Posts concerning sports

NCAA Inanity">More NCAA Inanity

22:04 06 Jun 2011

The University of Southern California football team has been stripped of its 2004 season national championship, because their star running back Reggie Bush was receiving “improper benefits” while he played for them.

What this story is really about, however, is trying to ensure that the players receive as little as possible of the vast revenues accumulated by the colleges, the leagues, and the BCS cartel.

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Nadal Wins 10th Slam/6th French

15:10 05 Jun 2011

For almost an entire set today, it looked as if Rafael Nadal would have considerable difficulty in reining in Roger Federer’s resurgent play. Trailing by a break in the first set, 2–5 down, Nadal faced a break point and an opponent who had hardly put a shot wrong through seven games. On that point, Federer went for a drop shot that landed oh so barely wide, and Nadal survived that set point.

He wouldn’t face another for quite some time, as he reeled off that game and the following four to take the set 7–5.

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Federer Stops Another Streak

23:57 03 Jun 2011. Updated: 14:49 04 Jun 2011

Way back when, Federer stopped Pete Sampras’ streak of 31 straight Wimbledon wins. He stopped Rafael Nadal’s streak of 81 straight clay court wins. And today he stopped Novak Djokovic’s overall win streak at 43, in a match very few people expected him to win. The story of this French Open was supposed to be whether Nadal could fend off Djokovic in his stronghold—instead, it’s another Federer–Nadal Grand Slam final, their first since the Australian Open final in 2009.

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French Open 2011 Midpoint Notes

23:54 29 May 2011

On the men’s side, the main stories remain what they were before the tournament: Djokovic’s win streak, whether Nadal can retain his title, and (to a lesser extent), Federer’s attempt to break the consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal streak.

On the women’s side, however, many of the storylines have been disrupted—or resolved, depending on how you look at it.

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Musings on Women’s Sports

19:58 26 May 2011

Over the last week I guest-blogged at CrossFit KMSF, providing some wordiness to go with the workouts (which I didn’t create) while Kat was away. It’s not the first time I’ve done that, but this time I decided to follow a theme for my posts, which was “athletes I admire”. The list was:

That list is fine, and while it’s hardly exhaustive, definitely covers some athletes I consider important. However, when coming up with who to put on it, I realized that I had a lot of trouble with female candidates who weren’t tennis players.

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Djokovic on a Tear

23:27 16 May 2011

Novak Djokovic, currently ranked #2 in the world, long considered a distant third behind the Federer/Nadal duo, is playing astonishingly good tennis. How good?

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Nadal Channels Federer?

23:50 12 May 2011. Updated: 01:07 13 May 2011

I was watching this when Nadal hit it and was rather stunned:

Absolutely amazing shot. Nadal still lost the match, however; Djokovic is playing unbelievably good and consistent tennis, and is closing on McEnroe’s record of 42 consecutive match wins to start the year.

(I do have to wonder whether Novak brings this out in his opponents.)

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Bird’s Steal

23:45 26 Apr 2011

A key attraction that watching sports has for me is the possibility of witnessing a transcendent moment, by which I mean a moment where a player or a team does something incredible, possibly something new, possibly something entirely unexpected. I automatically think of Roger Federer when I consider this, but the realm of sports is full of examples.

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It’s a Straight Old Game, Apparently

17:49 29 Mar 2011

I hadn’t realized that soccer was still so closeted; now that I think about it, are all the major sports that same way? Does the construction of masculinity associated with our conception of athletic success make it so difficult to come out, or is it that the sports institutions are extremely traditionalistic and hidebound, or both?

I’d also like to say, and not at all in a sexual sense, fuck you, Sepp Blatter.

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I’ll Give You Outstanding

21:54 04 Feb 2011

“Dear Mickey,

We thought it would be interesting to learn from you what you consider your outstanding event at Yankee Stadium.”

“I got a blow-job under the right field Bleachers”

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Djokovic Wins Second Grand Slam Final

15:00 30 Jan 2011

Novak Djokovic won the 2011 Australian Open men’s final last night in straights, 6–4, 6–2, 6–3. That’s his second Australian Open title, coming three years after his last victory (against Tsonga, and also after defeating Federer in straights in the semis). I watched the final on replay this morning, and frankly am quite glad I didn’t stay up for it, as it fairly poor.

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No Rafa Slam, Federer Out Too

22:25 27 Jan 2011

Rafael Nadal lost to David Ferrer, playing injured against possibly the worst opponent to face when injured—Ferrer is a fantastic retriever and is in ridiculously good shape, and if possible will wear opponents down by stretching points out. That straight-sets loss meant a sad end to Nadal’s attempt to make history by becoming the first man since 1969 to hold all four titles at once. He was clearly injured but refused to quit, and his post-match interview shows that he was very respectful of Ferrer and trying not to take anything away from Ferrer’s achievement.

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Australian Open 2011 Midpoint Notes

22:13 24 Jan 2011

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to watch as much of this as I’d like. The women’s tournament was considered to be “wide open”, while the main story on the men’s side was whether Federer could stop the “Rafa Slam”.

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Good Moves or Terrible Tackling?

23:22 14 Jan 2011

First up, Marshawn Lynch’s ridiculous run that sealed the crazy Seahawks upset of the Saints last weekend—with sound effects that, frankly, make the run more realistic to me than the version without them.


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23:54 02 Dec 2010

For whatever reason, I’ve always found it highly annoying when NFL players attribute either their own successes, or their team’s wins, to the divine. It’s annoying when any athletes do this, but for some reason it seems to happen more often with NFL players, and perhaps I find it especially annoying there because, despite my strong appreciation for the game, I despise such a greedy and corporatized organization wrapping itself in patriotism and piety—and players going along with it.

The obvious objection to the claim that “God was on our side” is that this implies God was against the other side, which seems somewhat at odds with both theology and the notion that skill and ability determine the outcome of the game (rather than divine favor). This never seems to occur to the players spouting off about how Jesus helped them win—which is part of why I was so delighted to see Bills receiver Steve Johnson, after dropping what would have been the game-winning touchdown pass, make the connection and tweet the following:


—Steve Johnson. “2:12 PM Nov 28th”. Twitter, 28 Nov 2010.


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Federer Wins 2010 YEC

19:43 28 Nov 2010. Updated: 03:33 30 Dec 2010

The men’s tennis YEC is a strange beast. Unlike every other individual tennis competition, it’s not single-elimination throughout. It’s smaller, at eight competitors, than any other significant tournament. It’s definitely not as important as any of the Slams.

On the other hand, it’s more exclusive than any other official tournament: only the top eight players compete. There’s no real chance of avoiding significant opposition in the form of streaking lower-ranked players who performed above their level in the last match—you have to go through the best in the world to win.

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Jerry Rice: #1 All-Time

23:38 12 Nov 2010. Updated: 01:00 13 Nov 2010

Jerry Rice has been my favorite football player for a long time, and I’m happy to see that the NFL Network has put him in the top spot of their Top 100 all-time players.

Rice was elusive, precise, determined, resilient, and, perhaps above all else, hard-working. His work ethic and habits were legendary in a league full of extraordinary athletes, and he never seemed to ease up.

To understand just how good he was, consider not the numbers themselves, which may be meaningless to people who don’t follow the game quite closely, but rather the numbers expressed in terms of the how the second- and third-place players compare:

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Racist American Pro Sports Team Names

23:58 04 Nov 2010. Updated: 15:53 13 Oct 2013

I’m perennially surprised at the names of the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians, which are outrageous and somehow still haven’t changed.

I wondered which of the teams had the more racist name, and whether or not they were the most racist pro sports names in the US.

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San Francisco Beats Lee Again, Wins World Series Four–One

21:07 01 Nov 2010

The Giants baseball franchise technically had five World Series titles before today: 1905, 1921, 1922, 1933, and 1954. However, while the franchise retained its name and history when it moved from New York to San Francisco in 1958, the truth is that San Francisco has never had a World Series title, as it didn’t have a team before 1958, and since then the team’s history has been one of frustration, especially in 2002, when it looked like the drought was finally over against the Angels in Game Six. No titles.

Until tonight.

Tonight, Tim Lincecum pitched eight innings of one-run, three-hit ball, and the Giants once again got to Cliff Lee, hanging three runs on him off a Renteria home run in the seventh, and Brian Wilson closed out the ninth to bring this city its first ever baseball championship.

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San Francisco Four Philadelphia Two: Giants Back to World Series

23:31 24 Oct 2010

As everyone in San Francisco already knows, the Giants clinched their first World Series berth since 2002 last night, winning another squeaker over the Phillies, three–two. I couldn’t watch most of the game, but saw the last few pitches, huddled with other fans around a dodgy internet stream. The Giants of course made it “interesting”, allowing runners on first and second in the bottom of the ninth; closer Brian Wilson went to a full count against Ryan Howard with two outs before making a fantastic final pitch to end it, a slider that just clipped the bottom of the strike zone.

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Rangers Defeat Yankees Four–Two, Advance to 2010 World Series

20:22 22 Oct 2010

Ugh. Painful. It wasn’t even a close game. The Rangers broke it open in the fifth, scoring four runs, and the Yankees got a single measly run—and even that was the result of an umpiring error.

The Yankee offense, which led the majors in scoring 859 runs this season, was mostly absent in their four losses, in which they scored two, zero, three, and one. The only close game was the first one, which the Yankees won with a terrific comeback, six–five, and which suggested that maybe they’d continue as they ended that game. Nope.

A shame. If it’d been a Giants–Yankees World Series, I would have been very tempted to get tickets. I’ll be rooting for the Giants, as I have been throughout, but it’s not the same.

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Mariano Rivera’s Pitch Locations

20:37 17 Oct 2010

This will only be of interest to baseball fans: heatmaps of Rivera’s pitches. The control on display is quite phenomenal.

I’m less impressed by the comparison between Rivera and the league than by the comparison between Rivera and the other AL closers. The number of pitches thrown by the entire league over a season is almost guaranteed to result in a distribution like the one shown. To see how Rivera works the edges in comparison to Feliz, Soria, and Soriano, however, is extremely telling. Greatest closer of all time. (Oh yeah: his postseason ERA is 0.72.)

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Giants Win Error-Strewn NLDS

23:09 11 Oct 2010. Updated: 03:36 30 Dec 2010

San Francisco won the series tonight behind a strong pitching performance from Madison Bumgarner (clearly a starter for the NL’s all-name team), and the Giants advance to the NLCS for the first time since 2002. It was an extremely tense series, and while I’m glad the Giants won it, I wasn’t spectacularly impressed by the quality of the baseball. Or umpiring.

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