Televised baseball is way more exciting in Japan 

Below, Daisuke Matsuzaka destroys some chump.

One sports book currently offers a prop bet on whether Matsuzaka will make contact in his first plate appearance of tonight's game (-200 No, +160 Yes). Turns out that this season he had four plate appearances. No hits, but he made contact in each at-bat, and the two strikeouts were against some guy named Randy Johnson. Considering that the Rockies' pitcher tonight is junkballer Josh Fogg, this bet seems like printing monies to me.

EDIT: Fortunately, a foul tip counts as contact. Whoo.


Well, after one game of broomball I currently sport a stellar GAA of 54.24. (The previous figure is completely made up.) I was pretty invincible when only one ball was in play, but once all of the balls (8-10 of them) were in play I estimate my save percentage went down to about 50-60%. I played in goal for what felt like an eternity, picked up my watch, and saw that 15 minutes had elapsed. Eventually I let another guy take the second shift in goal, then came back for the last 5-10 minutes.

Basic rules (very, very informal): put the ball into the net using your broom. Mostly like non-checking hockey except without all of the rules that noobs would find confusing (offside, icing). No stoppages of play, and there should be a general understanding that you can't score when the goalie is fishing a ball out of the net, but this understanding was pretty flagrantly violated several times by the opposing team. There's probably also rule that the goalie is the only defender allowed in his own crease unless a ball is there. We played 28-on-28, and a team could probably be unbeatable by sealing up the crease completely with 10 defenders, but that's the epitome of lameness.

I wore volleyball kneepads and played like a stand-up hockey goalie would -- stay low, spread out, go to one knee for most kick saves. The butterfly style (which I used in MIT D-league ice hockey) or slinky-for-a-spine Hasek style is probably unsound without leg pads and with multiple balls in play. The rink staff left the ice nice and snowed up for us when we began, and I had no problems moving around in boots on the scuffed-up ice. After about 15 minutes or so, the ice in front of the goal smoothed out, and moving up-and-down and side-to-side became a lot harder. At that point, just standing by one post and holding the stick out to the side might be better technique.

Team naturally seemed to divide up into defenders, midfielders and forwards. Forwards and defenders played inside the blue line, midfielders at center ice.

It's really hard to get any steam on a wrist shot with a taped-up broom; slap shots or half-slap shots might be better from any distance.

Most defenders on both sides basically sat in front of the crease and attempted to sweep balls away from the goal instead of marking the forwards. This is poor strategy in 5-on-5 ice hockey, and it's not so hot for multi-ball broomball either (unless you have enough defenders forming an impregnable wall as mentioned above). It's natural to want to face the offense and see all the balls, but unless the goalie claims the balls, the O can shoot and rebound at will. When I took a shift as a forward, I scored two or three wraparound goals with no pressure. In addition, if the defense is playing back, the goalie also has to stay back in the goal instead of coming out in the direction of the biggest threat and cutting down the angle.

Finally, although we had divided up teams by counting off odd-even, the other team ended up having all of the other players on the ice who had hockey experience. Rigged.



Well, it took quite a bit longer than I expected, but here's the first instance I can find of a major media outlet giving a celebrity's expert opinion on this week's fires in Southern California. It might surprise Ms. Curtis to know that there are very few places in the United States where one can be completely protected from natural disasters -- there are tornadoes and river floods in the heartland, snowstorms in the north, hurricanes in the east, and so forth.


College football voters are idiots 

Ohio State is currently 7-0, has played a complete crap schedule, and is ranked #1 in all the human polls.

Boston College is currently 7-0, has played a complete crap schedule, and is ranked #2/3 in the human polls.

Arizona State is currently 7-0, has played a complete crap schedule, and is ranked #12 in the human polls.

The only reason ASU is stuck at #12 is because Ohio State, BC and other teams started the season ranked higher than Arizona State. Now the preseason rankings are usually based on the previous season's rankings and some vague guesses the voters make about the returning players on each team. In other word, there's basically zero relevant information in the preseason polls. But because voters tend to follow an algorithm of maintaining the relative ranking of teams until they lose, Arizona State has a mountain to climb if it wants to reach the alleged "national championship game".

Given that 12 games clearly isn't enough to distinguish between the top 8-16 teams in the nation, and given that voters are typically morons, it amazes me that this information is used to determine a 2-team playoff for college football's national championship.

Moby Quotient 

Some mathematician in England recently came up with an unnecessarily clunky and inelegant formula to determine how big a sellout a particular piece of music is. Well, I guess nowadays artists gotta make money apart from album sales.

I'm far too lazy to implement this formula in full detail, but here are a few estimates I would make:

The Beatles, "Revolution" and "Instant Karma (Nike): 60. These lose points because the Beatles didn't own the rights to their catalog at the time.

The Caesars, "Jerk It Out" (iPod): 90. Did anybody care about this band apart from the original iPod commercial?

U2, "City of Blinding Lights" and "I Will Follow" (2006 World Cup): 5. I kind of liked these ads, especially the one about the Scottish national team fans.

John Mellencamp, "Our Country" (Chevrolet): 100000000000. This one picks up a huge multiplier factor because of the use of pictures of Rosa Parks and the Hurricane Katrina aftermath.

Five for Fighting, "100 years" (Chase): 30. Loses points because nobody cares about Five for Fighting.

The Cure, "Pictures of You" (HP): 70. I don't care if a song like "Friday I'm In Love" gets used in an ad, but "Pictures of You" is one of the sacred songs in The Cure's oeuvre.

The Cars, "Just What I Needed" (Circuit City): 20. Similar to "100 Years", but this song is older.



I was on my way to the Bombshelter at UCLA (an underground cafe) when I saw the entire area cordoned off by police tape. Apparently a person jumped off a building (7-8 stories) sometime within the last two hours.


Jim Harbaugh >> Lloyd Carr 

Michigan alumnus and Stanford football coach Jim Harbaugh has done something Lloyd Carr has been unable to do: field a team of real student-athletes that can beat USC.


Blind, diseased man batting cleanup for Anaheim 

Apparently Garret Anderson has a case of conjunctivitis (pink eye), and it sure looked like it affected his ability to hit. (I followed the game on MLB Gameday and radio, but the announcers mentioned that his eye was quite swollen.)

What I want to know is, why is this guy even in the clubhouse, let alone hitting 4th? Conjunctivitis is super contagious.

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