Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

NFL Gets Bo Dereked In Week Ten

So the NFL hits Week Ten and the playoff race now is underway.

First we look back at New England's win over Green Bay.   This game demonstrated not only that Tom Brady is the better quarterback, it showed how overrated Aaron Rodgers really is.   He completed just two passes in the fourth quarter, a 7-yarder to Aaron Jones and an 8-yarder to Devante Adams, and was sacked twice while running twice for eight yards.   Rodgers' reputation for being a frontrunner and not a true great continues - he is now 7-36 when trailing by at least two scores, and Brady as usual played better vs. Rodgers playing worse as the game went on.

A key aspect of this disparity has been addressed in a few circles where it is noted Rodgers seems always to sits alone on the bench without conversation with any coaches - as though he's made up his mind how to play the game without wanting input from others.

Also noteworthy was the Houston Texans' escape job in Denver on a missed field goal, the ultimate heartbreaker for Case Keenum and also, despite comments to the contrary by John Elway, perhaps the deathknell for coach Vance Joseph as both the surging Texans and slumping Broncos enter their Bye week

Marcus Mariota delivered Tennessee's first win since Week Four by overcoming two early turnovers to pass for 243 yards, two scores, and a passer rating of 119 - his fifth game of 80 or higher this year, four of them 90 or higher.   Dak Prescott meanwhile continues to regress.

Panthers over Steelers - Both teams won last week and both are looking to surge, but Carolina has shown the greater overall improvement of the two.

Saints over Bengals - The Saints and Drew Brees keep storming forward, and now get an inconsistent Bengals squad that nonetheless has won four of the last five meetings with the Saints including 2014's game vs Brees.   Defensively neither team is all that good, both in the bottom-two in passing yardage allowed while the Saints unnoticed lead the league in fewest rushing yards allowed.   Where the Bengals have an edge is turnover differential at plus-4 vs. New Orleans at zero.

Patriots over Titans -  The last seven meetings between these two teams have all been Patriots wins - they met twice in 2003 and both games - 38-30 in Week Five and 17-14 in the Divisional Playoffs - were competitively compelling affairs; Steve McNair's bomb in the playoff bounced off Drew Bennett's fingers, thus ending that game.    Vince Young put up a fight in 2006 and the Patriots led only 26-23 before putting that game away 40-23, but since then the games have been grossly one-sided; only 2017's playoff match was even moderately competitive as Marcus Mariota clawed to a 7-0 lead before the Patriots put the game away.

This history thus augurs against the Titans, who've nonetheless shown real fight under first-year coach and former Patriots linebacker/part-time tight end Mike Vrabel, notably in the Monday Nighter at Dallas. 

Colts over Jaguars -  The Colts have now won two straight and get a Jaguars team that has lost four straight and where discipline appears to have disappeared - a shocking regression for any Tom Coughlin team either as a coach or a GM.   The faltering of Blake Bortles raises doubts about his viability going forward.

Chiefs over Cardinals -  The Chiefs keep on winning and look more like the Vikings of twenty years ago with each passing win. 

Buccaneers over Redskins -  The Bucs hung tough vs the Panthers last week but it wasn't enough; now they get a Redskins team humiliated by the Falcons last week; we doubt the Bucs will finish with a winning record but they can start salvaging something.   What is clear is Jameis Winston is done in Tampa Bay with a now-proven inability to make good decisions.

Bears over Lions -   Matthew Stafford was sacked ten times last week and thus does offensive line trouble add to a season threatening to fall to 6-10 or maybe worse in Matt Patricia's first year.   In just about every aspect - turnover differential, points scored, points allowed - the Bears are well ahead of the Lions, making Patricia's debut season the kind of rough "welcome to the NFL moment" that's so common.

Falcons over Browns -  The first game for interim coach Gregg Williams was competitive for only the first half, and now the Browns get a Falcons team that got a needed rout last week.   Momentum hasn't arrived for the Browns and we doubt it will begin this week.

Jets over Bills - Buffalo's quarterback situation has become a disaster and 2-14 now looks likely; this week they get a struggling Jets squad; calls to bench rookie Sam Darnold make no sense as he has to weather through the entire season first. 

The first jaw-dropper of Week 9 was the spectacular debut of second-year player and practice-squad callup Nick Mullins  

Chargers over Raiders -  The other jaw-dropper of the Niners-Raiders game was how abysmal the Raiders were with terrible play from Derek Carr and the popular belief that the Raiders players have quit on coach Jon Gruden; even belief that the Raiders will buy out his $100 million contract has circulated.    With the Chargers coming off a tighter-than-expected win at Seattle it won't get any better for the beleagured Raiders, perhaps the biggest disappointment of the season.

Rams over Seahawks -  The Seahawks are clearly no longer a playoff threat and they visit LA with the Rams smarting over a bitter loss at New Orleans. 

Dolphins over Packers - The Packers got exposed as a team that lacks toughness; they were looking to avoid contact on both sides of the ball for a striking amount of the game at Foxboro.  Now they host a Dolphins team that pulled a surprise in beating the Jets despite missing Ryan Tannehill and are an unnoticed 5-4 with a plus-five turnover differential vs. Green Bay's minus-one.    Aaron Rodgers has regressed back into the sloppy freelancing quarterback after being forced to play Bradyball in Week One vs the Bears. 

Eagles over Cowboys - The Eagles are struggling at 4-4 and coming off their bye week, but they get a mediocre Cowboys squad whose coach has been overdue for replacement despite Jerry Jones' inability to admit a guy he trained isn't capable.

49ers over Giants -   The collapse of the NY Giants continues.  We expect Nick Mullins to keep on keeping on vs the inept Giants.

Ten becomes Week Ten this weekend.

Monday, November 05, 2018

The Scam Of Matthew Shephard As A Martyr

In a preposterous gesture, Matthew Shephard was laid to rest at the National Cathedral as a gesture portraying him as a victim of a murder that was instigated by social repression over his homosexuality.   The two problems - his lifestyle serves no social or biological purpose, and he was killed in a drug deal gone bad - a fact homosexual intellectuals insist on denying. 

The gesture also strives to prevent recognition that "hate crimes" are a form of entitlement - conveying social superiority based on identity.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

The Border Controversy Fraud

The illegal immigration "debate" is not a debate, it's a sham.   Defenders of illegal immigrants refuse to admit the very real and open social costs of illegals and instead insist on not enforcing the law. They also falsify what the 14th Amemdment says in response to Pesident Trump's executive order ending the practice of letting "anchor babies" become automatic citizens.

Glossing Over Islamic Aggression

"In a small, crowded conference room at Georgetown University, around 40 people gathered to hear two academics from a Muslim background - Enes Bayrakli and Farid Hafez - discuss the topic of “Islamophobia” in Europe."

Then an Iranian woman in the audience asked what the difference is between "Islamophobia" and the aggression preached in Islamic communities - "How do you distinguish between Islamophobia and those who are legitimately afraid of a certain kind of Islam that is taking over their countries?"

So Much For Whitey Bulger

So ends one of the most fascinating and destructive stories in the annals of US organized crime.

What makes the rampage of the Boston, MA underworld personified and long led by James "Whitey" Bulger such a compelling history is that it was actively enabled by the FBI and by the US Congress, in the person of John William McCormack.   McCormack began his association with the Boston underworld and the FBI as an attorney during Prohibition representing the Gustin Gang, bootleggers from Boston.   When elected to the US House he began looking out for the Massachusetts State Senate seat to which young Billy Bulger was elected. 

McCormack also looked out for Billy's older brother, Whitey.  When Whitey served in the USAF he was court-martialed and openly told his accusers that McCormack would keep him out of trouble.   Whitey began male prostitution activities as a teen and in the 1950s went to prison after a string of bank robberies; McCormack worked to lessen Whitey's hardship in his nine years in prison.   After getting out of prison in March 1965 Whitey was given a no-show job as a janitor for Suffolk County, and before retiring in January 1971 McCormack instructed FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover to develop Whitey as an informant.

A month later Whitey, who by this point was a member of the Killeen Gang of Boston, was with a fellow gangster, Billy O'Sullivan, and O'Sullivan shot Buddy Roache, a member of the Mullen gang of Boston; Whitey was never indicted because when police tried to obtain arrest warrants they were rejected by the South Boston District Court - this thanks to Billy Bulger.

The FBI in 1961, on orders of then-new Attorney General Robert Kennedy - this to cover up his father Joe's long criminal career as well as his own relationships with gangsters such as Chicago's Sam Giancana - began developing informants to take down the Mafia.   In Boston agent Harold Paul "H. Paul" Rico was in charge of this task.   Rico was an FBI agent but he walked, talked, and acted like a gangster, and took a personal hatred of another Boston area gang, the gang of the McLaughlin brothers.   Rico's treachery was first shown when gangster Ronny Dermody, who'd once been arrested by Rico, went to him for help; Rico set him up ostensibly for a meeting - instead Rico sent rival gangster Buddy McLean to kill Dermody, then shielded McLean in his house in Belmont, MA.

Rico developed the Flemmi brothers - Vincent James "Jimmy The Bear" Flemmi and his younger brother Steve - as informants when they were apprentice gangsters working for the Bennett brothers, specifically Edward "Wimpy" Bennett.   Rico also developed psychopathic gangster Joe "The Animal" Barboza as an informant, and in March 1965 they killed minor mobster Edward "Teddy" Deegan; Rico made sure Barboza and Jimmy The Bear would not be indicted, and Barboza fingered four rival gangsters with Deegan's murder - the result was four men framed by the FBI spent some thirty years in prison, and it wasn't until the late 1990s that the FBI was exposed as sending to jail four innocent men to cover up for snitches of theirs - among the agents perpetuating the coverup was Robert Mueller, presently investigating President Trump and getting nowhere with it.

By 1972 with gang war raging, Whitey arranged a meeting with infamous Boston hitman Johnny Martorano, who was with one of the strongest gangs in the area, based in Winter Hill in Somerville.  Martorano was friends with Howie Winter, the gang's leader, and he felt he owed a favor to Billy O'Sullivan.   As a result, Whitey was brought into the Winter Hill Gang.  In this time of the early 1970s Whitey was finally developed into an official FBI informant working for John Joseph Connolly, who'd spent his life getting favors from Billy Bulger and who apprenticed with Rico. 

Connolly now served as point man for protecting Whitey Bulger, and in the 1970s the Winter Hill Gang became involved in extortions, race-fixing, and sports betting among whatever racket they decided to become involved with.  Their strength increased in 1974 - Steve Flemmi years earlier had been allowed to escape prosecution by the FBI, helping him move to Montreal under an alias.   In 1974 the FBI brought him back to Boston to continue as an FBI snitch.   Steve Flemmi was soon taking up with teenage girls such as Deborah "Debbi" Davis, who worked for a famed Boston-area dealer in stolen items, and he also had a wife in Marion Hussey, but it was her daughter Deborah who bore brunt of sexual aggression by Steve; also imposed upon by Steve was Debbi Davis' younger sister Michelle.   Michelle would die of an overdose around 2006, but Debbi was murdered by Whitey and Steve when she became tired of being part of Steve's harem; Debbi had a cousin, Eva "Liz" McDonough, who was girlfriend of gang member Nick Giso; when she demanded answers from Steve about her cousin's disappearance Whitey and Steve tried to set up her murder - and missed.

Whitey-involved murders rampaged in the Boston area in the 1970s.   A rival gang led by Al "Indian Al" Angeli and his brother "Indian Joe" Notarangeli was killed in the 1973-74 period - this as a paid favor to Mafia boss Gennaro "Gerry" Angiulo, and at least one innocent bystander was gunned down by mistake in this gang conflict.  A former friend of Whitey, Tommy King, was murdered and later that same night King's friend, Francis "Buddy" Leonard, was killed.  Club owner Richie Castucci had participated in the gang's sport betting operation, but when the gang hid two of its members out in New York City, Castucci - himself an FBI rat - told his Buearu pals; Connolly got word to the gang and at the end of December 1976 Castucci was murdered; Connolly covered up the murder by claiming it to be the work of the Mafia - "Winter Hill doesn't kill like that."

When Anthony "Fat Tony" Ciulla, the Winter Hill Gang's master race-fixer, was indicted in the late-1970s Zip Connolly and the similarly corrupt head of the Bureau's Organized Crime Strike Force in Boston, Jeremiah O'Sullivan, made sure to cut Whitey and Steve Flemmi out of indictment - this as everyone else went down. 

Their master hitman Johnny Martorano was tipped to the pending indictment and fled to Florida, sustained there by Whitey and the FBI as an ace-in-the-hole.   Zip Connolly meanwhile fought to protect Whitey when the FBI tried to terminate him as an informant; this stemmed from MA State Police surveillance efforts continually frustrated because Connolly was tipping Whitey to them.  Connolly and Jeremiah O'Sullivan wanted Whitey and Steve as informant to justify a massive bugging operation at Gennaro Angiulo's headquarters on Prince Street in Boston.

The operation led to Angiulo's 1983 arrest, but in the meantime Whitey directly instigated or helped instigate other murders.   Another Connolly informant, a flamboyant drug lord named Louie Litif, killed one of his dealers and a witnessing bartender; Connolly covered up this murder and this was established when his letter to the insurance company of the bartender's family was presented as evidence in his later racketeering trial.   Litif was then killed himself by Whitey with help from another gangster, Brian Halloran, who himself would be killed at Whitey's behest in 1982. 

Part of the reason for Halloran's murder is he'd been involved in the murder or Roger Wheeler, a businessman who'd purchased the gaming company World Jai Alai, that had been owned by businessman John Callahan.   Callahan was ousted because he was hanging out with Winter Hill members and had been quietly giving money to them.   Wheeler retained as head of security former FBI agent H. Paul Rico, but soon discovered he was being skimmed.   He accelerated his investigation when one of his cashiers, Peggy Westcoat, who may have known who was involved, was murdered with her boyfriend in 1980.   Whitey, Steve, and Rico commissioned Martorano to kill Wheeler and thus keep them all out of jail.   Not until 2004 would Rico finally face indictment for instigating Wheeler's murder.

In 1980 a gang that included cops robbed a Medford, MA bank and stole what turned out to Angiulo cash.   The leader, Arthur "Bucky" Barrett, returned the money to Angiulo upon learning who it belonged to, but in 1983 Whitey and Steve grabbed him, extorted $60,000 from him, then killed him.   He was buried in the basement of a house the two owned in South Boston, and Barrett's two sons never recovered, killing themselves years later.  Around that same time Whitey and Steve killed Deborah Hussey, Steve's stepdaughter, because she'd confessed to Marion Hussey that she'd been fellating Steve; she was buried in the same basement. 

Then in 1984 Whitey got involved in drug running, though a weed importer named Joe Murray.  His gang tried to smuggle seven tons worth of Whitey-supplied weapons to the Irish Republican Army, but their boats were grabbed.  The DEA, unaware of the corruption of the FBI, revealed they were tipped by a gang member, John McIntyre.  Upon learning this from the Bureau, Whitey killed him.

Whitey's protection didn't end with the FBI - Boston's largest paper The Boston Globe effectively covered up for Whitey, claiming him to be innocent and repeating the line "he kept the drugs out of Southie."   Only in 1988 did the Globe acknowledge he had a "special relationship" with the FBI.  Billy Bulger, meanwhile, had become as Mass Senate President the de facto governor of the state and steered money his way while working to keep Whitey and others out of trouble; he'd even tried to get Zip Connolly appointed as Boston Police Commssioner, and when Whitey telephoned him Billy refused to inform police of such calls, despite being required to do so as an officer of the court.  Billy also stonewalled a grand jury in 2001 about helping his brother, a federal fugitive.  He finally testified before Congress under a grant of immunity, the same deal Whitey's fellow gangsters got before testifying, and even then lied in claiming ignorance.

In 1990 after busting wannabe Mafia boss "Rubber Lips" Patriarca, Connolly retired from the FBI and was given a politically-connected utility security job.   But in 1995 the feds, by now recognizing to keep the FBI out of it, handed down indictments to Whitey and his gang; Whitey fled, having spent twenty years establishing aliases and setting up safe-deposit boxes around the world.

Handling the trial was Judge Mark Wolf, a former member of the office of attorney William Weld before Weld was elected Massachusetts governor; Wolf had directly or indirectly witnessed when Jeremiah O'Sullivan worked to cover up for Whitey and Steve, and thus Wolf was the one who forced the FBI to admit the two gangsters were informants and to turn over old documents - it was these documents proving Whitey and Steve had set him up all these years that caused Johnny Martorano to finally turn on his former friends and expose them for what they were.   And by the time of Whitey's 2011 arrest Connolly and Flemmi were convicted criminals and Rico was dead. 

And now Whitey is gone, responsible directly or indirectly for some 59 murders and unknown millions of dollars stolen - all enabled by the FBI at the behest of a crooked US House Speaker.

The cliche still works - you can't make up this stuff.

Week Nine To The Nines

Cincinnati raced to a big lead but when the Bucs changed quarterbacks they rallied to force a late Bengals game-winning drive; the game raised more questions about the future of Jameis Winston, benched after four INTs

The NFL reaches Week Nine, and with six teams on byes, pickings get somewhat slim.

Raiders over 49ers -   The question here is - will C.J Beathard play given a wrist issue?  He's listed as probable, but assuming he plays he hasn't proven he can handle the NFL game.   The Raiders meanwhile are still striving for some kind of momentum to win.

Vikings over Lions - Remember Detroit's three-game streak over the Vikings?  That seems like Barry Sanders-level history right now.   The Lions are 3-4 and haven't forced a turnover in two straight games, while the Vikings have something in common with the Lions in they're both coming off ugly losses.   Kirk Cousins didn't cover himself in glory last week and one wonders if he gets back the fire he showed earlier this year.

Falcons over Redskins -   This is a bit of a tricky pick given the mediocrity of the Falcons at 3-4 vs the 5-2 Redskins, but while I don't like how the Falcons are playing right now I'm not sold on the Redskins as much as I like Alex Smith as a quarterback.

Panthers over Buccaneers - This may erupt in points with the return of Ryan Fitzpatrick as Bucs starter and the Panthers winners of three of their last four with over 30 points in three games this season and the 17-point comeback vs the Eagles still fresh in memory.

NY Jets over Dolphins -  Losers of four of their last five, the Dolphins also may be stuck with Brock Osweiler for awhile with Ryan Tannehill questionable.   The Dolphins are also giving up 7.9 yards per pass, which may help a struggling Sam Darnold, stuck at 55% completion and who has led the Jets to a combined 27 points in the last two games

Ravens over Steelers -  The Ravens are still smarting over losing three of their last four and get a Steelers team they manhandled earlier this year.   The Steelers have rallied with three straight wins, but those have come against two teams they dominate (Cleveland and Cincinnati) and a mediocre Atlanta squad.

Bears over Bills - The collapse of the Bills continues and the Bears come in needing a win to continue gaining momentum with games against the Vikings and other quality teams looming.

Chiefs over Browns -  This will be a fascinating matchup with the surging Chiefs taking on a Browns team that fired its head coach and offensive coordinator - it's a wonder they kept Hue Jackson after his embarrassing hands-off/analytics philosophy expressed on Hard Knocks and resultant underachievement.   The Browns have shown genuine talent and moxie this season, so we don't expect any pushover for the Chiefs.

Texans over Broncos -   Houston has evolved from their 0-3 start to now look again like the Warren Moon Oilers, especially in putting up 42 points against a Dolphins team that hung tougher longer than expected going in.   It seems clear Deshaun Watson is healthier now and that's great news for the Texans facing a 3-5 Broncos team unable to regain the momentum of their first two weeks.

Chargers over Seahawks - San Diego is 5-2 vs a 4-3 Seattle squad that is 1-1 vs. the Chargers in the Pete Carroll period.    The Chargers have yet to beat a team with a winning record this season, but then neither have the Seahawks.   The resurgence of the Chargers has been amazing and stands in contrast to a perceived shakiness in Pete Carroll's program.

Rams over Saints -  This is the clash most looked forward to, as the Rams edged out the Saints in a lowish-scoring affair in 2017 at the Coliseum.   The potential big difference is the Saints are 23rd in fewest points allowed, but the way offenses have erupted of late I'm doubtful they won't score much against the Rams.   The Saints also have an edge in run defense, leading the league in fewest rushing yards per game (and a paltry 3.2 yards per carry allowed) as they take on the Rams' league-leading ground attack.

Patriots over Packers -  The Packers come off a bitter loss at the Rams and come in 0-3 on the road.   Aaron Rodgers comes in with the three-score comeback against the Bears - only the seventh such comeback from down at least two scores in his career -  a distant memory now and looking more like the old off-the-back-foot Aaron Rodgers vs. the one who for the first (and seemingly last) time had to play Brady Ball in the win over the Bears.   The Patriots defense looks shaky but is ahead of the Packers in points allowed, plus the Patriots offense should show up better after playing down to the subpar Bills - an annoying habit permeating the Belichick era of playing up to good teams and down to bad ones.  

Titans over Cowboys -  The Titans come off their bye and off a bitter loss to the Chargers on a missed two-point conversion.   The stats don't look good for the Titans, but the situational execution looks a lot better, as Tennessee has been in every game except the embarrassment against the Ravens, and have wins over Houston and Philadelphia, both at .500 or better.   The Cowboys come in as a rollercoaster - loss, win, loss, win, loss in overtime, win, loss - and no win over anyone with a winning or .500 record.   Jason Garrett's reputation as a sham coach/bobo of Jerry Jones isn't being dissuaded, and stands in contrast to the strong beginning for first-year Titans coach Mike Vrabel.  

Happy post-Halloween.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Overhyping Of Short Tracks Hits Again In Finale Of 2018

Talladega's October weekend was a tale of two radically different races.   The Truck 250 was a highly-competitive affair with some very aggressive push-drafting and a last-lap crash; when it was over Timothy Peters grabbed the win, his first since 2015 and first in Maury Gallagher's Chevrolets.

The slicing and dicing in the Truck 250 stood in surprising contrast to the Diehard 500 where the Stewart-Haas Racing Fords lined up together and displayed a power like race sponsor One Thousand Bulbs  - an online lighting retailer.  The SHR Fords refused to race each other, playing the team-order game to a strikingly effective - and controversial - degree.

But it's been the subsequent Old Dominion 500 weekend that's caused recent excitement.   Martinsville had the usual incidence of crashes - including a pit road gaffe by Clint Bowyer with William Byron -  as Joey Logano led some 300 laps before late-race pit shuffling put Logano back in the lead.

But it was Martin Truex who tried to steal the show - and wound up getting the win stolen on him.   Truex was livid at Logano afterward, and he arguably has a case for anger - he raced Logano clean (something too many racers seem to have forgotten how to execute) and Logano swerved him.

The Old Dominion 500 finish brought back memory of Logano's introduction to national racing and the 2009 Toyota Showdown at Irwindale Speedway.

The buffoonery at Martinsville marred what was developing into a memorable finish regardless of outcome, and the action brought yet more social and regular-media hype about how good short track racing is.   NBC analyst Jeff Burton - a winner at Martinsville in 1997 in a good clean nose-to-nose dice with Bobby Hamilton - stated on his Twitter account that "the combination of a short track and the Playoffs.....(meant) these drivers are under more pressure to perform than ever before."

Which leads, though, to the obvious - so where, Jeff, are the 35 lead changes?  The track has broken 30 official lead changes three times this decade and even such races at Burton's 1997 win, Hamilton's subsequent 1998 win, John Andretti's 1999 win, to name three, were genuinely competitive affairs even though they didn't reach that level, so Martinsville has unquestionably been a legitimately competitive track. 

Yet the hype for "more short tracks" after such races continues the deplorable approach of pitting speedways against each other and sells short tracks as more than what they are.  

It is illustrated most graphically in Dave Moody's postrace blog posting, a piece worth a response.

Moody is flat wrong about why the speedway building boom of 1996 onward favored 1.5-mile tracks - that design was chosen because it was large enough for 100,000-plus seating and luxury boxes, small enough to avoid the criticism that "we can't see the whole track," and was a competition model that had delivered quality racing.

As shown in the 1997 Vegas BGN 300, the 1.5 milers are fundamentally sound as a competition venue.  

Atlanta became a very competitive race for four seasons 1999-2003 as a quad-oval.

Moody's assertion that "Over the last five to seven years the best racing in NASCAR has invariably been found on the short tracks and the road courses," is also not true.   The best racing in the decade by far has been on the restrictor plate tracks.   Pocono has also seen some strikingly physical racing, notably the crash-torn 2010 season.   And the most celebrated Winston Cup race of this span remains Fontana in 2013.  That doesn't mean there haven't been memorable short track races in that span; it means the maligned bigger tracks have delivered as well.

An irony is the collapse of popularity of Bristol, which altered its corners to where by 2010 there was sustained side by side racing up front as had been the case there in 1989-91 - racing that was notably cleaner than the one-groove demo derbies that permeated the track 1992-2009.   And fans began protesting against it - there was unavoidable verbiage to get Bristol back to the one-groove mess it had been.   Fickle fans, indeed.

The main gripe about bigger tracks is aeropush, which ignores where aeropush began - at Martinsville.   Bobby Hamilton following the 1996 Old Dominion 500 stated there was aerodynamic push in the cars in that race.   Short track aeropush has been reality as long as aeropush has existed, making utter nonsense of the indictment of bigger tracks.

Related is the common claim that on short tracks "aero doesn't matter."   Any casual look at Late Models shows this statement is laughable - Late Models look more like superspeedway cars than today's superspeedway cars do.   And back in the day the aerodynamic rake of Richard Petty's mid-80s Pontiacs was compared to the aero rake of dirt cars.

Moody claims fans are "voting with their wallets and credit cards."   Are they?   The short tracks NASCAR has haven't sold any better than superspeedways; Bristol in particular posted a very solid crowd in its recent Volunteer 500 but some of its recent Southeastern 500 crowds have been shockingly nonexistent.   And this recent Martinsville race was anything but sold out - which led to a Twitter rant during the Truck 250 there that fans who claim to want more short tracks need to come out and actually support the short tracks.

Moody indicts several races like the Brickyard Xfinity 250 in advocating returning the Xfinity series to Indy Raceway Park.   The phase-in of the NA18D draft duct package in that race in its last two runnings makes complete nonsense of dropping the Brickyard in favor of a forgettable bullring.   No IRP race ever measured up to the 2017-18 Brickyard 250s in competitive excellence.

The same is true of the Truck Series, whose big track races have been competitive to a level its 1995-2000 run primarily on short tracks never was.   Moody uses the cliché "return to its roots."  The cliché in blunt fact means "drag the sport back to the farm" - regression.

Moody also repeats the claim that the schedules will be shaken up after 2020 when the present set of sanctioning agreements expires.   The claim has never held up credibly because of a complete lack of logic - the sport is going to drop races on big tracks in good markets in favor of bullrings in weak markets?   Often advocated is moving Cup dates to Iowa Speedway - a track owned by NASCAR and which would already have gotten Cup dates if the concept was in any way credible.

"The excitement generated by the Charlotte Roval and Martinsville in recent weeks is difficult to ignore."   The superior racing in the Talladega Truck 250 is also difficult to ignore.  The excellent racing generated by the coming NA18D package is also difficult to ignore.   NASCAR needs to field the most competitive racing the sport can get, and the objective reality is it is not a case for more short tracks.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Hate Crime Myth

First a repost from February 29, 2016:

The numbers disprove the existence of hate crimes.

We now add this piece on fraudulence in "hate crimes."

NFL Week Eight Arrives

The Patriots had a far more competitive game vs the Bears than anyone likely expected, and concern about the Patriots defense have led to rumor of a trade for Patrick Peterson from the Cardinals

The NFL's eighth week arrives, so we try again with picks even though for the year we're not that great - about .500 -

Texans over Dolphins - Miami will be without Ryan Tannehill and ex-Texan Brock Osweiler will start.   Osweiler's regression as a quarterback has been striking as his replacement, Deshaun Watson, is steadily improving and the Texans have won four straight coming in.

Eagles over Jaguars, London - There has been a ridiculous controversy where Colin Kaepernick suck-ups have been demanding the Jaguars sign Kaepernick even though Bortles has as many wins this year alone as Kaepernick had his final two playing seasons.  The Eagles for their part aren't better off, after blowing a 17-point lead to the Panthers.

The other subplot here is Jaguars owner Shad Khan has withdrawn a big to purchase Wembley Stadium - a sign the Jaguars see there isn't a future in permanently moving to London.

Chiefs over Broncos - Denver played tough vs Kansas City the first time, expect the same here.

Browns over Steelers - This is a risky pick given the Steelers' turnaround in recent games, but the Browns are well ahead of where they were in 2017 and their comeback to the tie in Week One indicates they're no longer afraid of the Steelers.

Bears over NY Jets - The Jets' poor performance against the Vikings is a bad sign after back-to-back wins.   Sam Darnold was not prepared for the cold day and the Bears are coming off a bitter loss.

Redskins over NY Giants - The Giants still played respectably in the Monday Night loss at Atlanta, but it now seems they are in rebuilding mode with the trade of serially-immature defensive back Eli Woodard - aka Eli Apple - to the Saints.    The Redskins meanwhile are 4-2 and that should get better with this matchup.

Panthers over Ravens - Both teams have four wins but while Cam Newton and Joe Flacco both have eleven touchdowns, Newton got his scores with 94 fewer passes.   The Ravens have been uneven in their last three games at 1-2 vs Carolina's 2-1 in that same span.

Bengals over Buccaneers -  After getting obliterated in prime time the Bengals right now don't look like potential division champs but they get a Bucs team that changed quarterbacks and needed overtime to beat the Browns.

Lions over Seahawks - The Lions now appear to be slowly buying into Matt Patricia, this as the Seahawks come in and both teams are winners of three of their last four games.  

Colts over Raiders -  The Raiders now appear in true teardown and rebuild mode as Jon Gruden continues to remove players he inherited and the Colts come in off a needed win and averaging 32 points scored in their last four games.

Cardinals over Niners -  The Josh Rosen experiment is off to a terrible start, but his first win was at San Francisco, which still has yet to see any winning out of C.J. Beathard, this despite a 62% completion rate to Rosen's 55%.

Rams over Packers - The Packers and Aaron Rodgers - perennially overrated.   The Rams - right now it's hard to see who will stop them.  

Vikings over Saints -  Drew Brees' career struggle against the Ravens nearly saw at least an overtime game, and his recent struggle against the Vikings comes to mind as the Saints march into the New Humphrey Dome and in Kirk Cousins a quarterback who's actually thrown for more yards and touchdowns than Brees.  

Patriots over Bills -  Rookie quarterbacks usually struggle, and this stat illustrates the lopsided nature of this matchup - Josh Allen has fewer touchdowns this season (two) than Tom Brady had vs. the Bears (three).     The fact Brady's loudmouth wife Gisele will take over Brady's normal spot with Jim Gray on the Westwood One halftime show is almost more interesting than this matchup.

So it goes for Week Eight.