Sports Outside the Beltway

Pompano Park to offer race programs for free

Anything it takes to make people come watch a horse race at the track approximately every twenty minutes. From

Starting with the Friday evening, Oct. 16, program at 7:05 p.m., the Isle Pompano Park is offering free programs for its own live cards to all on-track patrons and horsepeople.race program

“We’ve studied it and just finalized our plan late in the noon hour on Wednesday to move forward with this initiative as quickly as possible,” says the Isle Pompano Park’s director of racing operations, John Yinger. “There is a cost to doing it but we feel it can only drive on-track attendance and handle in the the right direction. Already the feedback is overwhelmingly positive from horsepeople and the fans here on Wednesday night that we informally mentioned it to.”

He adds the South Florida track is going into a hurry up offense to get the word out.

No mention of this in the local media but that isn’t surprising. Harness racing has never gotten the coverage the thoroughbreds do.

Pardon the pun, but I’m betting tip sheets won’t be free.


Hockey fans held hostage- DIRECTV-Versus Deal Appears Unlikely Today

Today is the first day of the 2009 NHL season and wouldn’t it be nice if I could watch the games. From the New York Times-

The National Hockey League season starts Thursday, but a dispute threatens to keep DirecTV subscribers from watching the games televised by Versus. If there is no resolution, an opening-night doubleheader (Washington at Boston and San Jose at Colorado) will not be seen on DirecTV, and the Rangers-Devils game Monday night will be blacked out.

DirecTV, a satellite operator, pulled Versus from its lineup at midnight Aug. 31 when the two sides could not agree on a request for higher fees by Versus and DirecTV’s plan to change the way it distributes Versus.

Directv and Versus each give different reasons for why the two sides are having this squabble. Either read the rest of the New York Times article to hear them or see this previous post of mine.

In the meantime thousands of NHL hockey fans who subscribe to Directv are about to get screwed over. I’m among them, the Florida Panthers are scheduled to play the Chicago Blackhawks tomorrow in a game that will only be carried on Versus and it looks like I’ll be unable to watch it unless I want to go to a sports bar.(Out of the 82 games Florida played the last two seasons, I missed watching maybe 10 games each season. In most instances they were games that weren’t broadcast) I’ve got Comcast Cable too at my house, but Versus isn’t coming in on my television.(Funny thing is, I’m getting every sports channel next to it on my receiver. It’s just Versus that’s blank) Comcast is the owner of Versus. I’m mad at both sides in this silly dispute, but my anger is more focused at Directv and the NHL. Firstly Directv looks to be the unreasonable party, because I have yet to hear any other satellite or cable provider complain about the fees Versus wants. Why isn’t anyone complaining?

Versus is getting plenty of complaints from angry NHL fans. In an effort to placate me when I called to voice my unhappiness , I was offered $50 off the Center Ice Package that I pay for.

As for the NHL they are sitting on the sidelines and taking no stance in this affair. Rather than fight for their fans, they issue empty platitudes about how Directv and Versus are important partners to the league. This dispute is clear proof of how dumb this league was when they entered into a television contract with this third rate television channel. Fans and hockey commentators thought it was dumb after it was announced four years ago and it looks even more idiotic today.

Update- The $50 off offer has been withdrawn by Directv, in spite of me having an appointment for Dish TV to come over tomorrow and hook me up for their service. Directv apparently doesn’t value their long-time customers. I’m bolting after being with them for 8 years. They can also count on me bad mouthing them from this day forward. I was very unhappy with them recently when I learned a Pay Per View movie I ordered was only available on one television set in my house even though I’m paying monthly charges for three receivers in the house.

Comcast came by and I do have Versus now.(My development has a cable deal with Comcast and up till recently EWTN wasn’t shown in English on Directv. My mother-in-law watches EWTN or Filipino Channels all day long) So I will be able to watch tomorrow’s season opener for the Florida Panthers from the comforts of home.

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U of Michigan bans all bags at next Saturday’s game

How many women will stay home Saturday rather than go without their purse? From AP-

Michigan is banning purses and all other bags from Michigan Stadium for security reasons, and the Pittsburgh Pirates are planning additional screening measures, too.

The University of Michigan said Wednesday it will require written permission from a medical professional before allowing any bags into the football stadium for Saturday’s game against Indiana.

Recent arrests in Colorado and New York related to a terrorism probe touched off a flurry of national security bulletins. Michigan said in a statement that “adjusting security measures is the prudent thing to do.”

School safety Deputy Chief Charlie Noffsinger said Michigan hasn’t received information on any specific threats but acted after consulting with federal officials.

The University can do what they want, but how much of our rights as citizens are we supposed to give up just for vague threats? I’ve all but stopped flying since 9-11. The last time I flew, my carry-ons were given extra scrutiny. When people feel the inconveniences outweigh the entertainment, they decide to stay home. I don’t blame them either.


Blacked-out NFL games to be available online

Of course there is a catch. From AP-

NFL fans whose local teams’ games are blacked out will be able to watch replays online for free — though not until after midnight.

The recession has left several teams in danger of having games blacked out this season. The league announced Thursday that home fans will be able to view the delayed broadcasts on for 72 hours, except during “Monday Night Football.”

A game is not aired in the home market if it does not sell out 72 hours in advance.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says the league understands the economy is limiting some fans from buying as many tickets as they had in the past.

Anyone who wants to defend the NFL’s blackout policy, could say team owners are hard put too in this rough economic time. That is why they contiune to stick to their decades old blackout policy.

I think that’s a bunch of baloney. Other professional sports leagues don’t blackout home games and are able to be profitable. The NFL should wake up and enter the 21st century. Stop screwing your fans, both at their stadiums where food and drink are the most ridiculous of prices, and those who want to watch the games at home.


U.S. Open Tennis officials issue twitter warning

The final grand slam event of 2009 begins next Monday. From AP-

Watch what you tweet.

That’s the message tennis authorities are delivering as the U.S. Open gets set to start Monday, telling players and their entourages to be careful about what they post on the social networking site Twitter.

Signs are being posted in the players’ lounge, locker rooms and referee’s office at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center with the header: “Important. Player Notice. Twitter Warning.”

The signs, written by the Tennis Integrity Unit, point out that Twitter messages could violate the sport’s anti-corruption rules.

“Many of you will have Twitter accounts in order for your fans to follow you and to become more engaged in you and the sport — and this is great,” the notices read. “However popular it is, it is important to warn you of some of the dangers posted by Twittering as it relates to the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program Rules.”

Sports leagues and governing bodies are paying close attention as more and more athletes turn to Twitter to reach fans directly; some NFL teams, for example, urged players not to use it. But tennis appears to be the first sport openly concerned about Twitter’s possible effect on gambling.

Based on stories like this and this, there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about gambling on tennis matches and the possibility the sport could have its integrity compromised. Inside information, like whether a player is nursing a minor injury, would be valuable to gamblers.

The signs at the U.S. Open say tweeting is not allowed on court during matches. They also warn about using Twitter away from the court, saying sending “certain sensitive information concerning your match or other matches and/or players should be avoided. Depending on the information sent out this could be determined as the passing of ‘inside information.”

The messages define that as “information about the likely participation or likely performance of a player in an event or concerning the weather, court conditions, status, outcome or any other aspect of an event which is known by a Covered Person and is not information in the public domain.”

The warnings say they apply to players, coaches, agents, family members and tournament staff.

Do Tennis authorities have the right to enforce twitter rules on anyone but players and tournament staff? Rather than setting rules on what and what can’t be tweeted, the sport is probably hoping people just be prudent about what they tweet.


For less than a dollar a day- New Mexico State asks fans for snack help

Send us your twinkies, M&Ms, etc. etc. From AP-

Calling all New Mexico State Aggies fans. Your team has the munchies and you can help.

In a twist on Little League moms lining up with after-game treats, New Mexico State’s budget-conscious football staff distributed an e-mail this week asking fans to donate after-practice or late-night snacks for hungry players.

It’s a consequence of the national economy, of course.

“It’s a decision we had to make with regard to our meals,” first-year coach DeWayne Walker said Thursday. “There are a lot of other areas where we have to make tough choices with how we’re going to spend our money.”

We have some starving 300 lb men with need for more nourishment. That sales pitch will go over real well. Apparently not…..

That was the bad news. The good news for Walker and his players has been the community’s response. The memo went out after the first day of practice, and six donors wasted no time before they ponied up.

We’re not talking about Cheetos here.

“It’s good stuff like trail mix or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” linebacker Jamar Cotton said. “We had a guy bring in a bunch of watermelons. That was great. The team was excited. It was like little kids getting lollipops.”

As the saying goes- There’s a sucker born every minute.


Beer may be banned at Univ. of Minnesota football games

What are fans supposed to cry over after a loss next season? From AP-

This fall’s eagerly awaited return of Minnesota football to campus after 27 years will feature nostalgia, pageantry and fresh air. But no beer.

University President Robert Bruininks is expected to recommend Friday that regents ban alcohol from the new TCF Bank Stadium following a dispute with state lawmakers.

“We know people will drink before they get to our games. We’re not naive,” Bruininks told The Associated Press on Thursday. “But we do think this is the best, most responsible way to manage our game days and to really make this a high-quality experience for our fans.”

Lawmakers and Gov. Tim Pawlenty had set conditions for a stadium liquor license, saying the school could sell alcohol stadium-wide or not at all. They also blocked the university from serving free alcohol to fans in premium seating areas, such as luxury boxes and club rooms.

Trying to enjoy a sporting event as some drunk makes a fool out of himself, always made me wish I had stayed home. In fact, I haven’t been to a major team sporting event in over a decade. Who needs drunks on top of high prices for food and parking and the cost of a ticket when you can just watch it on television?

By the time the Gophers host their first game Sept. 12, Bruininks said the university will have settled on a plan for keeping intoxicated people from entering the stadium and removing unruly fans who do get in.

Checking fans before game time would appear to be an impossible task unless you require 40,000 people to show up five hours early for the game. Does the University plan on doing breathalyzer tests at the gate?


Spectator Infiltrates Tiger Woods Press Conference for Autograph

What is the penalty for impersonating a member of the golf media? From Alex Miceli at Golf World:

In one of the best cases of chutzpah in modern media centers, a fan sneaked into Tiger Woods’ news conference Sunday after The Memorial and sat amongst the ink-stained wretches, two rows from Tiger, waiting for a chance to get a Woods autograph.

After 19 questions, the guy could wait no longer.

“Jack’s going to hate me for this,” the interloper said, standing. “Tiger, congratulations for winning The Memorial. I’m a normal person that snuck in here with a patron badge. I was just wondering if I could get an autograph.”

After a lot of stunned media looked at one another, Tiger snickered before red-faced security staff escorted the man out of the interview room.

Nicklaus was classic with his response.

“If he’s got that much guts, he can get it, right?”

And then the patron’s badge was passed up to Woods, who signed it and passed it back to security to deliver to the very gutsy patron.

Since he was so sucessful in the media room, if I was there I would have given the person a chance to impersonate Ron Sirak or Doug Ferguson. Who knows, they may have done a good job of reporting the tournament. Cue the sarcastic laughter.

From personal experience at the two tournaments I have blogged, the security person by the media room door was always the same. After the first day they would recognize me and not ask to see my credential.

At the ADT Championship, there were two ways of getting in the media center. The main entrance where a guard was, and a back entrance door alongside the interview room. This was next to a parking lot that was used by officials and tournament cars. All someone would have to do was walk past the signs warning not to go further (but didn’t have any guards around) and get to the interview room via the parking lot.

If the LPGA ever reads this post, they probably won’t appreciate my sharing these secrets. Well, I could have said something worse. Like what if a woman tried to impersonate….never mind. If you want to keep non media members out of the press area, all exits and entrances need to be covered.


Jewish NY Jet fans unhappy about 2009 NFL schedule

Oi Vei!

The New York Jets’ first two home games are against two of the AFC’s elite teams — the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans. A large segment of the team’s fans might not be able to attend the heavyweight matchups, however.

The Jets’ home opener against the Patriots is scheduled during Rosh Hashanah. The next week, the Jets host the Titans hours before Yom Kippur starts. The conflict with the two holiest holidays on the Jewish calendar may keep the team’s Jewish fans who observe the holidays from attending.

New York boasts the country’s largest Jewish population.

On Wednesday, the Jets called the NFL to complain about the scheduling conflict, according to the New York Daily News.

Howard Katz, who oversees the creation of the NFL schedule, took full responsiblity for the oversight.

“The Jets are hearing from their fans,” Katz, the NFL’s senior VP of broadcasting, told the newspaper. “There was miscommunication between the Jets and the NFL office, for which I take full responsibility. All we can continue to do is look and see if there is a solution to this.”

The Giants requested they play on the road on the two holidays. The Jets did the same, but the message didn’t get through to the league office, Katz told the newspaper.

Rosh Hashanah, which is the Jewish New Year, is observed in 2009 from sundown Sept. 18 (Friday) until sundown on Sept. 20 (Sunday). The Jets play the Patriots at 1 p.m. ET on Sept. 20.

Yom Kippur, which is the Jewish day of atonement, begins at sundown on Sept. 27. The Jets host the Titans at 4:15 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 27.

Is it too simple a solution to change the Sept 27 start time to 1 p.m. so the game won’t be in conflict with the Jewish holiday? Overall I’m in sympathy with the fans, for I grew up following the Jets(Oh those Al Woodall and Rich Caster days) and I have a Jewish brother-in-law.


Redskins Fan Steals Cowboys Flag, Gets Whomped Upside Head

According to a song popular in my youth, it is inadvisable to tug on Superman’s cape, spit into the wind, pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger, and mess around with Jim. We might need to expand that list:

A man who grabbed a Dallas Cowboys flag from a car in downtown Washington [D.C.] was punched in the face yesterday, startling passersby in an area that is home to lawyers, lobbyists and expensive shops and restaurants.


One witness said she saw a “big tall man walk up to this guy and hit him across the head.” Then, she said, the tall man “got back in his car and drove off.” She said that the motorist “just hit the man and walked off” and that he picked up an object from the ground, which might have been the flag.

The man who was hit fell and struck his head on the sidewalk, she said. Ringed by the concerned and the curious, the man lay facedown on the pavement.” He was out cold for a good five minutes or so,” the witness said. Police said a man was taken from the scene for treatment of a bruised forehead.

Thus endeth the lesson.

via Tim MacMahon. Crossposted from OTB.


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