…biggest sports event of the season…

March 31, 2007 at 4:00 am | Posted in fespn, misc, pillowtalk | 2 Comments

the 177th semi annual general conference for the LDS chuch is happening this weekend. at first glance one would incorrectly infer that there is nothing sports related to this event. wrong.

what’s more sporty than old men (average 60-167 years old [i just made that up, but it’s surprisingly accurate]) dueling in a verbal battle? so, it may seem a little dry, but one has to take into account that as age ravishes our mortal frames the last tools of battle that we’re left with are our words. I mean, obviously we won’t see any UFC fighting during those 2 hour blocks. But the battle will be with nouns and pronouns.

this is the real deal. it’s all played off very nonchalantly because of legality issues. the bets on this sports event bring in a high percentage of annual gambling stats. if you decide to participate in watching this event you  might see the scorekeepers/statkeepers. They wear headsets, and are called “interpreters”.

what can you bet on? lots of things. the number of times each individual will use key words like “spirit” “love” “charity”. The odds aren’t high with those bets, but if you’re looking for the really high stakes you can predict the exact  time an individual speaker will consume with their words. Fun family pots about who will conduct which session are also common.

if you’re too busy to participate in this riveting action, you can always see the results a few weeks after conference in the conference reports. there is a section that shows the play by play action and gives a final breakdown of all the stats.

Hobo v. Gehrig

March 30, 2007 at 1:06 am | Posted in baseball, whitney | 2 Comments

I can’t decide whether my favorite baseball player is Lou Gehrig or Pepper Martin. On the one hand, I’ve always been attracted to Gehrig as an alternative to Babe Ruth. Not that Lou was an underdog or anything, but I sympathize with the lack of support in his early career with the Yankees. He also gives one hell of a goodbye speech, if you ask me. Incidentally, he has a disease named after him. I haven’t decided whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Pepper Martin, on the other hand, was a former hobo. Playing for what appears to be the coolest team ever, the St. Louis Cardinals in ’34. Also in the Ken Burn’s documentary they say that Martin was so fast because he used to spend his childhood racing rabbits. (The quote on Wikipedia: “I grew up in Oklahoma, and once you start runnin’ out there there ain’t nothin’ to stop you”) If he were playing for BYU, I would get so many Deals for Steals I can’t even stand it. After his career with the Cardinals, he managed in Miami and got fined for choking an ump.

Here’s one problem: saying Pepper Martin is your favorite baseball player leads people to assume you know a lot about baseball. Beyond some sports articles focusing on the 20s-60s, the Ken Burn’s doc, and David James Duncan novels, I got nothing. As far as baseball today goes, I couldn’t give a shit…alright…maybe I could. But certainly not two. I still like The A’s since they have that whole fu manchu history going for them. And I still get really excited when the Red Sox play the Yankees (like any novice would, I guess). But as a whole, I enjoy baseball a lot more when I’m watching it in black and white. I haven’t fully explored that yet. Maybe it’s modern-day habits of commercial sponsorship, the steroids, or just the general ugliness of today’s players (what’s with that, by the way? Even The Babe looks handsome compared to these guys). There might also be something to said about seeking out the old baseball facts and figures. It feels much more proactive, whereas watching a modern baseball game just pisses you off because the Simpsons were cancelled again.

Anyway, I’m not trying to romanticize anything. After all, the best players in baseball are relatively unknown seeing as they were black and all.

So…Martin, right? He was a hobo!

JK. Ted Williams will always be number one. Never forget that Ted Williams refers to himself in the third person. As in “Ted Williams needs a DRINK!” Awesome.

super-striker, but not the mario game

March 23, 2007 at 1:06 am | Posted in aaron d.w., football (soccer) | 1 Comment

romariocalled one of the most prolific strikers by whoever wrote the wikipedia article, romario is still playing association football (soccer) for vasco de gama in his home country of brazil (or is it brasil?) at the age of 41. vasco de gama is also the team where he got his professional start in 1985. as a footballer in vasco’s league, the rio de janeiro state championship, romario won 4 state championships and won the scoring title 7 times. he went on to play dutch league soccer where he won 3 championships and 3 scoring titles in 3 years. in the copa america tournament, he led brazil to 2 victories with 2 scoring titles. he took brazil to the 1994 world cup and helped lead them to victory, being named the most valuable player. in the same year he won fifa player of the year. he was also the brazilian league’s top scorer 3 times and brazilian cup’s top scorer twice. his last scoring title was in 2005, which he won at the age of 39. also, he helped his brazilian team secure 3rd place in the fifa beach soccer world cup in 2005.

on the brazilian national team, he paired with ronaldo to be a super-scoring duo. in one game, they both recorded hat tricks to lead brazil to a 6-1 victory. supposedly this duo is affectionately called ro-ro but i feel everything besides affection when i hear (or read) that. diego maradona has said that romario would be on his all-time dream team — i imagine he would have romario play striker alongside maradona’s fist.

pretty good career. turns out it’s still going strong. romario is on the verge of scoring his 1000th goal. he has 998 and hopes to score 2 more in this weekend’s vasco-flamengo game. he thinks that would be special because pele scored his 1000th goal in the same stadium. (pele is the only soccer player known to score over 1000 goals — he has like 1260 or something.) there have been questions about whether romario’s count is accurate. for instance, he included goals from two brazilian championship games that were declared void, goals in matches that are said to never have occurred (which he later subtracted), goals in friendly matches between vasco and teams like “friends of aldair,” goals in festive matches like the one that feature the brazilian world cup team from ten years before versus a team of retired mexican professional footballers, and goals scored when he was a youth playing in youth leagues. apparently, 7 of the 998 goals were scored when he was 13 years old and playing in a kid’s league. other people think the number is less impressive because he joined some minor league teams in the united states and australia over the last few years to score more goals. according to some, 77 total goals were scored in youth leagues and 172 were scored in non-competitive games, leaving his number of goals in competitive club soccer or international soccer at 749.

in response to the criticism, romario says, “I’ve never hidden this. I never said that all those goals were scored in competitive or professional games. I’m also aware that some of the goals were scored in festive games. But I’ve scored them and I can prove it. These numbers are not mine, I never had the time to count them myself. The counting was done by professionals. If I’d counted them myself, there would be around 3,000.”

and i say, big deal if some weren’t professional games. he’s had a pretty impressive career. in dutch soccer he scored 30 goals in 33 matches. with miami fc he scored 18 goals in 22 matches. in world cup play he scored an amazing 55 goals in 70 matches. only pele and ronaldo (fat ronaldo) have scored more. 1000 is just a number anyways. the number isn’t the big deal. he just has a goal of scoring 1000 goals and he can count goals however he likes. they’ve all been in scored in soccer games. it’s not like he’s counting goals scored in his backyard by himself. so i hope he scores 2 goals this weekend and has a big party to celebrate his accomplishment.

former teammate claudio adao said, “It’s a joke. If I count the goals I scored before turning pro I would have 1,000 goals, too.” i doubt it, claudio. maybe if you didn’t spend your career injured.

on the topic of this weekend, romario has said, “I think that, with my history and for world of football itself, it would be a very proud moment for me and for everyone else if I could score the 1,000th goal on the same pitch where Pele scored his. To score a goal is special in any situation. To score the one thousandth goal against a traditional club such as Flamengo would be an honour.”

they used to have lion-heart; now they have the lion king

March 20, 2007 at 12:46 am | Posted in aaron d.w., basketball | 2 Comments

ask anybody — i’m the worst march madness player around. i’m also the worst at picking bowl games. i don’t know what the deal is, but i’m horrible at picking winners in the ncaa. i thought my luck (ability) had changed this year. especially because i had a pretty good showing in our bowl picks pool. then after duke lost in the first round i thought i was entering another stratosphere of picking (who even knows what that means?). but it turns out i still suck. i picked wisconsin to win it all. they barely won in the first round (coming back from 17 down) and they lost yesterday. i really need to re-examine the way i do my picks. i think i’m going to work on some sort of algorithm for next year. it will take into account all the important things: seeding, record, name, colors, haircuts, etc. i think the name is important. i’ll have to convert the name and the team colors into binary as well as the seeding and record. but i’m not going to give away my algorithm yet. maybe after i win millions next year i’ll let my friends and family in on the secret.

speaking of haircuts, a long time ago i wrote an article about how i pick a favorite player. there’s a part where i have pictures of players with mohawks. and guess who’s there? none other than usc player nick young. i should’ve remembered how cool that guy is. i saw him beat oregon state earlier this year and thought he was awesome. (did i just say awesome?) how could i have forgotten him? if i had to do my picks over, i’d pick usc to win a bunch of games. the other team i liked a lot from the pac-10 was oregon. they have that aaron brooks guy that is totally sweet. and bryce taylor. he’s great too. in the pac-10 final taylor went 7 for 7 from 3 point range. if i hadn’t been so set on picking wisconsin to win, i probably would’ve picked oregon to make it to the final four.

my love affair with wisconsin doesn’t make very much sense. their basketball team was sweet this year. i watched like 2 games and thought they were cool. not cool enough apparently. but why would i pick a team that i only saw twice to win the whole thing? here’s the reason: when brian and i started our first dynasty in ncaa football on the xbox i was wisconsin and brian was minnesota. we coached them for 5 seasons before we started a new dynasty. those were 5 great seasons for me. somehow i started to feel a real connection with the university of wisconsin. in fact, i applied to their math graduate program for the sole reason that i had a nice time when i coached their football team. i always find myself rooting for them and i usually pick them regardless of who their playing (unless they’re way bad). all i ever did was play some video game. that’s why i need an algorithm — so that i don’t let personal feelings influence my picks.

well, i’ll let my personal feelings influence some of my picks still. i’m pretty sure that i’ll have a “pick duke to lose” rule programmed in to this algorithm. i watched that vcu-duke game with my friend nathan. they have this guy named sheyer on their team. nathan kept calling him the shire, which just kept getting funnier. another nickname to be sad about missing is arizona’s mustafa shakur. call him mufasa and you won’t regret it.

i’ll get you my 5 bucks this weekend clif. even though i should know that i’m throwing my money away on these ncaa pools. next year will be different though — i’ll probably lose by even more.

the passion of information was on him

March 16, 2007 at 2:20 am | Posted in basketball, brian | Leave a comment

people (myself included) use the strangest methods when filling out their brackets but how can you blame us? there’s no way an average bracket buster is even familiar with a quarter of the 65 teams participating. so we watch espn’s college gamenight and read a bunch of so-called experts’ picks hoping to gain some insider information that will lead us to the perfect bracket (the perfect bracket only being contextually perfect; my perfect bracket would be the one where i pick just enough games right to beat the x people i’m in a pool with and win the 5x dollar pot [x being equal to the number of people participating in the pool]). but after a while of listening to these experts do we realize that they have no idea what they’re talking about. so we’re left alone and in crisis; left to sift through these waves of college-basketball-related information and bet our hard earned 5 dollar bills on picks chosen from this mess.

but this is why i like the ncaa basketball tournament. it’s almost like a science experiment. we’re observing the interactions of all of these different (yet similar) elements in a fixed environment. we also hypothesize about the outcome of the events based on a limited amount of data related to the entities participating in the experiment (how the teams performed in the regular season and their respective conference tournaments, how teams performed against similar teams as their opponents) and the history of similar experiments (how soon number one-seeds were eliminated last year, how often to expect upsets). but unlike scientists, we bet on our hypotheses. the beauty of the ncaa tournament, like in most scientific experiments, is in the observation. not in the ways the experiment fulfills our predictions but in the ways it surprises everyone.

whatever. the point is nobody knows anything when they fill in their brackets. how many people picked george mason in their final four last year? like 37 out of 1 billion. and if any of those 37 were in your bracket you probably had a conversation with them like this when you first saw their bracket:
“you picked george mason to go the final four? were you high when you filled this thing out?”
“yeah and then i forgot to switch my bracket before the tournament started.”

if there’s one thing i’m pretty sure of it’s that the best way to sabotage your own bracket is to over-think it. but how do you not over think it when you got 5x dollars riding on your decisions?  i used to like just going with my gut; picking what feels right even if i’m at a loss when it comes to reasoning through my decisions.  i think this is because i used to think that god would communicate to me through my feelings.  if i could just have enough faith in my feelings, which were maybe coming from god, i could pick nearly every game right since god can tell the future (or he makes the future the way he wants or time is different for him so it’s already happened or whatever).  but i don’t know anymore.  i think god is always trying to trick me into believing in him and having me win a bracket pool seems like a miracle i could get behind, but i think he knows that i’d just give myself the credit if i won.  so i can no longer trust my feelings since they’re just chemical reactions and chemical reactions can only accidentally predict the future.  but accidentally winning is the only hope any of us have.  does this qualify as a paradox?

Pretty Sweet

March 14, 2007 at 2:12 am | Posted in basketball, whitney | 1 Comment

I take notes in this:

Image Hosting

(my fingers look weird…)

we dress like students; we dress like housewives

March 13, 2007 at 10:17 am | Posted in brian | 5 Comments

does anyone but me get the name of the blog? i think aaron understands it, but i’m not sure he likes it. i’m also not sure if i like it. when aaron and i (with a little help from greg who came up fespn) were workshopping an idea for a sports-themed zine we made a list of possible names. i threw away the list (on accident) but i think lazy eye and shark attack were possible names. i liked this [person] knows what i’m talking about because it non-specific, barely sports-related and hinted at a kind of private language for a different kind of sports fan (which could possibly include non-sports fans). but i don’t know any more.

so, any ideas?

it probably doesn’t matter.

it’s a leaf

March 7, 2007 at 9:35 am | Posted in brian, football (american) | Leave a comment

i served an lds mission in tempe arizona like 8 years ago. i think most of the people associated with this blog have a general idea of what an lds mission entails. if you wandered in to this post by accident and have no idea what i’m talking about, let me just say that missions are totally weird. when you’re a missionary in arizona, mormons invite you over to dinner nearly every night. don’t believe me? just read this:

“Church members have often invited locally-assigned missionaries over for dinner from time to time since the Church’s inception. While these invitations are appreciated, in some areas, invitations can be infrequent. In an effort to further defray costs for missions, in the 1990s, the Church recommended in some areas (such as those parts of the Western United States with relatively-high concentrations of church membership) that ward members should provide lunch and dinner for the local missionaries. Coordination of this effort is handled through the weekly church meetings, and is not a general policy. In some other areas, missionaries are asked to politely decline dinner invitations unless they come from less active members, investigators, recent converts or if a non-member is present.”

sometimes these dinners get at the weirdness of lds missions. late in my mission — i think i had a week or so left — my companion and i had dinner with this husband and wife. they had a couple kids but none of them lived at home. for some reason — probably because i was on a mission and therefore had a better relationship with god — i was on at dinner. i was all hilarious anecdotes and witty one-liners. the couple really took to me. the mother wanted me to marry her daughter and said at much. she was, at the time, serving an lds mission at temple square. the father wanted to set me up with someone else.  he brought out some fishing trip photos and asked if i recognized the young guy he was fishing with.  it was jake plummer.  we spent the rest of the dinner talking about how jake plummer was going to lead the cardinals to greatness.  now he’s retired.

remember when plummer flipped those bronco fans off?  that was great.  i’m gonna miss that guy.  what other player in the nfl openly criticizes nfl policy (plummer was pissed the league wouldn’t let him wear a number 40 decal on his helmet in memory of his friend pat tillman), flips-off fans, wears his hair long and grows mustaches and beards?  if ricky williams get suspended again, i don’t even see a reason to watch another another nfl game.

but i like goldfish

March 7, 2007 at 7:17 am | Posted in basketball, brian, fespn | 4 Comments

i’m no basketball historian, but there seems to be a kind of mantra about the differences between the two conferences in the nba spoken by so-called professional nba writers/commentators since the beginning of the century: the west is the best; the east is the least. giving these so-called professionals some group-think credit, the western conference is the better conference in certain contexts. the west boasts the four teams with the best overall record (dallas, phoenix, san antonio and utah) as well as dominating head-to-head match-ups (detroit and cleveland are the only teams in the east with a winning record against teams from the west). so, whatever.

but this simplification of the differences between the conferences leads to a simplification in coverage. the implied message is that the west is the only conference worth covering. but the simplification continues. it’s not just the western conference as a whole, but the few teams at the top of the west that’s worth covering. so it’s all dallas, phoenix, san antonio and the lakers; in the east it’s either dwade or lebron. and everybody buys it. i guess it’s like that since we’re all so busy and we’re all about maximizing our time (that’s why people get blackberry’s, right?), if we watch sports we better be watching sports efficiently. in other words, we want to watch the best players on the best teams playing the other best players on the best teams and we don’t want to waste our time watching the eastern conference because espn tells us that they all suck (except for lebron since wade is probably done for the season). but how is espn defining the best teams and the best players? certaintly not by our criteria.

so what’s our criteria? wasn’t someone here developing a framework for picking favorite teams and/or players? nothing about winning more games or championships or scoring the most points or any other measure used by espn to determine quality were ever listed as reasons to like anything about sports on this blog. if you buy into this western conference bias then you’re missing most of the best players in the game. sure the suns are the best team to watch and iverson–the best basketball player ever–is now on the nuggets, but the east still has the washington wizards.

dusty had a get-together around christmas. in attendance were many of our friends, some i haven’t seen in months and/or years. on the tv, the suns/wizard’s game was playing where gilbert arenas scored a million points including that bank-three from like thirty feet out. and the wizards were wearing their alternate jerseys. everyone at the party except for aaron and i hated the wizards jerseys. but you all are totally wrong. those jersey’s are brilliant.  well maybe not brilliant but definitely important.  for some reason, there’s this (un)written rule in basketball that your shorts and shirts need to be the same color.  the wizards’ alternate jersey openly challenges this rule.  you could say that the wizards’ jersey is like the jackie robinson of basketball jerseys — the first nba basketball jersey to break an antiquated and illogical color rule.  but the analogy doesn’t hold up.

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