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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Lucky Blunder Number 7; NBA's New Welfare Program

As in seven straight losses! Fresh off their display of Bennett-like ineptness in losing six in a row, the Blunder of OKC extend it to seven by losing 110-108 in Dallas on Friday night. It was a loss that could've been prevented by having an inside presence like Tyson Chandler, but his $12 million-a-year contact apparently caused him to fail his physical. We'll see how OKC responds after the NBA's $175 million dollar welfare program kicks in. More on that later.

Future ex-Blunder Kevin Durant had six points and left the game in the first quarter after spraining his ankle. He is listed as day-to-day by the Blunder 'medical staff' which probably consists of an intern, a cup of ice and a band aid. If he cannot play he'll sit curbside to watch the OKC car wreck. Russell Westbrook missed 21 shots and had four turnovers in 47 minutes, former Wazzu star Kyle Weaver was 1-5 for four points, Nick Collison and some low-rent dude named Thabo Sefolosha had five fouls apiece to lead the Blunder low-lights.

The Blunder improved to 3-25 on the road, 0-7 since "Bumble", their bizarre sasquach/retarded-bison hybrid mascot was revealed. Lower that bar, Clay!

Blunder: 13-45, last place
Next loss: Saturday vs. Memphis "lookin' for a new home" Grizzlies.

NBA Deepens Its Debt; Takes on Welfare Role

The NBA has acquired another $175 million in loans in an effort to create a financial welfare pool for struggling teams to draw from. The NBA polled its teams and found that 15 were desperate for financial help, thanks to David Stern's 'guidance'. The only team that has confirmed it is expecting to draw from the welfare fund is the Orlando Magic. Alex Martins, Magic CEO, said the Magic plans on drawing from the fund because "It certainly helps us bridge the time period between now and when we move into our new events center in 2010." They claim operating losses of 15-20 million annually over the past few years.

If they are operating in the negative, why are they not reducing salaries or front office costs? No mention of any cost cutting measures the club(s) has taken. What are these teams doing to be fiscally responsible other than looking for handouts?

Each team will have a cap of 11.66 million it can draw on to stave off financial disaster. The teams that will be drawing from the pot have not been announced. You have to wonder, with the financial disaster the Blunder owners have incurred and their obvious inability to take on the Tyson Chandler contract, what are the odds Clay Bennett will be reaching for a hand-out in his first season in Blunderland?

More Corndogs! More Losses! More Handouts!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

44!

1. Jim Brown's #.
2. London's international dialing code.
3. Cool indie rock band.
4. Sarah Palin's Alaska is the 44th state.
5. Ruthenium - 44th element. Not sure who Ruth was, though...
6. Cav's Mo Williams career-high in points, scored against Phoenix on 2/11/09
7. Jack Sikma's jersey number...actually it was 43.
8. 1965 (44 years ago) the US sent troops to Viet Nam. 44 years later the NBA sent the Seattle Supersonics to OKC. Critics debate which is a bigger "Blunder".
9. Supersonic win total in 2001.
10. Blunder loss totals (so far this year!)

More Losses! More Corndogs! More Blunder! More Bumble!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A New Arena Plan: Creating a Seattle Center Stimulus Package

Let's create a stimulus package that creates jobs, upgrades the Center, and creates revenue streams for local businesses and the city while providing jobs.

Getting the legislature interested in the Colieum will require logical thinking, practical solutions, and a smart plan with wide-range benefits. In this economic landscape, everyone, especially the government, is under pressure to be prudent and accountable.

The way get Key funding, and Bennett's $30 million, is to propose an entire upgrade to the Seattle Center, with the Key being a part of that expansion/upgrade plan. A 'stimulus package' for the Seattle Center and lower Queen Anne area, that would upgrade the entire Center with the Coliseum being a part of that plan, while creating jobs in the process. Selling the State o a plan with an agenda of getting a team back is a lost cause and an awful coming off of what just happened and the financial situation we are in. There simply has to be a big-picture benefit to a plan. Let’s explore my idea.

Using the existing tax plan that was offered up (and rejected) as our basic template, let us use that tax formula to upgrade the entire Seattle Center. Earmark the initial flow of funds towards a Coliseum upgrade, but do not restrict it to that. Maybe a 75/25 split of the tax (75% going towards the Coliseum upgrade) until the $75 million threshold is met (ensuring Bennett being on the hook for the $30 million) and then have it revert to a 90/10 split where the 90% is used to upgrade and expand the Seattle Center as needed. The new 10% would be used in a way that is TBD, or perhaps even used as a safety net in anticipation of cost overruns.

After the $75 million is acquired, allow a private-sector investor to take on the rest of the financial risk of the upgrade - acquiring an ownership stake in the Coliseum in the process. Private ownership will be burdened with the task of operating it efficiently - a much better risk than hanging it on the government who have no personal financial risk at stake. Those who have the most to lose financially will work the hardest at creating a profitable and efficient business - something the government has never been accused of doing.

The Coliseum should not be at the center of the debate – it should be a by-product of a larger stimulus package. That would make more sense because the benefits will be on a larger scale, rather than trying to convince an embittered City to chase down another NBA team after the Bennett/Stern debacle. We should not be counting on an NBA team coming here, because that is a real possibility. However, with my plan in place we have still created a winning situation; Seattle gets a sorely-needed upgrade to the Seattle Center, gets Bennett’s $30 million, and could still get a hockey team.

With the announcement about the NBA needing a $175 million fund to keep 15 teams afloat, according to Sports Business Journal, let’s not put all our bets on the NBA returning. I forecast the potential folding of franchises, or their imminent move.

I welcome your thoughts on this.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Blunder Burned in Phoenix - Clinch Losing Record!

Phoenix, under new coach Alvin Gentry, torched the Blunder 140-118 on Friday night as Leandro Barbosa scored 41 points. The Suns improved to 3-0 under Gentry who took over for Terry Porter and promptly re-installed the Suns hyper-tempo offense that has unleashed 140 points in three straight games.

Future ex-Blunder Kevin Durant scored 35 for OKC which improved to 0-2 under new mascot, Bumble the Bison, ensuring them of a losing season in the dustbowl. I think congratulations are in order to Clay Bennett; a confirmed loser! Chucky Atkins went 1-6 for three points, Durant had five turnovers and Jeff Green picked up five fouls to lead the Blunder low-lights.


Blunder 13-42, last place.
Next loss: Saturday vs. Golden State.

More Corndogs! More Losses! More Blunder! More Bumble!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Seattle Stalling Out on Getting Bennett's $30 Million?

Seattle 'leaders' continue to find ways to help Clay Bennett keep his $30 million! An awfully kind and rewarding gesture towards the man that screwed over 41 years worth of Sonics fans' memories.

Another proposal to introduce Key Arena upgrades to the legislature has been shelved. According to the terms of Bennett's deal for Seattle to get that $30 million, it requires that the Legislature buy into a renovation financing plan before adjourning its 2009 session this spring.

Ross Hunter, chairman of the House Finance Committee said his plan meets that criterion -- by simply providing the city taxing authority it already has. He is prepared to propose a bill that would allow the city to increase Seattle's property or business taxes, with voter approval.

"They asked me not to introduce it." Hunter claims.

Tim Ceis said Hunter's proposal doesn't cut it. However he wasn't giving up hope just yet. "Hopefully, we will be able to work with him to get something that will work," Ceis said.

Hunter says the city is pushing another tax idea, but neither side will discuss it.

"They're working hard at figuring out the details and making sure it's viable," Hunter said. He plans to file a place-holder bill Thursday to avoid breaking a deadline for new legislation. Hunter says it is still possible lawmakers could vet and approve a new idea before adjourning in the spring. "These things are always done in three days at the end of session", according to Hunter.

Is Seattle being pragmatic and thorough or just indifferent to the NBA? Surely the current economic landscape requires prudent thinking, and that seems to be the case here. Isn't acquiring $30 million in free money prudent thinking? Shouldn't this be a no brainer agenda for the city? Regardless of the revenge factor, which should be motivation enough, who doesn't want/need free money? GET IT DONE, SEATTLE!

Now more than ever you cannot afford NOT to.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Two Spectacular Blunders and One Bizarre Backtrack

Talk about Bizarre!

The Hornets experienced a thrilling victory and a crushing defeat on Tuesday in the OKC. Chris Paul's lay-up with 2.7 seconds left lifted New Orleans over the Blunder, 100-98. The Hornets picked up the win despite future ex-Blunder Kevin Durant's career-high 47 points. Russell Westbrook had five fouls and Earl Watson went 0-6 for zero points to lead the Blunder low-lights. David West went off for 37 points and 13 boards to lead New Orleans. However, the Hornet win despite Durant's career high is not the interesting part of story. That took place off the court.

The Hornets performed their own blunder by trading Tyson Chandler to OKC in exchange for 500 pounds of dead weight known as Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox. A spectacular blunder for the Hornets who lost a valuable 26 year-old inside presence in a suspected effort to dump salary. New Orleans just waved the white flag, conceding any legitimate shot at future franchise stability, or a deep playoff run this year. Is this the dismantling of the upstart, small-market Hornets? The cycle continues to perpetuate a serious problem with sports; smaller market teams eliminated from contention OFF the court, by dumping contracts to stay above water in the financial column, rather than the win column. This must be a painful reminder to all Hornets fans of the state of the game.

Then Sam Presti announced that Tyson Chandler failed his physical, sending him back to New Orleans to a hero's welcome! What gives? Is Chandler's 'sprained ankle' far more serious? Career threatening? Doesn't seem likely. Losing Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox is no big deal, so that cannot be it. Can OKC afford Chandler? Maybe that is the problem. We know the owners are struggling, and unless Presti has some big deal brewing or has revealed Tyson to be permanently damaged goods, this is just bizarre. If New Orleans cannot afford him, how can OKC? Did someone (I'm talking to you Clay and Aubrey!) get cold feet about acquiring a hefty contract? Can bankrupt owners add payroll? Pretty peculiar.

Then things returned to normal: The NBA welcomes the Blunder Bumble Bison!

In keeping with tradition, the Blunder unveiled their new mascot; a bison named Rumble that has nothing to do with Thunder. That's called "OKC sense". It will immediately be called Bumble to compliment the Blunder, who continue their trend of low-rent and bizarre mascot/uniform/team name decisions. Lower that bar, Clay!

More Corndogs! More Losses! More Blunder! More BUMBLE!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Blunder Mid Season Report Card - Seattle Chases Bennett's $30 Million?

Record: 13-40; 23 games out of first. Second worst record in the league. Grade: D

Key Players: Durant is carrying the team nightly with his 25.5 average. He needs to add some bulk, improve his defense and shooting percentage, all things which will come with time. Grade: B+. Westbrook (15ppg) and Green (16.7ppg, 4.9apg) also deserve B grades. They will likely only get better but this team needs to get into the paint - too much perimeter shooting. Rest of team: C.

Coaching: Brooks has gotten this team off the ground since the embarrassment of the first few weeks. He's getting better effort and improving their confidence - for a young team that may be the most important thing. Why he has an 'interim' tag is another front office blunder. Grade: C+.

Front office:
This team will likely be cash-strapped for years to come and Presti will be under pressure to find cheap talent to keep them competitive. Adding Nonads Krystac was a low risk move. Drafting youth before they can demand high dollars keeps the payroll low. Trading them as they reach peak value (knowing they cannot compete financially with other teams) will keep this in draft picks - but it's an endless cycle. Mining the European leagues for diamonds in the rough will be taxing, though necessary. Expect the Blunder to make a trade for a veteran presence on the downside of his career. Why is Brooks an 'interim'? Bizarre. Overall Grade: C.

Ownership group: When McLendon is selling off his wine collection to pay the bills, your economic future looks bleak. Logically, this should mean the team will have even less money to spend...if that is possible. Between McLendon's staggering losses and Bennett's piss-poor reputation, these guys will be lucky to be in business much longer. If any of this group looks to sell their interest, there will be trouble in this economic landscape. Grade: F.

Corndogs: Corndog prices (CRDG) have soared on the NYSE thanks to the OKC/Bennett influence. Shares have gone from .60 cents to $12.20, due mostly to speculation of a future shortfall of supplies. Industry insiders who wished to remain anonymous claimed Bennett's own consumption has ravaged the nations supply. Grade: F.

Season highlights: 14-game losing streak; getting thoroughly embarrassed on ESPN by the Hornets and firing PJ the next day.

Overall grade: D

More corndogs! More losses! More Blunder!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lakers Dump Blunder - Hornets Out of New Orleans Rumors

OKC took their show on the road to LA on Tuesday and savored that familiar taste of defeat. Kobe had 34 points and seven rebounds to lead the Lakers past the Blunder, 105-98. The Blunder's athleticism kept them competitive, yet their offense continues to revolve around perimeter shooting. No inside presence is just not going to get it done in this league. This is a team that has made strides this season after starting out as a total embarrassment to the league. The former Supersonics are still one of the worst teams in the league, but are showing improvement.

Future ex-Blunder Kevin Durant led OKC with 31 points and 10 rebounds but also had five turnovers. Nick Collison has two points in 20 minutes, Kyle Weaver went 1-7 from three-point range and both had four fouls to lead the Blunder low-lights.
The Lakers extended their win streak to seven games.

Blunder: 13-39, last place.
Next loss: Wednesday vs. Portland
More corndogs! More losses! More Blunder!

Problems in the Crescent City? More Hornets Rumors swirling.

According to the Associated Press - an executive with the group that oversees the Louisiana Superdome and the New Orleans Arena advised lawmakers that the state must find $27.5 million next year to fulfill contracts that keep the Saints and Hornets in New Orleans. The state pays the two teams cash payments each year to retain the clubs. The subsidies are needed to make operating in the relatively small New Orleans market worthwhile, according to the team’s owners.

The money comes from the budget of the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, (LSED) which operates the Superdome and the arena where Hornets play. Doug Thornton, senior vice president of SMG -- the company that manages the Superdome and the Arena -- said the LSED won't bring in nearly enough for the fiscal year starting July 1 to cover the expected payments. Does this mean the teams are getting ready to leave New Orleans? Hard to say.

Certainly New Orleans will be a sentimental favorite from the wrath of Katrina. Sympathy will fall on them and any potential movement of their franchises could easily come under the 'insensitive' scrutiny. However, fiscally, times are tough all over and at some point, pro sports franchises that rely on subsidies are going to have to face the reality that in dire economic times, more guns = less butter. States are forced to choose between sports subsidies and street repairs and school funding. The teams indeed contribute fiscally to the local economy through sales tax, and patronage to area restaurants, etc.

Of course these could be stories planted in an attempt to force the state to engage and dig up the money. It could also stir up support for a new ownership group to emerge in an effort to buy the team and move to a stronger, proven market - like Seattle, who just lost their beloved Sonics after 41 years. Ballmer's group will be the carrot on the stick, or the stick, depending on which side you are on. With the potential of another ownership group looming, the pressure will mount on the state to come up with funds 'or else'.

What about the Saints? Rumors swirl about the Saints moving to Los Angeles, where plenty of businessmen are trying to work out a stadium deal. The problem with the LA market is apathy. USC and UCLA sate LA's football needs. No matter how many businessmen crunch the numbers and try to force a team into LA, it simply won't change the fundamental problem in LA: an apathetic fan base. If LA demanded an NFL team, it would be here. There is just no demand. Pro football in LA's main support group are businessmen looking to exploit the media market while ignoring the realities of an indifferent fan base. It's the quintessential problem facing sports; ignoring the wants and needs of the fans - the ones who actually pay the tab. When that fails they will naturally expect handouts from the local government.

And again the tail wags the dog...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Case Against Signing Griffey

Desperate Mariner fans continue to debate bringing Griffey back, and it is indeed an intriguing situation. I will present both sides of my case. Since I am opposed to this move, we will start with the cons.

Hollow marketing ploy. This move would be an obviously hollow marketing ploy to sell jerseys and falsely sell tickets. How long can that enthusiasm actually last? Once you get past the initial sales push, then what? You are simply creating a WWE situation where you are selling 'entertainment' not baseball. Selling past Mariner glory is a road we cannot afford to go down - a baseball soap opera - that is bad for the game. Fans go to games, post on blogs and participate because they are primarily baseball fans. Blurring the lines for a falsely-derived, short-term profit taints the game irreparably.

Merchandising. Frankly, expecting Mariner fans who were jilted by Griffey's departure the first time to put down cash for Griffey merchandise is a recipe for disaster. As the losses pile up people will grow frustrated and you will likely endure a backlash. Another round of jerseys? What number would he be this time?

The 'it can't hurt the team' argument is not an argument at all. It is an empty philosophy devoid of practicality and attempts to justify irresponsible actions by the front office in favor of fond past memories. No team, in fact no BUSINESS can claim to be behaving responsibly by hiring someone based on the philosophy that 'they can't hurt the company'. Another disaster in the waiting. Luckily, Jack Z is removed from that Mariner past and likely won't buy into it. Jack’s Brewers saw Griffey extensively over the years as they were division rivals. Maybe he CAN hurt the team.

Expectations. Griffey cannot live up to the expectations. People will inevitably expect him to be the player he was - those days are gone. If/when he underperforms, gets injured, etc, it opens the door for past wounds to be revisited. Griffey publicly demanded, and got, a trade to Cincinnati. He was a tenured player and could decide where he would go. Selfishly he went public with his demand, thus taking any leverage Seattle could have used to get the best deal for him. Cincinnati knew this and they could simply have waited to the end of the season and signed him as a free agent. In the end Seattle got less than market value. It was a classless act by Griffey. It sabotaged the team that he played for for ten years. In effect - he said he wanted to take his prime years elsewhere. These old wounds will be inevitably revisited were Griffey to return to Seattle.

Legacy. All these signs point to a potential tainting of Griffey's Mariner legacy. He brought much to Seattle and in the end, will likely be the most popular and cherished player to ever put the Mariner uniform on. "The Kid". That smile. Sliding across home plate to beat the Yankees. "Belted deep to left field". Those are a cherished part of Mariner lore and blurring the lines can probably only hurt that legacy. Safeco is a pitchers park – not ideal for a veteran who’s power ability is in decline.

It's a great gig for Griffey - he gets a paycheck in a time when the market is failing to find demand for an oft-injured 39 year-old who has been injury plagued since he left Seattle the first time. He is a defensive liability and an injury waiting to happen. All the nostalgia in the world will not bring back “The Kid”.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Memo to Portland; WTF?!

Most teams can get it up for an arch rival. Apparently not the Blazers. Boston gets it up for the Yankees, The Eagles always get it up for the Giants. So it would stand to reason Portland would want to exact a little revenge on the city that permanently cancelled the Seattle/Portland I-5 rivalry. I expected the Blazers with their fancy roster and dominant record to get it up in OKC. But instead they rolled over and let the putrid Blunder own them. Unbelievable. Unacceptable.

Seriously, Portland...WTF?

I am embarrassed for you. Thanks for blowing the opportunity to trash the corndog machine in the dustbowl and giving Seattle fans a little satisfaction. Thanks for cranking it up just a little bit for Seattle, Nate. Thanks for nothing Portland. A 30-win team with championship aspirations cannot even get it up to exact a little revenge for your northern neighbors. Nice to see you leaving the testacles back in Portland, obviously right next to the vagisil.

Seriously, Portland...WTF?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Juicy Nugget; Blunder Lose # 38!

The Blunder made another daring come from ahead effort to lose to Denver on Wednesday night, 114-113. After building up a 17 point lead, the Blunder allowed Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets to make a Mile High comeback for the second straight time in OKC. Viva La Blunder!

Future ex Blunder Kevin Durant had 31 points in 43 minutes to lead the losing effort. Russell Westbrook had four turnovers, Jeff Green had three fouls and Kyle Weaver was a masterful 0-6 from the field to lead the Blunder lowlights.

On a side note - According to a Sotheby's press release - Aubrey McLendon is liquidating his personal wine collection to raise capital. HAving lost over a billion in the Chesapeake crash, the Blunder owner is no doubt trying to raise enough cash to sign LeBron this summer. For clarity purposes - he is selling off his wine collection, not the wine cooler collection.

Blunder 11-38, 22 games out of first.
Next loss; Friday vs Portland TrailBlazers

More corndogs! More losses! More Blunder!