Black eyes for an endeavor accustomed to black eyes.

Quote

If it’s not one alleged felony, it’s another, the on-field aggression traveling off-field to dogfights, fistfights, sexual assault…

via Violence, Greed and the Gridiron – NYTimes.com.

 

‘A sterile,’ and presumably better-smelling, end to the series.

Quote

…something primal is lost when the boozy, sweaty chaos of a clubhouse has been replaced by a planned postgame event with players and team personnel milling on the field.

via On Fox, a Sterile End to a Series – NYTimes.com.

 

Teamwork, teamwork, that’s what counts.

Quote

…these flexible links and tubes could allow bacterial cells to move as a web, communicating and hunting as a superorganism.

via These Bacteria Are Wired to Hunt Like a Tiny Wolf Pack – Wired Science.

 

Rodeo bulls are getting smarter and stronger; rodeo riders not so much.

Quote

“Its not all genetics. You also need heart,” Rosser said, gazing out on a lush pasture where maybe Americas next superbull is testing his spindly legs. “They have to want to work.”

via Rodeo bulls better bred through science to buck riders – San Jose Mercury News.

 

The naked and the dread.

Quote

“They were like: ‘Get out of the water. Oh, and put on your bathing suits…”

via Daring Enough to Bare It All for a New York Swim – NYTimes.com.

 

Mets fans, as defined by a Mets fan.

Quote

“All we managed to see was all the bad stuff in the first eight innings,’’ I told him. Which, I suppose, makes us Mets fans.

via Fathers Day Postscript: The Best Rally We Never Saw – NYTimes.com.

Coda: ‘What Just Happened?’

Huskers - Waiving Flag -  TOUCHDOWN!!

(Photo credit: beatboxbadhabit)

Lets be honest: The Huskers few losses over the past few years have been bad. They haven’t just lost; they’ve been embarrassed. But that got me wondering — does everybody just get embarrassed once or twice a season nowadays, or is this something that the Huskers are particularly bad at? …Fundamentally, getting embarrassed is all relative to expectations, when the team falls so far short of them that it really grabs even the casual observers attention.

via How Embarrassing Have the Huskers Losses Been, Really? A Look at the Stats – Corn Nation.

It’s over. To me, anyway, the Huskers’ season is over, and I am done. But I came across this article from Corn Nation and it scratched an itch I had. What I was wondering was, Is this what college football is like now? Do major college programs, if mediocre ones, really just blow it — and I mean, really blow it — a couple of times a year?

The answer to the question posed in the excerpt above — “Is this something that the Huskers are particularly bad at?” — is a qualified yes, insofar as it is possible to conclude from the hastily constructed and thoroughly imperfect metric. The writer at Corn Nation, by his own admission, came up with a simple answer for a complicated question, but it was good enough for me.

Clearly, something is wrong with Nebraska’s football program. But is it the system? Is it just rolls of the dice? Can it be fixed? Or will it just fade away on its own? For me, the reasons why are not particularly important. It’s too broad a playing field, I think, for a useful discussion.

A common complaint is that the coach, Bo Pelini, seems never to know how to explain such defeats. Possibly, they are inexplicable. Probably, Mr. Pelini is too arrogant to be appropriately self-analytical, even for the tiny attention spans of sportswriters. In any event, Mr. Pelini’s remarks — which usually involve phrases like “lack of execution” — shed no light on the subject.

If I am honest, I don’t really know what “embarrassed” has to do with college football; the corresponding feeling I have is one akin to whiplash. The what-just-happened emotion that churns your stomach after your car hits a deer on a dark night.

But unlike the human participant of such a wreck, who might be moved to ask for medical help or puzzle over a smashed fender, I empathize more with the frightened, wounded animal, stumbling into the woods, trailing gouts of blood in search of a quiet place to lie down.

On the Long Ball and Shortsightedness

Babe Ruth, full-length portrait, standing, fac...

Babe Ruth. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of their 412 runs scored, 209 — or 50.7% — have come on home runs. The daily display of power helped the Yankees finish the first half with the majors’ best record, but are they setting themselves up for a disappointing October?

via Yankees relying on home run for offensive output, which could be trouble in MLB playoffs – NY Daily News.

The Yankees may indeed be setting themselves up for a disappointing October (e.g. Manager Joe Girardi is clearly slipping into a form of madness), but do not expect The News to tell you why. I had expected, in the article excerpted above, a thesis along the lines of “fewer home runs are hit, per game, in the playoffs,” or something. Instead, the article is rooted in a pair of out-of-context statistics: Only two of the 30 most productive home-run-hitting teams actually won a World Series, and only 11 qualified for the playoffs.

That is how they tried to get O. J., of course. What is relevant to the Yankees is not how the most productive home-run-hitting teams fared. It is how the most productive teams that also had a strong record fared. Unfortunately, I am too lazy to thoroughly look that up, but I can tell you that:

  • The last time the Yankees led the league in home runs (2009), they won the World Series.
  • Only two of the last 10 World Series champions hit fewer home runs than the league average — four were in the Top 5.
  • And of the 26 so-called walk-off, game-winning hits in the World Series since 2002, half were home runs.

After an analysis at least as sophisticated The News’s, I am going to go ahead and conclude that home runs correlate strongly with World Series victories.

Anyway, it really does not matter how the Yankees have won their games because they already won them. More to the point is only a fool will try to predict the rest of this season based on the first half.

Allow me to try, though.

The nugget I would like to pull, out of context, from The News article is this: “The Yankees have played 71 of their 85 games against teams playing .500 or better…” And all they have is the best record in baseball.

That seems like it bodes well. Looking at a hypothetical playoff series, the Yankees have three  starters (if you include Andy Pettitte) with earned run averages under 3.50. The bullpen, with a balanced workload, has four solid guys with E.R.A.’s under 3. And then there is the offense, which has somehow contributed to winning 52 games while batting only .231 with runners in scoring position.

The Ever-Elusive Michael Vick

8:29 PM John
I like how Vick said this, and no one told him he is an idiot: “I’m a firm believer in God, and I believe in karma,” said Vick…

8:32 PM Samantha
karma, for him, will be a bitch. …Idiot

…There, I said it!

The formerly disgraced quarterback Michael Vick, when speaking to prospective N.F.L. rookies on Monday, displayed a rhetorical agility far greater than any head-turning juke he performed on a football field. Vick was addressing the league’s so-called rookie symposium, apparently as a designated bogeyman, having spent nearly two years in prison after being convicted for his role in an appalling dogfighting racket. As Vick put it:

That’s bad. You dont want to end up that way.

via Michael Vick orders NFL rookies not to count on second chances | NFL.com.

Most media outlets took the new and improved Vick at full, fantasy value (ranked No. 19 in 2010!), describing his talk as candid and powerful. My own thinking was tackled by Vick’s assertion (in the same sentence!) that he is “a firm believer in God” and “in karma.”

He only looks angry. (From “Creation of the Sun and Moon” on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, by Michelangelo.

I do not mean to endorse spiritual world views in this space, let alone promulgate my own, such as they are. But it does seem like part of the overall bargain that such views have a semblance of internal consistency. Vick’s seeming ignorance of the monumental clash between the monotheistic first clause of his comment and the polytheistic second clause is enough to cause serious, if only mental, injury.

To be fair to Vick, that dualistic mind-set jibes well with the rest of America, which seems to have no difficulty or compunction picking and choosing from among the bible’s many inconsistencies and contradictions, and then spending all evening watching TV programs about aliens, bigfoots and other supernatural oddities.

Vick goes on, as if cracking into a busted dialectical play. Vick warns that “if you don’t appreciate what God gave you,” “he’ll take that away from you.” In Vick’s case, of course, it was the federal government that took away what God “gave” him, not God himself, but the record in Scripture is not exactly clear. Some of the time, God takes it away from you even if you do appreciate it (Job 1:1). And some of the time, God just squares up his shoulders and goes linebacker all over you (Genesis 32:24-5).

The rest of Vick’s speech is a jumble of stale platitudes, not surprising from a football player but faithfully, disappointingly, reported by The A.P. and the N.F.L., among others: “You’ve got a lot of learning to do, a lot of life to live…”; “Your friend can’t make you do something you really don’t want to do if you’re strong enough to say no”; “Trust yourself”; “Once this is over, it’s over”; “Enjoy the ride.”

The best part, probably, is that most observers took Vick’s central message to be that rookies should not count on second chances. Apparently, that stems more from Vick’s notion of karma than whatever prison-Christian heresies he has adopted. Second chances are, or so I have read, a bedrock of Christian theology.

Also on the End of Football

…in a recent appearance on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” the Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw said he believed that concern over head injuries would cause football to be eclipsed in popularity by soccer and other sports within 10 years.

via With Fears About Safety, Football Faces Uncertain Evolution – NYTimes.com.