The synchronized gymnastics routine by the Ukrainian trio…:
…or the Brit sportscaster, who like most Brit sportscasters I have to assume smokes three packs of unfiltered Disque Bleue a day, acting very, very blasé about it.
The synchronized gymnastics routine by the Ukrainian trio…:
…or the Brit sportscaster, who like most Brit sportscasters I have to assume smokes three packs of unfiltered Disque Bleue a day, acting very, very blasé about it.
The debate over the future of Jerry Kill’s tenure at the U of M gets seized by political correctness.
The scene last Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium was tragically familiar – the Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach lying down, surrounded by medical staff, the victim yet again of his epileptic condition. It was the fourth such game-day incident since Jerry Kill inherited the mess of a program left by booster-in-chief Tim Brewster. And as reports trickled in throughout the weekend, conflicting stories surfaced about how many off-field seizures Kill has had since joining the Gophers, with numbers as high as nearly a dozen seizures in one week being casually thrown about by sports radio talking heads.
Ever-present in the wake of Kill’s latest health scare was the maddening silence from Athletic Director Norwood Teague, or any official from the University of Minnesota. Teague would eventually issue the standard press release of support backing his head coach, but not before Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan did what most journalists and sports commentators have apparently found verboten to discuss - is Jerry Kill’s health a determinant to the football program?
Even those who admire him most can’t believe that he should keep coaching major college football after his latest episode. Either the stress of the job is further damaging his health, or his health was in such disrepair that he shouldn’t have been hired to coach in the Big Ten in the first place.
The face of your program can’t belong to someone who may be rushed to the hospital at any moment of any game, or practice, or news conference. No one who buys a ticket to TCF Bank Stadium should be rewarded with the sight of a middle-aged man writhing on the ground. This is not how you compete for sought-after players and entertainment dollars.
The reaction to Souhan’s comments showed precisely why few, if any, major media figures have dared to broach the subject.
Souhan’s column was deemed “ill-informed, dishonorable, and just plain nasty.” Callers into Dan Barreiro’s KFAN radio show denounced the topic even being discussed, with one caller even comparing the questioning of Kill’s fitness to coach as a form of bigotry. Multiple voices demanded Jim Souhan be fired. And all this just for questioning the health of a coach whose had four seizures in 28 games.
Souhan’s harshest criticism was directed not at Jerry Kill, who has little control over the frequency and severity of his seizures, but at Teague’s combination of silence and dismissive attitude on the matter. The lack of information from Teague allows speculation to run rampant (how many seizures has Kill really had since coming to Minnesota?) and fosters the concern that Kill’s health is a bigger hurdle to the program than assumed. Such silence doesn’t help when there are legitimately poorly-informed commentaries on the issue, such as CBS Sports‘ Gregg Doyel who believes Kill is taking his life in his hand by continuing to coach. But credit Jim Souhan for starting a conversation that needs to be taking place, if not in public, than at least in private within the University.
Removing Jerry Kill based solely on his health is almost certainly impossible, as the University would quickly run into Americans with Disabilities Act provisions. But a negotiated buyout of Kill’s contract, right now at $1.2 million a year for the next five years, might be possible – if extraordinarily expensive.
The better question is should Kill step down?
Let’s dispense, if we can, with the obvious. Jerry Kill is admirable for coming as far as he has with his condition and seems like an honorable man and a competent coach. Stepping down from his job would be a major career reversal and disappointment for both Kill and fellow epileptic individuals from whom he rightly ought to be a role model. But if stress is a major factor in Kill’s epilepsy, how exactly will that stress lessen as the coach of a Big 10 team on gameday? What if Kill suffers another seizure while leading against a top-ranked team? Or in a major bowl game? Will fans be as accommodating with his condition if they believe, rightly or wrongly, that his health cost them a game? Forget the opinion of fans, how will recruits react to Kill’s health?
If Kill’s condition worsens, even with the program reducing his day-to-day activities, at what point has the University reduced Jerry Kill to more of a figurehead than an administrator? Given the trajectory of Kill’s health, with seemingly an increasing number of seizures, that point may be coming sooner than anyone wishes.
ADDENDUM: The Star Tribune editorial board, rarely a fount of wisdom, offers the definitive assessment of the impact Jerry Kill’s health has on the team – and it comes from the coach himself:
[Kill] confessed that a seizure he suffered during halftime of last November’s Michigan State game had been a low point for him because he realized “you can’t be the head football coach and miss half of the game.” If that were happening all the time, “the university wouldn’t have to fire me,” Kill said. “I’d walk away if I didn’t think I could do it.”
“Kluwe’s tactics are the epitome of his generation – foul-mouthed personal attacks against anyone who disagrees. Pro-lockout players are “douchebags” who stand for “pretty much the definition of greed.” His opponents are “a**hole f**kwits”, which also suggests he’s a plagiarist since I’m sure he stole that from Oscar Wilde.” – SITD, May 6th
“plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” — “the more it changes, the more it’s the same thing” – novelist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr
Heading to Napa. Gotta be honest, it feels a lot nicer to be going there rather than the STD capitol of MN. No offense, Mankato. #adiosGage
— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) July 24, 2013
Stay classy, Mr. Kluwe.
The same DFL employees who gave us “E-Pulltabs” as a means of supplying “the state’s share” of an extorted payoff to an out-of-state billionaire for his real-estate upgrade (which fell 95% short of predictions, as predicted by certain right-wing bloggers) are going to try to take a mulligan and get it right on the second try, says this piece from the MinnPost’s James Nord:
The governor’s proposal would increase the cigarette tax from $1.23 per pack to $2.52 per pack – a larger jump than the 94-cent target he’d earlier proposed — and would require retailers and wholesalers to make a one-time payment on existing inventory that would funnel $24.5 million into the stadium reserve account, solving the shortfall there.
Where have we seen this before?
Oh, yeah – cigarette taxes never, ever raise the money they’re supposed to. They rarely get 2/3 of the way to their goals. Ever.
And a “one-time tax on existing inventory?” Look for a fire sale on smokes the week before the tax goes into effect, and for chain convenience stores to shuffle inventory out of state pronto.
Then, if electronic pulltabs or linked bingo games fail to produce the revenue necessary to fund the state’s appropriation bonds for the stadium ["if" - heh. Ed], the commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget would have the authority to direct revenue from a closed corporate income tax loophole toward the stadium.
Frans said that closing the “tax avoidance loophole” would prohibit the current legal practice of some Minnesota companies that avoid paying full corporate income taxes on sales they make by shielding themselves through a subsidiary in a different state. He said more than 20 states have similar regulations in effect.
Dear Mr. Nord: Not that I’m going to tell you how to do your job, but did you happen to ask Mr. Frans what states those were? And how they’re doing in terms of business climate? How well “closing” that particular “loophole” worked?
Remember – these are the same people who said “E-Pulltabs” would…y’know…work.
That measure is projected to bring in $26 million in the first year and roughly $20 million annually after that, although those totals could change as the conference committee works out the specifics of their compromise.
Frans said with the new contingency plan, which would also be backed up by current taxes on suites and memorabilia if for some reason it doesn’t perform, officials are ready to close the book on the shaky stadium funding issue.
“We believe it’s reliable, it’s consistent,” he said.
Messinger Dayton Administration ”believed” a lot of things that didn’t turn out to be true.
If only we had an institution, with printing presses and transmitters and websites, staffed by people who see themselves as part of a truth-seeking monastic order, whose job it was to tell the public about these things.
The new Vikings stadium has been unveiled.
About a year after $500 million in public money was approved by the Minnesota Legislature for a new Vikings stadium, the curtain was pulled back Monday, May 13, to let the public see what the $975 million facility will look like.
The new design was unveiled at a 90-minute event Monday evening at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.
The building will be asymmetrical and multisided. The roof will slope to ensure snow doesn’t pile up atop it.
It looks like a microwave that fell out of a truck on the freeway.
But at least it’s being paid for by
electronic pull tabs oops. It’s going to be paid for out of your taxes.
The least the Strib, WCCO, KFAN and KSTP could do is give away some free tickets, since this is our “present” to them and their long-term viability.
Mark Dayton apparently thinks he was elected pope.
I say that because of his style of interacting with the public; he pokes his nose out of his office, makes a pronouncment – “get this stadium deal done!” or “don’t shut down the government” or whatever it is he’s saying – and then disappears back into the office. He couldn’t be any more pseudo-papal if he built a balcony outside his office overlooking the Capitol Mall.
And that’s fine – he’s probably used to having absolute doctrinal authority in interpreting Alida Messinger’s revealed word, so it fits.
But if there’s anything striking about Mark Dayton as governor, it’s his time management skills. The guy just knows what matters.
So when he emerges from his sanctum to render a comment for
his Praetorian Guard the media, you know it’s about something that matters deeply for all Minnesotans.
Or last week, I guess:
You might have heard of the Timberwolves, who apparently have played basketball against Jason Collins in recent years.
From Mr. D.
The foot of the Minnesota Vikings’ punter will no longer be in his mouth.
There is a truism in all professional life that your cost, real or perceived, cannot outweigh your value. Once that threshold is crossed, there is often little incentive for an employer to maintain such an employee.
Of course, that truism seems to take an extraordinary beating when it comes to being applied in the world of professional sports. Athletes are excused all manner of crimes and statements while staying employed. Kobe Bryant hardly suffered despite allegations of rape. Michael Vick emerged from jail for the cruel practice of dog fighting and resumed his NFL career. Mike Tyson’s been in and out of jail three times. If he goes back a forth time, apparently it’s free.
In that light, the Minnesota Vikings’ expected release of outspoken punter/gay-marriage advocate/musician/video-game enthusiast/Deadspin contributor/gameboard store owner/all-around stunted adolescent Chris Kluwe hardly seems fair. Kluwe has maintained a decent-to-high punting yards average since joining the NFL (notwithstanding his drop to 22nd in the NFL in 2012). And in a league that doesn’t even have a punter in their Hall of Fame (another source of Kluwe-influenced controversy), Kluwe may be the most relatively famous punter in history.
The problem? None of that notoriety comes from his actions on the field. The Star Tribune’s Chip Scoggins danced around the elephant in the stadium when he wrote Kluwe’s Vikings career post-mortem in advance:
Kluwe’s departure will make the Vikings locker room a lot more dull because he is incredibly intelligent, articulate and passionate about societal issues. He’s a fascinating individual in a sport that breeds conformity. The NFL has become so big and so powerful that players often cling to political correctness for fear that a ripple might swell into a tidal wave. Kluwe is that surfer dude on top of the wave, hanging 10 on any issue that stirs his emotion.
“No single thing that I do defines me as a person,” he said. “Just because I play football, that doesn’t define me as a person.”
The message is unmistakable – Chris Kluwe’s gay marriage advocacy cost him his job. And Scoggins et al are correct…sort of.
Kluwe’s value to the Minnesota Vikings was as a $1.4 million a year player at a reasonably expendable position. Simply put – you don’t get to be a distraction if you’re easily replaceable. And by every definition, Chris Kluwe is a distraction. Kluwe has run his mouth on issues beyond gay marriage. He’s been fined for “campaigning” for Ray Guy to get into the Hall of Fame. He’s appeared on the website Deadspin several times over the 2011 NFL Lockout where he attacked numerous players over their views.
Worse, Kluwe’s tactics are the epitome of his generation – foul-mouthed personal attacks against anyone who disagrees. Pro-lockout players are “douchebags” who stand for “pretty much the definition of greed.” His opponents are “a**hole f**kwits”, which also suggests he’s a plagiarist since I’m sure he stole that from Oscar Wilde.
In truth, the media needs Chris Kluwe’s release to be about his vocal and abusive activism. Because admitting to solidarity with Kluwe’s political views, and his ability to deliver good copy to sportswriters and sports radio networks, is harder than portraying the SoCal punter as a victim of a 1st Amendment NFL crackdown. Does anyone seriously believe that if Kluwe had come out passionately against gay marriage (ala Matt Birk), and saw his production dive, that those arguing against Kluwe’s release today would be defending his penchant to “hanging 10 on any issue that stirs his emotion”?
Kluwe mocked even his own Special Teams coach for suggesting the punter needed to focus on his job with the hashtag “so focused.” Here’s hoping that Chris Kluwe finds the time to focus on realizing that being a public relations bully to those who don’t share his worldview isn’t the best way to advance what’s left of his career.
The Monday Morning Quaterbacking over electronic gambling heats up.
For a funding mechanism that was originally billed to deliver $35 million in revenue per year, and continuously revised down to $17 million and then $1.7, the process of assigning blame should have been viewed as inevitable. But like a legislative Atlas, who would shoulder the majority of the ownership of such a flawed model? Gov. Mark Dayton, who was so publicly aggressive in his defense of a new stadium? The hapless former Republican legislative majorities who acquiesced to the bill? The Star Tribune, whose rampant conflict of interest with any Metrodome-site construction should have called into question their vocal support?
No, the Star Tribune has decided the real culprit are the gambling firms that provided the electronic pull-tab games:
While flawed, the gambling board’s sales estimates were extremely detailed, including the number of bars and restaurants that would adopt e-gambling, the number of devices in play, what hours they would be played and how much money would be wagered.
It projected 2,500 sites would be selling electronic pulltab within six months, or nearly 14 bars and restaurants joining in per day….
Nearly a year after those projections were made, about 200 Minnesota bars and restaurants offer electronic pulltabs, not the 2,500 that had been predicted. Electronic bingo games have just been introduced.
Average daily gross sales for electronic pulltabs have increased to about $69,000, but sales per gambling device have declined.
The firms may have been making bad assumptions about the capacity for Minnesota to support increased charitable gambling, but at least the firms’ figures came out of experiences in states like Montana, South Dakota and Oregon. Still, the basic math of the gambling mechanism was public knowledge long before it was formally added to the final bill.
Minnesotans spend about $1 billion in charitable gambling, which equals the comparatively paltry sum of $36 million in revenue. The Vikings stadium, requiring $35 million a year to cover the State’s $348 million share, would necessitate charitable gambling to either double to $2 billion or entirely overrun the current charitable competition. In that light, it’s little wonder that other charitable organizations were not asked for their opinion. A decision that now is being heavily criticized as charities across the State say some version of “I told you so.”
All the finger-pointing in the world doesn’t help hide the reality that the responsibility for flawed legislation needs to rest with the political leadership that authored it – a fact even the Star Tribune acknowledges:
“There was a willful blindness … driven by pressure politics,” charged David Schultz, a Hamline University political analyst and a professor of nonprofit law…
“This was a deal that was going to happen no matter what,” Schultz said. “The governor wanted a stadium. The money couldn’t come from the general fund. The charities had been asking for electronic games.”
Upon further review – the Minnesota Vikings spent a fortune to acquire their new stadium.
The Vaseline Dome has re-entered the media picture in the last few weeks, as new concerns have been raised about the viability of the electronic pull-tab funding mechanism which has fallen $13.2 million short of yearly estimates. Or more accurately, completely fallen apart since the State had expected the pull-tabs to generate $15 million a year, putting the threat of needing general funds to finance a luxury item back on the table.
Flawed or not, the stadium financing figures aren’t the only numbers that have come to light in recent weeks. We now know how much Zygi Wilf and company spent in their multi-year lobbying effort to build a stadium in the exact same location as their current home – $4,270,000.
The Vikings were the 6th largest lobbyist group (by dollars spent) in the last six years. And while the $610,000 spent last year as the stadium was finally approved was a drop in the bucket of the estimated $54 million spent by all lobbyist groups in 2012, the $1.5 million used by the Vikings during 2011-12 would have made them the 3rd largest lobbyist of the cycle. Even lobbying powerhouse Education Minnesota spent slightly less at the Capitol in that period. Purple pride indeed.
$4.2 million for $975 million is a tremendous value (although the Vikings spent millions more in stadium-related advertising). But the end product may not look like such a deal if the financing structure collapses in on itself. Which begs the question – what happens when the State finally admits the pull-tab solution isn’t working?
The state’s $498 million share of the $975 million project is to be paid for through sales of electronic pull-tabs. But the final two pages of the stadium bill provide for two “blink-on” funding provisions as backups. The first is an NFL-themed lottery and the second, if necessary, is a 10 percent tax on luxury suites.
And what of the doomsday scenario, where all three provisions fall short of the money required for the state’s annual payments? At that point, from what I can tell, the state would have to produce money from its general fund — something Gov. Mark Dayton promised not to do when campaigning for the facility.
Would either of these other solutions generate the revenue necessary? A Vikings-themed lotto doesn’t sound fundamentally different than the pull-tab concept. The Minnesota Lottery brought in $123 million in profit last year, but that’s among 9 different games. A 10th lotto isn’t likely to expand the number of people playing, only shrink the total amount left that would otherwise go into the State’s coffers. Besides, over 70% of the funds generated by the lottery go either to paying winners or towards lottery administration.
The most likely end game for the Vikings stadium financing shell game lies within the 10% luxury suite tax. Current suite rental prices aren’t terrible by NFL standards, running around $15,000 to $26,000 a game. Slapping another $1,500 or $2,000 is unlikely to cause any corporation to abandon their suite, but certainly won’t make the Vikings happy as they compute what to charge going forward.
The only real problem with the luxury tax idea is that it was envisioned as a last-gasp measure, meant to fill in a minor funding short-fall – not the State’s entire share. If the Vikings lotto goes the way of the pull-tab, that’s precisely what the tax will become. And if that occurs, the political football of using general funds will be kicked right at Mark Dayton’s 2014 prospects.
…could they manage to lose money selling beer at a football game:
The school released the figures to the Associated Press after a records request, which showed it incurred significant expenses from its first season selling alcohol stadium-wide at TCF Bank Stadium. Those include hiring additional police and security officers, setting up tents and other facilities, and equipment rental. Roughly half of its revenues went directly to Philadelphia-based Aramark Corp., which had the contract to sell beer and wine.
The booze itself cost the university about $180,000.
This bit here made me wonder if they really focused their spending properly (emphasis added):
About $30,000 of the school’s expenses were one-time costs to prepare the stadium — from setting up ATMs to buying plants.
In conjunction with beer sales?
Isn’t that what urinals are for?
They apparently expect to turn a profit next year. Not sure if that’s tied with the GoGo football team making the playoffs “next year” or not.
Perhaps Andy Warhol’s famous quote should be amended. In the future, even fictional people will be famous for 15 minutes.
By now, most of the world has heard the too-crazy-to-be-true story of Notre Dame and Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te’o’s fictionally deceased fictional girlfriend Lennay Kekua. The facts are relatively few yet terribly convoluted for a love-story that might as well have been crafted by Nicholas Sparks. What is known is that Te’o purported to have a long-time girlfriend in distant California who communicated with him largely via Twitter. In a 21st Century George Glass sort of relationship, Te’o's girlfriend was a digital creation of his friend Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. The revelation of Lennay Kekua’s true identity has resulted in he-said/he-said allegations of whether Te’o was the victim or willing perpetrator of the elaborate hoax.
Captain Tuttle was unavailable for comment.
The details of the hoax have been engaging. Theories abound. Is Te’o, who is a practicing Mormon, in a homosexual relationship with fellow Mormon Tuiasosopo? Did Te’o invent the girlfriend (or at least her Lifetime moviesque demise) to play upon the heartstrings of Heisman voters? Or is Te’o the victim of a long-term ruse – perhaps the least plausible theory unless Te’o also believes he’s about to claim millions of dollars from a Nigerian prince he met via email.
The “real” motivation is less interesting than the motivations of the media, fans, and anyone else who makes up the sporting establishment to believe Te’o's lies. And whether Te’o's initial motivation was to hide his sexual orientation or not, Te’o most certainly did lie to further his career. The narrative of Te’o's loss of both his grandmother and girlfriend on the same day was by Te’o's own standards a near storybook tale of woe. Te’o's otherwise great season was bookended by every reporter gushing on his ability to perform amid such personal torment. Te’o himself declared his greatest career challenge as September 12th – the date his very real grandmother died and a very big lie about his girlfriend got even bigger with her “passing” from cancer.
The timing of Te’o's story coincides quite well with another high-profile web of lies - the Tour de Farce of Lance Armstrong’s career.
Te’o did not do what Armstrong did – no rules or laws were (as far as we know) broken. But the connection of Te’o and Armstrong lies within the motivation for their appeal – our desire for compelling narrative that overwhelms a needed dollop of skepticism. Manti Te’o having a strong statistical year is a nice story. Manti Te’o overcoming death and loss is a much better one. Lance Armstrong surviving cancer to ride again is a nice story. Lance Armstrong winning 7 Tour de France’s in the face of cancer is exceedingly better.
The fans and media’s desire for narrative to drive accomplishments can be seen even when the truth isn’t at stake. Adrian Peterson’s near record breaking year was given phenomenal coverage, as it should have been. But while Peterson may win the MVP, just a few short years ago Tennesse Titans RB Chris Johnson ran for over 2,000 yards but didn’t even receive one first place MVP vote. Why? A lot of reasons can be suggested, but nearly breaking a record isn’t nearly as impressive as nearly breaking a record after reconstructive knee surgery.
Manti Te’o, at some level, understood this. Sports ”journalism”, like most reporting, has little connection to facts and almost everything to do with emotionalism. Actions don’t count – narrative does and the anger being expressed by reporters against Te’o today is less for his lies than for what they reveal about the motivations of journalists. As one sportswriter remarked, even the man who beat Te’o for the Heisman, Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel, won in part on his ability to manipulate the media. Afterall, there was no “Johnny Football”, as Manziel is known, on the Heisman ballot.
It’s not you. It’s me.
We even overcame some painful memories, like when you left with that Alberta shopping mall developer for Dallas. I was hurt. But then I realized that a former booster for the North Stars was right when she said: ”When [Norm Green] came here, he said, ‘Only an idiot could lose money on hockey in Minnesota.’ Well, I guess he proved that point.”
Since you came back it’s been nice. Not the same, but nice.
But as I said, it’s not you, it’s me. I just can’t take what will likely be a second lost season in nine years. Especially with both sides of your lockout seemingly unwilling to even sit in the same room with a federal mediator and salvage, ala 1994-95, a condensed season and the Stanley Cup:
With the hockey season hanging in the balance, Saturday could prove to be a pivotal day on all fronts. The sides have less than a week to reach a new collective bargaining agreement to save what would likely be a 48-game hockey season….
The players’ association will conclude a two-day vote among its members at 6 p.m. Saturday that will determine whether the union’s executive board will again have the authority to declare a disclaimer of interest.
If the vote passes, as expected, the disclaimer can be issued, and the union would dissolve and become a trade association. That could send this fight to the courts and put the season in jeopardy. The disclaimer would allow players to file individual antitrust suits against the NHL.
Ok, maybe it’s a little you.
Having conceded the necessity of a salary cap after the last strike in 2004-05, the cap has risen from $39 million in 2005 to what will either be $60 or $65 million in 2013. That’s more than a 12% increase every year. And it’s not exactly that the NHL has been booming in popularity or revenue. The Toronto Maple Leafs rank as the NHL’s most valuable franchise at $1 billion with $200 million in revenue generated each year. Solid numbers, to be sure. But paltry in comparison to other major American sports. The NFL’s Dallas Cowboys bring in $500 million each year for a league with a cap of $120 million. The NBA’s New York Knicks generate $244 million each year with a “soft cap” of $58 million – and that’s in a league where 14 of the teams are currently losing money. 12 of the 30 NHL teams are ending up in the red. Even the mightly NFL, supposedly the pater familias of sports business, has three teams losing money.
At least the NFL and NBA have strong TV viewership. The NHL saw the weakest TV ratings for the Stanley Cup in years, despite having two of the largest television markets represented in the series. In that context, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman must be a negotiating genius to get NBC to agree to a 10-year, $2 billion TV deal. Sure, it’s a pittance compared to MLB’s $3 billion, 7-year deal or the NFL’s $3 billion a year contract, but compare numbers. The 2010 Stanley Cup finals had their best ratings in 36 years with 14 share of the TV audience. That’s only a few hundred thousand more viewers than the average audience for a Sunday night NFL game which has a 12.9 share.
In short, among the few who will care if yet another NHL season is lost will be NBC’s executives. Don’t count me among the rest.
Sure, I thought perhaps I’d give you another chance. You almost had me with the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signings, until I realized that not unlike Kevin Garnett’s contract years ago, the signings represent exactly why your league is in decline and locked out. I can’t continue worrying about someone who is so self-destructive.
So goodbye, NHL. I hope you find someone who accepts you despite your many, many flaws. I hear Canada’s single right now.
ADDENDUM: Like the jilted lover who can’t accept being rejected, the NHL returns – at only the cost of half the season:
Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger reports some details:
Deal to end NHL lockout tentative with 10-year CBA (opt-out after 8 years), 7-year contract limit (8 for own players) and $64.3 M cap ’13-14.
That’s right: After the NHL asked for a $60 million cap, the players got the League to move all the way to $64.3.
Even the NHL’s proposed $60 million cap is frankly too high. The $64.3 million cap would currently place 22 teams under the limit (and the cap, of course, is a limit, not a minimum) and force 8 teams to shed payroll – including your Minnesota Wild. All this in a league were nearly 1/3rd of the teams are financially struggling.
The end result? The length of the CBA (10 years) probably means an increased exodus of teams from the US to Canada, as we just saw last year with the Atlanta Thrashers becoming the reincarnated Winnipeg Jets. The NHL’s 90′s mistake of expansion in southern US markets is slowing coming back to bite them. Moving some of the teams north would probably be the best economic decision but only further the NHL’s regional appeal. Not the NHL has learned this lesson yet – the American cities proposed for expansion include decidedly non-hockey markets like Houston and Las Vegas. We may see an NHL franchise contract before this CBA expires, which while being a PR letdown, might actually be what’s best for the league.
From: Mitch Berg, guy counting down the days ’til pitchers and catchers report
Yesterday, Bob Costas used your “sports” air time to babble an uninformed, utterly wrong anti-Second-Amendment screed.
Now, don’t get me started on sportscasters and sportswriters and “sports radio” people; for the most part, they are at the cutting edge of everything that’s wrong with America. They glorify a sports culture that once at least paid lip service to the best our society had to offer, but today mostly glorifies all that is base and stupid in our culture. And let’s not kid ourselves; whatever they glorify, it’s all about making bank for the people that own the teams that give the Sports Media a market, which in turn allows you, NBC Sports, to make bank yourselves.
And when they get into politics? Forget unions and welfare; sportswriters, sportscasters and the drooling baboons and chattering lemmings that take them seriously were the ones that badgered the Legislature into giving Zygi Wilf a billion-dollar spiff to his investment. Just as they did in turn for the owners of the Twins, the Wild and the Woofies before them. Sports America is the biggest welfare state there is.
And now we have Bob Costas – a guy who wants to be his generation’s Frank DeFord so badly you can smell it on the wind – using your “sports” airtime to prate and gabble about the Second Amendment. As if taking an troubled boy with a talent for running or blocking or tackling or catching a ball, glorifying his talent from the age of eight on, allowing him to grow into a rich, spoiled, entitled adult with no education or sense of perspective to feed the system that has made him, his team owners, Costas and all of you obscenely wealthy along the way, didn’t have a role in creating someone so unstable he thought he was justified in killing another human being.
Let’s put this another way; after a career spent making America’s sports industry (and, incidentally, himself) rich, what caliber of handgun did OJ Simpson use?
Or is there a Bob Costas riff against butcher knives out there that I’m not aware of?
Oh, yeah – I don’t watch NBC Sports, and haven’t for decades, so any threat to boycott will be an empty one. But you get the picture.
That is all.
The University of Minnesota redraws the lines of success for Gophers football.
Since the state’s introduction to Jerry Kill’s persistent problems with seizures (in what was only his second game, no less), the topic of the health of Minnesota’s football coach has been near verboten by both the University and a complacent media. That may finally change following a turbulent week which saw the team’s leading offensive player quit with a Tolstoy-length screed, the team lose badly to a very beatable Michigan State, and Kill suffer a seizure which forced him to miss the second half:
After Minnesota fell 26-10 to Michigan State, athletic director Norwood Teague said Kill was comfortable and all of his vital signs were fine. Kill was cleared to go home after resting for a few hours.
“I know this will bring up questions about him and moving forward, but we have 100 percent confidence in Jerry,” Teague said, adding: “He’s as healthy as a horse, as they say. It’s just an epileptic situation … that he deals with. He has to continue to monitor all the simple things in life that we all have to monitor, in that you watch your diet, watch your weight, watch your rest, watch your stress.”
The seizure is Kill’s fourth since taking over the Gophers’ program in 2011 and the third during a season (one seizure occurred in the off-season). Newly installed AD Norwood Teague is certainly correct – Kill’s seizures are not the sign of deeper health concerns, nor is there much Kill can do to lessen their occurrence or severity. That fact alone is the main reason why few in or outside the media have taken up the issue.
But can a Division-I football program grow when the man in charge likely can’t make it through an entire season? Kill’s health may not be a concern to the University administration, but it will certainly be an issue in the cut-throat world of college recruiting. Few rival recruiters in Wisconsin or Iowa will have any qualms about raising Kill’s health or the AJ Barker diva saga. Both call into question whether Kill is truly able to handle coaching at a Big 10 level. Kill’s insistence that he treats all players equally sounds wonderful outside of the realities of college athletics where star players expect some deferential treatment. And there’s little question that Kill’s seizures are becoming more frequent He suffered one in 2005 coaching for Southern Illinois. Now, the seizures are a multiple, yearly occurrence.
The University may have few choices in the matter. Kill’s 7-year contract places the U on the hook for $600k each year they buy-out. The U already had to pay $775,000 to get rid of Tim Brewster and is now out a similar amount simply to avoid a home-and-home series against a mediocre North Carolina team. Nor would the University seriously contemplate firing a head coach two years into his stay as his team has improved from 3 wins to 6.
Yet what does the future hold for a Jerry Kill-lead Gophers program? 2012 has revealed a few hints: that Kill doesn’t think his squad can handle an 8-4 team at home in 2014; that he doesn’t know how his best players perceive him; and (fair or not) that his body hasn’t learned to adjust to the stress of coaching a low-level Big 10 team. What exactly about any of those qualities will change in the short-term?
Instead of worrying about such issues, the University seems content to redraw their expectations. $800,000 is a small price to pay for ensure two non-conference victories against Hamline’s intramural flag-football team or whatever cupcake opponents replace North Carolina. Who cares if the head coach is healthy enough to be on the sidelines when you might make the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
The University of Minnesota might be better served asking if those short-term hopes are worth mortgaging their long-term goals – and Jerry Kill’s health.
As I pointed out a couple years ago, American democracy does have one fairly reliable bellwether:
The fortunes of the Chicago Bears.
And who is leading the NFC North today?
And who snuffed out Tennessee 51-20 yesterday?
Yep. The Bears.
Look, say what you will – but history doesn’t lie.
“No matter how bad your day is going, just remember, you’ve won just as many Tour de France races as Lance Armstrong.”
– Kevin Ecker, from Facebook
That is all.
According to Governor Mark “Bored DIlettante” Dayton, NFL players get into trouble – bar scuffles, DUIs, shooting each other, dogfighting – because they’re just like you:
Football players aren’t ordinary citizens, [the Governor] said, and compared the game to combat.
”It’s basically slightly civilized war, and then they take that into society, much as solders come back, and they’ve been in combat or the edge of it and then suddenly that adjustment back to civilian life is a real challenge,” Dayton said.
You heard him right. The Governor – who got a draft deferment by staying in college and then working as a substitute teacher until his number went away – says that NFL players, many of whom started on the fast track to stardom in high school, waltzed through college in dumbed-down academic programs and “work” at playing an overgrown sandlot game for millions of dollars a year, misbehave because they’re just like you are after you get home from a tour or two in Afghanistan or Iraq (or Desert Storm or Vietnam).
It’s a bit of a whack upside the head to see that George Chapple – better known as “Dark Star” – has passed away:
Chapple grew up in Ohio and Long Island, NY. He was a Vietnam veteran, and originally came to the Twin Cities with his parents in the 1970s.
After dabbling in the auto business, Chapple became known to radio listeners in the 1980s via Steve Cannon’s WCCO Radio show where he handicapped horse races at the newly-opened Canterbury Downs (later renamed Canterbury Park).
Before that, though, he was a regular caller on sportstalk shows all over the Twin Cities, including KSTP when I was there in the mid-eighties.
The brief Strib obit skips past what was a convoluted and almost comical path to sports-radio celebrity. When I first met Dark, he was hosting a cable-access handicapping show at Canterbury Downs, in the next press booth over from the KSTP Sportstalk show I was producing. I ran into him again in…er, 1988? He and, of all people, Mike Gelfand were hosting an evening sportstalk show on the old AM1470 in Anoka, doing a remote broadcast from an old Chi-Chi’s in Brooklyn Center. In both cases, he bellowed out “Mitch!” – to me, one of the lowliest peons on Twin Cities radio – like I was Steve Cannon himself.
It wasn’t long after that that he got his job at ‘CCO.
And I spent years thinking of that example – going from regular caller to night-time host, one of America’s dream jobs. And the lesson of that example – make your own opportunities, and be both creative and persistent about it – was in the front of my mind in 2003 and early 2004 when I first broached the idea of an all-blogger talk show to AM1280.
So anyway – RIP Dark Star.
It wasn’t just the price tag that compelled me to vote against sending the bill to the governor. It has a structurally unsound funding mechanism and it ignores and belittles the expressed will of hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans.
Not just belittled us, but insulted our intelligence. I’m not someone who’s built a lot of “cherished family memories” around our underachieving football franchise – and I feel sorry for those that have.
Beyond that, though? The Vikes’ strategy – ratchet up the sentiment, and then threaten to pull all of that out and go to LA (without threatening it directly, since it’d be a stupid idea for the NFL, and anyone who isn’t blinded by sentiment knows it) – was a masterpiece of cynical PR arm-twisting. Also loathsome.
Nienow repeats some of the fiscal cautionary notes that many of us have been sounding for months:
In order to pay for the stadium, charitable gaming will need to more than double. To raise enough revenue, charitable gambling will have to increase about 130 percent over current levels. That increased level of charitable gambling will then have to be maintained for 30 years. Put that into the context of reality: Charitable gambling decreased 31 percent over 10 years.
You can see we are bucking a negative trend with hopes that we will reverse the trend, increase gambling by much more than double and then keep up that level of gambling for three decades. When this mechanism proves unsustainable and short on revenue, you the taxpayer will be on the hook to pay the stadium bills.
When that happens, it will be money taken directly from education, health care and other services we provide, to pay for the stadium.
Oddly, the governor and mainstream media were very, very quiet about this “feature” of the stadium “deal”.
Another provision in the law is not even for the Vikings stadium-refurbishing Target Center. Minneapolis residents recently added a requirement to their city charter requiring a public vote before the city spends more than $10 million fixing a sports arena. This law eliminates that expressed will of the people.
If today we can ignore their will, tomorrow it can be yours. That’s a dangerous precedent.
And it’s just a matter of time before the next major league franchise will be wanting new digs.
XCel is over fifteen and pushing twenty, after all; Target Center is twenty and change; “renovations” aside, both of those clubs will be demanding new stadiums before too long.
And their idiot fans will put on their jerseys and their wolf masks and mob the capitol and demand that the next bunch of gullible weak-kneed “moderate” saps do the will of the team and the Strib.
My question was always “If we don’t stop this organized larceny of the public largesse, who will? If not us, who?”
Nienow, and most of the freshman class of Republicans, voted to let the 1% pay for their own real estate upgrade, and this blog thanks them.
Read the whole thing.
And get ready. Because I figure we’re less than a decade away from the next such campaign.
(NOTE: Kudos to Mr. D, who – to the best of my knowledge – coined the term “Helga Braid Nation”).
Sorry if my output is a little light today.
I was watching all those idiot Vikings fans hooting and hollering, and those chucklehead Vikings players doing their idiot dances on camera, over the news that Zygi Wilf’s and the NFL’s exploitation of the state’s stupid and gullible classes convinced a majority of legislators to allow Wilf to pilfer hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers to buff up the value of his private investment, and I guess I chundered so long and hard it was impossible to write much.
Sorry about that.
Clearly, Mark Dayton knows his niche; go for the gullible, the easily manipulable, the people who think money comes from unicorns from on high, or who just don’t care that they’re making other people pay for their recreation.
I’m going to spend a little time going over the votes of the Republicans who supported the stadium.
Let’s start with the Senate.
You can look at a fairly interesting map of the votes in the House and Senate; the map isn’t entirely unpredictable; third-ring exurban Republicans voted (mostly) against it; Republicans in swingy districts, and moderates, voted “yes”.
Let’s break ‘em down:
Democrats voting yes
I’m not going to bother analyzing them – they’re all hopeless anyway.
Bakk (Cook); Bonoff (Minnetonka); Cohen (St. Paul); Goodwin (Columbia Heights); Harrington (St. Paul); Higgins (Minneapolis); Kelash (Minneapolis); Koenen (Clara City); Langseth (Glyndon); Latz (St. Louis Park); Metzen (South St. Paul); Pappas (St. Paul); Reinert (Duluth); Rest (New Hope); Saxhaug (Grand Rapids); Sheran (Mankato); Sieben (Newport); Skoe (Clearbrook); Sparks (Austin); Stumpf (Plummer); Tomassoni (Chisholm); Wiger (Maplewood)
Democrats voting no
Now, I’m pretty sure Mark Dayton has to be loving the fact that the GOP is the party tearing itself apart over this – the only eight DFLers voted against the bill: Dibble (Minneapolis); Dziedzic (Minneapolis); Eaton (Brooklyn Center); Hayden (Minneapolis); Lourey (Kerrick); Marty (Roseville); McGuire (Falcon Heights); Torres Ray (Minneapolis)
Republicans voting no
No arguments here. They’re the good guys and gals:
Benson (Ham Lake); Brown (Becker); Chamberlain (Lino Lakes); Dahms (Redwood Falls); Daley (Eagan); DeKruif (Madison Lake); Gazelka (Brainerd); Gerlach (Apple Valley); Hall (Burnsville); Hann (Eden Prairie); Hoffman (Vergas); Kruse (Brooklyn Park); Lillie (Lake Elmo); Limmer (Maple Grove); Newman (Hutchinson); Ortman (Chanhassen); Parry (Waseca); Thompson (Lakeville); Vandeveer (Forest Lake); Wolf (Spring Lake Park)
Carlson (Bemidji); Fischbach (Paynesville); Gimse (Willmar); Howe (Red Wing); Ingebrigtsen (Alexandria); Jungbauer (East Bethel); Koch (Buffalo); Magnus (Slayton); Michel (Edina); Miller (Winona); Nelson (Rochester); Nienow (Cambridge); Pederson (St. Cloud); Robling (Jordan); Rosen (Fairmont); Senjem (Rochester)
I have to say I’d hoped for much better from Niennow, who has been as solid a supporter of the taxpayer as there is (UPDATE: And rightly so. Nienow’s vote was apparently a parliamentary dodge. My apologies). And I didn’t expect much from a few of the others – especially the retiring Michel, who has nothing to lose – sad to say.
But for the rest?
I think an explanation is in order.
It looks like the stadium is a done deal. The fat lady is warming up in the locker room.
And people – Republicans, mostly, although there are exceptions – are angry about it. Some are angry enough to start a Facebook group to yak about un-endorsing Legislators (Republicans, naturally, mostly) who voted for the stadium.
Now, setting up Facebook pages is easy and cheap. Primarying legislators is work, and expensive. Keep it all in context.
But there is a valid point, there; Republicans ran on a “fiscal responsibility” platform – and then caved in to a billionaire seeking Wilfare.
There is a valid response; the team
tapped exploited this state’s boundless reserves of sentiment for our team. And they exploited the key fact about Mark Dayton; he was elected by the stupid, and Dayton and his people know how to make the stupid turn out. Daily during the stadium debate yahoos in purple staggered about the halls of the capitol and wrote beer-stained letters and misspelled but irate emails demanding that the stadium pony up for their recreation, their “tradition” (of losing), “their” team. And that adds up to votes. Stupid, entitled, spoiled-rotten votes? Yep. And they count just as much as the votes of smart, or at least ethical, people.
And the bitch of it is this; a legislator can have voted right on every single issue – the budget, taxes, deregulation – but if they’re threatened with losing office to a worthless DFL challenger who puts on a purple cap and bellows on cue, what the hell good is any of it?
Republicans who voted for the stadium owe the voter an explanation. There are a few I’m willing to accept; if a conservative with a 75+ rating from the Taxpayers League is in a district where he or she is up by less than five in a district full of pinheads who dress up like vikings, I’ll buy it.
More either this noon or tomorrow, depending on how much I like putting the numbers together.
To: Minnesota Vikings
From: Mitch Berg – Bears Fan
Re: Your Fiscal Plans
Dear Mr. Wilf,
if having “Mitch Berg” come to your
new bit of political swag stadium and spend money on user fees, or going to some pull tab machine to lose a pre-planned amount of money to pay for the stadium improvements to your investment on the public dime is in any part of your plans, please subtract from your plans appropriately. Not going to happen. You will not see one voluntary dime from me.
(I was going to add “If any of my legislators vote for this bit of legislative larceny, I’ll work tirelessly to remove their lame asses”, but I think you know I’m “represented” by Sandy Pappas and Rhea Montgomery, so I’ll be working tirelessly against them anyway).
I’ll be at Alary’s with the Bears fans. That’s a private sector business.
Unless they demand money from the state to pay for improvements to their real estate. Then I’ll tube them too.
The Vikings may suck, they may in the Super Bowl. But you, Zygi, will never voluntarily get a dime from me.
That is all.