Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bottom Line

Here's the bottom line in the Lakers / Spurs crazy ending to game 4:

1) Replays showed that Fisher's shot grazed the rim and the shot clock should have been reset

2) Replays showed that Odom's "goaltend" on Parker was a legal block. Odom touched the ball before it hit the rim. (the curious question to this play is why Doug Collins and Marv Albert didn't notice this. I saw this when they first played the replay from sitting on my couch)

3) Replays showed (and the NBA admitted) that a foul should have been called on Fisher on the last play.

Bottom line: All 3 of those calls were during the final minute, 2 during the final 3 seconds. 2 of 3 went the Spurs way, on their home court, and the Lakers still won. I will give the credit to the Spurs for taking the high road - that's a classy organization!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Spurs / Lakers

1st Quarter, Phil Jackson not happy with the officiating. Could it be that the "Conspiracy Theory" about Joey Crawford will actually help the Spurs. My thinking is that Mr. Crawford will not want any questionable calls to go against the Spurs so that no one will be talking about him tomorrow.

Good acting job by Bruce Bowen on the offensive foul called on Jordan Farmer midway through the 2nd quarter. I'd say he took some lessons from Ginobili or Parker, but he didn't fall over and put his thumb in his mouth.

I know nobody likes to get fouls called on them, or calls no go their way, but no one argues and looks "innocent" after every play like Tim Duncan. It doesn't matter what end of the court he's on, he's mastered them all.
"Are you kidding me, I didn't even touch him?!?"
"He was ALL over me!!"
"That was clearly NOT off me"

And then when Tony Parker drives to the lane, gets fouled, makes the shot to put the Spurs down one with a chance to tie... Parker lets out a yell, and goes to high five Tim Duncan, and Duncan face is pointed to the ground, no emotion, no passion.

A lot of "no-calls" tonight... which are good for the game.

(Ed Note: I wrote that line above in the middle of the 3rd quarter)

Spurs down 2, with the ball with 2.1 seconds to go in the game. Brent Barry with an amazing game tonight - will he get a 3 point look, or will Spurs go for the tie since they are at home...

Crowd on feet...

Horry in game too...

Barry shoots... misses! Ah... Of course... there's the conspiracy "no-call" we've been waiting on all night. Yep! Replays show Fisher fouled Barry, question is would it have been 2 or 3 free throws for Barry. Joey Crawford was the official that should have made that call.

On Sportscenter after the game, Tim Legler said:
Brent Barry needed to go through the contact to get the call, since he stopped and bounced backwards - no official would have made that call to end the game.

When asked if it was a good call because of how Barry reacted, Legler said "yes".

I will disagree with Legs though and say that it was a bad call, and Barry should have at least been put on the free throw line for 2, not 3 foul shots.

Legs did say however, that if that is Ginobili or Bryant, they get that call everytime. Since it's Brent Barry, it's no call. That's they way it goes for role players some times.

Phil Jackson response:
Fisher's ball touched the rim with 4 seconds left, and therefore we should have been given the ball with a new shot clocked and the Spurs would have been forced to foul us... but yes, he bumped him

Barry takes the high road in his interview, he says "that's not going to get called" he actually gave Fisher credit for a great play.

Popovich apparently said the no-call was the right call.

As anyone interviewed Tim Duncan yet? Someone ask him if it was a foul or not and see how many faces and reactions they can get out of him.

Bottom line, even though the Spurs made a valiant comeback in the final minute, they did not take advantage of opportunities all night long. They really did not deserve to win this game. This was a lot like game 1, except unlike the Lakers in the opener, the Spurs could not get the steal on their homecourt. Lakers lead 3-1 with game 4 on Thursday night at Staples.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Giambi Called Out For Not Swinging

Jason Giambi was called out tonight on a pitch that was high and inside. The ump thought the ball touched the bat and therefore was a foul tip. Since it was a 2-2 count and the catcher caught the ball, strike 3 was called. There was 1 out in the 9th when this happened. The game was tied at 1. The call was an awful call as replays showed the ball never even came close to the bat. Joe Girardi was thrown out arguing. The Yanks would win the game 2 batters later. Mets fans will say that the reason Yankees came back and won was simply because Girardi was ejected. They may have a point. Willie... start arguing!

Video from can be found here

Instant Replay in MLB by Next Season?

According to Jayson Stark at ESPN, we could possibly see instant replay in Major League Baseball as early as next season:

Major League Baseball is making tentative plans to experiment with instant replay in the Arizona Fall League, according to a baseball official with knowledge of those discussions.

If that experiment proves practical and successful, MLB then is likely to continue the experiment next March during the World Baseball Classic and spring training games.

If no insurmountable problems arise, baseball could begin using replay -- though only to decide home run calls -- as soon as next season.

A top baseball official confirmed to The Associated Press Thursday that he will formulate a proposal for instant replay, although he wouldn't put a timetable on a replay plan.

"The times are such that our fans are used to seeing all the high technology and they're used to seeing the other sports that use these systems to make determinations, and the fans are clamoring for all the sports to look at that," said Jimmie Lee Solomon, the sport's executive vice president for baseball operations.

What is yet to be determined is whether calls would be reviewed by a "replay umpire" in each stadium, as the National Football League does, or in the MLB offices in New York, a system that would more resemble the National Hockey League's.

I think starting with reviewing controversial home run calls is a good start. If you're wondering if calls like bang-bang plays at any base or home plate will ever be reviewed, my guess is no, or at least not in the near future. However, starting with reviewing possible home-run calls is a good start and could lead to future instant replay opportunities.

Another Case for Instant Replay in Baseball...


The three-time [A-Rod] MVP connected off Garrett Olson (3-1) to start the third, then hit another ball over the wall in the sixth that was incorrectly called an RBI double.

It was the latest in a string of home run calls that have been blown by big league umpires lately, including one at Yankee Stadium on Sunday night. That's left some calling for instant replay in baseball.

This ruling didn't end up costing the Yankees, it just left A-Rod flipping his helmet at second base and shaking his head in disbelief.

"We made a mistake," second base umpire and crew chief Tim Welke said after seeing the television replay. "We want to be perfect. We weren't perfect tonight."

Instant replay in baseball? I won't believe it until I see it. In the meantime, we'll have to put up with it... which really sucks everytime a play goes the wrong way.

To remind you of what Jayson Stark says about Replay... here's what he said in a chat a few weeks back:

THE CASE FOR: Sheez, shouldn't this sport be embarrassed to get calls that basic so wrong? It would have taken those umpires less time to watch the replay than it took for them to huddle, then STILL get it wrong and then have to stand around listening to Phillies manager Charlie Manuel rant and rave about it.

THE CASE AGAINST: Bud Selig says he wouldn't want to do anything to tarnish the sacred ''human element'' that has prevailed in the umpiring business since long before replay machines, and even light bulbs, were invented. So ostensibly, introducing technology would destroy the ''charm'' of the game. Or something like that.

THE VERDICT: You've got to be kidding. As the reader who inspired this debate, Brian of Philadephia, points out, it's the 21st century. So it's about time baseball charged into the 20th century and turned on those replay monitors. Tell Bud Selig I'm 100 percent in favor of humans. But I'm more in favor of getting calls right -- especially calls like this one, which will hang over two division races all year.

Spurs/Lakers Roundup

This picture is from Deadspin... classic! One thing we know if that his wife knows he's ok. She's screaming from the crowd, "It's ok - he's faking it!"

As for the game, I only was able to watch about the last 8 minutes on the game (caught most of the 3rd on the radio) didn't seem like there were too many bad calls until the final minute. The refs totally missed a Pau Gasol foul or at least knocking the ball out of bounds play on Tim Duncan under the Lakers basket, but they quickly redeemed themselves by totally missing Manu Ginobbli shoving Pau Gasol out of the way, then knocking the ball out of bounds himself. By giving the Spurs the ball there, the refs completely took away any "excuses" Spurs fans could have made about the final minute. Unless of course they didn't like the fact that Kobe treated Bruce Bowen like he was Bryon Russell in 1998 but that's the advantages that MVP's have late in the game. On ESPN afterwards, Jamal Mashburn was asked if this game was in San Antonio, would that have been called a foul. Mashburn said no, all great players can get away with that. If I recall - the Jordan play was in Utah, so Mash has a point. With that basket and Ginobbli badly missing a 3 attempt on the other end, Lakers fans everywhere could breath a sigh of relief. Spurs fans may think the 2nd half was a dream, and I think they are still sleeping. If you go to, there is no game recap, and you can still vote for "Spurs in 4". I just voted and noticed that 3 other people are with me. Think it will come true?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

This Just Keeps Getting Better

From the Boston Herald this morning comes this regarding the absolutely crazy Tim Donaghy Case:
Attorney John F. Lauro ripped into the feds for giving Donaghy’s gambling associates a slap on the wrist, while Donaghy – who ratted them out - is facing a heftier sentence.

Lauro also said Donaghy provided investigators with information about another NBA referee who secretly passed confidential information to a coach, and about other circumstances that affected the outcome of games and "prevented games from being played on a level playing field."

Oh boy... now we have to speculate on what referee that is. Did Donaghy give them a name? If so, when do find that out?

As for Donaghy - the story of how he got started in this is not a pretty one:

Lauro said Battista called Donaghy in 1994 during his first year as an NBA referee and asked whether he was going to be "up and up," which Donaghy interpreted to mean whether he would use his position to help Battista gamble. Donaghy, according to his attorney, rejected the offer and said he would contact the authorities if Battista called again.

But a few years ago, Donaghy began betting heavily on professional sports with Norwood insurance salesman Jack Concannon through local bookie Pete Ruggieri, Lauro wrote.

Eventually, they began gambling on games that Donaghy officiated. Concannon, a former Monsignor Bonner basketball star and former coach of the Friars, was interviewed by the FBI last year, but he will not be charged, his attorney, Joseph Fioravanti, said Monday.

Ruggieri’s attorney could not be reached Monday.

According to the account Lauro provided, Battista muscled his way into the action in late 2006 by threatening to report Donaghy to the NBA if the referee did not help him select bets.

"Battista also threatened Tim’s family, stating that Tim would not want people from New York (Mafia figures) visiting his wife and kids," Lauro wrote.

Battista and his lawyers of course refute those allagations:

Battista’s attorney, Jack McMahon Jr., Monday dismissed that as "ridiculous."

"That Battista threatened Donaghy and his family in any way is all fantasy land. He didn’t have to threaten Donaghy to gamble," McMahon said. "Donaghy was ready, willing and able to gamble. He’s a gambling addict. He said so himself. He’s been running around with this ‘Poor me’ attitude, while all it was was greed, greed, greed."

As for how the betting controlled the outcome of games. Well, the folks over at have done some research, the results are mind-blowing:

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Goldberg said in a letter filed Friday in Brooklyn Federal Court that former NBA referee Tim Donaghy bet on about 14 games that he personally officiated during the 2006-07 season.

Compare that admission to the following fact: The first 15 games of the 2006-07 refereed by Tim Donaghy that had big enough betting to move the point spread by at least 1.5 points were UNDEFEATED against Las Vegas meaning that the big money gamblers won a 15 of 15 times on his games. The odds of that happening randomly are 32,768 to 1 said RJ Bell of

Tim Donaghy officiating style statistically changed during the 2005/06 and 06/07 seasons. During the two years prior (i.e., 03/04 and 04/05) he called significantly less fouls than the average NBA referee (his games scored more than Las Vegas expected only 44% of the time). During his last two seasons he called significantly more fouls than average (his games scored more than Las Vegas expected 57% of the time). The odds of this change happening randomly are approximately 19 to 1.

Keep in mind that a single call can affect the outcome of a pro basketball game. During the 06/07 season alone, 13 games refereed by Tim Donaghy fell within A SINGLE POINT of the Las Vegas point spread. In his final two seasons as a referee, the winner of 14 NBA games refereed by Donaghy was decided by a single bucket or less.

RJ Bell of said: "Over 50 BILLION dollars is gambled on the NBA each season. If not a single call was affected by Donaghy's bets, then we have the whole story. But if calls were affected, the true story is one of game-fixing, and thus much bigger."

I can't imagine David Stern is too happy right about now, but at the same time, considering the Lakers/Spurs & Pistons/Celtics are playing in the conference finals, that should bid well for the NBA. But do the think there is a little pressure now on ALL NBA refs to make the right calls during the next 2 rounds? Wow, I'd hate to be one of those guys.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Donaghy Bet on at least 100 of His Own Games

According to the AP:

Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy bet on about 14 games he officiated in the 2006-07 season, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Goldberg said in a letter filed Friday in Brooklyn Federal Court.

"In the Spring of 2003, Donaghy provided picks for games he refereed on only 2-3 occasions," Goldberg wrote. "Over the next three full seasons (2003-2004, 2004-2005, and 2005-2006), however, Donaghy bet on numerous games that he worked.

"The government's investigation revealed that Donaghy provided picks for anywhere from 30 to 40 such games for each of those three seasons. During the 2006-2007 season (the time period charged in the information), Donaghy bet on approximately 30 games, including about 14 games that he refereed."

Donaghy pleaded guilty last year to charges he conspired to engage in wire fraud and transmitted betting information through interstate commerce. The referee said he made NBA bets for four years, even wagering on games he worked. He also admitted recommending bets to high-stakes gamblers and collecting $5,000 if his picks hit.

Donaghy is scheduled to be sentenced May 22. By law, he faces up to 25 years in prison, though the term could be much lower under sentencing guidelines.

It'd be nice if someone could research the games Donaghy ref'd during those seasons. Maybe later I can look into it, no time right now since I actually have to work at a real job. I'm curious to know if any of these games were playoff games / high profile games, or were they Hawks vs Clippers type games, games that no one would really notice any questionable calls.

What I would also like to know, and I realize this is really none of the "fans" business, but I'm curious if David Stern and Co. have implemented some sort of background check system to review the officials that are currently calling the basketball games. This should be more than just a one time check also - would need to be on-going. In the game of basketball there are so many judgement calls that can go either way, that it really would be very easy for an NBA official to make calls one way and get away with it. I have to believe that a system like this is already in place, it'd be reassuring to hear Stern discuss it in detail espcially in the wake of the Donaghy scandel.

On the flip side, I do want to give credit to Stern and Co. for tracking down Donaghy and weeding him out. That shows that there is at least some investigating going on. Question is... Are there more guys out there getting away with it?

Bottom line: May 22 is sentencing day for Donaghy, but unfortunately for fans, there will be many that scream "conspiracy" for all bad calls in the future - especially high profile, game changing, playoff calls. It's unfortunate, but at least for a while, partially justified.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunday Night Umps Blow HR Call

The umpires in tonight's Sunday Night game on ESPN have just really blown a home run call that Carlos Delgado hit. Mike Reilly is the 3rd base ump who originally called it a homerun. Replays showed the ball hit the foul pole, but after the umps got together and talked about it, they ruled the ball was foul. Upon further review, the fan that caught the ball showed evidence that the ball was marked with black spots off where it hit the pole. The pole also had a mark on it. I know umpires can't go look at video evidence, but I have a question... can they look at the pole, and ball to see if there are matching marks?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Homecourt Advantage Help Pistons Win Game 1

During tonight's game, the Orlando Magic were beating the Detroit Pistons and had all the momentum after drilling 7 3-pointers in the 3rd quarter to take a 2 point lead. However, with 5.1 seconds remaining in the 3rd, the Pistons raced the ball up the court, eventually passed it to Chauncey Billups, who took the shot and drained a 3 - but it wasn't a buzzer beater. The problem? No buzzer! There was still 4.1 seconds on the clock. The clock had actually stopped during the play and now refs had a decision to make. They circled up and talked it over, and after a lengthy discussion, they counted the basket and added .5 seconds back on the clock. Pistons were up 2 instead of down 1, not to mention, now they had the momentum heading into the 4th. They would go on to win the game by 7 even though it was a lot closer, the Magic had a chance to tie or take the lead with under a minute to play. Stan Van Gundy was letting 4 letter words fly, and can you blame him... TNT showed a replay, and a clock they added in the lower left hand corner verified it took around 5.2 or 5.3 seconds for the Pistons to get that shot off, which means it should not have counted.

First of all... I was counting in my head before TNT added the clock, and I kept coming up with right around 5 - I would have said no basket, too close to call. Especially since it was at home, and it was their mistake. Likewise if the game was in Orlando, and that happened - count the basket. I say punish the team whose clock operator makes the mistake. I know that's probably not in the rulebook, but there's gotta be a better way than to just count in your head and decide to put .5 seconds back on the clock. I mean... break out a stopwatch if you need to!!