Saturday, June 19, 2010

Strict Fitness Standards for Soccer Referees are the Rule at the FIFA World Cup

We have been criticizing some of the terrible refereeing seen at the currently ongoing World Cup, but to be fair to the referees, one also has to refer to this excellent article by Madison Park of CNN on World Cup referees outrun players, which outlines the strict fitness standards that referees have to meet to blow the whistle at the highest level of soccer competition.

2010 FIFA World Cup: Mali Referee Under Review After Blown Call | Bleacher Report

The series of badly refereed games continues at the World Cup as the USA was robbed of a win by a FIFA referee's erroneous failure to allow a goal. See 2010 FIFA World Cup: Mali Referee Under Review After Blown Call | Bleacher Report

Friday, June 18, 2010

Guardian's SportBlog Asks "Anyone for Netball?" in Criticizing Germany-Serbia Game Referee at the World Cup in South Africa

David Hytner at the Guardian's SportBlog asks the right question about the German loss to Serbia at the World Cup, "Anyone for netball?", in strongly and correctly criticizing the hopeless referee in that game, who in our opinion should return to sociology and leave football refereeing to those who are competent at the task. Comment on Germany-Serbia referee

At the Shourin Roy writes that the referee:
".... has called every contact as a foul. This is just awful."
Yes, it was. This was surely the worst refereed game we have seen in many years.

Germany-Serbia Referee described in 2009 in one dispatch from the Stadio delle Alpi as "a referee so far out of his depth he was drowning"

See England v Croatia: inexperienced official must get the balance right at Wembley - Telegraph

Live Commentary Coverage of the World Cup Game of Germany vs. Serbia at BBC

Live commentary coverage of the World Cup game of Germany vs. Serbia at BBC Sport - Football. Definitely worth a read.

Germany vs. Serbia at the WorldCup : Referee Destroying Match

Germany vs Serbia: Miroslav Klose sent off -
"The referee ... is destroying the match"

German-Serbian Game Ruined by Middle-Point Seeking Spanish FIFA Referee

Another FIFA World Cup referee fails as a judge as the Spanish referee in the German-Serbian game obviously came into game to show that he was the most important man in the match, quickly moving himself by his actions and behavior into the middle-point of things with several early totally unnecessary yellow cards and then making a totally unnecessary yellow-red card call on Germany's striker, Miroslav Klose, for an insignificant foul, reducing the Germans to 10 players already before halftime. Strikers are themselves the most fouled players in the game and pulling a red card on a striker is just ludicrous.

Poorly prepared middle-point seeking referees such as this add a totally unnecessary element of uncertainty into the game so that players no longer know what they can do and what they can not do in a game being forced to play overly cautiously to please the referee, and the entire game suffers.

Germany suffered a goal by Serbia immediately after the red card, a goal which can be attributed to the referee and a team obviously in shock for having its striker being thrown out before the 40-minute mark for nothing. Other players then hold black in play to avoid being thrown out because of poor refereeing.

The grade for this referee is a zero.

We do not understand why the FIFA is unable to train its referees not to ruin football matches by their middle-point seeking behavior, which they do by pulling yellow cards as fast as they can at the beginning of a game or by pulling red cards just to show that "they" are the boss. Terrible.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

FIFA Drops the Ball in South Africa: World Cup Tarnished by Questionable and Unnecessary Referee Call Against the Home Team in a Game against Uruguay, Ousting the South African Goalkeeper Unnecessarily

Stupidity remains the world's most common commodity and today it can be said to be in the hands of FIFA, the body that runs the World Cup, for putting a referee in charge of the match between South Africa and Uruguay who has a history of pulling the red card in key games, and he did it again in the Urus 3-0 win, failing to note a possible Uru offside position and a theatrical fall by an allegedly fouled player, and instead calling for a Uru penalty kick and ousting the home team goalkeeper, totally unnecessarily.

It would seem that the FIFA should school its referees in tournaments such as these not to alienate the home country by stupid refereeing. Home team goalkeepers should be ousted only in cases where the foul is so flagrant as to be acknowledged by all. Here, the foul was minor and was even preceded by a likely offsides that the referee did not call. A refereeing disaster.

South Africa was behind 1-0 after a lucky deflected goal by the Urus and the home country team was doing its best to catch up in a courageous performance against a defensively-oriented Uruguay team trying to protect its lead. The game was proceeding well on course and although it may be likely that the Urus may have won anyway, the game was gifted to them by the referees, alienating the public of the home nation. As written already at the Wikipedia:
"Towards the end of the match, [the referee] made a very questionable call which gave South Africa's goalkeeper a Red Card and awarded Uruguay a penalty shot. The replay showed very minor contact between the South African goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune and Luis Alberto Suárez as well as the Uruguayan player being offside [disputed, but definitely possible]. Commentators have heavily criticized the referee's decision as being unreasonably harsh and influenced by Suárez' embellished dive after only minor contact."
One of the main jobs of the FIFA is to see to it that games are not decided by its referees but rather by the players on the field. Referees should be instructed that red cards can be given only in CLEAR cases, and not otherwise, to avoid alienating the public unnecessarily. This was certainly NOT a clear case. Quite the contrary, the questionable nature of the call and its immediate disastrous effect on the game still underway did nothing other than to alienate the South African public, upon whose good will the progress of the rest of the World Cup depends.

The best referees are those whose influence on the game is the LEAST, not the most.

The only people who today deserve the red card are the people at the FIFA. Let us hope that the rest of the games are not played in empty stadiums -- which, frankly -- the FIFA would deserve.

Update: the entire scandal was foreseeable as this review of the referee shows

So long folks... A historical look at what Nebraska is leaving behind. - Corn Nation

So long folks... A historical look at what Nebraska is leaving behind. - Corn Nation

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Nebraska Joins Big 10 Effective July 1, 2011

Nebraska wins approval to join Big Ten in 2011 | Philadelphia Daily News | 06/12/2010:2
"The move is effective July 1, 2011, with competition to begin in all sports for the 2011-12 academic year. It marks the conference's first expansion since the addition of Penn State in 1990. It increases Big Ten membership to 12 schools."

The Associated Press: Nebraska, Boise move on; Big 12 tries to hang on

The Associated Press: Nebraska, Boise move on; Big 12 tries to hang on

The Huskers are leaving the Big 12 Conference and are off to the Big 10, Boise State moves from the weaker Western Athletic Conference to the strong Mountain West Conference, and the likelihood that the Big 12 will survive the exit of more teams - which is a near certainty - is next to zero.

Since my better half is an undergraduate from the University of Michigan and since I myself am a Husker grad as an undergraduate, we can now say "it is all in the family", whatever the new name of the Big 10 Conference will turn out to be.

The Vuvuzela Conquers the Soccer (Association Football) World at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa

The vuvuzela - a plastic horn "invented" -- but not patented -- by Cape Town's own Neil van Schalkwyk based on similar tin horns previously used by football fans in South Africa - has become so popular around the world as a symbol of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, that it will probably be the thing most remembered about this association football (soccer) world championship years down the road. Kids in our neighborhood already have one of these things and takes getting used to a horn which blares out in jet plane loudness like a full-grown elephant.

The vuvuzela has become so popular "that a major South African brewer took steps to register the design as a trademark to protect its inventor, Neil van Schalkwyk."

See Alexandra Hudson, Reuters Africa, Vuvuzela inventor says it's no sin to make a din

See also:

David Smith at the Guardian, 2010 World Cup: A brief history of the vuvuzela : Turn down the volume, shove in the earplugs, for a raucous horn is threatening viewers' sanity during the World Cup
who writes:
"TV crews seeking "local colour" are likely to settle on fans not only blowing vuvuzelas but also wearing bright facepaint and wigs, the yellow shirt of the national team, Bafana Bafana, a pair of oversized spectacles and, in some cases, traditional Zulu animal skins with shield and spear.
The most popular match-day headgear is the makarapa, a variation on the miner's helmet, an icon in mining cities such as Johannesburg, topped by elaborate decorations and images in bright colours. Its inventor, Alfred Baloyi, started making them 30 years ago in a tiny shack in a township and is now running his own studio producing a hundred a day with the help of companies such as Coca-Cola."
Can there be any doubt that this World Cup is in Africa, the land of all of our forefathers.

Now where did I put that leopard skin....

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Big 12 blew it by eschewing playoff - College Football -

Dan Wetzel takes off on the BCS, money, playoffs, and the college football conference expansion viz. destruction muddle. See Big 12 blew it by eschewing playoff - College Football -

USA Set to Win FIFA World Cup in South Africa

The U.S. soccer team (association football) stunned the world last year by beating the world's top-ranked team, Spain, 2-0 in the semifinals of the Confederations Cup, and then lost in the finals to Brazil 3-2 after LEADING at halftime 2-0.

We give the U.S. team every chance of winning the FIFA World Cup.

For the team page at the FIFA see - USA on

Friday, June 04, 2010

Armando Galarraga Throws a Perfect Game, but Umpire Joyce Blows a Clear Out Call at First Base with 26 Batters Down : Video Proof : Baseball Commissioner Lets Decision Stand

Two down, one to go in the 9th inning of a game between the Cleveland Indians and the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Armando Galarraga on the mound has thus far thrown a perfect game for the Tigers. Are the umpires ready? The ball heads for the plate. Strike 1. The next pitch is low. Ball 1. On the next pitch Jason Donald hits a slow grounder into the hole between first base and second base. It is fielded by the first baseman Miguel Cabrera who throws it to first base, where Galarraga, covering first base, catches the ball one split step ahead of Donald. OUT!

Wait a minute!The umpire at 1st base, Jim Joyce, calls the runner SAFE! Is the man blind, or is the mustachioed umpire subconsciously seeking a place in the history books?

Umpires are a colorful element of baseball, but they do not always get the calls right, as the video below proves -- unequivocally. This may go down as the worst blown call in the history of baseball, costing Armando Galarraga a legitimate perfect game. On the other hand, perhaps because of this judging error, it will remain the best known perfect game that never was. Life, as they say, is neither fair nor just, and much is often dependent on how other people see it, rightly or wrongly.The lesson here for judges in the courts is that when the chips are down, pay attention, be alert and don't drop the ball! Joyce -- dropped it. (We are thinking here of Bilski).

Update: Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig is letting the umpire's decision stand

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The SCOTUS Whiz Kids? The Supreme Court Lineup Has its Eyes on the Ball, Baseball That Is - Matching the SCOTUS Justices with their Positions

Adam Liptak at the New York Times Sidebar notes in This Bench Belongs in a Dugout that the United States Supreme Court has a lineup that is packed with baseball fans, and will be even more so if Elena Kagan is confirmed to the Court, but perhaps this is not surprising, for as Liptak notes:
"There have been more references to baseball in federal and state judicial opinions over the last century or so than to any other sport, though golf is a surprisingly close second."
Here is how LawPundit would position the current Supreme Court Justices and Elena Kagan, "the Justice in waiting" on the baseball field (together with links to baseball players that could be seen as "distantly" related, either by name, fame, inclination, position or, perhaps, not at all):
  • On the mound, pitching - Chief Justice John Glover Roberts, Jr. With that middle name, Roberts is obviously a great fielding pitcher and he has a namesake in Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts who led the "Whiz Kids" to the pennant in 1950. Can the same be said for SCOTUS in 2010? Bilski still awaits us.
  • Behind the plate, catching - Justice Antonin Gregory Scalia. He might be compared with Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra who was famed for quips like "It ain't over 'til its over" to which Scalia might retort "If it's original, it's original".

  • At 1st base - Justice Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr. who might be compared to José Alberto Pujols Alcántara, i.e. Albert Pujols, the "most feared" right-handed batter in baseball. Alito has been viewed as a "hard right" conservative on the Supreme Court. According to the Wikipedia, players at first base do not require the range of other players but obtain the most assists, also being covered defensively at 1st base by the pitcher, in this case, the Chief Justice.
  • At 2nd base - Justice Stephen Gerald Breyer is the intellectual pragmatist on the Supreme Court. Similarly, the 2nd baseman in baseball has to be very smart to be a good player. writes: "Playing second base on a baseball team requires the player to be quick, sure handed and very smart about the game of baseball and the different situations that develop during the course of a game." Famous second basemen were Jackie Robinson and Rogers Hornsby.
  • At 3rd base - Justice Clarence Thomas. As written at Supreme Court Watch at the Online NewsHour by Maureen Hoch: "While on the high court, Thomas has been a solid member of the far right wing bloc" and this is the furthest right infield position, seen from his perspective. Fewer hall of famers come from 3rd base than any other position. As Coach Baseball writes: "The tendency at third base will be for the player to want to stand directly beside the bag." Famous 3rd basemen were Mike Schmidt and Brooks Robinson.
  • At Shortstop - Coach Baseball writes: "Shortstop is the most active position of the infield so it is a key defensive position.". As written at the Wikipedia, "Shortstop is often regarded as the most dynamic defensive position in baseball, because there are more right-handed hitters in baseball than left-handed hitters, and most hitters have a tendency to pull the ball slightly, so more balls go to the shortstop than any other position." Here we place the currently retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, who has up to now led the left wing of the Court against all the right-handed hitters. Justice Stevens was 12 years old in the year 1932 and was a spectator at the Wrigley Field baseball game in which Babe Ruth called his famous home run shot. Stevens will be replaced by "Justice in waiting" Elena Kagan, who was already called "Shorty" as a U.S. Supreme Court clerk by Justice Thurgood Marshall. She will have to continue in leading the liberal wing where Stevens leaves off. Famous shortstops were Cal Ripken, Jr., Ernie Banks and Honus Wagner.

  • In Left Field - Justice Ruth Joan Bader Ginsburg. Left fielders tend to have the weakest arms in the outfield because they do not need to throw as far to keep runners from advancing a base. However, they also have to field more balls from right-handed hitters than other outfield positions.Ted Williams was a famous left fielder.
  • In Center Field - Justice Anthony McLeod Kennedy is the "swing Justice" between the left-leaning and the right-leaning factions on the Supreme Court and just as a center fielder in baseball, Kennedy must cover the greatest distance in the course of his play. Talent at this position can lead to greatness. Famous players such as Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Willy Mays, Duke Snider and Tris Speaker were center fielders.
  • In Right Field - Justice Sonia Maria Sotomayor, as the Wikipedia writes: "In 1995, she issued a preliminary injunction against Major League Baseball which ended the 1994 baseball strike,"  thus already insuring Justice Sotomayor's place in baseball's unofficial Hall of Fame. As the Wikipedia writes: "Of all outfield positions, the right fielder often has the strongest arm, because they are the farthest from third base." In the Little Leagues the right fielder is viewed as a position for weaker players because the hitters are mostly right-handed and pull the ball into left field. In the major leagues, that assessment changes, and some of the greatest baseball players of all time played right field, including Babe RuthHenry "Hank" Aaron and Roger Maris.  A position for the home run hitters.
Play ball!

Crossposted from the LawPundit.

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