Recently in Sports Category

...the BCS (Bowl Championship Squirrel).

Photo - squirrel wearing football helmet

I can't stop watching this...
January 1, 2014 10:25 PM | Posted in:

Johnny Football being Johnny Football.

Johnny Manziel in 2014 Chick-Fil-A Bowl

Yes, I made this myself. No, don't worship me. I'm just a regular guy.

Betsy Andreu: My New Heroine
January 18, 2013 4:45 PM | Posted in: ,

At the time of this writing, if you type "Betsy" into the Google search bar, "Betsy Andreu" comes up as the second suggested phrase, behind only Betsey Johnson, which makes no Photo of Betsysense at all because the two names are spelled differently, and I would expect that Big Brother would be well aware that I couldn't care less about some ditzy fashion designer.

Anyway, if the name Betsy Andreu doesn't ring a bell, don't feel badly; that probably means that you don't follow Lance Armstrong on Twitter. She's the wife of professional cyclist and former Armstrong teammate Frankie Andreu, and she's the Cycling Spouse From Hell. At least, that's how Armstrong characterized her for years.

See, Betsy was the one person who early on went public with her educated opinion that Lance was doping. She paid a heavy price in the court of public opinion for her steadfast pronouncements that Armstrong was a manipulative, lying SOB. You know that song phrase, "you don't tug on Superman's cape"? Betsy not only pulled on it, she hitched it to a monster truck and tried to drag it around a rodeo arena. For her efforts, she was painted by the Armstrong cartel as deranged and psychotic, and a gullible press and fandom bought the story. And her husband's cycling career was derailed; Superman can kick butt when he wishes.

Well, guess who's vindicated...somewhat. Betsy's not completely satisfied with Armstrong's admissions of guilt - she thinks they don't go far enough - but surely she feels that the years of being viewed as the equivalent of the crazy shopping cart lady who talks to lamp posts has a somewhat happy ending.

Or, maybe not. Read this interview with her on the Sports Illustrated website and decide for yourself.

Maybe she isn't satisfied with the admissions; I can't say as I blame her. But she told the truth when it wasn't popular (or believable) and that seems to be a rare thing nowadays.

Two Things: Lance / Missy
January 16, 2013 9:25 PM | Posted in: ,

Lance Armstrong: Self-inflicted irrelevance

I'm still trying to decide how I feel about Lance Armstrong now that he's [apparently] coming clean - more or less, and no pun intended - about his use of PEDs during his cycling career. I've been a fan since his early days in the sport, and felt an inordinate amount of pride - even patriotism - in his seven Tour de France victories.

Photo - Lance Armstrong

Even so, I never really liked the guy, if that makes any sense. I had tremendous respect for his skill on the bike, and his tenacity was awe-inspiring, but there was always a dark undercurrent to his personality. When rumors about his "externally enhanced" abilities began to circulate, I bought into the whole "he's the most tested athlete in history and has never tested positive" argument...and yet. When Bicycling Magazine publish an extensive article last year, written by an admitted fan who laid out a very well researched and detailed case against Armstrong, and took no joy in doing so, it just seemed to ring true to me. And it turns out that it was.

So, where I'm at today - and this could change, for better or worse - is wondering just what kind of sociopath could cultivate such a convincing fa├žade of lies, and aggressively - even pugnaciously - maintain it for years, leaving a wide swath of figurative bodies in the ditches, just as he often did his cycling competitors. How does a person build such a public persona, to the point where he is arguably the most recognized athlete on the planet based on his accomplishments on and off the bike, and go to bed every night knowing it's based on lies piled atop lies? Was there a point in his life where he reached a crossroads, where he could have fessed up with a minimal amount of backlash, and he made a conscious decision not to do so? Or was it out of hand before he realized it?

These are questions for others to contemplate. I don't expect he'll ever answer them, but for now, while I pose the questions, I'm really not interested in the answers. Instead, I'd much rather call attention to...

Missy Franklin: Glittering more than gold

You remember Missy, doncha? Sure, you do. She's the world-record-holding American swimmer who won four gold medals at the London Olympics last summer. She's also a 17-year-old high school student in Colorado who just turned down an estimated $3 million endorsement package in favor of staying in school in an attempt to live a normal teenager's life.

Photo - Missy Franklin

Not everyone is happy about that decision, by the way. The Wall Street Journal reports that many swimmers at neighboring high schools are dismayed at the prospect of having to compete against an Olympic gold medalist (although it sounds like the parents and coaches may have more invested in the issue than the kids themselves, like that's any great revelation). By the way, the WSJ poll accompanying the preceding story shows that almost 90% of respondents agree with her decision to continue to compete in high school meets.

Despite the sour grapes attitudes by some, most of us would agree that it's refreshing to hear about a gifted athlete who is so well-grounded. Setting aside the obvious question of "how rich ARE her parents, anyway?" it's hard to imagine that Missy will ever fall into the same self-constructed trap that Lance succumbed to. And as long as we have enough Missys to counterbalance the Lances, there's reason for optimism, at least in the wonderful world of sports.

Two Things: HaloRig / Flyboard
October 7, 2012 9:39 PM | Posted in: ,

Our Two Things spotlight today focuses on a couple of "add-on" products, things that make other things work better, or at least differently.

HaloRig: Video Stabilizer

Anyone who's tried to shoot video with a small digital camcorder, point-and-shoot camera, or phone knows how hard it is to keep the dang thang steady. The form factor is just too small and light and the slightest irregular motion translates into a noticeably jerky video. That's the problem that the HaloRig is designed to mitigate.

It's basically an inexpensive (less than $200; price varies with options) metal ring onto which you can affix multiple cameras, lights, microphones, and other accessories. The ring is large enough to provide a greater chance of smooth motion (I haven't tried one, so I'm hard-pressed to say that it would completely eliminate jerky movement).

Here's a short video explaining the device in somewhat more detail.

Flyboard: Your next James Bondian Sporting Device

The following video is making the rounds on the interwebz. If you haven't yet seen it, it's worth spending six minutes to watch, and another six seconds to decide how crazy one needs to be to try it.

This is the Flyboard in action. I think the video explains everything you need to know about why the only question about product placement in an upcoming movie is whether the first director to use it will be Michael Bay or Luc Besson.

This review by GizMag touches on a lot of the salient points of the Flyboard, including cost (~$7K, excluding insurance premiums). But, seriously, aren't our public waterways dangerous enough now without giving inebriated jet skiers yet another injury vector? What happens to the poor soul who tries out that dolphin dive and hits headfirst an actual dolphin (or worse)?

Still, I'd be lying if I said I didn't want one.

Tip o'the ski helmet to my beautiful Aunt Margaret for the video link!

You Ninja, Yu
April 28, 2012 7:02 AM | Posted in: ,

Scott Chaffin is one of my blogger heroes; The Fat Guy would be on my list of Blogs I'd Pick If Stranded On A Farm-to-Market Road Between Quitaque and Turkey (that's in Texas, ya'll). He writes with a deceptive country-boy self-deprecation that completely fails to obscure a wicked wit, sharp intellect, and laser-focused insight. He loves country music (the non-Nashville, Texas Outlaw kind) and is a cricket fan. I might also mention that he's currently putting a whuppin' on cancer.

Scott's a besbol junkie, a mutated mix of Yogi Berra and George Will, and reading Scott's insights on baseball is more fun than actually watching the game - there's about the same amount of spitting going on, but a bit less scratching. And so it is that I found myself inspired by his ode to Yu Darvish after the Rangers pitcher handed the Yankees their heads a few nights ago. I was particularly inspired by his riff on the description taken from this article of the young, extremely-well-paid Japanese pitcher as a "bad-a** ninja."

So, Scott, this one's for Yu:

Ninja Baseball Player
Image created via blatant ripoff and mashup of this, this, and this.
Once again, Photoshop trumps talent.

Two Vids for the Weekend
February 18, 2011 11:30 AM | Posted in: ,

Why is it that the Japanese excel at sword fighting? Perhaps they've had more practice, or perhaps they see it not just as a battle technique, but as an art form. Exhibit A:

[Link via Neatorama]

Then there's this kind of art form, the kind that either makes you want to grab a board and join them, or curl into a ball and hide:

This is the trailer from a film entitled The Art of Flight, scheduled for release this fall. This movie appears to raise the ante on Warren Miller to a disturbing level. And if you're wondering which of the above categories I fall into, well, my heart is in the former but my head is in the latter.

[Link via Twisted Shifter]

Super Bowl: Fourth Quarter
February 6, 2011 8:18 PM | Posted in: ,

OK, maybe concerned that you might be caught in the celebration. Green Bay wins the big one.

OK, maybe just a little angsty.

If you're a Bayou Verde fan, you should be very, very worried right about now.
"Desert and Mirrors and Teacher" - Camaro: Love the car more than the ad.
Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants

"I can hear you now" - Verizon: Works better for me than the us-vs-AT&T approach.
Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants

Mouldy Bay's offense has been their best defense. But if they don't score a TD here, they'll lose the game by one point.
"Reanimated Benzes" - Mercedes-Benz: Meh.
Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants

"Cane in the Face" - House: Good as the show itself.
Ant Rating: Rating: 4 Ants

"Beaver in Road" - Bridgestone Tires: What is it with all these animals in the road?
Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants

"Contractually Obligated" - Yeah, that's the GoDaddy we expected.
Ant Rating: Rating: 1 Ant

"Racing Stripe Beetle" - VW Beetle: Nice music, fun animation.
Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants
Bayeaux Vert seems incapable of stopping the Pittroplex's offense.

"Old Technology" - Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: Love the guy with the turntable and the headphones.
Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants

"Wondering" - Pepsi Max: Surprisingly edgy for a soft drink ad...and it doesn't work.
Ant Rating: Rating: 2 Ants

"Talking Cars" - Talking cars work in the movies, but here...not so much.
Ant Rating: Rating: 2 Ants

"Dogsitter" - Bud Light: Attractively quirky.
Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants

Pittsdown wanted to challenge that last catch, but they've already used two timeouts this half, and would lose the third if the challenge failed. Strategery.

Another Pottsburg turnover. But can Bayou Verde capitalize? Or capitolize?
"Classic TV Shows" - NFL: Gimmicky, but cute.
Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants

"Jack Ingram" - HEB: Sorry, but this one is off the hook. Be sure to watch the full version on YouTube (although the short version is most excellent as it features Aggieland...whoop!).
Ant Rating: Rating: 5 Ants

Super Bowl: Third Quarter
February 6, 2011 7:01 PM | Posted in: ,

So much for a quick-moving quarter. *yawn*

Oh, the most exciting play in professional football: a challenge from the sideline!

The best thing about the third quarter is that it's passed quickly.

"Eminem in Detroit" - Chrysler: Inspiring? Uh, how 'bout insipid? Inscrutable?
Ant Rating: Rating: 2 Ants

"Funky Bistro with Adrian what's-his-face" - Stella Artois: Singing to a beer. It's a French thing.
Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants

"Old time service station" - Carmax: Inadvertent snicker.
Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants

I do appreciate Fox for not running a commercial immediately following every kickoff.

"Psychedelia" - Hyundai Elantra: Have I said "meh" yet?
Ant Rating: Rating: 2 Ants

"Timothy Hutton" - Groupon: Uh...what th'?
Ant Rating: Rating: 2 Ants

"Border Crossing" - Coca Cola: Not bad. Not great, but not bad.
Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants

How about that...might be a game here after all.

"Cram it in the Boot" - Mini Cooper Countryman: How do you say "meh" with a British accent?
Ant Rating: Rating: 2 Ants

"Test Baby" - Double-meh.
Ant Rating: Rating: 2 Ants

And, we're back, following a nutritious meal of corn dogs and cheese sticks.

"Let others go first" - Meh
Ant Rating: Rating: 2 Ants

"Tailor" - eTrade: Uh, I expected more.
Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants

"Ozzy & Justin" - Best Buy: "What's a Bieber?" Classic.
Ant Rating: Rating: 4 Ants

Super Bowl: Second Quarter
February 6, 2011 6:18 PM | Posted in: ,

See you after the big halftime show, featuring the English Peas, or some other vegetable.

Your dedicated correspondent just had a boiled shrimp snack and it was awful. That is all.

And the Pottsville Feelers draw within a hat-trick. Could be a game after all.

Big Ben done got his bell rung. Green Bay loses a key pass defender. Generalissimo Franco is still dead.
"On Star Facebook Updates While Driving" - Chevy Cruze: Do we really need yet another driving distraction. I'm rating this down just for the concept.
Ant Rating: Rating: 2 Ants

"Kid in a Candy Store..." - CarMax: Not bad, not bad.
Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants

Pittstown forgot to show up for the game. Sorry, Jeff. 
"Loggers" - Snickers: Nothing new. (OK, I was actually "out of the room" when this ad aired and didn't catch the end. Mike informed me that it was Roseanne Barr getting flattened, which does redeem the ad significantly.)
Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants

"Monkey Parkers" - Some online job service: Ditto
Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants

Oh, look. Some more scoring between commercials.
"Lord of the Rings parody" - Coca-Cola: Did I predict this or what?
Ant Rating: Rating: 4 Ants

"Tiny Darth Vader" - Volkswagen Passat: Totally cute.
Ant Rating: Rating: 5 Ants

"Western - Tiny Dancer" - Budweiser: Full of surprises, starting with Fargo's Peter Stormare cast as the gunslinger.
Ant Rating: Rating: 4 Ants

"Faith Hill and Unreal Rack" - Teleflora: Having Faith Hill kick it off made the ending surprisingly good.
Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants

Motorola Zoom: Take a slap at Apple at your own risk.
Ant Rating: Rating: 2 Ants

"Exhaust" - BMW Diesel: LIke diesel smoke is a bad thing?
Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants

Ads between quarters:

"Reply All Email...Not" - Bridgestone Tire: Great use of special effects.
Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants

"Tech History" - Volt by Chevy: Evoking Hendrix? Works for me.
Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants

"New .co Girl" - OK, that WAS funny. I'm shocked.
Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants

Super Bowl: First Quarter
February 6, 2011 5:25 PM | Posted in: ,

"Eminem" - Lipton Tea: Uh, OK...
Ant Rating: Rating: 2 Ants

Cowboys and Aliens? Count me in!

"Everybody wants one" - Kia Optima:  Just for the special FX
Ant Rating: Rating: 4 Ants

"Cool guys befriend dork" - Pepsi Max: Shot to the crotch. Very original, Pepsi. Go sit over there by Bud Light and consider your sins.
Ant Rating: Rating: 2 Ants

"Resurrected Grandpa" - Doritos: They're just beating me down.
Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants

Touchdown, Greenburgh Slackers. Some guy named Jordie just redeemed himself.

3rd round...

"Product Placement" - Bud Light: Somebody just phoned it in.
Ant Rating: Rating: 2 Ants

"Tommy's in Trouble?" - Chevy Silverado: Great concept, well-done. Good dog, Lassie, er, Chevy. Best ad thus far.
Ant Rating: Rating: 4 Ants
2nd round...

"Finger sucking, pants-sniffing" - Doritos: A bit too gross and weird
Ant Rating: Rating: 2 Ants

"Retirement home" - Chevy Cruze: Let's make fun of the old folks
Ant Rating: Rating: 2 Ants

"Abusive Wife" - Pepsi Max (But only because of the last scene)
Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants


OK, first ads of the game, and they're obviously trying to manage expectations:

"Hack Job" - Bud Light: OK satire of an HGTV show

Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants

"Pug through the glass door" - Doritos: Lame
Ant Rating: Rating: 2 Ants

"Mercedes Trap" - Audi: 3 Good use of Kenny G

Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants

If you're unsure how to handicap this game, use the approach employed by my wife's second cousin, who, albeit quite cute and employed, is inexplicably unmarried, and who decides who to root for, in the absence of any other compelling reason, by which quarterback is most dateable. In this case, unsurprisingly, she's pulling for Green Bay.
By the way, this is the first Super Bowl in a long time where we can almost interpret the roman numeral, XLV, which is the metric equivalent of 183.

Oh, I missed the kick-off. But no one has scored yet so that's OK.
Has Christina ever sung this song before? That was, well, pretty bad, overall.
I guess there's nothing wrong with it, but those guys do realize that they don't have to put their caps over their hearts when they sing "America the Beautiful," don't they?

Big roar from the crowd when George and Laura appeared on the Big Screens. Cool.
Smoke machines? Really, NFL? Oh, look...there's Christina Aguilera.
The Steelers may be playing in the home of the Dallas Cowboys, but they couldn't manage to beat the Cowboys during the 2010 season. OK, so they didn't play the 'Boyz, but, still...
OK, the recitation of the Declaration of Independence was pretty cool, albeit a bit incongruous. There were lots of ex-football players saying lots of big words.

Did you catch Terry Bradshaw's interview with Pre-Felon Ben Roethlisberger? Sheesh, guys, get a room.
At the risk of sounding like I know what I'm doing, I need to lay out a few ground rules so you'll be able to recognize when things inevitably start to go south and we descend into uncontrolled chaos.

First, it's important to be able to quickly recognize the team I'm writing about. There's nothing worse than thinking I'm talking about the ugly shoes of the Pittsbay Stackers, when in reality I'm dissing the Greenburgh Feelers. So, to make things more clear, I'll refer to the latter as "those guys" and the former as "the Cheese Whiz Heads." Note: If the game gets crazy, I may inadvertently reverse the references; in that case, just go by the context and you'll be fine.

Second, we use an elaborate rating system to judge the ads, a rating system developed over years of analyzing the best data I could make up. It's called The Ant System® and it goes something like this: it's a sliding scale of 1-5 ants, with 5 ants represented by something like Coke's "Teach the World to Sing" ad, and 1 ant represented by anything produced by But how, you might ask, will I recognize the rating? Good question. Watch carefully for the subtle clues:

Ant Rating: Rating: 1 Ant

Ant Rating: Rating: 2 Ants

Ant Rating: Rating: 3 Ants

Ant Rating: Rating: 4 Ants

Ant Rating: Rating: 5 Ants

Third, you should always feel free to weigh in with your own observations, opinions, recipes, paranoid delusions, and predictions, keeping in mind of course that by leaving a comment you've confirmed my suspicion that you also didn't get invited to a Super Bowl party.

OK, I think that about covers it. Any questions?

Oh, I almost forgot. If you want some insights from someone who actually cares about the game itself (what a concept!), check out Jeff's place.

Super Bowl Ads: Pre-Game Predictions
February 6, 2011 3:36 PM | Posted in: ,

We're about ninety minutes away from kick-off, which gives me plenty of time to do the usual in-depth preparation that I'm known for. That's why I'm watching something on The Food Channel, working up an appetite for Super Bowl snax.

I don't think The Food Channel will be showing any of the Super Bowl ads, but I feel confident in making a few predictions for what's coming up. To wit:

  • There will be plenty of ads featuring animals acting like humans, and being really hilarious in the process.

  • There will also be plenty of ads featuring humans acting like animals, and being much less hilarious in the process. (I'm thinking of you, Bud Light.)

  • Kids will be big, and guys will be big kids.

  • At least one sports figure will appear in a commercial that will cause him (or her) to wonder, tomorrow, "what was I thinking?"

  • will be in a class by itself, that is to say, class-less.

Speaking of GoDaddy, one of its biggest competitors, Network Solutions, has posted a parody ad on its website, employing Cloris Leachman as "the Go Granny." It's not hilarious, and it's a little offensive in its own right, but it is a shot over the GoDaddy bow.

Let the games begin!
Against my better judgment, the Gazette will once more be the scene of uninformed opinion and inexpert commentary regarding just about everything related to the Super Bowl. You're invited to join in with your insights, as we select the best and worst TV ads for the year.

Tune in around kick-off, assuming I'm up from my nap by then.
The year was 1970. I was a freshman at Texas A&M, a clarinet player in the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band, a member of the Corps of Cadets, and the epitome of cluelessness long before that term had become entrenched in our cultural vocabulary.

There was nothing about being at A&M, in the band, in the Corps, that was comfortable for me. There were more students at the university than the entire population of my hometown, and more people in my chemistry class than in my high school. As a fish in the Corps, I was not just the low man on the totem pole...I couldn't even see the totem pole. The 300-member band seemed like more of a rugby scrum with a musical score than the finely-tuned group I was used to in high school. Sure, we looked awesome when viewed from the grandstand fifty yards away, but our steps (well, mine, anyway) were powered by pure adrenaline-fired fear: fear of being the one guy (no girls in the band back then, nosireebob) seen to miss a step; fear of being decapitated by an out-of-control trombone player; fear of missing a note. OK, strike that last one. None of us fish dared play a note while marching; we were too busy concentrating on the steps.

It was hard to imagine being in a more alien environment...and then I found myself in the stands at LSU's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge (properly pronounced "bah-TONE roooooooozh") surrounded by tens of thousands apparently insane screaming Cajuns (I later learned that those terms were completely redundant, as a matter of normal circumstance) anticipating a feast on our sad Aggie carcasses. Yes, this was my first experience with LSU college football, and if I'd known what a reference to Mad Max and Thunderdome meant back then, I might have had some context for the event.

We came into the football game as huge underdogs, a position we'd earned through much hard work, and which would continue to accompany us throughout my college career. (We actually celebrated beating TCU, and everybody beat TCU; no kiddies, this was before TCU learned how to play Big Boy football.) So it was no surprise that A&M trailed LSU late in the fourth quarter, albeit by a surprisingly thin margin. But a loss is a loss, and the mostly inebriated LSU fans (at least the ones I could see, the ones who openly carried their fifths of Southern Comfort into the stadium, a practice that I still believe was encouraged) were rowdy and enthusiastic in their affirmation of our incompetence.

Suddenly, the inconceivable happened. Who was that guy running for his life, carrying an oblong leather object, being chased by a pack of Tigers? And why was the stadium suddenly and fearfully silent? And why wasn't I paying more attention to the game instead of worrying about how many pushups I'd be doing on the long bus ride home?

History was being made on that field, and I was clueless. The immediate consequences quickly became obvious as A&M's Hugh McElroy turned a short pass into a 79-yard touchdown with 13 seconds left in the game, and the Aggies upset LSU 20-18. A&M fans departed the stadium quickly and in relative quiet, since they weren't sure about the laws regarding carrying firearms on the LSU campus. For its part, the Aggie Band left in formation, with the outer row of cadets handing their instruments to others so they could act as bouncers for any irate Tiger fans attempting to penetrate the ranks. (An unwritten rule was that any outsider who intruded on one side of the band's formation was escorted through the interior to the other side, albeit slowly and painfully, if you get my drift.)

The historical significance of that game wasn't obvious to me, other than understanding that A&M had just beaten LSU, which almost never happened. Honestly, it wasn't until I read this story this morning that I realized the greater significance: Hugh McElroy, who scored that miracle touchdown, was the first black player to start for A&M, and his was the first score by a black player. If this ground-breaking achievement was noted in the Bryan-College Station or A&M press at the time, I missed it (which certainly could have been the case). I'm pleased to see that the story is getting some coverage now, in anticipation of an A&M/LSU rematch in the Cotton Bowl on Friday.

A&M lost the remainder of its games that season. I lasted one year in the Corps and the band, electing not to return despite earning a unit award, and I never really developed a clue. But that evening in Baton Rouge will be forever embedded in my memory. And, fortunately, I now have an even better reason for remembering it.

Fair Weather Fan
October 16, 2010 9:28 AM | Posted in: ,

I'm the world's worst (or best, depending on your perspective) fair weather sports fan.

I'm not a huge sports fan to begin with. I do have some favored teams, but I'm generally content to follow their fortunes in the newspaper or online, after the fact. I can't remember the last sporting contest that I watched from start to finish, regardless of sport or level of competition. I guess I consume sports like I fitful starts and stops, skimming and scanning.

But when I decide to watch a game, I want my team to win, and win decisively. I'm not in it for the humiliation of the other team - that's not my motivation - but if that's how they choose to react to a 72-0 drubbing, that's their problem, not mine. For example, my favorite Super Bowl game of all time was the one where Dallas beat Buffalo 52-17, and I was upset because Leon Lett had a stupid fumble to thwart yet another Dallas touchdown.

Football and baseball games are just too time-consuming to sit through without getting a big payoff for what I'm investing via my viewing. In my internal risk-reward system, a close game doesn't cut it, because the chances are too great that it's going to end in disappointment. (Which, of course, may say more about the teams I choose to support than the nature of the game itself. Don't go there.)

This whole line of thought comes up because of the pitiful showing by the Texas Rangers last night in the first game of the American League Championship Series. The Rangers blew a 5-0 lead and ultimately lost 6-5 to the hated New York Yankees. That game perfectly typifies all the reasons I don't watch sports: three hours down the drain, and nothing gained, and, in fact, much emotional and psychic well-being forfeited.

So, the Rangers will have to get along without my presence for the remainder of their season (which will last two more games, I predict), as will the Cowboys. I won't be watching the Aggies today, either, unless I check in at halftime and find they have a 64-0 lead. That's MY kind of game!

Super Bowl Thoughts
February 8, 2010 2:31 PM | Posted in: ,

Drawing upon the documentary film Airplane!, my reaction to yesterday's Super Bowl MMCXLVIIIXI was that I picked the wrong day to quit live-blogging the TV ads. It would have been so easy to assign the coveted Ant Ratings. There were about 30 1- or 2-Ant ads, and only two that I thought were worth watching again.

My favorite occurred near the beginning of the game. It was the Doritos dog shock collar ad. I always like to see mistreated canines wreak revenge on their tormentors (and gain the Doritos in the process). My second favorite was the Volkswagen "slug bug" ad, which was entertaining throughout but hit the perfect note with Stevie Wonder calling slug on Tracy Morgan at the very end.

I'd give an honorable mention to the E*Trade "milkaholic" baby ad.

The ads were as forgettable as I expected, although in hindsight, I don't think they reached the same level of sleaziness as in past years. GoDaddy's ad strategy continues to mystify me. I have a hard time believing that they're hitting their target audience with those ads, and even if they do succeed in driving a ton of traffic to their website (which is generally one of the marks of a successful ad campaign), I doubt those clicks turn into revenue. I continue to believe that GoDaddy's founder, Bob Parsons, is just a DOM who likes hanging out with cute young chicks. But,'s his $2.5 million per thirty seconds and if that's how he wants to spend it...

Actually, the edgiest ad from a sexual content perspective came from a completely unexpected source: Motorola. Megan Fox (Megan Fox!), pondering the effect of posting a photo of herself in the bathtub, with the result being several scenes that no parent really wants to try to explain to a ten year old.

The Focus on the Family ad with Tim Tebow and his mom was sweet and funny, and the controversy about airing it seems to prove that some people are simply born to be offended.

The one glaring aspect of the broadcast yesterday was the glaring product placements that CBS inserted at every turn. It even extended to the halftime show. Think it was coincidental that The Who played the theme songs from all three CSIs? Their discography has hundreds of songs and yet those three were prominently featured. (Yeah, I'm just bitter because Magic Bus is my favorite Who song.)

Speaking of music, Carrie Underwood's rendition of the National Anthem was spine-tingling...up until the last note. Yikes. Still, I nominate her for next year's halftime show.

However disappointing the ads were this year, the game itself more than made up for them. Going in, I had no skin in the game, not really caring too much who won, but expecting to see a well-played game by the two best teams in the NFL. Well, if you put my feet to the fire (I have very tender feet, you know), I'd have leaned slightly in the direction of Nawleans, for the obvious sentimental reasons. When the Saints went down early by ten points, I thought, "oh no, another overhyped game ruined by expectations," but that was obviously premature.

I felt bad for Manning, throwing that late interception, but he's had his day in the sun and Drew Brees was on fire. It was just his time, and he made a fine and gracious victor.

I can't help wondering, though, what Indianapolis would have done had they scored a touchdown instead of throwing the game losing interception. Would they have taken the safe way out and kicked the extra point, and hope to win the game in overtime? Or would they have considered how absolutely unstoppable Brees had become, and not wanted to gamble their season on a coin toss...and thus gone for two points? We'll never know, of course, but if the tables had been turned, I suspect the Saints coach, Sean Payton, would have gone for two. And, no doubt, made it.

Of course, in closing, I'd just like to remind the Saints and their fans everywhere of one little fact: the Cowboys still kicked your rears in your own house. I'd like to think that that game provided some education that led to your ultimate victory. No need to thank us. ;-)

The Anatomy of a Curve Ball
November 1, 2009 6:29 PM | Posted in: ,

In honor of the World Series (which I understand is being contested now between two teams indistinguishable from Yankees, regardless of what they're called, and thus is of absolutely no consequence to your scribe) here's an analysis of why a well-pitched curve ball is the stuff of batters' nightmares. The animated visual is particularly remarkable.

The linked post postulates that there are two aspects of a curve ball that confound batters. There is an actual physical phenomenon that causes the ball to move along a non-straight route, but its trickiness is compounded by a perceptual trick that exaggerates the effect for batters. I wonder if the better hitters are able to either compensate for or completely overcome this perceptual "puzzle."

I wouldn't know, personally, because the curve ball is only one of a long list of pitches I cannot now and never could hit.

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