Howard_T's profile

Name: Howard Titus
Location: Nashua, NH
ZIP: 03062
Gender: Old Alpha Male, hoping no young stud steals the herd.
Member since: April 08, 2006
Last visit: January 26, 2015

Howard_T has posted 36 links and 2802 comments to SportsFilter and 3 links and 265 comments to the Locker Room.

Sports Bio

Native Bostonian, with all attendant baggage still attached. Braves fan until they left for Milwaukee (yes, I'm that old), then it was the BoSox by default. Love all sports, but the favorites are baseball, hockey, football, and hoop, in that order. Used to umpire baseball at the Babe Ruth, Legion, and High School level. At my age, there are too many sports memories to really pick a favorite. Maybe it is Bill Russell's first game in Boston Garden. Another is the time when I was just back from Viet Nam and my dad took me to a Bruins game. This was in the glory days of Orr. Toronto was the opponent, they started 5 defensemen (really), and the fight started within the first minute or so.

Recent Links

Montreal Canadiens Jean Beliveau dead at 83: Montreal Canadiens have reported that Hockey Hall-of-Fame member and Montreal legend Jean Beliveau has passed away at age 83. Beliveau played 20 seasons for Canadiens, winning 10 Stanley Cup Championships, 5 of them coming when Beliveau wore the captain's C. He also served as a member of the team's management, earning 7 more cups along the way.

posted by Howard_T to hockey at 12:26 AM on December 03 - 2 comments

The Big Guys Get Their Way: The NCAA Board of Directors has given the 5 big conferences what amounts to near autonomy to set their own rules. It appears that football teams will now be ranked from Division 3 through FCS and FBS, with the largest 5 conferences in a new division called the Juggernaut Division.

posted by Howard_T to general at 11:26 PM on August 07 - 0 comments

Celtics Guard, Lakers Exec Bill Sharman Dies: Bill Sharman, high-scoring guard for the Boston Celtics, and later coach and executive with the Los Angeles Lakers has died at age 87. In the championship years with the Celtics, the mantra "Russell to Cousy to Sharman", describing the Boston fast break, was the equivalent of baseball's "Tinker to Evers to Chance".

posted by Howard_T to basketball at 03:15 PM on October 25 - 0 comments

The Bridgetown Senators?: This from Christopher Stuart Taylor of the Huffington Post tries to explain a possible bit of Canadian tax evasion on the part of Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk. The dodge involves setting up business relationships between Canada and Barbados. The businesses will then be taxed at the 2.5% Barbadian rate rather than the 30% Canadian rate. While the author leads with a Senators' connection, the actual investigation conducted by the CBC has nothing to do with the team. I'm sure Melnyk is clever enough to keep purely Canadian businesses out of the "Bajun" connection. Note: No matter which side (Canadian or Barbadian) is puling a fast one here, I'm on the bad side. My dad was from Nova Scotia, my mom from Barbados, and I still have family in both places.

posted by Howard_T to hockey at 01:32 PM on October 11 - 0 comments

Johnny Pesky, 1920-2012: Boston Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky died today at 92 years of age. He had been associated with the team in one capacity or another nearly continuously since 1942. Pesky, nee Paveskovich, is most remembered for the right-field foul pole that bears his name in Fenway Park.

posted by Howard_T to baseball at 05:12 PM on August 13 - 6 comments

Recent Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

posted by Howard_T at 06:56 PM on January 25

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

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

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

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

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

What's that supposed to mean?

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

posted by Howard_T at 04:19 PM on January 24

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

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

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

posted by Howard_T at 03:48 PM on January 24

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

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

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

how is it possible the Indy balls all checked out?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

posted by Howard_T at 03:50 PM on January 23

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

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

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

posted by Howard_T at 02:27 PM on January 23

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

To what accuracy is the pressure gauge

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

Just found this

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

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

posted by Howard_T at 02:47 PM on January 22

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

Belichick did something to my balls

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

posted by Howard_T at 11:18 PM on January 21

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

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

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

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

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

posted by Howard_T at 11:09 PM on January 21

Playing with the Big Boys (and Girls)

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

posted by Howard_T at 11:46 PM on January 20

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

otherwise let them play it out

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

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

posted by Howard_T at 05:41 PM on January 19

Patriots crush Colts in the rain

deflating footballs

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

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

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

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

posted by Howard_T at 05:25 PM on January 19

Patriots crush Colts in the rain

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

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

posted by Howard_T at 11:47 PM on January 18

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

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

posted by Howard_T at 11:34 PM on January 18

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

posted by Howard_T at 11:29 PM on January 18

NFL Playoff Pick 'Em Contest, Conference Championship Round

In haste:

Seattle by 12

New England by 11

Most Points to New England

Most Passing Yards by Luck

Most Rushing Yards by LeGarrett Blount

Most Receiving Yards (and loudest spike) Gronkowski

posted by Howard_T at 02:58 PM on January 18