Recent Comments by Howard_T

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

to mix and match a bit, Harold "Betty" Stark

Stark received his nickname as a plebe at Annapolis in 1899. There was an entertainer named Betty Stark who was quite popular at the time.

As long as you're talking about admirals, why not include William F. "Bull" Halsey. He disliked the nickname, was usually known as "Bill" in Navy circles, but the press and public forced it upon him. There is an apocryphal story that "Bull" might have started as a simple typo when a right middle finger or index finger missed by one key.

posted by Howard_T at 03:54 PM on February 23

Igor Larionov reflects on playing for Red Army, and what is wrong with North American hockey

"Throw it in deep and forecheck. Set up the trap when the other team gains control in its own end." This seems to be the mantra for today's game. The only real creativity you see now is on turnovers in the neutral zone or the offensive zone, and avoiding these keeps players from trying to do something other than the throw and go game. The skating skills in today's game are as good or better than they ever were. Perhaps that's part of the problem, defensemen are more mobile than "back in the day", so forwards cannot maneuver as freely as they once did. One theme keeps coming back to me: "Widen the rinks to the international standard". Of course, this means that owners will have to give up a few rows of high-priced seats. So much for that idea.

posted by Howard_T at 03:32 PM on February 23

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

disgruntled point guard Benedict Cumberbatch

So now he can play imitation games?

The Imitation Game is worth the price. A bit of WWII and cold war history, a bit about Asberger's Syndrome, and a bit about attitudes toward homosexuality. Good stuff.

posted by Howard_T at 09:15 PM on February 21

Chargers, Raiders Pursue Shared Stadium in Los Angeles

Baltimore's Inner Harbor is a good example. Having Camden Yards and the Ravens stadium in the area instead of somewhere in the 'burbs has made a huge difference there.

The Inner Harbor had been "renewed" before Camden Yards and the Ravens' Stadium were built. It has been a continuing effort in Baltimore to build on what had been started with the Pratt Street and Light Street Pavilions and the Aquarium. The pavilions offered some good restaurants and shops, and the Aquarium attracted a lot of people to the area. Over the years historic ships and other things have been added. The point is that Camden Yards replaced a chunk of underutilized land with a baseball park, thereby bringing a lot more people to the Inner Harbor shops and restaurants on game days. I'm sure the Ravens do the same. The point is that the Inner Harbor development was well underway before either stadium was built. It moght be that the stadia were located as they are because of the Inner Harbor's success.

posted by Howard_T at 12:09 AM on February 21

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

Yup, they fired a ref right after the game to cover up a scandal that didn't yet exist.

Now the referees union is demanding an apology from ESPN for its shoddy reporting. There was no on-field official fired, but supposedly an NFL employee was. What a mess the NFL has made of this whole thing.

posted by Howard_T at 11:27 PM on February 19

Revealed: the ghost game bet on around the world ... that never actually took place.

At Boston Celtics home games there is usually a halftime game between 2 youth teams. Believe it or not during one of these the 2 guys sitting next to us had a not unsubstantial bet on it. Some will bet on anything.

posted by Howard_T at 11:22 PM on February 19

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Nice bit of writing, dfleming. Hope it works out well for you, and I'll be looking for more.

posted by Howard_T at 09:40 PM on February 12

NFL Pick 'Em Contest, Final Scoreboard

Looks like I have lived down to my reputation as a prognosticator once again. I really enjoy participating in these. Many thanks, rcade, for doing it. I know it can be a lot of work.

posted by Howard_T at 09:30 PM on February 12

Semi-regular update: Julio Franco is still playing baseball.

Damn. And he's 5 months younger than me.

Hey, he's only 18 years younger than I. Why shouldn't he be on the field? I can still work as an umpire, although it's at a level considerably below what Franco does. It's still baseball, still a sport that can be played/officiated by people of all ages, and still a lot of fun.

posted by Howard_T at 03:42 PM on February 11

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

Somehow the idea of Gordie Howe being a mere mortal is repugnant to me. This story of a recent tribute to him had me alternately smiling and nearly in tears of sadness. My brother-in-law, Bob, who worked at one time for the Michigan League of Credit Unions, told a story about his encounter with Howe at some sort of business get together. Bob told of bumping into something as he got up from the banquet table without looking to see what was around him. He says that the contact nearly knocked him down, and at first he thought he had bumped into a post or something else really solid. It turned out to be Gordie Howe, and yes, it was a solid object. Bob apologized, and he says that Howe sort of chuckled, said something about not worrying about it, but Bob was convinced that Howe was secretly thinking that he had taken and dished out a few thousand harder hits than that.

posted by Howard_T at 01:20 PM on February 08

DeflateGate Accusations Mean It's Time For Coach and Owner To Be Banned From NFL

the resolve of Belichick and Brady to stick around

It might add to their resolve just a bit, but football is Belichick's life, and has been since his childhood as the son of a coach. Brady, on the other hand, enjoys the game far too much to give it up anytime soon. I fear it will take serious, possibly career-ending, injury for him to sit down. How many more years? Who knows? You can bet it's not money motivating him. When he retires he will do the same thing I do, that is keep his wife working, live off his investments, and write snarky comments on SpoFi.

posted by Howard_T at 03:41 PM on February 07

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

It's always a good idea to wear a cup, but it seems this guy needs to wear his inside the shorts.

posted by Howard_T at 03:35 PM on February 07

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

My wife and I had quite a day yesterday, and believe it or not it was at her urging that it happened. I guess she must think I have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel, because she talked me into going to the Patriots' Super Bowl parade with the argument that I might not ever see another one. She even took a day off to go with me. Somehow, I've managed to turn a Virginia native and long-time Baltimore resident into a New England fan of all sports. Maybe she has another motive, I might need to hire a food taster, but since I do most of the cooking, I'm probably OK.

Getting to the parade was not the easiest thing we've done. Rather than drive to a T station, we took the commuter rail. Train was 45 minutes late, it was standing room only after the 2nd stop, but it got us there with time to spare. The T from North Station was another mob scene. All that was lacking to compare it to rush hour in Tokyo was the guys pushing you into the train. We got to a good spot on Park Street, up the hill a ways so we could see over the heads of most of the crowd. The weather was not bad for Boston in February, ao the wait of over an hour was not too unpleasant. Lot's of kindred spirits to talk to, the police were handling things with smiles and getting cooperation from most (only 2 arrests in our area as we waited), and the time went by quickly.

The scene was wall-to-wall people. From our vantage point a few yards up Park Street from the corner of Tremont you could see down to the corner of Boylston and Tremont. Both sides of the street were about 4 to 6 people deep and shoulder to shoulder. I have not seen any official estimates of how many turned out, but my guess is the high 6 figures or even into the 7 figures. As the parade passed the fans erupted into cheers and the players were into it. Gronkowski was his usual howling, dancing self. Brady was quiet, and his 5-year-old son was sleeping on his shoulder. Edelman was on the roof of his duck boat. The traffic light at the corner of Park and Tremont nearly gained a place in sports infamy as Edelman ducked out of the way jut in time to avoid what would have been the best hit of the season on him. It was a really fun time.

The day wasn't nearly over for us. After lunch and a movie (The Imitation Game was right in our sweet spot -- autism for my wife and military history for me) and an early dinner at The 4s it was on to the Celtics game. This turned out to be a reprise of the parade, as Robert Kraft and 5 of the players, including Malcolm Butler, were brought onto the court at the end of the 3rd quarter to take a bow. A standing O ensued that extended much longer than the usual couple of minutes between quarters. The Patriot influence seemed to jave an effect on the game, as a couple of good defensive plays, including a Jae Crowder interception of an inbounds pass intended for Galinari, gave Boston the win.

So thanks, wife, for encouraging me to do this and for sharing it with me. Some of us are really lucky to live in this area and to be able to have some great people to share it with.

posted by Howard_T at 06:04 PM on February 05

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

There's no way an old man could use the bathroom in only 98 seconds.

Not true, rcade. I fully qualify as old, have the usual urinary tract difficulties associated with men of my age, and yet, as long as I haven't been trying to hold it for 5 or 6 hours, I am in and out in a bit over 60. And as for you, yerfatma, the position you describe is useful only for those times after extensive alcohol consumption when unaided standing is borderline impossible. You younger guys can go ahead and make fun of us old farts, but we're still hanging around and using the urinals with the best of them.

posted by Howard_T at 10:56 PM on February 03

Patriots Win Super Bowl 0x31 After Epic Last-Second Interception

The real secret to the Patriots' victory is revealed.

posted by Howard_T at 06:09 PM on February 02

Patriots Win Super Bowl 0x31 After Epic Last-Second Interception

Most of the commentary seems to be on the 2nd and 1 call on the interception. Carroll's explanation of his thoughts on the call is quite understandable. The field matchups were not favorable for a power run, the clock situation played into the selection, and the pass in this case seemed to be the better option. So Pete says the whole thing is his fault, but based on the factors that went into the decision, there's a case that it is not. That throws the onus onto Russel Wilson. Did he misread the defense? Did he throw a bad pass? The answer is no to both questions. Some say the primary receiver was Matthews. I have looked at the play numerous times (I'm a glutton for watching all the good things for the Patriots that happened in the game), and I paid particular attention to Matthews on the outside (on my 18th or 19th look that is). He was covered by Browner who jammed him at the line and proved to be strong enough to hold him up long enough that Wilson would not have had a lot of time left to make a throw. Browner was still with Matthews as the ball was released, and headed for the point of the catch/interception as the ball was in flight. Butler had been beaten in practice by the play when it was run by the scout team and Jimmy Garropolo. To the kid's credit, he learned his lesson well and recognized the look, jumped the route, and beat the receiver to the spot by about 1/4 of a stride. Wilson's pass was accurate, thrown with good velocity, and cannot be considered a bad throw. His decision making was sound as well. As he released the ball, the receiver was moving to the ball, and the defender was not directly covering him. It's a play that should have been a completion, but Butler made a hell of a play. So what's the answer to the question of who takes the blame? Simply enough, it has to come back to Pete Carroll. It was not a dumb call, it was not the wrong call. The problem was that Carroll over-coached the play. Bang away on 2nd down, and the worst thing that will happen is a 1-yard loss. This still gives you time to bang away one more time, and if you don't make that one, throw on 4th.

I don't remember Seattle ever trying to use the zone read play during the game. I fully expected to see it at least once or twice. Did I miss it? The zone read play might have been the ideal call on the goal line, even though New England had their jumbo defensive package on the field.

As the game went on, the thought I had most often was "who the hell is Chris Matthews?" At the end, it was "who the hell is Malcolm Butler?"

On Kearse's stop-drop-roll-kick-hey-I-caught-it act: My reaction was "if that proves to be the critical play in Patriots losing I think I might kill myself". When Butler made his play, my reaction was "Oh My God, he intercepted it". I didn't believe it at first, thinking he had merely broken up the play. The replay showed the play for what it really was, a classic case of "do your job".

Commercials and halftime show were lost on me. I never pay much attention to those. I wanted to throttle the singer of the Nation Anthem. Why do people treat it as a piece of performance art? It is the National Song, and it needs to be treated with the respect it deserves. Sing the notes as they were written, pronounce the words as they are meant to be pronounced, and please-please-please keep the tempo somewhat above Grave, probably around Andante. Please forgive the pet peeve of an old fart who wants the kids off the lawn (if I ever find it again under the snow).

The random thought occurred to me shortly after the game was that it was just like the NBA. That is, forget about the first 3 3/4 quarters. Just tune in for the last 5 minutes, and you'll see everything you need to see. Of course, that will never hold true for football, but how much action can you pack into the last 5 minutes of a football game? Wow!

The only really noticeable difference between the two teams that I could really notice was the difference in discipline between the Patriots and the Seahawks, particularly at the end of the game. It seemed that the Patriots went from play to play, were excited by the good things, shrugged off the bad things, and just went on. The Seahawks seemed to be more interested in trash talking and showing off. OK, I watched Gronkowski, but everybody knows he's an overgrown 12-year-old. Particularly unfortunate was the fight during the kneel-downs at the end. Regardless of cause, it did not reflect well on Seattle's players or their coaching staff. I fully understand that the frustration level for Seattle was incredibly high, but discipline needs to be maintained.

Seattle is a really good football team. One can easily make the case they are better than New England, but on this field on this day, Patriots won. Fluke? Maybe. At various times during the game Seattle deserved to win, then deserved not to win, then should have won, then lost the opportunity to win. Who was better yesterday? Coin flip.

Tom Brady needs to have a better title than "Tom Terrific". In homage to Reggie Jackson of Mr. October fame, how about the sobriquet "Old Man Winter" to salute Brady's incredible record in games played from the 1st of November on.

posted by Howard_T at 05:16 PM on February 02

NFL Playoff Pick 'Em Contest, Super Bowl 0x31 Round

I've waited long enough. It's time to show my incredible ignorance once again.

There's no way I could pick otherwise. New England by 6.

Since Wilson wants to be a running back, the most passing yards belong to Brady.

Patriots' offensive line proves a point. LeGarrett Blount piles up the most rushing yards.

LaFell and Gronkowski take defenders deep, and this gives th most receiving yards to Edelman.

...and as part of his top yardage total, the first TD belongs to Edelman.

There will be more than one sack, but one will be made by Jamie Collins.

NE finds a way to keep McCourty fresh by sneaking his twin brother into the game. McCourty gets an INT.

Final score is Patriots 30, Seattle 24, for a total of 54.

Total after Q1 is 7.

Total after Q2 (halftime) is 17.

Total after Q3 is 34.

posted by Howard_T at 03:19 PM on February 01

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

What is this "snow" thing I keep hearing about?

Think of the worst sandstorm you have ever experienced on the Outback. Then think that the sand isn't coming from the ground, but it is somehow being transported from outside Australia. Next, think that it is very slippery, very cold, very windy, and there is the possibility that your electrical power will fail. Finally, remember that you will have to move all that has piled up so you can get to work the next day. Of course, if you are a lazy retired bum like me, you could leave it until April or May and just let it melt.

posted by Howard_T at 10:52 PM on January 28

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

How about ball pressure at the end of the game -- 2 selections, one for each team.

Another nonsensical option would be the length of the halftime, or at least an over/under.

posted by Howard_T at 10:44 PM on January 28

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Put the final exam on the Toro last night and again today (Wednesday). It passed with flying colors, but I did learn one thing about Briggs and Stratton engines. They do not run worth a shit without fuel in the tank. Problem was I filled it before the storm, then did the driveway Tuesday night, Had to redo the driveway a bit after the plow came by, but not too bad. Also gave the guy across the street a break by taking the plow pile off his driveway. Finished the sidewalk this morning. Where the plows had banked the snow, the piles were about 5 feet high. Got about 3/4 of the way through the sidewalk when it quit, so I had to stop and refuel. When the business end of the snow blower is only about 2 feet high, tackling a 5-foot pile is not easy. Push the machine in, undercut as far as possible, lift the front end in order to bring down the overhead, reverse it out, go back forward to pick up some more. Lather, rinse, repeat. FWIW, Nashua got 33.2 inches -- most in NH and it broke a 126-year record that even I am not old enough to remember. yerfatma and beaverboard, I would sing a chorus of We are the Champions, but I don't have the energy.

posted by Howard_T at 05:18 PM on January 28

New MLB Commissioner: We May Ban Defensive Shifts

except if it's goofy

So there will be an exception for a Disney character?

posted by Howard_T at 05:05 PM on January 28

Martin Brodeur to Announce Retirement.

3 words: He will be missed!

posted by Howard_T at 05:03 PM on January 28

"Give 'em the works, Cubby! We ain't got a minute to lose!"

This had me laughing, even though I skimmed the reading. Somehow these guys come off as better reporters than what passes for journalists on some media.

posted by Howard_T at 05:01 PM on January 28

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

I could show up at Howard or yerfatma's place with my dog toting a small keg of brandy under her chin

Come on over , beaverboard, but make it a large keg. Son and his girlfriend are hunkered down with my wife and I. Only problem with this is that my kitchen has been taken over while the young'uns bake cookies, and the TV is stuck on chick flicks.

After supper I will put my new Toro to its biggest test so far. I fueled it and checked the oil after using it for the "warmup" act last week. Two spare shear bolts are on hand in the garage, so I think I'll be OK. My old Yard Machines beast gave me about 10 years before the auger clutch burned out while the machine was trying to eat some ice last year. Right now kid and girlfriend are out with shovels trying to get a start on things. I think they're bored. The official total is about 27 inches here in Nashua (we're on the NH-MA line on the west bank of the Merrimack River), and it's still coming down pretty well. My biggest problem is Reynaud's Syndrome. It means my circulatory system has problems pushing blood to the extremities. 20 minutes in the cold, even with gloves, means 15 minutes indoors to get some semblance of feeling back in my fingers.

would be unless it was Social Security check day and even then the banks are closed and you wouldn't want those old codgers trundling down the drifty sidewalks

Direct deposit is the way I go. And watch who you call an old codger. I'm not a codger, just old. yerfatma, I think you might be getting a bit more snow than I am getting, since you are a lot closer to the coast.

While we are passing out accolades for snowblower manufacturers and the like, I want to commend the Public Works guys here in Nashua. The plow drivers have been out since before midnight last night, and they have come by our back street 2 or 3 times since. I guess the routes and driver combinations are kept constant from year to year. I asked the guy who does our neighborhood to try not to pile the snow up too high at the end of our sidewalk (I live on a corner) so I could move the snow a little more easily. I want to keep the way to the street clear since the kids who go to the nearby elementary school use the walk and would otherwise have to walk in the street. The plow driver takes care of it every storm. These same guys also drive the trash trucks, so a week like this can be a man-killer. Lots of overtime, but a killer nonetheless. Thanks, guys.

posted by Howard_T at 04:50 PM on January 27

New MLB Commissioner: We May Ban Defensive Shifts

A statement like this, uttered in seriousness, ought to immediately disqualify Manfred from further service as Commissioner of Major League Baseball. From the Rules of Baseball:

Starting and Ending a Game:

4.02 The players of the home team shall take their defensive positions, the first batter of the visiting team shall take his position in the batter's box, the umpire shall call "Play" and the game shall start.

4.03 When the ball is put in play at the start of, or during a game, all fielders other than the catcher shall be on fair territory.

(a) The catcher shall station himself directly back of the plate. He may leave his position at any time to catch a pitch or make a play except that when the batter is being given an intentional base on balls, the catcher must stand with both feet within the lines of the catcher's box until the ball leaves the pitcher's hand. PENALTY: Balk.

(b) The pitcher, while in the act of delivering the ball to the batter, shall take his legal position;

(c) Except the pitcher and the catcher, any fielder may station himself anywhere in fair territory.

I can just imagine what a rewrite of 4.02 and 4.03 might involve. It might make War and Peace look like a tweet. Ridiculous!

posted by Howard_T at 04:17 PM on January 27

Stats Guru: Patriots Hold Onto Ball Far Better Than Any Other Team

Rubbing a football in order to raise its temperature by any significant amount would require an amount of pressure to be exerted upon the ball that would require machinery. Human muscle would be inadequate. Further, it would take some large amount of time to raise the temperature, and once you stop the mechanical process, the temperature of the ball begins to drop. I do not have any numbers or formulae to offer for how much energy is needed to raise a given amount of air by any given temperature. Considering the temperature of the air inside the ball, if it is above ambient, unless the container is insulated in some way, the air inside will soon return to ambient. If you have ever dealt with home insulation, you have heard of the R value. This is a measure of heat transfer across a surface (i.e. from inside to out). If someone cares to look up the R value of pigskin and a contained rubber bladder, let me know. Anyway, raising the temperature of contained air without raising the ambient temperature in which the ball is sitting would be rather difficult.

I believe Belichick did not mean to imply that rubbing the footballs had something to do with pressure. He was talking about the process by which the team tried to prepare the surface of the ball, and mixed it up with inflation. Anyone looking to find fault would tend not to parse his words too carefully.

Those who talk about the Colts' footballs not showing deflation below specification seem to assume that they were inspected along with those of the Patriots. I have not seen anything from the NFL that says they were. Could someone enlighten me on this?

It is all boiling down to the smartest kid in your 8th grade class and his good looking buddy that gets the girls for the 2 of them scoring another A without seeming to work for it. Let's face it, every one of us had one of those pains-in-the-ass in his class, and you wanted to kick the living crap out of him or her. If indeed Belichick knew exactly how the balls were cursorily inspected by the officials and knew that filling them to 12.5 in a warm room would result in their deflating below specification, then he was working to the letter of the rule, but bending its intent. Can the NFL or anyone else prove that this is the case? It's now the classic "he said, she said", and comes to a point of whom do you want to believe. For those who wish to believe the worst of the Patriots, here's some ammunition. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia holds a degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, and worked as an engineer for two years after having a job as a graduate assistant at RPI.

Once again, the NFL has a crappy rule that was not being enforced with the vigor needed. It was circumvented with ease, and now the league has egg on its face. Roger Goodell really has his tit caught in the wringer on this one. If he says that the Patriots worked to the letter of the rule and outsmarted everyone, there will be pitchforks and torches at the gates of NFL Headquarters. If he says that the Patriots cheated, Robert Kraft, a close associate of Sumner Redstone, majority owner of CBS, might have something to say about TV contracts, sponsors, and the like. As bad as it might look for the NFL, it seems they are the ones who need to take the hit, change the rules, or at least the execution of the process, and admit how screwed up they really are.

posted by Howard_T at 06:56 PM on January 25

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

Professor Howard, what happens to a 12.5 or lower ball at altitude?

Absolutely nothing, beaverboard, assuming that the ball is initially inflated at the high altitude. Gauges measure relative pressure (that is, ball pressure minus atmospheric pressure), the gauge is subject to the same atmospheric pressure as it was when the ball was filled, disregarding fast-moving weather fronts. Now if you were to fill the ball at sea level and take it to Denver, the ball pressure would read higher as a result of the lower atmospheric pressure on the gauge and the result of more force being exerted by the bladder on the air inside it (Boyle's Law, if one of the variables, pressure, volume or temperature is varied, and another kept constant, the third must vary accordingly (P1*V1)/T1 = (P2*V2)/T2). Longer kicks and passes that are overthrown are the result of lower air resistance and a slightly reduced force of gravity due to increased distance from the earth's core.

True, but there are enough reputable, professional sports reporters that we generally can get enough of the truth on a situation like this to form an educated opinion.

True enough, rcade, but their voice is muted. OK, time for an engineering anecdote. In order to measure a very weak signal with an instrument called a spectrum analyzer (does just what it sounds like, measures the strength of signals in the RF spectrum), it is necessary to reduce the noise level in order to see the signal. Most spectrum analyzers do something called video averaging, where the each signal sample is subtracted from the sample which follows it. Since the noise is a random thing, it will eventually cancel itself out and leave nothing but the constant signal. So it must be as we put our own video averaging to use and try to filter the noise of the talking heads fighting for ratings from the signal of the reporters trying to get it right. How this is possible in today's environment (thank you, yerfatma, for making this point) is beyond me. I do know some facts, but I can only guess at much of the rest. If the talking heads would issue disclaimers of what they really know and who are their sources, and would tell us what is speculative and why they believe it, the filter process would be well along.

What's that supposed to mean?

All this time, bonkers, we were assuming your screen name meant that you were a member of the NFL staff.

posted by Howard_T at 04:19 PM on January 24

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

I never got to see Ernie Banks play shortstop. I wish I had.

I did, at least on TV, and he was worth all of the accolades. Really wish he could be resurrected so we all could watch him "play 2".

posted by Howard_T at 03:48 PM on January 24

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

The 12.5 psi would have to be a relative pressure though, i.e., 12.5 psi above and beyond atmospheric pressure, which is 14.7 psi.

Exactly true, DevilsAdvocate. The thing is that the pressure gauges used are also subject to atmospheric pressure, thus yielding measurements of relative pressure. A difference in absolute pressure would not have been measured.

how is it possible the Indy balls all checked out?

If the balls used by the Colts were inflated toward the upper end of the specification, they would not have lost enough pressure to test below specification. Had the officials recorded the starting pressure (i.e. at the time of initial inflation) and then compared it to the pressure at halftime, they wold have seen a decrease in pressure, but not enough to put them out of spec.

We accept the sports media as a reasonably accurate gatherer of information all the time.

rcade, this is not to start a flame war, but sports reporters are one thing and sports talking heads are quite another. The responsible reporter will tell what facts he knows and can verify. The talking heads will take whatever unverified scrap they have heard, embellish it without telling a flat lie, and scream as loudly as possible. It's an attempt to gain viewers or listeners or readers, depending upon the medium involved. It's their job, and they have the right, and indeed the obligation to their media organization, to do this. It's our job to separate the speculation from the facts, the spin from the story. The 2 psi story is an example. Could some very clever person have done exactly what DevilsAdvocate demonstrated and then "leaked" (pun intended) the story? It would be truth, but not reality.

The only problem I have with hincandenza's essay is one number: 11.

I think I might have an explanation for the 12th ball. It was never measured at halftime! Go back and re-read the story told by D'Quell Jackson about what he did after the interception. OK, you're back with me. He took the ball to the Colts' sideline and asked their staff to keep it for him as a souvenir. So do you think the staff then just turned the ball back to the officials? Nope, that ball is now somewhere in Jackson's trophy case, or at least on the way there. I don't posit this as fact, but it is an explanation of the Grassy Knoll 12th ball.

By the way hincandenza, great job on taking the physical analysis further. I have not checked your numbers, and I probably will not, but the initial sanity check looks good. You have earned an A+ from Prof Howard, and may skip the quiz.

A couple of final thoughts before I take something for my recent case of diarrhea of the keyboard.

On the initial inflation value: In his presser yesterday Belichick admitted that the footballs used by the Patriots were inflated to the bottom of the specification limit (12.5 psi) as a regular practice. This was to satisfy the wishes of Brady. He also said that the practice henceforth would be to inflate to center specification. The question now becomes one of how much Belichick understood about the effects of temperature upon pressure. If he knew all about it, then he was "cheating", but only by knowing more than he suspected others knew. He was within the rules, but knew that there would be an advantage. You may also believe that Bill Belichick and the entire Patriots' staff were not forced to take freshman physics, and thus had no understanding of Gay-Lussac's Law, or at least were not thinking about it. Call me fanboy or whatever, but I honestly think Belichick didn't really think about the pressure decrease. For the majority of games during the season the temperature difference between the officials' room and the field is sufficiently slight that it will make little difference in ball pressure, and during warm weather the pressure might actually rise. If you're the DA, he knew everything all along. If you're the defense attorney, he was ignorant of the physics. Of course, the old saying is "ignorance of the law is no excuse". Does that apply to Gay-Lussac's Law?

On feeling the difference between footballs at different inflation values: If you are handed in rapid succession balls that are at different inflation levels, the difference will be apparent. Will you be able to detect the difference if you are handling balls that are at one pressure, take 15 minutes without handling a ball, and then are given one at a different pressure? I'm not so sure. In Brady's defense, he is not standing there squeezing the ball to determine how it feels after the snap. He is looking at his receivers, looking at the pass rush, and wondering if he will survive long enough to throw the ball. True, a baseball pitcher can recognize differences in the baseball. Within the past minute or two, he's just handled one that feels right, and the one he has now feels different. I believe the same holds true for any person who is asked to make a decision based on sensory perception. For a hypothetical example, someone who is blindfolded is given a room temperature beer to hold, then immediately given one that has been refrigerated for just a moment or 2. He'll likely be able to tell the difference. If you do the same experiment, but wait several minutes between the samples, he might have a bit more trouble making the distinction. Personal note, I prefer to do this test with a red wine, unchilled, and a nicely chilled dry white. Drinking the samples is encouraged.

posted by Howard_T at 03:50 PM on January 23

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

Marshawn Lynch's $20,000 fine for grabbing his crotch

I don't understand the fine. Was he not just checking the inflation?

posted by Howard_T at 02:27 PM on January 23

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

To what accuracy is the pressure gauge

Good catch, hincandenza. I forgot all about calibration data on the gauge. If I had done that when running a test at work, I would have been looking for other employment. All of our test equipment had to have been submitted to an independent calibration laboratory, or to one that had traceable standards, and certified as accurate. Next time anyone wonders why military hardware costs so much just consider what the manufacturers have to go through.

Just found this

I had looked at that link, beaverboard, and found that either the writer had done some sloppy work in putting the story together or the physics professor shouldn't be teaching in university, and might be over-matched in middle school. A 30 degree drop in temperature, and I assume he was speaking in Fahrenheit as opposed to Celsius, would produce something close to the .7 psi drop in pressure that I calculated. Run your numbers, prof. Further, he talks about the shrinking of the football. The shell of the ball is inelastic, not rigid. That is, it will maintain its shape unless it is deformed by some force. A rigid structure would also deform, but would require significant forces. The reason the shell of the ball becomes easier to grip is that the bladder has actually shrunk slightly. Thus, the shell of the ball has room to deflect before coming into contact with the bladder and causing it to deflect in turn. Gay-Lussac's Law assumes a constant volume, while Boyle's Laws treat the relationship between pressure, temperature, and volume. In order to maintain the pressure, the bladder would have to be squeezed by some amount to reduce its volume. Football bladders actually do shrink a bit as pressure drops, but the force they impose upon the contained gas changes as a bladder expands.

That's the physics class for today, folks. There will be a quiz on the material sometime this week or next. Find your college or high school physics textbook, or wear yourselves out on Google.

posted by Howard_T at 02:47 PM on January 22

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

Belichick did something to my balls

Cold weather always makes balls get smaller and shriveled up. Don't blame Belichick for the forces of nature. Or maybe it is Bill messing with global warming.

posted by Howard_T at 11:18 PM on January 21

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

There is a handy calculator for doing Gay-Lussac's Law temperature vs pressure problems on line. I ran the numbers assuming a beginning temperature of 30C (303.15 Kelvin) and an ending temperature of 10C (283.15 Kelvin), and a beginning pressure of 12.5 psi. The temperature on the field at game time was about 50F, which translates to 10C. The pressure after cold soak on the field would fall to 11.675 psi. To get to a difference of 2 psi would require the temperature on the field to fall to below zero (F) numbers. It did get colder as the game went on, but not that cold.

A physics teacher on another site (reddit, which I do not follow -- heard it second hand) pointed out that water vapor in the air inside the ball could also contribute to the pressure fall. This would require very humid air at a high temperature (let's use the 30C number here). Since water vapor has a greater vapor pressure than air, a decrease in temperature will cause a correspondingly greater decrease in pressure of the water vapor. What would happen then is that there would be a contribution to the overall pressure in the ball from the air and another contribution from the water vapor. The proportion of air vs water vapor would determine the additional pressure drop due to the water vapor. The physics teacher suggested that the additional pressure drop could have been as much as .25 psi. This still does not get us near the 2 psi difference claimed.

What I wind up with is the simple question of whether each and every ball of the 11 found under-inflated measured exactly 2 psi below specification. I tend to doubt this is true. What I suspect is that one or more balls measured more than 1 psi low, and for the interests of simplicity (or sensationalism) the writer of the story rounded off to 2. The 2 psi report did not come directly from the NFL, rather from some "source". I accept it at face value as something that may or may not be entirely true, but has some basis in fact. What I would like to see in the NFL's report, but I will wager is not there, is a full scientific report documenting the measurements of each ball tested, the time when each was tested, the environmental conditions (temperature, etc.) at the time of test, how long the balls had been in that environment, and a comparison of the balls used by New England with those used by Indianapolis. This last is only to establish some sort of standard, not to determine if Indy used under-inflated footballs. Anything less than a full report done by someone experienced in running and documenting scientific tests will leave me wondering if the findings have been skewed in one way or another.

I can't help it, guys, it's 40+ years as an engineer, much of it running system tests in a field environment. If you miss anything in the documentation, the customer will get very angry.

posted by Howard_T at 11:09 PM on January 21

Playing with the Big Boys (and Girls)

In my limited experience with youth baseball (and many moons ago, softball), I found that 10-year-old girls had a much better attention span than boys of the same age. Put a bunch of boys on a baseball field or a basketball court, and unless they are very well disciplined, they will be all over the place. If you do succeed in getting their attention, the lull will last about 5 minutes before something sets them off. Girls, on the other hand, will be rambunctious, giggling, laughing, and generally cutting up, but once they are called to stay quiet and listen, they will. Once you have proven to the girls that they can be successful by following your coaching, they will stay with it. Boys will do the same, but it is much harder to get them started.

posted by Howard_T at 11:46 PM on January 20

Seahawks Advance to Super Bowl 0x31 with 16-Point Comeback

otherwise let them play it out

Why this is not the rule in playoff football is hard to understand. It works for hockey, it works for basketball, although the periods are shortened, but there is no limit to how many OT periods could be played. I agree with the idea of requiring each team to have a possession, except in the case of a TD. If you think about it, the possession requirement makes NFL OT almost the equivalent of the college rules. NFL kickers are generally accurate from 50 yards or less. Thus, a team would need merely to reach the 35 yard line or so to make a field goal. Unless the starting line were pushed back from the college rule of the 25 to about the 45, a field goal on each possession is automatic.

I think the real reason for the NFL OT rule is TV. Having an OT period that is limited to 15 minutes of play gives the network some certainty of when it might resume its schedule. Of course, in playoffs, you can not have a tie, so the 15-minute limitation is not possible.

posted by Howard_T at 05:41 PM on January 19

Patriots crush Colts in the rain

deflating footballs

The NFL is investigating, but why? Who put in the complaint? It had to be from Indianapolis, either a player or coach or front office, but upon what was the complaint based? The only scenario I can come up with is that a defensive player from the Colts picked up one of the Patriots' footballs and thought it felt strange. Don't forget the game was played in a rain that was heavy at times. The writer of the story mentons that one football was taken out of play and weighed. How much of a weight difference could 1 or 2 psi make in a football that normally weighs just south of 1 pound (14 - 15 ounces uninflated)? If the problem was low inflation pressure, would the officials not have used a pressure gauge rather than a scale?

Two things come to mind. If the officials weighed a football, they might have feared that the rain was soaking into the pigskin cover, causing the ball to weigh too much. The other thing is that at one time, after an Indianapolis punt, the officials interrupted the Patriots' as they were about to snap the ball for a play. There was then a delay of several seconds until the officials replaced the ball that had been spotted for the start of play. The TV explanation was that the kickers' ball had been used for the spot and had not been replaced. Perhaps this made the Colts side suspicious. Officials handle the football after every play. Would they not notice if the footballs being used by one team were a bit softer than those being used by the other? If the difference is so slight as not to be noticeable by someone who touches the football over 100 times during a game, and who has done so in many games during the season, how could it be such an advantage?

I did notice that the spike after Gronkowski's touchdown seemed to lack the high bounce that has become typical. I want to believe that it was because he had it bounce more to the side rather than straight up, but perhaps this is why Indianapolis registered a complaint. This could be the new standard for inflation -- the Gronk test. Set up a measuring bar in each end zone, have Gronk spike the ball after each touchdown, and if it does not attain a certain height after the rebound, it is underinflated.

This whole thing sounds like some disgruntled person who wants to make some capitol out of the reputation of Belichick and the Patriots. If the accusation is made, the NFL has no choice but to investigate, and this in itself leads to a more widespread belief that once again the Patriots have cheated. Get over it, Indianapolis. You were beaten, your team is very good but does not match up well, and it showed. In his post-game presser, Andrew Luck reacted with a good bit of class, blaming his own inadequacy and recognizing that the Patriots were a better team. Leave it there, Indy.

posted by Howard_T at 05:25 PM on January 19

Patriots crush Colts in the rain

I-did-not-expect-that! A Patriots win? Yes. Convincing, as in by 10 to 14 points? Yes. An absolute dominant bulldozing of a moderately good team? Not at all. It was a case of one team whose defense matched up poorly against the other team's defense, and whose offense was not sufficient to find a match up that would produce consistent gains against the other's defense. The other factor was that the Patriots were not about to take the Colts for granted, gave them all of the respect they deserved, and played hard throughout the entire game. The game plan was pretty good too.

The interesting sidelight to the Super Bowl will be Bill Belichick vs his predecessor at New England, Pete Carroll. Right now I don't think Patriots can win, but I see ways that Seattle can be nicked for good yardage. These match up a bit with the New England offense, but whether Patriots' defense can hold Seattle down is a tough question to answer with "yes".

posted by Howard_T at 11:47 PM on January 18

High school coach suspended after basketball team wins by 159 points.

One way to prevent this is to adopt the "running clock" rule. If a team is leading by a certain score at a certain point in the game (I do not know the exact numbers on this, and any high school association or league can make up its own rules) the clock is kept running except for time outs and free throws. It probably won't prevent blowouts, but it will keep them to a more reasonable size.

posted by Howard_T at 11:34 PM on January 18

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle the act of catching a pass... is the operative phrase. If the receiver has taken control of the ball and begun to attempt to advance, he is no longer in the act of catching a pass. Where the problem lay in the Green Bay vs Dallas game was that Bryant was deemed not to have taken and maintained control, even though he was attempting to advance. I do not agree with that interpretation. It sure looked to these eyeballs that he caught the ball, had it in one hand securely, took a step toward the end zone, and then dove forward attempting to reach the goal line. The rule as written stinks and needs a lot clearer language to determine what is and is not a catch, what is and what is not control, and forget all about football moves.

posted by Howard_T at 11:29 PM on January 18

NFL Playoff Pick 'Em Contest, Conference Championship Round

In haste:

Seattle by 12

New England by 11

Most Points to New England

Most Passing Yards by Luck

Most Rushing Yards by LeGarrett Blount

Most Receiving Yards (and loudest spike) Gronkowski

posted by Howard_T at 02:58 PM on January 18

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

Hockey Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Wilson of the Boston Bruins has died at the age of 85. Wilson was the successor to Fred Cusick after Cusick went on to TV, and he was the radio voice for over 20 years. Wilson had a deep baritone voice that could occasionally sound like the sepulchral "voice of doom", but his calls were accurate and conveyed the excitement of the game. He was the broadcaster during the Big, Bad Bruins' Stanley Cup run of 1971-1972.

I was assigned to a job at North American Aircraft in Columbus, Ohio, putting self-protective systems onto RA-5C aircraft during the playoff run. One or two of the games were on TV, but not enough to satisy this Bruins fan. I found that there was a little hill near Columbus where the signal from the Bruins radio station, WBZ, a 50KW, Class 1 clear channel station, could be heard on the car radio. I spent several hours parked there listening to Wilson's baritone describe the action, and cursing when the occasional atmospheric effects caused the signal to fade.

posted by Howard_T at 06:16 PM on January 17

The Gaming Obsession of the Green Bay Packers

My son's girlfriend introduced my wife and I to the game last week. We had a nice foursome playing, some good Malbec wine, and homemade guacamole. The game is rather intricate. I could understand the basics pretty quickly, but it took longer for me to pick up on w strategy that would increase win probability. My wife had a good bit of trouble with it. She's not dumb, but is not the analytic type that the rest of us are. She finally got pissed off, chugged her glass of wine, slammed down her cards, and loudly quit. Too bad. We probably won't play the game any more, and I really liked it.

posted by Howard_T at 01:01 AM on January 17

Packers Rally Past Cowboys, Who No Longer Love the Refs

..and here I thought that a "football move" was what a player did when he was traded or signed with another team.

posted by Howard_T at 05:24 PM on January 13

Colts Silence Broncos Offense, Make Peyton Manning Look Old

Peyton Manning has to be considered as one of the greatest QBs in the league's history. Yes, I know what his post-season record is, but what it took to get to the post season, and considering that some of his Indianapolis teams were somewhat flawed on defense, his career is still one of great accomplishments. He could get into the head of defensive coordinators and head coaches. The most glaring example I can think of is the infamous 4th-and-2 game. Bill Belichick elected to go for the 1st down late in the game rather than punt the ball to Manning. He feared that Manning was capable of leading a comeback regardless of here the drive was started. That respect on the part of an opposing coach is one of the marks of greatness.

One of the Boston "knights of the keyboard" (a term that should have been trademarked by Ted Williams), Chad Finn, who is usually level-headed and not given to fan boy reaction except in a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek manner, had a rather snarky blog recently. He said that Manning should not retire until the Patriots defeat him in the playoffs once more. I equate that sort of sentiment to kicking a 3-legged dog. Those who question Manning's claim to greatness appear to have similar feelings. If Manning retires after this season, I will feel badly that he had to go out with an undeserved loser reputation.

posted by Howard_T at 05:16 PM on January 13

Buckeyes Win College Football Playoff

Those who still believe that a football game is decided by the guys up front had that belief verified. Ohio State's "fat guys", "big uglies", or whatever else you want to call them were dominant. The blocking on many of the OSU running plays was textbook. I was surprised that Meyer didn't just tell his offense to keep running Elliot off tackle right or left until Oregon stopped it. I don't think they could have. The OSU win was a mild surprise; the dominant way in which they won was a shock.

posted by Howard_T at 04:53 PM on January 13

Packers Rally Past Cowboys, Who No Longer Love the Refs

To add to my comment above, baseball rules are equally complicated, but there is one thing that keeps arguments over interpretation from becoming a daily occurrence. Most of the rules of baseball contain the phrase "in the judgement of the umpire..." Calls that are reviewable are those that have a physical aspect: safe/out; fair/foul; catch/no catch; and the like. Ball/strike calls are not reviewable for obvious reasons. The ones that are really touchy are things like the balk rule or especially the infield fly rule. How do you convince a manager that it's an infield fly when the ball was caught by an outfielder? Well, the rule says something to the effect that if in the judgement of the umpire the ball may be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort it is an infield fly. Of course the other conditions of runners and outs must exist. It doesn't matter who catches the ball or where in fair territory it is caught. To argue whether it was ordinary effort is arguing about the umpire's judgement, and this is forbidden. Adding a similar sort of expression to some of the football rules and giving better definition to what constitutes a "football move" and possession might help.

posted by Howard_T at 10:11 PM on January 11

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

Actually, the times work out well for me. I have a church youth group meeting to attend at 1630, and if the Patriots were on at 1500, I wouldn't be at the meeting. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't have been surprised at a cancellation of the meeting. As it is, I can throw something together for the pot luck supper accompanying the meeting, watch Seattle - Green Bay for a quarter, and then head for the meeting. I will bet someone there is watching the score via his 'phone.

posted by Howard_T at 09:53 PM on January 11

Packers Rally Past Cowboys, Who No Longer Love the Refs

When you get so far into a ruling that it has to be explained in fine detail in order to convince the fans, and I mean those fans who are not just the casual game watchers, that the ruling is correct, then you have a rule that is far too complicated. I sometimes feel that there ought to be a high desk set up behind one end zone and at the desk is seated someone in black robes carrying a gavel. Rather than replay, have a rules lawyer for each team argue the case. Twelve people, in a city that is not part of the contest in any way, will decide, with a majority vote, rather than unanimous, determining the decision. In other words, simplify the rules somehow, as rcade suggests.

posted by Howard_T at 09:34 PM on January 11

Patriots Edge Ravens as Belichick Displays Some Trick Mojo

I was surprised that Belichick left enough time at the end...

I'm surprised that Belichick decided to let his punter actually kick the ball. I was looking for the punter to retreat into the end zone, try to run around for a few seconds, and then throw the ball out of the end zone for a safety. Result of that would have been a 2-point NE lead and a free kick from the 20 with about 10 seconds left. By the time the free kick is executed, Baltimore is at its 40 or so with less than 10 seconds and no time outs available. Thus, unless they can get 1 or 2 plays totaling 25 yards and stopping the clock after doing so, they won't have time for the field goal try.

Had Patriots tried 3 running plays, the possibility of a catastrophic fumble is there. A deliberate safety, or the actual play of a punt after the 3 kneel downs, seems to be the safer option.

The "ineligible receiver" ruse is completely within the rules and should remain so. The referee clearly announces who is ineligible prior to the snap, and there is enough time for a defense to determine coverage based on this. Motion plays, unbalanced lines, tackle eligible plays are all designed to make coverage more difficult. Having a running back or a tight end on the line of scrimmage and having him declared ineligible should not be such a difficult thing to understand for a defense. Of course it's designed to create confusion. Coach your players better.

posted by Howard_T at 04:36 PM on January 11

Patriots Edge Ravens as Belichick Displays Some Trick Mojo

News reports around New England say something like this:

Freak high winds were reported south of Boston this evening. The strongest gusts were felt in the vicinity of Foxborough. An unconfirmed report says that the freak wind was caused by a massive exhalation of breath as Duron Harmon intercepted a Joe Flacco pass to all but seal a New England Patriots' playoff win. State Police are investigating.

posted by Howard_T at 10:04 PM on January 10

NFL Playoff Pick 'Em Contest, Divisional Round

The goat I had intended to slaughter so I could spread the entrails for portents of success froze to death. Darn thing was frozen so solid I couldn't get at its guts. I guess I'll just ave to go on my instincts.

Baltimore at New England: Patriots' secondary defense deprives Flacco of early targets, forcing him to run around. While he throws well on the run, he will also throw some picks. Patriots' O line is healthy and ready, and NE runs the ball well. Brady is Brady. What else needs be said? New England by 17.

Carolina at Seattle: Sometime about the middle of the 3rd quarter, the announcers will say something to the effect of "Thank you, Carolina, for playing. Here are some lovely parting gifts". This one will be ugly. Seattle by 28.

Indianapolis at Denver: Will Manning's arm fall off in the 4th quarter? Will Colts' defense be able to stop the newly-created (well sort of recently discovered) Denver running game? The answer is No and No. Manning's arm is a bionic replacement, and Indy's defense is too small and light to stop a hard running attack. Denver by 12.

Dallas at Green Bay: It won't quite be an ice bowl, but it won't be a trip to the tropics either. Dallas will try to run the ball, and if they succeed, Packers will be hard put to keep up. The thing is, Cowboys might not be able to run. Depending on Tony Romo to be able to throw consistently well is like depending on Scarlett Johansson to be sharing your pillow every morning. Green Bay should be able to dictate what it wants to do on offense. Packers by 9.

Most points: This is a tougher call than it looks. Denver and NE could run up the score, but with the combination of a home crowd, a vicious defense, and a pretty solid attack, Seattle will light it up. My choice is Seattle.

Running Back Yardage: There are 4 teams with backs who could win this. I will eliminate 2 of them, New England (Blount) and Dallas (Murray), one by virtue of their style and the other because they won't be able to run successfully. That brings us to Anderson from Denver and Seattle's Marshawn Lynch. While the Lynch mob will excel, Lynch will not be the weapon upon which Seattle depends. With Manning's apparent arm difficulties and Colts' weakness against the run, the pick is clear. Anderson.

Who will get a sack: There will be many, and there might be a few who, after the game, pick up a sack at the grocery store for their "let's go home and grieve" party. My pick is a guy with the power and speed to break through and run down the QB. He might even get the double with a sack and an interception. My pick, from New England, Jamie Collins.

Now for the Green Bay weather: The temperature at game time will be 18 degrees Fahrenheit. Can I get double points for converting it to Celsius? Let's go with -8C or 18F.

posted by Howard_T at 02:46 PM on January 10

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

Bill James made predictions

Do you think I can get him to look at the stock market for me?

posted by Howard_T at 12:00 AM on January 08

ESPN Anchor Stuart Scott Dies

Stuart Scott was one of the few things that ESPN has gotten right in recent years. He was always worth watching. His words about his illness could be an anthem for anyone who is suffering from adversity: "When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live."

If a definition of dignity is needed, just put up Scott's picture. R I P

posted by Howard_T at 04:50 PM on January 04

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

One of the delights of being both a sports fan and a lover of history is coming across a nugget of information in the "I didn't know that" category. I happened to me again yesterday as I was looking through my latest Naval History magazine. This is published by the U S Naval Institute, and it is a monthly collection of articles about famous events in the U S Navy. Each month has a theme, although articles in the issue are not limited to the theme. One month it was privateers during the War of 1812, last month it was about U S submarine warfare against Japan in WW II. The latest number features the development of race relations in the Navy. They were not always very good. In fact, for a long time Blacks were not allowed in the Navy, and when they finally were, they were restricted to certain menial rates, such as mess steward or laborer.

Not so the U S Coast Guard. Black Coast Guardsmen had been around for many generations, and served in all rates. Even though the Coast Guard came under the operational control of the Navy during WW II, the Coast Guard retained its own policies for manpower. This brings me to the nugget. Emlen Tunnel was a standout player for the University of Toledo, but suffered a near-fatal broken neck. He recovered from his injury and tried to enlist in the Army and the Navy during the war. Neither would take him, using the injury as an excuse. The Coast Guard welcomed him, and he eventually was assigned to a ship. In April 1944, his transport, the Coast Guard manned USS Etamin was attacked, and Tunnell saved the life of a burning shipmate. A year later, Tunnell went into the frigid waters off Newfoundland to save another shipmate, later being awarded the Coast Guard's Silver Lifesaving Medal.

After the war, Tunnell renewed his football career at Iowa, leaving after the 1947 season, and eventually received a tryout, and ultimately a contract, becoming the first black player with the New York Football Giants. He was a standout defensive back, helping the giants to an NFL championship in 1956. Tunnell later joined the Green Bay Packers and helped them to a championship win against his old team, the Giants, in 1961. Tunnell became the first black player inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 1967.

Since I easily qualify as an Old fart, I am old enough to remember watching Emlen Tunnell on TV when he played for NY. New England was considered part of the Giants' home territory for broadcast rights, so we were stuck with them. I can't remember any particular plays or games, but I do remember Tunnell's name frequently being called for one play or another. So as I read the article about the Coast Guard's efforts at racial integration and came across the name Emlen Tunnell, I could hear the voice of Chris Schenkel calling out a tackle or interception by Emlen Tunnell. War hero? I didn't know that.

posted by Howard_T at 04:12 PM on January 03

Ducks v. Bucks in Arlington

My anti-FSU bias makes me extremely gratified about the lopsided result. To go from a winnable position at 20-25 in the 3rd quarter to a 34-point blowout makes the FSU program look somewhat overrated. It probably isn't, but Oregon's tempo seemed to wear FSU down. The "no-means-no" chant is quite tasteless. Perhaps it could have been replaced by "we like crab legs clap clap clapclapclap".

I'm of mixed emotions about Ohio State vs Alabama. I'm ambivalent about the Tide, but since I am a Penn State fan, Ohio State is not my favorite. However, since Ohio State is in the Big 10, it is sort of the "I and my brother against my cousin; I and my cousin against the world" feeling.

I fully expect Oregon to easily prevail over Ohio State, but after yesterday who knows?

posted by Howard_T at 03:30 PM on January 03

NFL Playoff Pick 'Em Contest, Wild Card Round

Never got to the laptop yesterday, but I guess I'm just in time. Here goes:

Sloppy field, No LeVeon Bell, Baltimore by 4.

Suh or no Suh, Detroit steps on itself. Dallas by 10.

The mirrors break and the smoke clears. The true Arizona is revealed. Carolina by 17.

Hard-nosed running attack could work against Colts, but Bengals don't have enough. Indianapolis by 6.

Most points: Dallas

Most yard passing: Andrew Luck

Interceptor (no, not the old Ford police vehicle): Rolando McClain

posted by Howard_T at 03:20 PM on January 03

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

Good bye, 2014. It looks like we got away with it again this year. WOOHOO!!

posted by Howard_T at 09:01 PM on December 31

New York Jets Fire Rex Ryan, GM John Idzik

"Physician, heel thyself" case for himself.

Misspelling (heel vs heal) intentional? If so, I guess you are just trying to dip a toe into the pool of this discussion.

posted by Howard_T at 12:23 AM on December 31

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Skip Bayless??? All this time I thought it was Skip Brainless.

posted by Howard_T at 12:19 AM on December 31

Sources: Jim Harbaugh Expected to Take Michigan Job

Harbaugh will do well at Michigan. Then, after his contract nears its completion, the NFL will come calling once again. I suspect he will go the same route as Bill O'Brien, Pete Carroll, or Dennis Erickson and depart the Maize and Blue in favor of the green and greener dollars of the NFL.

posted by Howard_T at 03:16 PM on December 29