hey wimbledon

August 30, 2007 at 11:57 pm | Posted in aaron d.w., tennis | Leave a comment

roger federer won yesterday while playing in all black.

roger federer

it’s a good look for him, but i still wish he’d play in his air-travel outfit.

rog fed

i know that i was really looking forward to another federer-nadal final, since the wimbledon final was the best sporting event i’ve watched on television besides that boise state game. but i don’t know if it’s going to happen. rafael nadal is still my favorite player and you can’t count him out, but he’s having some knee troubles. in fact, he said if it wasn’t the last tournament of the year, he would have already withdrawn. i hope a federer-nadal final does happen though. especially because i think wimbledon should take a clue from how awesome people look that are not dressed in all white. it’s the future right now and wimbledon needs to get on board.

time to get this shit started

August 28, 2007 at 10:47 pm | Posted in baseball, brian, lee | Leave a comment

this is an email baseball conversation between lee and myself about bonds breaking the homerun record.

Bonds is at 753, two away from tying Henry Aaron’s record. All along, I haven’t lost too much sleep over the whole steriod era. I hated the cheating part of it, but I figured the steroid users would get theirs in the end (look what is happening to WW(F)E wrestlers. It can’t be just a coincidence that all these wrestlers that have a history of steroid use are dying at young ages). I also noticed that teams built on power hitters never win championships (pardon my parenthesis. The Yankees had a dynasty going until they started getting power hitters over contact hitters. The Mariners of the late 90s had Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, and Jay Buhner, and could barely make the playoffs). But now that steriods is effecting the history of the game by breaking one of the most important records in sports, I have a problem with the steriod era.

here’s my thing: i think that in sports, we’re nostalgic for the past, for the golden eras of the sports we love. i don’t know when that golden era was for baseball, but i know base ball is radically different today than it was when i was a kid. anyway we idealize the past talking about when the game was better, when it was purer, when players played because they loved it rather than for money and fame or whatever. but really, there was no golden era. baseball, and every other major sport, has had a troubled past. betting on world series, not allowing african-americans to compete until the fifties, all the shit they used to use to doctor the balls, everyone using speed in the sixties, everyone using cocaine in the eighties, corked bats, pine tar, and so on and so on. so i think all the records could have asterisks by them. my problem is that the game of shadows book is bullshit. it’s all the stuff they couldn’t get into the paper because their sourcing was so poor. it couldn’t get nominated for a pulitzer or national book award or something because the judges couldn’t classify it as non-fiction because of the lack of sourcing. in other words, there is no definitive proof that bonds used steriods. there’s a lot of circumstantial evidence, but nothing that i think justifies suspending him or taking away his homeruns or whatever. i think baseball should actually get serious about testing, because i think what they’ve got going on now is a joke. but i don think it would be wrong to take away bond’s hr record without serious proof.

i agree that power-hitters don’t win championships. however, it’s the move to power that’s brought baseball’s attendance back. or so it seems. you have lowered mounts, smaller strike zones and so many batter-friendly parks. i like small ball and great defense, but that’s not the way baseball is anymore.

Sports fans do get too caught up in thinking that what they are currently seeing is inferior to what they used to see. It’s the same thing with with books, movies, and music. Everything older is better. Maybe it is that we finally realize, “Hey, that was a great movie/book/album/ballplayer,” and then the greatness of that particular thing grows as people talk about how great it was. I think they call it “legend”. Critics aren’t quite as critical about old stuff. It is kind of like ‘the grass is greener on the other side’, but more specifically, it is ‘my old lawn was a lot greener that this crap’.

I’m fine with the steriod era. It happened and baseball had to have known it was happening. I don’t hate Bonds. I like him more than I like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. I’m convinced that Bonds gets a bad rap because he can be a dick. Lance Armstrong has had what seem to me to be more valid allegations made about him, but because he is friendly, everyone believes him. But, I have a problem with Bonds breaking a record.

Even though I don’t think past eras are necessarily better, I like the history of baseball (and other sports). Statistics and records are part of the history. Hank Aaron’s 755 was probably the biggest of these records. Aaron was against any kind of cheating – including baseball’s somewhat accepted cheatings – and endured a lot when he broke the record because of his race. So, 755 was big to more than baseball. It was big for equality.

Then here’s Bonds. Sure, he hasn’t been proven guilty of steriods, but I’m more sure of his guilt than his innocence, and that taints the record for me. I’m sure I’ll get over it, but I’d rather have someone like Hank Aaron hold the record than someone with so much suspicion.

i think the uncritical and idealized looks at baseball’s past is a lot of the problem. it’s not “my old lawn was greener than this crap” but “the way i choose to remember my old lawn–which only bears the most superficial resemblance to the way my lawn actually looked–is way greener than this crap.” the other thing is it seems like everyone links bonds’ numbers to only steroids when there are a million things that go into it like the emphasis in strength training in contemporary baseball, the expansion of the league and with that a slight decrease in the overall pitching talent, the smaller strike zones, different ways baseballs are manufactured, and so on. so bonds holds the homerun record, but records are not ahistorical. there is always a context to these records and these stats. it makes comparisons, especially comparisons across different eras in baseball, more difficult, but also makes them more interesting.

i guess my problem with the entire thing is the way bonds’ record-chase has been covered. i’m amazed at how much hate many sportswriters and talking heads have for bonds.

i think it’s ricky henderson

Here’s my problem with how the homerun chase was covered by the media. For the last two years, everyone has hated him. Then, the last two weeks before he broke the record, everyone started loving him. Either they were trying to be different (which backfired, because almost everyone else did the same thing) or they companies they work for forced them to change their view because of the lack of interest in the chase, and they wanted more money.

and that’s why i think the hatred for bonds is largely a media creation.

can’t get laid ’cause everyone is dead

August 22, 2007 at 1:47 am | Posted in brian, fespn, tennis | 1 Comment

i can’t find anything online to back me up which means i may have dreamed this, but i swear this happned when i turned sportscenter on the other night:

that one sportscaster — the giant with glasses who looks normal because he’s sitting next to an alien — started talking about federer’s latest win. federer now has 50 wins and he’s only 26. to put this in perspective, glassy told me that at age 26 mozart had written 30 or so symphonies, edison had like 40 pattents, and john wayne and/or john ford had made 30 movies but none of them in color and stagecoach was still to come. and, of course, he mentioned how many wins roger’s best-friend tiger woods had at age 26.

so what was glassy saying about federer? that he’s going to die in a couple years playing the best tennis match in the history of the world? that he’s going to start patening his backhand slice? that he’ll become a nostalgic pop icon so loaded with possible meanings that no one will know what you’re talking about when you name-check federer?

here’s the funny part, roger federer is the fifth youngest tennis layer to record 50 wins. bjorn borg did it when he was 23. so who do you compare him to?

hawk-eye vs. the board of education

August 20, 2007 at 8:28 am | Posted in aaron d.w., tennis | Leave a comment

the men’s tournament in cincinnati and the women’s tournament in toronto both ended today. roger federer beat american james blake 6-1, 6-4 without very much trouble while justine henin beat jelena jankovic 7-6(3), 7-5 in what was probably in the top 10 matches of tennis that i’ve personally watched. henin was down 4-1 in the first set before coming back and winning in a tiebreak. in the second set, jankovic was down 15-40 in two of her services before winning 5 straight points for a win. they were tied at 5-5 when they had the best game of the day. that game saw 9 deuces before henin finally won.

so with cincinnati and toronto done, men’s and women’s tennis are ready to begin the US Open. the US open was the first open event to adopt the use of hawk-eye to decide questionable line calls. this will be the third year that the hawk-eye system is present at the US open.

when a call is challenged by one of the players, the hawk-eye system provides an animation which shows where the ball supposedly landed. there has been some controversy over the last year. in Dubai, there was a call that was challenged and ruled in, but the ball mark was clearly out. then in the Wimbledon final, Nadal challenged a call and it was ruled in. the television replay showed that it was out by at least 2 cm.

dsc01999.jpgme, brian and gavin were talking about hawk-eye (called spot shot on espn) and how we don’t understand how it works or how accurate it is. with all of the controversy we were confused as to why there were never any presentations done during breaks in matches to explain how the hawk-eye system works and what the margin of error is.

the hawk-eye system was invented by a dr. paul hawkins. he later founded hawk-eye innovations which is a company with 38 employees centered in the UK. dr. paul hawkins was a cricket player as a youth and he originally hawkeye1.jpgdesigned it to help television audiences see whether a ball that hit a batter would have hit the wicket or not. in tennis matches where hawk-eye is used, there are 10 cameras that take readings every frame on the positions of the ball and the lines. the composition of the data on position collected by the 10 cameras is used to determine the 3 dimensional position of the ball in each frame. then all the different positions are put together to give a continuous trajectory of the ball. the trajectory of the ball is then used to complete the picture of where the ball touched the ground.

sounds pretty good. so why the controversy? on the hawk-eye website, they give explanations for both Dubai and Wimbledon. they provide some good arguments, but they gloss over the controversy and dismiss any counter-arguments as absurd. also, on their website they claim that the hawk-eye was 100% accurate with an average error of 3.6mm in the ITF testing which took place over the course of one day back in 2006. statistics that good make anybody a little bit suspicious.

rfederer.jpgthe most famous critic of the hawk-eye system is roger federer. “It’s a weird thing I still don’t trust 100 percent, I probably never will.” he says that he would rather just have the line judges. “I think they do an excellent job – I wouldn’t want to be sitting on that line. I just get disappointed when they miss shocking (calls). But that can happen too.” so why does federer use challenges if he doesn’t trust hawk-eye? “why not challenge? I would kill myself if it was in and I had not challenged.” also, after the Roger’s Cup, he admitted that one of the times he challenged not because he thought the line judges made a mistake but because he thought the maybe hawk-eye would make a mistake in his favor.

rnadal.jpgit turns out rafael nadal isn’t such a big fan either. “The shit machine is not working never. Always using the machine, it’s having lots of mistakes, so ATP has to check that.”

i think the hawk-eye system is pretty cool overall. but i see the problems with it and i think hawk-eye should just own up to the fact that it’s very accurate but not 100% accurate. and maybe until it gets better (with high speed cameras?), i’ll side with rafael and roger that it doesn’t do all the wonderful things that everyone says.

Fantasy Sports for the Non-Sports-Enthusiast

August 7, 2007 at 2:57 pm | Posted in football (soccer), whitney | 3 Comments

My interest in real life sports was only developed fairly recently (directly coresponding to the creation of this blog probably), but my interest in fantasy sports has been around for a while. This season marks my first attempt to actually play fantasy soccer (football, futbol, the game of kings).

The most appealing part of playing fantasy sports to me is naming my team, because who doesn’t like to name things? I’ve got pets: Boris the Russian Dwarf Hampster, Fanny the Fish, and Jamocha Ali the Pug (hypothetical). Then there is the naming of future children: Little William Oliver and Cedar Lee Borup. And, of course, all of my inanimate possessions: Susan the Plant, Carl the Bear, and Billie Joe the Guitar (settle down, I was 14). I’m not especially happy with my fantasy soccer name (were I to start over, I would call them the Jamocha Alis), but at least minutes of joy/anxiety were put into deciding if Peaches was better than the Freedom Fighters (Freedom Fighters has probably been done a billion times…).

Then you get to design your own uniforms. While this is far less exciting than you might think, owing to the limitations on design (petition for uploading pictures of your own designs?), I think I ended up with a pretty good color scheme. At least everyone agrees that they’re way hip except this guy whose similarities in uniform choice might spark a feeling of jealous competition.

Picking your players is obviously the most challenging aspect of fantasy sports for the non-sports-enthusiast. I went through a variety of ways of picking and organizing my team. First, I went with names of people I’ve heard ranted and raved about on here and who I’ve actually seen play. This is how Drogba became my star forward. Next I went with names. Like, Tugay’s name was too good not to be on a team called Peaches sporting lavender outfits. Or Clichy is the name of my favorite metro stop in Paris (cocaine!). From there I went with hair. Most of the players on my team have really good hair:
Woodgate's Luscious Locks
When hair is becoming scarce, I go for foreign names and handsomeness:
(Gilberto has it all)

We’ll see how the team does come August 11th. To keep morale high, my current motto is “never say die” or, also: “never trade a team member.” I feel like this is a sign of a decent manager. Also, trading around and keeping track of fantasy rules seems boring. The best part is over, now I get to sit back and let my passive-competitive nature kick in.

more home runs, less violent crime

August 6, 2007 at 10:36 am | Posted in aaron d.w., baseball | 1 Comment

barry_bonds.jpgprobably everyone in america has heard by now that barry bonds hit home run #755 yesterday or the day before or something. barry bonds is one of the greatest baseball players of his era. he won the mvp 7 times, received the gold glove 8 times, received the silver slugger 12 times, and made 14 all-star appearances. on top of that, he’s one of only four players to have 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in a season, called a 40-40. he’s the only player in the career 400-400 club (and 500-500).

he was drafted by the pirates and debuted with them in 1986. he signed with the san francisco giants in 1993 and helped them with 103 games that year. but he’s done so much more than hit home runs for the city of san francisco. he’s reduced violent crime. in 1994 there were 10,937 violent crimes in san francisco and in 1998 there were only 7,409.  even more impressive is the fact that he’s reduced violent crime throughout the state of california. according to the bureau of justice, the number of violent crimes in california increased from 248,370 in 1986 to 345,624 in 1992. in 1993 the number decreased to 336,381 and it has been decreasing steadily ever year until 2005 when there were only 190,178 violent crimes in california.

how does he do it? he’s a super-hero. at night. and during the offseason. that’s why when they play night games he can’t play the next day. it’s just too much wear and tear. barry bonds stops violent crime. his super-power is obviously defense and home-run hitting. that’s how he catches would-be criminals. he uses his gold glove defense to find them and then uses his silver slugger ability to hit a home run right at their stomach. they’re left debilitated and weak until the cops find them later that night or the next morning.

no wonder he’s never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. because he never used them. he has a super-power — a supernatural gift to hit home runs. this country has a gold glove to help defend against violent crime. and they choose to accuse him of cheating. the more time he spends at hearings, the less crime he can silver slug. so give him a break and let him do what he does best. save lives by hitting home-runs.

malaria: that’s ok, you go through things like that

August 3, 2007 at 11:39 pm | Posted in brian, football (american) | 1 Comment

this is what i heard about chris simms the other day: he’s having proprioception problems since his surgery to remove a rupture spleen.

side-note: what do you think of the phrase “ruptured spleen?” it’s pretty poetic, right? it sounds similar to an appendix bursting, but maybe a little more violent like a volcano. and it also hints at the mystery of the spleen. supposedly we don’t need it (although dr. dino says we need everything god equipped us with including the things some evolutionary biologists claim are irrelevant hold-overs from earlier periods in our evolutionary history like wisdom teeth and appendices), so a ruptured spleen may be a manifestation of a micro-organism conspiracy.

back to chris simms. for all of our readers not in a fantasy football league, simms was the bucaneers qb last year until his spleen ruptured. he’s kind of a pretty boy — his blond straight hair and his dow-eyed expressions — the kind of guy all the girls i knew in sixth grade thought of as a dreamboat. he’s also the son of phil simms who also played qb and won a superbowl that i watched in my grandma’s living room. the score at halftime was 10 to 9. i didn’t see the halftime show because that’s when we had sunday dinner, but i didn’t care since i was 9 and coudln’t give a fuck about halftime shows. this may have been a conversation i had the next day:

bill murdock: did you see that halftime show?

me: i don’t give a fuck about halftime shows!

side-note: one time i kicked bill murdock in the stomach a couple weeks after he had his appendix removed. we were playing football and i was pissed off cause he kept tackling me even though it was touch football so when he came to tackle me again i kicked him in the stomach and then scored a touchdown. bill was ok, but it was honestly one of the meanest things i ever did in my life.

so chris simms’s spleen is fine. or rather he had his spleen removed and supposedly you don’t really need one (although, to be fair to dr. dino, people who have their spleens removed generally end up with slightly-weaker immune systems). simms’s current problem is with his proprioception; chirs simms no longer knows where his arm is unless he’s looking at it. according to my limited research, simms started having this problem after he lost a bunch of weight while recovering from his spleen-removal surgery. sure it’s sad, but at least simms, unlike most of us, gets to personally understand what proprioception is and isn’t. plus he’s still rich.

write it on a postcard

August 1, 2007 at 12:52 am | Posted in brian, football (soccer) | 3 Comments

i once wrote a blog about hating the boring cheers at rsl soccer games, but i’ll tell you what rsl game feature i hate more: leo the lion. to be clear, i don’t hate the person behind the mascot, i just hate the persona. i mean, i already paid money to come watch a soccer game (except saturday i actually had free tickets thanks to kristen) so i don’t see why this guy has to run around in a lion suit accusing me of not cheering loud enough.

here you can find info about leo the lion who’s actual name is leonardo the lion. this name beat out names like richard s. lionheart (which i kind of like), great heart, lumumba, ole and kingsley (which, according to the montana state alumni association is actually my middle name; they even sent me address labels with my correct address and my new middle name). leo was born at arches national park and, since his name is leonardo, he’s a painter (but i couldn’t find any of his artwork online).

but here’s what the bio doesn’t tell you: leonarndo the lion is probably racist. during the halftime events (which haven’t evolved at all since last year), leo openly sabotaged the only hispanic kid competing. clif, who was sitting next to me, can confirm that leo made it impossible for the only non-white kid competing to win a giant bucket of kfc chicken.

and one time leo tried to fight my brother. last year we were at an rsl game and ended up sitting in the front row (since you can pretty much sit wherever you want at rsl games). in the second half, leo walked along the sideline in front of us trying to get us to cheer loud enough for a free t-shirt brought to us by zion’s bank. aaron yelled to leo, “you’re a disgrace to the lion family.” leo heard aaron and pointed at aaron while showing his teeth. aaron pointed right back while showing his teeth. the two of them exchanged finger points and teeth showing for at least an entire minute. it was a tense situation, but there was no real threat of violence. it was one of those status show downs which determine place within the pride where both parties understand that a real physical encounter would only leave both weak and vulnerable to the rest of the lions in the pride. we’ve all seen them on nature shows, but to see one out in the wild is truly remarkable.

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