Your morning roundup for June 21, the day we literally flushed money down the toilet. (Video h/t Disco Choo, and pay attention to Geovany Soto's face)
What we watched: The sudden, messy end to Jack Warner's run as FIFA vice president and CONCACAF president. The 68-year-old, who also serves as minister of works and transport in his native Trinidad and Tobago, resigned from his FIFA and CONCACAF posts yesterday amidst an investigation into a $1 million bribery scheme and charges that he'd tried to fix the FIFA presidential election on June 1 — which ended up fixed, anyway. It's nice, at first, to consider the move to be some kind of turning point for FIFA, which has always run on corruption instead of despite it — but it's clear that the investigation into Warner's dealings only took off because it so clearly threatened Sepp Blatter's career.
At a CONCACAF meeting in Trinidad and Tobago on May 10, Warner allegedly offered $40,000 to Caribbean soccer officials "on behalf of" Qatar's Mohamed bin Hammam to earn their votes in the June 1 election. Blatter went on to win unopposed, and FIFA continues to protect itself against any truly damning revelations: the organization, claiming lack of jurisdiction now that Warner is no longer a member, dropped its ethics inquiry as soon as he resigned and said in a statement that "the presumption of innocence was maintained." Which all makes it fairly easy to presume that in this traveling shit show, we can maintain that no one is innocent. (Emma Carmichael)
What we're watching: If you're a fan of college football scandals (and we're on the record as very much enjoying them), Oregon's shady recruiting business has been upgraded to DEFCON 2. NCAA invstigators have been poking around Willie Lyles, who "scouts" prep players. The Ducks paid him $25,000 last year, the same year touted prospect Lache Seastrunk chose to attend UO. This payment was on the Ducks' books, and was ostensibly for the information and video footage Lyles provided on various recruits. But the Oregonian got their hands on the informational packet Oregon received for their money, and it's getting harder to pretend that it's worth 25 grand.
The first clue that something's up with the "2010 National High School Evaluation Booklet" is that it's actually supposed to be about 2011 High School Graduates. The second clue is that inside the book, the vast majority of the prospect profiles actually graduated in 2009. Yes, the information purchased by Oregon is two years out of date and completely useless and it cost them $25,000, which is a bad deal unless it includes Lache Seastrunk, in which case it's a very very good deal.
Oregon's defense has been their stupidity: we assumed they weren't doing anything wrong because they would go to greater lengths to hide it if they were. But no, it's looking like an old fashioned recruiting scandal, and they're only getting caught because they failed to cover it up. If the NCAA comes down hard on Oregon, it'll only be because they didn't do their part to keep up the farce of college football. (Barry Petchesky)
You may have a favorite, but there's no favorite: "More often than not these days, Ivanovic is baffling. Few top players unravel so spectacularly (in Miami a few months ago, she was up 5-1, 40-0 in the third set before losing to second-ranked Kim Clijsters) or lose in the first round of majors so persistently. Three years ago, she was the no. 1 player in the world. A year ago, she ranked 65th. Today, she's officially no. 18, but the rank is more or less meaningless. She is among the most talented players on tour, but one of her talents seems to be squandering her chances. This volatility makes her interesting, at least to me. The unwinnable battle between psychology and skill is one of the most compelling reasons to watch tennis. A tennis court, after all, is the ideal arena for a clear look into the athlete mind. A player can't ask for help. She is alone inside the cage of those white lines. She can't even touch her opponent; she can only strike the ball. This compressed space makes for fascinating head cases. Ivanovic is special, even in the suddenly manic world of women's tennis. Watching her makes me want to pull out my own racket and smash it on her behalf." [Grantland]
What to do when your kid is a bandwagon fan: "Another complication is that my son likes to win and likes teams that win. Last summer's World Cup was the first major sporting event that he kept up with like a fan. We reenacted it daily, one on one. He played as the U.S. until they lost to Ghana, and the U.S. became my role for a few days, until Ghana lost to Uruguay. Now he is Spain when we play soccer and I must be the Netherlands, and I expect this will continue until 2014. Likewise, he noticed that the Yankees made the post-season last year and have been fighting for first place in the AL East, while the Mets fizzled in 2010 and are struggling to break .500. Rooting for a losing team has been character-building, or so I tell myself, but identifying with winners must have psychological benefits, too. And one father I know pointed out that life is hard enough without having to root for a bad team. Most friends say, however, that I'm not doing enough to steer my son toward the Mets. One of them, a Yankees fan whose bank-card PIN commemorates Bucky Dent's home run in the one-game playoff against the Red Sox, called my ambivalence an abrogation of my paternal responsibilities, a form of negligence that was almost criminal." [The New Yorker]
Sad face: "Comedy Central has declined to renew ‘Sports Show with Norm Macdonald' for a second season. Featuring the former ‘Saturday Night Live' performer, ‘Sports Show' reached just below a million overall viewers in its most recent airing (June 7), after pulling in 1.0 million viewers for its Apr. 12 premiere. [Variety]
Ah, the days of Plato's Retreat: "Only weeks before, Marilyn had spoken with Allen's wife, asking her how many times a week it was normal to have sex. The implication was that Fritz was a somewhat reluctant bedroom partner, at least as far as Marilyn was concerned. As Allen later wrote in his book All Roads Lead to October, Susanne Kekich, whom he describes as 'a tall brunette—athletic-looking and aggressive,' seemed to be 'competing' with Marilyn for Fritz's attention. Hours later, Allen and his wife heard the Kekiches and Petersons still in the driveway, supposedly discussing the fine points of the swap. As dawn approached, the two couples, now realigned, went off in separate cars, agreeing to meet at an all-night diner in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Fritz and Susanne had already finished eating breakfast when Marilyn and Mike arrived, two hours later." [New York Magazine]
That Boise State kicker is going to play in the AFL: Of course he is. [KSL.com]
Sebastian Pruiti may know more about Ricky Rubio than David Kahn: "Rubio isn't just a ball hawk though, as the numbers show he is a very good on the ball defender as well. Teams have tried to use pick and rolls to get an advantage on Rubio, running him off of ball screens 48.9% of the time, but Rubio has done a good job defending off of screens. Rubio's opponents coming off of ball screens shoot 36.9% from the field while posting a PPP of just 0.683 (top 31 percentile) while forcing turnovers 25.4% of the time." [NBA Playbook]
Freestyle canoe interlude, featuring cousin from the wrong side of the tracks, freestyle kayak:
It's all that fresh air and magic underwear: "Some softball sluggers in Lehi, Utah, apparently don't know their own strength. City leaders have shut down the city men's softball league due to balls being hit out of Veterans Park, damaging property and striking moving vehicles." [KSL]
We are all Dave McKenna CXXXVII: Here's your daily link to Dave McKenna's brilliant "Cranky Redskins Fan's Guide to Dan Snyder," which we'll be posting every day until Snyder's nuisance lawsuit goes the way of the Geo Metro.
Tim Duncan watches the only man less funny than Tim Duncan: "At the Jabbawockeez show Friday at the Monte Carlo : 'Transformers' actor Anthony Anderson and San Antonio Spurs star Tim Duncan in separate parties. Earlier in the week, Duncan checked out Carrot Top's show at Luxor." [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
Joe Torre claims another arm: "Let's be clear, though: Wade says he doesn't blame Torre for the path his career took after his sensational rookie season. But he also doesn't run from questions about cause and effect.
‘I'm sure there was some correlation,' he said. ‘Looking back, I know now there are times you can't be a hero. If you're tired, that one extra day might be better for the team and for yourself. By always saying OK when you might not be, all of a sudden something can become a major issue, and you're looking at two weeks, a month, or even a year, like it cost me.'"[Daily News]
Student-athletes can and do get paid in the NCAA: "The valedictorian of his class at Rocky Mountain High School in Byron, Wyo., he was a two-time state wrestling champion and a national champion in high school rodeo. However, he may not have gone to Vernon, a two-year college in Texas, if the opportunity to make money was not there. Unlike basketball stars like Kobe Bryant or LeBron James, who went to the N.B.A. directly out of high school, Vezain did not have to make the choice between attending college and being a professional." [NY Times]
Badminton World Federation delays mandatory skirt rule: "A new Badminton World Federation (BWF) code had required all female players to wear skirts or dresses in major tournaments in order to "to ensure attractive presentation of badminton," but the rule has not been implemented after an outcry. This week's Singapore Open had been slated as the first tournament to implement the rule, but marketing manager for the BWF's Super Series S. Selvam said a decision was in limbo." [China Daily]