Precision (OR Department of Good Ideas)

July 13, 2009

I must be going through major sports withdrawal… I check the Tour de France standings each morning, I’m actually a little sad that I won’t be able to watch the British Open this weekend, and I check for some piece of interesting sports related news much too often.

Today, my search for interesting sports related news was found on as Chris Cooley (TE for the Washington Redskins) filled in for Peter King in his MMQB column. He calls it “Smart Football”:

The system begins by placing sensors in both tips of the ball and then it works with a laser or GPS system. At that point, the possibilities are endless. Technology is so advanced that determining anything that happens on the field with the ball is possible. The sensors indicate the instant the ball crosses the goal line, or any line for that matter. This eliminates officials having to slog in from the sideline, peer over 22 enormous men and try to determine from memory where the ball may have reached.

It doesn’t have to stop with the end zone, the league can sensor the first-down markers, as well.

This sounds like a really good idea to me. I’ve long mocked the contrast between the apparent precision of measuring for a first down and the inherent imprecision of the ball placement. Adding some computer aided precision could only improve matters.

Sure, there could be some issues, but it would have to be better than the human eye. Plus, we could eliminate challenges to the spot of the ball.

All in all, this sounds like a good idea to me… as long as Fox doesn’t get ahold of the frequency of the chips in the ball and superimpose a CGI tail onto the football.

Long Time (OR What are yooouuuu doing?)

July 5, 2009

Wow… it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. I’d say “too long” but something tells me it’ll be a while again before I’m back here. Maybe it’s that summer time, maybe it’s that work is crazy busy, maybe it’s the the news never changes… or maybe it’s that I’ve finally reached my limit of “political junkiness”…

It’s been about a year and half that I’ve paid pretty close attention to what’s been happening in national politics, and while the election cycle was interesting, if disturbing in its inanity. We’re now established in the governing cycle, and there’s no reason not to believe that the next year plus will be much like the last 6 months: Republican brainless obstructionism, Democratic policy conservatism, and MSM idiocy.

Anyway, I really can’t stand it any more… our economy continues to get worse, the climate continues on it’s irrevocable path toward catastrophic change, our health care “system” continues to degrade, and our political institutions aren’t equipped to take effective corrective action. Paying close attention only depresses me.

On the other hand, there was a fantastic tennis match earlier today. I fear that Andy Roddick’s performance is going to get lost in all the talk about Roger Federer breaking Pete Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slam titles. You’ll be able to find plenty of stories about Federer, so I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge Roddick.

The NBC bobbleheads mentioned in passing that Roddick played the best match of his career two days after playing the best match of his career. As great as he played against Andy Murray in the semis, he was even better today. His serve, which has always been powerful, was a phenomenal weapon today, but it wasn’t just that. He played so well behind his serve. The fact that, until the last game of the match, he was not broken by the best player on the planet is absolutely incredible.

And Federer was on his game, too. Yet, Roddick broke him twice. He was patient, and did very well picking his spots in which to attack, and made his share of shots. The only thing I think he might have done better was attack more on his forehand.

Regardless, however, Roddick is playing the best tennis of his life and once he recovers from the heartbreak of the loss today, I feel like he’ll be a threat to win the US Open. He’ll certainly still need to get past Federer and probably Nadal, but if he keeps playing the way he’s playing he’s proven today that he’s capable of it.

So, here’s to Andy Roddick, who, I think, surprised everybody today, for giving us yet another highly memorable gem of a Wimbledon final. It sucks to lose, but you played your heart out in the match of your life. Well done, Andy.

This Week In Semi-Obscure Sports

May 25, 2009

Today marked the start of the summer tennis season, my favorite under-sung sport of the last few years.  Mostly under-sung, at least on the men’s side, because we are witnessing absolute and utter world domination by two players, neither of whom are American.  Which makes it hard to know who to cheer for, you know?

Nadal set the men’s record today, winning his 29th straight match at Roland-Garros.  Not too shabby.  He’s aiming to be the first player to ever win 5 straight French Opens, which I assume would cement his reputation as the best claycourt player of all time.

Of course, he is well on his way towards nosing his way into the conversation as one of the greatest players of all time, having unseated Federer at Wimbledon last year as well, pulling off the extremely  rare clay/grass same-year twofer – the last player to do so was Bjorn Borg in 1980.  He also won his first hardcourt major in Sydney earlier this year.

At the same time, Federer actually beat Nadal, on clay, a few weeks back, a move that has to give him a little confidence and might help exorcize some remaining demons from last year’s 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 demolition at Nadal’s hands in the French Final.

I, for one, cannot wait to see these two meet up, yet again, in the finals this year, and I’m looking forward to another summer of tennis excitement!

Recreation (OR Madness, I tell you!)

March 26, 2009

This month has been somewhat of an anomoly for me. Usually, as March Madness gets rolling I find some time to watch conference tournaments and the Selection Show, after which I promptly create a Tournament Challenge group and fill out my bracket. This year? I did even see a complete bracket until about 3 hours ago, one week after the tournament started…

Needless to say, I’ve been flying a little blind as the tournament has unfolded. It has been fun, though, to just watch the games.

And, since I’m in basketball mode, I thought I’d offer some basketball thoughts to take a break from the political inanity where the opposition party can offer a “budget” without numbers.

Starting with my first look a the bracket, I was a little surprised at how much to form the tournament has gone. Only two teams (Arizona and Purdue) were not a 4 seed or higher.

The first couple games tonight would probably be called defensive battles as 3 of 4 teams really struggled to score. Only UConn got above 60 points. What’s really impressive about that, is that I’m pretty sure that the NCAA modified the rules to say that Purdue players do not, by definition, foul. UConn overcame the hack and grab style that is synonymous with Big Ten Football, to win by an impressive margin.

In the other early game, Xavier seemed position to eek out an upset until Pitt’s senior guard, Levance Fields, drilled a contested long 3. Next possession, Pitt force a turnover and the game was all but over.

And now, I’m really enjoying the fast paced, high scoring Mizzou/Memphis game. Either of these teams against UConn will make for an interesting game. In the meantime, this is one fun game to watch, especially in the aftermath of the two offensively limited, slow games earlier.

And it’s halftime, punctuated by a made 3/4 court shot by Mizzou!

Deep Thought (OR Pondering…)

January 1, 2009

Do you supposed that Pete Carroll would be the most successful coach in NFL history if he had had a month to prepare for each game?

Seriously, the first half of the Rose Bowl Game is frightenly lopsided.

In a related thought, can we begin talking about removing the Big Ten from the BCS conferences?

Sports Miscellany (OR Football Time)

January 1, 2009

Repeated commercials remind me (not that I needed it) that this weeked is Wild Card weekend in the NFL.

After last weekend, I expect the games this week to be anything but predictable. Still, I’m going to make some (underinformed) predictions. As you may have noticed from my lack of NFL related posts, I haven’t been paying huge amounts of attention to the NFL, or any other sports, these days. So I find myself not really knowing anything about a great many of the teams that made the playoffs.

Prior to last week, I hadn’t seen many of this week’s participants play. Don’t worry, in a league like the NFL, sometimes it’s better to not have enough information.

Predictions below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »

Unexpected (OR The Door)

January 1, 2009

I suppose I would be remiss if I didn’t offer some comment on the recent firing of Mike Shannahan as Broncos head coach.

Obviously, I’ve been a vocal proponent of the “Broncos suck!” perpective. Just as obviously, they don’t truly suck. This year’s, hell, this decade’s, Lions suck. The Broncos have seemed, in my time in Colorado, to be a fatally flawed above average team, whose flaws were (for a time) obscured by the gleam of two Lombardi Trophies.

It started with the local sports bobbleheads, who took to bemoaning the fact that Brian Griese wasn’t John Elway. He could never come back in the 4th to win games. Somehow, they overlooked the fact that Greise would consistently guide the Broncos to 3rd quarter leads. There was never any discussion of the defense’s failures.

And so, Griese was released and replaced by a quarterback who had demonstrated the ability to come from behind late in games: Jake Plummer. Coincidently, the team got better, but the biggest difference was the defense, having their best post-Elway season the year they were ranked 3rd in points allowed.

Then the wheels came off. Plummer quit, but Jay Cutler was drafted and the offense improved. Meanwhile, the defense fell to 30th in points allowed as Shannahan changed personnel and coaches every year.

Through it all, there was a sense among football bobbleheads that the Broncos were a better team than they were, as though defense doesn’t contribute to success even though the Elway led offense didn’t become truly successful until the defense was ranked in the top 10 in points allowed.

And so, despite Shannahan’s reputation as an offensive “mastermind” his success has generally been determined by the quality of his defense, for which he’s never shown much aptitude.

Ultimately, I was a bit surprised to see the headline when Shannahan was fired, but it was more because this year didn’t seem much different from any of a number of previous years which didn’t result in his firing.

Still, for the time being, at least, the Broncos suck.