Friday, February 27, 2004

MORE SWEET, CREAMY JUSTICE: Official who blew call suspended for three games. AND summoned back to New York for a good talking-to.

Vlade likes it:

"If you cover up for the referees, you only make things worse between them and the players," Divac said before Thursday night's game. "But if you admit the mistake, players are going to give the refs more respect. Watch, refs will get more respect around the league if they keep admitting mistakes."

On more the cosmic justice front, Sac beat Lal last night when Kobe took it upon himself not to play to win but to play to shove a dagger into the heart of the Kings (he opted for a three instead of passing the ball to get the two and the tie and send it to overtime.) And of course he missed and the Lakers lost because Kobe wanted Big Dramatic Win and not Conservative Basketball Win. Yes, he got wacked on the head by Doug Christie--though it looked like it was right after his release--but what did he think, the refs were going to give him the chance to win it on the line? Of course not; that's why you don't put your team in that position at that point in the game. Barkley said he should've passed and I concur. And I wish TNT would get rid of Magic, his blatant Laker-love--always talking about what "we" have to do--is, to put in Rumsfeld-speak, extremely unhelpful to a intelligent analysis of a basketball game.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

JUSTICE!: NBA admits error.
BAD NIGHT FOR NBA OFFICIATING: First they go apecrap on the Grizz, giving out five technicals and throwing out Hubie. Then they blatantly blow a call in Denver, which ended up pretty much directly costing the Nuggets the game--or at least a chance to win the game. I long for the day when the NBA acknowledges officiating errors like the NFL does.

Does it add anything to our understanding of sports to arrange them in order of how much crap you can give the officials? Football would be at the top, followed by soccer; you rarely see anybody get flagged for arguing with an official in football, whereas when a soccer official is surrounded by a crowd of angry players he can yellow card himself out of an unpleasant situation. Baseball would be at the bottom, with basketball slightly above it. Those two groups of people, baseball umps and NBA refs, appear to have a limited ability to handle questions to their authority. Would this be at all because baseball and basketball, with their strike zones and foul calls all done by eye, are just inherently much more subjective sports than football and soccer? Hey, sounds good to me. Football is a completely regulated, rule-based sport; the fouls that are debatable are pass interference and holding and the occasional generous spot of the ball, everything else is more or less provable. Soccer is about the same, with the subjectivity coming from penalties (penalties in the box especially) and offsides calls. Basketball has multiple points of subjectivity, since nearly every contested shot involves some kind of clean-or-dirty judgement. And baseball, in two of its major activities--pitching and running--is entirely in the eye of the official beholder. So--in conclusion--the amount of crap officials take seems to be related to varying levels of subjectivity in the sports themselves. Officials in more subjective sports need to protect themselves more since their sport depends on subjective, personal judgements. That is my learned opinion, considered deeply by me for a good half an hour this morning.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

TWO BITS ON PASSION: A film I haven't seen, and will probably avoid--but I enjoyed these two bits.

From Calblog:

Here's the bottom line - There are two kinds of films. One kind of film generates emotions and connections to the characters though the skillful use of storytelling. The other kind of film relies on the audience to supply such emotions and connections on their own based on either a pre-supposed background knowledge of the subject matter or a pre-existing vested history with its characters before walking into the theater.

"The Passion" is the second kind of film. For those who already have a vested interest in Christianity, know why Jesus generated a following, believe in the Resurrection and the all of the implications that flow from it, then they will know doubt be moved by this film in a profound manner.

For those that don't fall into this category, however - the film will likely be seen as a mere two hour treatise on a guy being tortured. That's about it I'm afraid.

From David Edelstein's review, titled "Jesus H. Christ":

Gibson uses every weapon in his cinematic arsenal to drive home the agony of those last dozen hours. While his mother and Mary Magdalene watch, Jesus is lashed until his entire body is covered in bloody crisscrossing canals. When he rises, amazing the Roman soldiers with his stamina, they go for the scourges, which rip and puncture his flesh in slow motion—all while the Romans and the Jews cackle wildly. Carrying his cross, he falls again and again in slow motion on his swollen, battered body while the soundtrack reverberates with heavy, Dolby-ized thuds. It is almost a relief when the spikes are driven into his hands and feet—at least it means that his pain is almost over.

What does this protracted exercise in sadomasochism have to do with Christian faith? I'm asking; I don't know. Gibson's revenge movies end with payback—or, in Braveheart, the promise of payback to come. When Jesus is resurrected, his expression is hard, and, as he moves toward the entrance to his tomb, the camera lingers on a round hole in his hand that goes all the way through. Gibson's Jesus reminded me of the Terminator—he could be the Christianator—heading out into the world to spread the bloody news. Next stop: the Crusades.
QUESTION OF THE DAY: Will Passion Of the Christ be better than Battlefield Earth? Both films have about the same reason to exist, after all: the deeply held beliefs of their producers. Obviously, the evangelical Christianity that Mel belongs to probably has more adherents than Travolta's Scientology (and John should've figured out that Dianetics was much more filmable) but still the two films will be neck and neck for overstuffed crappiness. Battlefield Earth (which I have only seen in bits and pieces) will probably end up edging out Passion as goofy quasi-Randian science fiction is inherently more entertaining than sadistic religiodrama. We shall see.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

NUANCED DISCUSSION OF THE LATEST NADER CAMPAIGN: Over on Crooked Timber. Includes this thought:

I have never found the ‘vote for someone you believe in’ principle compelling — we should allocate our vote in such a way that maximizes the expected probability of it contributing to a good all things considered outcome. This sometimes means holding your nose and voting for a Democrat. It may sometimes mean voting for a Republican. But in this race I thought, and still think, that there was a very good case to be made that voting for Nader was the best thing to do.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

WATCHING THE WARRIORS ON TV RIGHT NOW: And thinking there's no way Uncle Cliffy is making the playoffs this year--which would be a first time for him, unless one of his Phoenix teams didn't make the playoffs. Playing for Portland for most of your career is a good way to make a lot of playoff series, though that's another streak that will probably end at the end of the season. And I would love it if the Hawkerrific Blazers or the Warriors got in but there's way too much talent in the West's top eight. As I think Tolbert pointed out tonight, the Western Conference Finals are going to be must-see television; there's so little separation between the teams, unless the Lakers suddenly become the unstoppable force they were supposed to be coming in.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

BLOGGING GOES LIGHTER THAN USUAL: First bunch of tests coming up. Two kinds of physiology and one kind of statistics--not a whole lot of outright fun this semester.

Friday, February 13, 2004

ROOKIE GAME TONIGHT: Check out the lineup:

[LeBron] James is joined on the rookie team by Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets, Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors, Udonis Haslem and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat, Jarvis Hayes of the Washington Wizards, Kirk Hinrich of the Chicago Bulls, Josh Howard of the Dallas Mavericks and Chris Kaman of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Yao will be joined on the Sophomore team by Carlos Boozer of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Mike Dunleavy of the Golden State Warriors, Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs, Marko Jaric of the Los Angeles Clippers, Ronald Murray of the Seattle SuperSonics, NenĂª of the Denver Nuggets, Tayshaun Prince of the Detroit Pistons and 2002-03 got milk? Rookie of the Year, AmarĂ© Stoudemire of the Phoenix Suns.

I am thinking the sophomores will smoke the rookies if they play anywhere near three-quarters speed--Ginobili wasn't a rookie then and he isn't a sophomore now. I mean, LeBron and Carmelo, sure, but the sophs have a more complete team.
LATEST COLLECTION OF KOBE LEAVING THE LAKERS RUMORS: "Kobe has his exit plan" in the Daily News. Notable for the number of anonymous people claiming this is Kobe's last season in Lakerland.

Monday, February 09, 2004

YOUR GREATEST SEARCH THAT FINDS MY WEBLOG POST OF THE DAY: This here website is the one and only answer to the question: Is Christian Laettner circumcised? I hope the desired information was somehow located.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

COMPLETELY UGLY STORY ABOUT JAYSON WILLIAMS: About him forcing Dwayne Schintzius at the point of a gun to bury Williams' dead dog. Which Williams had just shot. Who (the dog) had just cost Williams $100 in a bet with Schintzius. Via Sportsfilter. U-G-L-Y. I'm glad they moved his pro lacrosse team to Anaheim.

I mean, is there anything good about this Meadowlands era of the Nets franchise? Jayson is a freak, Petro dead, Kenyon's still crazy, J-Kidd is devolving back into a prima donna, they didn't pick Kobe.....I am a proud citizen of New Jersey but I'm hoping this Brooklyn thing pans out. A change for the Nets--the vagabonds of New York metro pro basketball--really would do them good.
JOKE MADE TOO LATE: So I have this particularly onerous duty at the hospital where I work at, which involves sorting out these little plastic letters to spell out the schedule of the lectures people are giving this month. Well, it's more annoying than onerous. Anyhoo, I'm spelling "VENOUS DISEASE" and the parking guy walks by and points to it and says, "That's not how you spell that." And I'm like, "How would you know?"--in a reciprocally jokey tone. "That's a planet, man," he says, limping away (he has a slight limp from an accident.) And I smile openly, and chuckle lowly, as a joke has been made and I have gotten it.

THE PUNCHLINE: Getting ready for work this morning I think: "Better venous disease than URANUS DISEASE!" HA! Oh man, that would've been classic. But the joke went untold, and I can only offer it up to you, oh Internet, and Google thy Archiver, in hopes that a joke unmade may still have some shimmery cyber-value. Plus Uranus jokes have their own kind of value.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

HOLY CRUD: Steve Francis missed team flight to attend the Super Bowl. Blinebury is all over him:

Does anyone think Francis would even have noticed the irony of what he was watching? A close-knit Carolina Panthers team that had the dedication and resolve to get off the floor from a 1-15 record two seasons ago to play its way into the biggest spotlight. A committed New England Patriots club that was a model of proficiency and consistency in winning 15 consecutive games to close out another trophy-raising season.


Remember when we used to call him Stevie Franchise? Sadly, that nickname does still apply to a flimsy basketball team that long ago used up all of the goodwill from the era of Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. The "heart of a champion" motto and all it stood for is packed away in mothballs and covered with cobwebs.

Stevie Franchise stands for a team with a winning percentage of merely .471 since a blockbuster 11-player deal brought him to Houston in August 1999 as the symbol of a new age. He stands for a team that has been all flash and no substance in 4 1/2 seasons, the very core of a unit that has been full of promise and short on results.

The debate about whether Francis possesses the raw talent or the instincts to be a true point guard for a contending team is one for another day. This is about being responsible, about fulfilling the most basic duties to an employer who is paying you $85 million over six years. This was not a youthful indiscretion but blatant insubordination.

Via Memphis Bengal at SportsFrog. I don't expect the Houstonites to make with the "Fire Francis" chants, but that was just dumb on Stevie's part.