been a large reason why they have been not used since.

On August 6, 1945 the uranium bomb, “Little Boy”, was dropped on Hiroshima killing 70,000-80,000 people immediately. Three days later, the plutonium bomb, “Fat Man”, was dropped on Nagasaki killing an estimated 40,000-75,000 instantly. Those that survived the initial blasts were then subject to severe radiation and thermal burns, radiation sickness and related diseases all aggravated by the lack of medical resources. It is estimated that another 200,000 people had died by 1950 as a result of health effects of the bombings.

Surviving victims of the bombings are known as hibakusha, a Japanese word that literally translates to “explosion-affected people.” As of March 31, 2009 235,569 hibakusha were recognized by the Japanese government. The government of Japan recognizes about 1% of these as having illnesses caused by radiation.

Equivalent Manager/Coach Firing: Lou Holtz Running Out on the New York Jets.

If there was anybody that needed to be bombed in order to save lives, it was Lou Holtz’ NFL career. Every NFL general manager should be forced to print that picture and place it in a prominent space as a constant reminder of the danger of hiring college coaches. Every once in a while you get lucky with a Jimmy Johnson, but odds are you get another Pete Carroll, Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban, Bobby Petrino, Barry Switzer, Dennis Erickson, Butch Davis, or Lou Holtz; who mere months after signing a five-year contract quit with three games left in the season, leaving the Jets to finishe 3-13.

Signs We Are Near The End Of Civilization: Colored Turf UPDATE

Sadly, this crap is coming back to light.  Just this past weekend, College GameDay did a piece on the Smurf Turf at Boise State, and its new colored counterpart at Eastern Washington University. We here at Dubsism pointed this out a while back, but we just discovered a far more sinister aspect.

Apparently, blue turf kills.

The mighty Broncos of Boise State University play on the world’s only radical, other-worldly blue field. WHY??? The quality of color selection was affirmed by Mother Nature shortly after its installation in 1986 when passing flocks of migrating geese repeatedly landed in accidental mass suicides, apparently mistaking the field for a beautiful blue lake. Shortly thereafter the grounds keepers began covering the field when not in use, to prevent the aforementioned bird crash deaths and grisly clean-up efforts. No matter how many geese had to die, removing the beloved “Smurf Turf” was never considered. It was reinstalled in 1996, then replaced with identically colored AstroPlay synthetic grass in 2002.

With Smurf Turf in place, the Boise State football program has enjoyed a meteoric rise to dominance, ascending from the I-AA Big Sky conference to I-A superiority in the Western Athletic Conference in just eight short years — a huge achievement. Over the last three years, Boise State has gone 33-6 — 12-1 and 13-1 in the last two seasons — averaging 42 points per contest. That’s better than all three of the most recent National Champions USC (29-9), Ohio State (32-7), and LSU (31-9). Argue all you want that Boise State is in a weak conference. It’s trash talk coming from BCS school riff-raff afraid to lose to a mid-major.

They know, as the facts show, that Boise State doesn’t lose at home on the menacing blue field turf.

After all this, I’m not exactly sympathetic toward geese. The ones that live in my part of the world are little more than black and white shitting machines; they are little more than rats with wings. Not to mention, doies the world really need a creature than cant tell the difference between a lake and a football field. How many lakes have you seen with a 50-yard line?

Just look at those damn things. They wouldn't have a place to put a brain even if you gave them one.

If Boise State has found a way to succeed in college football and rid the world of these flying leeches, then we here at Dubsism salute you.

Signs We Are Near The End Of Civilization: Brett Favre

There are dates on which everybody remembers where they were because some infamous event occurred on that day. December 7th, 1941…January 28th, 1986…September 11th, 2001. Perhaps it is only for me, but I would add August 3rd, 2010 to that list of infamy. Like I said, you may not remember what happened that day, but I can never forget it. An obviously disturbed man enters a Connecticut beer distributorship and opens fire, killing 8 and wounding 2 more. As tragic as that is, that is not the truly infamous event of this day.

In what may be the truly most disturbing in this series of Signs We Are Near The End Of Civilization, almost every  major news outlet stopped live coverage of this genuine news event to cover Brett Favre coming out of “retirement” yet again.

The best move the Jets ever made...

Are you kidding me?

I was so stunned by this I couldn’t really understand what had happened until sometime later. I literally could not believe that I live in a society where such obviously not-important-in-the grand-scheme-of-things celebrity twaddle could trump honest-to-goodness human drama. But the more I though about it, the more I realized I was the fool for not having seen this sign much sooner than I had.  After all, I live in a country where more people know Lady Gaga than know about the war in Afghanistan. Hell, I had a front row seat for the O.J. Simpson slow-speed Bronco chase.  Shame on me for not knowing this already.

I guess what really tripped my trigger is how low I had to go to see the peril. It takes a washed-up primadonna quarterback to make me realize that our celebrity culture has trumped all that really matters. What will prove to be an ultimately meaningless moment trumps the deaths of 9 people, including the gunman. Again, this really shouldn’t surprise me; we don’t defend the First Amendment to the Constitution over William Butler  Yeats; we do it over Larry Flynt.

Make no mistake, Viking fans, regardless of how the Purple fare this season, this was an undeniably insignificant moment. The fact that you are off to an 0-2 start and threatening to be staring down a 1-5 record after their first 6 games only takes insignificant down to utter meaninglessness.

There’s really only two things forthcoming out of the Favre travesty. One, how long will it take for the complete implosion of the Viking franchise caused by none other than Favre himself? This will be followed by Favre’s next retirement, which we likely won’t have to wait for the end of the season to see.

I’m not sure how he managed to do it, but Favre has a Rasputin-like hold on Viking fans. Even now, the great Purple north is resplendent in Brett Favre apologists who are busy finding every possible excuse for the Vikings losing their first two games other than the obvious terrible performance of King Brett I. Naturally, this is a complete fallacy. It isn’t about injuries to the receiving corps, it isn’t about Favre’s janky ankle. It is about this team looking like they are stuck on Week two of the pre-season. The absolutely sorry state of the offensive line doesn’t help, but even of that were fixed tomorrow, many of the Viking’s problems can be traced back to Favre and how he held an entire team hostage for the off-season.

There’s a reason why all those pre-season games are called “tune-ups” for when the snaps count for real. There’s also a reason why the Viking offense is running like an old V-8 in desperate need of a new distributor cap and plug wires. In short, the Vi-queens have no timing and continuity, and the reason is the leader of the offense never bothered to show up for those “tune-ups.” When the offense should have been getting it’s timing and continuity matter in order, they were instead mired in more media crap about Favre’s waffling.

There’s only one group of people who believe there is a substitute for hard work and preparation; they’re called losers. You know for a fact there are people throughout the league, probably even in the Viking locker room, who harbor a resentment for Favre and his asinine belief he can chuck a few balls to the local high schoolers, sell some Wrangler jeans, and call that adequate preparation for the rigors of the National Football League. There has to be a whole host of guys who sweated and puked their way through training camp who would love to see Favre get his ass handed to him as his cavalier attitude clearly demonstrates he values preparation as little as he values his teammates, as he clearly isn’t willing to give them the commitment they need to win.

The beauty of all of this is Viking fans will quickly point to Favre’s stats from last year; now they are pointing to his 225 passing yards against the Dolphins as proof that Favre still has something left in the tank. Statistics are for losers; without looking it up, how many touchdown passes did Drew Brees throw last year? How many did he throw Monday night against the 49ers? Know why nobody talks about it? Because in both cases the Saints won. Worse yet is Viking fans will pick and choose the stats on which they hang their hats…Passing yards are nice, as are touchdowns, but interceptions are not. Favre commits those at a greater clip than anybody else in NFL history, and it is a demonstrable fact that turnovers cause losses.

It is those losses that threaten to show us the second thing to come of all this. How long will it take for the Viking faithful to turn on King Brett I? It seems an 0-2 start isn’t enough to do it; just enough to start the rumbles or revolution. However, if the Vi-queens gag against the lowly Lions tomorrow, you have to wondering if the citizens of Purple Nation will still believe it was wise for them to offer more money and send half the team to beg Favre not to retire? It is very easy to see the scenario which makes this one of the worst player personnel decisions of all time. What has been created here is a culture of indecision and passivity; a culture that will guarantee the failure of a franchise over time. What has been created here is a culture of absentee leadership; allowing one player to be bigger than the team isn’t fatal, allowing one player to determine the direction of a franchise is.

Again, it all comes down to perspective. Sometimes, it is easier  to ignore than which is uncomfortably true; no one wants to understand the diseased culture which allows people to shoot their co-workers. But burying our collective heads in the sands of abdication of team, commitment, and responsibility is even worse.

The Results Are In! Your New Representative WCHA Simpsons Characters Are…

If you recall, in an effort to give you, the blog-reading public, an insight into the best sports league you’ve never heard of, we here at Dubsism penned a primer comparing the members of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) to characters from The Simpsons.

The trouble came when the WCHA was the first big college conference to expand. Last year, the conference announced that it was adding two members who would begin play in the conference in 2011. Last spring, Dubsism ran a poll to determine representative Simpsons characters for the new members.  Well, as Maury Povich would say, “The Results Are In!” Here are the vote results…

In The Case Of Bemidji State University:

  • Chief Wiggum: 58%
  • Otto the Bus Driver: 17%
  • Princess Kashmir: 8%
  • Waylan Smithers: 8%

In The Case Of the University of Nebraska-Omaha:

  • Principal Skinner: 56%
  • Groundskeeper Willie: 22%
  • Milhouse Van Houten: 11%
  • Rich Texan: 0%

Since the puck drops on the College Hockey season in a scant 9 days, it’s time to strap on the skates and enjoy the tooth-shattering bliss that is the WCHA. After all, NHL fights are okay, I guess, but in our estimation it isn’t a real fight until the cops get involved.

Teams That Grind My Gears: The Chicago White Sox

Now that the race in the American League Central is all but over, it is really time to eulogize the White Sox; by “eulogize” I mean point out why the White Sux are really one of the most irritating franchises in all of sports.

Let’s face it. White Sox fans even by their very existence make the world a worse place. There’s a reason why crap like “Disco Demolition Night” could only happen on the south side of Chicago. It’s the same reason why it was White Sox fans who thought it would be a good idea to jump a first base coach for no real reason. This, of course, is not an isolated incident (again, and again). It’s all just more proof that Chicago would be the worst city in America if we didn’t already have New Orleans and Detroit.

Really, that fact explains a lot about the White Sux. They really are just a manifestation of the shithole which bore them. Not only are they and their fans the steerage-class rabble of major league baseball, but more often than not this franchise has proven to be an infected hemmorhoid in baseball’s rectum. Let’s not forget the whole reason why baseball has a commissioner is because the White Sox nearly destroyed the integrity of the game in 1919. Let’s not forget legendary White Sox owner Charles Comiskey played a major role in the “Gentlemen’s Agreement” that kept blacks out of baseball. And let’s not forget that Comiskey pioneered the “miserly asshole” model of ownership which was later perfected by Charlie O. Finley, another Chicagoan.

Even if history isn’t your bag, there’s plenty of reasons to hate the White Sox today; current owner Jerry Reinsdorf is reason enough alone. Reinsdorf is the kind of guy who in the 90’s led the charge against escalating player salaries while in the same breath giving Albert Belle baseball’s first ten million dollar per year contract. It’s pretty bad when I have to give a talking colostomy bag like Jay Mariotti credit for having a valid point against Reinsdorf. The valid beef Mariotti has with Reinsdorf’s Sox is that he has built a culture of “yes” men, cheerleaders, and general sycophants headed by buttloafs like “Hawk” Harrelson.

Then there’s general manager Kenny Williams. You’ve got to love a guy who is an unquestioned ass-kisser, yet has absolutely no loyalty. He’s made it known he would be on the first plane out of town if his dream job called. Now, I understand having a “dream job;” I’ve left more than one shitty job in my life. But I never made it a point to advertise it.

Kenny Williams would leave Jerry Reinsdorf and the White Sox to work for Al Davis, if he were offered a job running the Oakland Raiders.  Williams tells Sports Illustrated’s Joe Posnanski that, yes, the lure of the Silver and Black is greater than that of the Black and White. “I love what I do, and I love where I am,” the White Sox general manager said. “But if the Oakland Raiders called tomorrow and asked me to run the team, I would go. I would do it.”

I believe somebody’s dream job says a lot about them. But when Williams says he wants to work for the Oakland Raiders, the most dysfunctional organization in sports, I can’t tell whether that means Williams is crazy or if Jerry Reinsdorf is such a colossal prick he makes Al Davis look good.

And that leaves us with Ozzie Guillen. Honestly, Ozzie is the least offensive thing about the White Sox. The fact that he brought a World Series Championship to the south side is likely what has kept him from being fired for the five years of failure since that title. After all, the Reinsdorf world is one the requires unbridled ass-kissing, and Ozzie far from the guy who can toe the “company line.” Guillen has been sent off to “sensitivity training,” been fined and reprimanded multiple times for things he has said. He’s questioned a writer’s sexual preference, called Dustin Pedroia a “goddamn jockey,”  and is just generally known for his profanity-filled tirades.

Alas, at the end of the day, Guillen still shows what is wrong with the White Sox. The photo above is a perfect microcosm of the stupid hypocrisy that defines the south side of Chicago…if you are going to call somebody a “fag,” don’t get caught playing tonsil hockey with a dude.

Ten Forms of Government and Their Representative Sports Organizations

I love Listverse. The one beef I would have is that it doesn’t have enough good sports lists. But what it does have is many lists that have equivalencies in the sports world. Today’s installment involves 10 forms of government and gives a representative example from the sports world. Think of it as a civics lesson with a jockstrap.

#10) Totalitarianism: Total Rule

Ruled by an ideology that penetrates every nook and cranny of its society. The regime is often headed by a cult of personality type leader. The government gets its power from a goal or idea, such as the dominance of Nazi Germany, that its people embrace so much they will give up rights to defend it. It builds up control through eliminating and confining anything that acts independently of the state, until it regulates and enforces nearly every aspect of public and private life. Giving themselves power through propaganda, control over media, economy, restricting free discussion, mass surveillance, and use of terror tactics. Totalitarianism is really just a concept, but many countries have advocated and built off of it. The two best known being Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union. The George Orwell book 1984 deals extensively with the subject.

Representative Sports Organization: The Oakland Raiders

Let’s face facts. The Raiders have become the North Korea of the NFL and Al Davis it’s Kim Jong-Il. Davis has sunk into some sort of self-deluded alternate reality that has him believing Tom Cable is an NFL head coach and that JaMarcus Russell was an NFL quarterback. Finally they stopped drinking the Kool-Aid in the Russell case, but there have been so many other bizarre tales emanating from Oakland that all have one thing in common: Al Davis has total control of this organization, as it clearly mirrors his dysfunctional personality. This is why Cable is the head coach; nobody else will take the job. For a good detailing of the lunacy running rampant in Oakland, check out the blog Al Davis Sucks.

# 9) Theocracy: Ruled by God

Ruled by a god or deity, the state is governed by an individual that is divinely guided, or more often an institutional representative (a church). The local laws and rules are set by a dominant religious leader on behalf of God. In pure theocracy, the leader is believed to have a direct connection to God, such as Moses and Muhammad ruled the early Israelites and Muslims. What they say is to be the law of God. Ecclesiocracy on the other hand, the leaders do not claim to be a direct religious link, but instead uphold a pre-received revelation. Other theocracies may hold a secular government to delegate civil law to religious communities. Vatican City (an absolute theocratic monarchy), Saudia Arabia, and Iran are a few notable Theocracies.

Representative Sports Organization: The NCAA

The NCAA bears all the hallmarks of an organization trying to emulate the 16th-century Catholic Church. I’m surprised they aren’t right now trying to get Reggie Bush’s forfeited Heisman for their Sacred Reliquary of Hypocrisy. Even if they don’t get their mitts on the trophy, you know this bunch of “Holier-than-thou” buttloafs almost tore their collective rotator cuffs patting themselves on the back when they finally finished their Inquisition against USC.

See, there is a fundamental problem in play here. First of all, what got USC whacked was not recruiting violations, or illegal payoffs, or fraud, or insert criminal charge here. Rather the Trojans got punished for proving the NCAA model is broken. Don’t think for a minute that USC was the only school violating the NCAA’s commandments; two of the last four BCS championship game participants were on some form of NCAA sanction. Rather, USC’s leadership figured out that punishment doesn’t outweigh the benefit of committing the crime. Pete Carroll skulked out of town in the middle of the night to cash a nice NFL paycheck; athletic director Mike Garrett will also not face any punishment for his actions. Oh, and USC will still make money despite the NCAA probation.

How do you get a punishment that really isn’t a punishment and isn’t meted out in an impartial manner? Simply put, the NCAA is a collection of university presidents seeking to carry on the hypocritical idiocy started by  their dear departed idol Myles Brand, specifically through the financial transubstantiation needed to establish the NCAA as a cash-collection machine while “defending” the fraudulent premise of the “student-athlete.”

# 8 ) Exilarchy: Ruled by ethnic or religious diaspora

The exilarchy is set to rule a religious or ethnic group, rather than the place the group originates from. The leader only has power through cultural and honorary means, and only rules the groups followers. They are ultimately governed by their host countries. Two examples of an exilarchy are the Reish Galuta, and Dalai Lama’s rule over the Tibetan diaspora.

Representative Sports Organization: Brigham Young University

Mormons are like the Jews in the sense that they had to do a lot of wandering before they found a placed where they could settle. The difference is the Mormons were smart enough to pick a piece of land nobody else wanted. The problem is that by being isolated in Utah also has made them delusional. Have you ever had occasion where you say somebody about to make a decision so bad that it will cause chaos in so many respects you just cringe thinking about it? A buddy of yours drinks too much and drunk-dials his ex, or doesn’t see the problem with lending money to a new girlfriend, or even worse, thinking that living with the significant other’s parents can work …all of them will end disastrously, and all of them are a better idea than going independent in college football.

BYU needs to  take a hard look at what being an “independent” means; look at who is “independent” now…Notre Dame, Army, and Navy. Look at the schedules they put together, look at the revenue those schedules can generate, and understand your schedule won’t generate anything near that. So before it is too late, BYU, review your decision to be independent.

# 7) Minarchism: Minimal Statism

Not far off from anarchism, Minarchists believe government should be limited to protecting the basic right of life, liberty, and property. They endorse a Night Watchman State, which is limited to Court, Police, and Military. Minarchists favor small, local or city level jurisdictions, rather than a large national government. Leaving anyone who doesn’t want to work or live under a certain municipality, be able to move to another jurisdiction easily. Although closely related to Market Anarchists, minarchism understands that government is inevitable, so instead of fight it, limit it.

Representative Sports Organization: Major League Baseball

The whole model of Major League Baseball is like that of the United States under the Articles of Confederation. In other words, the Office of the Commissioner functions as a weak central government with specifically enumerated powers, such as dealing with the player’s union and keeping baseball’s anti-trust exemption. This leaves and landscape dominated by a few powerful owners who really determine the direction the enterprise as a whole will take. Just wait until the winter meetings in December to see the struggle that will emerge as somebody attempts to fill the power vacuum created by the death of George Steinbrenner.

# 6) Ethnocracy: Ruled by race

Ethnocracies are used to make one race, religious group, or language, politically dominant to the rest. With all other issues being subordinate to their cause. The degree of discrimination will vary from system to system. In Uganda there is an ethnic cleansing of the Indian people, along with an extreme political favoring of the indigenous people. However ethnocracy can be a full fledged democracy, with only a lack of representation for a certain group. A few other places experiencing ethnocracy are Pakistan, Israel, and South Africa.

Representative Sports Organization: The National Football League

The NFL is dominated by a particular ethnic group, and that dominance has created a situation in which a permissive attitude toward bad behavior has become the expectation of said group of all other groups. In other words, the NFL has replaced the NBA as America’s pre-eminent “thug” league, and while it does contain bad actors of all stripes, there is simply no denying two facts. First, until the arrival of Roger Goodell, there was a “boys will be boys” attitude towards criminal behavior amongst players. Second, for every Ben Roethlisberger, there are ten Michael Vicks.

I’m fully aware that somebody is going to slap a “racist” label on me for saying this; this is how anybody seeking to defend this sort of disparity discredits anyone who dares point out the emperor is naked. They have no choice but to discredit guys like me; they can’t refute the argument. The underpinning of such a “racist” allegation is the belief that the act itself is not as important as who committed it or who was on the receiving end of it. This is how you get people to buy such monstrously flawed arguments such as “NFL players are slaves.” Face it, slaves did not have the choice to be slaves; find me one guy in the NFL who was driven at gunpoint to play on Sundays, let alone one that didn’t have an agent who negotiated a lucrative, mutual agreement that was entered in complete free will. That’s all just a smokescreen for the fact it is not allowed to criticize or hold black players accountable for their performance or their actions.

#5) Kleptocracy: Ruled by Thieves

Similar to a plutocracy, the kleptocracy is ruled by a few people of wealth. In this system however, the rich get richer by embezzling from its citizens. A kleptocracy degrades the peoples quality of life, taking money that is often supposed to go to schools, hospitals, roads, and other public services. In 2004, an a German-based NGO, Transparency International released a list of what is believed to be the ten most self-enriched leaders, Indonesian and Philippine Presidents ranking on the top 2. The US Senate recently coined the term narcokleptocracy, building off the existing term for kleptocracy to address societies involved in narcotic trades.

Representative Sports Organization: The franchise owners of the National Football League

How else do you describe a group of people who have extorted taxpayers into building stadiums and twisted the television networks into agreements that will pay the owners even if there is no football in 2011 because the owners are going to lockout the player’s union in order to force financial concessions?

#4) Plutocracy: Ruled by the Wealthy

Economic inequality at its finest, the plutocracy gives power to the most wealthy. A few of the places who are known for their plutocracies are Ancient Greece, Carthage, Italian merchant republics of Venice and Florence, and Genoa. In recent times there is no true plutocracy, although many countries are criticized for showing similar signs. Corporations raise and donate significant amounts of revenue for politicians and political parties, and use their financial power to influence favorable legislation; similar to a corporatocracy. The Plutocracy is classically an oligarchy, so a handful of the wealthiest people control everything. If there is no proper form of control, the plutocracy collapses into a kleptocracy.

Representative Sports Organization: The New York Yankees

If there were ever a franchise ruled by the almighty dollar, it is the Yankees. The late George Steinbrenner is amongst the initial wave of owners who saw sports franchises as investments; hence he built the Yankees into a powerful corporate brand. Now that he is gone, it will be interesting to see the future of this organization; does it continue to be a model sports business, or does it digest itself by making that collapse into kleptocracy.

#3) Logocracy: Ruled by Words

A more ironic or parody government, a logocracy is a government ruling through words. Described in Washington Irving’s 1807 work, Salmagundi, a logocracy is a government that uses tricky wording to control its people. The Soviet Union has been accused of being a logocracy, citing that its language was a “stereotyped jargon consisting of formulas and empty slogans, whose purpose was to prevent people from thinking outside the boundaries of collective thought.” George Orwell’s 1984 is a good example of a logocracy, and used the Soviet Union’s “Neo-language” as the basis for its Newspeak.

Representative Sports Organization: ESPN

The World Wide Leader owes its existence to words, even if some of them aren’t really that useful. ESPN would have you believe that anybody cares about women’s basketball. ESPN would have you believe dolts like Skip Bayless and Woody Paige actually have even the remotest knowledge of sport. And it is ESPN that has you beleiving any former jock can be a commentator.

#2) Technocracy: Governed by Technical Decision Making

Technocracy is a government ran by scientists and engineers. Placing the most knowledgeable professionals in charge of their specialized area to ensure administrative functions are carried out efficiently. For example, a group of medical professionals would control the health care system, political scientists would control political policy, Judges would control the law, with all the groups working together to maximize each one’s performance. The officials would be selected through bureaucratic processes to test knowledge and performance, selecting the most qualified. Though never used in a state wide setting yet, there is a technocracy movement pushing to make North America one large technocratic based land mass. The area would use a system of “Energy Accounting” instead of money and use a non-market economy – hypothetically becoming the most energy and production efficient place in the world.

Representative Sports Organization: The “Instant Replay” Crowd

The “Instant Replay” people believe that by introducing technology all officiating mistakes can be eliminated. What happened in the Bears-Lions game last Sunday is the classic example of why they are wrong. The point behind slowing down the games to introduce “Instant Replay” was to eliminate mistakes, so now that is has been proven not to be effective, why not get rid of it? Because we live in an “I-pod, I-pad, I-phone” society which has an entrenched belief that anything involving technology is superior that doesn’t.

#1) Demarchy: Ruled by people

A government ran by randomly selected citizens called a ‘citizen’s jury’. The system is similar to a democracy, without the need for elections. Proposed by Australian philosopher John Burnheim, this style of government has never actually been used. Hypothetically, the random selection will remove the chance of political corruption, as it is unlikely the elected people involved would be part of a ‘political machine’. A Demarchy also avoid the issue of having to please anyone for political gain, and is dependent only on the selected persons beliefs and standings on what is best for the population. Cutting down the time that is spent by today’s elected officials to influencing, and be influenced by others to achieve political goals and popularity.

Representative Sports Organization: The Green Bay Packers

The Packers are the sole non-profit, community-owned franchise in major league professional sports. Based on the original “Articles of Incorporation for the Green Bay Football Corporation” put into place in 1923, if the Packers franchise were to have been sold, after the payment of all expenses, any remaining money would go to the Sullivan Post of the American Legion in order to build “a proper soldier’s memorial.” This stipulation was enacted to ensure the club remained in Green Bay and that there could never be any financial enhancement for the shareholders. At the November 1997 annual meeting, shareholders voted to change the beneficiary from the Sullivan-Wallen Post to the Green Bay Packers Foundation, which makes donations to many charities and institutions throughout Wisconsin.

As of June 8, 2005, 112,015 people (representing 4,750,934 shares) can lay claim to a franchise ownership interest. Shares of stock include voting rights, but the redemption price is minimal, no dividends are ever paid, the stock cannot appreciate in value; though private sales often exceed the face value of the stock, and stock ownership brings no season ticket privileges. No shareholder may own over 200,000 shares, which ensures no individual can assume control of the club.

How Can You Be Out of Coconut Shrimp? Hey, Didn’t You Used to Be Matt Leinart?

It is officially time for people who write those “biggest draft bust” lists to begin writing the “Matt Leinart” entry. Now that he’s been relegated to the third-string in Houston, it’s a pretty safe bet the “potential” in his career is gone. He now becomes the 45-year old guy who once was the “smartest kid in school,” but for whose petulant attitude and complete social maladjustment finds himself as a shift leader at a Golden Corral. The list is so long that I’m afraid my hand would cramp long before I typed all of it. Lets just agree to call it the “Ryan Leaf” list and I’m sure we will all get the idea.

What else is certain? Leinart is at the “Pffft, I’m glad to be away from that bunch of dicks” phase of his journey. Sure, he’s a third-stringer, but he’s still in the NFL. He thinks he still can get back on the field because he once was the best quarterback in a league far, far away. He thinks Ken Whisenhunt and the Cardinals were the problem, not him.   That thinking completely ignores the stories about Leinart’s losing the Cardinal locker room.

In order for a quarterback to be able to succeed, he has to be able to lead a team. That’s pretty hard to do when the team has issues with him. Even Leinart’s own words suggest he has figured out that he is now a career bench jockey and that his demotion was for a reason that “probably goes beyond football.” The trouble is he has no idea what that reason is.

Looking at his exit from Arizona tells the story, both past and future. That fact that just before his release Leinart stood in front of the media and declared he had outplayed his competition spelled his doom. Had he really done so, the media would have said it for him. Had he really done so, the team would have said it for him. The fact that he is saying it himself only shows that he has no clue how to win the respect of a team; no leader can lead a team that doesn’t respect him. Even if he had a point, his words came off as more arrogance. Even if he had an argument, he sounded like a whiner. He questioned a coach who took a team that hadn’t been anywhere in decades to the Super Bowl. He suggested that coach was putting personal feelings ahead of winning, an absurd notion in a profession where winning is the only means of survival. He proclaimed himself the victor in a competition still ongoing. And he lost it all.

He’s also not likely to learn this lesson in Houston, either. See, since he’s been in the league for five years now, it is assumed he doesn’t need to be taught anything about leadership. If anybody thought it was worth the time and effort it takes to teach true leadership skills, he wouldn’t be a third-stringer. That is a serious indictment considering the shortage of talent at the quarterback position in the NFL. Not to mention, how many guys stay as a third-string guy more than two years? if football were run like a business, being on the third-string is an entry-level position, and the NFL subscribes to an “up or out” model when it comes to entry-level spots. Two years from now, the Texans will want that roster spot for a young quarterback in whom they feel the investment is worthy.

Then comes Leinart’s next career stop; the aforementioned Golden Corral.

The Ten Best Football Players in Baseball

September marks the time of year when football and baseball intersect. Its only natural that many players played both; the two-sport star existed before Bo Jackson, and to this day there are plenty who have laced it up on both fields. Many of the boys of summer you are watching now easily could have been footballers. Here’s a list of 10 such active baseball players who had significant football careers.

10)  Clayton Richard, San Diego Padres

On the Gridiron: The pride of Lafayette, Indiana, Richard was the first high school athlete to be named Indiana’s Mr. Football and Mr. Baseball in the same year. As a high school quarterback, Richard threw for 10,777 yards and 92 touchdowns. He then redshirted his freshman year in at Michigan in 2003, but lost the starting quarterback job to freshman Chad Henne in 2004. His football days were over when the Chicago White Sox selected him in the 8th round of the 2005 draft.

Had He Chosen Football? It what will prove a theme, Richard’s fate seemed a bit predestined. He was never going to rise past #2 on the Michigan depth chart, and when the Sox came calling, that was all for his football days.

9) Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals

On the Gridiron: Here’s another tale of a kid who tore it up as a high school quarterback, got an offer from a big-time football program (Oklahoma State), then along came professional baseball; in this case the Colorado Rockies selected him in the 7th round of the 1998 draft.

Had He Chosen Football? He likely would have twirled into oblivion; Oklahoma State was the backwater of college football when Holliday would have been there.

8 ) Carl Crawford (Tampa Bay Rays)

On the Gridiron: See #9 and make the following changes:

  • Replace the words “Oklahoma State” with “Nebraska.”
  • Crawford was drafted in the second round of the 1999 draft.

Had He Chosen Football? Another guy who may have passed his way into loading trucks at UPS. Not only do Nebraska quarterbacks not go to the NFL, the Huskers already had a Heisman trophy winner in the paddock: Eric Crouch.

7) Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians

On the Gridiron: Sizemore played running back and cornerback in high school, setting school records for career rushing yards and interceptions. Sizemore committed to the University of Washington as a quarterback. However, after being drafted Montreal Expos, a $2 million signing bonus ended his days a Husky.

Had He Chosen Football? This is another “guess” job since Sizemore never played quarterback before. But, it is more likely he would have lost the job to Cody Pickett, who still holds Washington’s records for career passing yards and touchdowns

6) Seth Smith, Colorado Rockies

On the Gridiron: In high-school, Smith collected letters for sports like the rest of us collected baseball cards. But once he hit the University of Mississippi, he never saw a single snap as a quarterback. Why? Because Smith isn’t the only guy on this list to lose his football career to a guy named Manning. Once Eli became the starter, Smith was back to baseball.

Had He Chosen Football? This is the classic “Who knows?” We never even got a glimpse of what might have been. However, the fact that he hit .400 as a freshman at Ole Miss suggested that his future was not on the gridiron.

5) Mark DeRosa, San Francisco Giants

On the Gridiron: As a quarterback at the University of Pennsylvania, in two seasons DeRosa notched a 16-3 record as a starter, along with 3,885 passing yards. He played a role in leading the Quakers setting a Division I-AA record for consecutive wins (24), which included an undefeated 1994 Ivy League championship season.

Had He Chosen Football? Let’s do the math here…Know how many Ivy League quarterback have been drafted into the NFL in the last 40 years? Exactly 9.

  • Brown: Bob Bateman, Cincinnati Bengals (1976)
  • Columbia: John Witkowski, Detroit Lions (1984), Marty Domres, San Diego Chargers (1969)
  • Harvard: Ryan Fitzpatrick,  St. Louis Rams (2005), Brian Buckley, New England Patriots (1981), Eric Crone, St. Louis Cardinals (1973)
  • Princeton: Bob Holly, Washington Redskins (1982)
  • Yale: Tom Doyle, Oakland Raiders (1969), Brian Dowling, Minnesota vikings (1969)

Out of that 9, only Marty Domres was drafted higher than the 6th round, and only Domres and Ryan Fitzpatrick had any career worthy of even the slightest note. Not to mention at the time DeRosa would have been in the draft, an Ivy League quarterback hadn’t been drafted in over a decade.

4) Adam Dunn, Washington Nationals

On the Gridiron: At one time, Dunn was the #3 ranked high school quarterback in the state of Texas; his Friday night career consisted of 4,792 passing yards, 44 touchdowns, and a 24-9 record. Th4e trouble was that upon his arrival at the University of Texas,  he was still the #3 quarterback, behind local hero Major Applewhite and NFL-offspring Chris Simms.

Had He Chosen Football? Dunn’s 6’6,” 290-pound frame is more suggestive of a lineman then a quarterback. While he wasn’t quite as Brobdignagian at the time, the Longhorns were already in the process of converting him to tight end, and given Dunn’s notoriously bad hands, this was process that likely would have ended with Dunn on the offensive line. IHOP wishes it could make pancakes like the one Dunn laid on Carlos Santana. It all became moot when the when the Cincinnati Reds called him to the bigs in 2001.

3) Jeff Samardzija, Chicago Cubs

On the Gridiron: Even though he is the only guy on this list who wasn’t a quarterback, Samardzija was still a lethal weapon for Notre Dame in 2005. He had 77 catches, 1,215 yards and 15 touchdowns. He Irish single-season school records in receiving yardage, touchdown receptions and consecutive games with a touchdown reception. 2006 was a sequel; 78 receptions, 1,017 yards and a dozen scores, which was enough to make him a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award.


Had He Chosen Football? Mel Kiper was convinced Samardzija was a first-round pick, and we all know Kiper is never wrong.  But going with the Cubs was the smart financial move; Samardzija’s five-year, $10 million contract and $2.5 million signing bonus was all guaranteed. While the NFL doesn’t offer that sort of monetary security, there’s also no guarantee that Samardzija isn’t headed for the Iowa Cubs Hall of Fame.

2) Todd Helton, Colorado Rockies

On The Gridiron: Helton was a scholarship quarterback for Tennessee who was slated to play back-up to Heath Shuler and later Jerry Colquitt. However, when Colquitt was injured in the season opener in 1994, Helton became the starter.  He led Tennessee to 23 fourth-quarter points to nearly defeat UCLA. He started three games before getting injured himself, paving the way for a freshman named Peyton Something-or-other.


Had He Chosen Football? It was never likely he would have made that choice. Even if Helton remained the starter at Tennessee, he wasn’t going to stay in front of Peyton Manning for long. Even without Manning, Helton may have been an NFL 2nd-or-third stringer or maybe been an Arena league guy, meanwhile on the diamond he set 19 school records, was named the 1995 SEC Player of the Year and was a three-time SEC Tournament MVP. But you still wonder if he gets together with Seth Smith for a “Screw the Mannings” bitch-session.

1) Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins

On The Gridiron: Hark back to the days before Mauer was the reigning AL Most Valuable Player. Rather, set the Wayback Machine for 2000 and look at the anticipation Florida State fans have as they have Mauer signed as a the successor to Heisman Trophy winner (and fellow Cretin-Derham High School product) Chris Weinke. After all, Mauer was only the 2000 High School Player of the Year, being named so for torching the high school fields of Minnesota for 41 touchdowns during his senior year;  including seven in a single playoff game.  Mauer was the top-ranked recruit in the country, ahead of current NFL quarterbacks Derek Anderson, Kyle Orton, Kellen Clemens, Brodie Croyle, and Heisman trophy winner Matt Leinart.


Had He Chosen Football? We quite possibly could have had an NFL draft in 2004 where 3 of the top 5 picks could have been Heisman Trophy winner Mauer with two other “franchise” quarterbacks, Eli Manning and Philip Rivers.


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