Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

photo credit: reddit

by mike in boston

 

Lots of little things to catch up on this week. No major douchebaggery on Twitter to report on, thankfully.

 

Lawsuit Round-Up

 

Rick Westhead has returned to sports reporting for the Star and we are so much better off as a result. He is, in my opinion, one of the best people writing for any of the papers. He is covering the Moore lawsuit against Bertuzzi and the Canucks. Westhead was on TSN Drive on July 2nd (3rd hour).

 

The details are well known at this point. The assault took place 10 years ago, and in the time since Bertuzzi ended Moore’s career the former has earned $25 million as an NHL player. At issue in the lawsuit is what Moore’s expected earnings would have been, had he continued in the NHL. What is most curious is why this has not been settled out of court. One theory is that Moore wants his day in court, and wants Bettman and Daly and others to have to testify under oath.

 

The most interesting aspect of this trial for me is that it has really put hockey’s culture of violence front stage centre. If this goes to trial then I suspect we will hear a lot about “the code.” The Bertuzzi assault was part of an elaborate series of events designed to make sure Moore paid in full for an earlier hit on a member of the Canucks. This invokes hockey’s unwritten rules about dirty hits, and players policing the game even after penalties have been assessed on the ice.

 

The most disturbing part of this saga is how many people believe that Moore “had it coming to him.” It is very hard to quantify how man fans believe this, and harder still to put a figure on how many players and executives do as well. I haven’t heard enough hockey people come out and say that nothing Moore did on the ice warranted the assault at Bertuzzi’s hands. Some media members have (Naylor and Simmons spoke out recently) but so many others have been silent on the issue.

 

The other big lawsuit is Donald Sterling’s attempt to block the sale of the Clippers. He tried to take the case to federal court this week and lost that appeal. At issue is his his mental state, and whether his wife had the authority to sell the team. SI has an incredibly detailed piece on the case, which I highly recommend. You can also follow along at The Score for some amazing testimony by Donald Sterling. Here’s a choice quote: “[The NBA] is the worst corporation in America. Everyone will find out how dishonest and terrible they are.”

 

I’m sure the Sterlings are bad people, but I am not sure due process was followed here. The NBA seems all too pleased to go along with any outcome that will scrub the Sterlings from the league as soon as possible. I’m glad Donald is fighting this.

 

Lastly, the NLRB is hearing amicus briefs for both sides on the case involving student-athletes at Northwestern University and their attempt to unionize. I have written a lot in this column about the sham that is American college sports, and it was again on full display in some of the filings.

 

“The institutions’ mission is education, and virtually no institutions earn a surplus from the athletics program. Student-athletes participate for their own benefit; they do not render services for compensation.” That’s what the American Council on Education said in defense of the current system. Under this system basketball and football coaches earn in the millions annually, and universities make a ton of money of television contracts to broadcast the games. In addition there is a huge alumni network that pours money into the pockets of those employed in these athletic programs. Everyone is making money except for the athletes who actually play the games.

 

The consequence is nothing short of corruption of the university. The most public example comes from the University of North Carolina where the Af-Am department set up dozens of fake courses for athletes, and professors took money to “teach” these courses. Similar things happen at most Division I schools. The ACE’s quote is laughable. The current relationship between big money college sports and universities is toxic to the mission of higher education. I’m skeptical that paying the athletes will solve all problems, but it would be a start.

 

JaysTalk

 

After a run of several weeks in 1st place, the party is over for the 2014 Jays. Poor play on offense and defense, as well as numerous base-running errors, have dropped the Jays into the middle of the pack in the AL. There is still time to recover, but the injuries have been piling up and minor leaguers are again playing prominent roles on the big league club.

 

After the starting rotation, the main complaint going into the season was that the roster lacked depth at 2B, catcher, and the bench. That has been on full display these last 3 weeks. AA has many strengths as a GM but one of his flaws has been the addiction to dumpster-diving for gold on the waiver wire. This has proven to be a fool’s errand, when he should have spent time in the off-season signing major league talent to wait in the wings for when injuries strike.

 

One of the biggest issues right now is what you do with Colby Rasmus. Jays beat writers are split on what to do. TSN’s MacArthur thinks that Colby has proven himself to be a platoon player with his .619 OPS against lefties. Griffin disagrees. The trouble with Colby is that AA has a lot invested in him, and it is not obvious whether the Jays would be better off with or without him going into next year. It’s not like Gose has forced the issue.

 

As Morosi noted on the FAN, everyone around the league knows the Jays are in trouble and will be trying to extort as much as possible from AA in trades. He is in for a rough next few weeks as he attempts to salvage the season. But the lack of right-handed bats has been a known issue since last October, and it is a little frustrating to see that issue hamstringing the team in July.

 

Quick Hits

 

Chael Sonnen has officially been fired from both the UFC and FOX for failed drug tests. If there’s more to this story, I haven’t seen it yet. I was listening to one of the radio stations this week and people were discussing whether the recent cancelation of the Toronto card was an indicator that interest in the UFC is on the decline. I’m not a followed of the sports, but maybe those of you who do follow can educate the rest of us. Is the UFC in trouble?

 

The MLS has a new deal with its television partners that triples the previous one. I’m sure everyone is hoping there will be some spillover from the World Cup to fan interest in their local teams, but even without that the growth of soccer in the U.S. and Canada is starting to show results. I wonder what a long playoff run for TFC would do to vault them into the sports conversation. Right now they seem destined to be on par with the Argos. Is anyone more likely to watch TFC this summer?

 

Lastly, the death spiral at the CBC is getting more and more painful to watch. This recently leaked document outlines their strategy going forward, and it makes no sense at all. I can’t help but wonder how things would be if the NHL had elected to sell part of its package to the CBC rather than to Rogers. I know some people who work at the CBC read this site. Is there any hope that the network will still be able to function as a content creator in news, arts, amateur sports, documentaries? If this is all necessary trimming that keeps those endeavours going, then I’m OK with it. If this is just a stage in Canada losing its public broadcaster, then I’m not.

 

Low-Hanging Fruit

 

  • Walker did well without Brady. He can carry a show on his own. I have to think his bosses have noticed. Given the popularity of Tim&Sid, I wonder if Don Kollins (if that is his real name) will consider shifting them to the higher profile morning slot, and giving Walker a shot at running his own show.

 

  • I forget when this was, but McCown + Peddie was actually a lot of fun. Their back and forth was thoroughly enjoyable. I follow Peddie on Twitter and he comes across as much more down to earth than when he was with MLSE.

 

  • Congratulations to Gareth Wheeler for doing a really good job during the World Cup. I got in the habit of listening to his show after the game ended and he was well-suited to the role.

 

Thanks for reading and commenting,

Until next time …

mike (in boston)

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