How Does A “Final Four” Become A “Final Three”?

Are any of you surprised even a little bit that the NCAA investigation of Memphis turned up enough “irregularities” that the university will be stripped of its Final Four appearance two years ago? There is a double exacta at work here, folks. Twice now, Memphis has vacated a Final Four appearance due to “violations”; once when Dana Kirk was coach backing the mid-80s and now when John Calipari was coach. In addition, this is “Coach Cal’s” second Final Four team and the second time he has had to vacate that appearance; it happened at UMass and now at Memphis.

On Around the Horn yesterday, the panelists debated whether or not vacating the wins and the Final Four appearance was sufficient. Some of them said there had to be a way to punish the athletic department more severely. I tend to agree if the purpose of the NCAA sanctions is to deter future “irregularities”. So, how about this one:

    If a school is caught doing improper things with regard to recruiting or with regard to academic eligibility for players, that school will be banned from the NCAA tournament for five consecutive years from the date the sanctions are announced. In football, no bowl games for five consecutive years.

John Calipari is now at Kentucky – - a school where skirting the NCAA rulebook is hardly an unknown circumstance. He should fit in there just fine…

Another maelstrom of outrage spawned yesterday when Plaxico Burress took a plea bargain on his charges in NYC and will serve a 24-month jail sentence. The outrage came from people who compared the length of the sentence to that served by Donte Stallworth for DUI manslaughter this summer – 24 days in jail. What folks need to do here is take a deep breath, put themselves in their happy place, and realize that these were different jurisdictions with different laws and different sentencing options.

The law in NYC is that carrying an unregistered handgun – forget about discharging it, just carrying it will do – gets you a mandatory minimum of 42 months in jail upon conviction. Read all the accounts of what happened last November and you will realize why Burress’ lawyer said the case was all but indefensible. If convicted of carrying that gun on that night, he goes to the Crossbars Hilton for a minimum of 42 months. Therefore, his plea bargain is a good deal for him. Oh, do not ask about those reports that Burress was offered a plea deal back in the late Spring where he would have only served 6 months in jail but he turned the deal down. If those reports are true, then his status as a certified meathead is assured for all time.

The other wild protestation of outrage coming from that case is that the NYC law “clearly” violates the Second Amendment of the Constitution. Here is all I have to say about that argument: If that is true, then there are hundreds of idiots practicing law in NY these days because the law has been on the books for a while now and not a single one of those idiotic lawyers has found a way to get their arguments heard in a Federal Court where “clearly” the NYC law would be struck down. I would tend to believe that not all the criminal defense lawyers in NY are dolts…

Speaking of NYC, it seems as if the NY Mets have taken pity on their fans this year. In previous seasons, the Mets have waited until about the week after Labor Day to fold up like a card table and lose out in the pennant race by a game or so. This year, they have spared the fans such agony and have quit on the 2009 season a month or so before Labor Day. In doing so, they seem to have sent their fans this message:

    Keep coming out to see us in our brand new stadium and put lots more money in our team coffers so that we can go out this winter and pay far too much to sign even more players who care only about their stats and not about winning baseball games. Thank you for your support…

The only reason the Mets cannot finish last in the NL East this year is that they have the Washington Nationals sitting below them in the standings…

I asked above if any of you were truly surprised about the “Memphis University Matter”. Now I ask if any of you are truly surprised that there is turmoil within the Oakland Raiders’ organization as reports swirl that head coach Tom Cable may have punched/choked assistant coach Randy Hanson to the point where Hanson had to go to the hospital with a broken jaw. Yahoo Sports now reports that Hanson is back in the hospital with swelling in his jaw; and supposedly, he now has retained a lawyer. Originally, the story was that he fell against a cabinet or something like that in the training facility; so I guess he retained the lawyer to sue the cabinet for something like being in the wrong place at the wrong time…

Folks, you cannot be surprised here; these are the Oakland Raiders; this has been a dysfunctional organization for a decade now. Saying there is turmoil within the Raiders’ organization is like saying the Cincy Bengals will do things on the cheap. There is no shock value in either statement. Remember, this is the team that hired a guy to be their offensive coordinator who had been running a bed-and-breakfast for several years; remember this is the organization where the head coach in mid-season said his team was the “dumbest team in America”. For the last decade or so, the Raiders’ motto has been “Commitment to Goofiness”.

Having said all of that, I do not understand why the NFL Front Office is looking into this matter. This is an internal team situation not a league situation. When Steve Smith punched out teammate Ken Lucas and broke Lucas’ nose, the Carolina Panthers suspended Smith for two games not the league. The only argument I can make for the NFL taking a hand in this game is that leaving this kind of decision up to Al Davis in 2009 is sort of like asking a guy in a coma to solve a Sudoku.

According to the NY Daily News, you can buy from the NFL a licensed replica of an Eagles’ team jersey for your dog that has the name VICK on the back with the number “7”. I do not own a dog but I am tempted to buy one of these things because I do not think they will be available for long and that might make them collectors’ items…

Here is a Quick Quiz. You are out at the stadium enjoying a baseball game. What is more annoying to you in that setting:

    A. A bunch of fans with “Thundersticks” – - or

    B. The wave?

For the record, the inventor of “Thundersticks” and anyone who tries to instigate “The wave” at any sporting event on Earth need to be consigned to Dante’s Seventh Ring of Hell – - the one reserved for people who do violence to God and to Nature.

Finally, there is an Internet report out there that I hope is true. Supposedly, a Tunisian woman is heavy with child and tests indicate that she may be carrying as many as twelve fetuses. Hopefully, she will successfully deliver all twelve – - just so we won’t ever have to hear from or about Octomom ever again…

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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  • Rich  On August 21, 2009 at 11:33 am

    I would go with answer C in the Quick Quiz: A stadium full of fans with thundersticks doing the wave.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On August 21, 2009 at 12:39 pm


    And just because you suggested that, you belong in Dante’s Eighth Ring of Hell – - where sinners guilty of treachery are consigned.

  • Anthony  On August 21, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Around the Horn yesterday also had some panelists who feel that Calipari should get into trouble as well for this being his second vacation of his final four coaching apprearance. I liked your 5 year suspension from the tourney and/or bowl games, what do you think should be the punishment for the coach?

  • Ed  On August 21, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    While the last two years the Mets have performed collapses not seen since, well, the 2004 Yankees pulled the worst collapse in modern team sports history, this year the injury bug… their identified their offensive core as Beltran, Delgado, Reyes, and Wright. All on the DL. Beltran has missed over 50 games, Reyes 80, and Delgado 90, and Wright is out and may not be back this year. When you have to play Daniel Murphy at first and Alex Cora at short full time… granted, recent years delgado has had problems staying in the field, but that many inujuries? Two starting pitchers have missed at least 10 starts, and they called up a kid with limited experience? Gets hurt in his second start, surgery, end of season. Big bucks setup man goes down too.

    NYC lawyers have few dolts among them. Slimebags, crooks, liars, frauds, sure, not dolts. By the time they got that law thrown out, if ever, even Brett Favre will have retired.

    NCAA cheating? Try making their “death penalty” a real death penalty. Cheating at football? A year or two of your schedule cancelled, NO games Saturday afternoon? The boosters will make sure the athletic department is run by people so clean they make the Osmond Family look like the Manson Family.

    I hope Octamom does not consider Dodecamom a challenge…

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On August 23, 2009 at 5:38 pm


    If the NCAA imposed that sanction on a school, the coach of such a school would not likely find lucrative work in a major program. I think that would take care of itself.

    Think about SMU getting the “death penalty” in college football. Quick, tell me who the coach was that got caught in the scandal that put SMU out of the football business for about 5 years? The reason the name “Bobby Collins” does not leap to mind is that he didn’t exactly move on to coach at any of the big national football programs after that…


    The Mets have had injuries this year. Having said that, they stocked the team with too many folks with a history of injuries. Beltran hasn’t been a reliable “150-game guy” for a few seasons now; Putz spent most of the time on the DL about 2 years ago; Delgado has been in and out of line-ups the last few years; David Wright didn’t go on the DL until well after the Mets had gone into an August swoon instead of their more recently common September swoon. To my mine, this team is poorly constructed and that points to the GM…

    NY lawyers may not be an assemblage of the most wonderful folks on earth, but they are not collectively stupid either…

    The NCAA “penalty” in this case is so meager that it is silly…

    I hope Octomom and her kids find a way to go live on a previously uninhabited island so that we never hear from any of them again.

  • Ed  On August 24, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Curm, I gave you Delgado in the OP – but Beltran? He hasn’t been below 140 games or 600 PA since 2000. He’s now at 62/280. 161 games and 700 PA last year. And the low year was 140 games, the year he and Cameron dove headfirst into each other – not a common occurance.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On August 24, 2009 at 7:55 pm


    The Mets’ GM made a smart decision not signing Pedro Martinez to a deal when Pedro wanted “real money” and had been hurt more often than not in the last season or two. And when he was healthy, he wasn’t always “the Pedro of old”…

    That same GM then took that smart decision and turned it stupid when he spent $35M+ (guaranteed) on Oliver Perez. When Ollie is healthy he is still a mysterious pitcher in that you never know who will show up on the mound at the start of any given game. He would get the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde3 award for the year were there such an award… As to this year, the Mets would have been better off had Perez gotten injured and been on the DL for the entirety of the season.

    The Mets’ problems have a lot more to do with the GM and the ownership than anything else. Injuries did not help them this year to be sure, but the team was poorly constructed from the outset.

    I didn’t mention who the Mets traded in order to obtain JJ Putz. That would have merely rubbed salt in the wound…

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