Recent Comments by hincandenza

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
8227.03-1.5812.42
7727.28-1.3312.67
7227.53-1.0812.92
.
Initial PSI of ball13.5
Effective pressure28.11
Room tempPressure on fieldChangeFinal PSI
8226.55-1.5611.94
7726.80-1.3112.19
7227.05-1.0612.44
.
Initial PSI of ball13.0
Effective pressure27.61
Room tempPressure on fieldChangeFinal PSI
8226.09-1.5211.48
7726.32-1.2911.71
7226.51-1.1011.90
.
Initial PSI of ball12.5
Effective pressure27.11
Room tempPressure on fieldChangeFinal PSI
8225.61-1.5011.00
7725.85-1.2611.24
7226.09-1.0211.48
.
Initial PSI of ball12.0
Effective pressure26.61
Room tempPressure on fieldChangeFinal PSI
8225.14-1.4810.53
7725.37-1.2410.76
7225.61-1.0011.00


Conclusions
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

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

Jesus, grum, why not just kill them by firing squad and be done with it?

I'm not caught up on the very latest gossip, but last I saw on SoSH was that with a sufficient drop in temperature of 35 degrees between measure and field could acount for almost 1 psi right there. So before we start de-franchising the New England Patriots, let's be sure there is an actual malfeasance to punish, and not just the laws of physics or a mistake somewhere along the line.

posted by hincandenza at 10:24 PM on January 21

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

How does the ref inspect the ball pre-game? Is there a pressure gauge handy, or does he just give them a once over and say "Good enough", and there was no malice? 11 of 12 suggests a systemic mistake to me, else why not 12 of 12 if a human were doing it on purpose?

I also lack a direct knowledge of how much different 2 psi feels. They say the allowed range is 12.5-13.5 ps which is already a 1psi range... so "2 psi less" just a fancy way of padding the outrage, by saying 11.5 is "2 less" than the high end of 13.5? If so, is it obvious by touch, or the kind of nuance only an elite few would detect casually? If we are talking about 11.5 psi instead of 12.5, then that's 1 psi off 12.5, and presumably the Pats would inflate to 12.5 as the minimum... would this be both not particularly large and also an amount that could occur from wide temperature changes?

I ask, because the refs are touching the ball constantly, placing it at the line of scrimmage after almost every down. They didnt notice either, for an entire half? That to me furthers the idea that they were "technically underinflated"... but not so much many people even on the field noticed, the issue was brought up, and the refs made sure they were properly reinflated before the second half.

Which the Colts shouldn't have requested: they were still in the game after a half played with these allegedly underinflated balls. If anything, the 1st/2nd half difference might suggest Brady et al were benefitting more from a properly inflated ball!

This doesn't change rcade's point, that even if you cheat without good reason or benefit, the intent matters. If there is compelling evidence any Pats staff did this on purpose, there should be punishments suitable to the offense. But other than media toolbags who thrive off fake controversy like Wilbon, the players are pretty copacetic about it, and seem to consider it a non-issue. That to me suggests it's not likely to be some grand conspiracy.

posted by hincandenza at 07:07 PM on January 21

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

Until we get more sourced facts, like dfleming notes, we're going on hearsay from unnamed people/reports, and I still don't know what the "truth" is even as to how footballs are normally repped, stored, and delivered.

I also saw the same story Rock Steady mentioned, where Aaron Rodgers prefers an over inflated ball. So this suggests this tampering is somewhat common, and doesn't even go consistently from team to team. Which does remind me of Spygate.

I also assumed the balls were shared- they don't swap football when possession changes, do they? I figured the balls were shared from a common pool supplied by each team then mixed together, so advantage/disadvantage is non-existent or at least not controllable. If they don't do that- they should.

I didn't even realize they had separate kicking balls, until the broadcast when one of the announcers mentioned during a weird delay that the ball was the wrong type and not suitable for passing (apparently they are rubbed up differently for varying slickness?).

The Pats have owned the Colts for three years, and won 45-7 in basically three+ quarters. Intentional cheating seems absurd for them to risk on a game they appeared completely and totally prepared for. Not that people don't sometimes cheat even when they don't have to, but until I hear more, an innocent mistake or at worst overzealous equipment manager is far more likely. Any draconian punishments would be wildly unfair at this point.

posted by hincandenza at 05:11 PM on January 21

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

NoMich: Your suggestion is still being reviewed by the Sportsfilter League Office. It'll probably be implemented and tested at the college level first. :)

Hm, grum makes an interesting argument that dovetails with rcade's notion, that offense/defense/special teams all can score. Maybe you could make it true HORSE, but with a single letter: home team gets the ball first on their own 20. If they score anything, the away team gets the ball on their own 20 and the same time to score at least as much. Score more and you win, tie it up and we go again, fail to score as much and you lose. If the home team fails to score and has to punt, the away team now gets a free possession from wherever, to score anything, and put the onus on the home team to respond in kind from the same punt catch spot or lose. If the defense scores off a non-punting/downs turnover (INT, fumble) that changes possession, that's the game- you failed to score, the other team did not. If special teams scores on a kick return etc, the other team gets one chance to respond when receiving a kick from the same spot.

It adds a dimension that would really wreak havoc with the McCarthys who would suddenly have to balance various risk taking moves. Given the nature of it, theres no reason to not go for it on 4th, unless your punt would put them further back ththan the 20yd line. And going for a FG, even a long one, might be worth the risk, or it might not. If your FG kicker is much better than his, and your defense playing well...

But honestly, just let them play for the full N minute quarter and you'll solve for most edge cases automatically. And maybe instead of double OT if it comes to that, you then have NoMich's punt, pass, kick competition. :)

posted by hincandenza at 10:39 PM on January 19

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

I think we've come to an agreement, rcade: we're talking the same language, but just quibbling on details. Good enough for me fot today, that's the spice of sports. :)

We're also in agreement that McCarthy was way too conservative all game, including when it most visibly mattered. I'll always appreciate the teams that go for it, like the FG fake Etrigan mentions, or the times NE went for it on 4th even with a lead. Didn't the NYT even start a "Fourth down bot" that would assess the value of going for it on 4th far more often? Late in the post season as you say is no place for the timid.

I like the beat the clock idea a lot, although it's almost too cool for pro sports. It's like HORSE with a clock. The only quirk: what if the first play is the 2014 opening Superbowl snap/safety on the Broncos. Does Seattle now get the ball back and Denver has a single shot to force a safety on a QB who can simply kneel? Or if its the Broncos who get it, well... good luck scoring at least two points on your first and only play before the clock runs back out!

posted by hincandenza at 08:50 PM on January 19

Patriots crush Colts in the rain

Ah, I see what you mean about that- I have that philosophy as a general playoff rule, that if you get blownout you aren't kicking yourself all off-season over what might have been. But you also make a very good point, that if instead Indianapolis suffered a 28-22 OT loss, it would have been almost a moral victory in terms of progress for the young QB and his team.

Apologies if I was casting aspersions on you, Goyoucolts, and sorry for your loss yesterday. And if NE wins their 4th SB in a couple of weeks, I'll even be content enough to call that a perfect capstone on Brady's career and wish you and your team the best of luck next season (except if you meet the Pats in the post-season again :) ).

But it's still an odd story, for all the reasons Howard_T names as to why it would be easily found out by any of the dozens of people who handle footballs for a profession- much less why a team that good would even need trickery.

posted by hincandenza at 07:42 PM on January 19

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

rcade: On another topic, I want to see the all-22 view of the Morgan Burnett interception with 5:13 left in the game. If he doesn't slide, it looks like he had a shot at a pick-6 or at least a 20- to 30-yard-return to put the Packers in field goal range. There were almost no potential tacklers on the side of the field he was running towards as he caught the pick.
We had a long debate about that while watching, and like you I'd like to see how wide open it was. The argument for was, like you say, go for the yardage to maybe even get in FG range. The argument against- which I was making at the time- was that you're already up 12 points/two touchdowns with 5 minutes to go in the game. Play safe, don't make big mistakes like fumble or turnover the ball. If he'd fumbled the ball after that interception, there's a decent chance Seattle could run it all the way in amid the chaos, and now it's 19-14 with 5 minutes to go.

It was the smart move at the time. Had they then got even a couple of first downs they'd have iced the game. Even going three-and-out, they burned 1:12 off the clock, and Seattle didn't get the ball back until 3:52 still down 19-7. Seattle didn't even score until 2:13 left; if GB recovers that onside kick, they could have taken a knee and left Seattle with 13 seconds to score an 8-point touchdown (and yes, I'm well aware of my previous statements on gaming the clock :) ).

But yeah, in retrospect... what a terribly managed end game by Green Bay.

posted by hincandenza at 07:33 PM on January 19

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

rcade: Trying to rationalize a scenario in which sudden death overtime isn't legitimate NFL football is like making a case against the forward pass.
Wait, what? You're having a different conversation now. I'm not making a case that sudden death isn't "legitimate" because it has no historical support. I- and I think Howard_T among others- am saying it's fundamentally not a "fair" method to accurately determine a winner, and thus should be changed. I mean, lots of things have a long historical basis as The Way Things Are Done. That doesn't prevent us from changing them!

The example I gave of stopping time before the end of the 4th quarter was using an intentionally ridiculous argument taken to its logical extreme. Why did Seattle "get" to stop the clock without GB even getting a chance to answer in kind, after Seattle scored and took the lead? Or if GB had won the coin toss and done the same thing? In my opinion, if we're being "fair", clock based sports should never end in the middle of a time period, excepting some event that makes the game itself unplayable on the field (hurricane, earthquake, etc).

And this gets back to the "two definitions of fair" that I believe trips up so many sports arguments. One definition says "fair" is an application of rules that is blind to whoever may currently benefit or suffer under them- this is your argument that all teams knew the Sudden Death rules, they've been around for decades, so who can complain? Yes, the teams weren't blindsided, nor are they held to different types of rules.

But another definition says "fair" is something striving towards justice, or accuracy in assessment. That a method of determining a winner is valid, justifiable, merit-based, and agreeable to all parties. If Seattle held on to that lead through the end of OT... no one in GB could really argue Seattle didn't win "fair and square". Each team would have had several possessions, and controlled how long they held the ball; you can't easily argue that GB losing after that hypothetical didn't truly lose.

I hope that clarifies what I mean by different conversation, that we're talking past each other because of different but equally valid definitions of "fair". I'm critiquing the current rules as unfair by that second definition, because they- in a timed sport especially- are not giving both teams equal and reasonable chance at victory.

Imagine soccer changed its rules and now penalty kick shootouts were done where they flip a coin after regulation, and the winning team lines up for 5 shots, and if they make any of them- bam, match is over. Other team doesn't ever kick at all. If that rule change for soccer were proposed tomorrow, would you think the rule "fair"? Would you be for or against such a rule?

posted by hincandenza at 07:12 PM on January 19

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

Well, the 15-minute limitation would still be possible, provided you had a similarly constrained resolution if still tied after OT for TV purpose. *koff* Such as my suggestion to have a track and field style kickoff, where each team kicks from 5yd further FG range until someone misses. Around 60 yards, shit's gonna get real. ;)

posted by hincandenza at 06:20 PM on January 19

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

They don't have the box score, but I'm curious who earned those two points for Bloomington. It was actually two free throws too, if you look at the halftime score (104-1), so at least one player on Bloomington was hustling in the low post. :)

I don't get the suspension at all. He did nothing wrong, nor did his players; like LionIndex observes, how much more insulting to be coddled like little children? From what I can tell, the Arroyo Valley coach did try to hold back, but other than taking all his players off the court and forfeiting the game you can't expect them to stand around like statues when the other team can't even score more than two points on free throws through an entire game. They scored half as many points in the second half, so... what more can they do?

The players on Bloomington are old enough to learn the lesson taught by such experiences. Sometimes life reminds you that you aren't destined to be a rock god or pop diva or rap mogul, supermodel or famous actress, sports superstar or billionaire playboy. It's important to learn, so we don't waste our best years locked in the daydream of basically winning the lottery, and instead get on with the business of just being happy with a perfectly normal and still wonderful life. People have forgotten this, I think, in the rush to be famous for 15 minutes.

So why were they even playing? That said, we all can agree these two teams should never even have been on the same court. One of the teams is clearly in the wrong division; Arroyo Valley, given their level of success against other teams, although Bloomington had lost a previous game by 91 so they were probably effectively at least two "divisions" apart.

So why were they even playing? Well, we have another version of the story here with some choice quotes:

Both Anderson and Bloomington coach Dale Chung said that they met before the game. Anderson said he told Chung he wanted to run his full offense for a half, and that Chung agreed. Anderson said the game was his final nonleague tune-up before the San Andreas League schedule began next Wednesday, and he wanted to prepare his players.

"This was our last game before we started league, and we were going to come out playing hard," Anderson said. "I wanted to let him know there was no harm intended, and that if he had any ideas or concerns just to let me know. We were going to play a half of basketball, at least. ... And he seemed fine with that."

Anderson said he did approach the referees with about six minutes remaining in the third quarter to begin a running clock, but, in accordance with high school rules, officials did not use the running clock until the fourth quarter. He said he benched his starters at the half and instructed his players not to shoot the ball until the shot clock got inside of 7 seconds in the third and fourth quarters. (emphasis my own)

Whoa whoa whoa. So unless this article or Anderson are lying, it sounds like he did ask for the very running clock that Howard_T mentioned and was refused by the refs until the 4th quarter.

Further, it seems Bloomington coach Chung knew this was basically a scrimmage match against a hugely dominant team, that his team would be wildly overmatched, and yet he still agreed to let this scrimmage be a full-court press for the first half at least.

Now, with the media attention, he complains that the other coach lacks ethics, and he and his players are victims somehow of bullying by a dominant team?!? If those quotes are accurate, it sounds like Chung- not Anderson- was 100% responsible for this game happening as it did, or any hurt feelings among his own humiliated players.

Assume they were humiliated at all; notice in either version of the story linked so far, we don't have any quotes from actual players about what they thought, or if they were even humiliated at all. I wonder why that is; maybe it ruins the narrative because they're more made at their incompetent coach that also led them to a 91-point loss in another game, and apparently keeps signing them up for joyless games they have no hope of winning.

Related stories My ancient memory is failing me more and more these days, but I believe there are two somewhat related stories that may have even made Sportsfilter.

  • There's this story from 2009 about a 7th grade girl's basketball coach who decided to teach them the full court press, to absurd success and some similar criticism.
  • A story I can't find right now is of a similarly outmatched game, where the dominant team suggested after the first half to just call it a forfeit, and then they all just shot around and practiced together in a great example of friendly sportsmanship.
The second story would have been ideal, if I've remembered the gist of it correctly, but you can't blame the Arroyo Valley coach for not thinking of that- at least, no more than I could blame Bloomington's coach for not making the same suggestion himself when he apparently agreed to have his team blown out in a scrimmage in the first place.

posted by hincandenza at 06:16 PM on January 19

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

All that aside, holy cow that game was a roller coaster to watch. The final TD was almost anticlimactic: everyone in the room in the Seattle home I was in hesitated a second- maybe making sure it was called a catch and TD, that there was no flag on the field- before erupting in cheer. Even with the excitement there was this sense of surrealness, like this isn't really happening since everyone a half hour ago was quietly resigned to thinking "Eh, good run boys, get 'em next year".

Now that I'm finally forced to root against Seattle with them facing NE, it's gonna be a rough next two weeks of trash talking on Facebook.

posted by hincandenza at 05:01 PM on January 19

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

I disagree with all of that except the word "full". :)

I'm with grum on this; just play out the quarter, and if you're worried about a tie after one OT, then maybe have fair method of conclusively and fairly determining a winner after. While grueling, the offense and defense are different sets of players: no matter how tired GB's defense might have been in not preventing that final TD, the GB offense had just been resting for several minutes and would certainly be majorly fired up to at least take their own shot at scoring after the Wilson-Kearse TD. I'd challenge anyone to find a single GB offensive player who'd say "Eh, kinda glad they scored, I was too tired to play any more anyway what with all the grueling I've been doing lately". :)

Also the "team worthy of the Super Bowl" part is odd to me; there's no handicap in professional sports, so the Packers don't have some NFL requirement to score more points in less time than their opponent. Average teams score a TD in about 20% of their possessions; sudden death means there is at least a 20% chance the game was just decided by a coin flip. Why even play the first 4 quarters, then? Just flip a coin before kickoff and go home early.

I think if we were striving for fairness and justice, we'd do one of the following:

  • Full-length OTs, no ties allowed: Keep playing OT quarters until there's a victor at the end of time. Brutal as hell, but damn exciting stuff
  • One full-length OT Quarter, ties allowed except playoffs: Similar to today, except we avoid the sudden death element
  • Shortened OT Quarters, no sudden death: Basically a shortened 8-10 minute quarter(s), played in full until a victor is determined.
  • Equal possessions like innings: The teams trade possessions like innings, and after each "inning" if the score remains tied they play again. Home team has the advantage of going second, so they know if a FG is good enough. This gets confusing thought with handling turnovers via fumble/interception
  • Penalty kick style decision: Boring as heck, but you could do something like teams trading FG attempts from increasingly far distances.
Probably the only unfair one is... exactly how they do it now, with sudden death. Call me a purist, but clock based sports shouldn't have sudden death, or if they do it should be fair (FG kickoffs, equal possessions, etc).

If Seattle can score a TD in overtime and then say "Hey were ahead- quick just stop the game clock and call it for us, we win!", then why can't GB just stop the clock with 3:52 left in the 4th and say "Hey look, we win!"? 99 times out of 100, they would be right, too.

posted by hincandenza at 04:57 PM on January 19

Patriots crush Colts in the rain

beaverboard: Don't know why McDaniels still had Brady throwing aggressively well into the third, with the outcome not in doubt and a good running game cranking away.
Well, given literally two hours prior we'd seen a team put up 15 points in a span of 44 seconds to come back from 19-7 with 3:52 left in regulation... can you blame them for piling on until it was truly not in doubt? The balanced mix of passing and (mostly) Blount running along was keeping Indy completely baffled, so why stop until the clock is literally against them- when the point difference meant NE could take a knee on each possession for the rest of the game and still have enough lead to just run out the clock two minutes at a time?

Goyoucolts Speaking of Belicheat, there is a report that the Patriots were deflating footballs against the Colts on Sunday.
Ugh, come on man, that's just an absurd accusation. Even the article admits that it's very unlikely and the Patriots have plenty of success that can't be chalked up to "cheating"... yet still at the end tries to sow seeds of doubt. This is a common American media technique: cast an aspersion, leave "doubt" in the mind of the viewer, when the whole thing is a lie.

The Colts just got completely smashed by a team that was firing on all cylinders today. This game was brutally lopsided, such that even as a NE fan I turned it off once the starters left the game. And honestly, if you're gonna lose, lose in a blowout so you don't spend all off-season kicking yourself like poor Brandon Bostick will be.

posted by hincandenza at 04:25 PM on January 19

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

I'd feel worse for the Packers, except a) they did it to themselves in several ways even before the OT, b) I live in Seattle and c) there's still an active discussion over in today's huddle thread about the Dez Bryant "incompletion" last week. Especially given that last one, GB was kind of lucky to even be playing today.

But yes, I think sudden death is dumb; play a shortened OT "quarter" of like 10:00 if you must, but otherwise let them play it out. It's a timed sport after all, this isn't baseball where events determine the end of a playing period, so switching to that model in OT makes no sense to me.

Besides, as the 4th quarter showed us, a whole heck of a lot can happen in the last few minutes of a quarter. :)

posted by hincandenza at 01:26 AM on January 19

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

I think I need a double espresso, just to help calm down from that NFC game... wow.

posted by hincandenza at 06:41 PM on January 18

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

Yeah, there was a little life in the third, but it feels like GB is just dictating everything in the game. Can't belive how bad Wilson has been.

Sure hope NE isn't this off-kilter...

posted by hincandenza at 05:25 PM on January 18

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

Wow, this game is not starting well for Seattle. Jesus...

posted by hincandenza at 03:56 PM on January 18

NFL Playoff Pick 'Em Contest, Conference Championship Round

I'm pretty stoked that basically everyone with 8 or more points is picking Indy over NE, since it means my going with an almost all-New England line this week is either going to shove me into first... or drop me back into Costanza territory. :) It's a gamble, but since NE has averaged something like 48 points and a 20 point+ margin of victory over the Colts since Luck has come into the league... I like my chances.

Seattle over Green Bay, spread of 14
New England over Indianapolis, spread of 17
Most Points: New England
Most Passing Yards: Tom Brady
Most Rushing Yards: Marshawn Lynch
Most Receiving Yards: Rob Gronkowski

Fun fact I just learned today: Adam Vinatieri and Tom Brady have each made 5 SB appearances so far. With a win this Sunday, one of those two will go on to the Superbowl, and in so doing will tie the current NFL record for most Superbowls played in (6, Mike Lodish of the Bills/Broncos).

posted by hincandenza at 12:11 AM on January 17

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

I like the idea, as initially I read that blurb from Etrigan as having many different colors for every type- but just the two colors should be manageable for any ref, and it's not like refs don't throw flags today that get shortly after declared basically a mistake (after a ref conference), no penalty.

But the flags seem like a solution in search of a problem, since now you've increased your bandwidth by a whole bit. The refs are already miked up all the time; why not have them simply say what the penalty is when they throw the flag ("Holding, offense, number 51") so someone in the broadcast booth can hear it in real time and put up a yellow or red "FLAG", or even more detail such as a yellow/red "Holding, #51" within a couple of seconds of the flag being thrown.

posted by hincandenza at 11:55 PM on January 16

NASCAR's Kurt Busch Testifies Ex-Girlfriend is an Assassin

That's... kind of presumptuous you guys. It's quite possible he's telling the truth about her claims. When even Jezebel has to reluctantly admit that evidence shows women initiate or commit 70% of domestic violence- certainly, that women are not solely the delicate flowers of our sexist, rigid gender role posturing- then maybe we shouldn't be so quick to assume Busch hasn't been victimized himself. Women are people too, so they can lie, they can be mentally ill, they can be deceivers and manipulators, and they can be physically aggressive and violent.

The article is painfully short on any details besides gossipmongering, but it does at one point state that Busch and others are claiming Driscoll said these things about herself. Maybe Busch hit her as described in a one time incident, or maybe he had a habit of being abusive, and he's making up crap now to deflect it. Or maybe she's making things up, just as she made up being an international assassin. Or maybe, improbably, she is an international assassin.

We could be dealing with one or both being deeply troubled people, but it's a little early to be certain of anything or to read from your Pocket Guide to Sexism as to how men and women behave.

posted by hincandenza at 06:19 PM on January 14

Packers Rally Past Cowboys, Who No Longer Love the Refs

hincandenza: I disagree that if a ball touches the ground at any point it's not a catch.
rcade: If you're responding to me, I wasn't saying that is the rule at present. I know the rule has wiggle room that lets the refs talk about things like "the process of the catch" and "completing a football move."

What Bryant was trying to do was something he's really good at: Make the insane catch near the goal, then contort yourself like Cirque de Soleil to get into the end zone. That's two football moves. I could see a ref arguing that he completed the first move, but the real refs and the TV ref both thought otherwise so it's hard to make a case for that.

No, I was responding to the general rule- and I think agreeing with you, that if it hits the ground after established control (which I think he had) the idea that it somehow undoes the reception itself seems a very poor way for the officials to interpret the ruling. Their interpretation was that he was still making the catch all the way to the ground, which... well, that's not what I think I'm seeing.

What Bryant seemed to do was several moves as you describe- starts in his right hand, goes to his left and stretches out to try to break the plane of the goal line- but I'm also not familiar enough with the rule and its intent to make a case. However, the replays didn't seem- to me- to be conclusive enough to overrule the initial call of completed reception.

grum@work: Of course, the same logic they used to determine Dez Bryant did NOT catch the ball (didn't complete a football move before the ball was jarred from his hands by contact with the ground) was then completely ignored when the Colts punter returner was obliterated by his own teammate (and a Bronco), causing (what was ruled at the time) a fumble.

The FOX talking head (Mike Carey, former NFL official) swore up and down that the replay official would agree with the call on the field...and then seemed stunned when they overturned it and said he was "down by contact".

What the heck?!? I don't understand that, and yeah, that's basically a very similar ruling applied differently.

And wow, how much different is that game if Denver has the ball on the Colts 30 with 6:58 left in the third quarter instead of Indianapolis possession?

posted by hincandenza at 01:13 AM on January 14

NFL Playoff Pick 'Em Contest, Divisional Round

Ah, I'd not been able to find one that gave the historical value at kickoff instead of at the current time.

posted by hincandenza at 05:38 AM on January 13

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Huh, so know we know what it is that bill says. I always wondered that...

posted by hincandenza at 03:34 AM on January 13

Packers Rally Past Cowboys, Who No Longer Love the Refs

I think Dallas should have had that as a catch; I disagree that if a ball touches the ground at any point it's not a catch. It seems to me the hairsplitting is that how long after a catch can a player be said to have controlled the ball enough to turn any further drops/fumbles/hitting the ground as normal compared to any other post-reception events.

They replayed this incessantly on TV, and I still think Bryant had a catch, took two steps, fell stretching for the goal line, and the ball came loose- but it looked for all the world like a reception to me up to that point. Dallas ball at the 1 yard line.

I think Dallas was robbed today.

posted by hincandenza at 08:21 PM on January 11

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

Assume a broadcast game runs about three hours even, give or take a few minutes, and with the listed start times as 3:05pm EST for the NFC (Packers at Seahawks) and 6:40pm EST for the AFC (Colts at Patriots).

As it is today, this means the viewing times for watching both games are 12:05pm-6:40pm on the West Coast, and 3:05pm-9:40pm on the East Coast. Locally, Seattle viewers would watch their team from 12:05pm-3:05pm, and locally New England would watch from 6:40pm-9:40pm.

If they'd swapped the start times you'd get 12:05pm PST/3:05pm EST for New England and 3:40pm PST/6:40pm EST for Seattle . This means the viewing times for watching both games are 12:05pm PST-6:40pm on the West Coast, but 3:05pm-9:40pm on the East Coast. Which is the exact same if we switch teams and have the AFC play first on the East Coaat. The difference is that locally, Seattle viewers would watch their team at 3:40pm-6:40pm, and locally New England would watch from 3:05pm-6:40pm.

Other than letting Seattle viewers watch later in the afternoon, and New England viewers watch earlier in the day... it's a wash. However, two teams are in the EST time zone (NE/IND), GB is in CST, and SEA is in PST. So, all things being equal, might as well lean towards the East Coast bias, so one of the big games (NE/IND) is in prime time for both their fan bases, while the other two teams are in that post-brunch sweet spot (12/2pm respectively).

It actually kind of makes sense to me, considering different factors...

posted by hincandenza at 08:18 PM on January 11

NFL Playoff Pick 'Em Contest, Divisional Round

Curious where you found that- was looking earlier and couldn't find game time temp.

In any case, if this Indy lead holds (but they don't exceed 35 points) I had a hell of a SpoFi pick weekend! :)

posted by hincandenza at 06:46 PM on January 11

Seahawks Bottle Up Panthers, Look Like Favorites to 'Re-Pete'

This team is scary as hell if you're an opposing team, and they didn't even have full Lynch beast mode among the fireworks this week. When they're firing on this many cylinders, they are monstrously good.

I'm a long time NE fan living in Seattle, so have seen them play regularly, and I have expected to see those two teams face off in the SB this year for a good month now. But NE and Tom Brady would, as beaverboard sagely opined in the thread next door, have gone full circle and will be facing the same long odds chance of beating Seattle as they did in winning their first Superbowl against the Rams.

But jesus, is Seattle a great freaking team... it is a joy to watch them play.

posted by hincandenza at 05:56 PM on January 11