Happy Halloween . . . and good luck with those Danny Fortson costumes!
Wednesday, October 28
Happy Halloween . . . and good luck with those Danny Fortson costumes!
Thursday, October 22
Ellis visited his old haunts at the University of Tennessee recently, and he told Griffiths that he's interested in returning to the game, possibly as a coach. In addition, Ellis said he's headed off for a tour of Europe with, among others, Dennis Rodman and Penny Hardaway. Not exactly a dream team of coachable players when it comes to late 80s, early 90s stars, but an interesting group nonetheless.
Tuesday, October 20
From the Post Bulletin in Austin, Minnesota:
Food was among the list of items that an Austin man says was missing after he called police to report a burglary at his apartment Thursday night.
... a resident in the 600 block of Fourth Avenue Northwest reported listed as missing from the apartment: a computer tower, a 16-inch computer monitor, Shawn Kemp basketball shoes valued at $180 and Kentucky Fried Chicken, White Castle food, pork ribs, pork chops and food stamps. Police also notified the victim that 1994 ended 15 years ago, and provided him with a complimentary 2009 Austin Police Calendar.
Friday, October 16
The evaluator of a player, luckily, has cold, hard numbers to help him, while a man standing before a work of art, whether Monet or Miley Cyrus, is forced to look inward and answer the question, “How does this make me feel?”
Ultimately, a great work of art stimulates thought in the mind of the viewer, creates discussion, and – if it is truly great – a wide range of opinions.
And so, while I won’t elevate it to the level of Dog Day Afternoon or Lawrence of Arabia, you have to say Sonicsgate is a worthwhile piece of art.
Okay, there are at least four or five movies in there, and, granted, two hours is waaaay too long for this story, but, that’s all immaterial, really.
What is important is that this film got made, and kudos to the three gentlemen who created it. Those who might argue that the Sonic history half of the movie should have been pared down are not grasping how important that part of the story is to Sonic fans. That is our history up there on screen, and if this film doesn’t tell our story, what will?
Sure, the film is a downer, but so is the subject matter. What did you expect, a lighthearted rom-com?
I was not eagerly anticipating the release of Sonicsgate. Obviously, I’ve digested more than my fill of this story already, and the idea of sitting through two hours of something that would leave me with a horrible mixture of anger, depression, and misery was … well it was less than appealing.
But about halfway through the movie – around the time it focused upon the botched negotiations between Steve Ballmer, the City, the State, the Sonics, and the NBA – I had an epiphany of sorts, and it really surprised me.
The NBA will come back to Seattle.
At first, it was a rush of excitement, one of those rare clear-headed moments that happen about once a year, when all the complications fall away and you’re left with a crystallized insight of the future.
It seems obvious when you think about for more than a moment, really. Assuming (I know, I know) Ballmer’s plan comes to fruition and the economy eventually reaches a point at which the $75 million required from the State becomes viable, Seattle will be left with a fantastic arena and no tenant.
And how long do you think it would take the NBA to react? Six months? Six minutes?
I understand other cities – St. Louis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, etc. – are ready to host the NBA, but none of those cities combine Seattle’s deep basketball history with the league’s guilt over abandoning it, tossed in with the fact that Seattle is a large metropolis with equally large corporations ready to spend money on luxury suites and advertising.
But almost as soon as that rush of excitement arrived, it departed, because I was left with the realization that the only way the dream of the NBA in Seattle can take shape is for us to swipe another city’s team.
And let’s face it, that is the engorged river we’ll have to cross at some point in the next few years. After all of our whining and complaining about the unfairness of Oklahoma City stealing “our team” (and, yeah, your narrator’s as guilty as anyone), we are poised to repeat that same dance on another city’s grave.
Last spring, while driving down to Portland to watch the Blazers, I had an almost identical conversation with a fellow SupersonicSoul author, and I reasoned that if we got an expansion team it would be different since it would mean we wouldn’t have the blood of relocation on our hands.
Raf’s counter-argument, as I look back upon it now, was right. Simply by building another arena and joining the NBA – whether with an expansion team or one heisted from another city – we become co-conspirators in the never-ending game of arena creep taking place across the country.
Sure, we’d be able to argue that we hadn’t stolen someone else’s team, but by creating yet another ridiculously overpriced altar to basketball, we would have given the people in Minneapolis or New Jersey or Oakland, more reason to worry that within months, they were going to hear the inevitable refrain from their team’s owner about “unbalanced revenue streams” and “lack of competitive edge.”
And I honestly don’t know how to counter that argument. As someone who likes to think of himself as a quasi-Libertarian who hates to see wasted spending, despises the way professional sports leagues play cities and fans off one another, and recoils at the thought of how many mouths could have been fed with the dollars spent on demolished stadiums, I’m torn.
There is the part of me that loves sports, and the NBA. Watching the NLCS last night, there was a moment in the 8th inning when Manny Ramirez strode to the plate with the game on the line. Ramirez v. Madson might not be Ali v. Frazier, but it was fantastically exciting to watch, and it reminded me of how it felt when the Sonics were in the championship mix for most of the 1990s.
The thrill you get as a fan in those moments is almost incomparable, and it is those moments we’re craving when we consider dipping our toe back into the NBA’s pool.
Do those moments, though, justify the expense? Will our joy in watching the Sonics compete for the ’19-’20 championship override the guilt in knowing we did to another city what we criticized Oklahoma City for doing to us, in knowing that we, as a people, spent more than a billion dollars on three stadiums – Safeco, Qwest, KeyArena – in the same time as we ran up tremendous deficits, causing all sorts of devastating cutbacks to crucial services?
It’s a tough, tough question to answer. The makers of Sonicsgate may not have intended to ask those questions, but their film certainly contributed to at least one person thinking about them.
Thursday, October 15
Let’s play Guess the Speaker.
“I'm very angry because once again the national teams take players and we lose out due to injuries.”
Mark Cuban? Nope.
It’s AC Milan CEO Adriano Galliani, talking to the media about his disgust with the fact one of his defenders, Oguchi Onyewu, was injured while playing for the U.S. against Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifier on Wednesday and may be out for six months.
As a result, Galliani will now be paying Onyewu to watch Milan from the sidelines– something that is understandably irksome to him.
But is anyone surprised this happened? It’s not the first time, obviously, that a professional player has been injured while competing on the world stage, but what makes this case unique from others before is that Galliani is demanding the US Soccer Federation provide compensation to AC Milan for depriving them of Onyewu’s services.
It’s an interesting demand, and, if successful, would completely destroy international competitions as we know them. Is there any country that would recruit a professional athlete if they received, along with his obvious talents, the risk of writing a multi-million dollar check if said player should tear an ACL?
Onyewu’s salary is estimated to be about $1.1 million per season (he just signed a 3-year deal with Milan this July), so his salary wouldn’t decapitate the US Soccer Federation, but imagine how devastating it would be, just as an example, if French Basketball was forced to cough up $11 million for an injury Tony Parker. I can’t imagine their budget could even begin to take on those sorts of costs, could they?
The whole idea of professional athletes performing in international competitions is tenuous at best and ridiculous at worst. While the World Cup will likely never change, simply because of the immense history and dollars involved, I would be surprised if we see NBA players and MLB players competing in international competitions for much longer; the vast amounts of money invested in these gentlemen are just too large.
If nothing else, then, Oguchi Onyewu’s injury may provide a hint that this era may finally be coming to an end.
It went pretty well, and combined with the dough he earned selling his collection of western art to his own company (that was a tough sell, no doubt), you'd think he wouldn't have to worry about selling off any more assets to cover the rent.
You'd be wrong.
Turns out Aubrey had so much fun parting with his wine in April, he's doing it again! In less than a month, Spectrum Wine Auctions will be offering The Aubrey McClendon Collection at the St. Monarch Regis Beach Resort in Dana Point, California.
"Fine wine buyers have a once in a lifetime opportunity to buy rare and normally unavailable vintages," Spectrum's Greg Roberts commented. Well, I suppose if your lifetime was the equivalent of a tse-tse fly's, you'd be right, Greg, but considering McClendon just got done selling $2.2 million worth of his wine less than six months ago, don't you think you ought to take it a little easy on the hyperbole?
If this TNT/NBA ad is a taste of things to come, then you can bet your Tom LaGarde rookie cards I'll be watching the broadcasts this season, if only for the chance to hear a passing Paul Silas, Fred Brown, or Slick Watts reference.
(HT to Ball Don't Lie)
Wednesday, October 7
Tuesday, October 6
At first blush, it's a relatively minor story - rich guy buys some land, gets into dispute with locals about his plans to build McMansions, sells off a chunk of the land, goes about his way. But, if one digs just a touch deeper, you can see that it's not as simple as it first appears.
You see, McClendon tried to sell this land previously ... and failed. Back in December, a tentative deal was in place to sell 171 acres of his more than 400 acres to the Saugatuck Township for $25 million, but the locals were unable to procure a grant from the State of Michigan that would have gone a long ways towards the purchase.
Now, 10 months later, McClendon is selling the property for $20 million, or $5 million less than he thought he'd get last year. And, it is important to note, that sale is still contingent on the Saugatuckians (?) getting a state grant and quite a big chunk of private funds, although they seem to think the money will be relatively pain-free (but, given the state of Michigan's economy, even the optimists are hedging their bets).
[Of further interest, McClendon purchased all 412 acres for the sum of $38 million in 2007, which works out to roughly $92,000 per acre. The lands he plans to sell now for $20 million total 171 acres, or roughly $116,000 per acre - a nice return on investment even at the steeply discounted price. That Aubrey - he didn't get rich by luck.]
And, of course, there are the ongoing legal complications involved. McClendon is refusing to pay property taxes on the land because he feels that the locals over-estimated the value of his land, and because he's irked that they re-zoned the land and changed the density from 1 home: 1.5 acre to 1 home:5 acres, essentially shrinking his number of possible homes from 300 to 80.
Essentially, Aubrey McClendon has, yet again, woven his own peculiar brand of antagonistic wizardry, creating a situation wherein the local residents detest him, while at the same time devaluing his own asset to the point where he has to take drastic steps to rectify a miserable situation.
The only difference is that the owner of the Sonix is not able to pack up the remaining land in the back of a moving truck and move it to Oklahoma City. If Aubrey McClendon wants to move forward with his plans to develop a passle of ridiculous mansions on those 241 acres, he's got to make nice with the local populace, something he has, to date, been either unwilling or unable to do.
Do we Sonic diehards sound this ridiculous to non-basketball fans?
Slusser makes the argument that since the Sonics have packed up and left Seattle, it's a great time for the NHL to lay down a sheet of ice and get to work. Of course:
1. There is no arena
2. There is no youth hockey
3. There is no arena
4. There is no arena
Of course, there's nothing that a new arena couldn't solve. And, hey, we know how willing Seattle is to build new arenas for pro sports teams, right? Sure, they said no to a franchise that had been in the city longer than any other pro sports team in the city's history, but what makes you think they would say no to hockey? I mean, geez, Seattle has such a long and storied history with hockey, right?
Oh, and, hey, Seattle loves the Sounders, and since they love the Sounders they'll love anything we throw at them! Okay, sure, pro soccer has been in Seattle for three decades, and everybody in the city played soccer from the age of 6 to 11, and there's a large Latino population that helps to augment that soccer fandom.
But, you know what? I saw a guy in a Canadiens cap yesterday, and he said he'd go to the games, and his buddy, Gord, said he's down for whenever the Oilers are in town, so that's like two guys right there!
You know, I get the distinct impressions that as Slusser was writing the article, the prevailing thought floating through her head had to have been: "How the heck am I going to fill my column today?"