Saturday, October 29, 2011

"No, I am your father." (Quotent Quotables)



"It's like the last plane out of Saigon."
-- Sean McAdam,
comparing the Boston Red Sox' emotion after their loss on the last game of the regular season keeping them out of the playoffs to the day the United States realized that it had spent the lives of thousands of young men needlessly in a global chessmatch, and abruptly cut and run, abandoning to a brutal communist regime the civilians it had promised to protect.
Also,it was a helicopter, so way to go on the history.

"If you're a Rangers fan, there were 3 or 4 times you thought you'd won the World Series. That's got to be brutal today."

-- Paulie,
on The Dan Patrick Show, displaying for listeners just how easy his life has been in that he thinks someone else losing a game is brutal.

That quote from Paulie was about game six, by the way -- so the Rangers still had a shot. But this may be a particularly appropriate post in light of the fact that the Rangers now actually lost the Series last night. I know that from Twitter; I haven't read any of the stories about it because I (a) don't care and (b) would probably just get mad, in re this post's subject.

Here's how long you can be sad after a team which you don't play on loses a game:

Regular season game: 2 minutes.
Post-season game: 5 minutes.
Championship: 10 minutes.

That's it.

Let's get a sense of perspective here, can we? It's a game. It is a... game... that has absolutely zero impact on anything that matters. It is entertainment, and it is no more important or worth mourning than any other thing you watch on TV, see in a theater, or look at in an art museum or play in an XBox. Crying, being upset (more than momentarily), being angry about sports is like being said about Degas' The Absinthe Drinker:



Or maybe more ridiculous, in that The Absinthe Drinker, a painting that was panned when it first came out and then generally ridiculed (one commentator called the woman in the painting a whore, which really shows the difference in cultures between then and now. Back in 1893, a woman could sit in full dress in an absinthe lounge and be seen as a threat to the morals of society. Nowadays, Courtney Stodden gets kicked out of a pumpkin patch and ends up on Dr. Dean, which, is he really a doctor?)

At least The Absinthe Drinker was saying something important about society -- it was said to represent the decline of Paris although the subject matter was deemed vulgar (back then, the Parents' Councils had to boycott paintings, I bet). Sports don't say anything more important about society than that we have enough money to pay Ryan Fitzpatrick a guaranteed $2 million per win so far but not enough money to, as a society, pay for treatment for Nikki White's lupus so that she wouldn't die of a treatable condition.

Even if those quotes above are taken as joking, or as referring only to a sports kind of brutal rather than a brutal kind of brutal (you know what's brutal, Paulie? A Texas man in 2010 was sentenced to 99 years in prison for having locked three kids in a hotel bathroom and starving them to the point of brain atrophy while he raped the eldest one. That went on for 9 months. Or about as long as the baseball season. How long do you suppose Rangers' fans felt bad about that?) they're still overblown, because sports are entertainment and while it's all right to root for a team or teams (as I do) and against Tony Romo (as I do) you've got to keep it in perspective. These guys are millionaires. They don't care. If they cared about winning championships Aaron Kampman wouldn't have left Green Bay the year after they made the playoffs and before they won the Super Bowl to go to Jacksonville.

So they don't really care, but you care, which is fine, provided that you care no more than you ought to, and here's how I measure how much you ought to care and how I came up with those numbers in this post. Remember that quote in the headline? It's from The Empire Strikes Back, which is generally regarded as the best of the Star Wars movies by everyone but me (I prefer Star Wars).

Well, what happened in Empire? Nothing good for the good guys, who kept getting the tar beat out of them. Han Solo was frozen in carbonite. Chewie and C3PO might never have consummated their love (thanks, Lisa Pepin!). Luke was attacked by a Wampa, crash-landed on a swamp, saw his greatest fear, and then had his hand cut off while learning that he was related to Dick Cheney. At the end, the Rebel forces were scattered and Lando had the Falcon back. The only movie that was more sad was Schindler's List.

But people didn't rend their garments, gnash their teeth, and beat up their wives after Empire. They loved it because even though the good guys kept losing it was exciting.

Sports aren't real. Don't be an idiot. Hope for an exciting game and if your team wins, great. If they lose, too bad. Then it's over and grow up and move on.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Maybe if we let Michael Vick electrocute the Liberty Bell? (Quotent Quotables)

"When your city's savior is Michael Vick, you stop worrying about what people think of you."

-- Daniel Tosh, commenting on a video showing one Philadelphian kicking another man in the ribs with pointy boots:

Tosh.0Tuesdays 10pm / 9c
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So not only did throwing a bunch of money at a man who electrocuted dogs get the Eagles a winning team -- the Eagles are 2-4 and 12th in the NFC right now, with as many wins as Seattle and Carolina -- but it also gave us another reason to make fun of Philadelphia as a city, which really says a lot, given that the city started as the birthplace of freedom and now is known for being a home for violent morons.

Wisconsin fans: throw yourself a Hail Mary pass with this idea...

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Net10 for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

 

True story: Last week Sunday morning, I was sitting at the lounge area of my health club

 – yeah, my health club has a lounge area; it’s my favorite part of working out –

 waiting for Sweetie, and I was listening to people all around me talking about Wisconsin losing to Michigan State the night before

-          Yeah, I eavesdrop on people around me; it’s my second-favorite part of working out –

So I decided to check it out for myself, and pulled out my phone, went online, found the highlights from the final play, and watched it, sitting right there.  And that’s when I realized two things:

1.       Wisconsin fans are complainers; the ball clearly got across the line, so relax, and

2.       Wisconsin fans are cheap.

I realized that last part because all of the people around me who had been just talking about the play gathered around me to watch the play, all of them relying on my phone.

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How do I know that? Because I’m smart, and also because I listen to What Rob has to say and I watch commercials like this:

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Aaron Rodgers: Interdimensional QB. (Brett Favre's Legacy Update)



"He can win two Super Bowls, but he still has a way to go to match Brett Favre's career."

That was Dan Patrick on his show on Friday of this week, discussing what Aaron Rodgers might have to do to match Brett Favre; I tuned in late to the discussion, so I didn't know why Dan was talking about Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers that day. At first I assumed it was that there was some sort of universal rule that said that a week cannot pass without mentioning Brett Favre in a football context. (A rule I'm fine with, by the way, since Favre made football exciting and I think we can all agree that the NFL is a little less exciting this year than it was last year, in that with Favre gone there's that much more time to devote to covering the Jacksonville Jaguars, which in the end is a net loss for everybody, including the Jaguars, who I'm sure would just as soon nobody pay attention to them the way I would like nobody to look at me while I'm jogging. Me exercising is like Jaguar football: I have to do it, but it's not pretty and if we all pretend it's not happening we'll all be better off.)

But, just to be sure that nothing big had happened -- did Favre sign with Miami? Did he go on the air again and say that The Anointed One ought to have won six or seven Super Bowls plus probably a Pulitzer by now? -- I googled "Aaron Rodgers" and found a couple of stories about how A-Rodg almost never fumbles, with an intriguing tag line:




In case you have trouble reading it, the lead there -- I don't spell it lede, as is all the rage among nouveau journalistas today, because that's stupid (or, as the nouveaus might say, stupde) -- is

Aaron Rodgers is excelling in a dimension of quarterbacking that is as...

But it cuts off! And if you click on the link you find out that to get the rest of the story as Paul Harvey liked to say, you have to join the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's insider club or something, and I refuse to join anything just to get news, even news as important as what dimension quarterback Aaron Rodgers is currently residing in.

Is it the fifth? I bet it's the fifth.

Which brings to mind another dimension-traveling quarterback:



Hard to say if that's a brilliant, ahead-of-its-time movie or the Packers' walk-through for the Bears' game, right?

I guess what I'm saying is that Dan Patrick is holding Brett Favre up as the ultimate paragon of all quarterback-ery, which of course he is, but let's not discount the possibility that Aaron Rodgers might yet save the universe.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

It took only 48 hours for someone to ask Siri to marry him. (Update On God)


Okay, so this has nothing to do with sports at all, but you don't come to this blog for sports information, do you? Of course not. You come for scantily-clad women, and stay for the Updates On God, which I provide you with because I am the number one news source people turn to to find out what God has been up to.

Today's Update on God: God has revealed to Apple that he is a Christian god, and Apple then revealed it to the world inadvertently via Siri, which is being heralded as a breakthrough in artificial intelligence but is nothing more than Heinlein's Gay Deceiver before she got the Turing mode update and became self-aware...

... that might be the most obscure thing I've ever typed. Watch this video and then I'll explain:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Talking iPhone 4S
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive



1. Siri, when asked about God, clearly asked Colbert only if he was looking for churches -- not mosques or synagogues or, say, the Acropolis. So either God is a Christian God and wants nothing to do with all those other religions or Apple is trying not to offend Republicans by suggesting that if they say God they might want to go to a mosque.

2. Siri isn't any big deal; from what I can tell it just keys in on code words and provides pre-programmed responses to help you say more code words so it can provide results to you, which brings up

3. In The Number Of The Beast, by Robert Heinlein, Zebadiah John Carter owns a plane/car that he calls "Gay Deceiver." Gay Deceiver is voice-activated and responds to Zeb's commands with a variety of responses; while it seems intelligent, it's not. Zeb explains that he just had someone record a variety of responses and then weighted them to be repeated back to him in varying amounts.

That's what Siri is.

And everyone who lined up to buy the iPhone 4s got ripped off.

But, if it will make you feel better:


Link

They won last night, didn't they? They did -- so there you go: actual sports information.

Also: the headline to this post is true, and the story is as aggressively lame as you suspect it might be.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Baseball: The Grand Illusion! (WHODATHUNKIT?!: The 3 Best Things You REALLY Want To Know About the 2011 World Series!)


WHODATHUNKIT!?, like John Stamos' career, is a joint effort between The Best Of Everything and Nonsportsmanlike Conduct!

Another major event, another major post -- WHODATHUNKIT!?, remember, is my post that, for every single major event in the world, provides you not the usual load of garbage the media foists off on you, but a unique brand of garbage that only I foist off on you: namely, three things that you probably didn't know about the major event, but which, once you do know them will fill you with wonder, a sense of mystery, and, provided that you subscribe to the payperview, 5D-version* of this blog, dark energy.

*5D version not available in Albuquerque, because screw you, Albuquerque.**

**They know what they did.

This year's World Series, like every World Series, qualifies as a major event, not just because I'm going for that coveted "I'm 78 years old and I love baseball" blog demographic***

*** I see you there, Mr. Kascheski! Hi!

but also because, as I understand it, nearly 14 people will annually tune in to watch the World Series, which, let's face it, is still more than will watch the entire run of that "new" Tim Allen "show" about how "men" leave the "toilet" seat "up."

Don't mind that last sentence. I was trying a little thing to see if extra quotation marks would give me a little gravitas, and I have to say, I think it "worked."

I watched a little baseball this year, "a little"*4

*4 Gravitas! Which, when you think about it, could actually be the Latin word for Dark Energy. And, having said that, I'm 90% sure that in about three months we will read that people at the Large Hadron Collider discovered gravitas, because who's paying attention? Besides me, I mean? And I'm not, really, because I've also got the TV on and I'm sort of listening to Colbert.

meaning only three innings of game 6 of the Series between the Brewers and the Cardinals before I fell asleep Sunday night. I feel bad about that, because the Brewers gave up four runs before I tuned in, and then when I was watching they were doing pretty well (or "pretty good" as I say when I don't feel I'm being watched by the Grammar Police) and then I fell asleep and they lost, which kind of proves that Dark Energy really exists because it was clearly influencing the Brewers through my "efforts" at watching them on TV.

Speaking of the Large Hadron Collider, did you know that you can help look for the Higgs Boson (a/k/a, The Best Way to Prove that "Scientists" Are Making It Up)? It's true: If you're the type of person who leaves his home computer on (Guilty!)*5

*5 Wait, I meant to plead not guilty! No! Get these cuffs off of me! Fools! Only I can stop them!*6

*6 I've had a little too much coffee already today. Does it show? And, more importantly, do you think that by using all these footnotes I'm subconsciously emulating that one guy who wrote Infinite Jest and then died and everyone wrote all that nice stuff about him so I went out and bought Infinite Jest, spending $18 on it, only to find it completely unreadable, giving up on it 70 pages in, and then I felt sad that I'd wasted my finite book money on a book that was terrible, and so I've never forgiven him and can't even remember his name?

then you can use your home computer to help search for the Higgs Boson (which doesn't exist, and might as well be called a gravitas) by joining the LHC@Home 2.0 effort: a program which will let your home computer simulate complex particle collisions and then send the results back to the Large Hadron Collider, which will compare them to the results it obtains, and, who knows, maybe YOU will discover the Higgs Boson *7

*7 You won't

And, in doing so, earn yourself a Nobel Prize -- because that's what that other guy got the Nobel for, remember: Taking photographs of space and comparing them to each other.

I've got a screenshot of what it looks like when your computer is simulating those particle collisions, so you'll know what to expect:




Try not to get too amazed by the science-osity of it all. Also, note that that screenshot, which is an Actual Screenshot of Science, proves that dark energy is all around us 'cause it's really dark in space.

About time I got around to the World Series, don't you think? Me, too:

1. Who invented the curveball? Trick question! There's no such thing as a curveball!

Well, okay, there's a little such thing as a curveball. But not really. Just about a year ago, a two researchers published a paper that showed that while curveballs move a little, the real effect of a curveball is... all in your mind!

Darn. I was hoping for some spooky music and effects there.

Anyway, the researchers found that the curveball's "break" or deviation from a straight line, is real, but very gradual-- not the drop that most viewers expect.*8

*8: A curve ball, contrary to what I always thought, doesn't curve right or left, but down: it has top spin, which makes the air pressure higher on top of the ball and pushes the ball downward, making Dizzy Dean's famous defense of a curve ball's actually curving ("Stand behind a tree 60 feet away and I'll whomp you with an optical illusion!") not make much sense, unless that tree was one of Larry Niven's integral trees.

The researchers hypothesized that the curve that viewers, and batters, claim they see isn't a curve at all, but an effect of switching from central to peripheral vision: The batter, they said, sees the ball using central vision until it's traveled 2/3 of the way to the plate, at which point they start using peripheral vision -- until the ball is at the plate and they switch back to central vision, which makes it seem as though the ball has dropped more because of the switch. Peripheral vision, they explain, has trouble distinguishing between various motions like velocity and spin, and the eye tends to follow the motion of the ball (downward) making it seem further like the ball is dropping.

Too much reading? I could've put the video first... but then all those words I typed would still be bottled up inside me, waiting to get their shot at fame. You wouldn't want to deny a word its time in the limelight, right? So now, give a word a hug and watch the video:


With that question answered, let's move on to question 2!

2. No, really, who invented the curveball?

Well, aren't you singleminded! As I was trying to find out the answer to that question, I wondered to myself "How many pitches are there in baseball, and how many are banned?" So I went to Baseball Reference.com, which ought to know, and found out the answer, which I will quote verbatim:

There are many, many types of pitches in baseball.
Okay! Moving on!

Actually, Baseball Reference lists four standard pitches (four-seam fastball, curve ball, slider, and change-up, the latter being a pitch thrown exactly like a fastball... only it comes in slow, and throws off the batter.)

Then, the Reference has 5 variations on the fastball:

The Two Seam Fastball, a fastball in which the fingers are held along the seams rather than across them, causing more movement and a slower throw,

The Sinker, which is a two-seam fastball thrown near the edge of the strike zone and is intended to drop out of it entirely,

The splitter, a sinker with a better downward break (or thrown against batters with worse peripheral vision?), a pitch that isn't used much because it causes injuries in pitchers,

the Cut Fastball, a ball thrown inside from an opposite-handed pitcher (lefty pitcher, righty batter, for example) that, when it works best results in a broken bat, and

the Running Fastball, which is a cut fastball when it's thrown by a pitcher with the same-handedness as the batter.

Don't those all appear to be simply standard pitches thrown in a particular area? That'd be like football calling a handoff a short pass with no gap between the quarterback and the running back.

But then there's all these trick pitches:

The Circle change, which looks like a two-seam fastball but then breaks in an opposite direction to that expected,

the Palmball, a changeup that's actually a fastball thrown using the palm of the ball to slow the pitch down, thereby making the batter swing before the pitch gets to the plate...

...and the existence of that pitch really does suggest suggest that a lot of this is in the batter's mind and tricks of the eye, doesn't it? A batter sees a fastball motion and swings but the ball isn't there yet and so he misses -- that's not pitch location or curve. That's just tricking the batter...

and the Gyroball, which made news not long ago because nobody believed it existed; the gyroball is a pitch that "falls faster than a fastball, but slower than a curve, and hardly breaks inside or outside." It's thrown with a spin that mimics the way a football spins -- the axis more or less parallel to the trajectory. The gyroball gets to the plate faster than the batter expects and makes the batter late on the ball, and because it's spinning looks like a breaking ball when it's not...

... which, seriously, it is all just illusions, isn't it?


There's also a two-seam gyroball, both of which tend to make the batters swing under them and miss, expecting the ball to drop more than they do.

The Japanese invented the Gyroball, and also

the Shuuto, a ball that breaks down and to the right, so, not very exciting. I expected more, so back to America with

the Knuckleball, a ball Baseball Reference describes as "tantalizingly slow but dances all over the place."

So like Christina Aguilera:



That really was just an excuse to put that picture in there.

Here's Sean O' Leary, knuckleballer:


And the first couple pitches I watched in that video didn't seem to move at all, but let's get a little more Baseball Reference hyperbole before exploring that. Says the BR:

It's been said that a knuckleball screws everybody up, as "the hitter can't hit it, the catcher can't catch it, and the umpire can't call it."

They don't attribute that quote. I bet it was Gandhi. Was it Gandhi? It was probably Gandhi.

Now go back and watch that video. At about 1:30 Sean throws a bunch of pitches that all appear to go perfectly straight. The slowed-down one about 2:32 in particular looks like it would've been knocked out of the park by everybody but me; I have lazy eye.

Other pitches with funny names include the "Eephus" an "impossibly slow" pitch invented by by Rip Sewell of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1930s -- "basically a lob to the catcher", BR says, that's not really used, a "Forkball" which "tumbles out of the strike zone (rather than breaks out of it) when thrown" that's a "brain scrambler" when the wind is blowing, and the:


Vulcan Change-up This is similar to the forkball. Often called V change or the "trekkie" because of its unnatural grip. It is held like the Vulcan greeting that is used by Spock the Vulcan in Star Trek (The dude with pointy ears in Star Trek). This pitch drops like a regular change-up, but just puts a little more friction on the ball. Basically it is a different way to grip a Change-up.

Cue the Sexy Vulcan!



And the "Slurve," a slider thrown at curveball velocity that is supposed to fool the hitter by taking longer to reach the pitcher...

...Illusions!



... and the "Screwball" or "backwards curveball", a pitch that breaks like a curveball thrown by an opposite-handed pitcher, which now I'm all messed up because people keep saying that the curveball drops but that makes it sound like it goes left or right, so which is it, baseball! I swear, I'm this close to dropping you and running off with cricket.

And then there's a bunch of other curveballs like the "12-6 Curveball", the "Sweeping Curveball" and the "Knuckle Curveball" and the "Spiked Curveball" and the "Knuckle Slider" and finally, the "Yellow Hammer," which sounds like a cut-rate superhero from the 1930s but is actually an even slower curveball that supposedly drops more than a regular curveball because it's only thrown at 50 miles per hour or so, but by now I don't know what to believe because it's all so confusing, so I'm going to assume that the pitcher doesn't even throw the damn ball and in fact, let's just admit that baseball doesn't even play the game anymore: all of baseball is just one game that was played at Comiskey Park in 1972, and they're using CGI to change the uniforms for you and if you go to a game in person you're just subject to Mass Hypnosis and it didn't really happen. There is no spoon! The cake is a lie!*8

*8: I still don't know what that means, but I like it.

Also, I wasn't far off on that Yellow Hammer. Remember this?




Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog was one of the greatest things ever made.

3. Seriously, can we find out who invented the curve ball?

You know, I haven't even touched on what pitches are banned yet -- like the spitball -- but you know me: I give the people what they want:


You need serious help.


so let's get down to the nitty-gritty of The Fabulous Story Of The Invention Of The Curveball. From Wikipedia:

Baseball lore has it that the curveball was invented in the early 1870s by Fred Goldsmith or Candy Cummings (it is debatable).

*Tries to pull at hair, doesn't have much hair, thinks better of that, contemplatively takes a sip of coffee while mulling what to do next.*

So ALL OF BASEBALL is ONE BIG TRICK, and the batters probably aren't even wearing pants, and yet that's the $(*#&%$#($^& best you could do about the invention of the curve ball?

Where is the mythos? Where is the legend? Where is the shrouded in time... etc? George R.R. Martin could do a better job with that, and all he did was take The Silmarillion and cut-and-paste "human" and "elf" and then say "battle-axe" a lot. You need to begin with something like...

...In a tiny unheated room of his parent's cottage in 1872, a young Alexander Graham Bell huddled over a fire built with a mixture of myrrh and polonium dust, communicating with the ghost of Lord Alfred Tennyson. Bell had been chosen as the pitcher in the Firste Annuale Worlde SeriesE starting the next day, but his arm was possessed by demons, according to a doctor who had considered diagnosing him with "muscle spasms" but had rejected that because this is 1872 and "muscles" haven't been discovered yet...

See where I'm going with that? That's way better than what you've got.

Whatever it's origins*9

*9 Mine is better than baseball's, so go with mine: magic!

the curve ball also was featured in a story published in 1884 in the magazine "St Nicholas," a popular (?) children's magazine at the time, which now raises into question all that crap they taught us in school about how hard life was in the 19th century with people dying of black plague or having to cross the plains or at least fight in wars or something; I don't know. I didn't really pay attention. But I distinctly recall being told that life was hard back then -- something about meat-packing, or maybe the Gold Standard? -- and if life was so hard, why were kids reading popular magazines?

Life was so hard that kids hardly had time to do the word jumble, is that what history tells us? Screw you, history. And Albuquerque, while you're at it.

The story in St Nicholas was called "How Science Won The Game," and was about a boy who used a curve ball to beat the other team, even though the curve was thought to be dishonest. You can actually read the whole story here. Spoiler Alert: Jack and his friends run off to meet a strange man in a hotel who says to them "Let me feel your arm" and then proceeds to compliment Jack on his muscles and then tells Jack and his friend to meet him outside in the alley behind the hotel.

Seriously.

Then he gives this advice to Jack: "Keep cool, and pinch tight."

Jack, of course, doesn't turn the guy in to Chris Hansen, but instead goes on to master the curve ball and win the Big Game, but here's the thing:

They win the game because Jack hits the ball to first base, but that guy commits an error and the right fielder backing him up throws home but Jack's friend, the not-at-all-symbolically-named Win, scores by jumping over the catcher.

Oh, and: SPOILER ALERT!

So the only science really involved was the Fosbury Flop, and, once again, Baseball has pulled a slight-of-hand -- promising you science (the curve ball) would win the game but really just having a bigshot sports reporter get credit for writing the story (as it turns out, the story was supposed to have been written by Hotel Guy about this game, because news was in short supply in those days so kids' baseball games got major coverage from all media.)

Here's a college player winning the game... With science!



Sunday, October 16, 2011

Let's all hope the Brewers get to Game 7... (Baseball)


... and not because Game 7s are exciting or because it would mean that the Brewers would win Game 6 and therefore have a chance at making the World Series for only the second time in my lifetime; I don't much care about that as I probably wouldn't stay awake for Game 7 and I only care about baseball during the World Series anyway, as a general rule.

No, the reason I'm hoping the Brewers make it to Game 7 is because of what it means for the team financially. Understanding the economics of sports helps you understand why your team stays terrible year after year (because you keep going to the games, dummy) and why your team may be better off not winning the World Series (as I pointed out here, the Rays actually made less money the year they won the World Series), and now understands why teams want home-field advantage so badly, and why they may not care that much if they push the series out to Game 7.

Buried in a post over on The Sports Economist -- a post that talks about the economic impact of playoff games (and why that's largely a fake number) -- is this nugget of information:

In Major League Baseball, a portion of ticket revenues from the playoffs go into a pool from which playoff participants are paid. Focusing only on the NLCS, 60% of the revenues from the first 4 games are put into the players’ pool with 40% going to the team hosting each game. Should the series go past 4 games, 100% of the ticket revenues goes to the host team (the details are here in Article X of the current MLB CBA).
That doesn't get a lot of airplay, does it? As announcers talk about Miller Park being "the hardest place to play in baseball" (it was, this year), they don't mention that the homefield advantage the Brewers earned now means that if they can pull out a win today, they'll pocket a substantial amount of money. Miller Park's capacity is 41,900.

The actual breakdown of profits is this, according to the aforementioned Article X: A "Players Pool" of money is created by taking 60% of the tickets from the first four World Series games, first four League Championship Series games, and first three Divisional (Wild-Card) playoffs. That money is divided as follows:

World Series Winner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36%
World Series Loser. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24%
League Championship Series Losers (2). . . . . . . . . . . . . ....... . 24%
Division Series Losers (4). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .... 12%
Non-Wild Card Second Place Teams (4). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ...... 4%

See that? The team that almost made the wild card gets some money from the playoffs -- even though they didn't make it. So as I read it, Boston gets 4% of what ought to be a pretty big pool.

How big? It's guaranteed, by that CBA, to be $2.4 million or so to the World Series winner, and $1.6 million to the World Series loser; if the ticket sales fall below that, the number gets bumped up to a minimum amount, and that amount goes up if clubs raise ticket prices during the agreement.

It's not likely that guarantee will have to kick in; the last time the Winner's share was less than $10,000,000 was 1990, and it was still $9 million+ that year. Last year's winners the Giants got $21,266,321.79. (I like that they included the $0.79. That seems unnecessary, but you know somebody would have bitched about it if they didn't.)

So what happens to that money? The players on the teams divide it up:

The division of the Players’ pool shall be made by a vote of the Players, in a meeting chaired by the Player Representative, at which attendance shall be limited to Players, except that the field manager, prior to being excused from such meeting, shall be given first the opportunity to express his views as to the division of the pool. At the invitation of the Player Representative, the field manager may be present during the remainder of the meeting, or any part thereof.

The vote of the Players
shall not be subject to alteration, except as may be required to conform to the Major League Rules. Non-uniformed personnel of a Club shall not be eligible to receive a percentage share of the Players’ pool, but shall be eligible to receive cash awards of defined dollar value, provided that no cash award may
exceed the value of a full share.

So, interpreting for you, the players get all the money, unless they vote to give non-uniformed personnel some money, but no non-uniformed people can get more than the minimum amount given to a player.

The lowest paid person on the Milwaukee Brewers' roster this year is Jonathan Lucroy, who will make only$424,000.

How has the pool been divided up in the past? Evenly: Last year, the Giants (who according to this article got only $19 million, not the $21 million that other article cited) gave each player who got a full share $317,000 or so; the Rangers, for losing, all got $246,000. (Actually, the numbers are $317,631.29 and $246,279.55. Again, I like that they include the $0.29 and $0.55 on the checks.)

That's the player pool, remember: The Brewers give up only 60% of the gate for home games, so they've already gotten 40% of the divisional and championship series ticket sales (not to mention all the extra concessions and souvenirs) and they'll get 100% of that today.

To sum up:

-- The Brewers are going to make a bunch of money, win or lose today.

-- If they win today, they will make a bunch more money just by playing tomorrow.

-- If they can get to the World Series and push that to seven games, they'll make even more, as the National League has home field advantage this year.

-- None of that money will be used to re-sign Prince Fielder, which I think is just fine because I don't like him, because it's player money, not front office money.

Which raises this question: what are the Brewers going to do with the front office money that the Brewers will make in Game 6, and maybe Game 7? And in any games 6 and 7 in the World Series? Again,if history is any guide, not much: remember, the Rays made less of a profit the year they won because of higher operating costs. One reason that might be? In the regular season, all teams pay 31% of their revenues into a pool, and then get money back based on a formula. In the post-season, though, teams pay 60% of the ticket sales alone into a player pool, leaving them just 40% of the gate to cover all their operating costs, which remain the same (if not higher) during a postseason game. So while I began by pointing out that the Brewers will make a ton of money if they can survive through a Game 7 of the World Series, they'll also spend a ton of money to get there.

And some teams have generally been unwilling to spend that money -- which led to a minor scandal when teams like the Marlins let players walk away, refusing to put a decent product on the field but still receiving $31 million in revenues from the pool of money (the $31 million being double their payroll at the time. Nice work if you can get it, major league baseball team owner.)

This has been a pretty dry post; not everyone is as crazy about the economics of sports as I am, so let's finish up with Front Row Amy:



Who is another good reason to root for the Brewers to get as many home games as possible.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Nyjer Morgan is why you watch baseball. (Baseball)

Millions of Americans who were otherwise completely untroubled by the realization that baseball still exists and in fact is being played in several cities, possibly as we speak, were uncomfortably reminded of that by this:


That's Milwaukee Brewer Nyjer (TPlush) Morgan over on the right there, and the photo was taken after Morgan was struck out by Carpenter and then,

...well, let's have apparent sportscaster (?) "The Toast" (?) tell you about it via his high-quality, professional webcast:




A video of that caliber really puts Ray William Johnson in his place, doesn't it?



But "The Toast" and his groundbreaking report raise some serious questions, beyond "Are those guys the worst rappers ever?" Questions like:

Was Nyjer upset that he was struck out by a guy who other pitchers think is putting up a phony attitude out there?

And how is a pitcher's attitude "phony?"

And can a pitcher be a "warrior", as Cardinals Manager Tony LaRussa put it?

And, also, was Nyjer Morgan actually a marketing genius, as he claims now?

Asked about his antics, which included almost flipping off Giants fans, and, of course, Twitter insults like:

Alberta couldn't see Plush if she had her gloves on!!! Wat was she thinking running afta Plush!!! She never been n tha ring!!!
Aimed at Albert [no a] Pujols, Morgan responded:

Honestly, if you look at what I've done for MLB's TV ratings, they should thank me...

People who don't even watch baseball are going to be watching this series because of what Morgan said on the Twitter about Mr. Pujols. Ooh, Morgan dissed Mr. Carpenter.

It's beautiful for baseball. People are going to watch. What's going to happen? What are they going to do? You know ain't nothing going to happen. But people are going to watch just because of what I did and what I said.

"You know ain't nothing going to happen" might be the truest thing ever said about baseball, but Morgan was wrong about one thing: I didn't tune in to see if he'd Tweet during the game or whatever stunts he was planning on; that didn't affect my viewing habits at all.

But reading that the Beast Mode celebration was based on Sully from Monsters, Inc.? That made me want to watch, a little.

Here's some Monsters, Inc. bloopers:




Morgan, by the way, is batting 0.150 in the playoffs, and only averages 0.174 against Carpenter over his career. So if he doesn't pick it up, he may end up being the reason he, and the rest of the Brewers, watch the playoffs from their homes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Generically-Titled Autism Post: Today, sleep disturbances, and why maybe melatonin isn't right for your kids.


I used to call this "Autism Works," but then I found out there's a group called that already. (Find them here; I'll talk more about them in the future.) So while I think up a new title, I'll just go with the generic title. Click here for more posts like this with information about businesses, apps, people, and other aspects of raising a child with autism.)

It's 5:53 a.m., and I'm awake and working on my blogs instead of sleeping until... well, I'd usually only sleep until 6 a.m., so it's not that bad that I'm up, but still, I don't like losing that last 15 minutes of sleep on days like today, which began with Mr F and Mr Bunches both waking up at about 5:45 a.m.

Or, at least, that's when they woke me up. Mr Bunches woke me up by yelling "Dad!" and getting me in there to restart the movie he's currently watching ad infinitum ("Lilo & Stitch"), while Mr F had likely been awake for a lot longer, given that he was wide awake and tapping a stick against a wall to kill the time.

Mr F doesn't sleep. Or at least, not like we sleep. Sweetie and I joke that Mr F only sleeps every fourth day, and that's about right: Most nights, we can hear him in his room (which we keep locked to avoid him wandering around or getting out of the house at night) until well after we fall asleep, and many nights we can hear him around 2 or 3 a.m. wake up and begin his day. Then, about every fourth day, that catches up with him and he can't be woken up, as happened this past Sunday when he fell asleep on the couch from 4 to 5, then, after I gave him a bath to wake him up, he fell asleep again and then fell asleep in the car while we were driving around until finally we let him go to bed at 7 p.m.

So sleep is on my mind this week: Sleep and autism.

This study, "Sleep Problems In Autism: Prevalence, Cause, and Intervention", looked at just that problem. It noted that as many as 89% of autistic children exhibit some form of sleep disorder at one point, and summarized the types of problems:


Studies of sleep in children with autism have generally reported severe problems associated with sleep onset and maintenance. Irregular sleep–wake patterns, problems with sleep onset, poor sleep, early waking, and poor sleep routines have been found at all developmental levels, with increasing severity at lower developmental levels.

Additionally, shortened night sleep, alterations in sleep onset and wake times, night waking and irregular sleep patterns (with the presence of a free-running rhythm in one case) have been reported.

That's Mr F right there: all of them. The study concluded that autistic kids are more likely than any other group of children to have sleep problems and also concluded that it's likely due to something specific in the kids.

And it doesn't just cause dads to be awake before 6 a.m.; it also leads to problematic behavior during the daytime, including communications delays. Or, perhaps, the study notes, communications delays lead to sleep disturbances:

A relation between social and communication difficulties and sleep problems is possible. The sleep–wake cycle is a circadian rhythm and there is evidence to suggest that, as well as the light–dark cycle, humans use social cues to
entrain circadian rhythms.
Routine and social cues are thought to help young infants develop stable sleep–wake patterns with the longest sleep occurring during the night hours. Children with a primary social-communication deficit may therefore find it difficult to use such cues to entrain their rhythms, resulting in problems with their sleep–wake schedule.

See? You didn't know that you know when to go to sleep because society tells you, did you? And autistic kids may not pick up on that.

The study also noted that melatonin deficits may be a problem, about which more in a minute. Another possible cause of sleep disturbance was increased anxiety, which makes me sad -- I don't like to think of Mr F and Mr Bunches being too nervous to sleep, but it seems to fit at least Mr F's personality. And, finally, there was some stuff about EEG's in sleep and REM sleep patterns.

Bottom line: We don't know why autistic people don't sleep well, which makes it kind of silly to recommend cures or interventions, but, then, we do lots of silly things, and the paper goes on to recommend some cures and interventions for something that we don't know the cause of.

To editorialize for a moment: Suggesting a solution for a problem without knowing the root cause of the problem is stabbing in the dark, or treating only a symptom, and either one may or may not be better than doing nothing. Consider an old joke:

Man: Doctor, my arm hurts when I go like this.

Doctor: Don't go like that.

That solves the problem, right? But it's not medical care. Or suppose a person shows up at the ER with a gunshot wound, and the doctor removes the bullet fragments and sews up the wound and sends the person on his way. Would you consider that an effective treatment? Or should the doctor have inquired how the bullet got there?

Just some thought experiments. Now, on to the solutions for the unknowable problem!

The study begins by noting that medications were the most common form of help for autistic kids with sleep problems -- but that about half of the parents questioned thought behavioral interventions worked just as well as medications. In our house, we've talked about medications at times for Mr F, and I downloaded the Autism Speaks Medication Decision Kit, a helpful packet that helps provide information and questions to guide you in a decision on whether or not to medicate your child-- for whatever problem. (Get it here.)

Using it, I decided (with Sweetie's help) that we wouldn't medicate Mr F, at least not yet -- because most of the medications listed don't have any clearcut effects on Mr F's conditions and some of them can have severe side effects. It seemed wrong to me to put a 5-year-old on strong antipsychotic medicines when he's not that much trouble.

If your child is on medication, or you've considered it, you should definitely get the kit and read it through. It raises a bunch of issues that I hadn't considered at all, and has helpful questions to ask your doctor, and yourself, about the medications.

Another attempted treatment was faded bedtimes, or moving bedtimes gradually to get the kids to sleep at the appropriate times. This was found to have little effect on the autistic children in the study, something I could've told them. (Currently, our routine is to begin bedtime at about 7:15, with the boys getting medicine, then a story read to them, then a bath, then bedtime with a movie on their TV. The movie on their TV is imperative: they will not sleep without a movie on, and we've learned to put movies in that have a continuous play feature, because the movie ending will frequently wake Mr Bunches up, and you haven't lived until you've been woken up every 87 minutes to restart a movie.)

Then there was parent training: Teach parents how to properly encourage good behavior (sleep) and discourage bad (not sleep.) Although only one family completed the 6-week program, that family reported reduced stress and slightly better sleep routines; I suspect the reduced stress came from parents being more able to cope with the stress through the training, but that's the cynic in me.

Then there's the one I might try: Light intervention:


Two additional treatments for sleep disorders which involve adjustment of the circadian sleep–wake cycle, are light therapy and chronotherapy. Light therapy may be used to treat a variety of rhythm problems, including sleep problems. Bright light suppresses the secretion of melatonin.

Additionally, it has been shown that periods of bright light treatment in the morning will advance the melatonin and sleep–wake rhythms, while bright light treatment in the evening has a delaying effect.

That is, show kids a light box in the morning to get them to sleep better at night, which might work for kids (like ours) who routinely wake up at 3 or 4 a.m., when it's dark out and then have trouble getting to sleep at night.

Finally, melatonin, which almost everyone we talk to treats as a panacea for this problem. At the boys' 5-year-checkup, Sweetie asked the doctor whether it was okay to take melatonin for their sleep, and he approved it: 1 mg each night, he said.

The first melatonin we were able to find was tablets, which is a problem, because the boys won't take pills -- they won't even take medicine from a spoon or those little plastic cups; we have to put it in a syringe and squirt it into their mouths.

We addressed that by pounding the pills into a powder -- literally, I hammer them into a powder, because I'm not a 15th century chemist and don't have a mortar-and-pestle -- and then mix them in with some other liquid, ordinarily some ibuprofen or water; it works better with ibuprofen because they (oddly?) like the flavor of that. (Lately, they've had a cold, so they get the melatonin mixed in with their nighttime cold medicine.)

That worked okay until Mr Bunches saw me scraping the pills into the medicine and then didn't want to take the medicine, at all -- because he now knew it had pills in it and it grossed him out. So for a week we had to wrestle him into the medicine and risk him spitting it back out, until he cut his foot one day and I began telling him the medicine was to make his foot feel better, after which he took it.

(So at night, Mr Bunches will say "Medicine!" and when I say "Yes," he still sometimes says "My foot!" even though his foot is long since healed.)

We also got some of the Natrol liquid melatonin, which we thought would be easier to use than the crushed-powder pills, but the boys hated the flavor of it -- spitting it back out each time, so we've foregone that and every night I get out my hammer, medicine, tablets, and syringe and go to it.

But here's the thing:

I don't think it's working.

Mr F has been on melatonin for a month now, and so has Mr Bunches, and I've seen no real changes in their sleep patterns, at all. I'm not ready to call it quits yet, but I suspect that the melatonin is like the gluten-free diet and other fad remedies: Not exactly the catalyst for change, but it gets the credit for change when it happens, like an ineffective quarterback who wins the Super Bowl in spite of himself.

And here's the other thing: I'm not sure melatonin is a good thing, because I took it for a week or two; I've also suffered from insomnia most of my life and have had sleep problems off and on for the last few months, and so I took the same dose that the boys took for a few weeks, and I didn't like it: My sleep felt less restful, and I had more realistic dreams that left me feeling tired -- it was like I never slept, at all, even though Sweetie would swear I did.

So after two weeks, I stopped taking it entirely, and I won't go back.

Which makes me wonder about why I'm giving it to the boys, if it doesn't seem to work and I didn't like it. But I'm not ready to declare it a failure yet, because a month seems too short to really test it out... for the boys? I don't know what effect it's having on them; Mr F can't tell me "It gives me vivid waking dreams that make it feel like I never sleep," so I have to guess whether it's doing good, or bad, or nothing. 2 out of 3 of those say don't give it to them...

...These are the kinds of decisions you never even suspect you'll have to make. I'll let you know what I decide.

Monday, October 10, 2011

It just now occurred to me that "SNAP" actually has a football meaning. I honestly hadn't considered that.(SNAP! Judgment)


SNAP! Judgment: what I think about a bunch of football games I learned about second-hand because I was at McDonald's with Mr F and Mr Bunches...

...and this week it's even worse because I ordinarily watch as much as 3/4 of a game, but I didn't Sunday night because the Packers-Falcons weren't on until 7:20 p.m. my time, which meant that I was battling a cold, and sleep deprivation and the Falcons' tendency to make me nod off by being the most boring team in the NFL, so I only watched until halftime, when I fell asleep with Green Bay down 14-6.

Nonetheless, SNAP! Judgment doesn't require facts; I'm going on pure instinct here. And my instincts tell me to begin with Which Team I'm Going To Stop Talking About This Week.

As promised/threatened last week, I am going to declare a team Dead For The Season: no longer worth talking about here on SNAP! Judgment, having no shot at (a) making the playoffs or (b) doing anything interesting, and otherwise not mattering when it comes to the NFL.

And the first 2011 Dead For The Season NFL Team Is...

The Atlanta Falcons.

All week long, judging by the single article I read on Deadspin while eating french fries at the aforementioned McDonald's and watching Mr F and Mr Bunches play, the Falcons kept proclaiming that they were a better team than Green Bay, and that they just didn't play up to their standards last year. Then, last night, they got the chance to prove it, playing at home, staked to a 14-0 lead against a Green Bay defense that is almost historically bad (NBC showed a graphic that pointed out only the 2000 St. Louis Rams gave up more points en route to going 4-0 to open a season), and they blew it.

They're 2-3 in a mediocre division, they're -26 in net points, they have "Matty Ice," the third-most-overrated quarterback in the NFL (behind Rivers and Sanchez) and are supremely boring. Atlanta Falcons, I declare you to have no hopes of doing anything interesting the remainder of the season and you are dead to SNAP! Judgment.

On to the teams!

Arizona Cardinals: Was this a great week for ex-Eagles' quarterbacks? No, it wasn't. Kevin Kolb is 27th in QB rating, so he's inefficient, but he balances that out by being 25th in touchdown passes and 20th in completion percentage. Sounds like a good time to reprint this ESPN exchange:

Jason from Phoenix writes: Hey Sando, big fan of the blog. I was wondering what the chances are of the Cardinals possibly trading for Kevin Kolb might be? Obviously, Derek Anderson is not the answer ....

Mike Sando: The structure of Kolb's contract would facilitate a trade; his salary this season is $715,000. I just don't see that happening. The Eagles gave Kolb a $10.7 million signing bonus and I do no [sic] think it's in their best interests to give up on him just because Michael Vick looks like the best option for now. Vick hasn't proved reliable for the long term.

That little e-versation actually took place in September 2010. But Kolb is a step up; Derek Anderson rated 30th in QB rating over the course of the 2010 season, beating out only rookie Jimmy Clausen at Carolina for the year. Meanwhile, Larry Fitzgerald, the Arizona receiver who hates the part of sports where they pay him $120 million to do nothing much, has 27 receptions for 183 yards through five games, putting him on pace for an 87-catch, 585.6 yard season. But he is guaranteed to be paid $50 million, no matter what happens.

Baltimore Ravens: Didn't play this week, which means their fans were only slightly less bored than usual on Sunday.

Buffalo Bills: I was certain I was going to get to watch this game, because the media (which jumped all over Hank Williams, Jr., for comparing Obama to Hitler) loved Michael Vick, who didn't commit genocide because the term genocide doesn't apply to dogs. But the game was blacked out even in most of New York, which means most of the country didn't see Packers cast-off Nick Barnett pick off Vick twice.

How are the Bills 4-1, and why don't I buy into them yet? Mostly because they've played bad teams and appear to be getting the kind of luck that the Chicago Bears had when they made the playoffs under Dick Jauron. The Bills are 29th in yards allowed on defense and 19th in total points given up per game. But they're third in total points scored per game and near the top of the league in time of possession per game, while being 8th in yards per play. That sounds a lot like they're giving up big plays and quick scores to other teams. They're number one in the league in interceptions --12 so far, and are matched, in most categories, by only one team: The Green Bay Packers, who also have scored a lot, given up a lot, and feasted on turnovers. Another surprising 4-1 team is the 49ers, who have similar stats to the Bills and the Packers.

So if you think the Packers are for real, then maybe the 49ers and Bills are for real, too -- but if you doubt the 49ers and Bills, do you have to doubt the Packers, too?

No: For the Packers to put up the kind of numbers they are is realistic; they're a team that won the Super Bowl last year playing with half an offense. The Bills and 49ers were godawful last year, and suddenly are world beaters?

Maybe that can happen. But worst-to-first is only remarkable because it happens so rarely.

Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, heir to Jimmy Clausen's heady worst-in-the-league QB rating, is currently 15th in that stat, making him slightly more efficient than... Tarvaris Jackson. Carolina is the best 1-4 team in the NFL, which makes them a 1-4 team.

Chicago Bears: Plays tonight. To help dramatize the matchup, the Detroit Zoo had some lions eat what was supposed to be a person but looked a lot more like a lion attacking Awesome-O:






Link
Cincinnati Bengals: Don't look now, but the Bengals are 3-2. Hey, why'd you look? When someone says don't look, you don't look! If you did look, don't feel bad; 6,662 people like the Facebook page devoted to how people can't help looking when told not to look. In related news, a Facebook status update led to a fight between a man and his estranged wife when said wife didn't click like on the man's stirring Facebook tribute to his dead mom. I know what I said one day on Twitter about the medium not being the message, but, really, a tribute to your dead Mom on Facebook? Come on.

This site records awesome Facebook fights, proving that you're a loser if you're on Facebook. Speaking of which, Follow me on Twitter!

Cleveland Browns: Didn't play football this weekend. Or any other weekend. (Whoa! Look at that SNARK! I'm like Rachel In The O.C., only with humor!)

Dallas Cowboys: This week's installment of "Tony Romo: Fear Factor" was also not held due to bye weeks.

Denver Broncos: Me last week: "Denver's 1-3, though, so Tebow's the starter by week 8." To which the Internet responded: "Yawn." This week, NFL.com's official game recap reads:

Philip Rivers overcame an interception and a fourth-quarter fumble to lead the San Diego Chargers to a 29-24 win in Denver despite Tim Tebow's best efforts to rally the Broncos from a 16-point deficit.

Tebow threw two touchdown passes after replacing starter Kyle Orton to start the third quarter and had one final shot for the win before his pass fell incomplete in the end zone on the final play.

Seriously, why do I still have to come into my office on Mondays?

Detroit Lions: They play tonight, against the Bears. Want a weird stat? On BearsGab.com, there's a poll to predict tonight's outcome. I voted "Lions by 7 or more," and it turns out that result is winning so far. With 51% of the vote. Did I mention that was on BearsGab.com?

Green Bay Packers: Sweetie accused me of loving Aaron Rodgers simply because I rushed to take a picture of the Wheaties' box with him on it, but, as you know, I don't really care for him. I'm not saying he's a bad player; he's clearly very good. I just... don't like him. I'm not even sorry. He's 5-0, he'll probably win the Super Bowl again if the Chiefs don't pick it up, but I just don't like him.

Houston Texans: Will never be very good. It's not surprising, guys on NFL TV Show wrapup, that Oakland beat them even though Al Davis died. They're not a good team and never will be.

Indianapolis Colts: Hey, Curtis Painter's not the answer! Can we drum up some Favre to The Colts drama? Sure, why not: Jim Irsay tweeted about Favre in the summer, by mid-September Indy Star columnists were calling for Favre to unretire himself up to Indiana, and Bleacher Report just three days ago said

Favre would be a perfect fit in Indy. Yes, they have work to do because they are 0-4, but with a legitimate quarterback, they have a shot at making the playoffs.
Link
No, they don't. They don't have a shot at making the playoffs, even with Favre. They're 0-5, now, by the way, and they're actually on the verge of being mathematically eliminated from the Wild Card.

But by all means, let's BRING BACK FAVRE!

Jacksonville Jaguars: My favorite pro football comment of the week came from Deadspin about this game:


Blaine Gabbert leads the league in being a terrible quarterback and having a villainous first name.
And, really, they're right. Blaine is the most villanous first name of any starting quarterback, unless you count Tony, but it's impossible to think of Tony Romo as a villain. He's more the inept bumbler type.

Kansas City Chiefs: My pick for the Super Bowl winner is now 2-3 and only 2 games out of first in their division, behind the all-too-fallible Chargers. I went looking for a stat that Kansas City leads the league in, and couldn't find one. But they are second in the league in teams attempting to go for it on 4th down against them -- 7 tries by opponents this year, with 4 of them succeeding. The only team to face more attempts to go for it against them on 4th is the Patriots*. What does this stat say about the Chiefs? I don't know.

Miami Dolphins: I don't think they played, and I can't be bothered to go check.

Minnesota Vikings: What do you suppose Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb talked about in this picture? I bet it was "Which one of us will be replaced by Andrew Luck at this time next year?"

Also, yesterday, something happened for the first time in my, and possibly your, life: A team (the Vikings) scored four rushing touchdowns in a single quarter. The last time that happened was 1968, when the Jets did it against the then Boston Patriots.

In case you were wondering, related stats are: 1. Doug Williams is the first player to pass for four touchdowns in a single quarter in the Super Bowl, 2. David Klingler (remember him?!) holds the NCAA record for most touchdown passes in a single quarter (6), 3. You will see Encke's Comet more often than you will see four rushing touchdowns in a single quarter. 4. Adrian Peterson has only fumbled once this year.

New England Patriots*: God, how I hate them. Tom Brady, whose numbers are falling back to normal now, looks a lot like Derek Zoolander in his press conferences.

New Orleans Saints: They're 4-1, and presumably Super Bowl bound! But they only beat Carolina at the last minute by 3, and presumably basement-dwelling for the rest of the season. To help sort it out, let's look at an actual fan comment:


how can you say that brees has stopped hitting receivers in stride, I see you are also on Roders bandwagon too always riding him it makes me sick u need to watch some tape and see how brees perfectly throws the ball in stride

That's from preimiepreim2. Don't you think that just once, the NFL ought to let fans do color for the games? Maybe for preseason? Also, 1,499 fans rated this game an "85" on the "Game Fan Rating." When I tried to find out what that meant, I was asked to join the NFL and I declined, so it's a mystery to all of us what an 85 means. Those same fans gave Brees 4 1/2 stars, and Cam only 4 stars, but that's probably because the Heisman committee took a star back.

New York Giants
: This is the game most of New York got to see, according to my Twitter Acquaintance Matty_315, and the Giants lost to the Seahawks. The Giants had first-and-goal at the 10 to win the game at the end, and tried to throw on first down. A lot of people will probably fault them for that, causing others to note that Seattle has the best run defense in the league, giving up only 3.1 yards per play on average.

Those people will be wrong: Opponents pass more than they run against Seattle, and Seattle gives up more than 8 yards per pass play, on average. It's not that their run defense is so good; it's that their pass defense is so bad. So should New York have tried to run on first down? Hindsight says yes. They said no, and lost.

New York Jets
: Mark Sanchez has 285 yards passing... in two weeks. Why is that? Maybe because of protection. He's been sacked 13 times through five games-- at that pace, he'll be sacked 41.6 times this year. He was sacked only 27 times all last year. Also, last year, the Jets averaged 4.4 yards per carry rushing. This year, so far, they're 30th at 3.3 yards per carry, average. Last year, they rushed (on average) 33 times per game. This year, they're rushing (on average) 23 times per game.

Is Sanchez terrible? Is it their line? I don't know. I just repeat this stuff. But also, Yes, and Yes.

Oakland Raiders: Dying, as Rogue Mutt pointed out, frequently lets people off the hook. Sunday's (and today's) tributes to Al Davis prove that; Al Davis was a hated man for most of the recent NFL history; hated when he wasn't ridiculed. (By everyone but me. I always said Al Davis was a mad genius, and a superhero.)

That fulfills my quota of "saying stuff about a guy who died." Meanwhile, in football world, the Silver and Black Report is saying how the Raiders could make the playoffs, featuring this commentary on the defense:


Chuck Bresnahan’s group showed grit and what they can potentially do when they buckle up and bear down.

The defense showed grit by giving up nearly 500 yards to Houston. Matt Schaub nearly doubled his game average of 275 yards.

Philadelphia Eagles: People have now begun to clamor that "Vick is being asked to do too much." Those people include Michael Vick, who burnt off the 8 seconds remaining at the end of the first half and later said "I was just trying to do too much," about why he held on to the ball so long.

Twice before, I've mentioned that Vick's me-first attitude hurts the Eagles. A quarterback trying to do too much now kept his team from having a few seconds to try a field goal.

This is more than just hating Vick because he killed a bunch of dogs and somehow got forgiven for that. The media love Vick now; they've gotten over the handwringing and have decided to make him a star again, which means never criticizing him for not being a team player. (Except for this guy.) But a quarterback who won't give up on a play or tries to do too much may be hurting his team; isn't that the criticism that Favre faced so often towards the end of his career?


Pittsburgh Steelers
: Roethlisberger, Terry Bradshaw, and some guy named Mark Malone are the three Pittsburgh quarterbacks who have thrown for five touchdowns in a single game; but only Roethlisberger has done it twice.

Malone was the top high school prospect at QB in 1975, and also was wanted by the US Olympic Committee to be a decathlete for the 1980 Olympics. He also holds the Steelers' record for longest touchdown reception -- 90 yards. Top that, Roethlisberger.

San Diego Chargers: The Chargers' QB lived up to his 32nd-best NC! rating: 1 interception, 2 fumbles, five sacks, and an 86.9 rating. Rivers has coughed up the ball 9 times, nearly twice per game, 7 of them interceptions. (2 other fumbles of his were recovered by the Chargers.) At least San Diego is warm in the winter, so Rivers can have his windows open as he watches the playoffs.

San Francisco 49ers: They're 4-1 and I don't know a single thing about them. Let's keep it that way.
Seattle Seahawks: Owned by a terrible human being who spent $160,000,000 on a yacht. But Tarvaris Jackson got injured, so they've got a chance at winning more games than they lose, which is more than they did in 2010.

St. Louis Rams: Didn't play.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Are they still the darlings of the NFL after losing 48-3? At least they didn't do that pathetic, kick a field goal when down by a zillion move so many teams do. The Bucs' 3 points were put up 6:28 into the game, which means Buccaneers fans had a nearly 54-minute slide into oblivion.

Tennessee Titans: I saw Elizabeth Hasselbeck is hawking an abs exercise machine, and her stomach looked, frankly, gross. I know she's not married to Matt, but I wanted to fit that in here.

Matt Hasselbeck threw 49 times in the game against the Steelers. His season average, as of this week, is 36, so yesterday had to pull him way up. Maybe people don't respect Troy Polamalu anymore? I don't respect him. And I don't understand those commercials, either.

Washington Redskins: Didn't play.





Tonight's Monday Night Football Matchup:


Bears:



vs.

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