Friday, October 24, 2003

GOLLY: Se Ri Pak makes cut in men's event. The ladies playing on the men's tour thing has been happening so much lately, I had forgotten that nobody (Sorenstam, Whaley, Davies, Wie) had actually made the cut yet. Here's analysis from an apparent gold expert.
YES, THE NEW FIGURE SKATING SEASON HAS BEGUN: Here's a report on the new points system in action.
ACC HATE POST OF THE DAY: Mark Blaudschun in the Boston Globe:

But most of what is happening doesn't make sense and shouldn't have happened. Why? Greed, pure and simple. Greed by the people in the ACC who started all of this over the summer with their successful courting of Miami and Virginia Tech, and two weeks ago, BC.

John Casteen, the Virginia president, put the ACC's spin on it last week at the conference's official welcoming party for BC.

"It has not been an easy process," said Casteen, understating the issue somewhat, who then said the move secured the future of the ACC.

But that begs a larger question. Who was threatening the ACC and its future? It had nine members, each making money. It has a reputation as a great basketball conference, with Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia; the academic foundation was as strong as any in collegiate athletics; and the football reputation was growing in stature each year, spearheaded by Florida State's perennial presence in the Top 10.

Where was the threat? From the Sunbelt Conference? From the Big East? From Conference USA? The ACC was the East Coast's version of the Pac-10 -- a great conference with a nice geographic fit to it.

no one was threatening the ACC's future. None of its schools was losing money or in danger of losing money.

But ACC officials wanted more, specifically a conference championship game in football. The conference wanted a possible second BCS spot, which the ACC thought it had a better chance of acquiring if a watered down Big East lost its guaranteed spot.

So, led by Georgia Tech and Florida State, the ACC went on a mission they said was for survival but had search-and-destroy characteristics.

Of course, I'm not quoting the part where he criticizes the Big East for their continuing litigation. Time constrainsts, donchaknow.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003


Tuesday, October 21, 2003


How could such a thoughtful, deliberate, and precise journalist have gone so stupendously wrong? Having edited Easterbrook numerous times over the years, I know him to be a polymath and a quick study, as well as a good critic of his own work. But this is the first Easterbrook piece that appears to be written from a position of ignorance. His career has been about rigor, originality, and sincerity. That said, perhaps he's not the guy who should write without the safety net of an editor.

Or the flip side of that, as I was thinking, is maybe he isn't that good of a blogger. Everybody talks out of their ass when they're blogging from time to time, and it's probably good to give warning of when you're leaving the area of the facts you think you have an informed opinion on and moving into the zone of the ass. Maybe even the slightest "I don't know movies, but I know what I like" comment from Gregg could have mitigated the silliness to come. It's just protocol, you know? I think a lot of journalists who turn to blogging have trouble switching from the authoritative journalist voice to the hey-what's-up, here's what I'm thinking blogger voice, and we may have a case of that here.

This is all ignoring the obvious explanation, of course: don't harsh on the boss.
ANOTHER QUESTION FOR THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL DORKS: Is Marshall moving to Conference USA really that good an idea? They already play in a pro-football conference--the beloved MAC--and they're being asked to move into an all-sport conference where they'll probably be doormats in non-football sports for years. A rather unstable all-sport conference at that, with little regional identity, not that Marshall is the greatest fit in the Ohioriffic MAC. But unless they're trying to finagle their way into a more nationally-recognized conference in the future (and who besides the Big East is going to be needing more members?) I don't see the point in leaving the MAC.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

ONE MORE F.U. TO B.C.: Syracuse whups Boston College. Catch this fall's Boston College Farewell Hate Tour, coming to a Big East arena near you.
1918! CURSE! BUCKY DENT! BOONE! OH WAIT.....: Baltimaher points out something I noticed as well: a lot of Yankees fans wish they were still playing the Red Sox. I'd link to it, but the SportsFrog is a primitive creature, and has not evolved permalinks yet. He said:

I know the general American public isn't enamored with the World Series match-up. But even Yankee fans seem to want to play Boston some more. Visible on tonight's broadcast were 1918 t-shirts, and signs that read "Cowboy Down" and referred to "The Curse."

Memo to Yankee fans: Your team is playing the Marlins, not Boston. The Florida baseball franchise is not cursed. Their fans are not wearing cowboy hats. And your t-shirt should read "1997."

Saturday, October 18, 2003

I DON'T GET THE MIAMI HURRICANES CHAPTER 312: Aren't big football schools supposed to sell out even when they're playing schlubs? There's a lot of empty seats there for Miami/Temple. They're the New Jersey Devils of I-A.
BIG EAST REALIGNMENT: It appears it will look something like this:

South Florida
West Virginia

Notre Dame
Seton Hall
St. John's

Have fun playing in the non-best basketball conference in the nation, BC!

So at the end of this Big East cities will be: Cincinnati, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Providence, Milwaukee, Tampa, Providence, Louisville, Pittsburgh, and the states of New Jersey and Connecticut. The ACC will have Atlanta, Boston, Washington, the states of North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland and various portions of Florida. Way to extend that geographic reach, ACC!

Friday, October 17, 2003

MAGAZINEWATCHING: ESPN The Magazine has best football player on the Indianapolis Colts Mike Vanderjagt on the cover this week. ESPN Mag remains sort of a puffpiece collage aside from the Bill Simmons column. I mean, like I care what ESPN newsreaders think about anything. But they portray Vanderjagt as the only Colts with G-U-T-S so they get some kudos from me this week.
"THERE IS NO TIME FOR SENTIMENT WHEN YOU'RE TRYING TO WIN A BALLGAME.": Joe Torre, ladies and gentlemen. The competing quote from Grady Little:

"Pedro Martinez has been our man all year long and in situations like that, he's the one we want on the mound over anybody we can bring in out of the bullpen,'' Little said. "He had enough left in his tank to finish off Posada.''

It's really hard to argue against the notion that Grady was the dealbreaker for the Red Sox. Not that pulling Pedro earlier would've guaranteed a SOX WIN! but at least then he wouldn't have been so obviously outmanaged.

So your World Series is the New York Yankees and the Florida Marlins. The ratings party is over for Fox Sports.

ADDENDUM: Bob Ryan has a little Little defense:

Everybody's going to blame Little for everything, I'm sure, but this is never an easy decision, and there was a lot more to this game than pulling Pedro or not pulling Pedro. Baseball is a lot more complex than that.

Take, for example, the failure to capitalize on a juicy situation in the fourth. Kevin Millar led off the inning with a home run to make it 4-0. Then, with men on first and third -- on a perfectly executed hit-and-run, if you can believe that -- the Red Sox were in a position to blow the game open when Joe Torre summoned Mike Mussina from the pen for his first relief appearance of a career that has had exactly 400 starts. The Moose, who has been slammed by the New York press for coming up small in the postseason while wearing a Yankee uniform, fanned Jason Varitek and induced Johnny Damon to hit into an inning-ending 6-3 double play.

"That was the turning point for me," Torre said. "It kept us there. You feel like you're getting your brains beat out, but you look at the scoreboard and you're still at arm's length."

Thursday, October 16, 2003

NBA REALIGNMENT: The SacBee's Scott Howard-Cooper is the man with the plan:

Western Conference Division A: Golden State, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix and Sacramento. No great surprises.

Western Conference Division B: Portland, Seattle, Denver, Utah and Minnesota. The Loose Change Division. The Pacific Northwest teams had to stay together, the Rockies teams had to stay together, and the Timberwolves had to go somewhere and didn't have any neighbors in the West. So they all ended up together.

Western Conference Division C: Dallas, Houston, Memphis, New Orleans and San Antonio.

Eastern Conference Division A: Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, Orlando and Washington.

Eastern Conference Division B: Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Indiana and Milwaukee.

Eastern Conference Division C: Boston, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia and Toronto.

As long as the NBA was absolutely positively sure the only franchise that was going to switch conferences was the Hornets, you were going to end up with one really goofy division--Minnesota being in the West screws everything up since it's not near any other Western franchises. I liked my plan better:


New Jersey
New York




New Orleans

San Antonio


But mine split up the Texas teams which is also goofy. I guess the NBA cities are such that there just has to be one geographically unlikely division.
WOO TO THE MUTHAFREAKIN HOO: Preseason Cavs/Lakers on tonight.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

YOUR OBSCURE INTERNATIONAL SPORTS COMPETITION OF THE DAY: FIBA's World Cup for Women's Clubs. It's basketball, and it's happening now.
SOMEONE (ERIC MCERLAIN? JOSH CROCKETT?) EXPLAIN THIS ONE TO ME AGAIN: Why can't BC secede from the Big East in football only? Football obviously has its own rules at the college level: no playoff system, quasi-independence, more of moneymaking thing than the old scholar-athlete ideal. Why doesn't the NCAA allow schools to make football-only associations among themselves? They allow it for other sports. Boston College ice hockey isn't going to play ACC fratboy teams for the next fifty years. Yet Boston College basketball is stuck being the one northerner in a conference full of southerners--as will, I imagine, the rest of the BC teams except hockey. What's going on here?

I GET ANSWERS: Josh writes in the comments in this post on his own blog:

[T]he NCAA doesn't care one way or another about splitting off certain sports. It's the conferences themselves that don't want (overtly) split loyalties and agendas. That sort of thing killed the Big East.

The reason certain sports like hockey, wrestling and lacrosse operate semi-independently of the established "all-sports" conference alignments is that those sports often developed that way out of club teams, independent of the athletic departments, that formed their own regional leagues.

Football and basketball, though, were pretty much what started the whole "athletic department" idea anyway. Schools tended to gravitate toward playing other schools like them, and outside the Northeast, these collections of similar-minded institutions usually grew into conferences. Splitting football off from that would be an extremely radical change that nobody's prepared to make as long as the money keeps flowing.

There you go. I can blame the conferences for believing only football/basketball matters. Which means I can blame the NCAA for signing these lucrative football contracts with the networks that make football so attractive to otherwise sane institutions. Which means I can blame the entrenched college football Division I-A interests who don't want their sport to have the same legitimacy as every other sport because they know they'll end up looking bad like when Paterno built up that gaudy record by playing Alcorn State for thirty years. Which means, as ever, the BCS sucks.

I swear that all works out. Anyhow, isn't a basketball school like BC making a football move kind of a radical change? Why didn't they just drop to I-AA when everybody else did? Stoopid BC.
MEMO TO MIKE FRANCESA: You stink, too.

Boston College, an original member of the entity that legitimized college sports in the East, the Big East, signed its deal with the devil. And just when it was becoming clearer the Big East would have survived the departures of Miami and Virginia Tech.

Instead, the Big East has become imperiled by a charter member. Boston College ought to have recognized its responsibility to the conference's future for no other reason than its significance to the league's past.

Ah, but responsibility, loyalty, accountability — qualities the Jesuits helped refine in my four years there — all finish as two-touchdown underdogs against BC's true catalyst: greed.

Greed and one other thing: BC's pathetic yearning to become some kind of major player in college athletics.

It is not even a major player in the ACC. Boston College naively gave the ACC what it needed — a 12th school. And the ACC got the perfect patsy: a school that will never win anything, but provide the league one of the few institutions in the country that even tries to maintain academic standards in its athletic programs.

That's always helpful when the presidents get together and feign interest in education.

You should read the whole thing if you're as annoyed by BC as I am. My own letter was:

Dear Eagles,

Boston is a completely oversaturated sports market and you're high as a kite if you think bringing in Florida State in addition to Miami and Virginia Tech for football games is going to get Bostonians to give a tinker's cuss about you. You had a clear road to through the BCS every year in a diminished Big East and you inexplicably gave it up. Your ambition to be a minor player in a league not different from the Big East doesn't make a jot of sense. Have fun playing Wake Forest for the bubble spot in the NCAAs for the next fifty years.

You stink,

SPORTS HEADLINES YOU DON'T SEE EVERY DAY: Fiji Edges United States at Rugby World Cup. Friggin' Fiji.....

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

MITOCHONDRIAL DNA DOESN'T REALLY "COUNT," RIGHT?: So all this recent flap about fetuses with "three parents" is much ado about nothing. I mean, I was always taught that the mitochondria were our helpful little symbionts who made multicellular life possible. They have their own DNA, which certainly isn't my DNA. I'm not some bacteria-like evolutionary hanger-on, I can tell you that right now....
ARE YOU CRAPPING ME?: Lookit this:

The U.S. women each received $25,000 from U.S. Soccer for their third-place finish. If the men's team had won the last World Cup, each player would have received $531,500. Instead they settled for $200,000 apiece for their surprise quarterfinal finish.

The hey? Usually you can explain male-female pay differentials in sports as being based on popularity, but there's no way our men's team is more popular at the gate than our women's team. Can a non-soccer geek name one men's team member? I don't get it. There's some aspect of the business of soccer I don't understand.

Monday, October 13, 2003

CONTINUITY AS AN INNOVATION DRIVER, NOT A CREATIVE HINDRANCE: Reading Jim and Dirk talk continuity, I'm wondering if sometimes a shared continuity promotes creativity by forcing a writer to not raise the stakes of a story to blowing-up-the-Death-Star levels. As in the recent X-Men Dirk mentions where Grant Morrison has Magneto take over New York despite New York being the Marvel Universe's superhero headquarters--I mean, was that necessary? Wasn't there some other way to establish Magneto's villainy besides having him knock down the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge? I kept waiting for the point where it gets revealed that Professor X had Magneto trapped in a world of his own imaginings but that moment did not come. This is of course early in the story, and it's a fool's game to try and judge a Grant Morrison story before you have the whole thing in front of you in trade paperback form--but still.

I have more to say about this and hopefully will say it at some point. What I'm thinking is if you want your superheroes to have a strong commercial presence you need a strong continuity, otherwise the stuff that's coming out in the present cheapens the stuff in the past and you end up with characters that look like the ones you remember but aren't really them. Or you can just allow that these days that a new creative team means new characters, which is probably the more mature, less fanboyish attitude. And there's nothing wrong with that--I wish Marvel would admit that continuity is over, because I think they want to have it both ways. At least DC told you when it was an imaginary story....

Friday, October 10, 2003

YOUR LITERARY CRITICISM MUGGING OF THE DAY: Forager23 takes Robert E. Howard and uses him to beat J.R.R. Tolkien severely about the head and torso. The finale:

So that's 4-1 in favor of Howard: Tolkien takes a pretty significant beating, and so will any of his whiny little fans who pop out of the woodwork and try to feebly defend him. Thus speaks Forager. Seriously, though: Tolkien has become synonymous with fantasy, which is a real shame. The fantasy stories written by Robert E. Howard are completely different from the kind of books the Rings saga inspired: more vital, more vibrant, less academic, and, yes, more American. It's all right for Brits to fall for Tolkien's pastoral dreamland, but I find it strange that so many Americans fall for it, too.

The final middle finger to the Tolkien dorks is a nice touch. Hey, I've read Tolkien but never Howard--I think his rep has taken quite a beating as something you're not supposed to read as a serious science fiction fan, like E.C. Tubb or E.E. Smith or Clark Ashton Smith. But I'll have to check him out now, especially since Forager is saying it's my duty as a proud American. Well, not really. But close.
YOUR GREATEST SEARCH THAT FINDS MY WEBLOG POST OF THE DAY: Number three for "khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan". For hate's sake I spit at thee.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

YOUR JLA/AVENGERS #1 REVIEW CLEARINGHOUSE: Grotesque Anatomy has done the work for you. Via Neilalien, who also points out this rundown of all the scavenger items the sooperheroes are looking for. Neat! I'll try to add a review to the pile soon....
AFTERMATH OF GODZILLA VS. KING KONG, OR SOMETHING: Terry started off with trying to get Bill to talk about how much of his show is show business. He said none. Then they went into the Franken law suit for a while, things were strained but within the bounds of reasonable discourse. After the bottom-of-the-hour break (I think) Terry got Bill talking about his childhood and fighting his dad and his apparent agnosticism (he believes in God because the order of the universe seems to imply a God, and if God doesn't exist, it doesn't matter anyway, so you're better off believing in God; he has his bases covered, in other words.) When Terry tried to read him a People magazine review of his book that he made fun of on his show it triggered his "Time for my spiel about the liberal media being all against me" response, which he delivered, and then hung up on Terry. It was kind of like what I imagine it used to be like interviewing pro wrestlers when they had to act like they were engaging in legit competition--when they had to maintain kayfabe, as they call it. It's Bill O'Reilly's circus, folks, we're just the rubes buying tickets to the freak show.
GODZILLA VS. KING KONG, OR SOMETHING: Bill O'Reilly versus Terry Gross on Fresh Air today.
GOOD LITTLE THREAD: All about Gweilo Conrad and the women he doesn't like in Hong Kong.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

INTERESTING LITTLE COMICS ARTICLE: Anthony Johnston on continuity.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

OOOHHHHHHH: So that's where the "at war with Eurasia" gag is coming from--I though it was something Kim Jong Il had actually said. The Internet is filled with Orwell dorks, who are one of those clandestine dork species that look like everybody else, unlike your Tolkien or Star Wars, Trek, etc. varieties.
SCANDAL-A-GO-GO: What a crazy couple of days:

White House outs CIA agent.

Arnold gropes whole bunches of women.

Rush hates Donovan.

Rush is on the legal painkillers.

Plus there's spies in Guantanamo but that's all the way down here. In times like these what we need is......WOMEN'S WORLD CUP SOCCER!

GERMANY vs. RUSSIA, 7:30, ESPN2. If Germany is a great as everybody says they are they should clobber Russia in some possession-dominating, 2-0 or 3-0 victory.

CHINA vs. CANADA, 10:30, ESPN2. I love China, but they are not looking so good. I still think they win, but if I wasn't filled with platonic admiration for Bai Jie I'd probably be picking Canada. But I pick China. Yep.
THE RARE QUIBBLE WITH ARTS & LETTERS DAILY: And it's a total quibble, but they're linking to this article with the tag paragraph:

We were not dropped by God from the sky. However, a cultured adult is far from a neonate. We live between nature and nurture.

When the article says:

While Ridley rightly observes that one is no more or less free if one’s behaviour is accounted for 99 per cent by the environment and 1 per cent by genes or vice versa, he does not draw the correct conclusion from this: that all nature/nurture explanations of human behaviour are inadequate. This is because they are rooted in biology and no biological account, which must treat people as organisms, can find a place for human freedom. He is aware of this and attempts, unsuccessfully, to find free will within his biological framework by replacing what he calls linear with circular causality, in which an effect influences its own cause. But his observation that genes are “steeped in circular causality” shows how little relevance this idea has to the freedom that characterises humans.

In other words, the article (a review of Matt Ridley's latest by Raymond Tallis) is arguing we need to move past the nature/nuture debate and recognize how limiting it is. I mean, I wasn't going to read it before Hit & Run linked to it, because I've had it up to here with the nature-nurture. But it's a really good read, arguing against strict materialist explanations of human experience.
BENTE NORDBY PLAYED OUT OF HER MIND LAST NIGHT: Stopping a penalty kick and a whole bunch of corner kicks and managed to allow only one goal. It wasn't enough to stop the U.S., who won one-nil, but she was responsible for keeping the score so low. I don't think Scurry was ever really tested, nor has she been this whole World Cup through.

Sweden beat Brazil in the other one. I think the ref knew Brazil's rep for falling down without provacation a lot and so when Katia actually was pushed down in the box with like three minutes left she didn't get the penalty. "Beautiful game" my ass.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

ONE OTHER PLAME THING: Are we all dirty perverts for tossing around Valerie Plame's name like this, like we were not when we weren't tossing around the name of Kobe Bryant's accuser? The networks are protecting the anonymity of both women. Newspapers, much less so.
BUT IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR PLAME STUFF: Arthur Silber's analysis is the best I've seen:

Remember Occam's Razor: look for the simplest explanation. The White House was very upset with Wilson, because he was raising a lot of uncomfortable questions about a particular claim in the administration's case for war. Forget for a moment what you may think of the merits of those questions: the point is the White House was very unhappy about it, especially when many people were starting to question a number of aspects of the administration's case. So the White House wanted to put a lid on this kind of thing. Not on Wilson specifically; it was obviously too late for that. But the White House wanted to discourage anyone else who might be similarly inclined in the future. So they needed to send a message.

And the message would have to involve Wilson, since he was the main person causing trouble at the moment. If other people saw what happened to
him (or someone close to him) after he talked about what he knew, then they'd think twice before raising any uncomfortable questions they might be privy to. So Wilson, or those very close to him, had to be the target. But what do they hit him with?

And that's exactly where you look for the simple explanation. Maybe if Wilson or his wife had been a nasty drunk who got into fights in public but it hadn't gotten any publicity, they would have used that. Or they would have used the fact that Wilson or his wife had once been convicted (or even accused) of a crime. Or...well, fill in the blank. But maybe they didn't have any of that. They probably didn't; both Wilson and his wife have been in the limelight for quite a while now, and we haven't heard about anything like that (and they're both in government service anyway, so it's not very likely that something along those lines is going to turn up). So they used Wilson's wife's undercover status -- because that was what they had. And maybe that's all they had. And it had the nice bonus of perhaps placing in doubt Wilson's qualifications for being picked for that trip to Africa. I don't think anybody sat around trying to figure out how to "out" a CIA agent. Again, that's looking at it backwards. That just happened to be the information they had. They ended up outing a CIA agent, because that may well have been all they had to work with, all they had to deliver the message they wanted to deliver.

READ THE WHOLE THING. HEH. INDEED. Can we just mush that all into an acronym when we're doing the Instapundit-snark, like LOL or LMFAO? RTWTHI. It doesn't mean anything else yet--here's your chance, bloggers! Not that Glenn doesn't deserve the snark this time--he has not been all over this.

The best Plame post title so far, by the way, is Jim Henley's Plame On. I wanted to run with "Is This Burning (Burning) An Eternal Plame" but was shouted down in blogger press club.
MAYBE I SHOULD JUST CHANGE THE URL TO "WOMENSSOCCER.BLOGSPOT.COM": Because this what I'm interested in lately. Well, that and the Plame affair, but you all know where to go for that. Anyhoo:

4:30 today on ESPN2: Brazil vs. Sweden in Foxboro.

7:30 today on ESPN2: Norway vs. the US in Foxboro.

US over Norway, Sweden over Brazil in the upset pick because I think there's going to be an upset pick and thus I need to make an upset pick, but I don't want to pick against China because I love the way they play even though that upset is more likely.