Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Ted Cruz, the Anti-Obama

Ted Cruz's weaknesses have been examined - also worth examining are his strengths.

College Students: Stop Acting Like You're Made of Sugar Candy

College Students need to be toughened up in life - and so do children.

How Islamists Infiltrate British Democracy

The same way other terrorist ideologies do - by lying about themselves. The "Muslim vote" has suddenly become an issue in European elections, this despite no credibility to Muslim "concerns."

Obama's Inaccurate 14 Million Claim

Obama claims over 14 million people gained health coverage because of Obamacare.   The actual data though shows no such increase - and increases that did happen likely did so because of regular market action, not because of Obamacare. The fact Obamacare isn't working is something about which Obama remains in denial.

Justice Is Blind

Dueling DOJ reports on Ferguson.

The Punishment Of Science

Science is coming under increasing attack from leftism.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Football Convicted Of.......Nothing

NOTE: The following was first published on February 5, 2013:

Junior Seau's suicide was the latest indictment of football as a sport that's killing its participants due to concussions.
Seau's autopsy showed no brain damage, though a later examination apparently established the presence of CTE - aka brain degeneration. The study of concussions has produced more assumption than hard fact, shown in criticism of Deion Sanders when he defended the safety of the game following Super Bowl XLVII. Sanders' point is shown in more frequent head injuries in soccer and football-related brain injury deaths, averaging 20 per year in the 1960s, is in effect gone from the game, and even this may be overselling the danger. The fact is Sanders is right - football is a safe game.  

FOLLOW-UP, June 3, 2014: The initial lawsuit against the NFL was settled before the 2013 season with a $765 million payout to former players; the lawyers initially wanted $2 billion, but settled for less than half as their case wasn't credible enough to win all of it. The $765 million could likely have been negotiated without any lawsuit threat. Now a follow-up lawsuit has supposedly been filed; Dan Marino was reported (on June 2) to be involved but this was followed by a report that he withdrew the next day. Amid this, PBS aired a "documentary" based on the book League Of Denial - but the evidence about concussions and danger to players isn't as solid as the media portrays it. There is also what the November 2012 International Conference On Concussion In Sport stated.  

FOLLOW-UP, March 18, 2015:  The sudden retirement of 49ers player Chris Borland after one season has stirred up more debate about football risk, as Borland cited concern over head injuries (this despite having no recognizable head injuries from his brief career) and in effect smeared the safety of the game on Outside The Lines, which led to a Steelers team doctor defending the game's safety, a defense nicely examined by Mike Florio and also this Jerry Thornton piece about coaching youth football.

What Obama’s Rush to Iran Détente Means

Obama's appeasement of Iranian nuclear weapons is part of his larger appeasement of Iranian imperialism.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Jake Locker And Darrelle Revis Headline NFL March

NFL free agency has hit for 2015 and the big story is the signing of cornerback Darrelle Revis to the New York Jets for five years, $70 million, $39 million of is guaranteed, and $48 million of it coming in 2015-17.  The signing comes after his deal with the New England Patriots was not renewed and one can expect local criticism of the Patriots for not matching the Jets' offer.

Such criticism comes seemingly whenever the Patriots make a controversial roster move, and it of course flies in the face of the team's history under Bill Belichick.   No player is made the highest paid at any position, even with the five year $40-plus million deal for safety Devin McCourty.   The Patriots' roster and salary cap philosophy has not only stood the test of time, it has gotten stronger as time has gone on.  

The two biggest blunders in sports analysis are blunders the New York Jets make at seemingly every turn - falling in love with a Name and falling in love with Volume Stats.   Darrelle Revis is the ultimate Name player and team owner Woody Johnson made getting him back the priority for the Jets and his new general manager.   Johnson's interference in football operations has become a story in recent years with the Jets; under his ownership from the start of the 1999 season, Johnson's Jets have won 125 games - roughly an 8-8 season each year for sixteen seasons; only four times has Johnson seen his club reach ten wins and only six times did his club win a playoff game - with no playoff appearances in the last four seasons.  

The signing of Revis is yet another example of the Jets' wrongheaded approach to football - they care too much about Names, and about "winning in March."   Darrelle Revis won a Superbowl with the Patriots - no other team has won anything with him.   


One is also hard-pressed to remember the last time a team won anything because it signed a well-regarded cornerback.   The only analogy one can come up with is Deion Sanders; after winning just thirty games in five seasons with the Falcons, Sanders was signed by the 49ers and won Superbowl XXIX, then was seized by the Cowboys in a famed bidding war that earned angry words from Niners team owner Eddie DeBartolo.  

Studying the time of Deion in Dallas is instructive in how a team can overvalue a cornerback.   Sanders did not report to the Cowboys until halfway through the 1995 season; by the time he arrived the Cowboys were 8-1; they went 4-3 with Sanders, then stormed through the playoffs, with Sanders authoring a memorable performance against the Eagles.   But after winning Superbowl XXX the Cowboys went 34-30 in the 1996-99 seasons and Deion was off to an ill-advised season with Dan Snyder and the Redskins.  

It's noteworthy than 2014 was Revis' fourth winning season and first since 2010. 


Lost in the free agent frenzy, Titans quarterback Jake Locker announced he was retiring after just four years in the league.   Locker was long criticized for an ostensible lack of accuracy, not reaching 60% completion for his career.   But watching him play, the talent was obvious, and for someone with such a short time in the league Locker authored some strikingly memorable moments.

His first win as a starter was one of the wildest games of this decade, the 44-41 overtime shootout win over the Detroit Lions; the Titans became the first team ever to nail down five touchdowns of at least sixty yards - two of them Locker bombs, one yanked off the back of a Lions defender by Nate Washington.   He had two other memorable wins that year despite missing six games with injury - his first game back, a rout of the Miami Dolphins, and a grind-out Monday Night win over ex-Ravens assistant Rex Ryan, a game where Mark Sanchez, two weeks removed from The Buttfumble game, threw five interceptions, then fumbled the last possession.

2013 opened with enormous promise as Locker authored a history-making comeback win against San Diego, delivering the winning Hail Mary touchdown to rookie Justin Hunter with fifteen seconds left; it was the club's first win over San Diego since their 1992 incarnation as the Houston Oilers.   The next week the Titans welcomed back Rex Ryan, and now rookie Geno Smith was quarterback; Locker unloaded two more touchdowns, but on a second-down play was hammered late by two Jets defenders and suffered a serious hip injury; despite the injury his Titans won 38-13.   He missed several games and then authored a tight fight of a win against the St. Louis Rams, a game chockablock with irony given the history of the Rams and the Titans and the fact ex-Titans coach Jeff Fisher was head coach against his former assistant Mike Munchak.  

Though he would see some action late in the abysmal 2014 season, Locker's final game in effect was the loss to the Cleveland Browns in which the Browns went headhunting and caught Locker several times with dubious hits; the irony was the injury that knocked him out was whacking his throwing hand against a Browns player's helmet.   When Locker went out the Titans had clawed to the lead.

It may not be a great resume but Locker's success in the NFL was enough to warrant wondering what would have been, especially in the 2013 season where the Titans were flying when he went out.


The Seahawks made an eye-opening trade as well, getting ex-Saints tight end/wannabe wide receiver Jimmy Graham.   The reason for the trade seems to have been lost amid all the other commentary - Graham is the kind of goal-to-go target Russell Wilson was hoping to find before Malcolm Butler found the winning INT. 

So it goes with NFL free agency, where the "winners" will be hailed without anyone realizing no one wins the Superbowl by winning in March.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

1973 Talladega 500

MRN's archive of the 1973 Talladega 500, one of the wildest races in racing history as Dick Brooks took a year-old Plymouth to an amazing fight for the win with Buddy Baker and David Pearson.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Hillary’s Email Trickery And Benghazi

Hillary Milhous Clinton used Email Trickery to Cover Her Ass over Benghazi.

The Issue Of Atlanta International Raceway

MRN racecaster Dave Moody has a good piece about Atlanta Motor Speedway and the conundrum NASCAR has faced with regard to where it belongs on its schedule.   The piece has drawn the usual responses one would expect of race fans who wish to blame something other than fan neglect for the track's present issues.

The issue warrants examination because it illustrates the problem that exists where race fans need to accept some level of accountability.

Atlanta International Raceway has been a NASCAR staple since it opened in 1960, yet it has been inconsistent as far as attendances over the years.  Initially built as a pure oval - two half-mile turns bracketing two quarter-mile straights - with relatively small seating capacity, its capacity had grown rather quickly in the 1960s - the inaugural race drew 25,000; the 1964 Dixie 400 won by Ned Jarrett drew 40,000, the 1967 Atlanta 500 hit 70,000 - before dropping (45,000 for the 1974 Atlanta 500), to where backstretch grandstands were torn down by the mid-1970s only to be reinstated by 1981.   The track underwent several ownership changes; LG DeWitt, who won the 1973 Cup title as Benny Parsons' tram owner, purchased the speedway to go with his ownership of North Carolina Motor Speedway; when he passed away in 1990 Bruton Smith purchased the speedway, radically expanded the seating, and reconfigured it to quad-oval status.

Yet it draws only 75% capacity now, even with the backstretch grandstands long gone (replaced by a nice-looking RV area) and even as it sees some of the better non-restrictor plate racing on the tour; the Truck Series in particular has put on some spirited battles up front in recent races there. 

The Atlanta sports market has long been among the weakest in the nation; twice now Atlanta NHL teams - the Flames (now in Calgary) and later the Thrashers (now the new version of the Winnipeg Jets) - did not successfully take root; the Falcons have regularly needed gameday walk-up ticket sales to sell out their home games; the Falcons famously lied on the pregame injury report for their 2005 game against the Patriots to entice ticket buyers to think Michael Vick would play that day when there was never any chance of it; the Braves and Hawks are spotty in attendances.   The speedway overall drew well before the capacity was overexpanded after 1990, and contrary to the myth perpetuated in some fan circles the weather for its dates didn't stop anyone from going in the past - late March and early-November dates worked, even with snow delays in 1991 and 1993 for the Atlanta 500.

Atlanta's issue is compounded because Bruton Smith wants a second date at Las Vegas - itself a questionable sports market despite good attendances at the Vegas speedway - and NASCAR has not admitted that it should cancel its two non-points races (especially the All-Star Race at Bruton's Charlotte track, a race that stopped being all that worthwhile years ago) and thus free up dates for two extra points-paying races such as a second Vegas date.

The demise and brief revival of North Carolina Motor Speedway illustrates Atlanta's issue.   When Bruton and NASCAR settled on a second Texas Motor Speedway date, Rockingham was shut down.  In 2007 Andy Hillinberg purchased the speedway, tore down over half the seating, and secured races for ARCA and the Trucks as well as local hobby stocks, and the dates were favorable weather-wise - yet despite some good crowds the track couldn't sell out its races, and its future is now in doubt again.

The reality is while fan apathy is not the only issue, it nonetheless warrants admission.   Fans should go to Atlanta races and support the track, just as they should support local tracks and their local sports teams.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Atlanta 500 Observations

The Atlanta 500 has run and it turned into a curious event.   Jimmie Johnson's win was his 71st and  the 500-miler, briefly delayed by rain and also dragged to some four hours in duration by several late crashes, saw an interesting final rundown.   Some observations -

* Running the week after the Daytona 500, Atlanta's sole Winston Cup date has become a source of contention in some fan circles.   The reality that Atlanta is not a good sports market - shown by the Falcons' practice of selling out their home games via gameday walk-up sales - remains a reality for the speedway, and the fact it didn't draw a capacity crowd won't help with the track's future, though it seems illogical a better date, some time in May or early June or even September, could not be worked out (the same is true of Martinsville's Old Dominion 500, pushed to early November in recent years when it should be early October)

The big issue for the speedway aside from attendance figures remains the dismal quality of the racing surface - rough and tire-eating.  

*   The Atlanta 500 saw a curious number of darkhorse contenders having quality runs.   While Martin Truex is not a true darkhorse he nonetheless is not a regular frontrunner, so his strong hustle to the top ten remains something fresh and unusual.   Truex's recent consistency may auger well for down the road, as did Aric Almirola's commendable rebound from a dismal Speedweeks.   Also collecting a respectable finish was Paul Menard, a driver whose record has lacked much to write home about.  

The biggest darkhorse, though, was Brett Moffett, driving Michael Waltrip's car subbing for returning starter Brian Vickers.   Moffett is a rookie, and his poise was something to behold as he picked his way to the top ten.  

Super subs Regan Smith and David Ragan (in Kyle Busch's #18) had decent finishes; Smith showed noticeable improvement from Speedweeks.

* This was the first race with NASCAR's new tapered spacer cutting some 100-plus horsepower and a spoiler two inches shorter than in 2014.   The net result wasn't different from last year, except in one regard - the mini-epic of late-race crashes.   At least one - the Greg Biffle set-to with Joe Nemechek - appeared to have been an air-off-the-spoiler crash, the kind of crash disturbingly common in the 1990s but which had largely disappeared by the end of that decade.    Given the tire-eating nature of the Atlanta surface, this was not the best venue for testing this new package; nonetheless it was not quite the promise some may have hoped to get from it.

* The issue of SAFER barriers became a controversy with Kyle Busch's crash into an inside wall - some 200 feet from the racing surface - at Daytona; Atlanta added more SAFER barriers for this race, yet Jeff Gordon managed to nail an inside wall entering Three where the SAFER ended.   Naturally Gordon was asking why the SAFER ended there - with no one seeming to have thought to ask the question before a crash happened in an area where crashes previously had not happened.   This is the hypocrisy involved, the self-serving hindsight that pops up where no one bothers to remember that no one else thought about it until this particular crash, be it Kyle Busch's or now Gordon's.   That there are certain areas of racetracks where crashes simply don't happen never seems to be considered, even though it explains why "they didn't have a SAFER there."

Instead of blaming the tracks, perhaps some more thought should be put into it first.

* Suddenly seeing his stock beginning to erode is Kyle Larson, who appears to be hitting a sophomore slump.   His Speedweeks wasn't as impressive as we thought it would be and Atlanta didn't do him any favors either.    It's obvious the sport has considerable hope for Larson, especially with so little young talent making that much progress at the Cup level in recent years.

So it goes as the series heads to Vegas.

Mindless Yes, Austerity No: The Real Budget Problem

Obama argues against "austerity," except that isn't the real problem.