25 September 2012

Tuesday Football: No rules, no peace

There is nothing they can do to hurt the demand of the game.  So the bottom line is they don’t care. Player safety doesn’t matter in this case. Bring Division III officials? Doesn’t matter. Because in the end you’re still going to watch the game. 
-- Steve Young, criticizing NFL owners on an ESPN post-game show
The scabs who've been blowing call after call at NFL games for weeks went too far for the elebenty hundreth time last night, awarding the Seahawks a victory that rightfully belonged to the Packers.  The army of critics calling for the return of the real officials keeps growing.  Even noted union-busters Scott Walker and Paul Ryan have called for the return of the union refs.

When I heard the news about those two Republicans today, my first instinct was to dismiss their calls as the cries of two more aggrieved Packer fans.  That might be the case for Walker and Ryan, but what about their supporters?  Their ranks include fans of every NFL team -- including the Seahawks -- so team loyalty can't explain their newfound support for the locked-out NFL Referees Association (NFLRA).  Yet, that support is unlikely to extend to other labor unions.

The difference, I think, is that unlike most other unionized workers, the men of the NFLRA are in the business of regulation.  Sporting bodies may set rules for their games and competitions, but it's referees whose job it is to enforce them.  To do their job, referees work as teams, usually in opposition to the two teams that are actually playing.  [See:  Laimbeer, Bill; Klinsmann, J├╝rgen; or most recently, Harbaugh, Jim.]  Referee teamwork is always critical, but it's especially so in the NFL, where seven-official crews must coordinate their actions tightly.

The replacements who are calling NFL games these days may know the rules, but it's clear that they haven't learned to work together.  If they had, they would have long ago figured out what qualifies as pass interference, or illegal helmet-to-helmet contact, or even, apparently, a touchdown.  What we have here isn't just a failure to communicate, nor is it just a case of greedy owners refusing to pay the actual referees.

It's what happens when regulation itself is weakened to the point of irrelevancy.

Not that we're short of examples from other industries.  Recent history is full of examples of disasters could have been prevented with proper regulation.  Instead, affected industries have talked governments into reducing regulatory staffs -- referees, if you will -- to bare minima.  The regulators are still there, but there aren't enough around to enforce the laws.

And that's the way some industries like it.  The same dynamic drives the outsourcers of the world.  A decade ago, IT workers like myself railed against our replacement by less competent programmers who lived abroad.  We could prove that our replacements' work was so much worse that they had to work twice as long (or longer).  No matter.  The replacements were cheaper, any way.  Even when our immediate bosses agreed with us, and their bosses did too, it didn't matter.  The corporate head office wanted the cheaper labor, even if quality went down.

Which is why NFL owners won't budge yet.  The scabs do their job badly, and they're ruining the game.  But they don't care, because expenses are being cut.  Better yet, the rules of the game itself have now come under assault.  I can think of more than a couple of owners who might not mind that, either.

24 September 2012

Tank Officer Mitt

There's been some hilarious photoshopping done on Money Boo Boo's dreadful Univision appearance last week.  The disastrously applied lighting makeup, which looked an awful lot like brownface for a Hispanic audience, is at least as devastating a visual as Michael Dukakis in a tank 28 years ago.  Surely by now, I thought, someone had thought to replace Dukakis's face with Rmoney's.

Allow me to correct this oversight:

12 September 2012

Really, Mitt? Srsly?

Congratulations, Mitt Romney.  You did something no one else ever had before.  You inspired me to actually post a comment on the 2001 al-Qaeda attacks on the American East Coast.

While I could tick off quite a few memories about that 9/11, the one that stands out now is the silence that followed for about 36 hours.  No one started blaming other Americans for the attacks.  Even Jerry Falwell waited waited until the morning of 13 September to make his infamous remarks from Jerry Falwell on Pat Robertson's show.  The fact was that it took about that long just to figure out what had happened in Manhattan, Washington and Pennsylvania.

Here in 2012, Money Boo Boo couldn't wait.  Even before the assassination of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi, Libya, he decides to attack the Obama administration for being "disgraceful" and suggests that the President would "sympathize with those who waged the attacks."  Sure, it's another neatly packaged set of lies, designed to please the racists and Dominionists in his base -- but that's not my point.  Why couldn't this wait a day or two?  Why couldn't Romney and the GOP respectfully mourn Steven's passing (and those of at least three other American diplomats), then launch the outrageous attack?

Why should I bother even asking those questions?  To make sense, you'd have to assume that Mitt Romney and his supporters had some decency.  That assumption is questionable, to say the least.

09 September 2012

Bonus Tuesday Football: They're back. Except for actual referees.

Illegal use of scabs, 15 yards.  No, 15 yards the other way:  This season, the NFL owners have decided to lock the referees out instead of the players.  Today, I counted at least two instances, in two different games, where the officials could barely figure out where the ball even belonged.  As much as we love to curse officials, it's better when they're the real articles instead of the subs scabs we have babysitting now.  Ugh.

Introducing the Cat's three fantasy teams:  A funny thing happened to The Ghost-Grey Cats while they migrated from Yahoo! to the official NFL game.  On Monday, I set a draft order for the Cats and waited for the NFL servers to assign them players and a league.

And I waited.  And waited.

And waited until about late Tuesday, when I lost patience and told the NFL to just put the Cats in a live draft.  In a 10-team league, I got stuck with the tenth position, which should have shut me out of any chance for a superstar headliner.  Thanks to a couple of opponents who used exotic drafting strategies1, Calvin Johnson fell to me in the first round, then I nabbed Matt Forte with the next pick.

Besides Forte, five other players return from last year's semifinalists, including my entire tight-end battery of Antonio Gates and Brandon Pettigrew.  Matt Ryan, another returnee, has two capable backups2.  The trick will be to avoid the cockiness that sank the Cats last season.  If I can, the Cats should be champions come late December.

With the live draft over, I thought I was through.  I wasn't.  Rather than just moving the Cats into one new league, the NFL servers submitted my draft order again, and ran it through the autodraft for which I had originally signed.  When I woke up Wednesday, I discovered that I had not one, but two teams on NFL.com, in two different leagues.

Suddenly gifted with a new team, I decided to name it Time and Again, after a CBS Radio Mystery Theater episode that I've reviewed on this blog.  New team, new colors, new logo, but, oddly, four players who also play for the Cats.  The Timers drafted third, so they also nabbed Ray Rice.

Of course, they also drafted the likes of Cedric Benson and Santana Moss.  That's like successfully casting a "summon wolves" spell, only to have to deal with two Yorkshire terriers who inevitably appear along with the grey wolf.  Time and Again is solid at QB, RB and defense, but patchy elsewhere.  I can get to the playoffs with this team, but it will take work.

The Fluttering Horde might be as weak as it's ever been, but that's largely because the family league expanded to 16 teams for 2012.  Also, I had the first pick, which I spent on Ray Rice; so Darren Sproles ended up being the only survivor of the expansion carnage.  Peyton Manning, who made league finalists of the 2010 Horde, does return, backed up by Jay Cutler.  Wes Welker and Eric Decker, who served short tours with the Horde in the past, return as my top two wideouts.  It's not much, but that's the cost of having at pick at an extreme slot (first) rather than the middle slot (eighth or ninth) the Horde usually gets.  Yahoo! expects an 11-2 mark from this squad.  It's playoff-worthy as is, but that prediction is a stretch.

1. One rival spent three top picks on defenses.  Another drafted three quarterbacks in the first four rounds.  They can keep whatever they were ingesting.
2. Dudes, those early picks aren't going to help you, not even as trade bait.  But thanks for handing me Cutler and Roethlisberger.

05 September 2012

Late Tuesday Football: Well, I had to post sometime

Bored.  Busy.  Or maybe just outrage fatigued.
Via reallycuteanimals.co.uk.
There isn't a really good reason why I haven't posted for a while.  Yes, family matters are keeping me busy, but even those should have allowed time for posting.  I just haven't felt like saying anything -- at least not anything that someone else hasn't expressed more eloquently.

So it's football to the rescue again.  Whichever form you watch, it's all going in full swing.  This week, gridiron gets the blog love.

Signs point to Gig'em:  I don't plan on discussing much college football this year1, but Texas A&M's2 move to the SEC has generated lots of smack in my family.  In particular, my oldest sister and I have spent all summer chanting "S-E-C!" at our Longhorn-loving relations.  It feels great, actually.  Now I know why Republicans feel compelled to shout "9-11" whenever they start losing arguments.

Yep, it's been every bit as clean as Jackie Sherill.
Alas, a fellow Aggie has taken the mocking to another level -- and for once, a university other than Texas-Austin is the target.  I think this sign is very funny, but my alma mater itself doesn't agree.  Hopefully, the Florida offense will be as inept this weekend as it was last week against mighty, mighty Bowling Green.

To be explained later this week:

  • Another NFL season, another year of the standings the way they should be tabulated.  I've refreshed the Victory Weighting tab for the new season.
  • Both my fantasy-football teams are back in action.  The Fluttering Horde is still in my family league, and still on Yahoo!, but the league is now a 16-team joint.  Despite their move to nfl.com, the Ghost-Grey Cats have stayed amazingly intact from last year.

1.  Don't blame Penn State.  I was losing patience with the college game long before that school's scandal broke out.
2.  You suck, Blogger.  Thanks for not letting me use "A&M" as a label.  Dolts.