Monday, August 31, 2009

Powerchord Rankings

Alright, time for everyone's favorite feature on Blogometrics: "Smack" talk. This time, Smack and I try to apply a little crossover technique to fuse the world of sports and the worlds of music. Well, to be more precise, the world of over-analyzing sports and the world of over-analyzing music - but hey, this is Blogometrics at its best.

As always, feel free to weigh in by posting a comment, and enjoy.

Blogometrics: Let's see if we can formulate Power Rankings for American rock bands. We'll hash out the criteria as we go along, but basically they have to be an active recording group, from the U.S., with enough clout to gain mainstream exposure/radio play (does that exist?) etc.

Smack: Power rankings... I think this has to be mathematical. Some kind of formula that weighs longevity, how many charting songs, how high they charted, record sales, ticket sales. What else?

B: Alright. I see the need for statistical relevance in coming up with these rankings, but I also think there's a need for categories like "artistic integrity" "originality of sound" "image" etc. Not sure how we'd quantify those "intangibles."

I also think there might be some holes in some of the categories you propose, because Daughtry would be smoking groups like Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, My Morning Jacket, etc. in every category but longevity.

S: I know what you mean, but I feel like we would need to avoid subjectivity in order for this to be legit. Maybe factor in consistency with longevity. Bonus points for the Rock and Roll HOF? Or figure out a way to quantify integrity, originality, and influence.

B: Let me back up - I was thinking this list could mirror NFL or MLB power rankings - and be current. So where you wouldn't put "1986 Mets" on the Top Ten teams in MLB right now, you wouldn't put Toto on this list.

So, let's say that recording was a sport - and the recording season started today. Who are the power players - taking into account only bands that could realistically produce major releases (not simply those with recent records, or those coming out soon)? So, Metallica would be in play, for instance. Still recording, still impactful. Green Day, Kings of Leon, etc.

Essentially, I'd like to try to come up with American Rock's version of NFL Power Rankings as of 8/31/2009.

S: I assume you mean that for instance The Allman Bros Band may not top the list. How strict are you being with the Rock genre? Do crossover acts like Outkast get considered? Given your model, you may have to deal with Daughtry and The Fray near the top.

B: Okay, getting warmer. I would say "no" to Outkast, Lil' Wayne, or any hip-hop acts that are not called the Beastie Boys (who I don't think crack this list anyway).

I think basically it's the point of origin rule: Did this group start out as rock? So Fray - "yes" - regardless of how "hard" they rock." This is really all rock - even rock that has gone in the other direction, like Green Day (moving towards straight 'pop').

I think these are the main players - let me know who I'm leaving out, in your opinion: Kings of Leon, Green Day, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Daughtry, The Fray, Fall Out Boy, My Morning Jacket, MGMT, Springsteen, Wilco.

There are others...but let's start to flesh this out.

S: Red Hot Chili Peppers, The White Stripes, The Strokes, Third Eye Blind, [ugh] Nickelback, Dave Matthews Band...

B: Good calls all, save for Nickelback - they're Canadian.

I think if we're going Top Ten, we can weed out Third Eye Blind and The Strokes - maybe even The White Stripes. Chili Peppers and Dave Matthews Band are definitely up there. I'm going to throw out what I think are the Top Ten, but not in any order:

Kings of Leon, Green Day, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Daughtry, Fall Out Boy, Pearl Jam, Wilco, Dave Matthews Band, My Morning Jacket.

The next tier is crowded, and there could be a few in this group that force out some of the "Top Ten" I just named. Here are the next few: Weezer, Linkin Park, Creed (who's "back" I guess)...any others?

S: Tool, The Killers, and Ben Harper are at least in the second tier. I don’t know about Fall Out Boy being top 10. Also recently reunited is Phish. They’re way up there in terms of ticket sales. And they’ve got a new album coming out next week.

B: Hmmm. I shoot down Ben Harper, but good call on The Killers. Phish is a fringe group as far as Top Ten, and I definitely think Fall Out Boy is in the conversation.

Do you have a prelim Top Ten (ordered or not)?

S: Equally weighing success in radio play, record sales, and concert ticket demand…Green Day, Foo Fighters, DMB, Kings of Leon, Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Killers, Wilco, Phish, The Fray.

B: Is that in order? Either way...

I don't think The Fray beats out Daughtry (I can't believe where this has gone, yet why am I surprised?), and they might not beat out Weezer or Fall Out Boy. As far as Phish, do you think that their record sales will match that of the new Creed album being released in the coming weeks? Because I think the ticket sales will be closer than you think, historically that is, regardless of Phish's reputation as a tour-de-force, so to speak. Creed draws huge quasi-Christian crowds over great swaths of this country - the same places where Phish might not be so hot a draw.

Other than that, it's a solid list. Let's try 1-3:

Green Day, Pearl Jam, Kings of Leon?

S: My list was somewhat in order, give or take 2-3 slots for each band.

Green Day is top 3 for sure. I think Foo Fighters outperform Pearl Jam on the radio; not sure how they compare for ticket sales. Pretty sure Pearl Jam have them beat there. Kings of Leon are really hot right now but they still play relatively small gigs. The were at the Paradise within the past year. Good luck trying to get Pearl Jam or Foo Fighters in there without people dying.

B: Good point on the crowd size, but I do think if we're counting the intangibles, Kings of Leon have way more "buzz" right now - and their tunes are crossover hits - "Use Somebody" is (or was recently) Top 40, where I don't think Pearl Jam of the Foos have been there for quite some time. I also think that the Chili Peppers might trump the Foos and PJ on both counts right now - if you're looking at it from a "if a new record and tour launched tomorrow" perspective...

All right, here goes:

1. Green Day 2. Foo Fighters 3. Kings of Leon 4. Pearl Jam 5. Red Hot Chili Peppers 6. Dave Matthews Band 7. Daughtry 8. The Killers 9. Wilco 10. Fall Out Boy

S: I’m ok with losing Phish and allowing Daughtry, but The Fray beats Fall Out Boy. I mean, I admittedly may not have an accurate pulse on the “tween beat” but that’s my opinion regardless.

B: The Fray has had how many "hits" (I know several but Fall Out Boy has had their share)? The Fray plays to what size crowds? The Fray have been on the cover of what magazine how many times? I don't there another band we could slide in at 10? Could we make the case that Weezer is still bigger than either? Metallica? Springsteen?

S: Maybe Springsteen. Probably Springsteen, actually. They (Springsteen and the E Street Band) headlined at Bonnarroo this year, which is a legitimizer. Weezer has tanked so hard that I can’t give them the nod.

B: So, are we good with that as the final Power Rankings (with The Boss at 10)?

If so, has any top ranked group ever had a worse song than '21 Guns'?

S: How about “Hump de Bump” from Stadium Arcadium? Sometimes I think Anthony Kiedis just runs out of lyrics. There was a time when REM was top 10 and I would nominate “Shiny Happy People.”

B: Excellent work, Smack. Not sure "Hump de Bump" was ever holding the "biggest current hit by the biggest current band" title (band, yes - song no), but 'Shiny Happy People' is right there. Actually, 'Nightswimming' and 'Everybody Hurts' might contend as well.

Let's open this up to commenters to get some feedback, and see who and what we might have missed.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Fox Farewell

As I watched the media coverage of the Edward Kennedy funeral mass yesterday, I decided to check in with Fox News to get some 'fair and balanced' perspective on the life and achievements of a man about to be laid to rest.

I endured about 2 minutes of coverage, and sat through a brief commentary by an anchor who felt it necessary to point out how fortunate we are to live in a country where some one like Ted Kennedy would not be jailed or beheaded for his views during times when his party was not in power. Obviously a nod to Kennedy's loyal opposition to the Bush presidency, I felt that this sort of idiocy was a bit inappropriate for airing during Kennedy's funeral procession (if it could ever be deemed appropriate, that is).

I decided to explore the Internet for other nuggets from Fox's coverage of Kennedy's funeral and burial, and found the clip below:

What do you think? Was Fox News inappropriate in airing this sort of commentary during the funeral coverage?

Also, if anyone can find the transcript of the commentary I reference above (I have so far been unable), please feel free to provide a link by commenting.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hot Pursuit

You are looking at the FBI's latest "investigative leads" map in the search for James "Whitey" Bulger. Way to go, FBI, for narrowing it down a bit.

Evidently, this is the FBI's attempt to open the search to a new generation of American crime fighters.

The Dreams Shall Never Die

The challenges of greatness cannot be met by simply reinforcing the agreements that you hold with your allies, but rather they are overcome by convincing your adversaries of the value, virtue and power to be found within the plainest of your convictions: the truth.

Rarely has a man so embodied this characteristic, that which reflects all that is to be admired of those among us who choose devote their lives to our service through elected office, than it was so by the late Edward Kennedy.

Please join me in pausing to reflect on the life of a great American, and the loss of a tireless crusader who fought to attain the betterment of our society as a whole, through the betterment of our whole society.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Boston's Bad Boys

Time once again to check in with our friend Randy, this time to see if we can find a correlation between the career trajectories of some of the most popular names in music and sport.

As always, feel free to weigh in by posting a comment, and enjoy.

Blogometrics: Alright Randy, choose the topic. We can go on any of these 3-
1) Is Plaxico's sentence too harsh?
2) Does Brett Favre actually deserve the flak he's taking?
3) (My favorite) Is Kurt Warner the Aerosmith of NFL quarterbacks?

Randy: I like the topics, but I'm really curious on #3 since I am not a huge Aerosmith fan (sacrilegious in these parts).

B: Alright, here's the thing with Aerosmith: They are pretty consistently referred to as "The (or "A) Great American Band" or "The American Rolling Stones/American Zeppelin" - and, I think, this is a little bit of a reach. If you take a look back at their career, you get a different picture. They released their debut in 1973, only to have it toil in relative obscurity until the release of the next 2 albums brought them closer to the mainstream. In the mid to late 70s, they were among the major rock acts in terms of both sales and touring success - but then it fell apart. 2 original members left the band - including the lead guitarist (Joe Perry), which is never a good sign. Some pretty crummy albums followed until 1985, when Run DMC remade "Walk This Way."

Now, a lot of people consider that a big deal for Aerosmith, but Bod Dylan doesn't get any credit for Jimi Hendrix's amazing guitar work on his cover of "All Along the Watchtower" - if you catch my drift. Anyhoo, 1987's Permanent Vacation saw "Ragdoll" and "Angel" top the charts, but the album was a mixed bag of sorts that sold well, but was not the full fledged "comeback" it was cracked up to be. That comeback occurred in 1989 with Pump, with its 3 top ten hits and another single in the top 40. Aerosmith was back at the forefront of American Rock. The success continued with Get a Grip in 1993, but the string of "Cryin" "Crazy" and "Amazing" turned the band into sort of a punchline - and deservedly so, they released the same awful song three times under three cheesy names.

Nowadays, Aerosmith is more of a "personality act" than a legit musical force. Age, of course, factors into this - but they're still not as old as The Stones. Now, you could make the argument that Aerosmith is more likely to have one more "hit song" than The Stones, but their also more likely to make an appearance on The Simpsons, a late night talk show (as a guest), or in a format other than music.

Should I follow through with "The Kurt Warner Story" - or do you see where I'm going with this? For the sake of those who'll read this and are not familiar: Warner was not exactly a hot prospect coming out of college, toiled in the arena league, and actually left football for a while. The Rams picked him up in '99 and BOOYAH - Trent Green blows out his knee and Warner gets the starting job. The Rams become "The Greatest Show on Turf", win a Super Bowl, lose one more...and then run out of steam. Warner goes to the Giants, toils as a starter, toils as Eli Manning's back up...goes to Arizona...toils as Matt Leinart's backup...until...BOOYAH - don't call it a comeback. The 2008 Cardinals become The Greatest Show on a Crazy Surface That Literally Rolls Around - and suddenly this guy is getting serious Hall of Fame consideration...

Slow start, a several year string of elite performance, obscurity, comeback, talk of being "great." There's my analogy (over-simplified) - work for you?

R: Like the summary, but my move to Boston did not change my view of "The Great American Band". So while my allegiance to American League East teams has changed (I used to like the O's pre-Angelos), I still am not a fan of Aerosmith.

If pushed, I liked their really old stuff (think "Rocks") and even got into Run's version of "Walk this way", but that's it.

So, for me, while I think the parallels exist between Kurt and Aerosmith, I at least think Kurt has (or at least "had") real greatness. The other difference has nothing to do with performance, per se, but I just cheer for Warner. He seems genuine and I respect that he paid his dues and persevered. I mean he used to bag groceries after college, right? Good God! Not that Aerosmith didn't, but I just get the sense that they have a higher opinion of themselves. Fair or unfair, that's my sense. Again, nothing to do with performance.

B: Here's the crazy thing: While Warner's Hall of Fame credentials are hotly debated - Aerosmith was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, and in 2005 the band ranked #57 in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Now, I know this actually kills my initial analogy, but I guess it takes a lot more to be considered an "All Time Great" in sports than it does in music...

It would actually be pretty hilarious, come to think of it, if Kurt Warner used this example to point out his legitimacy as a Hall of Fame candidate, a la "I am the Aerosmith of NFL quarterbacks! 2008 was my Pump! For crying out loud, backing up Eli Manning should get me as much love as "Dude Looks Like A Lady!!"

R: 57??? Are you serious?

I would put Duran Duran in front of them. I think Aerosmith most resembles Jamie Moyer: long-lasting, had flashes, and is good, not great. At least Moyer has Digger as a Father-in-law!

B: Can we think of another Athlete/Musician analogy? Is Brett Favre Kiss? Is Barry Sanders Nirvana? Is Derek Jeter Brittany Spears? Are Papi, Manny, Bonds, McGwire and Sosa Milli Vanilli?

R: Barry Sanders and Nirvana. Deep! I like it.

How about Brady Anderson and "pick your favorite" one-hit wonder. I like Falco personally.

Did I tell you that I saw Milli Vanilli back in the day (with Paula Abdul, Was Not Was and Information Society)...yes, a girl was involved in this.

B: Hmmm. I'll give you a pass, for the concert. However, Falco as the greatest one-hit-wonder?? I could think of a few that would come in above them like, I don't know, Information Society, maybe?

How about instead of greatest one hit wonders - the greatest behind the scenes athletes of all time? Just like the 3 or 4 people actually producing the infectious pop of "Girl You Know It's True" were unarguably talented musicians, you would quite literally have better odds at picking a specific grain of sand off the ocean floor than you would at picking any of those performers out of a crowd.

On a related topic - here is the greatest co-worker Christmas card I've ever sent (I make my own, can you tell?):

A Warm Holiday Greeting

“Hello, I’m Fab Morvan, former ‘lead vocalist’ for Milli Vanilli.”

“And I’m the re-animated corpse of Rob Pilatus, the deceased second ‘vocalist’ for Milli Vanilli.”

We’re here to usher in warm Holiday tidings for you and your loved ones this Christmas season. Now, you may ask what Milli Vanilli has to do with the holidays, and the answer simple: If you think we’re selling these cards to help pay off our enormous tax burden and legal fees, well, Accounts Receivable, You Know its True.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,


(ed. note - Here's where the conversation between Randy and I went off-line. We joked about awarding our favorite New York shortstop Derek Jeter with the "Behind the Scenes Athlete Award" alluded to above, as a sarcastic nod to our opinion of his over-hyped status. However, after speaking with Randy, something else hit me, which I'll elaborate on below.)

Our friend "Smack" sent along the link to a recent column by writer Joe Posnanski, in which he spends the first half of the piece supporting my argument that Derek Jeter has long been one of sport's most over-rated athletes, and the second half of the piece illustrates that Jeter is quietly having the best season of his career in 2009.

Posnanski is absolutely spot on with his summary of Jeter's career, and as I put together this post shortly after reading Posnanski's column, it hit me: Derek Jeter is the Aerosmith of baseball. He enjoyed early career success, which allowed his popularity to endure through a highly over-rated majority of his career, and this year is his "Pump" year - possibly the best of his career - and just like Aerosmith was beaten out in the Grammy race in 1990 (losing to Living Colour), Jeter will most likely see his MVP bid fall short (to Joe Mauer), as well.

Plus, the dude looks like a lady.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Irony Butterfly

I normally try to steer away from off-color humour, but I cannot help but to nominate the following individual for "Most Ironic Name, 2009":

For those not familiar (from

Caster Semenya has been asked by to undergo a gender test, this after she burst onto the scene by posting a world leading time of 1 minute, 56.72 seconds in the 800 meters at the African junior championships. Her case gained more attention when she won the gold medal at the world championships on Aug. 19.

I think we've got a winner.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Best a Man Can Get?

It's been a while since we've chatted with our friend Randy, so today we'll check in to talk a little golf, a little tennis, and engage in a little exercise in Blogometrics.

As always, feel free to weigh in by posting a comment, and enjoy.

Blogometrics: Alright, if you have time for a chat...

In light of Tiger's "collapse" this weekend at the PGA Championships - who more dominates their individual sport right now: Tiger Woods or Roger Federer?

Randy: Right now? Then I would say Tiger hands down!You can't possibly say Fed, could you?

B: I think you could make the case.

Y.E. Yang (as in: "Who?") beat Woods this weekend, marking the first time Tiger had ever lost while going in to the final round with a lead in a major. He was 12 for his previous 12. Now, to be fair, Tiger cannot be expected to win every major - but this is the first year since 2004 he has failed to win at least one. We've seen him lose to Padraig Harrington, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, and a handful of other top-notch competitors - and now we've seen this. I am not implying in any way that Woods' run at the top of his game is over, but I think maybe his dominance has started to slip.

Looking at Federer - and assuming you have a healthy Nadal - he is one of 2 players in the world with any realistic shot at winning any tournament he enters (the other, of course, being Nadal). I know Andy Roddick gave it his all at this year's Wimbeldon, but it illustrated perfectly that a top ten ranked player, playing way above their level, still cannot beat Federer (unless their name is Nadal).

Now, as for Nadal, it will be interesting to see how he bounces back from what has turned out to be a bit more of a knee issue than was originally thought. If you take away 1/10th of Nadal's mobility, I think that gives Federer another few years as the sport's pre-eminent talent (or until Andy Murray can get his emotions in check).

Not every athlete has a Smoltz-ian (or Wang-ian, or Big Papi-ian) collapse. Some fade slowly, even if most folks don't realize it until the dominance is almost gone. What we may be seeing here with Woods is that he's falling back to Earth ever so slightly, albeit just enough to fall within reach of that next tier below him.

R: Good points.

My whole issue with comparing golf to tennis is what it takes to win a tourney. In tennis, you have to beat 6-7 opponents to win a tourney. And the first 3 are usually outside the top 50. In golf, Tiger (for argument sake) has to beat EVERYONE. And I think even he was surprised at how well he played coming off the injury. While no majors in 2009, he leads the tour in wins...and they aren't the cheap ones (See Greater Hartford Open or whatever they call themselves with their 20 under par golf course).

Now I tip my hat to Yang for chipping in for Eagle, but bottom line is that Tiger had absurd pressure to win yesterday and Yang was free wheeling. It is obscene how we all just expected Tiger to win. Given the conditions and the chase to Jack's record, it's pretty unfair. And with all that said, if he makes any of those puts on the front 9, it is OVER.

But let me jump to Federer. A year ago at Wimbledon, people were saying he was "done". Not done as in no longer in the top 10, but done in terms of majors. Guess what, I think they were right. Nadal owns the French...can you say the best of all time on clay (cuz McEnroe did I believe). And once he went down, the path opened. Murray had the pressure of a country and Novak lost his game in 09, which leaves A-rod. So he beats one top 10 guy and he gets a major. Tiger has to beat the field with everyone gunning for him...and luck is so much more in play in golf.

I play both sports, and my fluctuation in golf is crazy from day-to-day. Just saying...

B: Those are all excellent points, but (of course) let me counter:

First, I'll argue that Tiger isn't directly competing against anyone - he's competing against the course, as is everyone else. If you want to bring direct competition into it, then it just makes Yang's chip in eagle look even more amazing - just as it reminds you that it used to be Tiger that made those shots...

As for the competition - and tournament formats - facing Federer, I agree, but in a way you're making the counter-point that, well, it is what it is. I think that Federer is at least as far ahead of his field (except on clay - but Tiger has seemingly lost the ability to play links-style courses) as Woods is.

Maybe instead of trying to point to who is more dominant, we can point to how both men are in the decline of their dominance?

R: I'm not ready to go there. It would not surprise me if Tiger wins 2-3 majors next year. Jack had a few years where he had no majors remember. Golf is just easier to win at post-30 years old.

Tennis is like being a RB in the NFL. You hit 30 or have a lot of miles, and it is a bad thing.
Back to Tiger, I think he has a hard time on Poana greens because they are brutal to read, and he is probably the best all-time at reading greens.

Can you tell that I like Tiger?

B: Indeed I can.

Would it surprise you if Tiger had another 0-fer? Would it surprise you if Federer won 2 or 3 of his own?

Here's another way to look at it: Assuming Nadal is slow to bounce back from his knee (which seems to be the case), and Federer holds off Murray and Roddick (strong on the hardcourt - plus the home crowd) and wins the US Open (as he has every year since 2004), he has won 3 majors this year, to Woods' zero.

I think if you go back to the original question "who more dominates their sport right now" - that's a pretty compelling case.

Look at it this way: If a major tournament began in both golf and in tennis tomorrow, and you had to bet on either Federer or Woods to win their tournament outright - who would you pick?

R: I like your final question. Tough one!

Personally I just have a hard time "forgetting" about that whole Nadal domination of the past year and a half. But with that said, and back to your question, I guess it would depend on which major. I really thought Roger would win Wimbledon once Nadal withdrew, but the Open is a different ball game. In golf, Tiger is almost always favored vs. the field (at least in the court of public opinion).

So if we take the next 2 majors, I would favor Tiger at the Masters over Federer at the Open. But it is close! In fact, maybe a push?

The other piece that I probably subconsciously think about is that tennis is on the decline, while golf is booming! For every Steve Stricker, Lucas Glover and Hunter Mahan, there is a...wait for it...Jo-Wildred Tsonga and Marty Fish? Seriously. Very weak!

B: The mighty Tsonga!! Ahhh...the potential wasted...Still, watching him thoroughly dismantle Marcos Baghdatis in the '08 Aussie semis was, no doubt, a frightening sight for any competitive player (or fan) on the planet. Too bad he hasn't ever been ever put it all together, because (and now I'm veering waaaay off into hypothetical land), he really had a chance to be an elite talent.

See, here's the thing about your point: It kind of makes mine. If I were going to ask you "Who dominates their sport more: Tiger Woods, or Tim Duncan playing against 6th graders?" - you'd have to say Tim Duncan. Federer can't control his competition...

R: Fair enough...I see where you are going. I guess the point that I was trying to make is that even against a historically weak pool of competitors, the drop-off of an elite tennis player (and arguably the best of all time...though I still vote for Laver) is still dramatic.

I just checked and Federer is 42-7 in 2009. While this may not be completely up-to-date, it's not dominant. And he has a losing record to Murray and Nadal, correct?

Still, I see your larger point. My thing is that watching Federer in 2009 is like watching Shaq now. Still dominant, but not "as dominant". I don't feel that drop-off with Tiger, but 2010 just got a whole lot more interesting!!!

B: Whoa whoa whoa...42-7 is NOT dominant? He wins 6 times more often than he loses. So, in other words, if there were 49 games on the, I don't know, hockey schedule, and a team went 42-7, they were NOT dominant? I don't know...but okay, let's look at Tiger...

He's entered 13 tournaments this year and won 5. That's a 5-8 record. Is that dominant?

R: Does he have 3 titles in 2009? Come on. And 2 of them you can throw out.

So if Tiger has won 5 titles and there are 100 people in each, does he get 500 wins?
Just saying that there have been more dominant years in the past for Federer, Sampras, Laver, etc.

If Federer wins the Open, I will switch sides. But I just can't pour dirt on Tiger just yet. By the way, which is worse---being up 2 shots in the final round or being up 5-1 in the 3rd? Ouch!

B: A) I'm not pouring dirt on Tiger, I'm simply making my case.

B) There are big differences between golf and tennis - but to answer your question, no. Tiger does not get 100 wins for each championship, he gets 1; but let's say it worked that way. If everyone, in every tournament, he finished ahead of was a 'win' - everyone ahead of him was a 'loss', do you think he'd have an .857 win percentage? That's Federer's stat for the year. This could probably (actually, definitely) be looked up, but I don't have time for your "facts."

C) Congrats to you, sir, on getting me to resort to A,B, and C arguments. I say congrats!!!


You guessed it - more "Smack" talk is on the docket. This time, we're taking sights at a topic a little closer to home: the semantics of sports talk.

As always, feel free to weigh in by posting a comment, and enjoy.

Blogometrics: Okay, time for a contest. In the much-maligned world of sports sayings (i.e. "that's why they play the games" - etc.), is there a more ridiculous term than "if the season ended today"?

In terms of stupidity,I would stand that up against just about any saying, sports-related or not.

Smack: Well, sports are so over-analyzed that they make it impossible not to get into hypotheticals. I agree that it’s stupid because obviously the season ends when it ends. Are you considering Yogi Berra and John Madden quotes or just common sayings?

B: I'm throwing everything into the mix - even Madden impersonator quotes, as in "Basically, the offense is trying to score, and what the defense wants to do is stop them" or "See, right there, he tackles him." I always thought that Madden should have been on radio, or another area of broadcasting for the visually impaired.

Even Berra's quotes hold some sort of odd idiosyncratic relevance - For example: When asked "What time is it?" Berra would respond "You mean now?" That's borderline metaphysical. Madden's quotes are over-simplistic, but true. "If the season ended today" is akin to "The Raiders would have finished last season 12-4 if their touchdowns had been worth 9 points each."

S: But that statement could hold just as much truth as the Madden-isms.Isn’t one of Berra’s famous quotes, “It ain’t over til it’s over”?

B: Well, Madden-isms are straight-ahead, dumbed down truth. They make no attempt at analogy nor do they approach the theoretical. Berra's "It ain't over 'til it's over" works in another way: It takes a base truth, and gets you to reflect upon the fact that too many times, an event (of any kind) is considered 'over' before it is 'over.' I know this is getting really nit picky, but it's true.

The whole 'season ending today' is, again, akin to total make believe - like "Running backs would be harder to tackle if they rode horses" or, "That pass would have been incomplete if this game were being played on the surface of the Sun."

See my point?

S: “It ain’t over til it’s over” is basically just a reply to people who say “if the season ended today…” They’re both on the same level.

“If the season ended today…” is just a way of pointing out where a team stands at the present moment. Is there any point to keeping track of the Red Sox record during the season? However many games back they are doesn’t matter until October…

Same thing with projecting season stats based on performance through the All Star break. “David Ortiz is on pace to hit 4 home runs this season.”

B: Hmmm... I flat out reject your first point. "It ain't over..." makes a point that goes beyond it's words. An optimistic fan will look at a team that's down 15 with 3:26 to play and think "Well, it ain't over 'til it's over" - even though common sense tells the fan otherwise. I don't see the same bridge existing between, say, "The Sox are 1 game out of first place" and "If the season ended today..."

Your point about projections is a good one - and the strongest challenger to the crown of "Dumbest Sports Quote" (this category excludes quotes by individual athletes/commentators , except for Madden and Berra - who we've already touched on anyway). Projecting anything in sports is ludicrous. After week one in the NFL, you'll have 16 teams on pace to go 16-0, and 16 on pace to go winless.

I guess "that's why they play the games."

S: Sometimes making projections is dumb, like your example about teams on pace to go 16-0. But sometimes there’s no other way to put a player’s performance into perspective. With a lot of stats, our only mental benchmarks are season totals, so it helps to hear where they stand relative to those. I think most people realize that Pujols isn’t going to hit 14 HR every month, and Ortiz will eventually start to come around. “If the season ended today…” doesn’t compare to “That record will stand until it’s broken” or “To get more yards, it’s best to move the ball from the line of scrimmage down the field.”

B: Alright. As usual, we'll agree to sort of disagree.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Hot Water

Another day, another installment of "Smack" talk. In keeping with our recent sports theme, we open up today to the "wide world" of saunas, bleachers, and sex scandals.

As always, feel free to weigh in by posting a comment, and enjoy.

Blogometrics: This is pretty interesting: Recently, in Scandinavia - Finland, I think, the world sauna championships were held. Apart from the fact that this is an odd event (it's a duration contest), there was one fact that nearly floored me. Without employing Google, take a guess at what temperature the sauna was set to. As a hint, the winner endured the heat for 3 minutes, 46 seconds.

Smack: Wow. Sauna is dry heat right? 170 F?

B: Try again.
S: I had to look this up before replying. 230, yowza! This article says the winner lasted over 12 min. That’s literally hot enough to cook food. No way those people aren’t causing permanent damage to their bodies.

B: That's what I thought. I have seen recipes that have 200-250 degrees as the cooking temperature. Now, I know we here in New England do not get the kind of heat experienced by those in other parts of the country, but wherever you are, if it's 77 degrees and as muggy as a sauna - you notice. This sauna was 3 times that hot - THREE times. When you think about it, temperature is sort of like the Richter scale - as in, a 6.8 earthquake isn't 1/10 stronger than a 6.7, it's almost twice as strong. Now, I'm not saying that 93 degree weather is twice as unbearable as 92 degrees, but when you get up to that realm, every degree counts - let alone getting OVER 200 DEGREES. That's just nuts.

Now on to Rick Pitino - cut and dry: Do you think that he should lose his job?

S: I don’t think he should lose his job for cheating on his wife 6 years ago. It doesn’t sound like he’s done anything wrong aside from that. This woman sounds like a Looney Tune.

B: I'm torn on this. I think it's a valid question - he is supposed to be a role model for the young men on his team, and while he's seemingly handled this well since it came to light, the fact remains that it was his severe indiscretion that placed him in this situation to begin with. Add to that the business side of things, where he has lost some of his recruiting luster, and the university does have an interesting decision on it's hands.

On the other hand, all we've been hearing about lately is how Michael Vick deserves his second chance (which he does). We'll hear it about Donte Stallworth a year from now. Now, I can see the point where one would argue that Vick and Stallworth paid a penalty and are now moving past their incidents while Pitino is still resolving his issue - and facts have yet to come out as to exactly what took place between Pitino and this woman. The thing is, Vick and Stallworth committed criminal acts, and - unless there is a major bombshell about to drop - Pitino did not. I think the case can be made that he's paid his debt already, both with his family - and now with the public embarrassment. However, just like Michael Vick's second chance is coming with different team, maybe Pitino's should as well.

S: Maybe I’ll have a different opinion if new information comes out, but with what’s out there right now I don’t think he should have to leave Louisville. He’s a top 10 college coach of all time – I don’t think he’s any less valuable to the university because of this. He’s not getting away with anything. I mean, Clinton did it and remained president.

B: That's a good point. I definitely lean your way in terms of my opinion of the matter - although, if it does turn out that Pitino ordered and/or funded an abortion (as is being alleged), and did not simply 'pay for health insurance' (as he is claiming) that muddies the water a bit.
I guess this is a wait and see sort of situation.

Alright - on to The Cubs. Shane Victorino is filing a criminal complaint against the fan who doused him with beer from the stands. Thoughts on this?

I hadn’t heard about this. After watching it, I’m on Victorino’s side. I’ve seen some “accidental” beer spills (and who could forget the pizza throw?) when players dive into the stands to make catches. I feel differently about that. When you enter the fans’ domain you open yourself up to that stuff. But this guy threw a full cup onto the field, and actually timed his throw really well. He nailed Victorino right as he was catching the fly ball. That’s pretty dangerous and no way is that “part of the game.” Of course the fan is going to walk away with either a continuance or community service or something, but he should definitely have to answer for his behavior.

B: A couple things about this:

1) I think Victorino is absolutely within reason (ahem) in filing this complaint. This could sound trite to a non-sports fan - who may think Victorino is overreacting - but if that ball had clunked him in the head, he could be very seriously injured. Now, it was not the fan's intent (we'd think) to harm Victorino, but that does not get him off the hook. For instance, I always wonder why fans rail against players being fined, suspended, penalized, etc. when the issue of intent comes up. Let's use Vince Wilfork as an example ( I know we're going from football to baseball, but...). Wilfork has a reputation of going for opposing QB's knees. Whenever he gets fined, many Pats fans cry foul, because, they say, his intent to harm the QB cannot be proven. Well, let's look at another football player, the aforementioned Donte Stallworth. He is currently under suspension from the league for pleading guilty to vehicular manslaughter - and an interesting parallel exists. When you strike some one with your vehicle, and it is your fault, you are immediately "in the wrong." The severity of your penalty, however, stems from the severity of the harm caused to the victim. If the victim is in a coma (God forbid), you are charge with assault, negligence, etc. However, if (again, God forbid) the victim passes away days later from injuries sustained, you are immediately charged with manslaughter. The only way intent s factored in is whether that manslaughter is changed to murder. Either way, you have committed a criminal act - just like this fan.

2) I think an interesting sub plot to all of this is - the Cubs security staff apprehended the wrong fan, and escorted him from the premises in a 'not so gentle' way. It will be interesting to see if anything comes of that.

3) Lastly, and this is a bit nit-picky - can we ask that the sportscasters reporting on this story stop remarking how amazing it is that Victorino caught the ball as he was being doused? I'm getting tired of hearing "I couldn't finish this sentence if you threw a beer at me" or "It just shows how amazing these athletes are..." I agree that Victorino is quite an athlete, but I also think that plenty of non-elite athletes could make the same catch - mostly due to protective reflexes. I know, I know, this is nit picky - but still...

S: Well it’s not like the guy was walking in the aisle, tripped, and dropped his beer over the wall. He threw it. Pretty sure what happened is exactly what the guy intended, except for Victorino making the catch, of course. Let’s say Victorino flinches after getting nailed with beer and takes the ball off the forehead. The guy would probably get (and deserve) an upgraded charge. That’s why there’s a law against attempted murder. Whether the victim dies or not makes a big difference. But then there’s also “involuntary manslaughter” and “accidental killing”, so intent is also taken into consideration.

I would have been more impressed if he had been hit a half second earlier and still made the catch. He was hit just as the ball was coming into his glove. It was too late to make him flinch enough to flub it.

B: Right. We agree - for once.

S: A pig just flew past my window.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Autumn Rush

Who better to turn to for help with the launch of the new Blogometrics site than our old friend "Smack" - and with football season just weeks away, what better topic than a little preview of the season ahead?

As always, feel free to join the conversation by posting a comment, and enjoy.

Blogometrics: Hmmm. First inclination is to just roast this, but New England has become a big time glass house when it comes to gimmicks like this.

Smack: What has the Patriots organization done that compares to commissioning T-Pain to record a fight song?

If anything I figured the extensive, if not exclusive, use of Auto-Tune would put you over the edge.

B: Speaking on a sports-in-general level, not specifically football, Boston/New England has some pretty awful gimmicks.

The Dropkick Murphys being the official band of The Red Sox and the techno song "Sandstorm" being played for Pat's touchdowns, Bruin's goals, and God knows what else - probably successful free throws at this point, come to mind.

S: Well I guess the Dropkick’s remake of Tessie is a comparable situation, but the Dropkicks aren’t T-Pain… And this fight song is just ridiculous. If you haven’t actually listened to it yet, please do. I think you’ll see my point. Every team plays music for touchdowns, goals, and even individual batters stepping to the plate. At least the Patriots use AC/DC and Ozzy Osbourne. I think the Sox using “Sweet Caroline” is as bad as it gets.

B: After having listened to that song - which is apparently played after every touchdown - I'm not sure T-Pain can make that any worse.

Related question: If the Browns sign Michael Vick, will they play "Who Let the Dogs Out" if he scores a touchdown?
S: Well the irony would be palpable. I think Mangini’s made it clear that he’s not interested, though.

B: Two rules in life:

1) Stay hydrated

2) Never trust Eric Mangini

Not saying that I think the Browns are interested - I just don't like Mangini.

Alright - what's your prediction for the Pat's season?

S: I’m not putting much stock in Mangini’s statements, but the fact that he’s new in Cleveland coupled with the fact that a section of their stands is nicknamed “the Dawg Pound”… I just don’t see him being stupid enough to sign Vick.

I have high hopes for the Pats. It will all hinge on Brady staying healthy (just released Gutierrez). McDaniels was a tough loss, but luckily Brady was pretty involved in the play calling so it should be a smooth transition there. Maroney should be healthy and we’ve got Fred Taylor now. Did we resign Wilfork yet? Burgess was a good signing. And Moss, Welker, and Galloway are a solid WR group.

B: Alright, since you asked - here's my position by position breakdown for the offense:

QB: Brady is the key. Having seen him at camp last Thursday, the knee does appear to be bothering him a bit, so it remains to be seen if his ability to step up in the pocket will be affected. If it is, look for the Pats to change up their coverage schemes and return to the tried and true "spread and screen" that worked so well in 2003, 2004 and 2007.

Unfortunately, the back up picture is not too rosy, saving any Cassel-esque surprises. Andrew Walter and Kevin O'Connell are substantial drop-offs, despite the praise for Walter coming from those who worked with him in Oakland since A)they traded him, and B) it's Oakland.

RB: Crunch time for Maroney. He's been an injury liability prone to streaky play since his arrival, and the addition of Fred Taylor will not increase Maroney's touches. Add to that mix the versatile Kevin Faulk and (despite failing to protect Brady's knee last year) the under-rated Sammy Morris and you've got a very solid backfield.

WR: The Pats are so loaded at receiver that it's borderline scary. Regulars Moss and Welker return, along with newcomers Greg Lewis (from Philadelphia) and Joey Galloway (from Tampa) - who may be the fastest man in camp. The question that will be presented to opposing D-Coordinators is "Who do you single cover?" That problem gets compounded when you add to this receiving corps a backfield full of solid hands in Maroney, Faulk, Morris and Taylor.

Also look for rookie Julian Edelmann (drafted out of Kent State) to make an impact in the passing game one way or another. Edelmann could be the Pat's version of a 'wildcat' player - lining up at any number of positions, but look for him to make his presence felt in the short passing game, where he's drawn comparisons to Wes Welker in camp (having seen this in person, this is not a bad comparison).

TE: It appears the Benjamin Watson experiment has come to an end, with the tight end yet to appear in camp, so that leaves former Jet Chris Baker as the number one. Baker torched the Pat's last year in Foxboro, so - as is Belichik's habbit, he was brought aboard in the off season as a solid receiving tight end who is a more than adequate blocker. While he does not possess Watson's athleticism, he can hold on to the ball and presents Brady with a large target. Also look for WR and special teams ace Sam Aiken to line up at TE from time to time.

OL: The Pat's return their starting line, for better or for worse. Koppen and Mankins remain solid NFL performers at their positions, while the second guard position, opposite Mankins, will be a battle lasting through the season - much as it was last year. The tackle position is not as solid as in years past, with Matt Light another year older and another step slower. Each of the past few seasons has seen Light's play diminish somewhat, but in a year where Brady may have lost a step or two himself, look for the Pats to make efforts to protect Brady using various schemes and formations.

Overall, this is one talented offense which, on paper, has every reason to believe it can rival the marks set by the 2007 Pats. Brady's knee is the big question, and so long as it's healthy, look for lots of offense and lots and lots of points.

S: Thank you for that.

Do you agree with me about McDaniels?And how about defensively? Looks like Wilfork is still holding out. We added a DE in Burgess and bolstered the backfield. I’m mostly concerned with the DB’s. It’s been a problem since we traded Samuel.Watson was at practice yesterday, although I agree he could be done. It’s the final year of his contract anyway. Alex Smith is another strong candidate for TE.

B: As far as McDaniel, we shall see what impact his departure will have. The team was able to withstand the loss of Charlie Weiss without substantial detriment. I think with the pieces in place, the Pats could go to the Madden '98 Chicago Bears playbook and put up 550 points this year.

Defensively, there are a lot of questions. Wilfork isn't holding out, and is signed for the season. Having him on the d-line will be important, with an aging Richard Seymour drawing less attention. Jarvis Green and Ty Warren are no slouches, either, and all 4 could be on the field at times should the Pats employ a 4-3 more often, as I'm inclined to think they will.

At linebacker, Mayo is another year older and wiser, which should sends chills through the hearts of plenty of opposing offenses, and Adelius Thomas returns to fill one outside slot. From there, look for a revolving door throughout camp, with Bruschi, Crable, Redd, Alexander, Banta-Cain and Woods fighting to fill the remaining inside and outside slots.
Defensive back, the weak point of the D the last few years, should be interesting again this season. Gone is safety Rodney Harrison, but newcomers Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden will strengthen the corner position - along with last year's rookie duo of Wheatley and Wilhite. I won't be surprised to see this group perform very well this year, despite continued low expectations.

I just realized - why am I writing like a high school newspaper reporter?

S: Seriously. I was waiting for a “stuff the offense like a Thanksgiving turkey” comment.

They still have Meriweather, no? Think he’s ready to step up?

B: Blogometrics' Corny Camp Notes:

Look for newly minted Patriot Fred Taylor to dazzle the Foxboro faithful with his usual assortment of jaunts and jukes this fall....veteran signal caller Tom Brady looks to return to his winning ways under center...Head Patriot Bill Belichik surprised the troops by calling off the dogs an hour early on Friday's afternoon workout...Randy Moss put on an exhibition of some snazzy sideline footwork in passing drills...The fumble bug plagued the morning session Thursday, so Friday's drill focused on ball protection...

Meriweather has been sort of a letdown so far - all the athleticism in the world, but still not totally comfortable as a pass defender, which is sort of important at safety. We'll see...Patrick Chung has looked good in camp, and James Sanders filled in well for Harrison last year on the weak side.

How about predictions on record (again realizing that they have yet to play an exhibition game)?

S: 13-3. They put up big points but don’t top 2007 numbers.

B: I'm going to agree with 13-3, but hold off on the final prediction until after at least 3 preseason games. If the defense gels, this team could be better than 2007. There's really no reason not to think that.

S: How about relative to the rest of the AFC East? In 2007, let’s be honest… The rest of the division blew. Last year saw much more parity, with playoff spots up in the air until Week 17. Now the Bills have T.O., the Dolphins have T-Pain, and the Jets are Favreless. Should we be worried???

B: The only thing that worries me about the AFC East is the addition of T-Pain.

Buffalo already had a top-flight receiver in Lee Evans, adding T.O. won't solve their defensive problems. Miami will experience a come-down, now that the league has had a chance to catch up to the wildcat. I'd think The Jets are due for a rebuilding year, since no matter what, you've got a new QB and a new head coach.

Each of these teams would be fortunate to split with the Pats, but I have trouble seeing Buffalo and New York giving the Pats too much trouble.