It’s an election year.

Remember, it’s your right to vote.

I urge everyone to go here:
http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/2008/04/18/not-especially-safe-for-work-or-anywhere-else/
and check out the candidates. I’ll be studying the campaign for a little bit before casting my vote on this important race.

P.S. The actual text of the link is not inaccurate. Be warned.

An Easy Trap

It’s an easy trap to fall into, especially with sporting events that you watch closely. There are always little moments where one thinks, wow, that could have gone either way, or wow, what if this or that happened.

And I’m hearing that quite a bit from last night’s game. I’m especially hearing that Memphis lost that game and KU did not win it.

It’s a fascinating concept. In this case, Memphis missed 5 out of 6 free throws in the final two minutes. People are saying that Memphis choked.

People, however, are forgetting the previous 6 or 7 minutes where KU didn’t score. People are forgetting that in that stretch KU “lost” the game. Had Memphis won, talking heads would have pointed at that stretch and criticized KU’s kids and coaches for choking because they were up 5 with less than 10 minutes to play.

Basketball is a sport of runs. The thing about runs is that when two similarly talented teams play, each run takes a great deal of energy out of a team. Hence, once a run is over it is often followed by a run by the other team.

Memphis had a long, very effective run that included quite a few iffy moments that KU fans could point to. Fouls that might have been called, bad luck, etc. But nevertheless, Memphis was putting it to the Jayhawks, and expending a huge amount of energy to do it.

The game recap, however, shows the story. It’s here: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/recap?gameId=284000063

Scroll down and look at the game flow. The two teams were and are evenly matched. Each team held the lead for significant stretches. In fact, I think KU was in front for most of the game. With a little over 9 minutes to go, Memphis when on a run, and you see the first big gap of the game, but prior to that KU had opened up 2 stretches, and Memphis started the game hot.

Fatigue takes away a player’s legs. It takes away the ability to be quite so smooth, even in top flight athletes. There was no doubt at the end of the first half both teams were pretty worn out.

I can’t say whether it was a mental failure that caused the missing of 5 out of 6 free throws or not, but I can say that the energy that the Tigers spent getting to the 9 point lead had to be a factor.

Kansas, which had a deeper team, was able to withstand fatigue better than the Tigers. I would say that talent-wise the teams were about the same, but KU spread its talent on 8 great and very good players while Memphis had 2 amazing players, 1 great player, and 4 good players. KU had 2 minutes of extra energy and even though the ball did not always bounce their way (the angle of the carom on the offensive rebound with 16 seconds left for example), they had fresher legs to overcome the challenge.

I can also say that many teams might very well have conceded defeat. Down 9 with 2 minutes to go is the definition of a desperate situation, especially since at that point they were 1 of 9 from 3 point range, well under their season average of around 40%. The Jayhawks simply continued to play hard.

In the end, Memphis shot almost exactly their season average from the free throw line for the game. It is unfortunate that the misses bunched up at the end, but that simply balances the fact that they shot way over their percentage earlier. Had the misses been sprinkled through the game, and not at the end, Memphis would have had a smaller lead and they would not be criticized for choking.

A tired team is not as effective and KU made them tired. They ended up shooting their average at the free throw line, reflecting how much energy they had shown earlier.

The criticism here, I think, is unjustified. Was KU lucky? Absolutely. Was Memphis lucky? Absolutely as well. It simply depends on which moment you look at.

The two teams battled it out. They were evenly matched. To say that all of the causality of the final result was limited to the failure of Memphis disregards the evenness of the game. The sequence is unfortunate, but KU deserves the credit for winning that game and Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts do not deserve credit for losing it.

Sports commentators often have a need to analyze causality, partly to justify their job. A player gets a hit, and the commentator says that pitcher can’t get him out because that player now 3 out of his 4 at bats against that pitcher. A quarterback is called clutch or unclutch because of 1 play. In this case, two players missed 5 out of 6 free throws. 6 is hardly a proper sample size. The results of one game are not a sample size. In batting statistics, 100 is not a proper sample size. Talk to me when there’s a body of work. Sports commentators rarely take the long view, but statistics are not valid in the short term, you HAVE to take the long view when you look at them (though stating that KU knew what overtime games in the NCAA final were like because the KU-North Carolina final game went 3 overtimes IN 1954! is maybe a little excessive).

OK, maybe I get ranty after 3 hours of adrenalin-filled sleep and bigtime stress at homework levels. πŸ™‚

OK

I’m going to try and type this. I’m still flying incredibly high right now.

As a sports fan, I’ve been blessed. Some of my teams, notably the Texas Rangers, have never done particularly well. However, I have had four Super Bowl wins by the Dallas Cowboys, a championship for the Philadelphia 76ers back when I cared about the NBA, and Wichita State baseball in 1989.

In 1986 I graduated from Wichita East and went to KU. I wasn’t really anxious to go to KU at the time, but a big part of that was that I really wasn’t ready for college. I had a great year, though I flunked out :).

I do, however, recall sleeping on concrete for student tickets for the basketball games. I also recall playing pickup basketball in Robinson Gymnasium a lot. On one occasion the game included Cedric Hunter, Ron Vaughn (who played football but was an incredible basketball player), Mark Turgeon, and, oh yeah, a pretty decent player named Danny Manning.

That was a really really good KU Basketball team that year, and Allen Field House is an amazing place to watch a game. I was absolutely hooked. That particular team couldn’t quite win it all and had several seniors.

The 1987-88 season was expected to be a good, but not necessarily great team. And then the magic happened. I recall watching that game upstairs in the house I grew up in. I recall seeing a guy a year ahead of me both at Wichita East and Robinson Jr. High have the game of his life, hitting a clutch 3 pointer when it counted.

Wow.

And now I’m blessed again.

I went into this game thinking that Memphis would probably win, but it was going to be a tight game. I knew that KU would have some runs, and I knew Memphis would have some runs, and I figured it would be a tight game at the end.

I was right.

KU dominated on the inside. I told a friend of mine today that I hoped KU’s inside game would offset the amazing Memphis backcourt.

I was right here too.

But how it all happened is amazing. KU was down by 9 points late in the game. John Calipari said that everything had to go right in those last few minutes for KU to tie the game up.

It did.

Mario Chalmers’ 3 point shot with a hand in his face with 2.1 seconds left to tie the game is quite possibly the single most amazing action by a person on any team I have ever rooted for. Danny played an incredible game, but there’s no one moment of the game in 1988 that was so, so, so, well, hell, I hate the word, but so clutch.

About the only other single play was the third to short to first putout that saved my softball perfect game.

Few of the championships I’ve rooted for have come down to one play.

This did.

They’re already suggesting it is the single most important shot in Kansas basketball history. I’m not sure there’s another shot in the discussion.

Once he made that shot, the game was essentially over.

KU was flying high, and once KU scored first in the overtime, it was an avalanche.

So now I’m quivering and weeping and bursting with energy and and and…

Well…

Roooooooooock
Chaallllllllk
Jayhaaawwwwwk

KU

Gulf Wars

So I have to say that the administration of Gulf Wars is making me not so anxious to want to go next year.

If you’ve been to Gulf, then you know the parking lot is a long way away, with no real good way to walk to and from, and no busses. The Pennsic parking is supremely better, and would be even if there were no busses. It’s a lighted walk back along a road at Pennsic. It is a completely unlit walk back until you get to something civilized, and that could be a while, on terrain that has holes and other issues. But hey, that we knew about.

You may or may not have heard about the waterbearing kerfluffle. The end result was that it was a ton of extra work and even more acceptance of crap for the Calontir waterbearers. They did an amazing job. Even so, it was harder to get water because while they tried to be everywhere, they had to be somewhere at a single point. I guess that’s the Schrodinger’s cat aspect of waterbearing or something.

Yet, at the same time, the ones who were sooooo worried about germ transfer that they felt the need to make it more likely that fighters would get dehydrated and overheated, neglected to ensure the most basic of sanitation issues. There was no hand sanitizer in the porta-potties. None when I got there, and then only the real small bottles taped to the door and finally a medium-sized bottle set next to the row. I suspect those were contributed by people in the area because I didn’t see them on other porta-potties.

Then there was the fighting schedule. I don’t mind tournaments, I even like to fight in them. I do mind having a tournament go so long that it delays a battle for over three hours. We do have better things to do than sit on the battlefield and wait for that long. I’m in the SCA, I get that things don’t always start on time, but this was ridiculous.

With all that bad stuff, and there was other bad stuff, there is one salient fact. I have great friends. And no matter how stupidly an event is run, my friends make it worth my while.

The knighting of Duncan Faramach was an amazing experience for me. It was such a joy to ride on the coattails (or would this be cloaktails?) of his day. He’s been an inspiration to me for years, and seeing him receive the accolade was a something I cannot really describe. I will say I’m so glad I didn’t kill anything with the spear I was using to hold his banner during the ceremony πŸ˜‰

I only fought on Friday. I tried to on Thursday and Saturday, but… On Thursday I suppose I technically fought, but I only went out for the bridge battle, and I got stuck in the wrong place for 7.5ft polearm, blocked the 4 spearmen aiming at me for a little while, but died about 2 minutes in. I didn’t get to swing at all. And that was the end of the day for me. Saturday I tried to put my fighting pants/leg armor on and those hints that they have been giving me that their days were numbered became a death rattle. The good news is that I had already started working on that but, but the bad news is that it will take a couple of weeks probably. Still, on Friday during the field battle I got to kill a lot. Richard the Rampant was my scutum guy and he’s a monster. He created a ton of angles and lanes for my polearm.

I had a great time with my friends. I even got an Ealdormere fix, getting to see Jocelyn, Nigel, Adrielle, Berend and Mahault. Hirsch and I had a great time playing chess on the veranda overlooking the rapier ravine battle and drinking (his) beer. Of course, I let him win since he was supplying the beverage πŸ˜‰ There was lots of other singing and silliness and it was a grand time.

Halidor told me something very nice, that even though he had known me several years before I joined the SCA, he said that I became a part of Calontir so quickly that he forgets knowing me beforehand. I say that because it is true that the one structure on earth that I feel most comfortable in is the Royal Pavilion at a war.

When Siridean and Sile were on the throne, I helped set up the Pavilion at Pennsic, and they had just laid down the mats and the pillows. I saw the pillows on the ground and starting running from 15 yards away and launched myself onto the pillows and rolled clutching one through the pavilion. Sile looked at me, and I said “I’m home.”

So, I guess, Gulf Wars is lucky that even though they mismanaged the event horribly, I was still “home.”

Ultimate Highlight

OK, Eliskimo, here’s a real post. Only, what, 3 months later πŸ™‚

So ESPN just went through a long process to determine the most notable sports highlight.

The one highlight that still gives me chills won. It wasn’t any of the Super Bowl victories of the Dallas Cowboys. It wasn’t Joe Carter ending a World Series. It wasn’t Kellen Winslow in Miami in the best NFL game I have ever watched. It wasn’t Danny Manning and KU in 1988. None of the great highlights of history like Carlton Fisk, or Bobby Thomsen, or “down goes Frazier!” have that much impact on me.

Nope, it’s the one highlight that my eyes tear up every time. Even 28 years later.

I remember this event clearly. I was only 12 at the time. I remember watching it on a black and white TV at a house my parents rented when we moved to Wichita. It was an odd house that reflected the 1970s, and had a slightly raised alcove where we’d put the TV. There were no chairs, I had to sit on the ugly orange-brown shag carpet popular then.

But that’s where I saw Mike Eruzione score the goal that put the US up 4-3. And that’s where I watched Jim Craig and the rest somehow, someway, incredibly survive the frantic attempts by the Russians to tie the game.

Yes, Al Michaels, I do believe in miracles.

Why?

Do some people feel obligated to prevent others from making their own decisions?

Especially when there’s a perfectly acceptable compromise available.

PS I was going to set my mood as “infuriated,” but, sadly, “thirsty” is soon to be more applicable.

Catching Up

Greetings all. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been able to post.

On Thursday the 12th, Hereward and I went out and watched a soccer game at a bar, and stayed out wayyy late, so on Friday both he and I decided to stay in and relax.

Saturday was a big day. First was USA-Austria in the U20 World Cup. This was a very good game, but with a poor result. US scored a lovely goal early on, and kept putting pressure on the Austrians but couldn’t get that second goal in. Late in the first half, the Austrians put in a scrappy goal. They duplicated this feat in extra time, and ended up taking the game 2-1. The US played very well though, and unlike the Uruguay game, there was no silliness from either team though the referee was horrid. The refereeing overall at the World Cup was rubbish, and is something FIFA needs to fix if it ever wants to see soccer really big in the US.

During the game, however, it rained and was kind of icky. We went and ate and Hereward and Jocelyn got spiked coffees. I had a beer. You warm up your way, I’ll warm up mine πŸ™‚ After that was the new Harry Potter movie, which I liked a lot. In fact, this may be my favorite of the movies thus far. Jocelyn went home then, but Hereward and I went to a really good bar called the Hideout. They happened to have the Mahones, an Irish punk band, so we jammed to that for the rest of the evening. The Mahones rocked.

The bad news was that at fighter practice the next day my knees were very tired from the dancing all night. Still, it was a very good practice, something like 12 of us in armor, and several good melees.

This was the day that Eoforwic threw a party for my birthday. After practice, we went over to Marchmount House and had a very good time. I made gin and tonics, much to the enjoyment and chagrin of Hans. After the gin ran out, we had vodka tonics; after the tonic ran out, we had vodka lemonades. It was a really good party, especially since I’m not used to having birthday parties in my honor.

Monday night, my actual birthday, Drew and Donna invited Hereward and I to dinner. It was a nice relaxing dinner. They hadn’t realized it was my birthday when they made the invite, and they apparently scrambled to get a cake at the last moment. It was a very tasty cake and a good time with great people and a cute baby.

OK, there is lots more to chat about, but right now, I’m going to get ready and head to Pennsic. More later.

Opinions and fiction of person misplaced in time.