Categories
humor Sports

The Electric Dock Ellis Acid Test

A.J. Daulerio of Deadspin tried to recreate Dock Ellis’ famous no-hitter, albeit on a video game, but the LSD was real.

“Can we get some pizza now?”

But in order to get that type of nourishment one must go

Outside!!

I had been instructed not to go outside by people who were more accustomed to these types of activities than I was. The cozy confines of the apartment were the only place for a 37-year-old first-timer like me, they said. It only took a few brisk steps to realize what they had been talking about. The normally straight sidewalk on Court Street between Union and Sackett started to tilt to the left in a comical, funhouse way. The storefront signs were more vivid than usual; the swooping cursive letters on Italian bakeries were now a menacing Satan font. Couples pushing strollers passed by me and I looked the other way because I was ashamed and too paranoid that they’d see my eyes bouncing or that I’d stare too long at their kicking babies and they’d call the cops.

By the time we arrived at the pizza parlor things were threatening to go haywire. That ricotta pie was clearly agitated by my presence. Toder relayed my order for me and handled the money transaction with the counterperson, because I could not possibly participate in such activities with the dickhead pizza being all mouthy and with the fearsome heat of that big oven so close by. Toder handed me my large cup of Dr Pepper and we were soon outside again on the crooked sidewalk, headed back to the ballpark inside my TV to accomplish greatness. The Dr Pepper was so good. So, so good. Why this was not the beverage of choice for all when life goes awry was unfathomable. Hey, look, the sidewalk is back to normal. Everything’s coming up me. I needed to hug something.

(click here to continue reading The Electric Dock Ellis Acid Test: An Attempt To Recreate His Drug-Addled No-Hitter, On Xbox.)

Amusing, though A.J. Daulerio doesn’t actually succeed in throwing a no-hitter, but you should read his explanation of the experience.

Actual footage of Dock Ellis on LSD don’t seem to be available, but this YouTube creation by James Blagden and No Mas is pretty good. Excellent, in fact.

In celebration of the greatest athletic achievement by a man on a psychedelic journey, No Mas and artist James Blagden proudly present the animated tale of Dock Ellis’ legendary LSD no-hitter. In the past few years we’ve heard all too much about performance enhancing drugs from greenies to tetrahydrogestrinone, and not enough about performance inhibiting drugs. If our evaluation of the records of athletes like Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Marion Jones, and Barry Bonds needs to be revised downwards with an asterisk, we submit that that Dock Ellis record deserves a giant exclamation point. Of the 263 no-hitters ever thrown in the Big Leagues, we can only guess how many were aided by steroids, but we can say without question that only one was ever thrown on acid.

Sadly, the great Dock Ellis died last December at 63. A year before, radio producers Donnell Alexander and Neille Ilel, had recorded an interview with Ellis in which the former Pirate right hander gave a moment by moment account of June 12, 1970, the day he no-hit the San Diego Padres. Alexander and Ilels original four minute piece appeared March 29, 2008 on NPRs Weekend America. When we stumbled across that piece this past June, Blagden and Isenberg were inspired to create a short animated film around the original audio.

Categories
Sports

NBA Trade Rumors

Dunking on the Sears Tower
Dunking on the Sears Tower

Sam Smith, the Chicago Bulls beat writer  1 answers a question I’ve long wondered about: namely, who comes up the wacky trade rumors, most of which have no basis in reality? Who benefits?

I always wondered how trade “rumors” begin. Are 99% of what we hear really started at the water cooler or some bored journalist? Do pro-ball teams have a representative that reports to the media every time they are considering a deal? How can all these “reports” out there even get out in the first place? For example, “Lakers are said to offer Lamar Odom to the Timberwolves for the No. 2 pick.” – How would this info get out? Do GM’s have a private line or access to every other GM in the league or a yellow pages of sort where just they have access, call them up and talk shop? Are their phones tapped? Someone under the desk listening with a notepad? Are any offers emailed through today to other GM’s? I’ve been caught up in draft day, free agency periods the last 30 years and I am finally just too damn curious how this entire process works. If anyone can explain this the right way to us all, it’s got to be you.

Josh Ryan

Sam: You have come to the right place. I even had an owner ask me this a few days ago when one of his players was mentioned in a deal and he said no one on his staff discussed it with anyone. There are some that start badly as you say, with a couple of guys talking and “what if” becomes “I hear.” That’s tremendously irresponsible, but there are some major web sites these days which basically have a policy never to admit a mistake and just publish denials, as if that covers them. Plus, it has become a bit of a game to report something with the idea that this is just entertainment reporting and for discussion so what’s the harm? There are two ways most rumors begin and one problem is the pressure many media people are under for these internet scoops with the constant refresh button issue. Often a team will call another and propose something, like Odom for Love and No. 2. The other team laughs and says how about Kobe and Pau for Darko. And that’s that. But then some scout who heard it in their office tells someone “can you believe the Lakers asked for this?” And technically it is true that is was “discussed.”

For some media people to get “hits” in this era that’s enough as it is true that it was “talked about.”

The evil underside is agents. That’s where much of the ugly stuff comes from. What some of these guys do is leak stuff to reporters in an attempt to embarrass a competitor. So then they pursue their client and tell him that if he changes agents things will be better. Though, after all, it is just discussion. And by now, really, most players and fans have come to understand often it just good talk and talk radio type discussion. The truth also is teams routinely ask other teams about basically everyone on their roster to try to determine the worth of their own players. I have no doubt, for example, the Bulls have mentioned to other teams everyone but Rose to get an idea what the player’s value might be. That goes on all year, and what the reporting really shows is how few of these talks ever really get out as opposed to you thinking so many do.

(click here to continue reading Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 06.24.11 | Bulls.)

 

Footnotes:
  1. and former Chicago Tribune star []
Categories
Food and Drink health Sports

Novak Djokovic and His Gluten-Free Diet

Pot O Rice

Interesting, yet not definitive since this is not a controlled experiment. Would Novak Djokovic suddenly start losing if he had a cold, refreshing beer?

How did Novak Djokovic conquer the tennis world?

Maybe the answer is as simple as this: Since last year, he’s swearing off pasta, pizza, beer, French bread, Corn Flakes, pretzels, empanadas, Mallomars and Twizzlers—anything with gluten.

It’s no secret that Djokovic has had a breakout season, or that he has been, by any reasonable standard, the world’s best athlete of 2011. On Sunday, he beat Rafael Nadal in the Rome Masters, his fourth-straight win over the Spaniard. It was his second win over Nadal on clay in two weeks, and again, amazingly, he did it without losing a set. The match ran Djokovic’s 2011 record to 37-0 with seven titles.

As the French Open begins Sunday, Djokovic’s amazing streak—the longest to start a season since 1984—is threatening to push Roger Federer (the winner of a record 16 Grand Slam titles) and Nadal (the French Open’s five-time champion) off the front pages. But the transformation from odd man out to invincible overlord also is leaving gobsmacked tennis fans searching for answers. Clearly something has clicked for the Serb. But what?

Djokovic’s serve, sloppy as recently as last season, is now precise, fluid and, at times, devastating. His forehand used to break down in tense moments; now he hits winners that seem to subscribe to undiscovered laws of physics. His backhand, always solid, is now impenetrable, even with Nadal’s famously high-bouncing forehand. And then there’s the gluten.

Last year, Djokovic’s nutritionist discovered that Djokovic is allergic to the protein, which is found in common flours. Djokovic banished it from his diet and lost a few pounds. He says he now feels much better on court.

(click here to continue reading Novak Djokovic’s Gluten-Free Ascendancy – WSJ.com.)

Schlitz

Categories
Sports

Luol Deng of the Dinka Tribe

Hoops facade

Steve Aschburner reports on why Luol Deng is in all probability the most interesting NBA player still playing in this years playoffs. Joakim Noah has an interesting backstory too, but not as deep a tale as Luol Deng’s:

A member of the Dinka tribe, Deng was born in the Republic of Sudan as one of nine children. He remains devoted to his homeland through his Luol Deng Foundation, which focuses on charitable work in Chicago, in London and back home. He is especially active in the Lost Boys of Sudan efforts to help.

• His father, Aldo, served in the Sudanese parliament and was the country’s Minister of Transportation before sending his family to Cairo, Egypt, to avoid Sudan’s civil war.

• While in Egypt, Deng received basketball instruction from former NBA center Manute Bol, another Dinka tribesman.

• When Deng was 8 years old, his father was granted political asylum in England. That explains his participation in international competition with the Great Britain national team, with an eye on the London Games in 2012.

• He came to New Jersey at age 14, sent with his older sister Arek. They enrolled at Blair Academy, a prep school in Blairstown, which promptly became a serious basketball threat. Arek went on to play at Delaware, their brother Ajou played at Fairfield and Connecticut and Deng spent the 2003-04 season at Duke.

He averaged 15.1 points and 6.1 rebounds for the Blue Devils and became the seventh pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. (Phoenix traded his rights to Chicago for Jackson Vroman and a 2005 first-round pick that became Nate Robinson.)

In January, Deng was cheered by fellow relocated Sudanese at a makeshift polling station on the city’s North Side when he voted on a historic independence referendum for that country. At one point, he draped the Southern Sudan flag around him. The effort was successful and in July, the southern state will officially secede and Deng’s proud father Aldo will be there.

“It’s OK for people to take basketball seriously,” Deng told a New Jersey reporter after practice Monday. “It’s not something to resent or lecture them about, ‘Oh, you take all this for granted.’ … But I know how good I have it. Sometimes people struggle, even here in Chicago, and it’s no more than bad luck.” •

Oh yeah, we almost forgot: Deng is President Obama’s favorite NBA player.

(click here to continue reading Chicago’s Deng in position to add to already-lengthy resume | NBA.com.)

Categories
Sports

Tom Thibodeau as New NBA Zen Master

John

Sam Smith, perhaps the sports writer closest to Phil Jackson, the soon-to-be-retiring Zen Master for the Los Angeles Lakers, dubbs Thibs, the first year Chicago Bulls coach, as the new Zen Master. Intriguing, and even plausible.

There always has been a Zen Master in the NBA. Red Auerbach was perhaps the first, which may be why he and Phil Jackson were so at odds, because they really were so alike. Red was a teacher, as all the great coaches truly are, and one whose mantra of sacrifice and teamwork transcended the individual. Phil Jackson most popularized this Zen appellation, but it perhaps is best represented now by Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who Sunday accepted the award for the 2010-11 NBA Coach of the Year, the Red Auerbach trophy.

Tom Thibodeau really is the NBA’s Zen Master.

I was awakened to this notion in discussions with a friend of mine, Erv Ruhl, a retired psychology professor from Fresno State. Erv had been struck by a comment Kyle Korver made after the Bulls clinched the Pacers series. Someone asked about the Bulls looking ahead and Korver interrupted with a quip about whether the questioner knew the Bulls coach, a guy named Tom Thibodeau, whom we know chants the “one game at a time” mantra. But more than that, as Erv pointed out, Thibodeau has raised basketball teaching to an existential level. Bulls players now universally see the season and the playoffs only as far as the next practice, the next play, the next game.

It’s all they talk about, less rhetoric than lifestyle.

It’s something of the ultimate for a coach and teacher. Players routinely offer doltish clichés about one at a time. The Bulls believe it and live it like few teams I’ve ever been around because of Thibodeau.

Thibodeau doesn’t say it that way. But Bulls players have embraced the journey. They know now instinctively a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step, that the jug fills only drop by drop.

Yes, classic Eastern philosophy.

And then there’s Thibs’:

“When you get a team that truly commits and everyone puts everything they have into it every day you don’t have to worry about anything else,” Thibodeau said at his press conference at the Berto Center Sunday. “You’ve done all that you can do. And that’s how I measure success. We know if we are doing the right thing every day, good will come.”

It’s one thing to promulgate those views, but then another to issue the imperative that resonates with the group. It’s the ultimate hope of the teacher. It is the Thibodeau liturgy repeated. Not championships or awards or matchups but doing your job hour by hour, day by day and being satisfied knowing you are prepared and taught the correct way that you will achieve what you are due to achieve.

The teacher opens the door, but you enter by yourself.

(click here to continue reading Thibs is Coach of Year and Zen Master | Blogs.Bulls.com.)

I will say that this year’s Bulls have been the most fun Bulls team to watch in a long, long time. Besides the rapid, explosive growth of Derrick Rose into super-stardom, there isn’t anyone else on the team who is a stellar, transcendent talent, and yet they won the most games of anyone in the league this year. Will they win a championship? I’d like to say yes, because I want them to succeed, but I’d be surprised if they did. But that’s looking too far ahead. Better just to watch each game and then go from there. You know, Thibs-like.

The Tribune Bulls beat writer, K.C. Johnson, adds about the Coach of the Year award:

The ritual became a game among the Bulls, no matter the player, no matter the hour.

Enter the Berto Center for a workout and glance up at the office window on the far north side of the building to see if Tom Thibodeau’s light was on.

“I don’t know if he gets here at 5 or 6 a.m.,” Luol Deng said. “But he’s here early. And he’s the last to leave.”

Joakim Noah put it more colorfully earlier this season.

“It’s kind of annoying,” he said playfully. “He lives at the gym. You can’t get away from him.”

Thibodeau’s tireless work ethic has led to success.

Capping his history-making rookie season, Thibodeau ran away with NBA Coach of the Year honors on Sunday, earning 76 first-place votes and landing on 113 of 119 ballots to post 475 points, far surpassing former Bulls and current 76ers coach Doug Collins. The Spurs’ Gregg Popovich and Nuggets’ George Karl rounded out the top four.

Thibodeau, who tied Paul Westphal’s NBA record for most victories by a first-year coach at 62-20, joins Phil Jackson, Dick Motta and Johnny “Red” Kerr as franchise winners of Coach of the Year. He’s also the seventh first-year coach in NBA history to win the award, joining a list that includes Kerr and Thibodeau’s former boss in Boston, Doc Rivers, who texted him congratulations.

(click here to continue reading Chicago Bulls: Tom Thibodeau NBA’s Coach of the Year – chicagotribune.com.)

Categories
Sports

Frank McCourt and the Demise of the Dodgers

Baseball and Beer

Buzz Bissinger is not going to be invited to Frank McCourt’s Christmas party this year.

There is simply no way to say with any degree of artfulness so I won’t even try: Los Angeles Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt is a vile piece of shit who not only ruined what was once the classiest franchise in all of sports but should also face legal consequences if allegations are true that he did reportedly not pay any taxes on $105 million he siphoned from the Dodgers’ for his own personal use. Co-owners Frank and Jamie McCourt have recently divorced, causing the team to suffer.

Ruthless. Litigious. Nasty. Dishonest. That’s just a small smattering of the descriptions that the media have applied to McCourt, prima facie proof that all professional sports teams, like the Green Bay Packers, should be community-owned so fans don’t have to witness the destruction of an institution they love.

Some are saying they are shocked by Wednesday’s news of Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig appointing a trustee to take over operations of the Dodgers. Given McCourt’s track record, I have no idea why. Perhaps the most vigorous defense in his favor comes from Tommy Lasorda, a profane clown when he managed the Dodgers and even more of a profane clown on the talk circuit. Lasorda says McCourt really loves the Dodgers, which is like saying that Hannibal Lecter really loved his victims before he ate their livers.

(click here to continue reading Frank McCourt and the Demise of the Dodgers – The Daily Beast.)

I strongly support the idea of more teams owned by the community, like the Green Bay Packers. The owners cry poverty whenever a new stadium is required, but when they want to move franchises to another city a few years later, nobody seems to be able to stop them.

And, for the record, I wouldn’t want to be invited to Frank McCourt’s Christmas party either, he seems like a real jerk, especially if you read Buzz Bissinger’s whole rant.

Categories
Sports

Chicago Bulls 2011 Expectations

Hoops from Yesteryear

I agree with Matt McHale’s assessment of the 2011 Chicago Bulls. I’ve watched more Bulls games this year for whatever reason, not every single game, but some or all of 60 or more out of the 82 regular season games, and there weren’t many victories that the Bulls destroyed their opponents. They out-worked, out-hustled, out-coached, and then let Derrick Rose win the game for them. The 2011 Bulls are an enjoyable team to root for because they aren’t the most star-studded roster – not the most talented, but willing to expend effort to compensate for their lack of South Beach-esque talent and hype.

No, what they did was not “storming” so much as it was grinding out win after gritty win. As the season wore on and other teams struggled with injuries, boredom, or a general pulling back of the throttle to reserve energy (both mental and physical) for the playoffs, the Bulls came out with the same level of focus and desire to win every game every night.

The Bulls were the league’s best regular season team not because they are the most talented group of players but because they wanted it more. Because their focus and intensity was more consistent than any other team in the Association.

And so now there’s been a major shift in perception. Remember: The Bulls were not expected to lead the East in regular season wins. Many people figured they would finish behind the Celtics, Heat and Magic at a bare minimum. Maybe the Hawks, too. And, as I’ve mentioned, there were people who genuinely believed that the Milwaukee Bucks might win the Central Division.

With great power comes great responsibility, right? Well, with 62 wins comes increased expectations. When the Bulls were grinding out win after regular season win, they were exceeding the expectations that had been set for them prior to the season. But now, because they were the league’s best team for 82 games, there are new expectations. Namely, that they should be steamrolling their opponents, especially lesser teams like the Pacers.

Look, I’m not trying to demean the players on this team, because they’re great guys. That said, the Bulls’ success this season has caused many people to overrate the team’s talent. I think this has happened for two reasons. First, because the Bulls have been so successful, people need to reframe the situation to better understand it. “Oh,” they decide, “these guys must be a lot better than I gave them credit for.”

Second, in the rush to argue against Rose’s MVP candidacy, it became a popular notion to suggest that his teammates were actually better (or even much better) than previously assumed. “Hey,” they pointed out, “check out those plus-minus numbers. The Bulls aren’t just Rose. They have a lot of really good players.”

I’m not sure that’s actually the case, though. If the Bulls truly had a lot of really good players, they wouldn’t have to start Bogans. No, what Chicago has are a lot of solid NBA contributors who bought into a concept (defense and teamwork) and played their butts off for six months.

I mean, let’s face facts. Carlos Boozer was a major free agent last summer, but he was definitely on the second tier of the most sought-after acquisitions. Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer might have been on the fourth tier. As far as I could tell, there were no bidding wars or trade battles for the services of C.J. Watson. Kurt Thomas is ancient. And everyone realizes that Omer Asik is a rookie with almost no offensive game to speak of and even less upper body strength, right?

Oh, for the record, I’m not saying any of this to boost Rose’s MVP resume. I just think that it’s worth reevaluating the updated perception of the Bulls. The 62-20 record looks overpowering, but this was not an overpowering team. The Bulls might be number one in terms of wins and losses, but in terms of pure talent, they might not be in the top five. They are very well coached, they play exceptionally hard and they believe in each other. Oh, and they have Rose to clean up any messes.

(click here to continue reading Game 2 Recap: Bulls 96, Pacers 90 » By The Horns.)

 

Categories
Music Sports

Black Eyed Peas Are Horrible

The Super Bowl’s half time show is always lame, but of all the spectacles I’ve seen1 the Black Eyed Peas was by far the worst. They weren’t even good lip syncers, much less musicians, or anything resembling entertainment. My focus group were laughing hysterically at the Black Eyed Peas antics, and not with them, at them. So bland, so mediocre.

And there was not even a chance at a wardrobe malfunction since Fergie seemed to be wearing some sort of breastplate to protect her nipples from destroying the nation.

Fergie Breast Plate Black Eyed Peas Super Bowl 45.jpg

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The Black Eyed Peas began life a decade and a half ago as a socially conscious, dance-friendly underground hip-hop group and are now the ambassadors for hip-hop to the rest of the world. Their fundamental tenets remain — good cheer, movement, gauche taste — even as they churn out supersize, occasionless songs, at breakneck tempos, designed for maximum impact.

Theirs is music that works harder than the performers, which was a liability during the early part of the set, especially on “Boom Boom Pow,” one of the most limber pop songs in recent years, which the group delivered largely standing still, letting phalanxes of dancers around them do most of the work.

Those clusters of bodies were key. Unlike in previous years, in which fans were allowed on the field to suffocate the stage, this year, there were hundreds of dancers in illuminated unitards helping round out the Black Eyed Peas’ space show. They formed arrows to direct the eye to the stage, and during “Where Is the Love?” formed hearts, lit up red and scattered across the field.

After two songs, Slash was inserted into the setup for a jolt of arena rock, playing a crisp version of “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” dodging Fergie’s vocal and physical histrionics. That was for hip-hop novices, even though the Black Eyed Peas know how to service that audience on their own. They played “The Time (Dirty Bit),” which borrows from “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” (the theme from “Dirty Dancing”), and “Pump It,” which samples Dick Dale’s “Misirlou,” popularized in “Pulp Fiction.”

These are the group’s dimmest songs, the ones on which they pander the most. Stiffness aside, “Boom Boom Pow” was better, as was the relentless “I Gotta Feeling,” which opened and closed the set. The show peaked when Usher joined in, performing his hit “OMG,” which will.i.am produced and is featured on. But Usher’s spectacular choreography, including a high leap over a kneeling will.i.am, landing in a split, only highlighted the headliners’ weaknesses.

(click here to continue reading Hip-Hop Comes to the Super Bowl – NYTimes.com.)

At least they didn’t get paid:

In 2010 the group grossed a whopping $81.6 million from touring alone…So it may come as a surprise to learn what The Black Eyed Peas are earning for their halftime show at Super Bowl XLV: Nothing.

That’s right. Fergie, will.i.am, and those other two guys whose names you can never remember (for the record, they’re called Taboo and apl.de.ap) will not be receiving a performance fee for their efforts in Dallas. So why the charity? Because the acts that play Super Bowl halftime shows traditionally don’t get paid. A better question: Why have dozens of other high-profile acts agreed to play the Super Bowl for free?

The simple answer is exposure. At first glance, that sounds preposterous. Turn on any pop radio station and you’ll be hard-pressed to go more than seven minutes without getting the echoey, bass-laden, auto-tuned strains of The Black Eyed Peas firmly implanted in your brain. A remarkable 1.3 million people paid to see the Peas in concert last year alone

(click here to continue reading Why The Black Eyed Peas Aren’t Getting Paid For Their Super Bowl Gig – Zack O’Malley Greenburg – The Beat Report – Forbes.)

Greg Kot writes of the BEP:

The Peas didn’t exactly perform so much as cheerlead, their “Boom Boom Pow” just a centimeter or two removed from “sis-boom-bah.” With lyrics like Madison Avenue slogans plastered over relentless beats, the quartet’s big, proudly superficial music advertised and celebrated itself. It’s not meant to be scrutinized, but blasted over big speakers at Cowboys Stadium or in saloons worldwide hosting Super Bowl parties.

Coming in short minute-long bursts, the Peas’ songs actually benefited from the nervous, jump-cut energy of the medley, exiting long before their repetitiveness and trivality could become apparent. Even the second-tier Peas, Taboo and apl.de.ap, inexplicably got some screen time.

and of the National Anthem, as warbled by Christina Aguilera…

The National Anthem, as pole-axed by Xtina: At least Christina Aguilera looked dignified in a black outfit, in contrast to the dressed-down pole-dancer look she favors in concert and video. But after that things went downhill quickly. She bungled some words, leaving out the line, “O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming,” and instead repeating a line from earlier in the song. She stretched the approximately minute-long song to twice its length by making sure to punctuate just about every phrase with an inappropriate growl or melisma. On the first line, she transformed the word “night” into about seven syllables. On the final “brave,” she lingered on for more than 10 seconds before being drowned out, barely, by jet fighters zooming the stadium. As usual, Xtina managed to make even this most revered of songs sound like it was all about her.

(click here to continue reading Turn It Up: Super Bowl halftime review: Black Eyed Peas, plus pre-game music.)

eww.

Footnotes:
  1. I’ve watched most since 1982 or so, even in the hipster years when I didn’t own a television []
Categories
Sports

Home Court Advantage

Frank Erwin Center

Interesting interview with Jon Wertheim1

I’ve long been befuddled as to home court advantage, and never quite understood how it could be possible that professional athletes would play better in one sporting arena rather than another, especially in today’s sophisticated sport teams. Turns out the key is how the referees/umpires react to the crowd (even subconsciously). So, it is good for the Chicago Bulls that they are winning their division (so far this year).

Wired.com: So why does the home team win more often?

Wertheim: What’s really interesting is how consistent that truism is. The WNBA has almost the exact same home winning percentage as the NBA. A soccer league in Central America is almost the same as the Premier League. Japanese baseball has almost the same as MLB.

Before you even dig into the “why?” of home-field advantage, you see the data that 100 years ago the home winning percentage in Major League Baseball was almost exactly the same as it is today, and you find the same in other sports.

I think most people think, “Well, you’re playing at home and you’ve got people cheering for you and booing the other the guy,” but we didn’t find that to be the cause. Then you have the theory that home teams get to sleep in their own beds and road teams had to fly in the night before, but that didn’t seem to be the case either.

Wired: Right. You made the point in the book that travel has gotten so much better than 100 years ago, but winning percentage didn’t change from when teams were on buses to now, when they’re taking charters.

Wertheim: Yeah, and in games like when the Angels play the Dodgers or the Ravens play the Redskins — games where there’s negligible travel — the winning percentage stays the same. If you fly across the country, you’re not losing any more than you are when you’re the Chicago White Sox playing across town at Wrigley Field.

So we looked at how games are called and that’s where the data went berserk. Yellow and red cards in soccer, calls in the NFL before and after replay’s implementation, called balls and strikes in baseball — that’s where we saw games are called totally differently based on where they’re played. And the more attended the games are, the more striking the bias.

(click to continue reading Scorecasting Tackles Sports’ Biggest Myths | Playbook.)

Footnotes:
  1. Jon Wertheim, a senior writer at Sports Illustrated (right), and Tobias Moskowitz, a finance professor from the University of Chicago, with their Freakonomics-influenced book Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won. []
Categories
Chicago-esque Sports

Scottie Pippen honored by Chicago Mayor’s Office

Michael Jordan Dunking on Dvorak Park

Chicago Bulls icon, Scottie Pippen, not pictured above, was feted by Mayor Daley and the City Council today

Bulls legend Scottie Pippen received formal recognition from the Chicago Mayor’s Office during Wednesday’s city council meeting at City Hall.

The council honored Pippen for his 17-year NBA career, and more recently, for being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and rejoining the Bulls as Team Ambassador.

“It was a historic moment for me personally to be among so many of the Chicago’s powerful politicians,” said Pippen. “Mayor Daley so many others who work at City Hall have done a tremendous job for the City of Chicago. For them to take a break from what I’m sure are 24-hour jobs running the city and providing so many of the things we enjoy meant a lot to me.”

As the legislative body of the city, the City Council usually meets once every month to exercise general and specific powers delegated by state statute. Mayor Richard M. Daley led the proceedings in which a resolution was read citing some of Pippen’s most prominent accomplishments.

Several moments were recalled by various aldermen who supported the proclamation, from Pippen’s dunk over the Knicks’ Patrick Ewing in the Chicago Stadium’s final game during the 1994 NBA Playoffs to carrying a sick and slumped Michael Jordan off the court during the 1997 NBA Finals in Utah.

Hoops the Gym

and I love this:

Alderman Patrick J. O’Connor of the 40th Ward echoed that sentiment, noting how often times the Bulls of the 1990s helped keep the city’s politics out of the headlines.

“I have a theory about politics in Chicago,” O’Connor told Pippen. “We love our sports teams so much that we only turn to politics when our sports teams aren’t doing real well. And you and the Bulls kept the city of Chicago politics off the front page for so long.”

“Thank you!” interjected Mayor Daley as the council erupted in laughter.

 

(click to continue reading Scottie Pippen honored by Chicago Mayor’s Office | Bulls.)

Categories
Sports

RIP, Maurice Lucas

Charles Pierce remembers Portland Trailblazer legend, Maurice Lucas, in a reminiscence that begins:

Thirty-nine years ago this fall, I moved into the 11th floor of a 12-story dormitory at the corner of 16th Street and Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I was a freshman at Marquette University. (The dorm, McCormick Hall, is round and shaped like a beer can, which is remarkably appropriate in more than the metaphorical sense, and the building has been rumored for almost 40 years to be sinking into middle Earth.) Not long after I moved in, I found myself intrigued by the music coming out from under the door of the room next to mine — music which I now know to have been “Eurydice,” the closing track from Weather Report’s astounding debut album. (Mmmmmm. Wayne Shorter!) As I was listening, an extremely large man came out of the room and introduced himself. “Pretty cool, isn’t it?’ he said.

And that was how I met Maurice Lucas.

For the next couple of years, we talked about music, at least as much as Luke talked to anyone, him being what you call your campus celebrity and all during the glory days of Warrior basketball and the high-sun period of Al McGuire Era. Whatever I know about any jazz recorded after the big band records to which my father listened — Mmmmmmm. Basie! — I learned from Luke, with whom I don’t believe I ever exchanged four words about basketball.

(click to continue reading RIP, Maurice Lucas – Charles Pierce Blog – Boston sports news – Boston.com.)

Mo Lucas always seemed like an interesting cat, and obviously someone that Bill Walton accorded immense respect to, which is also worth something…

The NYT has a more conventional obit

Categories
Chicago-esque Photography Sports

See Ya Later Kirk Hinrich

Kirk Hinrich
Kirk Hinrich, originally uploaded by swanksalot.

with a pool of blood (or Chicago skyline screen)

see ya later Kirk
www.nba.com/bulls/news/hinrich_traded_100708.html?rss=true

The Chicago Bulls announced today that the team has traded guard Kirk Hinrich, the draft rights to forward Kevin Seraphin and cash considerations to the Washington Wizards in exchange to the draft rights to forward Vladimir Veremeenko.

“During this free agency period, we wanted to aggressively position ourselves to explore every avenue possible to improve our team. That said, it was not an easy decision for us trade Kirk, but one that we felt was necessary in order to make the Chicago Bulls a better basketball team,” said Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman. “Since Kirk joined us back in 2003, he came to play every time he stepped on the court and he always gave 100 percent. We will miss Kirk and wish him the best of luck.”

Hinrich leaves the Bulls ranking first in team history in three-point field goals made (812), first in three-point field goals attempted (2,144), fourth in assists (3,004), fourth in steals (655), fifth in turnovers (1,116), sixth in three-point field goal percentage (.379), sixth in disqualifications (30), seventh in minutes played (17,502), eighth in points (6,902) and 10th in field goals made (2,510).

Categories
politics Sports

Obama gives Cameron a decent Goose Island

Maybe the Bud Light schtick was calculated1, but when Obama met British Prime Minister David Cameron, Obama gave him a decent local brew.

 

Cameron is a Conservative, but a moderate presiding over a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats after 13 years of Labor rule, and at least one of Obama’s former aides, Anita Dunn, worked for him during his election campaign.

Goose Island Beer Company

The two leaders have bonded over sports, one of Obama’s signature means of connecting. They culminated their friendly trash talk over the World Cup Saturday.

Seated in dark leather chairs, with the G8 and G20 logo serving as a backdrop in the small room, Obama and Cameron satisfied a wager they had made on the U.S-Britain soccer match.

“Since it ended in a tie, we’re exchanging, by paying off our debts at the same time, this is Goose Island 312 beer from my hometown of Chicago,” Obama said, holding a yellow-tagged bottle of beer.

Cameron then handed his beer to a smiling Obama. “This is Hobgoblin,” he said.

“I advised him that in America, we drink our beer cold,” Obama quipped. “He has to put it in a refrigerator before he drinks it, but I think that he will find it outstanding.”

(click to continue reading ‘Special relationship’ under strain as Obama and Cameron meet – POLITICO.com Print View.)

Beer doesn’t have to be ice cold to be enjoyable, and I’ll have to look for Hobgoblin when2 I’m in London this August.

Footnotes:
  1. of course, maybe the craft beer choice could be calculated, and Obama really does drink Bud Light Lime, ewww []
  2. if? []
Categories
Photography Sports

Blackhawks Patrick Kane Hoisting Stanley Cup

Blackhawks Patrick Kane Hoisting Stanley Cup
Blackhawks Patrick Kane Hoisting Stanley Cup, originally uploaded by swanksalot.

and Jonathan Toews with whatever the other trophy is called

decluttr

From yesterday’s parade

Categories
Sports

Blackhawks Win First Stanley Cup Since 1961

I can’t claim to be much of a hockey fan, but nonetheless, whoo hoo! Chicago Blackhawks win!

If I were younger, I’d be out with the teeming millions who are clogging the streets, yelling, setting off fireworks, honking horns, and emptying all the Wrigleyville bars of booze. But I’m not.

Chicago Blackhawks Neon

Patrick Kane, the 21-year-old winger, scored 4 minutes 10 seconds into overtime Wednesday, lifting the Chicago Blackhawks over the Philadelphia Flyers, 4-3, and giving Chicago its first Stanley Cup victory since 1961.

Unofficial Restaurant for the Chicago Hawks

The last time the Blackhawks were champions, Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita were young Chicago stars skating without helmets and using curved sticks, and John F. Kennedy was president.

Jonathan Toews, the Chicago captain, was named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the playoffs. He finished second in scoring, but had a relatively poor finals, with only three assists and a minus-5 differential.

The Blackhawks had come up empty in five finals since their 1961 victory until Kane scored his third goal of the series. It came suddenly on a shot from the bottom of the right circle that whizzed between the legs of Flyers goalie Michael Leighton’s stick and pads.

Many in the crowd at the Wachovia Center did not know that a goal had been scored until they saw Kane and his teammates throw their sticks in the air in celebration. Both teams had to wait several moments until the officials confirmed the goal after reviewing the replay.

The drought was the second longest in league history, after the Rangers’ 54-year sojourn in the wilderness, which ended in 1994.

(click to continue reading Blackhawks 4, Flyers 3, OT – Blackhawks Win First Stanley Cup Since 1961 – NYTimes.com.)

Art Institute Lions with Blackhawks HelmetsArt Institute Lions with Blackhawks Helmets