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Brief chronicles of our sporting times.

Mike Vaccaro: Tiger’s Caddie Got What he Deserved



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Here’s Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post commenting on Tiger Woods firing his longtime caddy, Steve Williams:

Stevie Williams got what he deserved.

Wait, let me be more to the point: For Stevie Williams to get what he truly deserves, then Tiger Woods should rehire him next Monday, solely so he can fire him again next Tuesday. And maybe do it three or four more times. Maybe then say, publicly, “Hmmm … maybe I’ll hire Stevie back …” just so he can then say, publicly, “Nah.”

Now, before we get to the he “got what he deserved” part of the story, let’s take a quick look back at the career of Williams. Tiger wasn’t his first pro. He caddied for Greg Norman, Ian Baker-Finch, and Raymond Flood. Currently Williams is toting the bag of Adam Scott, no slouch indeed. Tiger hired Steve Williams in 1999, after Tiger unceremoniously fired his original caddy as a pro, the wonderful “Fluff Cowan.
 
OK. Back to why Vaccaro thinks Williams, by all measures a great caddy, got what he deserved:

I’ll put this as succinctly as I can: I have covered sports for a living for 25 years. For most of those years I’ve covered professional sports, which means I’ve endured some of the basest, most odiferous behavior patterns ever. I’ve encountered egos, and sociopathic narcissism, and the kind of corrosive, offensive diatribes that would make an HBO documentarian blush. I’ve met some boors in my day.

And none of them was worse than Stevie Williams.

None of them was as coarse, as ill-mannered, as arrogant, as lacking in basic grace and dignity as Williams, who didn’t just fancy himself as Tiger’s caddie, but as his Luca Brasi, too: a henchman/button man who tore into anything in their path. Forget the fact that he all but regularly put contracts out on photographers who would snap their cameras at times Williams deemed inappropriate — god forbid these great unwashed actually, you know, do their jobs.

No. On three separate occasions, in close proximity to galleries, I saw Stevie Williams advise three different paying fans to do anatomically impossible gestures. This wasn’t preceded by, “Excuse me,” or, “Sorry to bother you,” or even “We’re trying to work here.”

All three times, a fan made the mistake of yelping something to the tune of “We love you, Tiger, you’re the man!” And Steve Williams’ retort was, “Get the bleep out of the way and go bleep yourself.”

So, Tiger cheats on his wife with dozens upon dozens of women, yet it’s Williams who is the greatest “boor” ever known to Mike Vaccaro? Vaccaro also misses the fact that Woods could be perhaps the most foul-tempered player on the golf course on any given day. When Williams curses, nobody hears it. When Woods throws one of his temper-tantrums, the whole world sees it.

From the outside looking in, Williams and Woods seemed to have a relationship that went beyond that of boss and employer. But like Tiger’s family-guy image, maybe his friendship with Williams was a big act.

And as a postscript, Williams is no longer staying quiet about getting fired:

When he took to the airwaves, Williams ratcheted up the rhetoric on 3 News in New Zealand. This one may have started Woods wondering if the lawyers left the nondisclosure part out of the standard player-caddie contract, if there was a contract.

“You know, when I write my book, it’ll be the time I decide what I write,” Williams said. “It’ll just be one of those interesting chapters in the book.”

Looks like Tiger is going to get what he deserves, too.

Tags: Golf

The Raiders Abstention



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Lower rookie salaries, with cap on team spending for rookies

Tags: NFL

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Alas, More NFL Lockout News



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Unfortunately, no news on NFL free-agent signings just yet.

While the owners voted 31-0 (with Al Davis abstaining) to approve a new labor agreement and sent it to the players this afternoon, no word of a final agreement yet.

If Chris Mortensen’s tweets are to be believed, the players are ready to vote but want the lockout lifted before they recertify the players union:

Players want lockout lifted if/after they vote yes, then sign player union cards at team facility, collected by reps and regional directors

29 minutes ago

 

Good news. Players wrapped call, then leadership received final details. Vote can come tomorrow if they can satisfy a finishing detail or 2.

34 minutes ago

Tags: NFL

NFL Lockout News



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ESPN reports that multiple sources indicate that NFL owners are voting this afternoon on a new global labor agreement — no special favors for the named plaintiffs —  which if approved, will go to players this evening.

Players have scheduled an 8 p.m. ET conference call with their executive committee and player reps to decide whether to accept an approved settlement from owners, and how to start the voting process for the 1,900 players who have to decide if they want to vote in a recertified union.

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith addressed the ongoing negotiations in a short news conference outside the trade association’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.

“We continue to talk. There are some issues that are outstanding that are left to resolve,” Smith said.

He also said the decision to recertify as a union wouldn’t be taken lightly, just as the choice to decertify in March was taken seriously “because we were a real union” — taking a shot at owners’ claims that the NFLPA’s decertification was a “sham.”

“The decision to decertify as a union was a significant one,” Smith said. “Every individual person has to make a decision on whether they want to become part of a union. The individual decisions are something that our players take extremely serious.”

As part of the proposed settlement the owners will vote on, the 10 plaintiffs who attached their names to the players’ antitrust lawsuit against the NFL — including Tom BradyPeyton Manning and Drew Brees – will not net any financial or tactical gains, according to sources.

According to multiple sources, the proposed labor agreement doesn’t change the status of any of the plaintiffs. For example, a request by San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson to receive a $10 million settlement won’t happen.

Any conversations about changing the franchise rule in favor of Manning and Brees, a rule that would allow a player to be franchised once in his career, went unanswered, according to sources.

The proposed deal keeps franchise tagging rules as they have been in past agreements.

Frank Bauer, the agent for New England Patriots guard Logan Mankins, who is one of the named plaintiffs, responded Thursday to reports that Mankins had demanded special considerations. . . .

More here.

Tags: NFL

Luck or Skill?



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Tags: MLB

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Kobe Bryant to Play in Turkey?



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That’s the rumor:

Kobe Bryant is still being pursued by Turkey despite asking for a salary worth $1 million per month, according to the latest reports. It’s just going to take a bit of creative financing for Besiktas to suit up two NBA All-Stars next season if the lockout continues.

The team that has already signed New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams for the upcoming season told the Associated Press that there is still interest in Bryant, and a bit surprisingly, Bryant and his team is still interested as well.

“It is a fact that Kobe Bryant’s managers have contacted us,” coach Ergin Ataman said Thursday, a week after Besiktas signed New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams.

Who knows if it’s true. But I do think the real risk to the leagues here is that if there is a disruption in the NBA and/or the NFL seasons and the advertisers who spend millions funding the two sports realize that their sales really aren’t hurt by not advertising during NBA or NFL games, the entire business model/business bubble of professional sports goes poof.

And what better way to test that hypothesis and compare year-over-year sales than a disruption of the season?

Tags: NBA

Dreams Do Come True



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With English champions Manchester United currently on tour in the U.S., this family of fans in Seattle can count themselves the luckiest of all supporters this side of the Atlantic. As the team bus pulled in for training prior to a friendly against Seattle Sounders, it stopped and they were allowed to board to get autographs. Eternal memories, especially for the little girl and boy in the video. 

Tags: Misc.

The Blue Jays Finally Retire a Number



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. . . and interestingly the uniform belongs to Roberto Alomar. The Hall of Fame second baseman donned No. 12 during his five-year tenure in Toronto.

While Alomar enjoyed good-to-great seasons while in a Jays uniform, including World Series triumphs in 1992 and 1993, I suspect that many fans are wondering why he was selected before another highly regarded player who wore No. 37 in his 14 seasons pitching north of the border: Dave Stieb.

More here on Alomar’s honor.

Tags: MLB

Tiger Woods Parts Ways with His Longtime Caddy



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New Sports Power Couple?



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ABC reports that Rory McIlroy, golfer from Northern Ireland and Caroline Wozniacki, tennis player from Denmark, are now dating.

I just have one question for Rory . . .

. . . How did you pull this one off?

Tags: Misc.

Finally, Goal-Line Technology in Soccer



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England’s Premier League may finally introduce goal-line technology, according to its chief executive Richard Scudamore, for the 2012-13 season. This technology has long been called for in soccer, especially following England midfielder Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal against Germany in last year’s World Cup — a goal that, if allowed, would certainly have affected the rest of the match.

Ever since that incident, FIFA has dragged its feet in considering goal-line technology, with FIFA president Sepp Blatter a constant opponent. Time and again they have said they would discuss the matter in FIFA meetings, only to postpone it. In place of such technology, UEFA, the European soccer body, with FIFA’s blessing, introduced an extra assistant referee standing near each goalpost to better adjudicate goals (among other things, such as fouls in the penalty area).

Sepp Blatter’s arguments against goal-line technology have some validity: He is concerned about managers who may want to dispute every action that occurs in the penalty area — whether a goal has been scored or not — and interrupting the flow of the game to force replays. He also defends the referee’s role as final arbiter of what happens on the field. Soccer is a human game, Blatter contends, and must remain so. Soccer is a human game, and thus prone to all the faults that flesh is heir to. But contested goals can determine not only the outcome of an individual match, but a team’s entire season.

Other sports, such as tennis and cricket, use Hawk-Eye, a computer system that tracks the ball’s trajectory. Of course, the system has its critics and, like any technology, is not perfect. But it can help settle certain disputes — like Lampard’s disallowed goal, which everyone knows should have been a goal.

Whatever technology is introduced, it should be used in such a way to maintain the pace of play, which is an important factor in soccer. Only the fifth official sitting at the sideline should be allowed to review the event — which should take only a few seconds — allowing no intervention from either team’s manager. Soccer will still have its faults, but soccer fans want to see such vital matters as goals settled without dispute. 

Tags: Misc.

HJK Helsinki Finishes Off Its Opponent



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Critics of soccer often contend that the game is boring and that it is a low-scoring sport, often ending in 0-0 draw. But on the rare occasions, this happens: HJK Helsinki from Finland demolished Welsh side Bangor City in a Champions League qualifying match. The aggregate score over the two-game series was 13-0, with the second tie ending 10-0. (Demolished is an understatement).

The only previous Champions League match to have ended 10-0 was back in the 1979-80 campaign when Dutch heavyweights Ajax Amsterdam trashed Omonia Nicosia from Cyprus in what was the old European Cup.

Tags: Misc.

Backheel Penalty Kicker May Face Suspension



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Awana Diab, the unorthodox penalty taker in the friendly between the UAE and Lebanon, may face suspension by the UAE’s Football Association, whose view is that the backheel kick was disrespectful to everyone involved in the game.

UAE’s team manager Esmaeel Rashed has said that Diab could either pay a fine or be sent away from the team. Rashed has also claimed Diab is very contrite, “He is very sorry. He said: ‘I did wrong. I made a mistake. Tell the team I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry I did this thing.’ . . . He’s really upset and very worried.”

As I said in my previous post, it was only a friendly. 

Tags: Misc.

Greens: Where Obama Leads, EPA Follows



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EPA bureaucrats follow the President’s lead religiously, it seems. Not just on policy, though, like the regulations I discuss on the homepage today, they also emulate their master in taking time on the job to practice their golf swing. This was actually sent around an EPA office recently:

Who could begrudge these public servants this particular route to good health?

BTW, I have performed a couple of rounds of due diligence on this. It’s real. The afternoon sessions are all booked. It’s offered by a federal health services group that provides “health & wellness” services to EPA employees. This includes special events like the one pictured on the flyer where Nike Learning Center is providing “swing analysis” to prevent back injuries while golfing.

Iain Murray is the author of Stealing You Blind: How Government Fatcats Are Getting Rich Off of You.

Tags: Golf

Rashard Mendenhall Learns the Meaning of Free Speech



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Like the Dixie Chicks before him, Rashard Mendenhall is learning that freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences:

Rashard Mendenhall created one of the offseason’s biggest controversies when he tweeted some stuff about 9/11 following Osama Bin Laden’s death. The tweets got fans all stirred up, drew some remarks from teammates and got him fired as an endorser of Champion.In response, Mendenhall is — per CNBC’s Darren Rovell — suing Hanesbrand, the parent company of Champion in North Carolina District Court. “This case involves the core question of whether an athlete employed as a celebrity endorser loses the right to express opinions simply because the company whose products he endorses might disagree with some (but not all) of those opinions,” the suit reads.

In all likelihood, this won’t work like a normal “wrongful termination” case — Mendenhall had a clause in his Champion contract that, per Rovell, allows them to fire him if Mendenhall “commits or is arrested for any crime or becomes involved in any situation or occurrence tending to bring Mendenhall into public disrepute, contempt, scandal or ridicule, or tending to shock, insult or offend the majority of the consuming public.”  

Tags: NFL

How to get suspended at ESPN



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Tags: MLB

Welching on a Bet, the Illinois Way



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We cheeseheads don’t expect much of Bears fans. We say: Take your two Packer losses a year like men, wear your ugly Ditka sweaters, and reminisce about the Cade McNown era all you want. We don’t even mind that you still think the mustache/sunglasses look can be enjoyed unironically. But when your governor welches on a bet, the gloves come off.

Illinois governor Pat Quinn pulled a move reminiscent of Jay Cutler and decided to quit on his bet with Wisconsin governor Scott Walker on the NFC Championship game last year:

Gov. Scott Walker delivered Wisconsin foods to a Kenosha food pantry Monday morning, but noticeably absent was the man who was supposed to be there with him, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.

Walker bet on the Packers last winter in their National Football Conference championship game, while Quinn backed their opponents, the Chicago Bears, in the friendly wager.

Because Walker won, Quinn had been supposed to work in a Wisconsin food pantry while wearing a Packers jersey. But after the controversy surrounding Walker’s legislation ending collective bargaining, Quinn hasn’t made a move to head north across the border.

So Walker himself delivered foods from Wisconsin Monday, which included brats, cherry pies, cranberries and honey. He tweeted news about the delivery this morning and Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie confirmed the delivery.

Oh, and by the way: When Cutler inevitably misses half the season with a chronic case of halitosis, does Quinn get to sell his starting job to the highest bidder?

Tags: NFL

Tiger Woods, The Soap Opera



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In summary, former Woods mistress Rachel Uchitel was advised by her attorney, Gloria Allred, to return her hush money to Tiger Woods after the Woods legal team alleged that Uchitel had breached her confidentiality agreement. And upon further review, Uchitel is now suing threatening to sue Allred for giving her bad advice in returning the money. The whole story here.

And in other weird Tiger news, former Woods wife Elin Nordegren’s new boyfriend, Jamie Dingman, used to date Rachel Uchitel.

How messed up are these people?

(Corrected)

Tags: Golf

A Penalty Kick You Don’t See Every Day



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Everyone knows that in soccer a penalty kick is difficult enough to take. It may look easy on television, but it is a tense psychological contest between the goalkeeper and the kicker. Sometimes, players will introduce some new flair to the task, but the UAE’s Awana Diab’s backheel penalty taken in a friendly against Lebanon yesterday was a complete surprise. In an actual league match anywhere, I doubt this would be attempted.

Although the announcers, spectators, and other players were amused, his coach wasn’t and substituted for Diab immediately, saying the player would be disciplined for the “disrespectful act.” Come on, it was a friendly.

   
 
   

Tags: Misc.

Joe Sakic Joins the Hole-in-One Parade



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Watch former NHL all-star Joe Sakic ace the 17th hole at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe:

 

 

A million-dollar shot: Sakic pockets $500,000, with the other half-mil going to Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong Foundation.

Tags: Golf

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