March 25, 2017

More on the quarterback data

So WDIJ put in touchdowns like that inferior website.  There are two reasons.  The first is that I have less certainty that TDs reflect quarterback skill in the same way that interceptions do, the second is that adding TDs increases complexity, but doesn't really change the rankings much.  Here are the two measures plotted against one another:


We know that YPA correlates strongly with winning in the NFL, so that's important.  We know interceptions are costly, and some quarterbacks throw a lot while others throw just a few, so we should adjust for that.

But I'm not convinced that throwing a lot of touchdowns is in the same category in terms of information add.  "Sure, you dummy," I hear you say, "that's why the coefficient's 0.2."  Well ok, but let's put Marshawn Lynch on the Packers for a moment, and let Rodgers hand the ball to him in the Red Zone.  Rodgers' touchdowns and Adj YPA will go down, but I don't think that makes him a worse quarterback.

So if I stick with IAYPA, who am I slighting?  I took each player's rank on IAYPA and compared it to their Adj YPA rank.  Here are the big changes:

IAYPA likes better than Adj YPA

  • Alex Smith (four ranks higher - #10 on IAYPA vs. #14 on Adj YPA)
  • Kapernick, Tannehill, Cutler, and Bradford are all three notches better on IAYPA, but stay in the same general zone.
Adj YPA likes better than IAYPA
  • Cam Newton (four slots higher)
  • Andrew Luck (three slots higher)
That's about it.  Everyone else rates within one or two slots on either metric.

Since all of these guys are in the same general zone, the argument becomes:  which is more important in a mediocre quarterback, the ability to drill the ball into the end zone, or the ability to move the chains without throwing it to the other team too often. 

But I also agree that if I am using IAYPA, I ought to take account of touchdowns in some way, because there's clearly some skill involved, and touchdowns have some passing relevance to the outcome of the game.  ("I always thought if you're kicking field goals you're on your way to losing the game." - Steve Young).

So what can we do about this?

I think I would, if I were not about to ignore the NFL for the rest of my natural life, do something like this.

Historians are somewhat unclear on who first said "three things can happen when you throw the ball, and two of them are bad," but it was probably Darrell Royal.  The problem with this phrase, which has been endlessly invoke by bad coaches with boring teams, is that it recognizes one kind of optionality (interceptions) while ignoring another kind (touchdowns).  In point of fact, four things can happen:

  • The ball is not caught
  • The ball is caught by the other team
  • The ball is caught for a yardage gain
  • The ball is caught for a touchdown and everyone runs off the field cheering and throwing high-fives
It seems irresponsible to ignore that last one.

I know the TD/INT ratio is a sacred to some, but for me it's not useful.  Too much information gets destroyed.  If Brady throws 40 touchdowns with 10 INTs, that is not the same as if Alex Smith throws 12 and 3 in the same number of attempts.  So let's look at the data - who has the most positive optionality and the least negative optionality?  Oh Lawd...


So, there you have a pretty good supplemental indicator, I'd say.  Just a few observations:
  • Remember, this is everyone who played steadily over the past two years, plus Prescott.  No one stays on the field with an INT rate above 3% (Fitzpatrick lost his job), or a TD rate below 3%.
  • Northwest is good, southeast is bad.
  • Over past two years, Brady has been a rage-beast from the 24th dimension.  When the ball leaves his hand, as it often does (#14 in attempts despite missing games), it is six times more likely to end up in the end zone than in the hands of the other team.  So, ok, that does appear to be valuable.
  • Omar...I mean Rodgers...is comin'.  Rodgers is the one guy I would say IAYPA clearly has wrong, but Adj YPA doesn't fully correct the error.  This chart shows why he's valuable even with an average IAYPA.  And remember, he's getting a lot of shots of on goal, since he is #6 in attempts over this period.
  • Flacco is almost a coin flip, but his IAYPA is also bad, so we didn't think he was valuable anyway. 
  • Osweiler's a coin flip, but his IAYPA is also bad, so we didn't think he was valuable anyway. 
As a result of this, I will pay more attention to TDs, but not add them to IAYPA.  For me avoiding interceptions is the more important skill, and the one more reflective of quarterback value.  But quarterbacks with average IAYPAs who are northwest on the chart above (assuming comparable attempts) are more valuable than those who are not.

So I propose this summary chart:


Interestingly, the man who emerges as the closet thing to Brady (NE quadrant) is not Rodgers, but Wilson.

Now, you might not agree with my techniques, but if my system is flawed, that would imply that the results are flawed, and that would imply Russell Wilson is not one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.  And I am not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth Russell Wilson.

I believe this concludes my (already distant) relationship with the NFL

It doesn’t matter that there are laws, rooted in freedom of speech, in some places in this country that protect employees from punishment by their employers due to their political views or activities. Washington, D.C., is one such place. California, where Kaepernick played since entering the league as a rookie in 2011, is another. What Kaepernick dared to do was spit in the NFL’s eye.

Unless and until Kaepernick is back in the league under a contract commensurate with his résumé, blackballing is football’s payback.

(link)

March 16, 2017

When men were men, and hockey was war



As I was sitting in that hospital bed, I promised myself two things:

  1. I wasn’t going to let the hit affect me mentally.  
  2. It wasn’t to change the way I played.

You have to understand what hockey means to me. It was always my joy in life. I was a small guy to start with, and I made it to the NHL by playing a certain way. If I took my foot off the gas even just a little bit … if I was even just a little bit timid because of that hit, I wouldn’t be effective. I’d be letting my teammates down. I’d be letting the city down. The people of Detroit were in my corner every single day of my recovery. I mean, the response from fans was so overwhelming that I had to get two hospital rooms: One for me, and one to store all the flowers, cards, and stuffed animals that people sent to me. There was so much that I couldn’t take it all home. I donated all the stuffed animals to the pediatric ward.

Detroit is such a blue-collar town, and they love their Red Wings so much.

We had to get back to the Western Conference finals. We had to beat Colorado. We had to win a Stanley Cup.

I would close my eyes and picture the weight room and think, Soon.

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Notes on the quarter-back position

There are 32 quarterback jobs in the NFL, and 28 men who have shown the ability to play the position at all over the past two years.  Here is the list, with combined 2015 and 2016 statistics (sorted by harmonic mean of TD/INT, Rate, and IAYPA ranks).  I include Dak Prescott, taking his 2016 season as down payment on a nice future career:



There are four teams that will have to play someone not on this list - a rookie, or Gino Smith or someone.  Some of the teams at the bottom are already moving on to their next option:

  • Brock has been traded by the Texans to the Browns, who will either trade him again, or cut him.  David Carr:  "Bill [O'Brien]'s system works, and I don't think he's coaching it poorly. But in the times we live, it's going to be difficult for him to have enough patience to stick with one guy. And it's not just the quarterback. It's the combination of quarterback and receiver. Julian Edelman practically lives with (Tom Brady) during the offseason. They go through game situations three times a week. How many times did Brock do that? Probably never."
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick will not re-sign with the Jets.  
  • Flacco is not only one of the three least productive starters of the past two seasons, he will, if Tony Romo is cut or traded, become the player with the highest salary cap number in the NFL.  No sign his job is in jeopardy...Ozzie Newsome is now reportedly looking to sign some receivers to see if that would help.
  • Blake Bortles - New coach Coughlin is not a fan.
That gives us at least eight teams - a quarter of the League, where there is not clear incumbent, or the incumbent has been awful for two years.

In the middle, Matthew Stafford, Alex Smith, Marcus Mariota are the median NFL quarterback, and therefore extremely valuable.  

Not far south you can see Colin Kaepernick, who had the fewest starts of anyone but Prescott, but has actually performed well.  INT/Attempt of 1.6% is well below median of 2.1%.  For all the criticism, he is better than what about 1/4 of the League has.

A bit further down we find Cutler.  He is the median quarterback on IAYPA, but his TD/INT ratio shows why Bears fans became exasperated.  Andrew Luck threw 46 touchdowns in 22 starts over the past two years, Cutler only 25 in 20.  I still think he could play somewhere, but his numbers are fully consistent with the criticism - he moves the chains but not the scoreboard.  But again, do the Bears really think Glennon is going to be better?

The view from the summit:
  • The Legend of Tom continues.  The best quarterback in football over the past two years, by a lot.  The typical competent NFL quarterback throws about twice as many TDs as interceptions (2.3 median for this group).  Brady's ratio the past two years has been 7.1... 
  • Dak Prescott had as great a rookie seasons as Dallas could have hoped for.  
  • Russell Wilson is not just good, but great, much better than people seem to realize.  This article says the offensive line needs repairing, but, like Rodgers, Wilson has shown he can perform at the highest level even with a weak supporting cast.
  • Rodgers' IAYPA has slipped, but he is, as Simmons says, the moral equivalent of Omar from the Wire: "Rodgers is Omar. He’s a one-man gang. You’re always afraid of him, you can’t ever count him out and you never know when he’s coming. And those three Hail Marys (THREE!!!!) were football’s equivalent of Omar escaping Marlo’s crew with the five-story balcony jump."
  • Drew Brees - just two years younger than Brady, and has more yards than anyone the past two seasons, with elite-level efficiency.  No sign of decay yet.
  • Kirk Cousins, who is demanding a trade on a one-year contract, is now one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
I've never seen it all so wide open.  One NFL GM commented on the Bears' signing of Glennon:  "I’d take Glennon over Osweiler in a heartbeat.  He won’t do it himself, but if he has people around him, he’s got a chance. And that’s three-quarters of the league at quarterback."

March 14, 2017

How to drive properly

World Rally Championship driver Kris Meeke said he “got caught out by a bump” less than a kilometer away from the end of the final stage of Rally Mexico... Meeke went flying off into a parking lot next to the stage road and unbelievably still won the rally.

From the cockpit:



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'Smart vibrator' lawsuit climaxes with...

...somethingsomething...  Now that's what I call 'Big Data'.

At least we've found the local limit for this atrocious business model.

According to the lawsuit filed in the North District of Illinois Eastern Division District Court, the We-Connect app was transmitting information including dates and times of use as well as vibration mode and pattern to the company’s servers along with personally-identifiable email addresses without notifying customers.

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March 12, 2017

The GOP healthcare plan swings into action

March 11, 2017

More TOR NPCs have died than there are people on earth...



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Thanks Unky


Matt Bai has an interesting conversation

I asked Obama when, theoretically, he would consider Islamist terrorism to be an existential threat. I expected him to say it would be when al-Qaida or ISIS got its hands on nukes or managed to take down the computers that power our banks.

But Obama’s answer was different, and immediate — clearly he’d thought about it. He said terrorism would rise to the level of an elemental threat only when we responded to some eventual attack, as a culture, by turning against each other and betraying our own ideals.

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Your loyalty has been rewarded


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March 09, 2017

Sanity check from Dave



March 08, 2017

Proposed captions for that "It's a Wonderful Life" picture (see post below)

  • "The TARP money came through!"
  • "Look at this fucking house!  Just look at it!"
  • "We're pawns in a supernatural game far beyond our ability to comprehend!"
  • "If only predatory capitalistic practices could be eradicated none of this would have been necessary!"
  • "The entire happiness of everyone in this town hangs by the precarious thread of my mortality!"
  • "Capital is dead labor, that vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks."
Sorry, that last one was Marx.  But still...

La La Lear

We went to see La La Land the other night, and everyone is still pissed off.  #2 son called it a tragedy, although that seems a bit strong when you consider that both leading characters get exactly what they wanted.  Nevertheless, the general sentiment in our group was similar to that of the critic's girlfriend who turned to him during the final act and said: "fuck this movie."

I'm annoyed for a different reason.  I paid good money to see a musical about Los Angeles with Ryan Gosling and some girl.  When you do that, you have a right to expect light entertainment.  I believe California even has a law about this.

And instead of light escapist entertainment, I get what?  I get King Lear.  King Fucking Lear.  

You think I'm shitting you?

I am not shitting you.

Damien Chazelle takes La La Land in the world of possibility and dreaming, which is nice, and also sort of like playing mumblety-peg with an electric carving knife.  You are entering deep waters.  The Bard touched on these topics in the final scene of Lear:

Re-enter KING LEAR, with CORDELIA dead in his arms; EDGAR, Captain, and others following
KING LEAR
Howl, howl, howl, howl! O, you are men of stones:
Had I your tongues and eyes, I'ld use them so
That heaven's vault should crack. She's gone for ever!
I know when one is dead, and when one lives;
She's dead as earth. Lend me a looking-glass;
If that her breath will mist or stain the stone,
Why, then she lives. 
KENT
Is this the promised end 
EDGAR
Or image of that horror? 
ALBANY
Fall, and cease! 
KING LEAR
This feather stirs; she lives! if it be so,
It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows
That ever I have felt.

The feather, alas, is not going anywhere.  Shakespeare is not letting anyone off the hook, least of all the man who told his daughter - when she was unwilling to trivialize her love for him with words - that "nothing will come from nothing."  Wishing can create some powerful delusions, but Lear's mind can dance the watusi and still not  Cordelia's status.  After life has kicked him around a little, Lear wishes Cordelia alive as much as any human can wish such a thing.  But as another poet once said, and Shakespeare ratifies:
The moving finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on; nor all thy piety nor wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
Nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.
What's been done can't be undone.  Except...well, actually, there's a big exception to this.  In Hollywood movies, especially those of the Golden Age, there were a few occasions when the moving finger hit the rewind button, perhaps most memorably in Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life".

Proposed captions here

And from there to Groundhog Day and beyond.  One of the first films to employ this device was the silent 7th Heaven, which came out in 1927.  It was based on a 1922 play of the same name, and Chazelle says it influenced him as they were putting together that accursed final act for La La Land.  Here are the salient plot points (from TCM's page on the 1937 talkie):
...Chico fights in the trenches and Diane works as a nurse. The couple think of each other every day at 11:00 a.m. and mentally send the message "Chico, Diane, Heaven." After the war ends, Gobin and Aristide, who has become Diane's friend, try to convince Diane that Chico was killed, but she refuses to believe them until Father Chevillon gives her the medal that Chico gave to him when he lay wounded on the battlefield. Diane is heartbroken and renounces her belief in God, but when the clock strikes 11:00, she once again feels Chico's presence. She rushes home and finds Chico, who was only blinded in the explosion that was thought to have killed him. The young lovers embrace and tearfully reaffirm their belief in each other and in God.
Diane essentially wills Chico back to life, and into her presence.  To paraphrase Coppola in "Hearts of Darkness", Chico's not dead until she says he dead.

Well, two can play that game.  Sebastian and Mia aren't split until I say they're split.

And I ain't sayin' nothin'.

March 07, 2017

Stop, my penis can only get so erect

The 1980s-vintage Warthogs — built around a 30-millimeter rotary cannon and capable of carrying a variety of bombs and missiles — did fire inert rounds on unmanned boats at a different time during the exercise. The munitions expended during that other phase of the exercise also included delta-wing AGM-65 Maverick missiles and 500-pound laser-guided bombs.

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March 04, 2017

It's not a witch hunt if you're up to your ass in witches


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Two comments from Epictetus

The chief task in life is simply this:  to identify and separate matters so that I can clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control.  Where then do I look for good and evil?  Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself, to the choices that are my own...

. . .

These things don't go together.  You must be a unified human being, either good or bad.  You must diligently work either on your own reasoning or on things out of your control - take great care with the inside and not what's outside, which is to say, stand with the philosopher, or else with the mob!

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The Lego Batman movie is fun, also destroys the Batman myth forever

BLIND ITEM #5 - This A+ list mostly movie actor who also directs is doing his best to get out of making the next installment of a franchise.   He will make it if forced but would love for them to say they found a replacement. He is miserable.   (link)

I'm sorry, Mr. Affleck, but your job just became somewhat harder.  A new movie has come out that redeems Batman, but wrecks the Frank Miller archetype in the process.
Oh, shut up

The Lego Batman Movie does something no other DC film has done:  it actually tries to conceptualize the hero as a human being.  A flawed, rich, narcissistic human being, hovering on the edge of self-awareness.  Even Iron Man didn't go this deep:



The Lego Batman Movie calls Frank Miller Batman on his bullshit, tells him what he is, and ultimately persuades him to adopt a more constructive, team-oriented approach.  This is more likely to work for him, and will be less dull for us.  I alway liked team Batman better anyway:




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February 27, 2017

Stoicism in a nutshell

The BBC program "In Our Time", hosted by the estimable Melvyn Bragg, has taken up the topic of stoicism on several occations:

There's a lot of "In Our Time", and it all seems to be really good.

Quokka selfies



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February 25, 2017

Really?! Also: citation needed

From the Wikipedia entry on the song "La Bamba":
The Kidsongs Kids perform their version on their Boppin' With the Biggles video and it took more than 100 shots to edit their version of the music video.
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February 24, 2017

A moment for Claudio

Leicester's decision to sack Claudio Ranieri nine months after winning the Premier League made former Foxes striker Gary Lineker "shed a tear".

Ranieri guided Leicester to the title despite them being rated 5,000-1 shots at the start of the 2015-16 campaign.

The Foxes are 17th this season and lost to League One Millwall in the FA Cup.

(link)


[UPDATE]

The Guardian has the story.  This is positive un-American!

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February 19, 2017

Just sayin'

I'm not an audio snob, but the headline makes fun of the BT.2020 pass-through, and unless you get that dialed in to as close as Sigma 3 as your receiver and titanium-shielded acoustically isolated speakers allow, you might as well rip out your $2000-per-linear foot Monster Cables and replace them with farking string.

I mean I like having a laugh at "tech jargon" too, but if you can't be bothered to dial in the BT.2020 pass through, why don't you just smash your stereo gear with a hammer, throw it in a dumpster, [and] set the dumpster on fire? Go buy a plastic AM radio at the dollar store and listen to it in the shower, most of you wouldn't be able to tell the difference anyway. Assuming you could even figure out how to turn it on, if you can't figure out a simple 2020 wave analysis function. Big 'if' right there. Don't turn on the shower and accidentally drown yourself. But like I say, not a snob.

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From an article about a flower show

We normally prepare for a trip by imagining the worst and then are grateful for what doesn’t happen to us, so we fully expected cold weather and fierce winds on the crossing, with sheets of salt spray lashing the deck, and the ship rolling and plunging; and we imagined ourself lying on a bunk quietly retching into a plastic bag, and then the inevitable iceberg and the rush for the boats, with us caught in a despicable act of cowardice and going down with the boat in shame and disgrace, and then our obituary (“Was fondly regarded despite insufficient flowering over the years”). But, of course, the first day out was bright and balmy, and we lay in a deck chair and dozed and slowly burst open.

- Garrison Keillor, 1992


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February 18, 2017

Meanwhile, at Yosemite...


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February 17, 2017

Well, yeah

"Man is condemned to be free."  So said Jean Paul Sartre, the French existentialist.  And perhaps only a French existentialist could think that we are "condemned" to be free.  It's the kind of thing that would occur to you as you sit in a Parisian cafe on a rainy afternoon, smoking unfiltered cigarettes, and feeling the enormity of existence settle on your shoulders as you gaze in ineffable, inexplicable horror at the glass of beer in front of you.

[The podcast, which is very good, is actually about Epictetus.]

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Zombie John McCain is all out of bubble gum


  • "[The founders of the Munich conference] would be alarmed by an increasing turn away from universal values and toward old ties of blood and race and sectarianism.”
  • “They would be alarmed by the hardening resentment we see towards immigrants and refugees and minority groups -- especially Muslims.”
  • “They would be alarmed by the growing inability -- and even unwillingness -- to separate truth from lies.”
  • "They would be alarmed that more and more of our fellow citizens seem to be flirting with authoritarianism and romanticizing it as our moral equivalent."

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February 12, 2017

The bards will sing

Following the Super Bowl Steve Young appeared on the Tolbert & Lund show on KNBR and explained the now-legendary fourth quarter - we present our own partial transcription here, in free verse:

Brutal
It was brutal
It was inspiring
and
brutal to watch

There are comebacks
that you just can't stop
But this one was self-inflicted in some ways

And that's what's so hard,
especially with so much on the line,
at the Super Bowl

Look, as you manage games
because you know
someone says
I'm a game manager, he's a game manager
they usually use that as a cut on a quarterback,
he's just a game manager
but
a lot of the job is game management

There's some other phenomenally important things
that really just extend the game, extend the ability of your team
to go score and win and all that stuff

but a lot of quarterbacking
is nuts and bolts

And when you get away from that,
especially with the Super Bowl on the line
I use the word criminal,
that's probably too strong
but it's just
it's how you lose
it's how you lose Super Bowls
it's how you lose any game to be honest with you

But on the other side -
the frenzy that they allowed


You know that it was twenty eight to three
They had a shot
They had a drive that went three and out,
and I'm like

oh, you've got to go end this

because otherwise you're going to get the flurry of all flurries
from one of the greatest players ever, whatever you wanna say

He's comin'

If you give him a shot he'll start calculating in his mind
and the whole team is built this way
and they know - they're very mature as a group -
they're not going to go away
they're not going to disappear and fall flat

They're comin'

But you can end it
by going, even 31
'cause you knew the score
how are they going to pull that off

They don't do it

They go twenty eight and nine
and miss the extra point

Ok, now you know you need a field goal
You need that extra field goal to get away from three scores
And so when they miss the extra point
oh, doesn't really matter, neither here nor there

Then they go to the onside kick
a little desperate in my mind
Bill, what're you doing?
It's a little desperate

And it doesn't work and
I'm like ok, now you've got the ball on the 40

Now, with your season, career, everything, on the line
Get five, ten, fifteen yards
and end this.

I know people say
it's fourteen minutes in the fourth quarter,
whatever it was:
end it right there.

Doesn't happen.
Punt

Now it goes
Now they get the field goal
so now it's twenty eight to twelve

Tolbert:  Remember, real quick, remember Steve - after that onside kick, they got nine yards on first down to go to the 31 yard line to get in field goal range, and then Matthews holds and outside of field goal range they go.

That's the second time that's going to come up, right,
because they were running the ball
very effectively
and every time they seemed to hand off
so....see, now you've frustrated me even more because
I'd forgotten about that one
I'd forgotten about that one

As a guy that's played a long time, you know
you're making the same calculation they are.

You know you're in trouble
because now he's two scores down

I get it, two point conversions,
I get it

But now everybody smells success for the first time
Now you've really got to end it
Now's the time
because you don't want to get into this flurry.

So they run the ball, remember,
and it's nine yards again
they try to throw incomplete or whatever
oh I remember, they run the middle and it goes nowhere

So that's third and one
He's in the shotgun
Full blitz is coming
I'm sitting there watching this
Here comes the blitz
Are you throwing?
What are you doing?

He takes the deep drop
the linebacker comes
the running back misses him
or misses the assignment
Here comes
the linebacker free

And he takes a - he's lookin' the other way -
he takes the big drop
and the big windup to throw the big sail route
you know, the classic 28 yard sail route
with the whole season on the line

and then he gets the strip sack
and you think to yourself

you know what?
you deserve it

you do

Whatever's comin',
you might pull this out
you might sneak this by
you might somehow -

but what's comin'
you deserve now

That was my reaction

Because I've been there
I've lived it
I'd made mistakes
I get it
When it happens, own it

Whatever's comin'
is now on you

So then that happened.
So they go down and make it twenty.

And then they make one of the great
throws and catches
in the history of Super Bowls
or any game.

Julio Jones makes that catch down at the 22
but Matt Ryan steps up
and off-balance
throws a laser down there
and it was beautiful

And then you say to yourself
ok, you lucky suckers
you moved this ball down

Now you can end it for good

You get a second chance to end it
'cause a field goal,
in my mind,
ended it.

And, so, you're at the 22
You remember
They ran, did nothing

And then, in your mind the thing that cannot happen is
what Tom, you didn't play football
but you know this, what cannot happen?

Tolbert:  Sack.  Sack.

It cannot happen
cannot happen

Honestly, if a pass is called
You just know, 101,
I cannot go down.

I've got to figure out a way to throw the ball near somebody
I have it in my mind this ball's coming out

And you see him go back
he gets pressured
he tries to go make a play
and down he goes

and I think to myself you guys deserve this twice now
now whatever's comin', I'm done with you guys
and so it ends any chance
and you say oh my gosh

and here comes Tom

February 11, 2017

OKC shows why it has the reputation it enjoys today

The fans, so amped pregame but so frustrated as the lopsided score materialized, resorted to one final cupcake chant as Durant completed his national TV postgame interview, victorious in his emotional return.

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Based on a conversation with Dr. Kapital


February 07, 2017

Professor Irwin Corey accepts the National Book Award Fiction Citation for Thomas Pynchon, 4/18/74

Mencken once said, "He who underestimates the American pubic - public, will not go broke." This is merely a small indication of this vast throng gathered here to once again behold and to perceive that which has gone behind and to that which might go forward into the future...we've got to hurdle these obstacles. This is the main deterrent upon which we have gathered our strength and all the others who say, "What the hell did that get?" - We don't know. We've got to peforce withold the loving boy... And as Miller once said in one of his great novels- what did he ... that language is only necessary when communication is endangered. And you sit there bewildered, and Pinter who went further said "It is not the lack of communication but fear of communication." That's what the Goddamn thing is it's we fear - communication. Oh - fortunately the prize has only been given to authors - unlike the Academy Award which is given to a female and a male, indicating the derision of the human specie - God damn it! But we have no paranoia, and Mr. Pynchon has attained, and has created for himself serenity, and it is only the insanity that has kept him alive in his paranoia. We speak of the organ...of the orgasm...Who the hell wrote this? And the jury has determined to divide the prize between two writers - to Thomas Pynchon for his GRAVITY'S RAINBOW. Now GRAVITY'S RAINBOW is a token of this man's genius...he told me so himself...that he could...in other words, have been more specific, but rather than to allude the mundane, he has come to the conclusion that brevity is the importance of our shallow existence. God damn.

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February 06, 2017

Damn, Charles

A lone Anchorage prison guard sits at the receiving end of Alaska's failed mental health system, trying to keep 28 acutely disturbed men from harming themselves or others.

The Mike Module, as the unit is called at Anchorage Correctional Complex, is staffed by a single corrections officer and a single nurse except when clinicians visit. I sat down with two retired officers to find out what that job is like.

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What's wrong with Anchorage, Alaska

TOO MANY TEACHERS

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February 05, 2017

The Talented Mister Brady

Four-time Super Bowl MVP?

* Throws clipboard over shoulder *

We'll take a look at the whole body of work another time.


HOUSTON – Down 25 points in the third quarter, Tom Brady delivered the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history on Sunday, befitting of his status as greatest quarterback of all time.

Previously no team that ever trailed by more than 10 points in a Super Bowl had come back to win. New England was down 28-3 late in third quarter...

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Deadspin's take:


The Impossible Band

Ringo events are often sloppy affairs.  This one is not.