Panthers dump Ozolinsh

Ozolinsh was making $5 million a year. It wasn't a question of him having too little talent. It was a matter of his contract having too many commas.

Trading away Ozolinsh and utilityman Lance Ward on Thursday night to Anaheim for center Matt Cullen, defenseman Pavel Trnka and a negligible draft pick does nothing for the Panthers except lighten the paychecks their owners must sign.

For Anaheim, acquiring Ozolinsh speaks well of a team fighting for a playoff spot, and acting like it.

For Florida, giving away their veteran anchor verifies a management saying, ``Maybe next year. Or two years after that.''

Well, Ozolinsh is an offensive defensemen. He's terrible in his own zone. And the Panthers defense ain't exactly rock solid. So they trade a high-priced, low-producer and get some young guys with speed.

They're also in 12th place, 7 points behind eighth-placed Tampa. 7 points would be a manageable gap, if they didn't also have to leap over three other teams. Florida has one of the least potent offenses in hockey, and their defense is in the bottom-quartile. This isn't a team just a player away from the playoffs. They aren't very good.

Ozolinsh does them no good. He'll help out Anaheim, a team only one point out right now. It's a good trade for both teams, even if it ticks off the locals.
posted by Poseur 1/31/2003 12:21:00 PM

Zona loses first Pac-10 game

Thursday night, Arizona (15-2, 7-1) looked Final Four-worthy for only a few moments.

Specifically, it was UA's 20-3 run - one that included 11 unanswered points - where UA went from being down 59-45 with 11:36 left to being up 65-62 on a Gardner drive to the basket with 7:18 left.

But Arizona, as was the case all night, couldn't stop Stanford on the perimeter.
Stanford outscored UA 17-12 in the game's final 6 1/2 minutes.

The Cats are clearly the best team in the country, but they keep losing focus like this. They made a terrific comeback in Lawrence to turn a 20-point deficit into a 20-point win against a top ten Kansas team. They came back against a thoroughly mediocre LSU team, coming up just short. And they fell behind huge against Stanford, only to come back, retake the lead, only to squander it again.

What's wrong? They are just sleepwalking through the regular season. There is no team that should beat UA, but here they are, with two losses and probably out of the number one ranking again.
posted by Poseur 1/31/2003 12:07:00 PM

Jordan declines offers to start

Michael Jordan said thanks, but no thanks.

Jordan turned down offers from Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson to relinquish their starting spots in the NBA All-Star Game.

The right decision by everybody involved. Good for McGrady and AI to make the gesture to the greatest basketball player ever. And good for Jordan for knowing he doesn't deserve to start over either of them. Did they do it just to curry favor with fans or reporters? Probably. But who cares? It was the decent thing to do, and they did it. And that's all that should matter.

Now here's hoping Jordan pulls a Magic during this All-Star Game.
posted by Poseur 1/31/2003 12:03:00 PM

MLB umpire suspended 10 days for ethnic slur

Three league officials independently said they had heard a recorded phone message in which Froemming calls umpiring administrator Cathy Davis a "stupid Jew bitch." Froemming was upset after being chided by baseball officials for booking his own transportation to Japan and not letting the major league office handle it as he was instructed to do. Baseball officials said they have a copy of the tape.

Fire him. Fire him now. This is the same umpire who once broke into a locker room before a game to get autographs from the players, a clear violation of interest. That should have been the warning shot, this is the shot in the heart. You just can't call people things like that in a business setting. You shouldn't do it on your free time either, but you can't do it on the business's time.

Get rid of him.

posted by Poseur 1/31/2003 11:59:00 AM

Venebales might quit Leeds

Terry Venables is "thinking about" his future as Leeds manager after the club agreed to sell Jonathan Woodgate to Newcastle United.

The former England coach had threatened to consider his position if Leeds accepted the £9 million bid for Woodgate.

It's the New York Rangers of the Premiership! Leeds United is 77 million pounds in debt. That's about $125 million. So, the team has done the rational thing and sold off just about every star it's got. And it's quite an impressive list of talent. Woodgate is only the latest, which started with Rio Ferdinand. All of that talent, only one Champions League appearance, and no Premiership titles.

It had to end.

posted by Poseur 1/31/2003 11:44:00 AM

Another reason to hate golf

That reluctance to fully disclose is common industry-wide. In the early 1990s, New York state's liberal activist attorney general, Robert Abrams, tried to find out more about the use of pesticides on golf courses on Long Island, but only 52 out of 107 courses responded to his office's inquiry. The resulting report, "Toxic Fairways" was nonetheless devastating, concluding that groundskeepers were using too many pesticides too often and should altogether cease using the pesticides containing known or probable carcinogens.

Neal Lewis, executive director of a Long Island environmental group called Neighborhood Network, took Abrams' numbers and multiplied them out, concluding that across the nation golf courses use 65 million pounds of dry bulk pesticides and 2.9 million pounds of liquid pesticides a year, a staggering amount. Lewis wants golf courses to embrace "organic golf" without pesticides. "The original game of golf goes back several hundred years, and certainly it did not rely on the use of toxic chemicals back then," he says.

The article ends on a chilly note, with golf course developers seeking to build new links on old Superfund sites.

What's interesting about this story is that it explores the political clout of the golf inustry, which, SURPRISE! tilts heavily towards the Republicans. Kinda gives new meaning to the term "country club set."

It's good to know there's still a sport for rich white guys who want to destroy the environment. With a token black guy kicking the crap out of them at the pro level.

posted by Poseur 1/31/2003 11:18:00 AM


Fleury and Robbins

Instead, the Oakland Raiders took the cruelest course imaginable and told Robbins he was being purged from the family. Coach Bill Callahan, a South Sider who should have known better, had him removed from the team hotel and left him alone in his cold, wicked world. On Super Bowl Sunday, the biggest day of his life and theirs, they suddenly forgot about a man's disease and overreacted to their selfish interests.
And when they were smoked later by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, guess who they blamed for the 48-21 debacle? Robbins, of course. Never mind that he was showing signs of disorientation all season. Never mind that knee and foot injuries had swung his moods violently and made him hide under a cap and Walkman CD headphones on Media Day. Never mind that everyone in the organization--from owner Al Davis to Callahan to the final player on the roster--knew Robbins had a sensitive history of bipolar disorder. Never mind that in a stressful, high-profile time, Raiders doctors should have made sure Robbins was taking his medicine for depression.

Finally, someone in the media gets it. Robbins is not a guy who just abandoned his team, he's a sick person who needed help, and his "family" turned their backs on him and treated him like dirt.

posted by Poseur 1/30/2003 02:58:00 PM

More Title IX stuff

In the interest of fairness, here's some dissenting voices on Title IX.

Joe Polanski's take

Just say it. Don't be a wimp. If you're going to rip Title IX, go ahead and say why. Say that women's sports are not as important as men's. Say that women don't like sports enough to deserve anything even close to an equal opportunity. Say that sports are for men and that women should just be happy with what's left over.

Sally Jenkins' take

The biggest problem with the commission is potential bias: 10 members come from Division I-A football schools, which have a financial interest in weakening the law. These are the schools that find Title IX most onerous to comply with -- so let's give them the most say! One proposal the commission is discussing this week would give schools 7 percent "wiggle room," allowing them to devote as little as 43 percent of athletic scholarships to women.

I sympathize with their views. Until last year, I was one of them. Then I actually did the research on Title IX and found that what we think of as Title IX is not Title IX. I fully support Title IX, it's a great law. I just don't support the proportionality test, which is clearly stated as contrary to the intent of the law.

And I guess that what bugs me. All of these people who proprt to support Title IX have no idea what it actually says. If you support proportionality, support Congress to pass a law that does that, because Title IX clearly states that there shall be no proportionality test.
posted by Poseur 1/30/2003 02:02:00 PM


Vanderjagt rips Colts

“We need somebody who is going to get in people’s face and yell and scream,” said Vanderjagt, who joined the Colts in 1998. “I’ve gone over there to the offense and said, ‘Come on.’

“They’re just like, ‘Mike, go sit down. You’re the kicker.’ I have more emotion probably than anybody. I want to win, I want to win bad. When I miss a field goal I bang my helmet because I hate being imperfect and I can’t tolerate watching 11 guys just walk off the field after you get stuffed and really show that you don’t care. That is frustrating to me.”

This is great stuff.

Manning getting called out by a kicker?! And the real funny thing is that the kicker is absolutely right. The Colts did sleepwalk their way out of the playoffs. They do need a little more fire. It's a shame that only the kicker realizes it.

I know it's fashionable to mock kickers, and let's face it, they make easy targets. But he's part of the team, he works just as hard as anyone else, and wants to win just as much as anyone. The colts could use more guys like Vanderjagt, particularly if they play middle linebacker.

posted by Poseur 1/29/2003 06:09:00 PM

Artest getting fined... again

After Artest scored and was fouled with 6:07 left in the fourth quarter, he walked toward the Miami bench, arguing with Heat assistant Keith Askins. Artest seemed to deliberately cross into the path of Riley, bumping him. Words were exchanged before the two were separated.

Artest, who finished with 18 points, then made an obscene gesture from center court after hitting the free throw to complete a three-point play.

Artest, who has four flagrant fouls and eight technical fouls this season, declined to speak to the media after practice at Conseco Fieldhouse on Tuesday, but Pacers veteran Reggie Miller had plenty to say.

"I think his emotions are under control. That's all it is, a reputation," Miller said.

Maybe he shouldn't have flipped off the crowd. But can anyone honestly say they are surprised he's getting fined for bumping an opposing coach? Artest is getting screwed out of the All-Star Game, but this isn't a reputation fine, Artest earned it with his actions.
posted by Poseur 1/29/2003 11:13:00 AM

Federal panel considers big changes for Title IX

The 15-member Commission on Opportunity in Athletics will meet today and Thursday in Washington, D.C., to consider up to two dozen recommendations on the implementation of Title IX.
It appears to be leaning toward loosening the interpretation on the law's "proportionality" standard, which says the percentage of a school's female athletes should reflect the percentage of women in the student body.

That would be a victory for supporters of a federal suit filed by the National Wrestling Coaches Association.

"Title IX is a great law; women should not be discriminated against," said Gophers wrestling coach J Robinson. "But it's proportionality that makes Title IX flawed."

The thing is the proportionality test goes against Title IX. It's clearly stated in the Bayh Amendmendment that there shall be no proportionality test in order to be in compliance with the law. Think about it, it's stupid.

If there are two schools, one all-male, one all-female with the same enrollment, they can, by definition, not be out of complinace. now let's say the men's school has 25% participation and the women's school 10%. If they merged into one school, the school would now be out of compliance. That's ridiculous.

I fully support anti-discrimination measures. Any case of an athletic department giving female athletes subpar facilities, witholding funding, or depressing participation should be fully prosecuted. But relying on a mathematical forula to prove disrcimination is wrong. Do we consider drama discriminatory towards men because it is dominated by women?
posted by Poseur 1/29/2003 11:10:00 AM

The USOC threatened by the US Senate

"If the Olympic house can't be cleaned up, Congress will help you clean it up," said Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., a member of the 1964 Olympic judo team.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., called the hearing after USOC chief executive Lloyd Ward was accused of ethical violations for trying to steer Pan American Games business to his brother's company.

When the US Senate thinks you have ethical lapses, you know you're in trouble. I mean, can we get the Irony Police on this one?

I am shocked--- SHOCKED-- that the USOC is corrupt. Next thing you'll tell me is that our politcal process is controlled by corporate contributors.
posted by Poseur 1/29/2003 11:04:00 AM


Robbins story still bizarre

A source close to Robbins said Monday the 6-foot-3, 320-pounder was believed to have stopped taking his prescription medication for both illnesses "some time ago."

The New York Daily News in today's editions quoted an unnamed member of Robbins' family saying that he was under a suicide watch.

"We are very worried about Barret. That's all I can say right now," the family member was quoted as saying.

It's really amazing how quickly the Raiders organization, players, and coaches have distanced themselves from Robbins. If he broke a bone or got diagnosed with a disease, they would support him, but since it's a mental illness, he's treated like a pariah. It's not right. It shows how the perception of mental illness in this country has hardly changed one iota. It's still seen as a form of human weakness, not a medical condition.
posted by Poseur 1/28/2003 10:00:00 AM


How bad were the Bucs?

It's hard to understate exactly how awful the Bucs have been over their entire history. In 1997, they brought in Tony Dungy and they've been a pretty good team over the past five season, finally culminating in the Super bowl title. But before then? It's comical.

Forget the 0-26 start for the franchise. From 1976, the first season, until 1996, the last season before Dungy, the Bucs definied futility. 21 seasons, precisely three winning seasons. THREE. And one of those was the strike year, when they went 5-4. They won 10 games one time, 1979. That year was their only division title.

And they didn't just suck, they sucked in all phases of the game. They failed to score 200 points three times, and only managed a 300-point season three times pre-Dungy. Think about that, as bad as the offense was under Dungy, it was still an improvement. Just check this out...

10-loss seasons: 5
11-loss seasons: 6
12-loss seasons: 1
13-loss seasons: 1
14-loss seasons: 4

People, the Benglas aren't this bad. This is why this win is so sweet for the bucs fans. They have suffered. They have earned this title. It's easy to root for a winner, it's tough rooting for a buncho of losers. so to everyone who stuck with the Bucs through the dark years: congratulations. You deserve a champion, your suffering was not in vain.

Now, as for Saints fans...
posted by Poseur 1/27/2003 04:23:00 PM

No Joke! Bucs Win!

Is this one of the seven signs of the Apocalypse? The Bucs winning a Super Bowl? What's next, the Clippers winning the NBA title? The Cubs taking the World Series?

The only real surprise for me was that the Bucs were able to run the ball with impunity. The Raiders offense is overrated, scoring 450 points on the year ain't exactly the Greatest Show On Turf. It's good, but it's not great. The Bucs defense was legitamtely great. And when very good goes against great, great wins.

However, the Bucs discovered a running game at the right time. Everything else, while not predictable, is at least understandable. Pittman suddenly becoming Emmit Smith was not.

So who gets the blame for the rout? Gannon threw five picks, a new Super Bowl record, but he also got sacked five times. His poor throws were simply a function of the incredible pass rush, generated almost entirely by the Bucs front four. So the vaunted Raiders' line didn't live up to its billing.

The defense, which was a good unit all year, allowed the Bucs offense to drive over 80 yards twice for scores. That's just unacceptable. For all of the talk of the Bucs defense, they won because they finally got some support from the O.

However, I'm blaming Callhan for this. He made almost zero adjustments at halftime, his team played flat throughout much of the game, he mismanaged the clock, and he, most damningly, ran a gameplan so predictable that John Lynch said they knew all of the plays. He was in over his head, and never seemed to understand that the game was slipping away until it was far too late.

Gruden deserves a lot of credit, but Callahan deserves a lot of blame. His team did not come out prepared, it was as if he expected the Bucs to just roll over because they were playing this much-ballyhooed offense. It didn't happen. It's okay to lose, but getting humiliated like that? There is no excuse.
posted by Poseur 1/27/2003 01:45:00 PM

Robbins hospitalized

This is just a bizarre story. Robbins disappeared for 24 hours, reportedly to go on a bender in Tiajuana (because if you're gonna go on a bender, that's the place to go), got kicked off the team, and then checked himself into a local hospital.

It's not the first time this has happened to Robbins. Apparently, when he missed some games a few years back, the team listed it as the flu, when in fact it was an episode of his depression.

Depression is a real disease. It's a shame that the NFL couldn't list his actual reason for missing a game a few years ago, and it's a shame he was booted off the team for having a mental illness. This isn't Eugene Robinson soliciting a prostitute, this is a guy just struggling with his brain. I sympathize and hope he recovers.
posted by Poseur 1/27/2003 01:35:00 PM

Art Monk gets screwed

I have nothing against James Lofton, he's a really good receiver, but the Hall of Fame voters must have been drunk and high to vote him in over Art Monk, who didn't even get off the first ballot.

Rec Yds TD
MONK 940 (5) 12721 (9) 68 (25)
LOFTON 764 (10) 14004 (3) 75 (19)

Lofton's 1300 yard advantage is not nearly as great as Monk's 180 catch advantage. At this point, we can go either way, but the voters pointed to Lofton's big game performances, so let's look at their career postseason data.

Rec Yds TD
MONK 69 1062 7
LOFTON 41 749 8

Lofton had three 100-yard games, Monk four. But the big difference here is the superlatives. Who retired as the all-time leader in receptions? Monk. Who had the first 100-catch season? Monk. Who held the record for most consecutive games with a reception? Monk.

And they drop Monk off the first ballot? The voters should be ashamed of themselves.

posted by Poseur 1/27/2003 01:28:00 PM


Agassi wins Down Under (again)

Andre Agassi won the Australian Open for the fourth time in his career, dispatching 31st seed Rainer Schuettler 6-2 6-2 6-1 in a mere 76 minutes. It is the eighth Grand Slam championship for the thirty-two year old Agassi. If you know anything about tennis, you don't need me to go on about how great Agassi is and how amazing his comeback has been.

I've been labeling women's tennis as uncompetitive. Now, men's tennis is nowhere near that level, but this Aussie Open broke the curve in that no one could lay a hand on Andre Agassi. Seeded second, he played the #31 seed in the final. In his other 6 matches he only faced two other seeded players, #12 and #29. Now it's not his fault that players like Lleyton Hewitt, Marat Safin or Juan Carlos Ferrero didn't advance far enough to challenge him, but that left us with one mismatch after another featuring an Andre Agassi at the top of his game. How dominant was he? In seven matches he lost just one set! Through the entire tournament he won 121 games and dropped only 48. Wow!

And, oh, by the way, the last time he lost a match at the Australian Open was 1999.

But the biggest winner here is the tennis fan. Why? Andre made a bet with his wife, Steffi Graf. Now that he's won, she has to be his mixed doubles partner at the upcoming French Open, and won't that be fun to watch.
posted by uberschuck 1/26/2003 12:08:00 AM

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