Monday, December 28, 2009

Sens GM blasts officiating

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Sens GM blasts officiating

Lack of power plays irk Murray

PITTSBURGH — The guys in striped shirts have left the Senators seeing red.

GM Bryan Murray called the NHL’s director of officiating, Terry Gregson, Tuesday to voice his displeasure after the club again went without a power play in the 2-0 loss to the Boston Bruins Monday.

Some might call Murray a whiner, but the numbers back up his claims: Of the more than 540 games this season going into Wednesday night, there were eight in which one team didn’t receive a man advantage. It’s happened to the Senators three of those times.

“I asked the question: ‘How can we have this happen to us three times already and in another game we get one power play late in the game?’ ” said Murray.

“I don’t want the story to be that I’m a complainer. That’s not the case. This is the first time I’ve called the league in two years. I’m the least complainer in the league. (Gregson) told me he gets calls at midnight or 1 a.m. from some GMs. I’ll never do that.”

But Murray said he could no longer stay quiet after the Bruins game.

“It was just obvious it wasn’t a zero-penalty game,” said Murray. “It was very obvious. I’ve got four highlights of penalties, plus a too many men. I don’t even have to try to justify it. These are just factual things that should have been called.”

Coach Cory Clouston was at a loss over why referees Marc Joanette and Justin St. Pierre awarded the Bruins three power plays to zero for the Senators.

“I know our power play hasn’t been very effective of late, but it would have been nice to at least get an opportunity. If nothing else, we hopefully would have been able to generate some momentum and some opportunities,” said Clouston. “There wouldn’t have been a lot (of power plays for Ottawa). Probably four per team.


Clouston said he doesn’t like the club being taken advantage of.

“It’s a little disrespectful to our players,” he said. “They’re working extremely hard. They’re doing what they need to do to draw penalties. They come to the bench and they’re frustrated and they don’t know why that wasn’t a call ... We just tell them to keep working hard.”

The Senators have been accused of yapping too much to officials, but Clouston said there’s no evidence of that.

There’s also a theory the officials are out to get the Senators, but captain Daniel Alfredsson shot that down.

“Even if it was, and I’m not saying there is anything against us, I wouldn’t say it,” he said. “If that is the case, and I don’t think it is, we just have to do a better job to draw more penalties.

"I can’t see the referees conspiring against us. It just doesn’t make sense.”

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mavericks Want a Do-Over With Rockets, File Protest

Mavericks Want a Do-Over With Rockets, File Protest

by Tom Ziller

The Mavericks lost a thriller to Houston last night, and owner Mark Cuban is not happy about it. But unlike most teams, who eventually accept defeat and perhaps rip a referee or two in the media, the Mavericks won't let this one die: ESPN's Marc Stein report the Mavericks will file a protest with the NBA to have a portion of the game replayed.

The call at the crux of this protest is ... an improper video review? Cuban tells Stein that when Rockets guard Aaron Brooks was called for a Flagrant 1 in overtime, the referees reviewed when league rules state that only Flagrant 2s are subject to review. The real issue is that when they reviewed the tape, the referees decided Dallas center Erick Dampier deserved a technical foul for a seemingly intentional elbow tossed Brooks's way. Dampier already had one tech, so he got booted with a minute left in overtime and the Mavericks down five. (The call also allowed the Rockets to choose a non-Dampier Maverick to shoot his free throws -- which might actually have been good for Dallas -- and Brooks did hit the free throw resulting from Damp's tech.)

Here's the play:

Cuban has two other, ahem, "misapplications of the rules," which is Stu Jackson for "bad calls." I sense an ulterior motive, though. Dirk Nowitzki, talisman of Dallas, left in the first quarter with an injury we will refer to as "Carl Landry's teeth in his elbow." Dirk didn't return. Presumably, however, in a replay of the final minute of overtime in, say, March, Nowitzki would be available for re-entry. A 4- or 5-point deficit with a minute, the ball and Dirk Nowitzki? That's a result that could change. Cuban knows what he's doing, though I doubt the league will grant a replay considering the referees -- no matter how they got there -- ended up making the appropriate call on Dampier.

The NBA had its first do-over in decades in the 2008 season, when Shaquille O'Neal (then with Miami) was wrongly disqualified on his fifth foul, which referees believed to be his sixth. The Heat and Hawks got together later in the season to replay 51.9 seconds, despite the fact Shaq had been traded to Phoenix and both teams had several new players. Hilariously, no points were scored in the replayed 51.9 seconds, and the Hawks won, as they did in the original game.

Football referee beaten to death in his own home

A FOOTBALL referee murdered in his own home was beaten to death, sources have revealed.

Detectives hunting the killer of David Linning, 65, said yesterday that he suffered severe injuries to his head and body.

They said the attack was "a dreadful crime which has shocked the local community".

And they urged the people of David's home town of East Kilbride, Lanarkshire, to give them the information they need to catch the murderer.

Amateur ref David, known as Wee Davie, was found dead by police in his home in Vancouver Drive,Westwood, at 10.20am last Saturday.

Officers forced open the door of his house after family and friends raised the alarm.

A post mortem revealed David had been murdered.

Forensics officers searched his bungalow for clues.

And yesterday, police made a fresh appeal for information. Detective Chief Inspector Neil Thomson said: "We are trying to establish if anyone saw David Linning on Thursday, Friday or Saturday of last week.

"It is vital that anyone who saw him or had contact with him on any of these days gets in touch.

"I suspect there may be people in East Kilbride who know important information. I would ask them not to presume that the police know what they know.

"Please come forward and tell us anything you have heard, no matter how insignificant it may seem. It might just be the vital piece of information we are looking for."

To read the rest of the story click here

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Refs Must Maintain Order In The Courts

Refs Must Maintain Order In The Courts

By Dave Lomonico

By now everyone and their dog knows about Elizabeth Lambert, the University of New Mexico soccer player whose on-field shenanigans earned her YouTube fame, worldwide ridicule and an indefinite suspension. The video shows Lambert punching an opposing player in the back, diving at players’ shins and yanking an opponent down by her ponytail.

Lambert has been vilified enough, but one group has gotten a relative free pass in this debacle: the referees. Watching the video, there are at least four incidents warranting a yellow card and two that should have been red cards. What were the refs watching while Lambert dive-bombed players like Ty Cobb stealing second? Barring momentary blindness, their failure to control Lambert was perplexing.

Sure, referees can’t see everything. But failing to correct blatant, intended violence -- especially if it’s repeated -- is not only a sign of incompetence, it’s also unethical.

Games get physical. Referees shouldn’t stop play for every hit batter, questionable tackle or low hit. But when physicality turns to violence, referees have a responsibility to act. Their No. 1 job is to control the game and ensure player safety. Otherwise, the sports arena becomes a modern-day Roman Colosseum.

That being said, sport fans love violence. That’s why they drop big bucks for pay-per-view boxing matches and MMA fights, relish the inevitable hockey melee and replay the punch Oregon’s LeGarrette Blount threw after his football team lost to Boise State.

Therefore, it’s no surprise fans complain when boxing officials stop fights, when umpires warn benches and when refs call personal fouls on ticky-tack hits. Sports are violent -- don’t turn them into a ballet.

Wrong. Sports are controlled violence. There is no place in athletics for viciousness. Vilify officials for being too strict but realize they’re doing their jobs. Allow too many little incidents and eventually those minor skirmishes escalate into major outbursts.

Witness sports like ice hockey. Teams employ “enforcers” who wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for their fists. NHL refs routinely allow fights because it’s supposedly “part of the game.” That ho-hum attitude inevitably leads to brutality and even bloodshed.

Remember Todd Bertuzzi's infamous 2004 hit on Steve Moore? Bertuzzi came up behind Moore, threw a punch, pinned him to the ice and knocked him out. Moore suffered serious spinal damage and never played again.

That’s an extreme example. Most athletic fights are no more than minor tussles, but it’s better for officials to err on the side of caution. Their prudence could save a player’s career -- or life.

Of course, officials can’t be directly blamed for cruel on-field incidents. In extreme physical sports such as football and boxing, hostility is inevitable. But in an emotionally-charged, steroid-riddled world where athletes can crush a man’s skull with one hand, officials must limit extracurricular violence as much as possible.

Officials’ ineptitude is a major concern, especially in sports such as boxing and MMA. In the lower rungs of boxing, referees tend to be less experienced, less assertive and thus more prone to making major mistakes. There’s a reason there are numerous deaths in non-sanctioned boxing bouts and only a couple every year in professional fights. Simply put, the boxers and the ring officials are better at the top level.

There is already some apprehension about MMA officiating. There are more and more MMA bouts every year but the number of well-trained officials is not increasing as rapidly.

In a sport predicated on violence, it’s only a matter of time before a fighter goes berserk and an official fails to intervene. “Blood sports” are ethically questionable as it is. Using unprepared officials only compounds the problem.

Which leads back to the Lambert incident. Compared to career-ending sucker punches, is pulling a ponytail really worth pouting about? Perhaps not. But by failing to recognize or reprimand the illegal actions, the referees indirectly encouraged Lambert’s behavior.

Violence begets violence. It’s contagious. Without intervention, the cycle will spiral out of control. And then it will be too late. Just ask Steve Moore.

Video Replay on table for new MLB committee

MLB Notebook: Replay on table for new MLB committee
Wednesday, December 16, 2009

With critics calling for expanded video review of umpires' calls and some players pushing to expand the first round of the playoffs, commissioner Bud Selig yesterday established a committee of managers and longtime executives.

Managers Tony La Russa, Jim Leyland, Joe Torre and Mike Scioscia were selected for the "special committee for on-field matters," which Selig will chair and will meet for the first time next month.

This past postseason was rife with TV replays showing umpires making incorrect calls. It was also filled with extra off-days that ultimately stretched the scheduled postseason into November for the first time.

"This is not a reaction to some of the things that happened during the playoffs," Selig said. "I'm not saying that it didn't keep moving me along in this direction because it did, but frankly I had this in mind for a long time."

The group will examine scheduling, umpiring, the strike zone and pace of game.

Selig repeatedly said "there are no sacred cows." While he has opposed expanding the use of instant replay, he said "I will be guided by what this committee comes up with."

No players or umpires were included. Among those who were: Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, Indians general manager Mark Shapiro, Braves president John Schuerholz, political columnist and avid fan George Will and Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt.

Read more:

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Second opinion infuriates Huskers

Pelini brothers upset by decision at end of game

By JEFFREY MARTIN Houston Chronicle

Dec. 6, 2009, 12:29AM

Jamie Squire Getty Images

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini yells at a referee during the third quarter of Saturday's 13-12 loss to Texas in the Big 12 title game.

Game statistics

And after a surreal final sequence Saturday night that turned an apparent Cornhuskers upset in the Big 12 Championship Game into a heart-wrenching 13-12 loss to Texas, there were plenty of questions that needed to be answered.

An enraged Bo Pelini demanded justice.

“I want to see Walt Anderson right now!” the Nebraska coach screamed to no one in particular, referring to the Big 12's coordinator of football officials.

BCS-inspired mess?

Then his brother, Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini, chimed in.

“It's the same footsteps with the trophy,” he said. “They ought to be ashamed to accept that trophy.”

He fell silent but then resumed his rant.

“That's what this conference is about,” he added. “The (expletive) BCS.”

In the distance, orange- and-white confetti dropped to the turf. The Longhorns were accepting their trophy, and coach Mack Brown was addressing the fans who remained .

“We didn't make some plays like we wanted to on offense, but that's a credit to Nebraska's defense,” Brown said. “They played their hearts out.”

Meanwhile, back in the tunnel, more chaos was unfolding.

Another Pelini brother, Vince, got in on the act — “They're sick,” he said, shaking his head and adding, “Zero-zero on the clock” — before the Cornhuskers coach resurfaced.

“Get Dan Beebe!” he shrieked, asking for the Big 12 commissioner.

Nebraska started to celebrate what it thought was a 12-10 win after Colt McCoy threw an incompletion and the clock ran down. But the officials ruled there should be one second on the clock. That allowed Texas' Hunter Lawrence to change the outcome with a 46-yard field goal.

Bo Pelini seemed to have calmed down by the time he arrived at his news conference. The first question posed to Pelini?

“Bo, do you think Texas got a little bit of home cooking there at the end?”

His response: “No comment.”

Then he was asked if the officials had provided any clarity on what transpired in those final seconds.

“I haven't gotten an explanation,” he said. “I'm not going to answer any more questions about officiating or about that call. Ask me about the football game – it was a hell of a football game.”

Corrections are allowed

Later, Anderson finally clarified what happened — “Any type of egregious clock error can be corrected,” he said — but by then, Pelini was long gone.