A Statistical Appreciation of the Washington Generals And Harlem Globetrotters (via FiveThirtyEight)

gtRed Klotz, the founder and longtime coach of the Washington Generals, the Harlem Globetrotters’ perpetually feeble opponents, died at age 93 last week (I highly recommend Joe Posnanski’s remembrance). Klotz’s all-time record as a head coach of the Generals and their namesakes was something like six wins and 14,000 losses — they lost 99.96 percent of the time.

How exactly did the Generals lose so consistently? How much of it was their conceding games on purpose, as opposed to simply being really bad at basketball?

Let’s first get a sense for how good the Globetrotters were. … Read More

(via FiveThirtyEight)

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ALDLAND college football weekend update, part 1

As announced, Brendan will be attending and (has already begun) live-tweeting The Game. If you want to follow along, make sure you’re following ALDLAND on Twitter (@ALDLANDia), something you probably should be doing anyway.

Although I am indeed in the midst of a relocation project, I’m taking a break to attend senior day in Ann Arbor, where the Wolverines will be hosting the Iowa Hawkeyes. Key questions include: 1) Will Michigan senior QB Denard Robinson play a meaningful snap, and if so, at what position? 2) Will the mobile reception situation be as bad as it was last time? and 3) Without my charger, will my phone battery even last long enough to make the answer to question (2) relevant? Strategic packing during a move is difficult.

For live coverage of both games, follow @ALDLANDia on Twitter.

Narrow Margin Monday, take 2

We find ourselves late on a Monday after another weekend of close games. On Saturday, woefully underachieving Michigan State lost in overtime to Iowa as a result of what one local radio host called the worst coaching he had ever seen in his life, and the man is neither young nor inexperienced in the field. In a real upset, LSU threw a monkey wrench in the SEC East race and beat South Carolina 23-21, Kansas State escaped Ames with a 27-21 win over Iowa State, Notre Dame beat Stanford 20-13 in overtime, and Texas A&M squeaked by Louisiana Tech 59-57. Even the Florida-Vanderbilt game was close into the fourth quarter before the Gators and their quarterback ran away with it. More on that game later this week.

Saturday had its share of blowouts, naturally, and the notable ones included Alabama’s 42-10 win at Missouri, which remains winless in its new conference, Texas Tech’s 49-14 embarrassment of one-time national championship contender West Virginia, still-undefeated Oregon State’s 42-24 win over BYU, and Michigan’s 45-0 muddy execution of Illinois on Wolverine homecoming. Michigan hosts Michigan State in another ALDLAND outing, more on which toward the end of the week.

The NFL had its share of close contests too, including the Lions’ overtime win over hapless Philadelphia, Buffalo’s 19-16 overtime win over Arizona, whose kicker hit a 61-yarder to tie the game but subsequently missed a 30-something yard kick to win the game in the final seconds, the Seahawks 24-23 win over New England, Atlanta’s come-from-behind win over Oakland to become the league’s final undefeated team, Miami’s 17-14 victory over the Rams, and Baltimore’s 31-29 capitalization on the Dallas (ongoing) Disaster. Baltimore payed a long-term price for its win, though, sacrificing defenders Ray Lewis and Ladarius Webb at last to the football devil (no, not the commissioner– separate office) in payment for their past defensive successes. Lewis and Webb are out for the season. Other high-flying teams went down in spectacular fashion on Sunday, including San Francisco, 26-3 at the hands of the Giants, and Houston, 42-24 to Green Bay on Sunday night.

In off-field NFL news, Jonathan Vilma, the embattled New Orleans Saint, reportedly will be allowed to play as soon as this weekend, although it isn’t clear if he will. Vilma continues to maintain a defamation suit against Roger Goodell.

In baseball, the final four is set and in motion. Detroit seized a 2-0 lead over the Yankees as the series heads to Detroit with AL strikeout kings Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer yet to pitch for the Tigers. The other road team, St. Louis, has a 1-0 lead in the NLCS battle of the two most recent defending World Series champions, though the Cardinals are down 5-1 in the fourth as I write this.

Chilly Monday

Sometimes it’s important to remind yourself that, for the most part, half the teams lose each and every football weekend. Despite what some say about football fandom, most of us are likely to have a couple teams we like, especially between the college and professional levels and, given the number of games played on a weekly basis, we’re likely to have a few winners and a few losers. You see where this is headed.

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The Big Ten is struggling this season. None of their teams were in the top fifteen heading into Saturday, and they didn’t exactly respond well. Notre Dame completed a convincing conquest of the State of Michigan by taking down the Wolverines one week after they did the same to the Spartans, who unconvincingly defeated Eastern Michigan, possibly the worst team in Division I. Iowa lost in overtime to Central Michigan. Northwestern, Minnesota, and the ineligible Ohio State are 4-0. This conference is approaching Big East relegation level lows.

On the topic of relegation, Vanderbilt’s third defeat of the season, a 48-3 drubbing under the lights in Athens more about which later, has Commodore bloggers rising to defend their team’s membership in the SEC. That’s never good. The ACC had the game of the weekend though, in which Florida State defeated Clemson, clearing one of its final remaining obstacles on the path to national championship contention. That path may be clearing further, as LSU barely defeated Auburn. Oregon also started slow before completing a one-sided shutout of RichRod’s inoffensive Arizona Wildcats.

I missed most of the NFL games in transit back from Georgia on Sunday, but I understand the Lions went out with a whimper in an overtime loss in Nashville, the Falcons dominated the Chargers, Darrelle Revis is headed back to his Island after some variety of non-beard-related injury, Peyton Manning’s arm strength continues to be a question, and the scab officials are bad getting worse. (On their account, it also came out during the past week that at least some of them hold personal, financial stakes in the outcomes of the games, which adds a new element of excitement.)

In golf, Vanderbilt alum Brandt Snedeker won $11.4 million yesterday, and in the AL Central race, the White Sox lost once and the Tigers lost twice as part of a statistical phenomenon known as “regression to the mean (streets of Kansas City).”

How excited are we, Americans, for football season?

In engaging in this process of writing for a sports blog, I’ve taken the approach of fully immersing myself in the sports media world– starting my days with ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike, reading all of the websites that are linked in the left-hand column of our homepage, following athletes and sports media personalities on twitter, listening to podcasts, and taking in as many games as possible– for better and worse. I know more about sports and the issues surrounding sports than at any point in my life. Just like any other area of interest, though, immersion in the context of today’s myriad media offerings also can lead to a lack of perspective.

One of the steadiest mantras in all of sports chatter is that football is king. I’m not here to question that tenet– wondering, for example, whether it’s most popular because it is in fact more amenable to Americans’ true love, television, than other sports, or whether that amenability is a convenient coincidental characteristic of the inherently popular game– but to confirm it, which I did last night at the grocery store, where I happily was adding to my Fat Tire new state label collection.     Keep reading…