Recent Comments by hincandenza

NFL Source: 'No Doubt' Brady Will Sit 4 Games This Season

Sheesh... if you didn't already think this was a witch hunt with no goal but for the league to blatantly attempt to sabotage one specific team's entire season...

Now the question you should ask yourself is: why would any self-respecting journalists keep using these NFL sources that are either obvious NFL propaganda or outright false, or both?

posted by hincandenza at 11:45 PM on September 27

Super Bowl Ditches Roman Numerals

Okay Howard, that was gold. :)

posted by hincandenza at 05:21 PM on September 10

2 High School Players Intentionally Hit Referee

Well... I care, I literally wrote that right above. It doesn't matter, but it would be interesting to see if these kids were teed off about a total miscall, or some thing questionable at worst. Plus, the preceding play might show clues of the planning, and whether the coach or other players were involved. On reddit, someone linked a fast-pitch softball clip in which not only does the pitcher throw it right at the umps mask, the catcher intentionally leaps out of the way, and the entire infield- as well as the manager- met on the mound right beforehand. It was so obviously intentional, and orchestrated by the manager, they called the game then and there.

posted by hincandenza at 10:06 PM on September 06

2 High School Players Intentionally Hit Referee

I saw this when it was going around reddit yesterday, it's pretty appaling. Happily at least, it sounds like the schools and related organizations are reacting quickly and appropriately.

One question I've had, just out of curiousity: I can't find a clear description in an article, much less video, of the preceding play. Not that it would justify the action, but I'd be interested in seeing what these players were so incensed about.

posted by hincandenza at 03:40 PM on September 06

Federal Judge Tosses Brady's 4-Game NFL Suspension

Man ESPN is the worst.

So when can the SpoFi community admit there was no "there" there? The NFL actively tried to catch the Patriots in a sting operation, ineptly tried to collect damning data, and yet even the biased Wells report admitted there wasn't even convincing evidence of any tampering actually happening- much less involvement from Brady et al? For 80 years the NFL didn't care, didn't even know there was a natural gas law, and Brady just wanted a low end but legal 12.5 PSI football.

Shouldn't this all have been a simple off-season scientific investigation and possible rules tweak of ball pressure setting and management? Because a fair number of posters here were looking for blood, demanding Brady impale himself on a non-existent violation that at most would warrant a small fine if it even happened- of which there's never been evidence it even happened?

Don't be like Lester Munson... admit you were wrong about the alleged "Cheatriots".

posted by hincandenza at 02:13 AM on September 05

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

On the one hand, I hate the public shaming culture/stockades... but on the other hand, fuck Schilling.

Although I still revere him for 2004, that doesn't conflict withat thinking he's also a putz.

posted by hincandenza at 11:55 PM on August 25

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

What... why...

posted by hincandenza at 10:33 AM on August 25

ESPN Accidentally Fires Adam Schefter

What you did there; I see it. :)

posted by hincandenza at 12:55 AM on August 22

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

This Daniel Norris sounds like an interesting cat. The link is to a discussion on the front page of Reddit right now; apparently he lives on $800/mo, and during spring training lived in a van behind a WalMart*. What is it with pitchers and their seemingly greater-than-normal penchant for quirky personalities?

* Then again, if you watch that video when he's showing off the machete he keeps in the van for protection... I'm not sure how I feel about another pitcher with a fondness for sharp weapons...

posted by hincandenza at 04:15 AM on August 21

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

That Norris at-bat was insane; the stroke was so sweet, he looked like he was barely swinging, and it goes right over the dead-center wall. And first ever professional at-bat? That's remarkable.

The Denard Span one cracked me up; where did they get all that video of him asking people about it...? It's like when someone learns some amazing new fact on the front page of Reddit, and they keep telling people.

Eventually, ESPN is going to have to run a retraction; there is no doubt they were getting blatantly false info from the NFL front office- including the bullshit "2 pounds" number- that grossly colored the entire DeflateGate story. Ah, who am I kidding- they'll never apologize. Fuck 'em, I canceled my cable months ago, they aren't getting anything from me anymore.

posted by hincandenza at 11:16 PM on August 20

Little League Team Throws Game at World Series

Exactly- the issue wasn't losing, that earned them nothing: they specifically were trying to lose by enough runs that NC would win a tiebreaker against Iowa on run differential. Like bender suggests, for these kind of structures where ties are so common, they need more than mathematical rules; let the kids play- and incentivize it, so no one would ever dream of intentionally losing, much less in such obvious fashion.

Haven't we had wild card/division standings races where a team might actually benefit by intentionally losing in the last days of the season (i.e., allowing a different team to surge ahead in the wild card once your own position is assured). I vaguely recall a team- the Rays or Yankees, maybe?- did that to the Red Sox a few years ago in the single-wild-card-team format, where they arguably made some questionable batting order and late-game swaps on the field against a team that was fighting the Sox for a wild card slot in the last days of the season?

Oh of course, yeah, it was the goddamn nightmare 2011 season. Ugh. Along with all the other disasters, it came down the final day, Boston loses 4-3, after a long 7th inning rain delay where they led 3-2, when Papelbon struck out the first two batters quickly and then couldn't close it out. Literally minutes later, having somehow squandered an 7-0 lead with two innings to go, the Yankees end up losing to the Rays mere minutes after the Sox had lost. Not saying the Sox deserved to make the playoffs after their shitshow September, but that Yankee game never did sit right with me... thank god for 2004/2007 at that point, or 2011 would have led to a lot of bridge jumping in the greater New England area...

posted by hincandenza at 01:24 AM on August 19

Little League Team Throws Game at World Series

Ha, I just saw this at /r/Seattle and was coming here to post it, but I guess you beat me by a couple of minutes. :) Here's the Seattle Times story, at least. I'm most surprised they got through an entire 8-0 game without anyone involved slapping the coach upside the head.

The tiebreaker seems like a good and fair decision all around. It wouldn't be fair to outright disqualify them just for losing, when losing still put them in the next round per the rules, and they appeared the strongest team on points. Since the goal of Snohomish was to essentially smooth their own path by pushing NC over Iowa using tiebreaker rules-lawyering, having Snohomish forced into a 1-game playoff to continue was actually kind of Solomonic, honestly. The real shame is that the best team might have been knocked out of the competition by their own coach getting too cute with tournament rules.

Granted, the real flaw is how easily exploitable tournament tiebreaker rules are; as mentioned in the article(s), the coach didn't break the rules, just the spirit of "striving to win". You gotta feel bad for all the players: the Snohomish girls throwing a game can't have felt good, the Iowa girls watching their tournament dreams end... and then the one-game playoff was announced and you realize the emotions on each side probably did a 180 in a heartbeat. I'm surprised the final score was only 3-2, honestly.

posted by hincandenza at 06:37 PM on August 18

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

What a weird... and wonderful... game is baseball. :)

posted by hincandenza at 10:02 PM on August 14

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

You explanations did help clarify it, thanks; the reason for the rules is to cover the weird case closer to what I described, when you have fast runner make it to first while a DP is being completed. It answers the question of whether the run scores or not, and whether it's timing based- which happens first- or event based- once these boxes are ticked off without any of these. There's one other thing that would have come into play: being outside the base paths, those runners would have been out for that reason, I believe.

Then again, the runners were celebrating because the CF just ran in, there was zero chance of a play at the plate. Had he instead made a fierce effort to get the ball in (for god knows what reason) the runners would have just advanced normally, stepped on their bases, and stayed there with a safe lead until the winning run crossed the plate and play was basically stopped, like with a playable medium/shallow pop fly.

Interestingly, a nefarious coach could exploit this exactly once in a season: in the same bases-loaded one or two out in the bottom of the 9th situation like this, if a clear untouchable hit goes over an outfielder's head, they always play act as if they give up almost immediately... and if they're lucky enough to entice this kind of premature celebration even one time, the next OF over quietly scurries for the ball, whips it in to the first OF who has suddenly darted over to be the relay man, and boom- instant one or two outs. You'd have to be the baseball equivalent of Belichick to even plan and train for something like that, though. :)

I like the idea that there's a rule of equity, a sort of "Well, this is why they pay you: when it all falls apart, just think it over and try to be fair to the spirit of the game at play". Hopefully, in this case they'd make the spirit-of-the-game decision if things were actually questionable, under that basis, or if a team did the intentional "hidden fielder" trick or whatever we'd call it.

posted by hincandenza at 04:17 AM on August 12

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

This reminds me of the Robin Ventura grand slam single in the NLCS a few years' back, which ended up similarly being a historical score keeping anomaly.

However thank god for the runners passing, the security guard dead ball, and the poor force play, else I'm still not sure how it should have been ruled.

The runners not having touched the bags at 2nd and 3rd is irrelevant once the runners cross home and first. However... just how long is that? Let's imagine earnest but painfully, comically slow runners on 1st and 2nd. They haven't made it to their next base even as the batter and man on third have rung up the winning run. Meanwhile, with no staff intererence, the ball makes it back to the infield, both runners get caught off base, double play on the force outs at 3rd and 2nd.

We'd all agree that a DP not only doesn't earn an RBI, but in this instance would it still matter? Runners can get in an intentional rundown just to buy more time for a lead runner to score, but if it's a force play and the runners are slow... just how much time is allowed to complete the inning end out after the run scores? And do the runners in a force situation ever have to touch the bag once the run has scored? Contrasted, if I have an Ichiro ground to SS in this situation, and both he and the runner on third reach their bases before the routine DP is completed... did Ichiro's team win, or are we going to extra innings?

posted by hincandenza at 05:01 PM on August 11

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

No no, he's not saying Madison Bumgarner is a racist...

posted by hincandenza at 12:21 AM on August 02

Roger Goodell Upholds Tom Brady's 4-Game Suspension on Appeal

No one expected the commissioner to overturn the commissioner's own ruling that was based on a report the commissioner commissioned himself. This was just a necessary pre-flight routine before Brady and the NFLPA sues the NFL and Goodell.

posted by hincandenza at 03:22 PM on July 28

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

Damn, some strange plays in the MLB these days. Check out this weird triple play by the Mariners today. The nature of it is not unheard of, but at this level it always surprises me when you see a base-running gaffe like this (or the delayed reaction of the players/coaches to what happened). You can see it develop, too: no outs, Pillar on First and Carrera on third. Batter hits a routine dribbler down to first, he's out; it was quick enough that Pillar on first didn't make it to second, so they get him in a rundown... but then notice Carrera trying to sneak home from third so they throw the ball to the catcher to run him back.

Meanwhile, Pillar correctly takes that moment to easily progress to second and then- seeing the rundown between third and home- wrongly tries to advance to third, which he does easily. Unfortunately, Carrera had scampered back to third just after, so the catcher promptly tags both players. Pillar is immediately out, since the lead runner has rights to the bag, but in the confusion Carrera seems to get panicky as if not sure if he should try running home again (to make Pillar safe I guess?), stumbles off the bag, and is promptly tagged again for the third out.

If you watch carefully, the third base coach was unforgivably asleep at the wheel; he barely was watching Carrera's rundown, staring right at second, and yet did not wave Pillar back. Pillar should have known better, but Luis River had literally one job, and he screwed it up. It's giving me flashbacks to the days of Red Sox 3B coach Wendell Kim sending valuable baserunners to their doom.

posted by hincandenza at 02:59 AM on July 27

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

I think he'd have to, but I've been surprised before; maybe Howard can chime in? I've never been totally clear on the line between error and simply not making a tough play. He did run a good distance to get there, but then had a fair amount of time to stand there before just sort of...falling over.

posted by hincandenza at 04:34 PM on July 26

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

For what it's worth, yet another no-hitter was thrown today by Cole Hamels of the Phillies; Hamels is the first pitcher to no-hit the Cubs since Sandy Koufax in 1965. Hamels has been the subject of trade speculation as we near the non-waiver trade deadline, so this performance can only enhance his value for teams in the hunt for that stretch run pitching boost.

If you watch nothing else, be sure to check out the absurd two no-hitter saving catches made by Odubel Herrera in the 8th and then 9th inning to end the game. Two of the weirdest, ugliest, most ridiculously beautiful catches in a no-hitter I've ever seen. The last play looks like something you'd see in a made-for-TV Bad News Bears sequel.

posted by hincandenza at 03:10 AM on July 26

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

Well... damn. Literally a few seconds after posting, apparently I did jinx it. :(

Er... anyway, unrelated: can someone explain why this is even a "thing"? "Yankees, A-Rod Resolve Bonus Issue". I have no great love for A-Rod, but I'm also old school enough to think that a contract is a contract, and the Yankees shouldn't be able to say "We don't feel like paying you because you have a bad reputation among the public (a negative reputation which we actually helped foster".

Either there was explicit language that would nullify the bonus for certain cases (for example, if he was traded, so that a future team wouldn't be stuck paying bonuses on someone; or in this case, if there was an explicit morality clause et al), or there wasn't. If there wasn't... I don't see how you can just disregard the contract unless A-Rod agreed to for whatever reasons. It's not a win for anyone but the Steinbrenner family that A-Rod doesn't get the bonuses, the Yankees now don't have to pay that money in their salary cap, and yet the charitable amounts are far less than the bulk of that $30M he'd have likely earned hitting those milestones.

posted by hincandenza at 09:34 PM on July 03

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

For those checking in, Anibal Sanchez of Detroit is still pitching in the 8th inning of a 8-0 game at Comerica Park. Being old school, I won't explicitly say why this is interesting, but I trust people will understand. :)

posted by hincandenza at 09:26 PM on July 03

Pete Rose bet on MLB games while an active player in those games.

There's a difference between Cardinals hackin, or the NCAA's bullshit rules, and prohibitions against betting on the sport you play in. Baseball did have a famously corrupt World Series in 1919, it even made the news a bit. :) They've been touchy about gambling ever since.

And that makes good sense! There's a world of difference between cheating as in breaking or at least bending the game rules to gain an edge- PEDs, sign stealing, scuffing the ball, that sort of thing- and doing something that suggests the game itself has a rigged outcome due to one or more participants. At least in the former, you know it's just people trying to get ahead: they're still competing. But if they bet on the games, and thus conceivably might have been "paid" to lose, you no longer know if you're really seeing a competition..

posted by hincandenza at 05:06 AM on June 23

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Wow. I'd guess he's about 8-9, but whatever his age, Hernandez' kid has some seriously good form.

The MLB woman article didn't load for me, grum. However, it did make me go google that 13-year-old knuckleballer who made headlines a while back. Turns out she's 16 and in high school now, still pitching, and apparently having quite a bit of success.

posted by hincandenza at 05:00 AM on June 23

Max Scherzer Has Perfect Game Through 8 2/3, But Hits Tabata

Oh wow, that's genius, beaverboard!

And yeah, he totally leaned into that: on the initial normal speed view, I didn't even think it hit him; on slo-mo, he unquestionably bent down into the pitch, and that's bullshit. At least Scherzer still got the no-no, and he's not the first pitcher to lose a perfect game or no-no with one out or one strike (insert amazing story about a 9th inning two-out Carl Everett pinch-hit at-bat against a Mike Mussina no-no at Fenway on Sunday Night Baseball many years ago).

Still, I've thought this since people like Bonds (as much as I've been a staunch defender of him on this site) really started popularizing the wearing of battle armor. While I understand and support a hitter protecting vital body parts, I feel like the rule about not making a sincere effort to get out of the way should be enforced much more than it is, especially when batters are wearing protective gear. I'd love to see umpires call that a ball, as the rulebook states, enough times batters stop trying to milk the HBP.

I was somewhat surprised to see this on an article about the play:

For his part, Nationals manager Matt Williams noted that, regardless of his perception, the last thing he would have wanted to do was challenge the play -- it is reviewable -- and hence risk warping Scherzer's rhythm.

I didn't know that kind of play would be reviewable- seeing as it would in my mind qualify under the balls-and-strikes part of the game- but given that it apparently is, I'm not sure how I feel about Williams' decision. On the one hand, the review might have overturned the call and potentially preserved the perfect game; on the other hand, the 5 minutes wait time might have cost Scherzer the no-no altogether.

posted by hincandenza at 09:47 PM on June 20

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Rewatching that, I'd say the fault is almost entirely on the shortstop. Here was my train of thought: 1) I think I'm agreeing with Howard here; the runner on second is unimpeachable, he even ducked so as to minimize interference (or at least, to not get hit by the ball). 2) Wow, that was totally the 2nd baseman's ball, why didn't he get that? 3) The 2B was even calling for it... then stopped? 4) If I recall my baseball rules, players like SS and CF have "right-of-way" on their plays, so if the 2B suddenly backed off then the SS must have called for it 5) The SS, while understandable in not realizing he couldn't reach the ball (since his eyes were in the sky) still called off the fielder who had a better angle and then couldn't make the play.

So no interference, and I'd have ruled that E-6 because it was a routine pop fly. Looking at the box score, eh, they ruled it a single, so I guess that's charitable of them. Amazingly, it was the game-winning run in the top of the 9th, so... ouch. Someone's getting extra fielding practice today....

posted by hincandenza at 05:07 PM on June 08

A bit of history


even though I've grown to loathe everything about Sorkin's TV writing

posted by hincandenza at 04:56 PM on June 08

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

That's the key item you pulled out of that article?

I though they were suspended at the order of the NFL. In any case, suspended != fired, so it's not even impossible those guys come back, should their names be cleared.

posted by hincandenza at 01:21 PM on May 18

NFL Announces Punishment for Patriots' Deflated Balls

Wait... are you being serious right now? So a 4-game suspension, million dollar fine, and a 1st and 3rd round pick because of an inviolable law of physics?

What, exactly, was Brady supposed to do, control the weather so there wouldn't be a pressure and temperature variance on the field compared to the locker room?

posted by hincandenza at 05:44 PM on May 15

NFL Announces Punishment for Patriots' Deflated Balls

cixelsyd: This a clear cut case of official league rules being broken
The case of the rules being broken is anything but clear cut; the NFL and the Well's Report do not demonstrate any convincing or even probable evidence the footballs were deflated by anyone- much less the Patriots.

The fabled "TWO POUNDS" and "10.1 PSI!!!" turned out to be non-existent. By the NFL's own report, the actual measurements at halftime were solidly in the range of the ideal gas law. Whether they understood the ideal gas law on Jan 18, the NFL conveniently knew these figures at halftime yet did nothing to stem the tide of false leaks in the media for weeks about "two pounds" and "10.1". Even in the Wells report, the only way they could make a case for a "more probable than not" act of deflation was to claim that Walt Anderson misremembered the gauge he used... even though they considered that same Walt Anderson as unimpeachable when recalling the exact pressure he got the footballs at to start the game. However, if we take him at his word on both items... the balls appeared to be the expected pressure, per science.

I'll admit, that doesn't mean the Patriots didn't tamper with the balls that game, or didn't do so in past game, nor that maybe they tried and simply failed to do so successfully enough. But despite the NFL intentionally measuring the balls for that game there still wasn't any clear scientific evidence of a rule definitely being broken, then how can the "offending parties" actually be "offending parties"?

and the refusal of the offending parties to provide requested information in a league investigation.
What information can they provide, if the investigation is convinced something happened- that maybe didn't even happen? The term here is "proving a negative". If I accused you of speeding on your way home from work yesterday, can you prove you didn't? And when I realize I can't prove you did speed, should I get to throw an even bigger penalty than a speeding ticket at you for not "cooperating" in proving you sped... especially if you didn't actually speed yesterday?

Information that would allow proper penalties being applied to the appropriate parties.
Proper penalties were already outlined in the rulebook at $25K. Hence the outrage in some corners that, by lacking clearcut evidence- like they had with the Vikings and Chargers- the punishment was much harsher for the Patriots.

But you know, I was reprimanded for losing my shit (I can't even say deleting the comment wasn't justified, although in my tiny defense this whole insane and unjust debacle has been as frustrating as watching the first two thirds of the "Shawshank Redemption" on daily loop). So I'm going to stop trying to convince anyone.

Instead, I'm curious. Hypothetically, what is the minimum amount of evidence, facts, explanation, testimony, or other piece of data that could make you change your mind, or at least admit a possibility that the case is not "clear cut"?

For example, if video leaked today of Roger Goodell on hidden camera in January saying "I'm going to get those Patriots, with a frame job about ball pressure, mwuahaha!"... would that sway you? Is that the bare minimum to prove a negative for you? Is the minimum to introduce some doubt higher than that? Lower? Even non-existent; literally nothing you could see or hear after this point would change your mind?

posted by hincandenza at 01:46 PM on May 15

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

It still sounds like hyperbole to say (and I still have issues with positional adjustment for WAR, but whatevs), and yeah a lot can happen in a long career... but wow, we really are watching a generational-level player in Trout.

And as much as people might have complained about it, thank god for challenge reviews; it really doesn't take much time, and as shown here can ensure the right call is made, not just the quickest.

posted by hincandenza at 10:35 PM on May 14

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Why is it bad that Barry Bonds is pursuing legal action against MLB? On the surface, that sure looks like collusion: when the greatest hitter that ever lived offers to play for league minimum and gets literally zero offers- even from teams in the heat of a pennant race- there's got a be a reason for it besides Hester Prynne syndrome.

posted by hincandenza at 09:40 PM on May 13

John Oliver tackles the NCAA and student athletes

Thought this worthy of SpoFi discussion.

My own take is that it is unconscionable to have these students used as indentured servants for a multi billion dollar organization. They get no actual education- it's a joke to pretend D1 athletes in football/basketball are getting an actual education- and have their lives micromanaged to the point that millionaire coaches can bully and abuse the lives and bodies of young men, discarding them when injury or skill has eroded, yet deny them even a cent in material compensation.

If we care about the "purity" of amateurism, then surely we can't allow huge money for amateur sports. Since the fan intereat- and thus money- is not going away, shouldn't we recognize that the athletes are entitled to compensation for the product they create? It is illegal in the USA to employ some to work without compensation excepting under very limited circumstances (see the DOL rules on "unpaid internships" which are often fluted in the media and entertainment industries ), and there is no reasonable argument these students aren't fulfilling job requirements that cannot be replaced. The only reason we don't just call them minor league athletes is because the schools have engineered a clever scam to exploit young men, with the complicit help of the NFL and NBA who benefit from drafting out of an unpaid talent pool.

posted by hincandenza at 12:58 AM on March 17

Curt Schilling Declares War on Twitter Trolls Abusing His Daughter

Oh I agree on the pursuing harassers legally, but it's the public "Let's shame people/get them fired" that bothers me. If their harassment rises to a criminal/civil level, the potential results- which might include loss of job in extreme cases due to legal sanctions that prevents them from working- can quietly be applied through our justice system, without public stockades and global shaming.

Actually, this article by Jon Ronson in the NYT recently says it better than I, by profiling a couple of high-profile cases of people being shamed, fired, and having their lives turned upside down in a supposed case of "Internet Justice". Yet the punishment doesn't remotely fit the crime of essentially "Saying something other people disagree with" or simply "A private joke that you didn't understand and was not meant to be public".

All this technology seems to just allowing people to delve into very childish forms of bullying and mob mentality- like a Mean Girls "Burn book" on a global scale, pissing away any concept of free speech or being able to live our own lives. Schilling already took advantage of Twitter handling the harassment complaint; why make it public, too, or name names?

posted by hincandenza at 01:23 AM on March 03

Curt Schilling Declares War on Twitter Trolls Abusing His Daughter

Whoever wins, we all lose.

It would be nice to solve the problem of trolling and harassment technologically, rather than just encouraging more people in the muck as Schilling is doing.

This is to me the peril of the Internet: we have the same simian tribalism akin to the opening scene of "2001", but with a global reach and lack of social boundaries that turns people into turf warring gangs of unbounded hate that see no problem with escalating feuds to real-life levels.

posted by hincandenza at 06:56 PM on March 02

NFL Pick 'Em Contest, Final Scoreboard

Oh man, what a finish- I didn't realize it would be so close! One point, that could have been any of several spread picks through the whole playoff run.

Congrats NerfballPro, and thanks for running this rcade!

posted by hincandenza at 06:03 PM on February 12

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Hey, did the Pick 'em results come out yet? I think NerfballPro had a good set of Superbowl picks and presumably hung on to win, but it'd be great to see the standings.

posted by hincandenza at 07:30 PM on February 09

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

yerfatma said things better than I did. Sorry if I snapped at you, rcade; like he expressed, I guess we're feeling defensive as Pats fans, when the message I'm seeing is that we should still feel ashamed or guilty for winning because we're such "cheaters".

posted by hincandenza at 08:00 PM on February 06

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

Etrigan: That level of insanity is actually kind of impressive.

Uh. Yeah, what Joey Michaels said. It's clearly a rhetorical point, he explicitly copies the angry tirades of sportswriters who railed against the Patriots during DeflateGate as boilerplate for his own (satirical) condemnation of the Colts. As a rhetorical tactic, this is hardly shocking or revolutionary or "insane"; you've surely used this tactic yourself countless times.

The entire case of the DeflateGate ranters- and thus the two-weeks of unchecked hateful outrage that was fueled by it- has been debunked by science and now by the actual facts of the story.

  1. The science was convincing before; it's overwhelming now. The alleged PSI difference was virtually undetectable by hand, and conferred no apparent advantage. Now that we know that exact measurements were never even done before the game, and at half time showed only "a tick" under 12.5- more than explained by the ideal gas law- what we have is "the balls behaved exactly as expected and showed no signs of tampering". Film at 11...
  2. Well, almost all the balls. That magical "12th" ball was apparently the one handled by the Colts. So... either the Patriots deflated exactly one ball and that somehow was the one D'Qwell Jackson intercepted, or "two pounds" we all heard about was an exaggeration based on no actual measurements... or someone tampered with the ball at some point to let air out.

So what we're left with is a bunch of media assholes that were ready to essentially hand out a sports "death penalty" to players or a coach or an organization they are already biased against, all based on no actual evidence or facts. And truly, it wasn't just them- feel free to go browse the previous threads for your own amusing look at the Truth according to Sportsfilter.

Given their low evidentiary standards against the Patriots, isn't it just, fair, and proper to hoist those people up by their own hypocritical petard? To show using their very own words that witch hunts, and rushes to judgment, should be avoided- especially by those in the media? Given how many of them- and many of you, actually- were ready to demand Goodell hand out punishments ranging from fines to loss of draft picks to even booting the Patriots out of the Superbowl or suspending Brady or Belichick for one or more seasons.... shouldn't that same loose standard of evidence now apply to point number 2 above? If the only ball that was suspicious was handled by one team with a motive to tamper... why wouldn't we ask questions.

I mean, not that the writer- or myself- actually believes that, but like they say, "What's good for the goose...". Either we commit to a complete farce of a media and a joke of due process, or we don't.

Eh, but what do I know? I'm just a guy who "[sounds] like a typical dumbass from an ESPN Facebook thread."

posted by hincandenza at 12:03 AM on February 06

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

*koff* I hate to say "I told ya so" you guys, buuut.... :)

posted by hincandenza at 03:27 PM on February 03

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

Hugh, if you look he's been here about a year. But hey, it's cool that he gets excited enough by a win to come post here. :) Go Pats!

Bradyman: To all you Brady haters, it's time to shut up and realize who the best QB in football is, Tom Brady.
While I'm not normally a fan of post-win hyperbole... shit, I think you're right. That is to say, I think the debate is now over. Who else do you argue for as the best of all time anymore? Even outside the Superbowl dominance, he's top 5- or higher, depending on how much longer he plays- in wins, passing yards, TDs, completions, and probably several other stats I didn't bother to look up.

I know it's from the what-if department, but it's stunning to consider that a total of maybe 4-5 inches of combined difference in the location of only two passes- one the improbable, heartbreaking "helmet catch" in 2007, and one the in-and-out of his hands incompletion to Wes Welker in 2011- and we would be talking about 6-time winner Tom Brady, owner of the only 19-0 season in history.

And the crazy part is, he still hasn't retired. Those counting stats will continue to grow and he has a chance to be #1 in a few key stats. It's not like this was Elway in 1999; he's still healthy and obviously very effective, and is working with unarguably the greatest head coach of all time.

I'm kind of glad I'm a Patriots fan, because I can honestly see how much other fans would hate them, and Brady in particular. The movie star looks, the gorgeous supermodel wife, a household net worth nearing a billion dollars, and on-field success beyond belief. He's literally living one of the most charmed lives in existence, and anyone else but him and I'd hate their guts on principle alone. :)

posted by hincandenza at 02:05 AM on February 02

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

In the Seattle home I'm in, and on facebook, there is... some frustration with that play call. It makes no sense, and while I'm thrilled to have the Pats win, I was in shock because I expected a 30 second rush for a FG to tie it, not a sudden INT and win.

posted by hincandenza at 10:22 PM on February 01

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

Hey, at least I get a point for that Ninkovich sack. So far, that's all I've got to root for... We'll see if Brady can do anything with this possession.

posted by hincandenza at 09:18 PM on February 01

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

Well, barring an offensive explosion in the 2nd half, I was obviously wrong to figure on any real scoring output. Exciting game, and love that the refs are staying hands off so far.

posted by hincandenza at 07:43 PM on February 01

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

A well written article, and hope he's wrong.

Should this be the de facto game thread?

posted by hincandenza at 05:48 PM on February 01

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

Whoops- my third quarter pick should be 44, not 43 (predicting 17 points in the 3rd). Bad math there. :)

posted by hincandenza at 04:30 PM on February 01

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

NoMich, I don't think you need to do anything extra or special. Sorry, the parenthetical notes on what I thought the exact score would be was just for fun, plus if the game turns out anything like my prediction I'll look like some kind of football magician. :)

posted by hincandenza at 03:06 PM on February 01

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

I considered it, but decided to pretty much just roll the dice with the Patriots in real life and here. I think the Patriots winning would be much nicer to see, as it's been a decade since they won (and those last two appearances/losses were so bitter to swallow) while Seattle won last year. I'd be quite content if Brady and Belichick win this year, and Wilson & Co. rattle off a SB win next year, in similar fashion to the start of Brady's career...

Here's my prediction:
New England by 5
Most Passing Yards: Brady
Most Rushing Yards: Blount
First Touchdown: Gronkowski
Sack: Ninkovich
Interception: Revis
1st Quarter: 10 (NE 7 - SEA 3)
2nd Quarter: 27 (NE 14 - SEA 13)
3rd Quarter: 43 (NE 28 - SEA 16)
Total score: 57 (NE 31- SEA 26)

I'm a touch concerned the points-per-quarter as you have it is going to be lopsided in scoring, since each quarter pick depends on not being too far off in the previous quarter(s)- and the 3rd quarter and Total pick are so large as to cover nearly all reasonable scores we'd see during the game.

Just a late suggestion, but if we turned the existing picks into four separate quarterly values, then people wouldn't have to repick but you could have smaller spreads for each quarter, scored independently. For example, current leader NerfballPro picked 17, 31, 45, 52; from this we could derive his quarterly picks as 17, +14, +14, +7, and treat them like four separate spread picks, with more narrow spreads by game's end.

I personally think this wouldn't be too much of an imposition on existing picks, and might play a little fairer in the scoring. Like I said, just a suggestion.

posted by hincandenza at 04:00 AM on February 01

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

rcade: New York Times: "[T]he NFL confirmed Friday that game balls used by the New England Patriots during the first half of Sunday's AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts were underinflated ..."
Oh come on, man. I apologize for being cruelly blunt, but you should be embarrassed for yourself at this point. I mean, that article is from January 23rd, a whole week ago! It only states that the NFL claimed they were investigating these allegations. No PSI values are listed, nor any other factual evidence; just speculation from random football personalities, such as Tim Hasselback and his prognostications on what ball boys would do.

I mean, how much clearer can I state it? There is at this time no actual evidence any wrong doing occurred. We don't know the starting PSI, we don't know the PSI at half time, just some vague assurance it's "two pounds" or maybe "nearly two pounds" or some other unsubstantiated guess work by a couple of refs or officials days later.

And without actual facts, logs, documentation, or anything, all the science supports that a 1+ PSI can easily be lost just from the 20 degree temperature difference from indoor to outdoor. We've seen both theoretical calculations and actual experiments- you know, the bedrock of science- that show these effects.

So before you go taking away draft picks... I repeat, do you have ANY evidence that the balls were underinflated before the game, or tampered with in game that I and others haven't debunked repeatedly already? Because it seems to me that you want to say that because you've read about this story, you need there to be punishment so that you feel good. Why? If they didn't do anything wrong, why should they get any punishment, no matter how slight?

cixelsyd: Here's an interesting read for those who have drank Bill's potion
How was that interesting? The mental giant who wrote that basically says "Well, we can easily account for 1 psi, but not 2 psi!"... even though we've never been told the actual recorded measurements at any time before or during the game, so we don't even know if the 2 psi is accurate, a rounded up value, or what. Not to mention the 1.0-1.6 PSI drop in physical experiments done recently have consistently shown up, easily allowing for the "nearly 2 PSI" drop to be anything but "fishy".

Lacking any actual number, only fanatical zealots would still cling to this idea there is or ever was some "proof". Hey, if you show me the log books that the NFL refs use every game to record the PSI, and then show me the one from the Colts game which shows a measurement before the game and then at the half that cannot even charitably be accounted for by PV = nRT... then I'll change my tune. I mean, if a decent gauge recorded a 2.4PSI drop that was rounded down to "two pounds", even I'd say that was "fishy".

But you can't offer that up. None of you can. Because it doesn't exist. But because you've let yourself be convinced initially there was some great cheating conspiracy by the Patriots, you will never ever be convinced otherwise. To you, they will always have gotten away with it. Until Bill and Tom and Bob and Co. somehow prove a negative, you will never not believe this was just a dumb story the media got wrong. That's surely something that has never happened before....

posted by hincandenza at 06:54 PM on January 30

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

rcade: Playing with improperly inflated footballs is breaking a rule and the NFL has confirmed the Patriots did that
This is news to me, do you have a source for this? It is my understanding that the NFL claims when they measured the balls at halftime, they were lower than 12.5 PSI; that this is about all we can state factually. We can't say what they were at before the game although the ref OK'ed them, and we can't say the actual measurements at half time or when and where they were taken. It has been amply demonstrated that a legally inflated football will be below 12.5 PSI- by significant amounts numerically, even if it's not detectable by most people in a blind test.

So unless I'm missing some new wrinkle, I still don't think the Patriots did anything wrong whatsoever. Not in the abstract sense of "Of course it's against the rules, but everyone does it", but in the sense that I don't think they did literally anything in violation of the rules, and scant evidence they even gamed the system in some egregious way. I've yet to hear (although I'm not exactly following this story too closely at this point) a shred of evidence of any malfeasance. We went from "Patriots letting air out of the balls, almost 2 pounds lighter, what cheaters!" to nothing of substance. It was all smoke, and no fire; if anything, shouldn't the NFL be paying the Patriots for their trouble?!

No proof of leaking of any kind. No specific measurements to be reviewed, nor specific times and methods. An inflation drop entirely explainable- even expected- by temperature (and Colts balls that were either overinflated, or simply never measured at halftime but only an hour or more after the game after they'd been sitting inside warming back up). No one on field ever noticed, because it turns out you can't, not really. So all we get is one locker room guy taking a 90 second piss break on security camera as our "smoking gun".

And for this media circus, a team deserves a fine or loss of draft pick? Why, because a week ago the media and many fans were personally convinced they had done something wrong, and now they gotta pay... just because?

What I think really happened is that no one ever cared too much about that rule, it was never strictly enforced because 12.5-13.5 is not some divine ratio derived by alchemists, but an arbitrary range made up decades ago. Further, no one in the NFL apparently ever did the numbers and realize how much the PSI changed with temperature and adjust their rulebook or process accordingly- as beaverboard notes they did with the kicking balls- so they probably assumed that if it was 12.5 coming out of the locker room, it'd stay that way through the game. Refs do a squeeze test, say good enough because it "feels" right, mark the ball and the game goes on. It's not only possible but likely that people have been unintentionally playing with balls inflated to anywhere from 10 to 15 PSI for decades, without anyone really noticing week over week.

The Colts "tattled" on the Patriots possibly based on a rumor from the Ravens, and the lack of understanding of the Ideal Gas Law among the NFL, media, and fans led to the nation proving its collective stupidity for almost two straight weeks. The NFL and Goodell are in a position that they have nothing- no evidence of anything but their own ref's lax enforcement and a rulebook and process that was clearly ignorant of how the temperature affects the ball. Goodell is for some intrinsic reason afraid to simply say this and exonerate the Patriots, so they're digging in their heels. It's some immutable law of PR, that no one can just act like an adult about anything in the public eye.

If it's a ticky-tacky fine like $25K, then Bob Kraft probably pays it, takes his pound of flesh from Goodell in private, and we see the sports fandom continue to believe the Patriots are a corrupt organization or a "bunch of cheaters". Meanwhile, the NFL has a wisp of a chance of implementing better rules to address this now that we've all become aware of it, such as climate controlled container on field and/or balls filled (and re-filled at half time) to a fixed pressure by machine, running at the same temperature as that on the field.

posted by hincandenza at 04:54 PM on January 30

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

Since it's just the one game, we should add more questions and fun gimmicks (like the weather one you had for GB) that expand the questions, especially in ways that don't rely on a specific winner.

I'm assuming we'll have winner and spread, and some "most" categories for players and team, eg Most rushing yards and amount, Most recieving etc. The reason for the non-team-specific points is with one game, I'm either doing a straight NE or SEA pick, or watering down my score by splitting my choice since if a team wins overall they probably led in several areas as well.

Here's one: in addition to the usual winner and spread, pick the total points scored by quarter. 2 points for each quarter you get exactly right, 1 point for each quarter you're within that 30% range (or maybe lower, since you aren't specifying a team). It's like a modified over/under spread pick, by quarter.

Here's another: time of possession. Pick the team that will have the highest TOP for regulation (1 point), and the margin either way (1 point within 3 minutes, 2 points within 1 minute) preferably without needing to also have specified the team.

Those sorts of things- fun, and varied enough that simply betting everything on a blowout either way isn't a guaranteed victory or loss.

posted by hincandenza at 08:23 PM on January 28

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

Bill Nye is a media personality, who lives in Seattle. He either chose- or was edited- to misrepresent Belichick's statement, by conflating BB's claim that the PSI drop was due to temperature change (which we've discussed here) with his statement that part of the football handling process was to rub them up as well for the benefit of Brady's preference.

These are all legal behaviors in the NFL mind you, and I continue to think the story will eventually come out that the refs only did a spot/hand check before the game, because no one has ever cared or more likely known about the pressure drop; after all, a 13.5PSI ball in San Diego and a 12.5PSI ball in Green Bay could be 3PSI different on their respective fields... yet no one has ever noticed. That we'll have different and more specific rules going into 2015 is certain; that the Patriots violated any rules whatsoever is completely uncertain.

rcade: You use the Patriots passing a lot as a possible reason to explain this stat, but dismiss the Saints passing a lot as meaningless.

It seems to me you're trying to have it both ways. You're calling his statistical finding meaningless misleading junk while also coming up with reasons why the Patriots are so good at not losing fumbles.

Because those aren't mutually exclusive. His presentation, analysis, and thus his findings are suspect due to sloppy methodologies and assumptions; that's what I'm calling junk. The choice of axis, including passing plays, etc.- for a "professional" analyst, it's suspiciously sloppy to me.

I further suggested that part of the reason it's junk is because when you average over a period of time, you can exaggerate a consistently high performer when other performers have mixed results- often due to changing personnel or simple lack of organizational success from one year to the next.

I asked that someone do actual leg work of a more meaningful kind, and at least one person did in that previous comment you quoted: when looking at the fumbles / (rushing plays + completed passes ) even averaged over 5 years, you get the Patriots #2, behind the Ravens and about the same distance in front of the Saints. So why, as beaverboard jokes, are we not talking about the Ravens' cheating ways?

posted by hincandenza at 02:54 PM on January 25

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

Which means, honestly, precisely nothing. Again, if the Texans fumbled one fewer time a year, they'd have NE's numbers. Do you dispute this ratio, or the idea that so small a change would negate the entire story?

This guy is a charlatan, trying to drum up business with a viral story that plays to people's pre-existing biases. The premise itself is threadbare: it's 100% statistical cherry picking, making up some random stat no one's ever heard of before- seriously, "plays/fumble"?- and then find a way to produce an outlier by using all sorts of trickery and conflation, such as I mentioned above.

There are so many conceptual mistakes in this whole process. If you suspected the Patriots of some ball-related mischief, you'd do year-by-year comparisons to find when they implemented this supposed deflation technique of lowering numbers. I mean, unless you somehow know for a fact that the "tampering" not only gives them an edge in fumbling but has also been going on all 5 years, averaging the stats would actually hide or diminish any recent outliers.

But then, we know that's not why he chose a 5-year average: he did it because most teams can't even boast the same coach and QB over the past 5 years, much less winning the division 5 years in a row. If you wanted to manufacture a controversy, you'd find some way to magnify even the slightest difference.

Heck, his updated "Fumbles" and "Fumbles Lost" chart shows the Atlanta Falcons having an even more dominating rate than the Patriots, and the Saints not far off. While he was savvy enough to put the y-axis at 80 out of 150- almost as if to exaggerate the graph- he somehow wasn't clever enough to split the numbers between home and way, given how concerned he was with dismissing those Falcons/Saints numbers as irrelevant to his "Patriot cheating" narrative since they played in a dome. Well, they played their only half the year of course, but still... odd, don't you think?

There are countless other explanations for a junk stat made up this week showing some kind of "trend". The current top comment on the article is from some guy, Glenn Brown, who points out that BenJarvus Green-Ellis had 510 carries in his 4 years with the Patriots... and ZERO fumbles. Just in 2010 and 2011, he had 410 carries for 0 fumbles. 205 plays a year without a single fumble- and with about 1,200 total plays a year passing and rushing for the Patriots, that means this single player running 200 times a year without fumbling would probably show up as an extreme statistical outlier in team fumbling rates.

By the way, while he's not in the league now, BJGE left NE in 2012, and spent the next two years in Cincinnati. On his modified Total Fumbles and Plays/Fumble chart spanning 2010-2014, guess which outdoor team is now fourth in highest Plays/Fumble rate? Go on, make a wild guess.

This whole thing is a joke, and I wish Howard_T or grum could jump in to debunk this further.

posted by hincandenza at 12:05 AM on January 25

Ernie Banks, legendary 'Mr. Cub,' dead at 83

One of the truly greats, not just on the field but as an ambassador for his sport.

posted by hincandenza at 08:24 PM on January 24

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

The link isn't working for me (gives an error message about missing content) although I've seen this making the rounds, especially here in Seattle. Hey, maybe he took it down in embarrassment! :)

The article is innumeracy at its finest, but I'm too exhausted from #DeflateGate to keep running numbers. I've quickly copy/pasted a FB post I made a couple of days ago about this article. As always, I reserve the right to be wrong, gracefully. :)


This has been making the rounds today. Seattle is quickly proving that its sports fans are not only fair-weather... they aren't exactly aces at math. ;) Even assuming these numbers are accurate:

FIRST, this "damning" graph is conveniently y-axis shifted so the trends *look* more exaggerated, in particular those fumble numbers. We should see the same thing without the deceptive framing. What are these supposed to be, national unemployment figures, ha ha? :(

SECOND, the far right of the graph shows 33 NE fumbles compared to Houston 40... over a span of five seasons. Wow, a whopping 1.4 fewer total fumbles per season. Surely, some kind of Belichickean dark sorcery is afoot here.

THIRD, since the 2010 season of this graph, the Patriots have 5 straight division wins averaging 12.6 wins per season (and never less than 12). The Texans in that same period have two division wins of 10 and 12 win seasons... but missed the playoffs the other years with win totals of 9, 6, and *2*. Again, it's really suspicious that New England has fumbled 7 whole times *less* than the Houston Texans in that same period.

FOURTH, this y-axis shifted graph is showing two values per team: fumbles per season, and plays per fumble. It doesn't, however, appear to distinguish between running plays and passing plays. How convenient. Unsurprisingly, a team led by a no-doubt Hall of Fame quarterback runs more passing plays than normal. Less running plays means less chances to fumble, means a greater ratio between overall offensive plays and fumbles.

FIFTH, the ratio of fumbles over this span between Houston and NE is .825 (33/40). If the Patriots otherwise executed the same number of plays over that time span- ha ha, that's surely the case- then inverting the ratio to get plays/fumble would turn 140 into... 170. Oh, but the perennial contender Patriots with their future HoF quarterback have a modestly higher ratio than that! Quelle surprise.

SIXTH, just so I'm not accused of picking the poor beleaguered Texans... if we compare Seattle to NE, we get an average of 10 wins per season (7, 7, 11, 13, 12) and find the Seahawks fumbled the ball on average just over 5 more times per season. Probably a lot of that difference in those 7 win seasons. Hm... I wonder what the fumbles per game (FPG) was in that span...

Year, NE, SEA
2010, 0.7 (1), 1.1 (7)
2011, 0.9 (4), 1.4 (9)
2012, 0.9 (5), 1.1 (8)
2013, 1.5 (24), 1.6 (26)
2014, 0.9 (2), 1.5 (22)

So NE is consistently elite but not exceptionally so when it comes to fumbling (see that 24th place rate in 2013). Oddly, Seattle started fumbling a lot more- near league worst- when they made their two SB appearances.

Maybe... maybe fumbling rate isn't such a great fucking stat to use to prove a point?

All this chart really tells us is:
a) How easy it is to mislead with statistics and rigged graphs
b) A consistently elite team will, over several years, make several fewer mistakes on average than other teams.
c) If we were to accept the original author's premise, the NFL really ought to be investigating the Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos under suspicion of tampering with their footballs to the point of being comically *overinflated*. :)

posted by hincandenza at 08:00 PM on January 24

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

"My SpoFite is an Honors Student". :)

The latest is... still fuzzy. But the story that's shaping up to me is: the Patriots likely underinflate their balls a little, which is a quiet and customary practice around the league the NFL has never really cared about too much. After all, they take greater pains to regulate the kicking balls as a separate group, but pretty much leave the rest of the team balls to their own devices.

This ball boy, Eric Kester, is on record saying that in his experience, ball boys were encouraged to tweak the ball a little to their QB's specifications, because the refs didn't care and only touch-tested balls so you might get a couple tossed but mostly not, so might as well try. He worked several years ago, so that might not be the case these days. This wouldn't require involvement or knowledge from Belichick; it's probably something that the equipment managers know to do, to get a sense of when their QB likes the ball a little less or a little more and adjust it accordingly. Heck, Brady might not know the rule, he might just say "Ball feels a little stiff out there" or something and they keep adjusting per his tastes.

It sounds like the NFL suspected some pre-game deflation because of a formal complaint (and thus were obliged to check), but for some reason the refs or other officials didn't do a thorough pressure check initially. Thus when they did check at half time- possibly because a Colts staff member reminded them of their complaint, not so much due to "feel"- they found them a little low due to both less air and the temperature difference, then inflated them back up.

Oddly, the Pats played much better in the 3rd, so depending on where they measured and where they inflated at half time, it could be that Tom Brady just found out via a roundabout fashion that all this time he should have been playing with a more inflated ball. :)

I suspect no tampering in-game was ever done, and that the story got misreported as "intentional in-game tampering/deflating" because the unmeasured balls at kickoff were measured at half time and found light. The evidence is likely limited that the most the NFL can do is ding the Patriots with some minor penalty for not fully meeting the requirements- requirements that the NFL at the start of this game, and every game, basically never enforced.

posted by hincandenza at 04:53 PM on January 23

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

Well, I stand (possibly) corrected. In my defense, I did make sure to say that until more facts came to light, which until recently were very much missing. :)

There are now elements that I'm becoming aware of that it's not the pressure but the amount of air- as if leaked out- that was down when measuted at half time, then stayed back up after the game. And that apparently the NFL had been targeting them in a sting because of a prior complaint. Or possibly not, it's very hard keeping on top of this story, and filtering out biased or faulty reporting. That still doesn't implicate the main people; some overzealous Southie ball boy might be out there somewhere, freaking out because he knows sooner or later his name and pictire is going to be on national news.

Honestly, I should just tap out for a few days to relax, and just wair and see what the final verdict is from the esteemed panel of Internet sports historians. :)

posted by hincandenza at 07:43 AM on January 23

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

Thanks, Goyoucolts. Whatever our fandom differences, you've been a real mensch and a great example of sportsmanship here lately. :)

grum: Yeah, I'm kind of hung up on that a little, but not too bothered... when the story initially broke, I was thinking "Why 11 of 12? If it was an evil plot, wouldn't it be 12 of 12?" So maybe one got a little overinflated (accidentally), or maybe it was the one in the middle of the remaining unused balls so it had far less air surface temperature loss buried in the sack, like the middle rolls in the dinner table bread basket. But that's just me making some shit up for a post hoc explanation. :)

I will of course retract everything I've said- except the admonishments for us to not rush to judgment- if tomorrow the NFL releases hard facts that prove to be a smoking gun. Barring that, then hopefully soon the NFL would come out with more facts, including a prettier version of the work done above showing this was just what happens all the time when games are played in 50 degree weather or lower and exonerates the Patriots. They'd then further issue a statement that starting next season, they will keep game balls in a climate controlled container on-field and periodically rotated in and out, under ref supervision or something, to ensure all balls are consistently within the pressure range throughout the course of the game regardless of on-field conditions.

The hardline haters will never believe the "cheating" stories aren't true, or that no team or QB gets an advantage, but the league and fans can move past this (I hope) utter nonsense of a media tornado.

posted by hincandenza at 02:38 AM on January 23

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

There's going to be some embarrassment when the facts come out and there's no "there" there, that this is all a fake story for drummed up controversy with no actual foundation- no real complainants, no real facts on the ground, just one person with an axe to grind that "forced" the media to talk about it, and thus compelled the NFL to "investigate" what they probably already know is a total non-issue.

Habeas Corpus
The first and most obvious question some- but nearly not enough- are asking is, "Is there even any smoke, much less a fire?". I mean, we can't even establish who started asking the question that prompted news reports and an investigation!

One person we can rule out: D'Qwell Jackson, the alleged Colt player who intercepted a Brady pass and claimed it was light. He has come out, on record, and claimed no, he didn't blow a whistle, he didn't feel the ball was any different, and didn't suspect anything or notify anyone. All he did say was that he asked someone to keep the ball for him as a memento: his first playoff interception, against Tom Brady no less.

So uh... who even started this story?

We're also four days in, and we can't get exact measurements and facts to be agreed on, and the NFL hasn't apparently interviewed anyone from the Patriots yet. We hear "two pounds" or "nearly two pounds", but we don't know how accurate that is or who is claiming to have observed that, or how it was measured, or where, or by whom. Shouldn't we at least be discussing specific measured pressure drops, and be comparing those to other measurements seen experientially in other games, so we can tell for sure if this is an anomaly even worth investigation?

Oh right- because the NFL has never cared before, they've never kept any kind of logs or records, and it's all just a fuzzy and friendly "Eh, ball seems good to me" when the ref checks it. This only looks like a "controversy" because no one is looking at any other teams, or any other situations. Also, most Americans are functionally innumerate, as my Facebook feed has been showing the last few days. :)

Does the science add up?
Thanks to Howard_T, we have this handy calculator to work with, which simply requires the effective pressure of the air in the ball (ambient pressure + pump pressure) and the two temperatures, converted from Fahrenheit to Kelvin.

Since we don't know actual starting figures, I decided to explore how much temperature change would drop the pressure in the ball, assuming we had a perfectly accurate gauge at all times, in various scenarios. I vary the starting PSI from 12.0 to 14.0 in .5 increments- so I can also look at an intentionally overinflated and underinflated ball, and initial temperature of the equipment room at 72, 77, and 85 degrees.

This is to demonstrate the expected changes in these various scenarios, to see if significant pressure drops- even below "legal" levels, would be expected- and how much.

Hard, Indisputable Facts
First, let's get some facts to work with- actual, hard, scientific facts, such as temperature and pressure in Foxboro, MA at kickoff and again at half time (estimated as 8:20). This data is from Weather Underground:

At kickoff: ~52.0 degrees, 29.75in @6:50PM ET, January 18th
At half time: ~52.0 degrees, 29.61in @8:20PM ET, January 18th

As you can see, temperature and pressure didn't change much over the course of the half on-field, but now we have a temperature and pressure (14.61) of the ambient atmosphere on the field. If you search for a Fahrenheit to Kelvin convertor, Google will have it built in to convert 52, 72, 77, and 82 degrees F into their Kelvin equivalents.

The one big presumption I had to make is that the adjustment due to temperature takes time, so the ball would "deflate" gradually over the half, and not immediately "spring back" to form when brought into a room, at least not for several minutes of exchanging heat with the surrounding room. I'm guesstimating, but I assume it would take at least several minutes to return to 72 degrees, based on this ESPN video showing how in 10 degree weather the ball drops to 10PSI after an hour. Amazingly, this video is from 2010. :)

Calculating the different Scenarios
Below is a hopefully straightforward table, built using the indisputable pressure and temperature above, along with the Gay-Lussac's law to determine an ideal estimate of end pressure after play. At each starting "verified" PSI of the ball and a given room temperature, we determine the PSI of the ball itself after a half spent outside at the above temperature and pressure.

Initial PSI of ball14.0
Effective pressure28.61
Room tempPressure on fieldChangeFinal PSI
Initial PSI of ball13.5
Effective pressure28.11
Room tempPressure on fieldChangeFinal PSI
Initial PSI of ball13.0
Effective pressure27.61
Room tempPressure on fieldChangeFinal PSI
Initial PSI of ball12.5
Effective pressure27.11
Room tempPressure on fieldChangeFinal PSI
Initial PSI of ball12.0
Effective pressure26.61
Room tempPressure on fieldChangeFinal PSI

I encourage you to double check my math, because given the amount of calculations, cut-and-pastes, and table building I probably made a couple of mistakes. You are also encourage to confirm my presumptions, my raw data, and my calculations.

But what I'm seeing above is nearly indisputable: the laws of physics make it clear that if the Patriots filled their ball legally- meaning between 12.5 and 13.5 PSI, or up to .5 PSI lower but still signed off on by a ref and wholly untampered with after that- that the end result would always be a football that naturally ends up always well under 12.5 PSI, and in some cases far enough under that the value is reasonably rounded up to "two pounds".

My own conclusion is therefore that that there is no evidence, not that we've been offered by the NFL as actual measurements and facts apparently not in science, that the Patriots or Colts in any way tampered with the balls.

In fact, the only way a team could have still had a ball measure between the "legal" 12.5 and 13.5 PSI after the half would be if it was originally inflated higher than 13.5- again, this could be done perfectly legally within the rules simply by knowing that in the past, the refs do an eyeball glance or quick feel to validate the balls are good enough, and wouldn't catch or care about it being 14.0 instead of 13.5.

  • It is possible the Patriots always inflate the ball a little less than 12.5 and/or raise the temperature in the equipment room... but are never called on it. This is possibly a minor rules violation... but since the refs consistently let them- and presumably other teams- use those balls without any complaints or rejections it's legal.
  • It is possible the Patriots always inflate to exactly 12.5, as the bare minimum, per Brady's preferences. In this case, the ball will still end up underinflated by the half by at least 1 PSI, possibly more if they- again, perfectly legally- inflated the ball in a room with the temperature turned up considerably higher than 72 degrees.
  • It is possible the Patriots always inflate their ball to 13.0 or around there- right in the middle- and end up with a ball that's .6 to 1.5 PSI lower depending on the room temperature, meaning they aren't necessarily even doing anything intentional about the ball at all- but can still show, rounding up, "almost 2 pounds PSI" lost.

Most interestingly, per the table above, the only way you could get a football to still be above 12.5 PSI after a half spent in that weather is to have overinflated it initially. If the Patriots footballs were deflated at the halftime measurement but the Colts were not, that could mean simply that Brady prefers them at league minimum (12.5) or a little less, and Andrew Luck prefers them at league maximum (13.5) or even more, leaving the Colts' footballs seemingly "untampered with" and the Patriots looking suspicious, when literally no malfeasance whatsoever occurred by either team.

But none of this math will sway anyone, not even here at SpoFi, I suppose.

Ah well... Go Pats. :)

posted by hincandenza at 01:18 AM on January 23

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

Howard_T does the math (new SpoFi column?) and asks the real questions:
- What was the exact psi to an accuracy of .1, when initially okayed and again when they were measured at halftime?
- What was the temperature in the rooms both times, and the other values that would affect pressure differentials?
- To what accuracy is the pressure gauge; are we talking a simple handheld pump with a dial, where "12.5 to 13.5" is an eyeball guesstimate between the 10 and 15 ticks?
- Importantly, what did Indy's balls do over the same period? Did their psi fall proportionately the same?

I expect we'll find the sign off by the refs is and always has been a casual affair where they glance at the consumer grade gauge and call it good. Maybe the balls were at 12, not 12.5, measured at the half as around 11, and called a "2 psi drop"... when really, the ball was inflated normally (maybe a touch shy, but hardly intentionally under) on a hand pump where we can only eyeball the pressure like the hour hand on a clock. But I bet that data never gets released, because it doesn't exist; no one cared before to be super accurate.

Until and unless the NFL releases all the above to prove some kind of tampering, I consider this a non-story and slur against NE.

posted by hincandenza at 11:58 PM on January 21