I've been watching the World Cup with some frustrated American social scientists. When they see an underdog team triumph with a miraculous rebound or an undeserved penalty kick, they don't jump up and scream "Goooaaalll!" They just shake their heads and mutter, "Measurement error." -- John Tierney
Hey, I was shocked too - but this is in the New York Times!
When billionaires acquire clubs like Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City or Chelsea, their fortunes change. When a very rich country like Qatar wants to host the World Cup, it gets its way even if entirely unsuited to the undertaking.
All this often undermines the beauty of the game. Sulky and overpaid stars, dubious deals and rapacious players' agents are now part of the scenery. Football has been no exception to the inexorable process that sees the authentic and the genuine undermined by big money and manufactured images.
Until along came Diego Simeone and his "socialist football." Think of him as the Thomas Piketty of the soccer world. It is impossible to understand what has been happening at the remarkable World Cup in Brazil without considering his impact.
Ann Coulter, call your office!
UPDATE: I'll promote our commenter's link: looks like the complete book on PDF here.
Please do not be disappointed by the Metric Football results today. My understanding of the rules is that the umpires can call for extra time and wake the players in the middle of the night to continue.
Bred for around ten thousand dollars in a sport dominated by millionaires, California Chrome is favored to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978 and I, for one, couldn't be more excited by the prospect.
The result of the laughably modest breeding in the sport of kings was California Chrome. Coburn and Martin are average guys in the big-money sport of horseracing.
Coburn is a press operator in a Nevada factory that makes magnetic strips for credit cards and hotel keys.
"He loves people," Coburn said of his colt. "He loves what he does, and that's why he's America's horse. In my opinion, this horse, what he's doing for two guys that work their butts off every day just to put beans and bacon on the table.
"This horse has given everybody else out there the incentive to say, 'You know what? We can do it too.
There are other good stories in this colt's history too, like the little known jockey who has a singular talent to motivate this horse. His first mount, as a youth, was the family donkey, hence the donkey on his back (and the 'donkey rescue' category tag). And when the plucky self-made men began their journey with the blue-collar colt they were called "dumb asses." So they named their enterprise DAP, meaning "Dumb Ass Partners."
And it's not just the circumstances that impress. The horse is a joy to watch. Reuters' Steve Ginsberg called his Preakness effort "a dazzling 1 1/2-length victory over Ride On Curlin" and I agree. With a lead at the final turn two other horses made a run but while I worried Chrome might fade, it was the other two who labored and, fell short.
For a time there was suspense about his appearance in the Belmont Stakes - something about the horse being permitted to wear an equine version of a Breathe Right strip [endorsement deal?] in the race. Some dubbed it Nasalgate but it was resolved quickly today by an announcement of the track steward.
So on Saturday, June 7, ride on Chrome, claim your crown. I'll be watching. And cheering. And streaming down tears, win or lose.
I want to share with all ThreeSourcers, friends and family, and anyone in the Denver area a great opportunity to see a Vegas quality live performance of acrobats, equestrians and clowns complete with lights, music and even a fire act. It is called "Gladius the Show" and one of the co-creators is a friend of ours, Erik Martonovich, a long-time fellow vaulter who grew up in Golden.
We opted for the "VIP" tickets, which gave us access to meet and talk with the performers after the show. My favorite parts were the gymnast who wound himself up and down on nylon straps with amazing grace, strength and flexibility, the combination of Roman riding and hanging from the ceiling, the high-speed CHARIOT RACE, and the four-horse Roman riding/vaulting finale.
It was truly impressive and well worth the modest ticket price (although I think I can post a 10% discount ordering code here later, to make it even more affordable.)
Shows continue daily at Jefferson County Fairgrounds Westernaires Arena, but only through April 20th. The time and money they have invested to create this impressive show have really paid off and I'm happy to endorse and promote them as much as I possibly can. Tell your friends!
Blog contrarian here (although the precise identity of "ThreeSources Convention Wisdom Guy" is a little vague...)
I saw the last quarter of the NFC Championship at a friend's house with the sound off. I had a distinct Kissingeresque "why can't they both lose?" attitude, so life, and some home-made jalapeño poppers were good. I looked up to see "oh, we're playing the 'Hawks."
Then I saw the infamous Richard Sherman interview with no audio. I said "man, I'd hate to see that guy if he lost." And I went back to the snack table.
Later I saw on Twitter that Sherman had offended God, King. and Country with his "meltdown." Meltdown, huh, I gotta see this. YouTube complied and -- while I am not handing out Sportsmanship of the Year awards -- I think it's close to if not within the bounds of reasonable behavior if you have just won the NFC Championship.
I was also a bit contrarian in liking Bronco Tim Tebow. I even have a Tebow 15 Jets shirt in the giveaway pile if anybody wants it. But, I gotta admit, his "there's stuff more important than football" schtick wore thin. Yes it is true, but we pay you many millions of dollars each Sunday for your specific ability -- not in uplifting the community's children. I accepted his religion but never completely accepted his professed priorities. I suspect Peyton Manning would put the playbook down for a minute to save a drowning child, too. But I hope he'd deny it.
I made a waggish, comment-bait remark that I posit Richard Sherman as a Randian hero. He even has a name that would fit in Atlas Shrugged. "Ehrimigawd, Miss Taggart. We'll never win the Championship without Richard Sherman. And we just found this note on his locker....by the way, do you smell smoke?"
I'm going to double down with a Facebook Meme. I don't care a whole lot about Mister Bieber either (actually, the Bill Clinton story is endearing...) I hope he finds a way to enjoy life and all but is there not some verisimilitude in this?
- Even though I live in Denver and am a Broncos fan, I love Seattle and root for the Seahawks.
- I am also a fan of the South Central LA success story and Stanford grad, Richard Sherman (although I don't revere him quite as much as I do the Broncos' Knowshon Moreno.)
- And despite a conscious belief in the existence of good and evil, applying either term to either team is specious.
Nonetheless, "good" will defeat "evil". The Broncos will beat the Seahawks by more than a touchdown and the officiating will have nothing to do with the outcome. But the Seahawks will be even better next year for the experience.
My first thought when I saw the video of this classless Boston Red Sox fan manhandle a home run baseball away from the woman next to him so that he could throw it back onto the field in an infantile display of tribal disapproval was, "that's a direct consequence of teaching people that any act can be tolerated if it is committed in the name of "the public good." I could almost hear the cretin shout, "You didn't earn that" as he forcibly took property from a weaker person of the fairer sex who had the audacity to also yell, "That's my baseball!"
But the real story here, according to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan, is that the guy is a racist who allegedly called another fan wearing a Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers jersey "Prince Fielder's crackhead brother" and "yelled at another African-American Tigers fan walking through the section, saying: "Go back to the ghetto." Of course the worst offense came as Mister Red Sox fan was being escorted from the area by stadium security and answered a "bye-bye" salutation from the Fielder jersey wearer with "Bye, Travon."
The closest Passan came to criticizing Mr. Red Sox fan was this paragraph about the act that got him ejected.
Video of the man taking the ball from a woman sitting next to him and chucking it onto the field quickly went viral as Boston faced a five-run deficit. The Red Sox came back for a dramatic 6-5 victory to even the ALCS at one game apiece.
Perhaps he would have cared more about the woman with the ball if she had been African-American.
I'll close with the cautionary advice of a commenter to the original linked story:
don't lump the entire Boston crowd in with this idiot... only about 90% of them behave like him.
I have a new favorite non-Rockies player. Brandon Phillips was on 2nd base for the Cincinnati Reds when Todd Helton hit his 2500th. (I'm not sure BP didn't tag him out -- I notice on the replays they don't look too closely at that). But Mr. Phillips is a class act. He enjoyed the moment, then warmly congratulated Helton. During yesterday's game, they displayed the following Tweet:
Joseph Epstein is a wee bit curmudgeonly in his column by the same name. Epstein -- like me -- enjoys watching sports at home. He's grouchier than me, but we share one peeve:
Pro basketball games, I note, no longer allow any time for repose. Once a time-out is called, out come the dancing girls, miniature blimps, acrobats, jugglers, magicians -- everything but human sacrifices. Sports promoters seem to believe that, as on radio, there should be no dead time during a game: something must be happening every second. Silence is prohibited. The eye must have something to engage it at all times.
Hockey is my favorite sport. I grew up watching minor league play. If my advertising-exec father could not get free passes, one could cut tickets from a package of Bar-S Hot Dogs. When the Quebec Nordiques became the Colorado Avalanche, the speed, quality of play, and ticket prices went up significantly.
But I tired of attending games before my health made it difficult. The bad 70s music at every whistle becomes tiresome. They're selling all the tickets they can print and I don't expect they miss me. But I continually wonder how many fans actually like hockey. I think those who do are watching at home.
No bag is more mixed for the couch potato than technology and sports. Technology can make viewing sports events on the scene at ball parks, stadiums, and tennis courts more irritating, as in the instance of the Jumbotron, while making viewing them at home more pleasing. Owing to DVRs, replays, slow-motion cameras, and the rest, watching sports on television makes the couch potato feel in better control of the game experience. I haven't been to more than five or six hockey games in my life, but at none of them have I ever actually seen a goal get scored; I only saw people around me jump to their feet and begin to scream. Only through television replay, usually entailing a slow-motioning of the action, have I seen goals scored. Reliance on replays applies to so many other fast-action moments in sports.
I understand bad music is coming to the NFL this year. Load up the 'fridge...
There are many reasons to embed the preceding promotional video. I'll try to hit them all, in no particular order.
Product placements for HTC phones and Windows Phone OS, which they refer to as "Surface" at the end of the promo.
A hip soundtrack, featuring a group I'd never heard before.
Feminist schadenfreude. After all, has there ever been, in the history of advertising, a man who complained that a woman in a commercial was "sexualised?" The commenter's mindset is clearly revealed by the term "typical blonde size six surfer girl." Jealous much?
Equality. This one nearly provokes me to profanity. It is fast replacing altruism as, in my opinion, the most dangerous and dispicable idea in human thought. To wit:
So what exactly is so offensive this time, as the surfing giant is merely using a tried and tested marketing approach? Probably the fact that this little voyeuristic semi soft-core porn clip is representing a professional sport which has been fighting a long and ongoing battle for gender equality.
Please. Men and women are - wait for it - differ'nt. Commercial advertising is as free-market as anything else left in this world and its practitioners have discovered a formula that works. You may not like the formula, and you may not like that it works, but no amount of snippy commentary will ever change those facts.
Freedom. Freedom to voluntarily participate in a promo video featuring ass shots, of your own ass. "12 butt shots in one minute and 46 seconds exactly." Huzzah! Perhaps you'd prefer if she wore a burka, Ms. Salvo? As a father of daughters, I have no objections whatsoever to this promo. Natural, athletic beauty is nothing to hide or to battle against using shame, much less the government regulation that is so routinely resorted to in such matters of "inequality." You, who claim to seek "gender equality" would have more credibility if you didn't object to the same "offenses" as does the Taliban.
Reason comes out for the DH! That's it, it's over between us. I think we should start seeing other think tanks and foundations.
But I gotta admit, Steve Chapman has some style:
I once regarded the designated hitter as a hideous and cancerous blight that would inevitably lead to the collapse of civilization. I still do, but I can live with that. What I can no longer endure is the sight of gifted athletes victimized by a conspiracy to make them look like clowns.
Requiring pitchers to bat is like telling Bob Dylan to smile. It misuses their talent, lowers the quality of play, subjects them to pointless risk and probably causes irreparable loss of self-esteem.
ADDENDUM: I saw on Twitter someone declare that Tim Tebow is an example of how "God loves us, but that doesn't mean he won't test us." Indeed, and I find that the instrument of his testing is quite often the New York Jets. -- Jets' fan Jim Geraghty
This kid, this prodigy, was a force that never had been seen in the NHL, an offensive-minded defenseman. He controlled the puck for longer stretches of time, skated wherever he wanted as if he were playing a game of keep-away back home on a pond in Parry Sound, Ont. He became the first (and only) defenseman to lead the NHL in scoring. He did it twice. In a seven-year span, only he or teammate Phil Esposito led the league in scoring. Esposito, a large-size center, did much of his work on rebounds and redirects of Orr shots from the point.
Even better than the kid's scoring was his style. He moved in great loops and swoops, one end of the ice to the other. Defensemen mostly had been restricted in their movements in the past, required always to stay in zones, think about turning back to help protect the goalie. Orr was fast enough, confident enough to get back from anywhere. There were no boundaries. Not for him. The entire ice surface was his zone.
Several superior locutions have entered my lexicon thanks to blog friend -- and longtime personal friend --sc. This one might be from his lovely bride, but the day after the Super Bowl is the start of "Seven Months of Darkness" without professional football. One of them said it casually, but we have gravely intoned it in our home every winter since.
I'm troubled by changes to the game for player safety. Let me say that -- apart from Ray Lewis -- I like the idea of player safety and applaud all efforts to protect pros and more importantly, younger athletes.
Yet, one thing our culture does very poorly, all the time is assess risk. [Short on-topic digression: don't wait for Review Corner to buy and tread Nassim Taleb's "Antifragility;" it is a thing of beauty.] Our least rational risk assessment concerns personal safety. We see it in the gun rights debate. For the most egregious examples, read "America's Worst Mom," Lenore Skenazy's Free Range Kids. Statistically insignificant examples of "stranger danger" are creating a generation that will never see the sunshine. Runaway Toyotas anybody?
When the media and lawyers get on a tear, data does not stand a chance.
I have not studied the data on youth football and accept that new links are being found. These are worthy of investigation, worthy of equipment research, and worthy of potential rules changes. Fran Tarkington published an interesting piece accusing the NFL of punting on performance enhancing drugs, resulting in larger players and a concomitantly more violent game. Interesting.
But we all know these interesting and valid items will drive neither the debate nor the remedies. Those will all be driven by breathless media narratives and lawsuits. Steve Chapman:
If football falls into decline, it may not be the result of fans turning away, athletes avoiding it, or parents forbidding it. It may be from lawyers representing players who sustained chronic traumatic encephalopathy and expect to be compensated for the damage.
Already, more than 4,000 former players are suing the NFL, claiming it failed to warn them of the hazards. The family of San Diego Chargers great Junior Seau, whose autopsy revealed CTE after his suicide last year, has filed a wrongful death suit against the league. The Seaus are also accusing Riddell Inc. of making unsafe helmets.
The Plaintiff's Bar has ruined everything else, why not instantiate permanent darkness?
Train your child for an NFL career -- I'm thinking any athletic child could be trained to place kick with a lot of work. I further suggest that the roster and 11 count render that specialty expensive.
Watching several big returns in the playoffs, imagine how valuable a great kicker who is a good special teams cover would be. A big, athletic tight-end sized guy who could kick could write his own ticket. Let the 135 lb. guys play soccer.
The mighty and righteous Broncos has ten chances to win yesterday and left each ticket on the floor. The thuggish Ravens had one chance and took it. The officials were bona fide suck-ass but nobody can credibly blame them for the loss.
So well done, birdies, hope the Pats smash you next week. If you want me, I'll be crying into my coffee.
This being ThreeSources, there is a public policy angle: I'm expecting a push for a subsidized domed stadium in Denver now that we have a brilliant but weather-challenged QB.
Two people with superfluous last names are set to meet, according to Jason Gay in the WSJ.
Blog friend Sugarchuck has a great riff. Whenever a politician is in the soup for a deep scandal, sc will say "wait eleven months, he'll cry on 'Oprah' and will be back in business." He is usually correct.
As the ESPN writer Don Van Natta Jr. posted on Twitter, "You don't go on Oprah to confess. You go on Oprah to be forgiven."
I think the count of Lance defenders now stands at about three. But it includes me and the lovely bride. To be fair, I am not certain of his innocence, but I remain a big fan of due process and proportionality in punishment.
If you care about pro cycling you get used to being swept aside in the cultural mainstream. You're accustomed to cycling being a low priority. When you watch pro cycling on TV, it's always on the funny channels at the end of the dial, next to stations that sell abdominal flexors and pantyhose that also make waffles. You get used to the fact that bike racing in the U.S. is mostly an unglamorous place.
I remain an ex-cycling fan and have distilled a reason I can explain.
Concerns of performance enhancements have caused MLB to induct zero baseball greats into the Hall of Fame this year. Kudlow points out that this will devastate Cooperstown businesses. But a statement is being made, and the astonishing careers of Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and an impressive list of potential inductees will likely not get so honored. And I am cool with that.
I am fine with fines.
Even making them answer questions from Rep. Henry Waxman (Vampire - CA) seems almost humane.
But they did not ask players to return their rings. They did not rewrite the books. Even in the Black Sox Scandal and the replacement refs' Green Bay game, the scores went down in the books. This idea of stripping titles is an insult to the fans and deleterious to the already small seriousness the sport enjoys. You stand on the podium, you wear the Maillot jaune, you won the Tour. You don't get a FedEx package of yellow jerseys and a certificate that says you won in 1997. That's crazy.
The World Series looks good. The NFL has recovered from a (sorry, Packers' Fans) minor kerfuffle. I s'pect most people whose income does not derive from hockey are getting by just fine.
And maybe y'all are bored with my Lance Armstrong sycophantsy, but cui bono? Lance has been stripped of his historic and heroic accomplishment. Now the sport looks clean? I submit that the Armstrong fans are cheesed off that seven wins can be airbrushed away without due process. Are the others happy? Does any of this accrue to the integrity of cycling or does it make it seem even more a childish pursuit.
As one who loves each of these sports, it hurts to see their being thrown away.
NEW YORK -- The National Hockey League announced today the cancellation of the remainder of the 2012 preseason schedule.
The cancellation of the preseason schedule was necessary because of the absence of a Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL Players' Association and the NHL.
I'm all about recognizing and promoting young talent.
But you don't make the "Rookie of the Year" your team captain do you? (That's like making a "Community Organizer" be President.)
I love Gabriel Landeskog and hope I am really really wrong. But he is a superstar-in-training who would profit from the advice of more veteran players. And other young teammates would benefit from a more experienced leader.
We've all agreed that, to some extent, certain aspects of the Olympic Games suck. But if you didn't watch the women's team gymnastics final this evening because of disgust over subjective scoring or some other shortcoming of the spectacle then you denied yourself a moment of history. For the second time ever the US women's team won the gold medal. They did it in style, with a 5-point margin over the silver medal Russian team, and a rapid-fire barrage of nearly perfect routines including one vault by McKayla Maroney that, by every account was in fact perfect. On vault. On beam. The floor exercise. The confidence and competence of the US gymnasts was breathtaking. They would have given the best Romanian and Russian teams in history the fight of their lives.
I took to the comments of a recent post to defend the Olympic movement on the basis of individual competition and excellence, and the opportunity for athletes to measure themselves against each other to find the best in the world. I also said, "If the Olympics were a competition to see who could be the most "average" I would ridicule and despise them." I meant this as comparative example rather than the prescience it has now become.
United States artistic gymnast Jordyn Wieber is the reigning world champion in her sport. In qualifying events for the final field of twenty-four gymnasts from which medals in the Individual All Around competition will be awarded based on score, Wieber's score was the fourth highest. Despite this, Wieber will not be allowed to compete for a medal versus the three who scored higher than her and the twenty who scored lower. Jordan Wieber was disqualified, not by some infraction she committed, but because two of her American teammates also made the All Around final and did so with scores higher than hers. For reasons that can only be interpreted as egalitarian, IOC rules prohibit more than two individual athletes from the same nation advancing to the finals.
Boo! Ridiculous. Two other athletes, one from Great Britain and another from China, suffered the same injustice although their scores ranked them 21 and 22 respectively and neither of them is the REIGNING WORLD CHAMPION IN HER SPORT.
Weiber is not the only loser in this sad saga. Whomever ultimately wins the gold medal will not be able to say she is the best artistic woman gymnast in the world. One who may have kicked her ass all over the spring floor was told "get lost - thanks for playing."
I plan to write my congressman. On this count, the Olympics suck.
UPDATE: David Wallechinsky, author of 'The Complete Book of the Olympics' saidthe Olympic philosophy is "we want to spread the wealth, we want to spread sport to other parts of the world."
But Wieber's failure to make a final that her scores suggest she clearly deserved points to a philosophy run amok, says Mr. Wallechinsky. "Sure, let them compete in the Olympics, but you don't have to let them compete in the final," he says.
Click through for a good background on the rule, first imposed for the 2004 games.
Kerry wrote on TSN.ca, "In Boston, reality struck when the series ended with a Game 7 overtime goal that was manufactured by Mike Knuble in another example of goalkeeper interference."
He continued, "Knuble continued on his path entering deep into the goal crease and made sufficient physical contact with the Bruins goalie to knock him off his set position and back toward the goal line."
What Fraser is referring to is NHL rule 69.1 that the refs on the ice clearly missed.
It's like folks in our Nation's capital just operate by their own set of rules or something...
At ThreeSources, we must always give fair consideration to the opinions and feelings of those on the other side. We can't just pretend that the world does not include some...Jets fans. Jim Geraghty:
When the Tebow trade went down, I said I needed time to process it. A runaway cultural phenomenon and social lightning rod I generally admire coming to my favorite team that has a whole bunch of needs to meet high expectations. Sheesh.
First, read my distinguished colleague Dan Foster's thoughts, shortly after the trade:
Tebow is a high-character, likeable guy, but there is only so far that takes you in a locker room full of NFL-sized egos (Jets CB Antonio Cromartie has been tweeting against the Tebow trade since the first whiff of it) and a fanbase on the bad end of 40 years of disappointment. His presence takes a volatile locker room and makes it more volatile still. . . .
Does anyone think the New York media will take an interest in Tebow's social life? They are going to eat the kid alive.
I am not a happy Jets fan at the moment. Nor am I happy Tebow fan. Welcome to the worst of both worlds.
Still, watching that press conference, I fell in love with the kid. What a healthy attitude toward his sport, his profession, his teammates, his fans, and life in general. Think about it: He takes the helm of the Broncos, gets them to the playoffs, gets them a playoff win, gives the franchise the most buzz, excitement, and energy since Elway retired, and then gets unceremoniously tossed in favor of an aging veteran with a neck that appears to be held together with duct tape. In his shoes, I'd feel a little bitter, snubbed. The chip on my shoulder would be powerful enough to meet the processing requirements of Deep Blue.
And yet here he is last night:
In a short statement linked to his Twitter feed, Tebow wrote, "Well, that was an interesting couple of weeks! Now that things have finally settled down a bit, I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you great Denver fans for all of your support.
"The ride that we were able to enjoy together this past season is something that I will always cherish. I'd also like to thank all of my former coaches and teammates as it was an honor to play for and alongside each of you. I will always be grateful to the Broncos organization for giving me the initial opportunity to fulfill my dream of being an NFL quarterback."
Perhaps, alone, in the dark, when no one is looking, Tim Tebow curses a blue streak and swears revenge on everyone who's ever wronged him. But I doubt it. Off the field, I think he'll still be the guy who exemplifies everything we want to see in a professional athlete. And on the field, I think the Jets will end up calling a surprising number of halfback options. You will probably see Mark Sanchez and Tebow on the field simultaneously (Sanchez usually lined up as a wide receiver during the Jets' previous wildcat plays). Defenses could see both Sanchez and Tebow in the huddle and not know who would be lining up under center. If the Jets really plan on getting their money's worth out of Tebow, expect a lot of unexpected runs in likely passing situations and passes in expected running situations and general unpredictability -- a breath of fresh air after the Brian Schottenheimer years.
A good friend of this blog refers to the off-season as "seven months of darkness," but the Manning acquisition has certainly livened things up in Denver. A very warm spring has caused me to procure my new wardrobe early this year. I bought two of each of these, one for me and one for the lovely bride. We plan to wear both with pride.
I heard some talking sports heads last night discussing rule changes, specifically the overtime rule. And I am proud to tell ThreeSourcers that I have the perfect solution.
Everybody dislikes the significance of the coin toss. Percentages show the game rests more on heads or tails than offense and defense. All the proposed solutions mitigate this with guaranteed possessions, &c. &c.
The jk solution is to eliminate rather than mitigate the toss. Home team gets the ball first. Playoffs or regular season, it becomes part of the home field advantage. But the best part is the lack of randomness. The home team might play for overtime, but the visitors know they'd better wrap it up. The home crowd would love it, and the playoff seeds take on an even greater importance.
Boom baby! Now to sort out that Israeli-Arab thing...
Peyton Manning called Elway and John Fox this morning and told them the Broncos are his choice and he wants to start exclusive negotiations with the team, according to an NFL source. Inside the Broncos' headquarters, unbridled joy erupted. Manning is about to become a Bronco. A Broncos quarterback worthy of the standard Elway himself set during his 16-year playing career.
Super Bowl Predictor Fumbles?: Does the winner of the Super Bowl predict the presidential election? The formula goes something like this. If the AFC team (in this case the New England Patriots) wins the Super Bowl, a Republican will take the White House. If the NFC team (NY Giants) wins, a Democrat will.
After the Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) won in 1980 and the Los Angeles Raiders (AFC) did in 1984, Ronald Reagan won the election. George W. Bush also won after the 2004 New England Patriots (AFC) victory. But the NFC results haven't been as clear. In some instances, like when the Washington Redskins (NFC) and Bill Clinton won in 1992, the Dallas Cowboys (NFC) and Bill Clinton won in 1996, and the New York Giants (NFC) and Barack Obama won in 2008, the formula holds up. But in 1988 (Redskins (NFC) and George H.W. Bush) and in 2000 (St. Louis Rams (NFC) and George W. Bush), the Super Bowl did not predict the winner. -- AEI Blog
I won't opine on Brady v Manning for fear of disturbing dagny and sugarchuck, but I will point out a Fran Tarkenton column about what works in the NFL: "financial parity among teams and ruthless meritocracy among players." The financial structure is often credited with league parity. And -- as a private institution -- the NFL may structure any way it sees fit.
My beliefs give me an under-lust for Darwinian selection. Football has finally eclipsed hockey as my favorite sport. Yet, part of me thinks that the Yankees should be able to use their considerable resources as a major-market team to "buy" championships. At the end of the day, however, I must agree with Tarkenton that the "any given Sunday" parity of the NFL provides a superior entertainment product.
Heh. Makes me think of Tiananmen Square! The Boston Bruins were honored with a White House reception today marking the occasion of their Stanley Cup victory last season. The team's players were in attendance, except one.
Nearly every other member of the Bruins was at the ceremony, where President Obama congratulated the team on its victory. Thomas is a staunch conservative and is expected to explain his snub of the president on his Facebook page this evening.
Tebow's comin' (Tebow's a-comin')
Well you better hide your heart, your loving heart
Tebow's a-comin' and the cards say... a broken heart
Tebow's comin', hide your heart, girl
Tebow's comin', hide your heart, boy
Tom, Tebow's a-comin', you better hide
Bill, Tebow's a-comin', you better hide
Josh, Tebow's a-comin', you better hide
Girl, Tebow's comin', hide your heart, girl (hide it)
You better, better hide your heart
Tebow's comin', better walk
Walk but you'll never get away
No, you'll never get away from the burnin' a-heartache
I walked to Apollo by the bay
Everywhere I go though, Tebow's a-comin' (she walked but she never got
Tebow's a-comin' (she walked but she never got away)
Tebow's a-comin' and he's comin' to git ya (she walked but... she walked
Get down on your knees (she walked but she never got away)
Tebow's comin' (hide it, hide it, hide it)
Tom, Tebow's a-comin', you better hide
Bill, Tebow's a-comin', you better hide
Josh, Tebow's a-comin', you better hide
Girl, Tebow's comin', hide your heart, girl (hide it)
You better, better hide your heart
Tebow's comin', better walk
Walk but you'll never get away
No, you'll never get away from the burnin' a-heartache
I walked to Apollo by the bay
Everywhere I go though, Tebow's a-comin' (he walked but she'll never get
Tebow's a-comin' (she walked but she'll never get away)
Tebow's a-comin' and he's comin' to git ya (she walked but... she walked
Get down on your knees (she walked but she'll never get away)
Get down on your knees
Lord, I said no-no, no-no, no-no
(hide it) She can
(hide it) hide it
(hide it) You better
(hide it) Somebody
(hide it) You got t'
(hide it) Oh, my
(hide it) Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh
For what it's worth, my forays into hoping for divine intervention didn't work out. I prayed fervently before each of the three Super Bowls we Minnesota Vikings played in. We played against the Dolphins, the Steelers and the Raiders. I don't know about the first two games, but I was sure God would be on our side for the game against the Raiders! After all, they were the villains of the league, and it was hard to believe they had more Christians on their team than on our saintly Vikings. We lost. -- Fran Tarkenton
The great QB's column is good and rather complimentary, but feeds into the Tebow-haters' theme that he is "praying for touchdowns" ("belittling real suffering," my hero Penn Jillette said). I'm no football theologian, but it seems pretty clear that the young man seeks personal strength and clarity more than a favorable spot.
I was sad to see on Facebook that blog brother ac was travelling for work and was unable to attend the NHL Winter Classic at Citizen's Bank Park.
If you held a gun to my head (violent 2nd Amendment advocate that you are) and told me I had to miss the Super Bowl or the Winter Classic, I think I'd miss the Super Bowl -- even though the Eli Manning -Tebow matchup will be great this year. Seriously, the Winter Classic is the best sporting event of the year. I share one thing with Steve Jobs; he and I both cry when we encounter purity in music, art, operating systems, what have you. The Winter Classic has a purity about it that is unmatched in other sports.
But, if AlexC were there, I was going to tweak him. The Philly faithful booed the Canadian National Anthem! Jeeburz, guys! A lovely young lady comes out and just nails "O Canada!" and the rafters erupt in boos and "U-S-A!-U-S-A!" It's bad enough our great neighbors have to deal with the State Department on the Keystone XL Pipeline; we could at least show a little courtesy...
A niece who is Berkeleyian in geography and philosophy was in town for Christmas and came to visit Uncle John yesterday. Aside from some sharp comments about the desirability of Blu-Ray discs and the infield fly rule, we made it several hours of Christmas comity.
She told me something that is so perfect as to give me hope for the future. Did you know the San Francisco Giants change ticket prices based on the starting pitcher? Is that the coolest thing ever? I suggested it could be slightly more perfect if they gave the pitcher a bonus based on his ticket premium, but baby steps, baby steps.
I haven't made a habit of posting "Tebowing" pics. In fact, only once before, but this one is almost as worthy.
According to center Tyler Bozak, Orr wasn't the only Maple Leaf planning to strike a pose.
"I'm a Tebow fan, too, and I thought about doing it," Bozak told the Toronto Star after the game. "(Orr) knew he was going to score -- he's a breakaway guy, he's a breakaway specialist."
A commenter wrote, "tebow is the antichrist. people doing a prayer pose to symbolis him instead of the man JC. when he tries to rule the world remember you heard it hear first." No, mike9ersfan, Tebow is not the anti-Christ. I am, and I say Tebow is Just Allright With Me.
While I'm in a mood to humble myself I feel like I have more work to do and this time in all sincerity and with nary a hint of tongue-in-my-cheek.
Six weeks ago, just prior to the Broncos-Lions game, I wrote what I thought to be a masterful integration of music, philosophy and sport. As I will sometimes do, I extended the essay a step beyond its original inspiration. In doing so I created an impromptu list of NFL quarterbacks who, I contended, demotivate their teammates. It made sense to me at the time, if I were listing examples of the right way to lead a team of men, to give examples of how not to. My list was, to be charitable, a miserable failure. First Macho Duck had to take me behind the woodshed for putting Donovan McNabb in the group. I was defenseless. And while I've seen Tony Romo, seemingly everyone's favorite pinata, berate a teammate at times, I also watched him gut out a six field goal win while injured. (Not to mention he has to perform on a team owned by Jerry Jones.) He deserves more credit than I gave him. And now we have Eli Manning, who last night engineered a fourth-quarter comeback that would be the story of the week if some Broncos QB hadn't been wearing out the same story line. CBS Sports observes,
in this so-called Year of the Quarterback, the one story everyone seems to be missing is the incredible fourth quarter play of New York Giants QB Eli Manning. In a 37-34 comeback win over the Dallas Cowboys, Manning led his team to two fourth quarter touchdowns in the final 3:14 of the game. It was Manning's sixth fourth quarter comeback of the season.
Manning has racked up 14 fourth quarter touchdown passes this season. That ties an NFL record held by Johnny Unitas and older brother Peyton Manning - elite company for any quarterback.
By the same measure I challenge folks to judge the "Tebower" - winning - Manning is showing his mettle. His teammates credit him for "carrying us on his back." And finally Kyle Orton. His six-game winning streak two seasons ago earned him a multi-million dollar contract extension last year. And yet even that couldn't keep the Tebow train from running him over and right out of town. The frustration and pressure he endured through the collapse of the McDaniels era and subsequent rebuilding must have been suffocating. Almost certainly I sold him short.
As I look back on my mindset at the time I believe I felt defensive. Not personally, but for the tender youth Mister Tebow. Critics in print, broadcast and corporeally were lambasting the lad. And those other guys I mentioned? They were the ones we were told a good QB must emulate. So I made them my foils. Mea culpa - they are all heroes, each in his own right.
And who could say that what Tim Tebow has done to the Denver Broncos season is anything other than a rescue?
Tebow took over a team that was 4-12 last year, 1-4 this season, and has since led them to a 7-1 record. He is on the brink of leading the Broncos to their first playoff appearance in six years. And he still can't get any respect.
"There's no one else I'd rather have the ball in his hands when it counts," Broncos linebacker Von Miller said.
Chicago linebacker Lance Briggs must really be frickin' pissed, since they weren't able to "stop that crap" by "a quarterback that [sic] doesn't throw the ball well." Teammate Brian Urlacher seems to be, a little sore.
"He's a good running back, man," Urlacher said. "He runs the ball well."
By calling Tebow a running back, it would follow that Urlacher was taking a hardly veiled shot at Tebow's ability to play quarterback. In the fourth quarter and overtime, Tebow completed 18-of-24 passes for 191 yards and a touchdown. For the second time this season, his team had zero points and was down two scores with less than three minutes remaining. And for the second time this season, he overcame those seemingly impossible predicaments to lead his team to victory — 18-15 at Miami and Sunday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High against sore loser Urlacher.
UPDATE: The irony of my shameless self-promotion embedded in a Tebow post was lost on me, but only briefly.
My belief in the new Denver quarterback's competitive greatness is noteworthy now only because of the tremendous volume and certitude of those who were proclaiming "he can't play; he's not an NFL quarterback" back then. "But great things are only possible if you're under very tough circumstances."Timothy - 12/11/11
Furthermore, I could not have shared this remarkable feeling with the world without the love and support of my blog brothers and sisters. I am proud of all of them. And I am especially grateful to JK for trusting me with a login and a password.
"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it." -Robert A. Heinlein
Tim Tebow is still being told he can't play quarterback in the NFL, despite winning 5 of 6 games, and 4 in a row. "It's a passer's league" you see. If you can't pass from the pocket (and have a quick release and be able to anticipate defensive schemes and evaluate three or more potential receivers in 5 seconds or less) then you can't reliably win games. But despite the tutelage of football "experts" there are other ways to achieve offensive success.
"Over 16 games," said Lahman, "Tebow projects to 19 touchdowns, three interceptions, 2,061 yards passing and 1,112 yards rushing with five rushing touchdowns."
That doesn't make him Johnny Unitas. But it would make him an incredibly efficient quarterback.
Still, because the nine games in which Tebow has appeared (six as a starter, three in relief) are an admittedly small sample, Lahman came up with a better way to gauge Tebow's effectiveness. It's a spread sheet that ranks quarterbacks by "Adjusted Yards per Touch" ("a touch" being defined as pass and rushing attempts plus sacks). By that measure, Tebow gains an average of 2.61 yards every time he touches the ball. Maybe that doesn't sound like much, but only four quarterbacks have doe better this season. In order, they are Rodgers, Drew Brees, Brady and injured Matt Schaub. Tebow is No. 5.
The late Al Davis would be proud (except for the fact that it's the Broncos instead of his beloved Raiders.) Not only are the Broncos winning, every which way, they're also putting down the other team's quarterback - hard.
This Drew Litton cartoon is accompanied on Litton's website by a clear-eyed assessment of the Tebow turnaround.
This isn't, as the category suggests, merely a Colorado issue. The Tim Tebow phenomenon is a national one. For some reason this single player evokes or inspires either hatred or extreme admiration. Most seem to focus on his overt religiosity, and either despise or worship the example he sets. I don't see it that way at all.
I marvel at Tebow's ability to inspire and motivate his teammates. While sports professionals in the coaching, scouting and analysis business focus on his objective qualities they almost completely disregard his unique ability to lead. This causes them to make statements like "Tebow can't be an NFL quarterback." But many people believe that statement is wrong and I, for one, know it is wrong. And it has very little (but not nothing) to do with religion.
My sister emailed me a link to this TED Talk yesterday. The title is 'Benjamin Zander on Music and Passion' and it seems an unlikely place to find a key to success in life, but I did. It's 20 minutes long and you'll do yourself a favor to find that much time in your busy life to slow down, sit down, watch and listen and think. Here is Tebow's big "secret."
"It's one of the characteristics of a leader that he not doubt, for one moment, the capacity of the people he's leading to realize whatever he's dreaming."
Not only does this attitude make Tebow's teammates perform better, it makes him perform better. It does so in a way that manifests itself on the field of competition much more than on the practice field. And understanding it is so elusive that many deny its existence even after witnessing it with their own, "lying" eyes.
Tebow isn't the only NFL quarterback with this quality. I've seen it in Elway, Montana, Staubach, Griese, Jaworski, Fouts and Bradshaw among others. My dad saw it in Daryle Lamonica. It can be seen today in Brady, Rogers and Brees, and glimpses of it in many of the league's younger QBs. And just as importantly, some players of the position clearly do not have it. The ones I have noticed recently are Romo, Eli Manning and ... Kyle Orton. When a play fails each of them is as likely as not to yell, jesture, shrug or shake his head at one or more of his teammates. This is also inspirational leadership, but in the wrong direction.
I said Tebow's big secret has a little to do with religion and that something is "belief." Religion teaches men to believe.
UPDATE 2: Macho Duck challenged my inclusion of Donovan McNabb on the list of demotivational NFL quarterbacks. He's right. I put his name in my list before defining what it was a list of, i.e. finger pointers. An error of Saturday morning haste has been corrected.
I've been tough on my beloved Broncos since they booted Coach Shanahan, but I am proud even in defeat today. Tough defense, discipline, good effort -- well done, lads. Try it again with Dumervil and Champ Bailey, shall we?
I can handle suckage. I rooted for the Broncos all through the 60s, when a .500 season was received like a championship, and survived the 70s with the heartbreak of the Orange Crush years, the super bowl loss, and the leisure suits.
But I hate to see a team lose for a lack of discipline -- or as Cartman quotes his Karate instructor: "You Rack Disciprin!"
Our dear Donkeys were set to go into halftime down but not out after a bad half. They then took a cheap-shot personal foul that setup the 63-yard field goal. I think discipline is underrated and suggest that it has kept our division foes the San Diego Chargers out of championships even in years when they have fielded the best teams.
Belichick and Shanahan parlayed disciprin into championships. I'm not giving up on Coach Fox but I am very concerned that he does not rate it as highly as I do.
Well done Rockies last night. You may have swept us in front of your seven season ticketholders last week. But our house is one of seven run innings.
But I call my doyens of our national pastime to a different game. The D-Backs scored last week on a sacrifice fly. In foul territory.
Now, I have never smoked hash in Amsterdam or frequented a New Orleans bordello. I guess I am quite naive in my own way. But I had no freaking idea that was legal. Izzit? It was right in front of the dugout, so it is not like the umpire missed a fine shading. I had no idear you could do that.
My question is infield fly rule-ish: do you intentionally drop a foul fly deep in the outfield, exchanging the out for the run? And does one ever learn all the rules?
Words usually associated with federal government bureaucrats, the most recent example being Interior Department harassment of Exxon Mobil in its attempt to go about its business of fueling the world, are sometimes applicable to sports officials. Jim Joyce's blown call at 1st base ending Armando Galarraga's perfect game bid with two outs in the ninth comes to mind. Tonight's outrage in Los Angeles didn't cost a perfect game, but it did cost a talented young Colorado pitcher a chance at his seventh win of the season in arguably the best start of his career.
A first-inning home run by Carlos Gonzales held up as a Rockies 1-0 lead for 6-2/3 innings until, with the bases loaded, Denver's own "Balkin' Bob" Davidson decided to interject his subjective opinion smack into the middle of what had been a spectacular pitchers' duel. "What," Rogers lips said from the mound? "You've got to be kidding me!" For his part the only thing umpire Davidson could tell Rockies manager Jim Tracy was, "He balked. He balked." In numerous replays the television commentators could only speculate that, "He never came set. He never stopped his motion before the pitch." Driving home after the game the radio announcers had a different take. "He paused in his motion when he saw the runner at third moving down the baseline." The balk rule is one of the most complicated in baseball, requiring thirteen different definitions of what constitutes a balk. (Parts a through m of rule 8.05.) Most umpires rarely make the call. Some, like Balkin' Bob, consider themselves "experts" on the rule and use it more liberally. But like the strike zone that "shrinks" on an 0-2 count or balloons when it is 3-0, an objective umpire never calls a balk with a runner on third unless it is an obvious, clear-cut infraction that causes other players and coaches to point and yell. To do so with the bases loaded in a game with a one to nothing score is encroaching on Russian figure-skating judge territory.
Even the official rules seem to acknowledge this. A footnote to rule 8.05 reads:
Comment: Umpires should bear in mind that the purpose of the balk rule is to prevent the pitcher from deliberately deceiving the base runner. If there is doubt in the umpire's mind, the 'intent' of the pitcher should govern.
In the late innings of a masterfully pitched shutout, with two outs and all bases already occupied, Esmil Rogers 'intent' was mistake-free pitching, not deceiving base runners. Bob Davidson knows this. Tonight, Balkin' Bob jumped the shark.
Before this, the game was a carefully played gem. Afterward, with concentration destroyed, nearly every Rockie pitch was grooved right into the hitting zone and dutifully whacked for RBI after painful, almost criminal, RBI. Five runs later the Dodgers smiled and slapped hands after a victory they probably felt they actually had earned. Horseshit.
Footnote: I was tremendously proud of the way Esmil Rogers handled the situation. He threw his glove in the dugout but never yelled, never swore, never lost his self-control. His disgust was clearly evident, however, as he stood at the railing and silently glared directly at the eyes of the offending umpire for the remainder of the contest. He was and is a class act and a role model for atheletes in every sport.
At the National Western Arena. It's FREE. It's NOW.
A bit belated but here's your notice of the gymnastics on horseback show in Denver this weekend. Saturday and Sunday events are the most exciting. A schedule can be found here.
And for a bit more publicity than these pages it was mentioned in the Denver Post.
For the shameless self-promotion part, my eldest daughter won first place in her freestyle class, one of our trot pairs won first place and our Pas de Deux (also a pairs class) entry took second (Reserve Champion) in an internationally recognized event. Woo hoo!
Dos Equis' "Most Interesting Man in the World" is, naturally, an expert equestrian vaulter.
Or at least AVA and World Equestrian Games Gold Medalist, World Chamion team vaulter and stunt double Blake Dahlgren is. I have seen Blake compete in every AVA National Championship since dagny and I met, and I'm sure he was at many more before that. I was always impressed by his balance and grace (soft landings on the horse) considering his 6'3" stature. Blake began vaulting with our friends Rick and Virginia at Valley View Vaulters in Southern California, where he is now a coach.
For those who've not yet heard, former Avalanche great Peter Forsberg (age 37) has re-signed with the team ($1M) for the remainder of the season. The team's next game is 7:30 pm tonight in Phoenix (Altitude 2). But he can't play until he gets an immigration work visa. Unless a miracle is pulled off today it looks like his first start will be Wednesday in Minneapolis.
Redskins fan and WaPo columnist Jason Woodmansee took Jay Cutler's NFC Championship performance yesterday as an opportunity to repeat his pleasure that the Redskins didn't make a trade to acquire the "jerk" Cutler. But that isn't the only thing he said. I think you'll get the gist by merely reading the title of his column: The assassination of the coward Jay Cutler by everyone. I've never been a professional athlete but I am an amateur and I have to agree with those who say they'd have to be chained to a bench to keep them out of a game of this magnitude. (I still recall Steve Yzerman trying to skate pre-game on a broken leg prior to a playoff game. "Yep, it's still broken." He didn't play. But he TRIED. He WANTED to.) Jay didn't seem to have the same feeling, or even much concern for his teammates still trying to go to the Super Bowl. Say it with me: "Super ... Bowl!" I'm with Woodmansee on one thing: I'm glad Cutler isn't a Bronco anymore either.
While we're on the subject of sports, some also consider the Denver Nuggets' Carmelo Anthony a diva. His contract expires after this season and he hasn't signed the multi-million dollar extension that the team has offered. Word is he's intent on signing with the Knicks who play near his supposed home town of Brooklyn. Let me be clear [guy thinks he's Barack Obama now] - I have no complaint about pro atheletes marketing their services to the highest bidder, or even to a favored bidder for whatever reason. And as a fan of the Nuggets I don't want to see any player on the team if he'd really rather be somewhere else. It would be nice if the Nuggs could get some compensation when he leaves but even if they don't, he's free to leave.
But there's another way to succeed in pro sports. In stark and refreshing contrast to the 'Melo situation is the developing long-term nucleus of the Colorado Rockies. Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and 5-tool outfielder Carlos Gonzales have both signed long term deals with the mid-market Rockies because they love the team, love the city, and want to lead by example to their teammates that there are values in sports higher than dollars - commitment and cameraderie. And these values lead to teamwork, which leads to - winning. They may not win a World Series as a result but they'll be competitive and they'll sell lots of tickets. (I know I'll be in the stands as much as I can.)
So Denver sports fans, take heart - We don't need 'Melo, we've got Tulo, Cargo and ... Tebow!
Yours truly will be competing this year in individual, team and a pairs class with my 5 year-old. Said pairs event is scheduled for tomorrow at 1:55 Pacific Time (actual time can vary, early or late from the schedule, and the schedule can also change.)
And, believe it or not, events will be webcast live. We're in "Red Arena" which I believe will be "Arena 2" on the broadcast site. There's also a schedule page that might be updated to have us listed by name sometime tomorrow. (Eric & Zoe). Our class is called "Trot Pas de Deux" or "Trot Pairs." Wish us luck!
Last night the Colorado Rockies accomplished a feat not seen since 1901, when both the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers did it - they scored nine or more runs in the bottom of the ninth to rally for the most improbable of wins. (See all nine runs in 85 seconds here.) Catcher Miguel Olivo scored twice. Chris Ianetta and Seth Smith both hit 3-run home runs. Smith's came after lining out to first for the first out of the inning. Eight hits and a walk lead to nine runs, five of them charged against the Cardinals' closer.
I told dagny somewhere around the 7th, "This game isn't over. Those guys in the St. Louis dugout look like they're starting to relax but they'd better not." The score was 9-3 at the time. I won't claim to have predictive powers. I've just seen a lot of summer baseball at Coors Field.
A large fraction of the 32,922 in attendance, and likely of whatever television audience there was, never saw it. I don't feel so bad for the fair-weather Rockies fans though. The ones I really feel for are the Cardinals faithful, one time zone behind us, who went to bed thinking it was a win. Oops.
Yes, it's the World Cup. Yes, it's soccer "football." But it isn't only a sporting event, it's an international clash of two of the greatest nations on Earth. USA v England in soccer is like USA - Canada in Olympic hockey: A nation that lives and breathes the sport competing against the one that has the spirit and the resources to attempt excellence in every sport. Go USA.
The US women's hockey team lost gold to Canada days ago. The US men were 24 seconds from repeating the disappointment. But American Zach Parise scored a fortuitous goal that sent it to overtime. While the US men appeared to be more talented and better conditioned, the Canadians managed to win on pure desire. Sid Crosby, heir apparent to Wayne Gretzky, fired a Sakic-quick wrist shot through Ryan Miller's legs to clinch gold.
Good for them. Good for Canada. America salutes you little brother.
P.S. Thumbs down to the cynical live coverage by NBC that managed to crop much of goalie Miller's patriotic helmet art, including Uncle Sam wielding a big stick, during their numerous close ups.
For a blog with PA and Colorado ties there's been a surprising silence about the NLDS between the Rox and Phillies, the only one of four first-round series not to end in a sweep. It's about time somebody changed that.
Dagny and I left the big girls with Opa and took the baby to the game last night. We were just as ready and willing to bundle up the night before but the baseball powers that be (Pelosi and Reed?) somehow decided that yesterday's 30.0 degree first pitch was sufficiently better than Saturday's 26.6 degrees that they gave us a start time of 8:07 PM MDT (10:07 pm Eastern.) Great. After the four and a quarter hour game we arrived back at the farm around 2 am, the same time the game ended on the east coast.
Today's first pitch will be warmer (it's 44.1 and rising at the moment) and in the daylight at 4:07 local time. But the weather isn't the story, Rockies pitching is. Losing Jorge DeLaRosa in his last regular season start was a body blow. Hammel has done well this year, being one of five Rox pitchers with 10 or more wins this season, but I'd have preferred to see him start a road game instead given his bipolar performances home vs. away.
I wasn't confident going in last night but still felt the home team would pull it out at the end. The magic never struck. The hill was too steep. While Phillies fans moan that Lidge walked two in the ninth, freezing Coors Field partisans howled on every first pitch ball and each of the eight, yes EIGHT, bases on balls given up last night by the pitchers we have come to rely on since June 5th. Today, however, I'm more confident. As Tulo says, those other games were never "must win." This one is. This team has pride and today's starter has the goods. The Phillies go back home today but the Rockies invite themselves along for a one-game playoff tomorrow. Winner-take-all.
2009 KVC 2-Star Team Champion Horse: Mile High Vaulters' Sampson
Oh no, not another vaulting post!
This should be the last for a while folks. And why not? It carries final results from the 2009 Kentucky Vaulting Cup international equestrian event I introduced here last week. As the event began Sampson was featured on the front page of the Lexington newspaper, perhaps because of the novelty of his size (he was the tallest horse at the show.) But now that the show is over his photo was featured, albeit in a blog post, because of another attribute: Sampson was the horse that carried the championship vaulting team in the highest level of competition.
Mt. Eden Sun Team’s solid performance earned them a victory over the Woodside Vaulters, reversing the standing’s from Saturday’s one-star team competition. In the two-star team division, Mt. Eden scored 6.512 to Woodside’s 6.154.
The Mt. Eden Sun Team members are: Kenny Geisler, Tasha Thorner, Alicien Thrasher, Kalyn Noan, Lizzie Ioannou, Heidi Rothweiler and Makayia Clyne. Jessica Ballenger is the coach, and Jodi Rinhard [sic] longed Sampson. They were also the American Vaulting Association 2009 A team national champions.
One of the reasons this post is so many days after the fact (other than the hay harvest I just finished) is I was waiting for a video of the team freestyle to be posted somewhere. Do you think standing on the back of a cantering horse is impressive? How about standing on the shoulders of someone else who is standing on the horse! It's called a "stand on stand." Check it out.
Also, TIVO ALERT - Sampson and several Mile High Vaulters will be featured on Denver's KUSA, Channel 9 'Colorado & Company' program tomorrow, Friday, August 7 from 10-11 am Mountain Time.
It's vaulting! For the uninitiated, vaulting is the original equestrian sport. Dagny is a coach and longeur and has two horses and two vaulters at this international competition in Lexington, Kentucky. It started today and runs through Sunday. But the very best part (for those of us who didn't make the trip) is this live video feed!
[Note: When live competition is not proceeding a promotional video for WEG loops instead.]
> Single-click on "livestream" in the upper-right corner to launch a dedicated viewer. :)
> Or, click the I/O icon in the lower-left to stop streaming. :(
> Click the "ON-DEMAND" button to find a list of completed classes available for reviewing.
The Kentucky Vaulting Cup is a test event for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, which will be held at the same venue in 2010.
UPDATE: Audio now defaults to muted on refresh.
UPDATE II: I (jk) have moved the player to the "Continue Reading.." page.
Chase Utley drove in a career-best six runs, Jamie Moyer had a season-high seven strikeouts and the Philadelphia Phillies scored their most runs in nearly a decade, a 20-5 rout over the Colorado Rockies on Monday night.
Utley hit a three-run shot to tie Lance Berkman and Dan Uggla for the major league lead with 16 homers. Utley finished 3-for-6, Chris Coste added a three-run homer and Pedro Feliz had four hits and four RBIs.
Philadelphia scored its most runs since a 21-8 win over the Chicago Cubs on July 3, 1999, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Phillies batted around three times and had season-highs in hits (19) and runs a day after beating Houston 15-6.
The Colorado Rockies nascent postseason dream rolls on. AlexC voiced the Phillies' sentiment that they'd rather have faced the Padres than the Rockies. I'm confident the Diamondbacks would rather be facing the Padres too, or even the Phillies. After all, the Rox beat Arizona 10 games to 8 during the season including 2 of 3 to close it out. Had the Snakes managed to win just one of those final two games they'd have saved the Padres their early disappointment... and the Phillies theirs... and, just maybe, their own.
No I'm not counting chickens, at least not yet, but it's hard to imagine the D-backs not having some doubts. They watched Rockies pitching shut down the highest scoring team in the National League. And they did it with a pitching staff comprised of rookies, cast-offs and a second-year staff ace, none of whom anyone east of Limon has ever heard of. Then consider that Helton's Heroes led the National League in team batting average this season while Snakes batters were dead last. (Only the lowly Chicago White Sox were worse in all of MLB.) In fact, Arizona won the NL West title while allowing more runs than they scored, a feat comparable to George Bush's 2000 electoral performance over Albert Gore Jr: Both are still being studied for clues to explain how they were even possible.
A careful, objective series preview for Rox vs. Snakes isn't what this post is all about, although they stack up against each other pretty well. The point right here, right now, is that sometimes in sports "magic" happens. It isn't really magic of course, that's just what it feels like. Clint Hurdle's not a rah rah guy and rarely shows emotion on the bench, but he does know how to fire up players and inspire their best performances. He's used the same line all season: "Respect everything. Be in awe of nothing." There's a tremendous amount of power to motivate hard work and confidence in those few words. Now, on the eve of the pennant series, there's more to add: "They've [Diamondbacks] had more success than us in the past and that was always a little rock in our shoe that we've had to wear, so now the opportunity to play them in the N.L.C.S. is going to be special."
Breaking news from the Guardian UK: In the immortal words of Harry Caray, "Rockies Win! Rockies Win!"
After watching patiently for 12 and a half innings and being crushed by the two-run homer given up by a hapless Jorge Julio I announced to my parents that I'd listen to the rest of the game on the drive home. Decorated in the Troy Tulowitzki jersey I had worn to the office I loaded the sleeping kids into the car and started off on the somber drive that would witness the playing out of the end of a season to remember for the 'never-say-die' Colorado Rockies. I parted with the words, "Yeah, but we've hit him hard before" when dad grimly observed that the Padres closer is something of a legend. I was tough on the outside but in my heart I was beginning the grieving process. I was ready to say "Die well my brothers."
Fortunately, for the Rockies, for Denver, for me, I wasn't at the plate to start the bottom of the 13th against the "Hall of Fame lock" the "best closer of all time" Trevor Hoffman. Kazuo Matsui was. On a 2-2 pitch Kaz doubled to right-center. "The tying run is at the plate" says Rockies play-by-play man Jeff Kingery. I thought to myself how Jeff always puts the best spin on the situation, and what a pleasure it was to listen to his account rather than the dunderheads from Atlanta calling the game for TBS. The next batter, Troy Tulowitzki, the steeley rookie shortstop with the maturity of a mere one season under his belt, worked the dominating owner of 524 career saves into a 3-2 count before hammering the ball into the gap in left-center to score his fellow middle infielder and then legging it into a double. Still with no outs the MVP candidate Matt Holiday came to the plate. "Pinch me" I thought. Tying run in scoring position and nobody out! Matt drove a first pitch fastball into right field sending the ball and the Padres Brian Giles careening off the wall in quick succession. By the time Giles got up and got the ball back in Tulowitzki had tied the game and the winning run slid into third in the person of Matt Holliday. Nobody out. I struggled to contain my cheers lest I wake the dear little ones in the back seat. The unavoidable conclusion didn't wait long to arrive. Bud Black intentionally walked the left-handed Todd Helton to face the utility infielder who had replaced the power-hitting Garrett Atkins as a pinch runner in the seventh. On Hoffman's first pitch Jamey Carroll flew out to medium right field and Holliday tagged up. Sliding in head first, after a pregnant pause, "He's in there!! Barrett dropped the ball! The Rockies have won the game!" There's only one word to describe a win like this one - "Epic."
On an interesting side note, and something I didn't notice throughout the entire game until watching DVR'd replays after the fact, the mechanical out-of-town scoreboard that Brian Giles bounced off of in right field was replete with game scores. But there weren't any other games today. Hey, those are yesterday's scores. Why would the Coors Field staff leave yesterday's scores plastered all over the right field wall? Was everyone occupied hanging the bunting for this 'not quite postseason, not quite regular season' winner take all crap shoot? Or, perhaps, they wanted to remind the Padres what happened to them yesterday in Milwaukee, losing 11-6 at the hands of the Brewers. I don't know what to say, except thank you Brewers. Thank you Ned Yost.
Next stop: The city of brotherly love and the Phillies. See you Wednesday!
For a brief second, it looked like Cleveland Browns were off to a 2-1 start for the 2007 season. The Oakland Raiders, using a tactic that worked against them last week with the Denver Broncos, would call a timeout at the last second and make Phil Dawson and the Browns attempt a field goal a second time. The first, that didn't matter, sailed through the goal posts. The second attempt would be blocked.
In a more enlightened age, when the risks and the costs of these medical miracles come down, we'll look back on Bonds' triumph as a victory for all of us. We'll see our booing of him as symptoms of a silly, Luddite phobia of manipulating our own bodies. I'm sure there was an equal outcry when makeup was invented. And hair dye and the Wonder bra. How our ancestors went on, I have no idea.
Bonds is not using a corked bat, which many players have, just as plenty of pitchers have scuffed balls. He has simply redesigned his body. Like so many of us have. Medicine, surgery and genetic engineering are no more an affront to God than drinking the protein shakes he didn't leave on the vine. And until we accept that, we're going to keep losing to those we call cheaters.
So next week, I'll be watching Bonds with my Lasiked eyes, free of the scar that was laser-pulsed from my nose, while I run a hand through my Rogained hair. And of course I'll be holding -- because it makes me feel better -- a beer.
I'm wondering if the pitch that goes over the fence is going to a sandbagged "i want to be the one that threw that pitch" kind of deal.
I bleed black and gold. It's been that way ever since April 24, 1985, when the University of Colorado Golden Buffaloes reverted to their traditional color scheme from the ghastly "Air Force Blue" mandated by the University's Board of Regents in 1981 (the year of my matriculation to CU).
Colorado football has seen rough times since the 1990 National Championship season, Coach McCartney's abrupt resignation in 1994, and the November 23, 2001 blowout victory over Nebraska (the "62-36" game). Troubles on the field coincided with off-field distractions in 2004-2005 arising from a largely trumped up case of date rape by Boulder DA Mary Keenan Lacy, who took office in 2001 and who boasts of becoming "a successful prosecutor and national instructor on Acquaintance Rape," on her official web page.
Despite the recent disappointments, Buff fans still had the Nebraska rivalry to keep their hopes high and their blood warm. Since the Buffaloes finally broke through and defeated Nebraska in 1989, and again in the Championship season, it has been the red-letter game for the team and its fans. The 2001 team dealt an embarrasing defeat to "The Corn" but with this year's loss are 2-3 in subsequent matchups.
The Buffaloes stayed home this bowl season. Under first year head coach Dan Hawkins they managed only two victories all season, four shy of the minimum for bowl eligibility. As such, die hard fans such as myself are relegated to rooting for other Big 12 teams in the various bowls. Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Texas did the conference proud with victories while Kansas State and Texas A&M were blown out and Missouri lost a squeaker to Oregon State.
Then there was the Auburn-Nebraska Cotton Bowl game today. I'm sorry, it just isn't possible for me to root for The Corn. Even against an SEC opponent. At the end of this year's CU-NU game, which was 14-14 late into the 3rd quarter, Nebraska had scored on a trick play and added two more touchdowns but CU's Hawkins was not about to quit. When he called a time out late in the game, Nebraska's coach Bill Callahan shook his head and smirked. "What an ass," I thought. "Is a coach not supposed to do his job for the full 60 minutes? Does he inspire a warrior spirit in his players by folding up his playbook when his team trails late in a game?" Apparently that is precisely Callahan's philosophy. Fast forward to the end of today's Cotton Bowl. The teams were tied 14-14 at halftime and Auburn added a field goal in the 3rd quarter. Nebraska had its chances to score but never capitalized, even forgoing a 47-yard field goal attempt for a pass play on 4th and 13. (Apparently the coach who is a "rare find" found an average field goal kicker to be even rarer during recruiting season.) But with 1 minute to go Auburn had 3rd down, 2 yards to go. They ran a sweep right and the Auburn ball carrier was tackled at the line to make. It was close. The officials ruled a first down... without a measurement. Callahan's reaction? The smirk. He took off his headset and handed it to an assistant. "Game over," he clearly thought, still smirking.
Fortunately for Callahan's team, the officials didn't think so. A booth review showed that the Auburn player was down by contact before the ball crossed the line to make. It was 4th and 1 and Auburn had to punt. Unfortunately for Callahan's team, coach Bill didn't find it necessary to replace his smirk with his headset before his offense ran two more plays, both incomplete passes. As he walked to midfield to shake hands with the Auburn coach, he smirked.
Perhaps if coach hadn't given up his players might have given a better effort, with a better result. Perhaps not. Either way, I'll take coach Hawkins over pretty-boy Callahan to lead my young men in battle every time.
P.S. I'm still undecided in a rooting interest for tonight's Fiesta Bowl. The Oklahoma Sooners are in the Big 12 but their coach, Bob Stoops, is almost as arrogant a prima donna as Callahan. And the Boise State Broncos were coached last season by... Colorado's new coach, Dan Hawkins. The balance may be tipped in the Broncos' favor by this article on ESPN. Either way, it should be a whale of a game!
Dagny and I were stunned this morning when Google News included a Hawaii Channel.com story headlined Denver Bronco Williams Dies in Drive-By Shooting. I didn't immediately realize who "Williams" was since it's a common surname. I opened the link expecting to read about a backup player we knew little about. Instead I received a second shock when I read the murdered Bronco was starting cornerback Darrent Williams. Darrent has been something of a phenomenon in Denver over the last two seasons and was a fan favorite.
Authorities say that prior to the shooting Williams, Javon Walker and a few other players were at a club when an alteration [sic] broke out with other patrons inside the bar. Williams and his friends decided to leave and the shooting took place moments later.
ESPN reports that "In December, Williams spoke of his desire to return to his hometown of Fort Worth, Texas, this offseason to talk to kids about staying out of gangs." [...] "When he was younger, he always gravitated to the wrong crowd," said Criss, who coached Williams for three seasons at O.D. Wyatt High in Fort Worth and continued to speak regularly with Williams.
It's too early to tell if Darrent's troubled youth was to blame in the altercation, but the kind of reckless disregard for the law and for human life displayed by the shooter is typical of urban "gangstas." The only good news in these reports is that there seem to be plenty of leads to identify the murderer.
I'm definately on the Phillies bandwagon of late... 58 home run hitter Ryan Howard (au natural) AND a wild-card race.
I watched last night's 8-7 14 inning victory until the end, and now I feel like I need to watch tonight's 4 1/2 hour rain delayed game. (An 11:30 pm start)
They're a game and a half back behind the Dodgers and some baseball team from one of those square states out west keeps dropping the ball.
Update: 12:30 am, fourth inning, 1-0 Washington. Highlight so far? Jefferson, Washington and Lincoln running down the first base line. They're guys in regular suits, except for the 8 foot tall heads. I guess that's so you can see them from the upper deck..
Jefferson takes a face plant in the dirt. Ha! He gets up, and shakes his enormous head.
I guess we'd never know if his face turned red.
Update: 1:46 AM. Ken Mandell was the guy playing Jefferson.
Update: That's all she wrote. 3-1 Nationals. Phils now two games back of the Dodgers in the wildcard race. Only the Giants sweeping the Dodgers can help them now.
That bum of a football "player" is now playing for the Dallas Cowboys.
Terrell Owens has gone from stomping on the Dallas Cowboys' star logo to wearing it on his helmet.
The reviled receiver joined the Cowboys on Saturday, signing a contract to play for Jerry Jones and Bill Parcells in what promises to be an interesting combination of strong personalities.
There's no questioning his talent -- Owens has consistently put up numbers the Cowboys have lacked since Michael Irvin was in the prime of his career a decade ago.
It's his attitude that prompted the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles to get rid of Owens. His relationship with the Eagles soured only months after he led them to the Super Bowl, finally ending with his release Tuesday.
Given that Eagles fans hate the Dallas Cowboys more than Satan himself, I eagerly anticipate the day when the Eagles host the Cowboys.
The schedule isn't out yet, but let's hope for Monday Night.