Archive for October, 2005

Updated metrics for Pac-10 games

Monday, October 31st, 2005

Well, overall it was a good weekend for this prognosticator. 3-1 with mostly accurate scores. The one surprise was Arizona, who with their new QB seem to be getting more points than in the past. Otherwise, I called everything right minus the UCLA vs. Stanford game being FAR tighter than expected. I think UCLA waits until the absolute last minute to show up, just for style points.

So here are the updated metrics:
Winning percentage: 73.0% (Up from 72.7 last week)
MVD: 14.5 (down (which is good) from 14.8 with additions of 13, 9, 7, 17)
TPD: 15.6 (down (which is good) from 16.7 with additions of 11, 3, 9, 5)

So tune in late this week for predictions for this weeks games:
-Cal at Oregon
-Stanford at USC
-ASU at WaZoo
-UCLA at Arizona
-OSU at Washington

Pac-10 picks

Friday, October 28th, 2005

OK sports fans, it’s that time of the week again. Time for the Pac-10 predictions:

WaZoo 24, USC49: The biggest question of this game is how fast are USC’s corners. If they can consistently keep up with WaZoo’s wide recievers, then I’ve given WaZoo too much credit on their score. Otherwise, USC runs over this weak defense.

Arizona 17, OSU 28: This game would be closer if Arizona actually knew that they had to field an offense. OSU has been pretty consistent on the offensive side of the board scoring between 23 and 28 points in 4 of their last 5 games (the other game being 44 points against WaZoo). Arizona hasn’t scored more than 24 except for the 2nd game of the season… against northern Arizona. Expect this one to go the way of the Beavers (OSU) especially at home.

Washington 23, ASU 38: ASU was shocked by Stanford last week. I expect them to rebound this week and lay the wood to a weak Washington team, particularly at home.

UCLA 38, Stanford 28: Stanford is riding high from their win over ASU last week. Their high will turn into a hangover this week. Stnaford has only put up the kind of numbers they did last week once before, otherwise failing to put more than 24 on the board. UCLA has only scored less than 40 once, during their hangover game against Washington. Although I expect the tougher than expected Stanford defense to make this game respectible, the reality is that UCLA has too much offensive fire power to lose to a team that won’t be able to put up 30 against any team with a reasonable defense.

Both Cal and Oregon have bye’s this week and are preparing to play each other in two weeks in a game that is turning out to be a very important game for both.

Of note this week is that the 3 0-4 teams in Pac-10 play all will STILL be looking for their first victory of the season after this weekend according to my predictions. Sucks to be them! Outside of WaZoo vs. ASU in two weeks, I don’t see any games that WaZoo, Washington or Arizona are likely to win in the next couple weeks, in fact for the rest of the season when not playing each other (with the possible exception of Arizona over ASU in 4 weeks). In fact, since WaZoo’s bye is against Arizona, there is a real chance that we’ll have two 0-8 teams in the Pac-10 this year with Washington being 2-6 only because they beat both of the 0-8 teams. Or the other scenario, which is nearly as ugly, is two 1-7 teams and one 0-8 team. Ouch again!

Tune in on Monday for updated metrics.

God in tragedy

Tuesday, October 25th, 2005

People who know me really well know that I love tragic movies. If there is a guaranteed way to turn me off to a movie is to take a tragedy and force a happy ending on the end. There are so many movies that should be tragedies but everyone in Hollywood fears that there movie won’t sell if they don’t wrap it up in a happy ending. What crap!

I’m so bad at wanting a tragedy that when I watch a movie that is indeed a tragedy, I almost can’t help but let out a victorious “YES!”

I’ve often thought about why I like a good tragedy but have had difficulty putting a fairly clear emotion into words. The following quote from this post at the Internet Monk blog touches on one of the key reasons I like a tragedy:

“Ever go to a church website these days? Or look at a promotional publication or ad for a church that wants to grow? (I am starting to get angry, on cue, at the mention of the phrase “church growth.” It encapsulates almost everything vile.) Ever look at the pictures on the banner? Young people. Everywhere. Healthy. Gorgeous. Laughing. Children. Teenagers. College kids. Soccer Moms. NASCAR dads. Healthy senior adults.

Listen to me: This is a damned lie. It’s an evil illusion. You aren’t seeing humanity when you look at such a scrapbook of lies. You are seeing a selection. Models. Ads. Manipulative images to distort for reasons that are never openly stated. We are, sometimes, in places and at times, those beautiful people. But we are the people in the cemeteries, nursing homes, hospitals, homeless shelters, clinics, bars, dirty hotels, filthy restaurants, ghettos, war zones, and a thousand other places that will never show up on your church website picture page unless its some glimpse of a teenager handing a donated t-shirt to a cute urchin on a mission trip. We are the fat people, the people on walkers, the people in dirty clothes, the ugly people, the people who are afraid. We are the good, the bad, the ugly, the lost, the distressed, the unpicturable, the invisible, the forgotten, the lovely, the immoral, and the almost dead.”

I think our true humanity is most visible in the difficult moments of our life. We find out who we really are, what we really care about, what our real priorities are. And when we glimpse this true humanity, we see the reflection of God. God made us in His likeness and I believe that the likeness is most visible when all the veniers are removed and we’re caught in our most vulnerable, most human form.

That’s why I like to see a good tragedy. I like to see the face of God.

Updated metrics for Pac-10 games

Monday, October 24th, 2005

Well, not my best week but not my worst. 3-2 isn’t bad and I called the Cal game just about right: A shootout! I also called USC vs. Washington about right and would have called Oregon vs. Arizona about right if their QB hadn’t broken his ankle mid way through the game. At least I still got the win. As for the other two, I was being too optimistic about OSU. I wanted to believe that they were good so that our stinkfest against them last week wouldn’t look so bad. Now with another game under OSU’s belt, it’s clear that Cal STUNK last week against them and should have won that game. Finally, Stanford is definitely doing everything in their power to make sure that UC Davis looks like an aberation. But before we get too hung up on how good Stanford is, let’s remember that it is late October and it is time for ASU’s annual slide into abscurity. As usual, their November is going to stink to high heavens and everyone is going to wonder what happened to the team that put a scare into both LSU and USC in September.

Here are the updated metrics (I only improved in TPD (although still rounded to the same)):
Winning percentage: 72% (3-2 this weekend)
Margin of Victory Delta (MVD) average: 14.8 (Adding 4, 1, 32, 34, 15)
Total Points Scored Delta (TPD) average: 16.7 (Adding 4, 13, 32, 20, 13)

Tune in on Friday for next weekend’s picks:
-WaZoo at USC
-UW at ASU
-OSU at UA
-UCLA at Stanford
(Oregon and Cal have byes)

Bears game wrapup

Sunday, October 23rd, 2005

Well that was one exciting game. It was by far the most exciting game of the season and I can’t think of a home game last season that was as exciting (wait, the Oregon game last year was pretty darned exciting). I mean I enjoy Cal blowing out an opponent as much as just about anyone, but that doesn’t change the fact that there is absolutely nothing as exciting as a come from behind win.

Going into this game the question on my mind was who had a worse case of 4th quarter choke-itis. We learned yesterday that it was WaZoo. And after watching that game it was clear to me why. You see, as much as coaches and media pundits will claim ignorance as to why seemingly good teams choke at the end of the game, the reason is usually pretty obvious and doesn’t have as much to do with confidence or experience as everyone says. Cal’s reason is that they can be forced to become one dimensional and the opposition can shut that down. That makes for a slow 4th quarter. Additionally, if they get behind, on average, they don’t have the QB to make a comeback.

WaZoo’s problem is a different one, but one that should be obvious to those who understand the game: The only play they have is the big play. You might have two objections to this: 1. why is that a problem and 2. not believing that is the case, particularly with a running back who got 160+ yards last night. I’ll start with #2 and work my way back to #1. I was amazed to hear that WaZoo’s RB got 160 yards last night because he was continually stuffed at the line by the bears. He really wasn’t a factor in the game. Don’t believe me? What if I told you that although his per-carry average was 6.2 yards, fully 11 of his 26 runs were 2 yards or less. He had one big 42 yard run and 4 between 10 and 15 yards that made up the vast majority of his yards. Otherwise he was completely ineffective. So, there running game is built on the big play, what about the pass? Even easier. 4 of their 5 TD’s came off of pass plays longer than 35 yards and their fieldgoal was the result of a 80 yard pass play stopped inside the 10 (followed by a goal-line stop by the Bears). Outside of those 5 pass plays, WaZoo’s QB was 13 for 34 for a whopping 139 yards. Sounds a lot different than 18 for 39 for 423 yards, doesn’t it?

OK, so they make their living on the long plays, big deal. Why is that a hinderance in the 4th quarter? If anything that makes them more deadly, right? They’re able to strike at any time, right? No, that’s not how it works. See, as the game wears on, defenses more and more figure out how to stop the big play. They see the strength of the team and focus on stopping that. Said differently, as the game wears on the less likely it is that you’re going to be able to break a big play, particularly in the air. In WaZoo’s case, they have 2 REALLY fast wide receivers. You can’t play them tight and hope to keep up. So, after getting burned a handful of times (and a few times too many for the Bears if you ask me), defenses adjust and play softer to make sure they keep behind those two guys.

So there you have it. WaZoo doesn’t have a power running game, just a deep pass game and as the game wears on the defense learns how to shut down the deep pass. The result is a lot of short drives in the 4th quarter that gives the opposing team the ball too often. Add in a defense that isn’t stellar and you’ve got a great recipe for 4th quarter collapses.

Now that I think about it, this hasn’t been a very good “Bear’s game wrap up” in the usual sense. I’ve been spending more time talking about how pathetic WaZoo is. And they are. The reality is that if Cal had understood WaZoo’s strengths better the score would have been far more lopsided as the only time Cal’s defense didn’t look like it was completely in control was when WaZoo launched the deep ball. If you play the way WaZoo plays, you’re going to put up a lot of yards and a fair amount of points just based on pure luck, but you’re not playing good fundamentals and you’ll lose a lot of games and not understand why. Final statistic to make my case: Cal had a 13 minute time of possession advantage over WaZoo. That’s a lot of extra minutes to wear down the defense and put points on the board.

So what does this all mean for the Bears? Well, the best thing I saw was that Ayoob is starting to throw with more authority and was a lot more sharp than the previous two games. I’m hoping that he’s finally turned the corner to being an acceptably OK QB, but after seeing him shine in a couple games only to follow it up with a couple goose eggs, call me pessimistic. The best thing the bears have going is that they seem to be getting their injuries under control. With the bye week coming up, one can expect a lot of stronger players in two weeks. Also, injury fortune may be shining on the Bears as Oregon’s QB, the backbone of their offense, broke his ankle yesterday and won’t be able to play until a bowl game. That means Oregon is looking far more vulnerable and that game is starting to look winnable if Cal can get healthy themselves and keep Ayoob on this improvement plan. USC will still be a miracle upset if it happens, but we’ve still got a good chance at 8-3 if we can take advantage of a reeling Oregon and make sure we come to play in the Big Game two weeks later. All things considered, that’s a season to be proud of for a pretty young team that isn’t losing a lot of talent next year.

Pac-10 picks

Friday, October 21st, 2005

Well it’s that time of the week again. Time to pick who’s going to win their games in the Pac-10:

USC 45, Washington 17: There is not much to say about this game. USC is just the better team playing at a stadium once know for it’s huge home field advantage that is no more.

ASU 35, Stanford 13: This game hinges around one thing, that Stanford can’t score to save their lives. ASU won’t be as much of a stronger team as people think, but their ability to hold on to the ball coupled with Stanford’s amazing ability to punt after 3 bad plays, will wear “the cardinal” down and ASU wins this one going away.

OSU 35, UCLA 24: UCLA is the worst #8 team in the nation in a long time (remember that Cal only made it to #9). OSU is the most under-appreciated team in the Pac-10. They’ve showed a lot of heart in Berkeley last week and have VERY strong offensive and defensive lines. I see UCLA looking past OSU and getting behind in this game only to find that Maurice Drew can’t run the ball all over the field like he has in previous weeks. OSU wins in this shocker.

Oregon 42, Arizona 20: Oregon’s offense is pretty potent this year, much more potent than people give them credit for. Arizona is stronger than most people give them credit for, but they’re not going to be able to slow Oregon down.

Cal 42, WaZoo 34: This game has shootout written all over it. These two teams can both score. The difference is that Cal scores on the ground and WaZoo scores through the air (primarily). WaZoo also employs a spread offense which has given the Bears trouble for years. The key to this game for Cal is their ability to control the line of scrimage and to win the time of possession game. Looking at how WaZoo was man-handled on the line by UCLA, OSU and Stanford, I think Cal will be able to do it. Nevertheless, this game will be tighter than it should.

Tune in Monday for the results and the updated metrics!

Why didn’t somebody do something?

Thursday, October 20th, 2005

In San Francisco yesteday a woman threw her 3 children, ages 6, 3 and 1, off a pier into the bay. What strikes me about the story is that NOBODY DID ANYTHING!?! They’ve got tons of quotes from tons of people who were all shocked and horrified having seen this happen. Besides the one guy who called 911, why weren’t there 4 stories about guys who jumped in the water or just as important, restraining the woman after she threw the first one in.

I know this pier, I’ve walked by it numerous times. It has a large railing and there is nothing about it that would make anyone think that jumping in the water is a normal thing. The water is 10-15 feet below the level of the dock, maybe as much as 20-25 from the railing to water at low tide. There is no nearby beaches and all the surrounding piers are industrial in nature. Additionally, it is a very busy place. Just as the article suggests, there are LOTS of people there on a regular basis, particularly at 5:30 PM in the evening as many people take a stroll down there after work. I suspect there were 10, maybe 20 people who were close enough to make a difference in stopping her and 50 people close enough to make a reasonable attempt at jumping in the water.

Point being, you can’t do this without raising enough eyebrows well before she could be stopped from at least throwing the third kid in. Add that to the fact that jumping the railing to go after the kids would have been my first instinct and I’m just amazed at the lack of a response. Waiting for the police is not a reasonable option when 3 naked kids who likely couldn’t swim were thrown in the 60 degree water.

Just mind boggling.

My brother is a lucky man

Wednesday, October 19th, 2005

My brother was given one of the best gifts you could give a Cal fan. No, not a trip for the team to the Rose Bowl, although that would be really nice. No, he was given a ticket stub for the UC Davis vs. Stanford game. You know, that upset from earlier this year that made Stanford the laughing stock of just about all of college football? Yeah, that game.

He’s going to get the ticket framed (as he should) so that the memory of that game will never fade from Crawford memory.

I’m jealous.

CTA: at it again

Monday, October 17th, 2005

Well, the smoke and mirrors campaigners are at it again. This time they’re calling foul on the Prop. 75 proponents. In this article the president of the CTA claims “their campaign rivals broke the law by sending an e-mail to 90,000 schoolteachers at work-site computers claiming that their union is on the verge of bankruptcy.”

At first I was unsure if what they were claiming was illegal was that their opponents lied or misled. That brought scoffs of large laughter from yours truly. Lock up every member of the CTA for aiding and abetting and put every CTA official in a maximum security prision if that’s against the law.

No, what she’s claiming is illegal is that these messages were sent to the teachers work e-mail addresses.

Uh huh…

OK, I’m as big an opponent of spam as there is but this is not spam. Unsolicited mail is not the same thing as spam. If I send a message to my brother asking him if he wants to come to see me sometime, unless he asked me to e-mail him about coming to visit, that message is unsolicited. No, spam is the sending of messages indiscriminately to as many people as possible. Specifically getting the e-mail addresses of a bunch of teachers and sending them a message about their union is not spam, it’s politics.

But that’s not really what the CTA boss is trying to get them on. There is a clause in the California Education code that says you can’t misuse equipment that belongs to the school. By sending a bunch of e-mails to the teachers at their work computers, a bunch of computers were “misused”.

What a hunk of bunk. If the e-mails had been sent from a school computer, you might be able to claim that. But the schools setup these accounts so that the teachers can receive outside messages that are relevant to their job. It’s hard to argue that this e-mail is not relevant.

What the CTA is REALLY upset about is that it is targeting its members. This is really a turf war.

Furthermore, the point about bankruptcy is more viable than one would think. Here’s the scenario: The CTA is paying $50 million to stop Prop. 75. However, they don’t have this money right now. So they’re assessing the teachers $60 each for the next 3 years. That’s where the problem comes in. If 75 passes, they could be in a situation where the majority of their union members opt out of the political campaign contributions. Since that $50 million can not come from regular dues, they could conceivably have a $50 million dollar bill they can’t pay. Add this to the fact that they already have $34 million in outstanding loans and you can see why they could (and the operative word is could) be in real trouble if Prop. 75 passes. Toss in the fact that the actual statement in the e-mail is “Our current leadership is on the verge of bankrupting the CTA to fund a political agenda that many of us do not support.” and one can see why the content of the message if far from deceptive.

Need it be any more clear why the CTA is going to do whatever it takes including morgage it’s future to defeat Prop. 75? They will lie; they will deceive; they will call foul over minor or false things; they will distract; they will demonize; they will smear; they will scream at the top of their lungs; they will do WHATEVER it takes.

Indian gambling shows its true colors

Monday, October 17th, 2005

I’ve said for a LONG time that allowing indian gambling was a bad thing for California. More importantly I’ve said for the same period of time that indian gambling has nothing to do with “Native American Self Reliance” and everything to do with greed and a desired monopoly on gambling.

Well, it’s becoming more and more clear how right I am/was. Case in point, measure G on the ballot in Yuba county (that’s north of Sacramento for those not familiar with the intricacies of California geography). Measure G would give public support for a indian casino in the county at a defined location off of highway 65. Guess who the major financial supporter of the ‘No on G’ campaign is? If you guessed the indian casino about 30 miles down highway 65 in the Sacramento area called Thunder Valley, you’d be right!

See it’s not about “self reliance for all native americans”. If it was, the Thunder Valley folks would be happy to see another casino join in the mix so that they too could be “self reliant”. No, it’s about greed and the Thunder Valley folks, now that they’ve got their cash cow rolling, are willing to protect in whatever way necessary their cash cow.

See this article for the needed references.