seeking knowledge and laughter, putting a bullseye on inaccuracy


Thoughts on sports and games

Party Photos

I finally posted the photos from Rane's party in the spring. There is a great gallery of Harley running across the yard. Such a noble creature!


Good luck to Kimmi and Walchka in the Philly Olympic-length triathlon on Sunday.


I'm glad to see the U.S. lose. No more disappointment. No more yearning for the team to finally hit its stride. After today's match, I'm forced to conclude that daddYman was correct and the U.S. team blows. Anyway, I'm tired of it.

I was really frustrated with bad reffing in general, but I sit here watching the Japan V Brasil game and I've rediscovered my love for watching futbol on TV. Brasil is amazing and Japan doesn't care. And the ref is not a blithering idiot. At least not yet. Again, the ref did not lose the games for the U.S. - he just made the game that much more painful to watch.

My friend and fellow eGov Intern, Zach wrote the following and I wanted to repost it.

U.S. Cuts Off All Foreign Aid to Ghana

Washington D.C., USA

The world's only superpower announced today, following the U.S. National team's embarrassing loss, that it would block all foreign aid efforts to Ghana. When asked why the world's wealthiest nation would withdraw support from the impoverished west African nation, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice responded, "based on today's match, we can only conclude that they're faking it."

Commercial Song

I finally found the song from the best World Cup commercial yet. This Adidas commercial is fun - sometimes I rewind the DVR to watch it again. If advertisers want to be effective, they should learn from this ad. Brilliant.

The song is by Jim Noir, called "Eanie Meany" and is from the Tower of Love album. Great stuff.

Australian Techball

Australia played quite well in a 2-0 loss to Brasil today. Unreal. Australia definitely had a shot at victory - holding Brasil scoreless until the 48th minute or something like that. They definitely missed a few opportunities, including an open net, but they had great chances. A fun game.

Now I find out that Australia uses some high-tech computer software to profile opposing teams and analyze them. Cool stuff. This will help program the robo-players by 2024. The Robocup, however, that already exists.


Two amazing futbol games today. The first was Ghana V Czech Republic and was everything a soccer match should be. Intense, back and forth, strong teams. The second was a total travesty.

First off, the ref was clearly suffering from some sort of dementia. In no way should this be claimed as the reason the United States totally blew it - but the ref was quite poor.

As for the United States, I am no longer a fan of Eddie Pope or Bruce Arena. Pope cost us the first goal when instead of defending against a set piece, he left his man go and tried to convince the linesman that Italy was offside. This is one of the stupidest, most irresponsible things any player can do. And it cost us the goal.

Pope goes on to collect a yellow card from a clearly demented ref. Italy hits a horrible bit a of luck and puts in an own-goal, leveling the match, and then gets a player ejected for a flagrant elbow. Suddenly, the United States looks terrific again. We had started incredibly strong and looked great until Pope decided to pursue a zebra career and allowed that early goal. After the red card to Italy, the U.S. looked strong again.

Going into halftime, Therneau and I were pleading with the TV to let Arena sub Pope out before he got a second yellow and lost our man advantage.

Within minutes of the second half commencement, the ref manufactured a minor foul into a red card against an American player who was then ejected. Horrible call. Then Pope deservedly picked up his second yellow for a terrible tackle from behind - making the U.S. played a man down against Italy for the rest of the match!

Bruce Arena, the brilliant coach of the U.S. defeat today, then did not use his final substitution to bring in a fresh player in the closing minutes for reasons that utterly defy logic. Despite the fact that our lone striker was clearly exhausted and incapable of generating anything to create a victory, Eddie Johnson (a great player who came off the bench exceptionally well in the last game) remained seated.

I don't know exactly why Pope and Arena acted this way today, but I sure hope they made some money in Vegas off of their actions.

World Cup!

Starts tomorrow!!

All games will be broadcast in HD on either ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2. Games are in late morning and early afternoon. TV Schedule.

B-Ball Eval

To praraphrase one of the dumber commercials I have seen this weekend, I have March sadness. Let's see - not only did Syracuse lose, they lost with G. Mac missing all his field goal attempts.

Mostly though, I am sad because CBS is clearly incompetent when it comes to presenting so many basketball games. I sit in front of a massive high-def TV, watching a poor regular game which is clearly not in high-def. Blowing up such a poor signal dramatizes just how poor the signal is. Thank you CBS for showing 25% - 50% of the games in high-def.

On top of it, CBS has broadcast rules that govern the package daddYman got so we could watch all the games. The local affiliate is supposed to show one game and all the other games are shown on the channels we pay for. The extra channels show all the games except for the one which is shown on the local channel. However, for every single block of games thus far, they have blocked out the wrong game.

Thus, we can watch one game on two channels (the same feed) and watch one game (generally the one in which I am most interested of course) on no channels. Awesome. Calling the support number results in confusing dialogue with people someone in India who do not appear to be able to respond other than to say they are following the CBS rules.

How I yearn for a competent network or people who can fix problems. How exactly does CBS get this contract? Not only can they not offer the games in high-def, the production is of terrible quality, as the sound cuts in and out and video occasionally cuts to commercials in the middle of a free throw or something like that.

I wonder if this is my penance after bashing Fox so much during football season. At least Fox has the Fox Sports Network. ABC has ESPN to enable it to show multiple games - all in high def if they wanted. Yet somehow CBS gets the rights to broadcast - a network which prioritizes both golf and David Letterman in the high-def format over actual sports where the high-def actually makes a difference. I have to wonder if UPN or SpikeTV could do a worse job if they bidded enough to get the NCAA contract.

The moral of this weekend: CBS sucks. Thinking about it, I cannot think of a single TV show I like on this network. This doesn't say much as I watch little non-sports TV but as I am stuck watching 40 minutes of CBS commercials for every 30 minutes of basketball and I have to wonder why anyone would tune into CBS if it weren't for sports broadcasting monopolies.

Lest you think my complaints the meaningless whinings of a couch-ridden grumpy jock who is recovering from ankle surgery, let me assure you that CBS's decisions and commercials change the game itself. One ESPN analyst pointed out at the beginning of the tournament that the ridiculously long and frequent commercial breaks mean that teams do not have to go deep into their benches because players can catch their breaths during the frequent time outs.

Awesome. CBS: FU. If you are going to screw up the game, you could at least do it in high-def while allowing me to watch the pathetic caricature of a game I actually want to see.

Moving away from my rant, I wanted to make sure that non-sports fans are aware of the San Diego State Arena fiasco. The games in that arena yesterday were delayed for 2 hours when a bomb-sniffing dog found something interesting -- in a hot dog cart.

The large silver cart, filled with condiments, straws and paper towels among other items, initially drew the suspicion of one dog, McManus said. Another dog detected the same thing.

Now that is just funny. Welcome to security in this modern life.


I got the madness! I've created 2 brackets - one in which 'Nova beats West Virginia for the championship and one where Duke finally loses to Boston College in the finals. I'm excited!

If anyone else wants to have some fun - we can create free bracket challenge competitions at ESPN. They automatically score it and everything. Walchka was talking about a potential pool if anyone is interested. If you are down, contact me.

Just for Funsies, I thought I would list the teams I most want to see win the tourney - in order.

West Virginia
N.C. State
Air Force
Boston College
Seton Hall
Team composed of Saddam Hussein, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Ariel Sharon, and Osama bin Laden (with Condi Rice, Bill O'Reilly, and Ann Coulter making contributions from the bench); coached by Rumsfeld

* Of course, I would rather see aliens abduct the entire cast of Scrubs than see Duke win.

College Basketball

Using similar methodology as used to examine Sumo wrestling in Freakonomics, some dude has found evidence of points shaving in college basketball games. Check out this NY Times article before they charge you for it. (free registration required if you have never viewed NYT articles before)

Unlikely? Perhaps.

It is played by young men who don't usually have a lot of money. With just five players on the court, one person can determine the outcome. And the point-spread system, in which bets are based on the margin of victory rather than wins and losses, allows players to fix a game without losing it.

So this Wolfers guy did some research:

Mr. Wolfers has collected the results of nearly every college basketball game over the last 16 years. In a surprisingly large number of them, it turns out that heavy favorites just miss covering the spread. He considered a number of other explanations, but he thinks there is only one that can explain the pattern. Point shaving appears to be occurring in about 5 percent of all games with large spreads.

This may not seem like much, but with such a large sample size, the results are rather significant. But what method would these nefarious young folks use?

In the past, when players shaved points, they would do it by slacking on defense - allowing the person they were guarding to score a little bit easier. At the end of a game, it is hard to tell when someone is faking being a step slow.

One of the alternative explanations is that the winning teams tend to pull their primo players toward the end which results reduces the margin of victory. This is unlikely given the mathematics of the situation.

Smaller favorites — teams favored by 12 or fewer points — beat the spread almost exactly 50 percent of the time, showing how good those oddsmakers are at their jobs. But heavy favorites cover in only 47 percent of their games. There is little chance that the difference is due to randomness.

Remember, these oddsmakers are not just picking a spread randomly. There is a lot of money on the line so they must use mathematical models - as Mr. Mellencamp says, "This here is serious business." Of course, he was talking about sex and violence and rock 'n' roll.

There is a strange dearth of games in which 12-point favorites win by, say, 13 or 16 points. And there are a lot of games that they win by 11 points or slightly less. There is just no good explanation for this.

This is one of those things that the Supreme Court hates. Courts often reason that you can show a bank is only loaning money to white people and turning minorities down, but they are not breaking the law unless you can show it is intentional. In short, many people find such statistics less than convincing.

The article qualifies that this is not really "proof" but that it is enough evidence to justify further investigation. Especially when coupled with a survey of players that suggests that 1.5% know someone who played poorly on purpose for money.

I think a larger question is why so many top nationally-ranked teams seem to do poorly in their conference tournaments? This seems like a much closer parallel to the Sumo wrestling example in Freakonomics where Sumo wrestlers would lose more matches when they were already guaranteed to move ahead in the playoffs. This is complicated and if you really care, read the damn book, I'm not going to explain it.

The question is whether there is motivation for some team like UConn to lose to Syracuse (this is a rhetorical example, as Syracuse is clearly such a dominant team, they would have won anyway - especially with the under-ranked G Mac (take that, anonymous assistant coaches). Perhaps this is not a trend and I just pay attention when the top ranked teams lose and imagine a trend where there is none because I ignore the many cases where top-ranked teams win (Duke for example this year).

I guess i won't spend more time thinking about this until someone else does the math to see if it warrants investigation. So someone else, get busy!

Swimming Photos

More swimming photos! These photos are from the Macalester V Gustavus swim meet on 27 January, 2006. I really like some of the underwater long exposure shots. Turned out well except for my inability to keep the lead hand in the frame. Something to work on, as always.

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