Sports Outside the Beltway

Davis Cup match to be played in empty arena

If no fans are allowed, who’s to say it really happened? From AP-

Sweden and Israel will play their first-round Davis Cup match in an empty arena next month because of security concerns.

Several anti-Israeli demonstrations are planned during the best-of-five series, which will be played March 6-8 at the 4,000-seat Baltic Hall.

Malmo officials announced the decision afterg a vote on the issue in the city’s recreational committee. The Swedish Social Democratic Party and the Left Party won the vote 5-4 after a long debate.

The committee said it could not guarantee security for the fans.

“It’s a high-risk match,” committee chairman Bengt Forsberg was quoted as saying by Swedish news agency TT.

High risk from what? Hysteria? This website claims Sweden has stricter gun laws than the US and a lower homicide rate.

Only officials, some sponsors and journalists will be allowed to enter the arena.

Journalists can be trusted never to be violent…..Oops.


This will be the second time a Davis Cup match will be played in an empty arena in Sweden. In 1975, two years after a military coup led by Augusto Pinochet against the elected Chilean government of Salvador Allende, Sweden played Chile in Bastad and no spectators were allowed.

History always repeats itself. I have written three Tennis posts in less than a week. What’s next? Another post about figure skating?

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Jim Bates- New Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defensive coordinator

He did his first ever press conference today-

New Bucs defensive coordinator Jim Bates plans to uphold the standard set by Monte Kiffin — if not improve upon it.

Bates, 62, held his first news conference today since being hired to replace Kiffin Jan. 22.

“I’d rather come in following Monte than come into someplace where they haven’t been passionate, they haven’t had the team feel and they haven’t played good defense,” Bates said. “I’m glad I’m coming in here. And they’re big shoes to fill. But we’ve also had some great defenses as far as over the years. We’re just looking forward to the challenge.”

Bates, who had top 10 defenses in Miami and Green Bay, outlined some of the differences and similarities to Kiffin’s Tampa Two scheme.

I remember Bates days in, but mostly for his time as head coach after Dave Wanstedt got fired. Miami began the 2004 season 1-8 before Bates was named interim coach. Miami went 3-4 the rest of the season, included in that was an upset win over New England. Bates not shy when it came to showing enthusiasm on the sideline when things went well for Miami.

Bates got some mention from the South Florida and myself before I took up blogging, when it came to the naming of the next non-interim coach of Miami. For those who have forgotten, Dolphin ownership went for Nick Saban and Bates left Miami for Green Bay. Miami’s record from 2005-07 with Saban and his successor Cam Cameron? 9-7, 6-10, 1-15. Where would Miami be now if Bates had been kept on? Would the team have missed the 2007 debacle? Anyone have an opinion?


NY Giants Pro Bowl linebacker Brad Van Pelt dies of heart attack at 57

I remember Van Pelt very well. That in spite of my being a Jet fan. Most of my family were Met and Giant fans who hate the Yankees but were at worst indifferent about the Jets. That’s how I felt and feel towards the Giants today and when Van Pelt played for them. RIP.


To hell with them- Florida whips New Jersey Devils 4-0

For the second time in a week, the Panthers scored an impressive shutout victory. Last week it took place in Carolina, where the cats won 5-0. Carolina is all right this year, that’s about all. The win was significant for two reasons.

1 Florida rarely wins at Carolina. Just once in over fifteen tries before last week’s game.

2 Carolina was Florida’s closest pursuer for a playoff spot

Last night’s win was more impressive. Goalie Tomas Vokoun shut down the dangerous New Jersey offense that features Zach Parise and Patrik Elias and others. Florida had four different forwards contribute a goal each. They were Stephen Weiss, Cory Stillman, Nathan Horton, and Richard Zednik. All of who now have ten or more goals scored on the season. This against a team that had a seven game road winning streak and had won 13 of their last 15 games.

Vokoun’s fifth shutout of the year gives Florida a league leading team total of eight for the season. Florida’s defensemen whose goal scoring has cooled off of late, are among the highest scoring as a team in the league.

Florida is 16-7-5 at home this year, 13-13-3 on the road, and are 13-4-3 since the beginning. The team is also 8-0 on a certain day of the week. If Florida could only play the rest of the season on Tuesdays……

As it stands now, Florida is 4-way tie for 5th place in the Eastern conference. The Southeast Division leading Washington Capitals are too far ahead to be caught, but Florida I just don’t can be stopped from making the playoffs this year. That is as long as they don’t trade star defensemen Jay Bouwmeester. Bouvwmeester becomes a unrestricted free agent at year’s end, but as the stats show Florida is one of the hottest teams in hockey at present. This team is going to the playoffs, and they could go far in the postseason if they keep playing like they are now.

Next up for the Panthers- Games against Chicago and Boston at Florida.

Rob at Panther’s Portal is also commenting.


LPGA Sponsor charged with massive fraud by the SEC

Another tournament looks to be in trouble now. From AP-

NEW YORK – Federal regulators on Tuesday charged Texas financier R. Allen Stanford and three of his firms with a “massive” fraud that centered around high-interest-rate certificates of deposit, and raided some of the companies’ offices.

In a complaint filed in federal court in Dallas, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged Stanford orchestrated a fraudulent investment scheme centered on an $8 billion CD program that promised “improbable and unsubstantiated high interest rates.”

Stanford’s assets, along with those of the three companies, were frozen. Stanford’s firms include Antigua-based Stanford International Bank, broker-dealer Stanford Group Co. and investment adviser Stanford Capital Management, which are both based in Houston.

If you don’t know, Stanford International sponsored the Aventura Florida LPGA event I covered as a member of the media last April. They were supposed to sponsor this year’s LPGA Tour Championship, the end event of the 2009 season. No word yet from the LPGA, but I expect to hear at least hopeful spin from the LPGA. Commissioner Carolyn Bivens sure knows how to pick some winners doesn’t she?

Is it too far a stretch to think the LPGA wish it had a mulligan so far as their past relationship with ADT goes? ADT’s sponsorship of the LPGA’s final event of the year came to an end last year.

Hat tip- Ryan at Waggle room

Update- I neglected to mention(or remember) Stanford also sponsors the PGA Tour stop in Memphis TN.


New Orleans Saints cut RB Deuce McAllister

For the second time in two days, financial considerations cause an NFL team to cut loose one of its stars.

The New Orleans Saints, as expected, parted ways with long-time running back Deuce McAllister by giving him his release Tuesday.

McAllister’s release comes one day after the Jacksonville Jaguars cut the franchise’s all-time leading running back, Fred Taylor. With a $7.5 million cap number and McAllister owed more than $5 million this fall, the Saints figured to either cut his salary or release him.

A news conference was scheduled for Tuesday.

His release puts the Saints under the $123 million salary cap.


In eight seasons in New Orleans, McAllister rushed for 6,096 yards on 1,429 carries.

A team has to do what they have to do to stay within the cap. I just don’t think fans appreciate their favorite players getting cut for this reason only. What can we do about it?


Dubai tennis cites security fear in barring Israeli tennis player

This all started on Saturday when Shahar Peer who was supposed to begin play on Monday in the United Arab Emirates, was denied a visa. From ESPN-

Organizers of a women’s tennis tournament said Tuesday that security fears were behind the decision to bar an Israeli player


The snub brought swift denunciations from the Women’s Tennis Association and warnings that it could consider scratching the Barclays Dubai tournament from its calendar.


Tuesday’s statement by the Barclays Dubai organizers — citing fan anger at Israel’s recent incursions into the Gaza Strip — was the first detailed explanation of the visa denial for Peer, who qualified as the 48th-ranked player in the world. Monday’s WTA rankings listed her 45th.


A statement from the tournament organizer, Dubai Duty Free, said Peer’s “presence would have antagonized our fans” because of the attacks in Gaza, which left about 1,300 Palestinians dead, at least half of them civilians, according to Gaza health officials.

There’s been unrest between Arabs and Israelis in the Middle East for 60 years. As I see it Dubai is going to have to make a choice. Placate the rabble, and they are never going to be satisfied, or give Peer a visa.

Fallout from the visa denial has already taking place.

The Tennis Channel announced it would not televise the tournament this week in protest of the United Arab Emirates’ last-minute visa denial for Israeli player Shahar Peer.

“This is an easy decision to come by, based on what is right and wrong,” Tennis Channel chairman and CEO Ken Solomon told The New York Times. “Sports are about merit, absent of background, class, race, creed, color or religion. They are simply about talent. This is a classic case, not about what country did what to another country. If the state of Israel were barring a citizen of an Arab nation, we would have made the same decision.”

I applaud the Tennis channel’s decision. Sports are about merit not politics. The Dubai organizers are going to have to make a choice.

Another decision looms just over the horizon for Dubai officials.

But the United Arab Emirates, which is trying to become a showcase for world-class sports, faces increasing pressure with the men’s field, as Israeli doubles specialist Andy Ram hopes to be in the draw on Sunday.

Ram’s lawyer, Amit Naor, told The Associated Press that the player is currently in Marseilles, France, and awaiting word if he will be allowed into Dubai. Ram is ranked No. 7 in the world in doubles.

“Andy wants to play, he’s not interested in all the other stuff,” Naor said. “He’s not looking for trouble, he’s looking to play … we thought politics was already out of sports.”

Ben Nichols, a marketing official for the men’s and women’s tennis tournaments in Dubai, said organizers were not aware of Ram’s visa status.

I make a bet they do now. If Ram is denied entry also, the WTA should cancel all further events in the country. Qatar allowed Peer to play in a tournament there, The UAE should follow course.

The choice that the Dubai organizers face could be compared to the one Albanian chess team faced at the 1972 Chess Olympiad. They were supposed to play Israel and didn’t show up for the games and were therefore forfeited. Albania protested, claiming their car broke down on the way to the match. Instead of getting a full 4 pts, Israel was awarded three. Three rounds later Albania’s true colors were discovered when they announced their withdrawal from the Olympiad rather than face the team from Greece.

I don’t know how anyone could have been surprised at Albania’s conduct in 1972. At the 1970 match they refused to play a team from South Africa. Like Albania, Dubai tournament organizers and officials are going to another stand with Andy Ram. If the WTC is about tennis not politics, they should make it clear there will be no more tournaments in the country if Ram is denied a visa also.

In all fairness there have been some idiots protesters at another tennis event Peer played in. The AP article on Sunday made note of that happening in New Zealand recently. Back in 1969, misguided morons people protested Gary Player when he tried to play in the PGA Championship. That in spite of Player’s strong anti-apartheid views. Player invited Lee Elder to come play an exhibition match in South Africa. There are always going to be assholes persons who can’t separate sports and politics.


Jacksonville Jaguars release RB Fred Taylor

His 11,760 career rushing yards put among the top 20 in NFL history. From AP-

Running back Fred Taylor wanted to end his career in Jacksonville, hoping to join the small list of standout players who spent an entire career with the same team.

He won’t get the chance.

The Jaguars released Taylor on Monday, parting ways with their all-time leading rusher after 11 seasons and continuing the team’s offseason makeover.

Coach Jack Del Rio flew to Fort Lauderdale earlier Monday to meet with Taylor and deliver the news. Del Rio made it clear the team has no plans to re-sign Taylor, who turned 33 last month and was scheduled to make $6 million next season.


Taylor has said he would like to retire after passing Jim Brown (12,312) on the career list. Brown, Chicago’s Walter Payton (16,726), Detroit’s Barry Sanders (15,269) and San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson (11,760) are the only running backs ahead of Taylor who spent their entire careers with the same team.

Taylor was not available for comment Monday.

Releasing Taylor was no surprise since he had clearly become the second option behind Maurice Jones-Drew.

Taylor’s release is regrettable but I understand why it was done. Sports management needs to be unsentimental if it is to succeed. Fred Taylor’s best days are in the past, and his cost to the Jaguars in the terms of salary, high.

I think Taylor will find another NFL willing to take him on. How about it Tampa Bay?


Phoenix Suns fire coach Terry Porter after 4 months on the job

He had a record of 28-23 before getting the axe. From AP-

The Phoenix Suns have fired coach Terry Porter, just four months into his first season with the club and the sputtering team barely in playoff contention. Assistant Alvin Gentry was appointed interim coach.

Phoenix (28-23) lost five of eight going into the All-Star break and trails Utah by one game for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

Gentry promised a return to the fast-paced style that best utilizes the team’s talent, particularly the skills of playmaker Steve Nash.

“We are who we are and I think we have to go back to trying to establish a breakneck pace like we’ve had in the past,” Gentry said at a news conference announcing his promotion.

The Suns are the eighth team to fire a coach this season, meaning more than one-quarter of the league’s coaches are gone at the All-Star break.

Most of the eight coaches who lost their jobs were with bad teams and you say their earned the pink slip. The firing of Porter and Maurice Cheeks in Philadelphia look shaky to me. Is four months as head coach with an organization enough time to prove yourself?


Montreal Canadiens acquire Mathieu Schneider from Atlanta Thrashers

The trade brings him back to the NHL team he started his career with. From

Montreal Canadiens General Manager Bob Gainey announced today the acquisition of defenseman Mathieu Schneider from the Atlanta Thrashers, as well as a conditional draft pick from the Thrashers at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, in return for a second-round pick at the 2009 draft (Anaheim’s pick previously acquired by the Canadiens from Washington) and a Canadiens third-round pick at the 2010 draft.

Schneider, a 20-season veteran, made his NHL debut with the Canadiens in 1987-88. The 39-year-old, New York City native recorded 717 points (216 goals, 501 assists) and posted a plus-63 rating in 1,241 NHL regular-season games, with Montreal, the New York Islanders, Toronto, the New York Rangers, Los Angeles, Detroit, Anaheim and Atlanta.

Schneider is a good journeyman defenseman, and I understand Montreal is trying to rev up for the playoffs, but I feel a 2nd round pick for a player about to turn 40 is an awful lot to give up.


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