Saturday, July 28, 2007

Next stage in Donaghy scandal

The next stage of the Donaghy scandal has begun. We moved from the story itself, to the view of odds makers and now we have arrived at each city looking at specific games. In today's paper the Houston Chronicle and the Indianapolis's Star breakdown games that Donaghy officiated.

Whenever you go micro in this fashion the result seems a bit more intense.

From the Chronicle ....

"The big trend with him in particular is that the first 15 games last season he refereed where we saw line movement of at least 1 1/2 points were a perfect 15-of-15 for the big-money people betting," said Matty O'Shea, general manager of content at and a handicapper. "The odds of that happening randomly are only 33,000-to-1."

"He led the NBA in calling fouls, in free-throw attempts the last two seasons. That's kind of a red flag. He's a whistle-happy ref. There's a game (between) Miami and New York, the free-throw differential was 39-8. A four-point favorite won by six, and the total went over by a half-point.

"Last season, 13 games he did fell within a single point of the point spread. We found in the last two seasons, 14 games were decided by two points or less."

However, when you really get into the specific game it is hard to find the play or plays that convince you the game was on the take.

with 1:50 left and the Suns leading 96-89, Donaghy called John Lucas III for a blocking foul while official Gary Zielinski called a charge against Leandro Barbosa of the Suns.

"This could tell us a lot," Whitworth said.

Instead, it seemed to indicate Donaghy was not trying to influence the result. With the score close to pregame lines, he quickly deferred to Zielinski, who changed the call to favor the Rockets.

"If Donaghy was trying to keep the Rockets under the spread, he likely would not have made the call against Lucas. If he was trying to favor the Suns, he would seem unlikely to so quickly defer to another official, particularly given Donaghy's very assertive officiating style.

"Even knowing what we know, I see zero, absolutely zero (suspicious). There were a couple ticky-tack calls, but we have those in every game. There was one play, with the wrong number (called), but there was no pattern. If I said we're looking at these referees being corrupt, you would have no idea which one it would be. And if I told you which one, you could not say which (team) he was favoring."

From the Star ......

Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs on Feb. 12, 2006.
The Pacers had just taken an 86-81 lead on Stephen Jackson's 3-pointer in the final 90 seconds. With the fans at Conseco Fieldhouse buzzing in anticipation of an upset, a shrill, staccato whistle stopped the proceedings. Donaghy had called a defensive three seconds violation on Anthony Johnson.

The spread for that game was five points. The Spurs failed to cover, winning by four, but was Donaghy trying to aid their cause? Replays show the defensive three seconds call on Johnson was a quick whistle, and it was questionable whether he had both feet in the foul lane.

I think we are at a point where we can convince ourselves of anything. The intergrity is comprimised without question. How much we may never know and that is what is terrible. It forever allows us and anyone else to believe whatever they would like.

Sonics building their staff

According to the Denver Post, the Sonics are hiring Bill Branch from the Denver Nuggets. Inside the circle of basketball Branch is very highly respected. His work ethic is marvelous and his eye for the game is fantastic.

Branch will be the Director of Pro Personnel. Branch is recognized as one of the best advanced scouts in the NBA. This is a strong move by the Sonics.

See the Mariners were right

Randy Johnson is out for the season needing back surgery. See the Mariners were right this whole time. Johnson's back was never an going to hold up long term. Their is no way you can pay that guy big money with a back like that.

Mariners were right again.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Point Shaving in College

I wrote earlier that if this can happen to an NBA ref than what about a college player.

Here is a study out of Wharton that breaks down statistical evidence of point shaving in college.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Point Shaving and Game Fixing

Here is what I believe should terrify the sports fan about the Tim Donaghy gambling scandal.
Donaghy makes somewhere near $200,000 a year. He has been in the league for 13 years. He has two homes. He is living the life with a house on a Florida golf course.

And he got caught upside down. Think about this. He has it all. He is risking everything and he got caught upside down. What does it take for a guy with that many assets to get caught into the hands of the seedy side of the gambling world?

In contrast, think about your college athlete. He and few buddies are watching games on a Saturday and he lays down a few bucks on a few games. What does it take for a college kid to get upside down? If you are a college kid and you fall back $200 to $400 it is going to be hard to make that back. Moreso, if you are a college athlete and restricted on how much you can work even just became impossible. Maybe you go for one lucky game where you are sure you will be right. Opps now you are done $400 to $800 and the only way out is to alter a game for your booky.

That scenario is much more likely than I guy with it all going for him risking his life and $200,000 a year job.

That is what terrifies me. If an official making a good living is willing to risk it all what is taking place elsewhere.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Wild what if .....

This is way out of the box and I get that but just in the food for thought category.

Bill Simmons of ESPN writes about how badly officiated Game 3 of the Spurs v. Suns was in the Western Conference Playoffs.

We now know that Tim Donaghy was one of the officials of that mysteriously officiated game.

So what if .......
What if Donaghy did alter the outcome of the game and thus altered the outcome of the series.
What if the Suns would have defeated the Spurs, thus meaning the Spurs were not the World Champions instead the Suns or the Jazz would have gone to the Finals.

Would have ....
Would the Sonics still have followed the Spurs model or would the Suns have been the more in vogue team to follow
Would the Sonics hired David Griffin from Phoenix instead of Sam Presti.
Would the Sonics still hired PJ or would they have been hotter for Ivaranoi?

Is it possible Tim Donaghy influenced things all the way into the Sonics re-structuring of their organization.

Yes, this is a stretch and the Sonics hired good people to turn the organization around but I thought it was an interesting exercise.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Poll Results

Where will the Mariners finish?

52% said second place
46% said first place

the other 2% disappeared into the HoZone. (Does anyone else recall Snigglets?)


Choking is the most evil of phrases for an athlete. Yet, it is undeniable. In the simplest form when the ones body no longer functions as precisely as one wants to due to the pressure of the moment it is choking. It can be physical or it can be mental decision making. It is real. The mind body connection makes it is close to inevitable.

Sunday's British Open final round glorified choking. It was in abundance. Sergio Garcia suddenly couldn't make the same putts he had made all week. Pradig Harrington' display on 18 in regulation was a complete melt down.

Honestly, I watch golf for the choke. How will the pressure impact these athletes as they attempt to avoid the slightest imperfections. It is like watching Nascar for a car crash. Almost without fail every Sunday on the golf course showcases the choke.

The isolation of a golfer makes it easily visible. The PGA Tour slogan is "these guys are good" and then all of a sudden they look like us spraying it everywhere.

Golfers aren't weaker mentally than another athlete. Hitting a golf ball is no more difficult than what a hitter in baseball is doing or a quarterback in football. Therefore, the choking we see on Sunday on a golf course must be happening everywhere else in sports, but isn't as isolated and thus a bit harder to see.

Go back to the 2001 Seattle Mariners. A team that was flawless all season until they suddenly lost their ability to function against the New York Yankees in the ALCS. At the time guys talk about leaving sawdust at the plate from holding the bats so tight. They choked. Collectively or individually that group changed due to the pressure of the moment.

Barry Bonds has been a terrible playoff player his entire career. Is it a coincidence, was he really pitched that much tougher or are the playoffs his Sunday round of golf?

In hoops it is harder to see because 5 guys are working together. However, go back to the 1996 NBA Western Conference Series between the Sonics and the Jazz. On the biggest play of the game the Jazz defenders Karl Malone and Greg Foster switched leaving Foster on Shawn Kemp despite the fact the Jazz hadn't switched defensively all game. Was this the equivalent of thew wrong club selection on a Sunday?

What took place at the British Open highlighted how fragile the mental psyche is for the greatest of the world's golfers. The same is taking place in every high pressure sporting event, some times it is not as obvious.

Cool the Jets on Felix

The old saying in talk radio is that it is never as good as it seems and never as bad as it seems. Though in recent times with the NBA fixing scandal, Mike Vick, Barry Bonds and the Sonics possible move it is hard to believe that saying to be true.

However, in the case of Felix it is most defintely the case. The crew at USSMariners have once again done fantastic work.

the following is a list of performances by the 10 best pitchers in baseball
today, as determined by me, during their age 21 seasons:

Johan Santana, Minnesota - 86 IP, 6.49 ERA 102 H, 54 BB, 64 K, 11 HR

Brandon Webb, U. Of Kentucky - 112 IP, 4.58 ERA, 123 H, 41 BB, 123 K, 14 HR

Roy Halladay, Syracuse (AAA) - 116 IP, 3.79 ERA, 107 H, 53 BB, 71 K, 11 HR

Jake Peavy, San Diego - 98 IP, 4.52 ERA, 106 H, 33 BB, 90 K, 11 HR

Ben Sheets, Stockton (A+) - 28 IP, 3.58 ERA, 23 HH, 14 BB, 28 K, 1 HR

Erik Bedard, Delmarva (A-) - 111 IP, 3.57 ERA, 98 H, 35 BB, 131 K, 2 HR

CC Sabathia, Cleveland - 180 IP, 4.39 ERA, 149 H, 95 BB, 171 K, 19 HR

Josh Beckett, Portland (AA) - 74 IP, 1.82 ERA, 50 H, 19 BB, 102 K, 8 HR

John Lackey, Lake Elsinore (A+) - 101 IP, 3.40 ERA, 94 H, 42 BB, 74 K, 9 HR

John Smoltz, Atlanta - 64 IP, 5.48 ERA, 74 H, 33 BB, 37 K, 10 HR

So Felix is not going to have the Dwight Gooden MVP year and win the Cy Young, but maybe that will be a long term good thing.