Friday, November 28, 2014

Mickey Rourke on Boxing

At age 62, Mickey Rourke revived his boxing career by taking to the ring against an American boxer in Moscow.

This is not a new, one-time stunt to draw attention to a flagging acting career.  Prior to becoming an actor, Rourke had accrued a record of 27 wins (17 by knockout) and three defeats between 1964-1973.

In 1991, when Rourke felt as if he was self-destructing and had no respect for himself as an actor, he went back to boxing.  In eight fights, Rourke went undefeated with six wins (four by knockout) and two draws. 

 These victories did not come without physical and mental costs to Rourke, as he suffered from a broken nose, toe, ribs, a split tongue and compressed cheekbones. Some deem Rourke's  reconstructive facial surgery to have left him "appallingly disfigured".  Rourke himself admitted that he had gone to the "wrong guy" for the reconstructive surgery and that his his plastic surgeon left his features "a mess".  Moreover, Rourke has suffered some short term memory loss.

Post Scriptus 11/29/2014:  Rouke won his match against 29 year old American pugilist Elliot Seymour.   However, critics claim that Rourke's fight against an opponent 33 years his junior was fixed and was more of a P.R. stunt. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bono's Cycling Spill--Bad

The legendary rock band U-2 was scheduled to take a week-long residency on the NBC Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to promote their new album "Songs of Innocence"  (2014).   But  U-2 was a no show as frontman Bono Vox was in a "high energy" bicycling accident in Central Park on a Sunday Bloody Sunday.   

Fallon and the Roots tried to compensate for U-2's absence with a dead-on impersonation of their 1988 hit "Desire". 

Alas, Bono's injuries were more serious than initially thought.  Dr. Dean Lorich, an Orthopedic Trauma Surgeon at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell's Emergency Department, revealed that Bono broke his right arm in six places as well as injuring his left hand, fracturing an eye socket and a shoulder blade.  The spill was so bad that bone protruded through the skin on his arm. 

The arm fracture required a five hour operation and involved three metal plates and 18 screws. While Bono is expected to make a full recovery, it will take some intense and progressive therapy to do so.

It is believed that Bono's accident occurred as he swerved to avoid another cyclist and he fell over.  The NYPD has been cracking down on cyclists over the last couple of years for traffic violations in Central Park. Street cyclists have a reputation for running red lights and wearing headphones while on the roadways.  Bono's crash is a reminder why these rules matter, even in Central Park.

While cycling fans look to stars like Lance Armstrong or Jens Voigt for inspiration, many participate in the sport with their own "high-energy" rides.  Bono's Central Park "spill" is a reminder that the recreation is not without its risks as well as its rewards.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Jose Canseco Offers the Finger to the Public

Jose Canseco, the controversial former American League slugger, once again has created headlines.  Last month, the 50 year old Canseco shot his middle finger off as he was cleaning his 45 caliber Remington. Canseco appeared emotional over the accident in an interview with Inside Edition.

Canseco had the digit surgically re-attached. But during a poker tournament, Canseco's finger fell off as he was tossing his cards on the table.   Rather than wallow in tragedy, Canseco adopted a farcical entrepreneurial tact.

Canseco took to Twitter to auction off his severed middle finger along with the firearm.  Of course, E-Bay does not allow auctions of firearms or body parts, but Canseco's auction offering is telling.

Canseco must be hard up for cash and attention if he is auctioning off his middle finger.  Of course,  Canseco's two divorces cost him $8 million a piece.  After his 17 year MLB baseball career with eight American League baseball clubs (primarily with the Oakland Athletics), Canseco was resigned to play Independent Baseball.  Later, he resorted to a short lived Mixed Martial Arts career and then doing Celebrity Boxing, notably fighting to a draw with Danny Bonaduce.

Canseco will be remembered for his tell all book Juiced: Wild Times, Rampaging 'Roids Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big (2005).  Canseco's admission to taking steroids helped prompt Congressional hearing in 2010.

In his controversial public life, Canseco has been a target for criticism, hence his quote about being criticized for anything that he does.  But publicly suggesting that a blown off middle finger could be bought in an auction as a drink stir seems more than a bit out there.

Even though Canseco's 462 home runs puts him 32nd of the list for all time Home Run list and his four Silver Slugger awards, Canseco only garnered 6 Votes for the Hall of Fame in 2007, which means that Canseco is only eligible for admission through the Committee of Baseball Veterans.  By offering his middle finger to the public via E-Bay, one suspect that Canseco may wait as longer than banned MLB great Pete Rose for admission to Cooperstown.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Grover Norquist on Home Ice Tax Disadvantage

Home Ice TaxDisadvantage is a joint study by the Canadian Taxpayers Foundation and the Americans for Tax Reform which studied the impact of taxes upon labor mobility by focusing on the 123 unrestricted NHL free agents during the 2014 off-season. The study accounted for the team salary spending, the personal tax rate and the "True Cap" which took into consideration these rates.

 Home Ice Tax Disadvantage discovered that 57% of the players who switched teams during that time period chose to migrate to lower tax jurisdictions. The 78 free agents who switched teams, cumulatively saved $7,951,784 in taxes. These choices are more marked when considering particular players' circumstances.

For example, Benoit Pouliot was moved from the New York Rangers to the Edmonton Oilers. Had Pouliot been offered the same deal in New York City, he would have paid $572,752 more in taxes. Jason Spezza had a no trade clause in his contract, which aided him when he moved from the Ottawa Senators to the Dallas Stars, where he now only pays $349,535 in taxes.  Yet P.A. Parenteau did not have a no-trade clause so when he moved from the Colorado Avalanche to the Montreal Canadiens, it cost him $349,352 in taxes to play for the 'Habs.  

Alberta had the lowest jurisdictional tax rate, so players for the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers only paid 38.5% in taxes.  Alberta's overall tax rate was lower than Southern U.S. states like Florida, Texas and Tennessee which boast no state income taxes.  The Los Angeles Kings pay the highest overall amount in taxes, forking over $27.8 million to Uncle Sam and $8.5 million to the state of California.  The Montreal Canadien players face the highest tax rate of 58.5%. 

As CTF Director of Research Jeff Bowes, who authored Home Ice Tax Disadvantage, put it:  

“The numbers don’t lie; NHL players take a financial hit to play in certain jurisdictions.  Obviously, there are other factors at play besides taxes, but the fact remains that disparities in tax rates leave some teams at a major disadvantage.”

The point of the study was not to study comparative advantage in the NHL or to stoke up class envy but to suggest that high tax jurisdictions are alienating skilled workers such as doctors, engineers or corporate executives  with onerous progressive taxation and prompting them to vote with their feet.  The ever increasing tax rates on the top tier of taxpayers may explain why places like New York and California keep losing businesses and population to locales like Texas and Florida.

H/T:  Americans for Tax Reform

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mike Krzyzewski on Strategy

Longtime Duke University and Team USA Olympics basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski was awarded the George Marshall Medal by the Association of the United States Army for his selfless work to support troops and their families.  

During his acceptance speech at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Coach K offered some cogent yet incisive criticisms on current events.  Without mentioning any names, Krzyzewski intimated how strategic thought from the parquet courts could assist formulation of policy at Foggy Bottom or even "in the Oval". 

If only President Obama would spend less time on Barack-etology (sic) during March Madness, and more time on executing his primary duties as Commander-in-Chief, we might be able to achieve results, even without actually putting boots on the ground.  But a leader who insists on  transparently telegraphing strategic taboos  about the red line which he won't cross gives advantage to opponents.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Anthematically Verklempt

Rosanne Barr at Padres game 1990
Some cynics question why we perform patriotic music like the National Anthem before professional sporting matches.  This perspective is bolstered  when singers forget the lyrics like Aaron Lewis did during the 2014 World Series.  And people wonder "What the Hail?" when people like Rosanne Barr or silver screen characters such as  Frank Drevin from "The Naked Gun"  (1988) who turn "honoring America" into a joke. 

That being said, there are glimmers of hope on honoring America in song in pro sports.  It was a touching new tradition that Major League Baseball featured active servicemen singing "God Bless America" during the seventh inning stretch during the playoffs and the World Series.  

However, what was truly moving was the reaction to an instrumental rendition of the National Anthem during an NFL Monday Night Football game. At MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, the New York Giants invited Grammy Award winning trumpeter Chris Botti to play the National Anthem.

Botti's rendition was so inspiring that it visibly moved Indianapolis Colts veteran Wide Receiver Reggie Wayne to tears.  This stirring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner was no mere formality when it can make a veteran pro football player verklempt. 

On the eve of the midterm elections, when conscientious American citizens prepare to go to the polls and exercise their franchise to support and maintain our democratic Republic, it is fitting to hear such a beautiful rendition of our National Anthem.  Bravo!

h/t:  Uproxx 

NASCAR Vigilante Justice at "No Limits, Texas"

The Texas Motor Speedway aggressively rebranded itself as "No Limits, Texas" for the AAA Texas 500. But along with showdowns in the wicked fast Wild West, it seems that there was some vigilante justice.

Jeff Gordon was leading for the Sprint Cup Series and also was vying for the lead during the AAA Texas 500.  As the race restarted, Keselowski slammed into Gordon, which cut his left rear tire and caused him to spin.  As Jeff Gordon told ESPN:

"We were sitting there on older tires. I spun the tires a little but I got a pretty decent restart. We went down into (turn) one and I just wanted to get to the outside of the 48 (Johnson) and and out of nowhere I just got slammed by the 2 and it cut my left-rear tire. He's just a dip---. The way he races, I don't know how he ever won a championship and I'm just sick and tired of it."

After the race, Gordon  yelled at Keselowski in the pits and then lunged at him.  This set off a wild melee between the two crews.  A Gordon crew member threw Keselowski to the ground.  In the end, both Gordon and Keselowski with blood on their lips and faces.  

Rodney Dangerfield famously joked about confusing boxing and hockey games.  With yet another instance of vigilante justice off the track, is NASCAR taking ice hockey's place for pugilism?

h/t: The Sporting News

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on "No Limits, Texas"

The AAA Texas 500 has been held on the first Sunday in October  at the Texas Motor Speedway in unincorporated land in the north Fort Worth area since the race's inception in 2005.  While the locale is the same, this year the AAA Texas 500 will be held in "No Limits, Texas".  

The No Limits Texas theme is the third evolution of a marketing campaign to give a distinctive character to NASCAR racetracks West of the Mississippi.  The No Limits, Texas rebranding of the Texas Motor Speedway is mean to recall showdowns in the "wicked fast" West. 

The No Limits, Texas campaign is going to great lengths to promote itself.  Aside from new signage at TMS, there is a redesigned website, concerted media campaign, and some edgy marketing.  In the TV spot, NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth is featured getting a "No Limits" tattoo.  And there is the tradition of celebrating by raising six shooters.

Will edgy marketing continue to propel the Texas Motor Speedways trek towards the top in NASCAR.  Today may be a strong challenge to that fast and furious aspiration.  Today the U.S. Grand Prix is being held at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.  Any Sunday in the Fall is a big NFL Football Day.  And hunting season just opened in Texas.   We will soon see who triumphs in the draw for fan support between NASCAR, F1, NFL and game hunting fans on the Sunday sports shootout.