Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Week 6

One of Tennessee's state senators is a member of the 'NASCAR party'. Would I make that up?

Listening to announcers talk about Brett Favre is positively nauseating.

"Running into the kicker" is a ridiculous penalty. Football is a full contact sport and players are aggressively trying to block punts in the same way they aggressively go after everything else. Why can't you run into the kicker?!?! Even if we accept that kickers and punters are total wusses and need to be coddled, why is the penalty called on the slightest contact, even when the contact is an attempt to block the kick? Roughing the passer, as imperfect a rule as it is, has a clear definition and purpose. The definition is a late or excessively dangerous(head shots) hit on the quarterback, and the purpose is to protect quarterbacks, since good quarterbacks are fairly rare and the quality of the game goes down substantially when they get injured. Punters and kickers, on the other hand, are treated as practically interchangeable-evidence in the draft and their pay. Running into/roughing the kicker, on the other hand, applies to any hit on the kicker, late or not. Yes, kicking the ball makes the kicker somewhat vulnerable, so some rule needs to protect him, but this is bullshit. And the kickers are diving now too! That is what happened in

Texas v Oklahoma

-Early 4th quarter, a horrible "running into the kicker" penalty gives Oklahoma a first down. Oklahoma's kicker clearly dove...does college or pro football have a "diving" penalty? They go on to score an undeserved touchdown.

-Down 38-35 with 7 minutes left, Oklahoma faced 4th and 2 somewhere near midfield. Coach Bob Stoops sends in the punter! You've dropped 35 on this defense and you don't think you can gain 2 yards?? You've given up 38-you think you're at all likely to get a defensive stop? No! The most likely scenario is you get the ball back down 10 with 3 minutes left and have basically no chance to win. You absolutely cannot afford to forego the opportunity the current drive presents. Boom goes the punt, V writes "game over" in his (imaginary) notebook. Result-Oklahoma gets the ball back down 10 with 3 minutes left, has no chance to win, doesn't.

Clemson @ *note to self: look up who Clemson played*

-Clemson went for it on 4th and 19 with 4 minutes left down by 4. In college, there is no 2-minute warning, so the game is even closer to over than it would be in a pro game-and I always argue that on defense, this is far less time than it appears to be. ESPN's talking heads spent the rest of the game arguing about this "gamble" and the balls it took to go for it. What should take balls is kicking away the game with 4 minutes left and then facing your team and telling them you don't think they're worthy of an opportunity to win. That is all. Result: First down! Coach is a genius!

Dallas @ Arizona

-Romo drops back to the end zone, is twisting and about to be sacked for a safety, loses the ball, touchdown Arizona. Romo stands up, tells his coach to challenge, his arm was going forward. Challenge, call overturned. incomplete pass. The replay shows that Romo's arm was indeed going forward. However, he was so twisted that HE RELEASED THE BALL BACKWARDS! It was a live ball and the touchdown should have stood. Nice job forgetting the rules, refs. Nice job not noticing this either, everyone else. That was a crime against football and I'm really glad Arizona won in the end, even though their coach is a douchebag who wastes our time trying to ice the kicker. But whose isn't?

-Really really clean punt block in overtime. Guy practically took the ball off the punter's foot. And the guy said in the postgame that they weren't even running a punt block play! That's some seriously bad protection...

Pastriots @ SD

-Matt Cassel is inaccurate with the deep ball. The secondary is weak, especially Deltha O'Neal. The linebackers are slow. The right side of the line is manned by bad backups(RG Steven Neal has been out, RT Nick Kaczur got carted off Sunday). A quick nod to how important and underrated a factor avoiding injuries is to a team's success. Still, I expected Belichick to be more prepared than this.

I just took a look at that Palin Newsweek cover. Wow, she looks TERRIBLE! Look at all the flaws in her face! I know I'm splitting hairs here, but she has flaws in her cheek, eyes, forehead, nose, etc. And speaking of split hairs...


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Gambling Presidents

Here is an article from TIME about the gambling habits of McCain and Obama. If you don't feel like reading it-McCain really really enjoys Craps and Obama is a successful amateur poker player.


Matt Taibbi questions the relevance of this and challenges the reader to explain why it might be. Here is the comment I wrote:

Poker vs. Craps
I just read the Time article, and your comments on it. The candidates' gambling preferences actually do reveal things about them, though I agree that the article explains them poorly.

Craps is a casino gambling game-purely an indulgence, and a losing proposition. It's a social game, but only superficially. People may be interacting, but none of that is more substantive than "Look at how we're doing!" and "Some of us are really attractive!" Poker is a competition between players. It is a social game. To be successful, as Obama reportedly has been, it is necessary to understand both math and human psychology, and to apply those things to interpret the actions of one's opponents.

Obviously, there is more to a person than some vague information about his gambling habits, but here is what those habits suggest. A good poker player is socially perceptive, thoughtful and calculated. A craps player is shallow, impulsive and bad at math. There is no such thing as a good craps player because it is not a winnable game. Put bluntly, one is a player, the other a sucker.

Life, the Universe and Everything

To be honest, I've barely watched football the last 2 weeks. Work has been crazy. I saw the Pit@Jacksonville game. Here are some quick, half-assed observations:
-Jack Del Rio goes for it on 4th down! I love Jacksonville!
-Ben Roethlisberger is really good. For some reason, I had the impression that he wasn't-I probably just assumed he was stupid because of the motorcycle thing. He has a great presence on the field, he moves very well, and has a strong and accurate arm.
-Ben's first half interception was horribly misinterpreted by Al Michaels and Madden. I was ready to throw a brick at the TV just to get them to shut up. It wasn't a bad throw. The timing appeared to be right. The decision appeared sound-receiver Santonio Holmes was open. What happened was Holmes slipped, so instead of being in front of Rashean Mathis and catching the ball, he was stumbling and the ball went straight to Mathis.
-I agreed with Jack's punt on 4th and 1 from his own 40 with 7 minutes left. Up 21-20, kicking the opponent out of field goal range is much more important than it usually is.
-Jack Del Rio fucked up the endgame! Jack, you may be up 21-20, but as soon as Pit has first down on your 14 with 2:47 left, you must treat the situation as if you are losing, because by all measures except the actual score, you are. Call time-out to preserve the clock for your comeback, jerk.
-Jack called time-out with 2:02 left. The reason Al and John disagreed with this is absolutely wrong. They said that you only save 2 seconds instead of 40. That is wrong because this time-out causes the clock to stop after next play also, with 2 minutes left, instead of having to use the time-out to stop the clock next play at ~1:50. This leads to the actual reason Jack was wrong to call the time-out. Standard endgame offense-while-ahead demands that you run the ball to kill the clock. It's much less likely than usual to gain yardage because everyone in the stadium knows that you will be running, but it's still mostly worth doing. I'd change it up more than they do, but I'm craaaazy. Anyways, by calling time-out 2 seconds before an official time-out, you create a situation where the clock stops next play regardless, so the offense is not bound to the usual predictability. On the ensuing play, Ben did play-action and attempted a pass to the end zone. I wish it had worked so Jack would be punished for his mistake. The tradeoff of a few seconds of game clock in exchange for knowing what the offense is going to do is a no-brainer.

I actually watched a presidential debate! Notes:
-John McCain is so bald!
-John McCain has a silly combover.
-John McCain's makeup accentuated the weirdness of his cheeks.
-Barack Obama is much taller than John McCain.
-John McCain wants our broke-ass government to somehow subsidize the lost value of real estate. It is wrong when people say that his coming up with an idea, any idea, particulary *this* idea, is "better than nothing".
-John McCain spoke of his idol Teddy Roosevelt and his line "Talk(speak) softly but carry a big stick." He's your idol-get the quote right, jerkface. McCain then proceeded to say that he, John McCain, has a big stick, and that Barack Obama is very loud and has a small stick. Challenge the black guy on the size of his stick-good job, John.
-John McCain's use of inflections seems forced.
-Barack Obama dodged the Medicare issue and John McCain said he'd have bipartisan talks about it, which is obviously the only way anything gets done. Point McCain.
-Somebody asked-is healthcare a right, a privilege or a responsibility? What the hell does the third thing mean? If I said "healthcare is a responsibility" what would that mean? The relevant and interesting question is between the first two. The third option just allows John McCain to bullshit his way out of answering the question. I expected Barack to do the same, but he answered forcefully-healthcare is a right. I disagree, but whatever.
-Quick plug for Colbert's guest that night, Nate Silver of www.fivethirtyeight.com. He's a baseball handicapper who's applying those skills to the election. Translation-a lot of stat analysis designed to sift through noise and identify which trends are relevant. The site's really good.
-As of today, 538 has Obama winning the election with 90.7% probability. The Intrade contract is trading at 76.
-Read Matt Taibbi at www.smirkingchimp.com. I'm adding him to my influences.