Monday, October 31, 2011
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
Joe Silvestro is a regular contributor to Sports Casual, check back every
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
In honor of the XFL's 10 year anniversary, I think it's only right that we honor the greatest idea in XFL history: the scramble.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Going into week eight, there are five guys who have made 100% of their field gold attempts. 19 kickers have a long of 50 yards or more. When offenses cross the 40 yard line, coaches can feel confident that they have secured three points (unless, of course, one of the aforementioned quarterbacks turns the ball over).
Josh Scobee is the best player on the Jaguars' roster. He's 14 for 14 this year and 5 for 5 from 50+ yards. And lest we forget the Raiders' big leg. Oakland had better get Sebastian Janikowski back soon, because he is absolutely killing the ball. He's 12 for 13 this year and 5 for 6 from 50+ yards. Of course, one of those long-distance field goals was a 63-yarder, tying the NFL record. (It would have been good from 65).
Kickers have been doing more than just driving the ball straight and far. Check out this big hit from Neil Rackers, if you haven't seen in already.
Why are we seeing so many long field goals in the NFL this year? Many fans will attribute the increased kick power to widespread use of HGH. They may very well be right. But I'd rather look the other way on that one. Let's chalk it up to better training and conditioning and simply enjoy watching the ball sail through the uprights.
It's up, and it's GOOD.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Here are some of the best tweets of the day from around the NFL. Enjoy!
Faux John Madden: It's early in his career, but Christian Ponder is really developing good chemistry with Charles Woodson.
Faux John Madden: Love the shot of Dolphins fans cheering like crazy as Denver FG goes through to win the game
Saturday, October 22, 2011
I remember when I used to root for a team that was out of
playoff contention by week 7, but those days are gone. Fitzmagic.
Friday, October 21, 2011
In case you haven’t heard, the NBA is still locked out.Thus far the league’s labor strife has resulted in negative press for both the owners and players union, with the gap between Commissioner Stern’s demands and those of Derek Fisher and the players actually widening during negotiations. For a time, it appeared that all hope for an NBA season was lost, and that the league’s momentum had dissipated following an extremely successful year. It would take a miracle for the league to stave off a total public relations nightmare, and be inspired to accelerate negotiations with a new sense of urgency and purpose. It turns out this miracle’s name was Tony Romo.
Joe Silvestro is a regular contributor to Sports Casual, check back every
Thursday, October 20, 2011
It's been a wild week on depth charts around the NFL. While no teams have hit the proverbial panic button quite yet, many are close. Of the teams that have struggled in the past, some are struggling still, while others are looking to make a playoff push. Either way, basement-dwellers of previous years are looking to secure more wins this season and are shaking things up at the QB position.
Denver Broncos (Tebow in, Orton out)
As far as I can tell, this is a win-win. Broncos fans finally get to see the quarterback they've been clamoring for, the man with the plan, the Messiah. The other 31 teams will certainly welcome the new era of futility that is about to begin in Denver. The Dolphins will get their first win of the season on Sunday, but no one in Denver will care because Tim Tebow will break down and cry at the press conference.
Washington Redskins (Beck in, Grossman out)
Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place. Rex Grossman is (lest we forget) and former Super Bowl starting quarterback, but his propensity - nay, insistance - to generously donate possession of the football to opposing teams is certainly hindering the Redskins' attempt to finally be relevant. On the other hand, Washington is trading in a QB who has thrown 46 career touchdowns for a guy who, despite being in the league since 2007, has thrown just 1. Oh, and did I mention his 3 INTs and 6 fumbles? In a weird way, it almost makes Skins fans miss Jason Campbell.
(Wow, great segway.)
Oakland Raiders (Palmer in via trade, Campbell broken in half)
With Jason Campbell on the shelf for the foreseeable future, Oakland decided to make a splash and trade for "retired" quarterback Carson Palmer. The idea was a good one, but the price that Oakland paid is exorbitant. The Raiders are giving up at least and first- and second-round draft pick, AND they are still on the hook for Palmer's salary ($7.44 million of prorated money this year, $11.5 million next year, $11.5 million in 2013, and $13 million in 2014). Can't even blame Al Davis for this one (too soon?). All Oakland really needs is a guy who can throw slants and screens and hand the ball off (a guy like, say, Jason Campbell). Let's hope the Raiders make a playoff run this year, or the trade will be a huge mistake.
Minnesota Vikings (Ponder in, McNabb out)
Who cares, really. This season is over for Minnesota. This move will probably mark the end of McNabb's time as an NFL starter, which is quite sad, given his impressive body of work. Ponder has a lot to prove as the 2011 Draft reach, but it will be hard to learn about the quarterback when the rest of the team is struggling so much.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
4) Houston Texans: 20:1 – Edit: I forgot Mario Williams is out for the season. This is now a terrible bet. Let's roll the dice on St. Louis at 1000:1 odds.
Monday, October 17, 2011
This was a weekend of mixed emotions around the NFL. While everyone enjoys watching Rex Grossman get pulled at the half after delivering one of his patented 4 interception games, it is always painful to watch the Fitzmagic fall short. I am currently on edge because my gritty fantasy squad of "Revis Saves" is currently trailing its matchup by 0.25 points, and need Plaxico Burress (it's a deep league) and Calvin Pace (OK, it's a REALLY fucking deep league) to combine for more than 0.5 points. However, last night was ultimately salvaged by the Cardinals win over the Brewers in game 6 of the NLCS. It's not that I'm a Cards fan, I am merely a fan of teams that clinch on the road. I watched the crowd in Milwaukee sit in stunned silence for a good 10 minutes last night, and thoroughly enjoyed the cutaway shots to small children openly weeping at their bloodied and beaten corpse of a team. And so I'm going to put the roller coaster football weekend aside for a moment to discuss that other sport that's going on right now (No it's not hockey, and fuck you for even thinking it).
One month ago, it seemed as though all the big market teams were going to cruise through the season and were destined to meet in the playoffs. A World Series matchup of the Phillies and the Yanks / Red Sox seemed inevitable then, and many fans are still scratching their heads over the quick turnaround. While the number one (Yankees) and number two (Phillies) spending teams managed to buy enough wins to reign over their respective conferences, both these teams were shocked in the LDS by underpaid underdogs. Of the four teams that advanced to the LCS, the Tigers spent the most, standing in at 10th in the majors. Of the two remaining teams, the Cardinals are 11th and the Rangers are 13th.
While teams like the Yankees and the Sox always seem to have enough wins to advance to the regular season (except for this year), the postseason is a different story. The team that won it all last year did so with terrible free agent acquisitions. The 2010 San Francisco Giants managed to win it all when their 4 highest paid players were: Barry Zito, Aaron Rowand, Edgar Renteria, and Pat Burrell. Overcoming massive blunders like those is quite the feat. Their 4 highest paid players from last year: didn't make the postseason roster, was designated for assignment and subsequently released earlier this year, and are Edgar Renteria and Pat Burrell.
This year's teams didn't make blunders as costly as those, but they did manage to win with low-cost moves, and smart, savvy decision-making up top. The St Louis Cardinals managed to solidify the middle of their lineup by bringing in a washed-up Lance Berkman, and secured the back of their rotation after trading away a budding young star in Colby Rasmus for Edwin "How is he pitching this well" Jackson.
However, it's the Rangers' moves that have impressed me the most. After bringing up a stable of young pitchers through trades and their farm system, they decided to go all in on offense. After the 2010 season, they were sitting pretty with a very potent offense. Instead of being complacent, the Rangers set goals and achieved them. By pursuing Mike Napoli and Adrian Beltre, the Rangers created a lineup that does not have a weak spot from the 1 to the 9, and these two additions managed to combine for 62 home runs and 180 RBIs (despite Napoli's injury-plagued season).
No analyst would have predicted a Cardinals-Rangers World Series back in March, but I'm glad to see that parity endures. It's impossible to predict which direction the league will move in the upcoming years, but this has been the year of the small(er)-market teams and I, for one, am glad to see it.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Saturday, October 15, 2011
For all the die-hard fans, for everyone with jerseys hanging in the closet waiting to be worn, for all the people who swore next year is our year, I'm sorry. I know it hurts, but it's time to talk NBA lockout.
How Bad Is It?
It's bad. Bad Bad Leroy Brown bad. So bad, it's worse than a romance in which Lady Gaga wants both your psycho and your vertigo stick. So bad, Michael Jackson's estate just released a remix of his 1987 hit, titled Bad: The NBA Lockout.
It's that bad.
As it stands, David Stern has already cancelled the first two weeks of the season, from November 1st through November 14th. The commissioner has stated that he expects at least six additional weeks to be cancelled - including the traditional Chrsitmas day games - with Tuesday as a hard deadline for taking such action.
In my [hardly professional] opinion, NBA fans need to say a few meaningful words, lower this season into the ground, kick some dirt over it, and pray that the 2012-2013 season doesn't suffer the same fate.
Why Is It So Bad?
Any lockout or strike starts and ends with the age-old motivation: money. Sure, there are other issues, but those things tend to fall into place once leagues figure out how to divide the loot. In recent years, NBA players have received 57% of all basketball related income through salaries and other benefits. For a league that brings in roughly $3.7 billion, that means a split of about $2.1 billion for players and $1.6 billion for the owners.
The owners, citing (among other things) the fact that 22 teams are (by their accounting standards) losing money, entered the lockout looking for a 50-50 division of BRI. Players have given 53% as an absolute minimum. Here's where things get really bad: now that the players have said no to a 50-50 split, owners are pushing for a higher percentage of the cash. That is, owners are trying to give the players less than 50% which means the NBA is moving in the wrong direction.
What Happens Next?
For now, it seems both sides are content to play the blame game. The players want to make the owners look like avaricious slimeballs who are depriving us all of our sacred basketball. The owners, led by Commissioner Stern, are doing everything they can to make it seem like the season will start up as soon as the players stop being unreasonable. Neither side, it appears, is that interested in getting a deal done.
What Should I Do As A Fan?
I hope you like college basketball, because it's going to be a long winter.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Joe Silvestro is a regular contributor to Sports Casual, check back every
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
“Why? Because he’s a winner and you just hate people who are successful?”
“Why? Because he’s a Christian?”
“Why? Because he played for Florida?”
But with the Tim Tebow era set to begin (again) in Denver, I thought I’d give you Teblow haters out there some ammunition. Good luck, and God speed.
With that said, I'm happy that he's getting a chance to play. He'll finally get to prove how terrible he actually is.
And if by some miracle, he starts playing well and starts winning championships...well, then God help us all.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
record by people who don't have access to a dictionary.
Single-Season Records and Career Records
Most of these records appear the safest for the near term (Cy Young’s 511 career wins, Gretzky’s 92 goals in a season, Gretzky’s career points, Jordan's career ppg, Pete Roses’s 4,256 career hits, etc). The 4 major sports leagues have changed considerably since these records were set, and the current state of each league appears to not be conducive to anyone breaking these records. The decrease in the skill level gap between the best players and the worst has decreased as access to sports has increased, making the stars stand out less on the scoresheet than they did previously (or maybe we’re just waiting for the next great star). Would a 25 year old Wayne Gretzky be the best player in the NHL right now? Is Michael Jordan better than Kobe and LeBron? These questions are debatable, but would Gretzky or Jordan put up the same kind of numbers in today’s leagues? No. I'll let the naysayers know that Gretzky in his prime is struggling to stay on pace to put up 50 goals in my heavily simulated NHL12 season.
Even though the records appear unbreakable at the current time, structural changes happen in leagues that could blow-up the record books. The NHL could try to increase scoring through a rule change, or the NFL could make a rule that makes it much harder to defend against the pass. Potential future changes in medicine could bring about structural change as well: what if pitchers could pitch 130 pitches every other game? In addition to structural changes, league-wide trends can alter the context to break records. Dan Marino’s 48 TD passes in a season appeared untouchable for a long time; that’s not the case in the current pass-heavy NFL. Most importantly, the world has a while left in its lifetime, and a lot can happen in that time. Hopefully, we’ve only seen a small part of the major 4’s lifetimes, and their continued existence will allow ample opportunity to break all current records.
Single Game Records and Streaks
These are the most probabilistic, but often thought of as "the most unbreakable." DiMaggio’s 56 game hit streak gets a lot of attention. A .300 hitter has about a 76% chance of getting a hit in any game, assuming 4 at-bats per game. Assuming 4 at-bats per game, and ignoring the quality of the opposing pitcher, the probability of a 76% chance event happening 56 times in a row is roughly one out of 5 million. But that’s just any sequence of 56 games, so any player has (career number of games – 55) sets of 56 games. Even with 30 teams with 8 players (9 in the AL) trying to get a hit every game, this record could last a while, easily through our lifetimes.
The late Derrick Thomas holds the NFL record for 7 sacks in a game. If a top D-lineman has a 1/40 chance of recording a sack on a given pass play, and plays against 30 pass plays per game, the probability of any D-lineman with that probability of recording a sack who plays against that many pass plays per game is a little less than one out of 100,000. A player with a higher chance of recording a sack would be more likely to break the record, especially against a team that loves to throw the ball, but has a terrible offensive line.
The conclusion here is that these records are breakable in the current context of the leagues (although a player who hit .400 would be much more likely to break DiMaggio’s streak), but these records could last a while.
Longest and fastest
Unless the record can’t be broken (like a 100 yard rushing TD in the NFL), it will be broken. The longest distance play records are more a product of limited opportunities than being unlikely to occur-the probability of throwing a 100 yard TD pass could be around 1%, but teams rarely run a play from their goal line. Other records in this category are quickest goal off a face-off in the NHL, where these records could only be broken if measurement was in smaller denomination than seconds.
I think the more interesting “unbreakable” records are in the Track and Field, swimming, and fastest pitch category. These records are very breakable within our lifetime. Is Usain Bolt the fastest human ever? I think you can make argument that he is, based on the size of the current population and advances in nutrition and training. However, someone will break his record. There is no concern over the league structure of track and field and there is no threat from rule changes. With improvements in nutrition, Bolt could probably break his own record. The world population is growing, the percent of the population with access to proper nutrition and sports is increasing (well, I hope this is true), and sport technology continues to improve. Many track and field events, sprinting in particular, also benefit from an enormous pool of contenders because nearly everyone tries it.
The best part about claiming that records could be broken in the future? I can never be proven wrong, unless the world ends.
Monday, October 10, 2011
As we take the time to reflect back on the wild batch of NFL games this past weekend on today, day 8 of the PHWJE (Post Hank Williams Jr. Era) several things have become increasingly obvious. From a guy who “knows a little about” sports blogging too, this is what has jumped out at me so far:
- Despite what Roddy White may say, the Falcons were not the better team last game, and they were not the better team last year. While the Atliens put up a good fight on Sunday Night Football, the better team came away with the win. The repeat of last year’s divisional matchup was far closer than last year’s debacle. During the first half, the Falcons put their talent on display and managed to keep Rodgers at bay. However, by the end of the game, I’m sure that many in the Georgia Dome were having flashbacks to the 48-21 drubbing back in January. But hey, 25-14 is progress.
- “The Dream Team” put together another stellar performance up in Buffalo. Their elite gunslinger was smart with the ball, and their coverage was really able to contain that explosive Eagles’ passing attack. Wait, what’s that? “The Dream Team” was a moniker invented to refer to the Eagles? As in, the Philadelphia Eagles? As in that one and four team that is currently sitting in 4th place in the NFC East? Well I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I sleep I always dream about Ryan Fitzpatrick and Fred Jackson. (However, I’ve also been told that I have full conversations about menial chores in my sleep, so I may not be an authority on the matter.) Things are so good up in Buffalo that Fitz is even starting to make Harvard look cool! While most people still agree with Jack Donaghy's assessment that a Harvard degree is only proof that Fitz is “smart and superb at masturbation,” his awesomeness has somehow made everything associated with Fitz seem slightly more awesome. The Fitzmagic has been great, so enjoy it while it lasts.
- The San Francisco 49ers have really turned things around. The only team with a 2-game lead in their division dominated the upstart Bucs from start to finish. While many analysts were picking the Bucs as a team on the rise, sure to build on the successes of a 10-6 season and challenge some of their divisional powerhouses, this was a game that was never even in reach. Alex Smith found the end zone on the fourth offensive play, and the Niners never looked back. While many were ranking the 49ers as early favorites in the suck for Luck sweepstakes, the slew of statement games that have propelled the Niners to an early four and one record begs a different question. If the Niners clinch the NFC West before Thanksgiving, then will the Associated Press get in on the action and hand Jim Harbaugh the Coach of the Year Award before Christmas?
- Eli Manning is terrible. Really, truly terrible.
- The Tim Tebow era has finally started in Denver! It was full of magnificent glory and hope before the San Diego heathens (Chargers) had the gall to squash the beautiful moment in its tender infancy. After doing the unthinkable andfinding a way to make Knowshon Moreno look like a competent NFL player,Tebow was unable to connect with Brandon Lloyd on the ensuing 2-point conversion that would have knotted the score. On the following Chargers’ drive, the Horseman of the Apocalypse himself was able to run 3 minutes off the clock and put the game out of reach. While skeptics may say that Tebow has already used up all of his Jesusmagic (note: the image to the right is merely an artist’s rendering of Jesusmagic, and may not in fact be the real thing), I think there’s still plenty left in the tank. It’s obvious that Jesus loves Tim Tebow, or else he wouldn’t have sent him to play for a team that is one mile closer to heaven than the rest.