Monday, January 26, 2015

Jindal Gets It About Islamo-Arab Imperialism

Bobby Jindal gets it - Muslims are refusing to assimilate, instead carving out little micro-empires where they impose terrorist law - known as Sharia - and kill as they please.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Patriots Get Smeared By Media Again

Suddenly the mantra that the New England Patriots are cheaters has become the Mainstream Sports Media's rallying cry yet again, this time on allegations made by an Indianapolis Colts TV reporter (from WTHR TV; the story was almost certainly leaked to WTHR by the Colts, with some scuttlebutt being Jim Irsay himself leaked the story) than the Patriots were caught deflating footballs in the AFC Championship Game, a 45-7 Patriots win in rain.   A D'Qwell Jackson interception of Brady ostensibly began the story.

Jackson, though, has denied his involvement, and a subsequent story that the Baltimore Ravens alerted the Colts to impropriety has also been disproved.  It is the first of the immediate problems with the story.   The league controls the footballs on gameday and between referees, security teams, and video cameras it is physically impossible to tamper with them.   Also, deflated footballs tend to be inferior in throwing, thus quarterbacks insist they be properly inflated (Aaron Rodgers' now-famous CBS interview in the 2014 season is an example); moreover the allegation that deflated footballs offer more grip is not plausible in game conditions.  

The atmospherics of footballs do change in game conditions, like NASCAR tires - David Pearson for one famously always told Glen and Leonard Wood, "blow the right rear up" to stagger the car and make it turn better; in the modern day of radial tires prerace underinflation is necessary to get pressures up to proper levels under racing conditions - and they are prepared for specific weather accordingly.

But it isn't stopping the media from fabricating a litany of cheating by the Patriots such as the four-lineman formation used against the Ravens.   Sports Illustrated wants to portray this as a circumvention of NFL rules because the Patriots ran a hurry-up offense with it.   It's no circumvention of anything.   SI also tries to claim Patriot ball boys spy on opponent locker rooms, except it physically can't be done; visitor team security controls visitor team locker rooms.   The story also dregs up Spygate, ignoring it was refuted by the fact of what the rulebook actually says, and even claims a gigantic television screen atop the CBS Scene somehow helps the Patriots sideline when it cannot be seen from inside the stadium.  Even worse, the piece claimed the NFL made rule changes in the wake of Brady's injury in 2008 - except the change in question happened in 2006 because of injury to Carson Palmer. 

The bottom line is there is no evidence of tampering - and on the contrary the actual evidence is indicative that no tampering happened.   The much-discussed Chris Mortenson report that eleven game balls were found underinflated loses credibility with each hour - according to Andy Hart the actual figure given was 0.2, not two - and following Belichick and Brady press conferences there clearly is some kind of disagreement between the Patriots and the league over what constitutes "underinflation."

The media's hatred of the Patriots is based on hatred of their "no-fun" approach to football.   They approach it as a machine-like endeavor instead of as a slapdash freelancing exercise.    Thus they lack the "fun" of other teams that don't win.  There is also the groupthink mentality permeating the media in general and the sports media in particular, where analysis counter to the established storyline has a habit of being suppressed - a saner media would have by now given substantial coverage of exculpatory information regarding the Patriots.

The entire episode yet again showcases the need for a substantial ideological change in the sports media (an example of such dissension can be found in this point-by-point examination of the Michael Rosenberg piece).   There is not supposed to be any groupthink, and objective benefit of the doubt is supposed to exist.   Sports Illustrated should be mocked and ridiculed for posting a dishonest story about the Patriots; instead the fact of the story being false is widely ignored.

The other angle is yet another reappraisal of Roger Goodell's competence as commissioner.   Adam Schefter has reported extreme difficulty at finding evidence, but the more plausible explanation is the league is trying to save face with an investigation it had no business undertaking.   It is indicative of Goodell that an investigation was launched at all and has floundered on its own lack of credibility.

Also warranting condemnation are the Indianapolis Colts, whose complaints initiated the controversy and which clearly had no justification for being made. 

The smearing has to stop.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Patriots Seahawks First Thoughts

The New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks will renew a unique rivalry in football circles when they face off in Superbowl XLIX.   It will be the seventeenth career meeting between the two clubs and the first in any kind of playoff context.   The rivalry is unique in NFL annals as the Patriots have faced the Seahawks when Seattle was in both NFL conferences - The Patriots were 6-7 against the Seahawks when Seattle was in the AFC West and is 2-1 since divisional realignment put the Seahawks into the NFC West.  

The two clubs have clashed in several memorable affairs - in 1980 Steve Grogan's Patriots won 37-31 after the game lead changed some five times; in 1984 Tony Eason got his first action in erasing a 23-0 Seahawks lead to win 38-23, the largest Patriots comeback win until 2013's thriller from down 24-0 to the Broncos.   Two years later the Seahawks won 38-31 by scoring on two blocked kicks.   The two clubs met twice in 1993 in the battle of that year's top two draft picks in Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer; the Seahawks clawed out wins in both meetings.   2012 saw a bitter 24-23 Seahawks win on a comeback by Russell Wilson in the first meeting between the Patriots and their former coach Pete Carroll. 

Some takes on the two clubs following their Conference Championships -

Andrew Luck continues to regress against the Patriots - Andrew Luck, the more he plays against the Patriots, the worse he seems to get.   He has ten interceptions in four career meetings with the Patriots and has a grand total of 72 points against them vs. nearly 200 scored against him by the Patriots.  

Curiously Brady struggles in the passing game against Chuck Pagano  - Though he had a solid day with three touchdowns, Tom Brady curiously has not been as prolific in his passing attack against Chuck Pagano's Colts than he did in years past.   The last three games have been defined by the running attack, notably Legarrette Blount's continuing rampage through the Indianapolis defense.

Wilson plays poorly but also plays clutch - A grossly underrated aspect of the Seahawks' win is the Packers' utter incompetence at situational football.  The fake field goal was one thing; the failure on the onside kick was worse.   Then there was Russell Wilson, who for the longest time looked completely in over his head, until the moment when he had to step up his game - and did just that.

Aaron Rodgers gets exposed as a fraud by the Seahawks yet again - This was worse than his other losses to Seattle, because Rodgers was able to jump the Packers to a 16-0 lead, yet at no point did he look in control of the game.   When the Seahawks scored on the fake field goal that was when the momentum turned decisively against the Packers.   Under Aaron Rodgers the Packers are entirely dependent on frontrunning; Rodgers is not capable of handling this kind of adversity - when he frontruns he looks great, but when he can't put a team away he falters and almost always loses.   With opportunities to stop the bleeding, Rodgers didn't do it.   He has now lost five of eleven career playoff games and the 2010 Superbowl looks more and more like the aberration of a career that may have plateaued years ago.

Seahawks barely escape the trap - The other shock was how poorly prepared the Seahawks were for the first half.   Inability to hold onto the ball, stupid penalties, and inability to generate any offense was mind-numbing and raised questions about what the heck the gameplan coming in was supposed to be.   The Seahawks also better know the Patriots have a far better offense than Aaron Rodgers can generate.

Those are the quick takes as we prepare for the two week long pregame shows on the Superbowl.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Hill Of Beans From The Foreign Service

Christopher Hill is a foreign policy hack who refuses to get it about the real world - that diplomacy doesn't work.

Patriots Ravens Playoff Postgame

Quote the Ravens never more.

The Patriots-Ravens rivalry has become a bona-fide star vehicle in NFL circles and the 35-31 Patriots comeback stands as one of the league's signature playoff thrillers (doubly amazing given the Wildcard round is the round that usually produces the crazy playoff games).   There is naturally much to break down in this game.   My own observations -


Tom Brady yet again proves it's quarterbacking and not defense or the run game - Tom Brady got next to nothing in run support and his defense was all but useless for extremely long stretches; even when the defense stood its ground better in the second half the ease with which the Ravens moved the ball was akin to watching another former AFC Central team, the old Warren Moon Houston Oilers.   Brady was also in spots under outright siege from the Ravens defensive front.

But Brady is the best playoff quarterback in NFL history for a reason - he stepped up his game and as he did he made the rest of the team better; the offensive line got stronger as the game went on and the defense finally started making plays in the second half.  

Brady in 2006 against San Diego became the first quarterback (in 27 tries to that point) to win a regulation-length playoff game by throwing over 50 passes; he matched that feat against the Ravens.  He also broke Joe Montana's record for most touchdowns in playoff games.

Joe Cool and Tom Terrific can share a Papa Johns pizza while chatting up their playoff careers, since as the commercial notes Joe Montana shows up for the playoffs, Peyton.

When Brady engages more people in the offense, good things result - Attention was paid to how Rob Gronkowski would handle the Ravens defense, but in a sense the more dangerous tight end weapon was Michael Hoomanuwanui (four catches for 43 yards) while Danny Amendola, much criticized by some fans because of injuries, took over several drives.  In all Brady completed 15 passes for 182 yards to the usual suspects, Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, but for a change they were not the focal point of the offense, especially when Edelman caught Brady's lateral and unloaded the touchdown bomb to Amendola - #11 throwing to #80 is so Drew Bledsoe to Irving Fryar of them.

This game showed how the Patriots do not miss Logan Mankins - Incredibly some local talk shows were resurrecting the trade of Mankins to Tampa Bay and how the Patriots may have made a colossal mistake doing so given the ostensible struggles of the offensive line late in the season.   Not having Mankins, though, exposed how much tougher the line now is - the line lost Bryan Stork yet as the game went on the line played better, to where it finally wore out the Ravens front; notable is the Patriots line held the Ravens' trash-talking resident fatass Terrell Suggs to half a sack and one overall tackle.  

For once the refs deserve some criticism - Normally I don't go after the refs for how they officiate a game, but the Ravens definitely benefitted from several dubious calls on the Patriots, notably the penalty where Steve Smith got away with a push-off while he drew a phantom holding call that wiped out a Patriots strip-sack of Flacco near the Ravens goalline.   The Ravens also were engaged in the kind of after-the-play cheapshottery that teams at least borderline dirty need to succeed.

The Ravens really are a dirty team - Bill Belichick normally does not bring up an opponent's tactics and when he does it's because there's usually something there.   The Ravens' employment of cut-blocking tactics has been controversial from the old Denver Broncos days, such as when Bryan Cox had his leg broken in 2001 in a game at Denver.   It showed again in numerous skirmishes on the field (including a reported confrontation after the game between Steve Smith and former Patriot and Panther Jermaine Wiggins), but it also showed in John Harbaugh's meltdown and inability to handle the Patriots' O-line combos in the second half - when bullies get exposed, they vent impotently; such was John Harbaugh.

This game also showcased anew Joe Flacco's flaw as a quarterback - There is certainly no question Joe Flacco has proven himself as a real playoff quarterback and overall a pretty good one, but this game also showed how dependent he is on pass interference penalties to move the offense.

Justin Forsett is a stark Raven beast - He busted out 129 rushing yards and some five yards per carry, doubly amazing given he got no help in the ground game from anyone else.

The Ravens are better on fourth down than third - The Ravens converted all three fourth-down plays, as opposed to being 1 for 9 on third down.

Was that Roger Goodell going Bill France Jr. on us? - Back in the day NASCAR president Bill France Jr. famously bought his hotdogs during Daytona races from the regular food stands alongside regular fans.  It was curious seeing NFL head honcho Roger Goodell shivering in the regular grandstands for this game.

Patriots win in an overlooked stat - The Patriots won the contest of average yards gained per offensive play - 6.4 YPP versus the Ravens' 5.9.

So the Patriots await the Indianapolis-Denver game while the Superbowl rematch with the Panthers will have to wait another year.

Friday, January 02, 2015

The Facts About Trayvon Martin And Company

Police brutality stories have been all the rage of recent, and the stories about Trayvon Martin and company have been not just wrong, but dishonest. Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner were criminals caught in the act of attacking people. Those are the facts, and the portrayal of them as martyrs is a lie. Period.