Thursday, July 30, 2015

Wait, Is It Already Football Season?!?

We arw currently in the midst of what most sports fans refer to as "The Dead Period". The NBA's Summer League is over, and most of the free agents of consequence are signed. Baseball is in the dog days of summer, despite a flurry of trades in recent days. Because let's keep it one hunned... nobody cares about baseball at all until October. Thankfully, football will be back before you know it, saving us the indignity of pretending to actually be interested in our kids watching WNBA and classic college games on ESPN2.

Next-next Sunday (August 9th) the annual Hall Of Fame Game between Pittsburgh vs. Minnesota takes place in Canton. America's leading sports betting site, has odds on this matchup, but as you're well aware, most HoF games are a couple of series with the starters and by the end of the 3rd you're looking at a bunch of guys destined for long careers at UPS fighting it out for the 53rd roster spot. Whatever, anything beats more DeflateGate™ talk. Has there ever been a more overblown (reserve pun not intended.. or maybe intended) and boring sports "controversy"?

Just play some games already.

Question: Are you tired of hearing about DeflateGate™? What do you usually do to survive this dead sports period?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Did Sandra Bland Cause Her Own Death?!?

[Editor's Note: You will probably not like this post. I'm cool with that. Before proceeding, note that I don't see this arrest and what happened to Bland in jail as necessarily being related either. They could very well have been, but we don't know that and will not until more information about that incident is released. And I'm not blaming her for her own death. If you walk away from this with that assumption, then either my writing has badly missed its mark or you didn't read it with an open mind. I'm talking about the arrest itself, not whatever might have happened (or not happened) in jail.]

My Pops always told me that in life, there are 5 cent issues and there are 5 dollar issues. How you respond to a given situation is, or rather should be, directly attributable to how great your offense was with the given situation.

People die every day over 5 cent issues. A stepped on shoe. Being cut off in traffic. A wayward stare at a woman. Perceived disrespect. Things that don't take food off of your table or money out of your pocket. Things that, in the grand scheme, simply aren't that important.

I thought about this last night when I watched the video of the roadside incident involving Sandra Bland and a police officer, which lead to her being jailed, and subsequently being found dead in her cell.

[Editor's Note: Before commenting on this post, try watching the video in its entirety (or at least to the 30 minute mark) with an open mind. If you can't do that, please just don't comment.]

A few things immediately stick out. The video begins (perhaps intentionally) with the cop completing a routine stop with another woman. He seems cordial, gives her a warning for what appears to be a missing insurance card or something of the sort, asks her if she's in college, etc. It seems like a fairly pleasant exchange to me. I have no idea whether the woman in the car is black, but given the location of this incident (Prairie View, TX) and the fact that there's only one college there, I think it's fair to assume she might be black.

A few minutes later, the very same cop gets back in his car, sees a silver car make a right turn at a stop in front of him, then makes a U-Turn, follows this motorist, and pulls her over after she changes lanes without signalling. I have no idea why he followed this woman, then pulled her over when she probably just did what 90% of us do when a cop's suddenly behind us (move over and pray they keep driving past). The cop clearly was either preying on her because she was black, or because he had a quota of bullsh*t stops he needed to meet. I can't call it either way.

Eventually, the cop engages the motorist, runs a check, and comes back to the car. It seems like he is going to give her the same treatment as the prior driver: a warning. But this driver (Bland) appears to engage the cop far differently than the prior driver. We don't know what that prior driver was initially pulled over for, but it's not beyond the realm of possibility that the cop pulled that very same "follow and pull over for some random bullsh*t" tactic.

So here's where the "Is this a 5 cent or 5 dollar issue?" question comes into play.

To me, this is a 5 cent issue. The cop's clearly in the wrong for pulling her over. She's got every right to be upset about this. But how she responds is literally the difference between life and death.

Bland could have noted that this cop was being a jerk, made note of his badge number, and filed a formal complaint when she got home. A person randomly pulling people over for nothing is clearly not someone you're going to win a philosophical debate on the merits of community policing with. You will not win a debate with a man who has a gun and a badge.

Being combative with a cop over what's essentially a moving violation isn't the way to handle something this trivial. You certainly have a right to be angry at being singled out for nothing. But you use the proper channels to express this anger. Resisting arrest is not such a channel.

None of this absolves the cop of his wrongdoing. He doesn't deescalate the issue. He acts petty, asking Bland if she has a problem, to put out her cigarette, to not press record on her phone (something you should do as you're being pulled over, or while the cop is running your tags). He's a terrible policeman and a terrible person.

You will not win an argument with a terrible person with a gun and badge. I repeat. You will not win. Take the "L". Get out your feelings, note the man's badge number and name, and file a report. If the department disregards the report (which is entirely likely) the net-net is still the same on that side of the equation: an asshole cop.

But you'd have one less felony.

Question: If you were put in this very same situation, would you have handled it exactly as Bland did? Be honest.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Of DeAndre Jordan And Handshake Deals.

Note To Self: If I ever fulfill my dream of owning an NBA team, make every player sign a contract. If they insist on handshake deals, ask for their first born or mother (whichever's more valuable) as a retainer.
DeAndre Jordan, after verbally agreeing to a four-year max deal with the Dallas Mavericks last week, has made an about-face, re-signing with the Los Angeles Clippers in a deal ESPN sources say was completed Thursday morning shortly after midnight ET at his house in Houston.

The contract with the Clippers also is a four-year max deal that will be worth an estimated $88 million, sources told ESPN. Jordan can opt out after three years.

A Clippers contingent that included coach/team president Doc Rivers, owner Steve Ballmer and star teammates Chris Paul and Blake Griffin descended en masse on Houston to get Jordan back, meeting him at his house.

Several of the Clippers contingent remained after the end of the meeting, staying until he was to sign the deal, which the center was first able to do at 12:01 a.m. ET Thursday when a leaguewide moratorium was lifted.

The meeting didn't last long, a source said. The group talked about the issues at hand, and then the atmosphere changed to resemble a locker-room scene, including cards and video games.

Jordan did not respond to any of the Mavs' attempts to contact him Wednesday, including phone calls and text messages, and sources said Mavericks owner Mark Cuban resultingly notified several people within the organization that Jordan would be staying with the Clippers.
Reality is, this is a free country and the NBA's collective bargaining rules make Jordan's decision to return to LA perfectly legal. But everyone in this scenario looks bad, especially Jordan, who might want to hire extra security the next time he's in the Big D. Reneging on a contract, even a verbal one, is the worst way to do business, and if the NBA is smart it'll end it's silly free agency moratorium after this debacle.

The move also shifts the balance of power in the West. With Jordan in Dallas, the net result is two mediocre teams. With Jordan as a Clipper, they've gotta be considered a Top 3 contender with Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson and some of their other offseason moves. Dallas, on the other hand, is screwed. But hey, the rules (or lack thereof) are the rules.

Adam Silver might need to fix this.

Question: Was Jordan well within his rights to back out of the Dallas deal or does this set an awful precedence for the future? Have you ever weaseled your way out of a contract?

The Confederate Flag Is Officially Gone From The SC State House. But Are Black South Carolinians Any Better Off Now?

Well, it's not technically down yet, but all the procedural nonsense is finished.
A weary South Carolina House voted early Thursday to remove the Confederate battle flag from Statehouse grounds after a day and night of passionate debate that at times drew tears, anger and calls for grace and unity from lawmakers.

The bill, which needed a two-thirds vote in each chamber, is now on GOP Gov. Nikki Haley's desk, and she said she will sign it at 4 p.m. ET. Under terms of the bill, the flag must be taken down within 24 hours of Haley's signature, and one of Haley's deputy chiefs of staff said on his personal Twitter account that would happen at 10 a.m. Friday.

House legislators spent more than 15 hours on the controversial issue sorting through about 60 amendments, finally getting to the bill itself at almost 1 a.m. Lawmakers gave the bill second reading by a vote of 93-27, then adjourned for a few minutes to start a new day's session and returned to finish their work.

They then voted 94-20 for final approval. The House has 77 Republicans and 46 Democrats.
I suspect the 10am Friday timeslot is so that the Governor and legislature can make a huge pomp and circumstance about this, as if to suggest they would have done otherwise had 9 people not been gunned down by a domestic terrorist. Call me a hater, but there's not much courageous about doing the right thing when public sentiment tells you to do so. Courage would have been to take this abomination down decades ago, but whatever. Nikki Haley undoubtedly wants to have some semblance of a career in front of her, and she really didn't have an alternative, although she played this one to perfection. Had the state legislature voted to keep the flag, Haley could have simply said that democracy worked as it should, and she tried. Again, not courageous, but certainly well played.

It'll be a bit nauseating watching people pat themselves on the back tomorrow for doing the right thing 50 years after the fact, but whatever. #Merica!

Question: Will removing the flag improve the fortunes of black people in SC, or is this purely a symbolic gesture, no matter how oppressive it might be.