Tag Archives: sports

Jared Allen has a few things to say about his mullet

By which I mean he likes to party. With two R’s.

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Your brain changes the game

It was a tough sports weekend for the house of Pax. Not only did the Giants get creamed by New Orleans, but the Yankees and Phillies took several steps closer to playing in the biggest asshole douchebag fuckface World Series of all time.

On top of all that, Steven Hauschka — the official placekicker of Pax Arcana — missed a 44-yard field goal that would have sent the Minnesota Favrekings home with their first loss of the season.

steve_hauschka

I root for Hauschka because we both attended the same college — the Central Vermont Institute for Advanced Tomfoolery and Maple Syrupry. So I was heartbroken when he — our only NFL player ever — just missed the chance to humiliate Brett Favre in front of millions.

He’s a young kid, though, so he’ll bounce back. Assuming, of course, he can use his brain to convince his eyes that they’re wrong about where the goalposts are.

According to Wired, new research shows that missed field goal kicks actually change a person’s perception of the dimension of the goal posts:

In a study of 23 non-football athletes who each kicked 10 field goals, researchers found that players’ performance directly affected their perception of the size of the goal: After a series of missed kicks, athletes perceived the post to be taller and more narrow than before, while successful kicks made the post appear larger-than-life.

While this might appear to be a “no duh” result, the study may alter the way scientists perceive perception itself. Until now, scientists pretty much separated the processes of receiving visual input and interpreting that input. But if the study subjects genuinely reported different perceptions based on the past performance of field goal kicking, that means the input and interpretation are more closely tied than believed:

According to visual perception researcher Maggie Shiffrar of Rutgers University, who was not involved in the research, Witt’s conclusions are troubling to many scientists because they suggest that computer studies of perception might not be a reflection of reality.

“If Witt is right that what we see depends upon what we can do, then it logically follows that many of us have spent our lives studying perception in the WRONG WAY,” Shiffrar wrote in an e-mail. “In the vast majority of studies conducted in my lab, for example, observers view displays on a flat computer screen and make simple, dichotomous judgments about their perceptions of those displays. Thus, subjects in my studies don’t do anything other than push a button. The results of Witt’s studies suggest that the results that I’ve collected and the corresponding theoretical conclusions that I’ve drawn won’t generalize to perception in the real world. In the real world, people look at objects so that they can do something with those objects.”

It seems true — people do look at objects so that they can do something with those objects. And so finally, after all these years, science explains why slutty girls are hotter.

Missed Kicks Make Brain See Smaller Goal Post [Wired]

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Golf gets even dorkier

Pax Arcana

Baseball is famous for the volume of statistics used to analyze individual performance. Because there are a limited number of quantifiable results on any given pitch — and there are hundreds of thousands of pitches thrown every season — it is relatively easy to measure the success of a given player over the course of a season.

MiniGolf2Other sports, like basketball and hockey, are harder to analyze via statistics. How do you measure the success of a forward whose coach insists he play point guard? Or the value of a hockey center whose would-be assists were wasted by poor-shooting teammates?

It seems funny that golf doesn’t get analyzed the way baseball does. After all, a golf tournament produces thousands of shots at a time — all on the same turf in the same weather. Why don’t the announcers talk about Tiger’s stroke-average when hitting from the rough? Why don’t they ever talk about Rocco Mediate’s sand average or Boo Weekley’s bump-run-rate? Actually, maybe they do but we’re asleep on the couch and don’t hear it.

Anyway, a group of researchers recently decided to rectify this situation by studying about 200 professional golfers from 2004 to 2008. The first breakthrough finding of the study: golfers are more likely to hit par putts than birdie putts of comparable difficulty. The reason? Something that can be best be described as “bogey aversion“:

Even the world’s best pros are so consumed with avoiding bogeys that they make putts for birdie discernibly less often than identical putts for par, according to a coming paper by two professors at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. After analyzing laser-precise data on more than 1.6 million Tour putts, they estimated that this preference for avoiding a negative (bogey) more than gaining an equal positive (birdie) — known in economics as loss aversion — costs the average pro about one stroke per 72-hole tournament, and the top 20 golfers about $1.2 million in prize money a year.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I blogged this story and chose that quote just so I could make a “stroke per hole” joke at the end of the post. Well, you’re wrong. I just thought it was a cool story about statistics and sports.

Plus I couldn’t think of a good one.

Putting Strategy Comes Up Short, Study Finds [NYT]

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Friday Random 10: Curses Edition

Pax Arcana

a-rod-kisses-himselfThe Red Sox have now won all 8 games against the Yankees in 2009, and I think you know what that means:

PROBABLY NOTHING IN THE LONG TERM!

No wait. I mean:

SOMETHING SUPERNATURAL MUST BE THE CAUSE OF THIS!

Red Sox owner and animatronic pipe cleaner John Henry got things started last night, when he typed into his Twitter account the following:

“The MT curse?”

…by which he meant that the Yankees have yet to beat the Red Sox since swooping in on stoic jowly automaton free agent Mark Texiera in the offseason.

Jack Curry of the New York Times, while stopping short of calling the thing a “curse,” basically calls it a curse:

How rare is it for this rivalry to be so lopsided? The eight-game losing streak to the Red Sox is the longest to open a season since 1912, back when the Yankees were called the Highlanders. Before 2009, the Yankees and the Red Sox had played 162 games in the last nine seasons. Both teams won 81 times. But the Red Sox broke that tie in April by conquering Mariano Rivera and have added to it all season.

Also, did you know that Lincoln’s secretary was named Kennedy and Kennedy’s secretary was namend Lincoln? And that Lincoln Kennedy’s secretary is named Eugenia? It might be true!

The songs:

Where Did You Sleep Last Night? — Nirvana
Babys — Bon Iver
Already Young — The Whigs
Alternative Girlfriend — Barenaked Ladies
Big Takeover — Bad Brains
The Observer — The Flaming Lips
Loretta’s Scars — Pavement
Ain’t That Love — Ray Charles
Lost Coastlines — Okkervil River
Save Us SOS — Hot Hot Heat

Bonus Video:

Prizefighter — EELS

The Rules: The Friday Random 10 is exactly that — random. We open up our iTunes, set the thing on shuffle, and listen to 10 songs. We are not permitted to skip any out of embarrassment or fear of redundancy. Commenters are encouraged to post their own.

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Friday Random 10: Crazy Penis Edition

Pax Arcana

It’s pretty clear to anyone who follows sports that many professional athletes are a few oars short of a full boat. So when a seemingly down-to-earth NFL player like Chris Cooley comes along, most of us love him automatically.

SP/SKINS15For those of you unfamiliar, Cooley is a tight end on the Washington Redskins. He also runs a blog that is funny enough and the same time perfectly quotidian. Cooley would not make for an especially interesting banker or editor or lawyer, but for an NFL player he seems to have a good head on his shoulders.

Then he accidentally put a picture of his wiener on the Internet.

Despite the fact that it was obviously an unintentional act, Cooley tells Sports Illustrated that the NFL — ever the guardians of player health and welfare — insisted he undergo a psychiatric evaluation in the wake of Sausagegate:

SI.com: Do people still give you a hard time about it?

Cooley: Only in interviews. Only people like you. But the NFL made me undergo a psychiatric evaluation. They treated it really seriously. Please. It was an accident. If I wanted to post a picture of my penis I wouldn’t have been all hunched over.

SI.com: What was the result of the psychiatric evaluation?

Cooley: I don’t even know, dude. I had to do a call with some lady. I thought it was gonna take two minutes, but it was like an hour. It was horrible.

I appreciate the NFL’s concern for Cooley’s mental state, but I question their approach. A shrink is the last thing anyone wants to think about after accidentally putting their donger on the Internet. Get it? A shrink? OK calm down it wasn’t that funny.

The songs:

Muddy Hymnal — Iron and Wine
Lollipop — Lil Wayne
Pour Some Sugar on Me — Def Leppard (yeah that’s right)
Fitter Happier — Radiohead
Any Ole Way — Otis Redding
Magic Number — De La Soul
Little Bird — The White Stripes
Killer Parties — The Hold Steady
Let’s Build a Home — The White Stripes
Period — Mission of Burma

Bonus video:

Eye of the Tiger — PS22 (NYC) Chorus [Bonus points for the kid in the Shockey jersey]

The Rules: The Friday Random 10 is exactly that — random. We open up our iTunes, set the thing on shuffle, and listen to 10 songs. We are not permitted to skip any out of embarrassment or fear of redundancy. Commenters are encouraged to post their own.

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MIT just got even less athletic

Pax Arcana

It was math nerds that inadvertently caused the global economic meltdown, so I guess the chickens had to come home to roost at some point. We received word today that MIT — where I once mopped the hallways as a janitor while secretly solving complex math riddles — is shutting the doors on several sports:

It is with regret that we write to inform you that the following eight varsity sports will no longer be offered at MIT: Alpine Skiing, Golf, Men’s Ice Hockey, Women’s Ice Hockey, Men’s Gymnastics, Women’s Gymnastics, Pistol, and Wrestling. These changes are effective at the conclusion of this academic year.

The University says it can no longer afford to carry 41 varsity sports, pointing out that the Ivy League average is 33 and the Division III average is 16.

I say forget about that shit what the hell sport is “Pistol?” I’m picturing a mustachioed man in breeches and a petticoat firing at a tuppence nailed to the wall.

Actually, it turns out that the MIT Pistol team won the 2005 and 2007 NRA National Championship for shooting stuff. The campus newspaper published an article about the team in 2005:

Pistol Coach Will Hart explained that “here at MIT we start at ground zero, at the very, very basic: this is a gun, this is where you point it, this is how you aim it, this is how you release the trigger. Everything is done at a very basic level and goes from basic to elite by the time [the students] graduate.”

Competing against the military academies, where, Coach Hart said, the students start “way ahead of the curve,” how can MIT perform so well? The MIT athletes succeed by virtue of “the same attributes that it takes to become an MIT student: the dedication, the time management, attention to detail, focus, self-discipline,” which all contribute to becoming a good pistol shooter, Hart said.

mit_pistol

I suppose it’s possible for sports like Pistol to continue as club sports, but I doubt the hockey players and ski team members will be able to cobble together enough money to carry on.

This is undoubtedly a sad day for college athletics, and I hope these students can find other outlets to enjoy the athletic experience.  But I want to make one thing explicitly clear, former MIT varsity athletes — if I see a single Quidditch match on your campus I will fire my electromagnesiotron and completely erase all the porn from your external hard drives.  I mean that.

MIT to reduce the number of varsity sports offered [MIT News]

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Let us now commence with the hype

Pax Arcana

Last year the New York Mets appeared to lose every single game in which they entered the 8th or 9th inning with a lead (they were actually fine until Billy Wagner got hurt — then they were terrible). So in the offseason the Mets replaced their wretched bullpen with a handful of proven — if expensive — relievers.

johan_santana1Yesterday the Mets won their opener 2-1 as two of those relievers — J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez — shut down the Reds in the 8th and 9th innings, respectively.

If I were a bad sportswriter or editor, I would say to myself “HEY I GOT AN IDEA!” (they think in all caps) “LET’S MAKE TOMORROW’S STORY ABOUT HOW THE METS NEEDED TO REPLACE THEIR BULLPEN AND THEN THEY DID AND NOW THEY LOOK LIKE A DIFFERENT TEAM THAN LAST YEAR.”

Let’s witness the carnage.

The New York Post:

CINCINNATI — What was a nightmare for the Mets last year played out like a dream on Opening Day.

Much to the relief of Omar Minaya’s players and his manager, the GM’s offseason overhaul of the bullpen couldn’t have worked any more perfectly than it did here in a 2-1 win over the Reds.

The New York Daily News:

CINCINNATI – Johan Santana pitched like an ace. The bullpen blueprint worked as scripted, with J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez handling the final two frames. And Daniel Murphy and Ryan Church’s performances suggested Gary Sheffield need not rush into the starting lineup.

Four years after Braden Looper surrendered two homers against the Reds in the ninth inning on Opening Day to spoil Pedro Martinez’s feel-good debut with the organization, there was no demoralizing reprise. The Mets christened their season with a 2-1 win against the Reds as a steady drizzle fell and the temperature hovered in the 30s.

New York Newsday:

CINCINNATI – The Opening Day blueprint for the Mets‘ 2-1 victory at Great American Ball Park was no happy accident. This was a meticulously planned, perfectly executed strategy that became a reality five months ago in a tricked-out suite at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

That’s where general manager Omar Minaya spearheaded a two-pronged effort to sign Francisco Rodriguez to a three-year, $36-million contract, then traded for J.J. Putz and Sean Green in a 12-player deal that also involved the Mariners and Indians.

The New York Times:

CINCINNATI – The Mets’ team meeting Monday morning began with the players gathering in a circle and, according to Manager Jerry Manuel, discussing their responsibilities for this season.

For Johan Santana, that means reinforcing his status as an ace. For Daniel Murphy, that means rewarding the organization’s trust in him. For their bullpen, that means erasing the bad memories from last season. The Mets’ 2-1 season-opening victory against the Cincinnati Reds on Monday was made possible by contributions from all three.

Look — I’m not saying you can’t mention the famous Mets bullpen collapse of 2008. But when you write your lede and read it back to yourself, and YOU KNOW DAMN WELL that your competitors are all writing the same lede, it seems like a good opportunity to reconsider your approach. It’s almost like blogs exist precisely because these stories are so damn predictable.

Anyway, the important thing is that the Mets are in first place and the Phillies are eating shit at the bottom — right where they belong. Those cat rapers.

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