Archive for October, 2005

10 reasons why Sarah should come to the Cal vs. WSU game

Sunday, October 16th, 2005

1. You’ll get to see your boyfriend, Brian, in his “native” environment.
2. You’ll get a personal two-instructor course in the intricacies of college football.
3. You’ll get to meet a couple of Ken’s friends, one unmarried (er… wait, Brian… er… nevermind that unmarried part).
4. You’ll see a great marching band.
5. You’ll see why going to a football game can be REALLY exciting.
6. You’ll see all the “ceremony”/activities that go along with college football.
7. You might start to like the taste of hotdogs.
8. In a worst case scenario, you’ll get to witness “Crawford Cal-loss syndrome” (and what psychology student wouldn’t appreciate what a great opportunity that is?).
9. In such an event, Brian and I won’t have much to throw unlike TV games.
10. We’ve got an extra ticket.

Whadya say?

Updated metrics for Pac-10 games

Sunday, October 16th, 2005

Well, this is the 2nd week I’ve been off my game, although not as bad as previous weeks going 3-2. Overall I improved my margin of victory metric substantially and my total points metric a little bit while losing a little ground in the winning percentage. Here are the updated metrics:

Winning percentage: 75.0%
Margin of Victory Delta (MVD) average: 14.2 (adding 21,7,8,4,10)
Total Points Scored Delta (TPD) average: 16.7 (adding 9, 15. 8, 44 (UCLA vs. WaZoo), 4)

Tune in later this week for predictions for next weeks games:
-WaZoo at Cal
-USC at Washington
-Oregon at Arizona
-ASU at Stanford

Adding OSU to the Pac-10 mix

Sunday, October 16th, 2005

As I was analyzing the Pac-10 records, I realized that OSU is very much in the hunt, if not for the top spot, at least for one of the 2 or 3. They’ve got the one big advantage that everyone else without a backbone wishes they had: a bye vs. USC. Right now they’re 2-1 in Pac-10 play.

Once I realized that, I decided take a good hard look at the Pac-10 and make sure my assumptions weren’t completely out of whack. What I found was re-assuring (from my assumptions perspective). 3 teams are 0-3 and don’t seem to be getting any better: Arizona, Washingon and WaZoo. Now with 6 teams in the leaderboard mix with OSU added, there is only one team remaining: Stanford. Stanford is 2-1 and admitted seems to have righted and made seaworthy the ship that was holed, capsized and run up against a rocky shore in September. So why didn’t I add them to the list? Well, because the only team in the top half of the Pac-10 they’ve played is Oregon who is responsible for that ‘1’ in the L column. In the next 4 weeks they play ASU, UCLA, at USC, and at OSU. I really don’t see them winning any of those games particulary with how beat up they’ll be after USC and going on the road to OSU and ASU coming off a bye this past week.

But put this in your pipe and smoke it: Assuming Cal plays how I’d expect in the next three games (1-2) and Stanford loses at least 3 of their 4 games (which I’d go to Vegas with), the Big Game should be deciding who gets #6 in the Pac-10 between us. Now there is a reversal of fortunes!

In any case, here is the updated spreadsheet with OSU added which required adding 2 games to the matrix. I’ve highlighted in green what I think are the 4 most likely scenarios (scroll down to the bottom) and put the best scenarios for Cal at the top. Notice that the best Cal can do now is get in a 6-way tie for first place with all 6 teams having 2 losses. I don’t want to have to be the one to decide who goes to the BCS bowl in that scenario (although if it’s the same scenario as the old Rose Bowl rules it’ll be Cal (since they’ve got the longest streak of being unable to go).).

Public Service Announcement

Sunday, October 16th, 2005

Warning: Following Cal football loses be on the lookout for fans suffering from “Crawford Cal-loss syndrome”. While not dangerous of its own right, when provoked, those suffering from this disease WILL react. Suffers can be identified by looking for overweight individuals not taller than 5′ 10″ and usually shorter than 5′ 7″ wearing significant amounts of Cal clothing and sweating profusely even on fog covered days while wearing shorts and t-shirts. Suffers tend to congregate into groups. The disease is contagious so watch for others congregating with the sufferers even when they don’t match the above description.

When you happen upon a group with individuals meeting this description first watch for signs of the disease. The first sign you’ll notice will be scowling faces and an uneasy silence. Also watch for angry and accusatory statements that occasionally puncture the silence. These comments are often responded to with further statements of disbelief and claims of athletic ability not present in the group (“Any of us could have thrown that pass” being a common example.).

Once you have identified the disease, it is important to know how to respond:

-Do NOT provoke them. Although they never turn physically violent, the verbal outburst unleashed upon you WILL make you feel violated.
-Do NOT ask them the outcome of the game. This warning can not be taken too seriously. Isn’t it obvious enough? Is it obvious NOW!?!
-Watch for flying objects. This warning should not be taken too seriously as most items thrown will be of the softer variety and unlikely to do any harm. More dangerous items, when thrown, are thrown with a surprising concern for other’s safety particularly considering the rage with which they are thrown.
-Keep all valuables out of reach. While the above warning is accurate, no regard is shown towards the value of items thrown. The next item hucked might just be your new cell phone. TV remotes are particularly likely candidates.
-Do NOT try to console them. Consoling will look like provoking to those with the disease.
-Make sure you fulfill all your responsibilities. Spouses that fail to walk fast enough or navigate the crowd well enough should most heed this warning. Bus drivers, concession stand workers and other game officials need also be concerned here.

Your best course of action is to give all sufferers of these disease as much conversational space as is possible. While there is no need to give physical space (sufferers are used to walking in crowded places) you should be quiet and focus on anticipating what will be asked of you next. Questions should be answered promptly, efficiently and unambiguously. Commands or requests should be acted upon immediately with military like precision. (Although a salute is not wise (see the warning about provoking) it is the appropriate mind set to be in.)

Finally, the key to surviving an encounter is to understand that, while the disease can take anywhere from two hours to 2 seconds to onset, once it has reached it’s peak, the disease runs it’s course very quickly and consistently. Instead of trying to conquer the disease, your goal should be to survive it. Once the sufferer has exited the stadium or turned off the television/radio, it will be no more than 30 minutes before suffers can restrain themselves when provoked (in most cases). Walking significantly helps reduce this amount of time as does reaching one’s car or even the bus that will take them to their car. By the time the sufferer goes to bed, the disease will have finished running its course (although you should probably read warnings about the far less dangerous but much longer lasting “Crawford Cal-loss hangover”.).

This concludes this public service announcement.

Bears game wrap up

Sunday, October 16th, 2005

Man, these are so much easier when Cal wins…

First of all, I feel that is important to recognize an important rite of passage that occurred yesterday. Yes, my boys experienced their first heart-breaking Cal loss. It’s kind of like a circumcision: It hurts like hell but sooner or later (most likely sooner) it’s bound to happen.

After that, there are two words (besides heart-breaking) to explain yesterdays loss: Injuries and ineptitude.

Let’s start with the inepititude, shall we?:

When one person is responsible for 3 turnovers, I expect that person to do something to fix it. Going 13 for 39 ISN’T it! Simply stated, Ayoob isn’t a good quarterback. He has a lot of talent, but talent only gets you so far. What he completely lacks is the composure and the persistence that a good QB needs. In the 3rd quarter when things were looking easy, he completed a fair number of his passes. When things got dicey in the 4th quarter it looked like someone had greesed the football after giving Ayoob a mind-numbing concussion. We would have won this game with a good QB (not even a great one but just an acceptably good one). We lost it because Ayoob is mediocre at best and horrendous at his worst.

On to the injuries. Count them with me:

-3 offensive linemen
-Our best defensive lineman
-Our best running back (broken hand)
-The REAL starting QB
-A couple others I can’t think of

The reality was that we lost the line-battle on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball because of injuries. OSU was able to run the ball effectively because we couldn’t get the penetration to stop them. When they passed, we couldn’t get the pressure (consistently) to force bad throws. Offensively, OSU was collapsing our running holes better than anyone else has this season and it had very little to do with how good they were and everything to do with how bad we were. Cal just didn’t have the talent to get the job done. This was particularly painful considering that Ayoob couldn’t pass the ball and was worsened because he couldn’t get the time to throw, again because of our weak offensive line.

So that’s all she wrote folks. Cal is going to be in big trouble for the rest of the season until Lynch can get that cast off his hand and actually be able to hold on the the ball, at least one of the starting offensive linemen return plus we get Membane back on the defensive line. Right now I’m predicting a 7-4 season with wins over WaZoo and Stanford and losses to USC and Oregon, but am getting more and more worried about the Stanford game as Stanford has gotten their act in gear and is beating the lower teams in the Pac-10.

Update: The injury list was even worse than I thought:
-3 offensive linemen
-Our best defensive lineman
-Our best running back
-Linebacker Abu Ma’afala
-Our two best recievers each missed half the game
-Our 2nd Tight End

Count ‘em: 10 of 22 original starters on the bench. You just can win consistently with that.

Catholic sex education for a teenage baseball fan

Friday, October 14th, 2005

It’s pretty simple son:

1. You can’t play the game until after you’re drafted and make it through the opening day ceremonies.
2. You can’t practice by yourself.
3. You can’t watch other teams play (or practice for that matter).
4. There are no trades or free agency; you must be on the same team your whole life.
5. You can’t play the game if the umpires won’t let you score.

Pretty simple, yes?

Great quote in Oakland Tribune

Friday, October 14th, 2005

In regards to Cal’s loss to UCLA the writer says:

“Raise your hand if, down 12 points with 9:00 to go, you expected UCLA to punt on fourth-and-2 at its 42 Saturday night. Mike Nolan, please put your arm down.”

For those not in the know Mike Nolan is the coach of the 49ers. Hilarious!

Pac-10 picks

Thursday, October 13th, 2005

OK, last week I wasn’t on top of my game. I think I was too wrapped up in the Cal vs. UCLA game to spend enough time predicting the other winners. But fear not, today we get things back on track:

UW 17, Oregon 34: I’m a little worried that I’m under appreciating an improved Washington team in this game but my instincts tell me that Oregon is going to walk away with this one, particularly at home. I was impressed with Oregon at ASU and have yet to be truly impressed with UW.

USC 42, Notre Dame 31: Up until last Saturday at around 8 PM I was rooting for USC to go undefeated until they reached Cal on Nov. 12th. I wanted it to be Cal with the shot at breaking the streak and to have a shot at the national title game by upsetting #1. Well, that’s all over now. Plus, I’m a closet Notre Dame fan and becoming more so every year I’m Catholic particularly when they’re the one Catholic University who seems to care about maintaining Orthodoxy. But alas, USC is just too good and will control the ball on the ground. They win this one after a slow start.

OSU 17, Cal 35: I feel sorry for OSU. They’re about to get spanked in royal fashion two years in a row. The only reason I’m keeping the score as close as I am is because I’m compensating for my bias. Sans bias-correction the score is 56-7, kind of like last year. The only place to worry about Cal in this game is that they may have a little more trouble than usual running the ball. OK, so it’s only 220 on the ground this week instead of the usual 220. I think only the red fog would be worried about that.

UCLA 24, WaZoo 17: UCLA is riding high after last weeks debacle in which their suspect team managed to sneak away with a win despite being man-handled for 85% of the game. A suspect the high will wear off poorly creating a monster hangover and they’ll overlook WaZoo. Sadly, WaZoo is that bad and won’t be able to pull off the upset no matter how much I’d like to see it.

Stanford 17, UA 20: This is a tough one but my heart tells me that Stanford’s win on the frozen potato patch was more an indication of the weakness of WaZoo than the resurgence of Stanford. Arizona on the other hand is getting better every week as witnessed by hanging with USC last week. Sadly both of these teams have trouble scoring, so the team that gets their act together in the 4th quarter will win it and I think that is Arizona.

Well that’s all folks, as ASU has a bye. Tune in on Monday for updated metrics and a more confident Bear’s fan.

Only in baseball

Thursday, October 13th, 2005

One of the things that has surprised me in Baseball is just how casually they take certain aspects of the game. I’d ask questions of experts or hear experts talking about subjects for which there should be an exact and precise answer for (like the rules) and instead hear some meandering subjective BS. You’d never get away with that in just about any other sport but for some reason in Baseball it’s acceptable.

Case in point, last nights Angel’s vs. White Sox game. In the bottom of the 9th inning with two outs and two strikes, the batter swung at the low pitch and missed. Strike three, out three, the inning is over, right? Well maybe, kinda, sorta, depending on how the umpire feels.

Only in baseball.

The ball, you see, was low enough that it might have touched the ground (replays show that it clearly did not, but I’m trying to give the ump some credit as these things can be hard to see at full speed). The umpire then makes the pumped fist, which to everyone in the western world clearly means that the guy is out. As a result, the catcher rolls the ball back to the mound. Then, and only then, the hitter runs to first base and the home plate umpire calls him safe (because the ball supposedly hit the ground). Huh!?!

Only in baseball.

For those not up to speed on the rules, in baseball if the 3rd strike hits the ground or is dropped, the batter can attempt to run to first base. Why is this the case (he can’t do it on strike two for example)? I don’t know.

Only in baseball.

This is why you normally see the catcher tag the hitter after the 3rd strike, to illiminate that possibility. Otherwise the catcher has to throw the ball to 1st which is a much more risky play particularly considering there is a guy running in the path that you’d like to throw the ball.

One can debate the stupidy of the rule that a bounced ball allows the batter to run (and I think it is a stupid rule) and one can debate whether the catcher should have tagged the batter in this particular case but that’s not what I want to point out. What I want to point out is that only in baseball can their be no signal from the umpire that this rule is in play.

The umpire stated in is post game interview (and it’s worth noting that they rarely do post game interviews) said that his “mechanic” that looked like an out to the entire western world is his “mechanic” for a strike and that he used it consistently through the game (replays of other pitches verified his claim). The best part was that he said it as if it was some convincing argument.

Only in baseball.

Can you imagine a football referee saying that holding both his hands up may be the sign for a touchdown for most people, but for him that means it was just first down. What are you nuts!?!

After further research, it became clear to me that there are no strict rules for what the safe, strike, tipped swing, dropped ball, and out signals must look like in baseball and so, particularly when you introduce different umpires into the mix, it can sometimes be unclear which signal the umpire is making.

Only in baseball.

In fact, many of the analysts were talking about how there are some audibile statements that umps will make to indicate whether the guy is out. Audible!?! It’s a FRICKING baseball game with SCREEMING FANS. Nothing in sports can be spoken and be reliable. That’s why they use hand signals.

Only in baseball.

Pac-10 scenarios simplified

Thursday, October 13th, 2005

OK, after writing up that big post about who will win what with certain wins I realized that this was a perfect opportunity to use a spreadsheet. So last night I created a spread sheet with the 5 teams and the 4 remaining games between them. I then did all the formulas to determine the place of each team (in blue) in all of those scenarios. The one downside is that it doesn’t attempt to calculate the winner in 3 or 4 way ties or to calculate the winner in 2 way ties where there is no head to head matchup. For those it just adds a “T-” to suggest that they’re tied for the position they have.

The best part is that it has a field for losses coming into these 4 big games and it will auto-recalculate the results when that is changed (the “rose” fields). So if you’re interested in seeing what the scenarios would look like if UCLA loses a game to WaZoo or OSU, you can increase their current loses to 1 and it’ll show you the scenarios based on that.

Here’s the link. You may need to turn off or turn down the security level in Excel so that it’ll use my calculation formulas.