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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2013 college football bowl schedule

Before getting to the 2013-14 college football bowl schedule and associated predictions and operations, a note on sponsored discourse. In this post-Musburger-for-all-the-Tostitos world, it is an unremarkable fact that the bowl games are not merely sponsored football contests but business entities in and of themselves, the sponsorship-style nomenclature– e.g., “the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl”– a mere reflection of the game’s less overtly monied past. Even the ostensible bastion of postseason intercollegiate purity now is known as “the Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio.”

When a bowl game is a business, and not merely a happening, there is an associated shift in the commercial advertising language referential to that business. The NFL’s decision to prohibit the use of “Super Bowl” by non-league advertisers, who now must offer you late-January deals on new televisions for watching “the big game,” provides a rough analogy.

I understand and accept the logic behind a business’ desire to control its portrayal in other business’ advertisements and insist on inclusion of a game’s full, sponsored title in that portrayal. What I do not understand is why the news media plays along. This week, I heard a local sports talk show talk about talking about Georgia’s appearance in “the Taxslayer dot com Gator Bowl,” and that’s far from the only example. I understand that some of the sponsors have integrated their names into the bowl games’ names in such a way that it’s difficult– or, where the sponsor’s name and the bowl’s name are one and the same, impossible– to say the bowl’s name without saying the sponsor’s name as well (e.g., the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and the Capital One Bowl, respectively). “Taxslayer dot com” is a mouthful, though, and everybody already knows the Gator Bowl. “The Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio” is ridiculous to say, and things like “the Allstate Sugar Bowl,” “FedEx Orange Bowl,” and “Tostitos Fiesta Bowl” simply are superfluous. Why the sports news media feels obligated to append these sponsor names when discussing the bowls is beyond me, and you won’t find us doing it here, unless it’s something humorous like the Beef O’Brady Bowl or the RealOakFurniture.com Bowl.

Onto the bowl schedule, which begins this Saturday.   Continue reading

Lou Reed, Rock & Roll Animal, Purveyor of the Perfect Day, passes on at age 71

lrLegendary American musician Lou Reed died yesterday on Long Island at the age of seventy-one. Rolling Stone called Reed’s first band, Velvet Underground, “the most influential American rock band of all time.”

I first heard Reed in high school when I was on the air at WYCE and someone from a local hippie shop phoned in a request. I can’t recall the album or the song, but I still remember the moment, because I was surprisingly and immediately hooked. By the time I was on WHCL and living with one of Reed’s modern-day disciples, VU’s Loaded was in heavy rotation, and, stretching traditional conventions about linear time, I’d tell listeners that Reed, a Syracuse grad, wrote “Rock & Roll” about that little radio station. In 2008, ALDLAND Podcast co-host Chris and I saw Reed in live performance at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium.

You can read about the power and reach of Reed’s influence on music across the web today. Here are a few songs and an original photograph for your listening and viewing remembrance:   Continue reading

ALDLAND Podcast

Are you a basketball fan? Is it March Madness? Then why don’t you come down to ALDLAND’s Podcast Warehouse. We have a comprehensive podcast discussing the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight games as well as our predictions for the final weekend of college basketball before you have to watch baseball all summer (your mileage will vary on how much you enjoy that). You know what they say: come for the discussion of the Final Four, stay for the discussion of the Frozen Four. Will the nerds from Yale (pronounced Yah-Lay) win? How about the total bros from Qunnipiac? Or maybe that other school? Did you know there’s a school called UMass-Lowell? Well now you do.

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Download the ALDLAND podcast at our Podcasts Page or stream it right here:

NCAA Tournament: Onto the Sweet Sixteen

The first weekend of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is in the books, and half of the teams are back home hitting them, their basketball days finished until next season. First, a look at which teams made it to the Sweet Sixteen, then a check on the standings in ALDLAND’s bracket challenge.     Continue reading

Wild horses at a meat-packing plant Monday

The NFL conference championship round is set, after Tom Brady’s Patriots and Eli Manning’s Giants brought harsh and decisive ends to special seasons for the Denver Tebows and Green Bay Packers, respectively. In its first home playoff game of the Harbaugh era, the Ravens won a close victory over the Texans thanks, as usual, to their defense, but it was the other Harbaugh whose team played the game of the weekend at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, defeating the Saints in a game that saw twenty-eight points scored in the final four minutes alone, when each touchdown also was a lead-change. While fan favorites and media darlings Green Bay and Denver are out, along with popular championship pick New Orleans, the final four teams offer a lot of excitement. The NFC championship features two teams (SF and NYG) that are peaking right now, and the AFC features a traditional, compelling offense vs. defense matchup (NE and BAL).

The college basketball national picture remains mixed, with Northwestern taking Michigan to overtime and then ending Michigan State’s fifteen-game win streak. Duke, Kentucky, and Georgetown all have shown weaknesses, while Syracuse has maintained a perfect record atop the Big East (ditto for Baylor in the Big XII). Vanderbilt, a top team in preseason rankings, appears to have found its way after falling out of the top 25, although a backloaded schedule means its toughest tests are yet to come.

Busy Monday

It was a busy weekend, really, and mostly because it was twice as long as most ordinary weekends. Plenty of football, including another Lions Thanksgiving day defeat at the hands of the Packers, injuries, and Ndamukong Suh (more on him later), a dominant performance by LSU over then-number 3 Arkansas that left Razorbacks head coach Bobby Petrino less than happy with the Tigers’ Les Miles (Clay Travis (who else?) has the video here), Michigan State rolling over Northwestern in a classic trap game, Michigan beating Ohio State for the first time since 2003 (more on that exciting game later), and Vanderbilt destroying Wake Forest to finish the regular season with a bowl-eligible 6-6 record, tripling their win total from last year and besting their win total of the last two seasons combined. In an era when a new coach routinely gets three or four years to “get his guys in” before he has to show success, Vanderbilt’s James Franklin turned a 2-10 team into a 6-6 team in one year, playing in the toughest conference in America, and he’s mad because they were a couple plays away from being 9-3. The Commodores’ loss to UT still stings, but the Vols’ defeat at the hands of lifeless Kentucky will keep the Big Orange out of a bowl this year, and that definitely is a silver lining for Vandy fans.

In Sunday NFL action, I have to mention Tim Tebow, who continued his improbable winning ways, and the Indianapolis Colts, who continued their extremely probable losing ways.

Two pieces of basketball news sure to be disappointing to large segments of the population: first, throwback UNLV took down top-ranked UNC in decisive fashion at the Las Vegas Invitational on Saturday, and the NBA is back, games to start piously on Christmas Day (link to the entirety of Grantland.com pending) (UPDATE: here it is.). (More seriously, the situation in Syracuse seems to have entered a new phase.)

In hockey, the Red Wings took down the pesky Predators and the Capitals fired their coach 22 games into the season.

Oh, and despite their loss in Ann Arbor, Buckeye hearts are aflutter with news of the hiring of Urban Meyer as OSU’s next head football coach. (More on that later, too.)

Hmm.

Not that the Big East is relevant in any discussion of college football, but how is it that after Syracuse man-handled West Virginia, West Virginia is ranked while Syracuse is not?  (They share the same record.)  At least USC has a better record than Arizona State (although I’m sure they’ll have a loss after Oregon as well).  I imagine there would considerable uproar if Wisconsin were ranked higher than Michigan State today.

Then again, maybe I answered it in the beginning: no one cares enough about the Big East to actually bother evaluating them.

Update:  The coaches are even worse than the AP, giving WV about 10 times as much love as the Orange.

2nd UpdateNone of the computers have WV ranked.