The National Football League just got religion on domestic violence.
Well, they got Reform Episcopalianism, anyway.
The new Post-Ray Rice rule: Up to six games for a first-time conviction or plea bargain, up to a lifetime ban for the second. That seems like more of a message than the one-game suspension and the one-game paid vacation Rice got, and belated credit to Rog The Impaler for taking a hit because of his tin ear, but it actually isn’t much different than the old guidelines, which still rely heavily on “mitigating factors” decided by Rog Himself.
In other words, he could have given Ray Rice six games before this but chose not to, which is what he can do now. The difference is, he acknowledged that when he did what he did, he looked perfectly awful.
That is the accomplishment of the day.
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Ed Hochuli is not just a bicep with feet. He's also a subversive bugger, as his call after the coin toss before Seahawks-Raiders Thursday proved:
"Los Angeles has won the toss." Yes, Los Angeles. Mark Davis' ears perked up like he was a beagle on crank.
However, Hochuli stopped short of finishing the sentence with, "And elects to take San Diego and Saint Louis instead. Raiders, you are what we at the league office called totally hosed."
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Now let’s move on two more crises that may make you reach for that bottle a little earlier than your normal time of “after the day’s first staff meeting with that steaming jackass in Quality Control.”
One, the Fermi National Laboratory Accelerator is beginning to examine the possibility that the universe is actually not a multi-dimensional and ever-expanding thing as Morgan Freeman told us it is, but a two-dimensional hologram, as posited as far back as 2003 by something called Philosophical Quarterly -– the Sports Illustrated for people who never go outside, ever.
If so, it means that whatever supreme being or beings in charge of this stuff actually chose to go cheap on the creation of the universe, because even in the ethereal realm, a billboard is less expensive than infinity. This makes corporate quarter-strangling deskbounds dance down the hallway sing whatever their version “I Am 16 Going On 17” is.
“We told you God believes in a budget,” they will caterwaul, and now if you kill them in defense of office harmony, you’ll be on the wrong side of science.
You’ll still feel good about it, I assure you, but still, damn it.
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The other is far more depressing.
It turns out, as part of a celebration of 40 years of Hello Kitty, that Hello Kitty is not in fact a cat, but an expressionless, melanin-starved British girl named Kitty White who (and what fresh hell is this?) is a Scorpio, has parents and a twin sister and HER OWN FREAKING CAT NAMED CHARMMY KITTY.
Next, they’ll be telling us that Clayton Kershaw is a pixie who works for EasterBunny.com, that Stephen Curry is a unicorn plush, and that Johnny Manziel is actually a Capuchin monk and that he sends a doppelganger out at night to teach young women the perils of sin.
And at that point, we as a planet must all give up and face our doom with flat-faced resignation because nothing will be real.
Not even hockey in Las Vegas. Crap.
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But we still have stupid, there’s always that. First, though, the smart part.
Thomas Smith, a former Boston Junior A hockey player who was paralyzed twice in hockey accidents in six years, has come up with something called a “look-out line,” which is a 40-inch orange lane at the edge of every hockey rink that serves as a warning track for players heading toward the boards.
Brilliant idea, right? Plus, rather than make springier boards that cost $75K to $100K, the look-out line takes seven gallons of paint and costs maybe $500, including labor. It’s got everything we want in out two-dimensional Hello- Kitty-isn’t-a-cat world – cheap common sense.
And the stupid part? USA Hockey wants “to study it.”
“We are interested in any idea that can improve the health and safety of our hockey community, and this is a very intriguing safety measure,” said Michael Stuart, USA Hockey's chief medical officer. “The way to look at it is: It may seem ingenious, but we need to study it to demonstrate it is actually effective.”
No, Doctor Overthink, the way to look at it is, “If you do this, what is the potential harm in painting a look-out line anyway? And if it doesn’t actually reduce injuries, can you show that it creates more?”
And if so, how is that different than the mesmerizing eye-of-the-hurricane logo in Carolina? Does that hypnotize players? Are they mesmerized by the cranky Senator in Ottawa? Does the Shark in San Jose needlessly distract and put other players in harm’s way?
And if, so why doesn’t it work in the playoffs?
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Stadium caterer Centerplate announced that it is forcing Desmond Hague to donate $100,000 to form a charity called the Sade Foundation “in honor of the dog he mistreated in the elevator,” as well as do 1,000 hours of community service with an animal welfare group. Fine, I guess, though the dog he mistreated in the elevator probably wishes it had opposable thumbs to prepare a civil suit.
But this: I fully expect there to be no greater level of forgiveness for Hague than for Michael Vick, who actually did jail time and since his release has been something of an exemplar for animal causes, from PETA on down. After all, “never forget” has to mean “never forget.”
And if you choose to forgive Hague, you’d better have already forgiven Vick as well, or you’ll have some pretty unsettling questions for you, my friend.
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Navy’s bold foray into uniform design has each player’s rank on the shoulder, thus opening up the possibility that anyone who misses a block in the Air Force game can be tried for mutiny. In the old days when there was this, even a pick six only got you a lecture from someone at the Annapolis Grange hall.
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David Rappoccio of The Draw Play via Kissing Suzy Kolber has seized upon the Josh Gordon suspension to help the NFL along with the marketing campaign it will surely need when it decided to institutionally look the other way on pot -– most likely, when an owner gets caught with some.
As always, send your angry complaints to him, via He’s Not Here And I’m Just The Conduit So Don’t Blame Me.
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Tim Tessalone is the longtime sports information director at the University of Southern California. We mention this only because if you hear about an official from a western university hitting himself in the forehead with a hammer, you should know who it is.
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The new MLS stadium planned for Las Vegas in which the city is on the hook for 41 percent of the cost is, well, a bit of a fib. Alan Snel of the Las Vegas Review Journal has fgotten his grubby little mitts of the stadium term sheet, and lo and behold, the numbers are wrong. The city is on the hook for 75 percent of the stadium.
And this is one more reason why you should hate team owners and local politicians. They can’t even wait a decent interval before their press releases and pronouncement are exposed as the prosciutto-thin tissue of nonsense they always seem to be.
Hey, someone’s got to fight for your tax money, damn it, so it might as well be me. By the way, the Ray Ratto Library, Children’s Hospital and Dry Cleaner is still taking donations via GoogleDonate, Razoo, FirstGiving and Kickstarter. Because if you’ll bite on a stadium, you’ll bite on anything.
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And finally, the good folks at DC Sports Bog have given us news of the University of Maryland’s contribution to belt strain -– a 1.5-pound crab-and-cheese-laden soft pretzel called "the Chessie." Oh, and the weight does not include the ladling of canned crab and cheese, so we’re talking a good couple of pounds of hard eatin’ for a mere $17.50.
Shovel and restroom map of Byrd Stadium optional.