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» Futures: My Expansion Franchise

You've just been awarded an NFL expansion team and must build your personnel department. How would you do it? Matt Waldman takes on the exercise.

21 Jul 2010

Walkthrough: The Teal Deal

by Mike Tanier

The 750 Club

Twenty percent of the yardage in an NFL season is gained on two percent of the plays.

OK, I fudged a little bit: It's more like 18.7 percent of the offense on 2.3 percent of the plays.

But it's still pretty staggering. The NFL is league of long bombs and big runs, of yardage gained in 30-yard chunks.

There were 31,874 official plays from scrimmage last year, resulting in 174,176 yards for 5.46 yards per play.

There were 15 plays from scrimmage that gained 80 or more yards last season, including a 98-yard pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Terrell Owens, a play which accounted for 2.2 percent of the Bills offense, 11.8 percent of TO's production, and 6.9 percent of Fitzpatrick's for the season. There were 23 plays of 70-79 yards, 52 plays of 60-69 yards, and 96 plays of 50-59 yards. There were a total of 750 plays that gained 30 or more yards. Those plays generated 32,597 yards of offense. Take those plays away, and the league's per-play average drops to 4.55.

Take away 18.7 percent of the Saints' total yards last year, and they rank below the Panthers. While those big plays aren't divided equally, 750 plays come down to about 24 plays per team. That's about 1.5 plays per team per week. The difference between a Super Bowl champion and a .500 team can come down to those rare plays.

Let's look at this a different way. There were 11,331 plays last year that resulted in no gain or a loss. Some of those plays were dramatic, like a 28-yard sack of Kurt Warner, but most were incompletions (there were 6,006 incomplete passes last year), plunges up the middle, or screen passes to nowhere. Those plays, more than a third of the plays from scrimmage in the entire league, lost 11,253 yards. I have no trouble rounding that to an average loss of one. NFL offenses wasted over a third of their offensive plays trudging backwards a yard at a time, hoping for one of those 750 lightning strikes.

Both the 750 big plays and the 11,331 runs to nowhere had a huge impact on the standings. The big plays turned games around, while the no-gains and losses slowly, desperately doomed teams by slow erosion. (Yes, I am thinking offense-centrically here.) But we remember the big plays. They made highlight reels, so we watched them over and over again. They were memorable because they were exciting. It creates a major selection bias. The big plays become the story of every season. In retrospect, that's fine, because when telling the story of the 2009 season it is more interesting to talk about Chris Johnson's touchdowns than Derek Anderson's incompletions. But when looking ahead, the selection bias becomes a big problem, because a 750 play sample is small and volatile.

It makes prognostication a thankless task, though one that we happily undertake here at Football Outsiders. We compile spreadsheets, run dozens of regressions and hundreds of simulations, make the best possible projections, and know that a couple of 70 yard runs can throw an entire division hopelessly out of whack. But even when the projections are balky, the information we draw from all the work is invaluable. We learn more about teams and players, and we pass along what we learn to you.

The prominence of those big plays also colors our perceptions as fans. We lose sight of the small difference between 8-8 and 10-6, that it can come down to a dropped pass or a missed tackle, to say nothing of a bad bounce or a missed field goal. A lot of fans also make the mistake of comparing one team's highlights to another team's entire game. When you watch the home team for three hours, your eyes glued to the set, you see every incompletion, loss, and run to nowhere. Then, you see a few highlights of another team on ESPN or NFL Network or during Game Breaks. You see all the warts on the home team, but only the best of the highlight team. That may be why so many fans pick apart the teams they are supposed to root for -- the highlight reels hide the fact that football is about 35 percent failure.

What's great about this time of year is that we are all hungry for football -- for the 750 big plays, for the 31,104 not-so-big plays, for college games, for preseason games, even for training camp. We will invest the next seven months deriving endless entertainment from football, even though so much of it isn't all that entertaining. All of this anticipation, and all we get is a handful of breathtaking accomplishments, scattered in a sea of incomplete passes, predictable plays, extra points and long commercial breaks.

If I weren't so damned eager for the season to start, I would think we are all crazy.

The Teal McCoy

Jaguars fans, unite! Both of you.

OK, that's the last one. You won't see any more "Jaguars have no fans" jokes around here. It was an easy gag, and it's gotten stale. What's more, Jaguars fans -- the tens of thousands who loyally, passionately support their team -- are tired of hearing that their team has no fan base and is one blackout away from a move to Los Angeles, London, or Pluto. They've enlisted some heavy hitters to spur ticket sales and improve Jacksonville's image as a legitimate NFL market.

And there aren't many hitters as heavy as five-time Pro Bowl tackle Tony Boselli.

"The city of Jacksonville likes being an NFL market," Boselli told me in an interview earlier this month. "Last year was not good enough -- we need to support this team." To get the fanbase motivated, Boselli joined forces with Jacksonville mayor John Peyton to create the "Touchdown Jacksonville: Revive the Pride" program and the Team Teal project.

Here's how Team Teal works: Individuals or companies become Team Captains by purchasing season tickets. The captains then encourage others to join their teams by buying season tickets. Money spent on tickets turn into points, which make members eligible for prizes ranging from autographed memorabilia to tailgate parties. Boselli and other Team Teal representatives host rallies around the Jacksonville area to promote interest in both the program and the Jaguars. "It's a way to connect to the team and remind people how excited this city was to get a franchise 15 years ago," Boselli said.

So far, it's working. The Jaguars have retained 90 percent of their season-ticket holders from last year and have attracted 12,500 more ticket holders through mid-July. That may not sound like a lot to fans in cities where the season-ticket waiting list is measured in decades, but it's a big deal in a state hard hit by the recession and for a team that didn't make any high-profile moves in the offseason. "LeBron James didn't sign here," joked Boselli the day after the basketball star's me-festival.

Those of us who wrote the Jaguars off as an "orphan" franchise (and I am as guilty as anyone) have blown the team's ticket situation out of proportion in recent years. The Bills, Bengals, and other small-market teams have had a hard time filling the seats since the recession started, but the Jaguars are the butt of most of the "empty seat" gags.

"You would think that the blackout was invented in Jacksonville," Boselli said. He's also not impressed by the Los Angeles talk. "I lived in L.A. when they had two teams, and nobody went to those games."

The Jaguars haven't helped themselves in recent years. The on-field product was bad-to-mediocre in 2008 and 2009, thanks largely to a string of poor drafts. Football Outsiders Almanac projects another seven-win season for the Jaguars -- 6.8 mean wins, to be precise -- but new general manager Gene Harris offers some hope, and Boselli likes what he's seen in the last two drafts. He likes tackles Eben Britton and Eugene Monroe, noting that Monroe came on strong in the second half of the season after holding out early in the year. And Boselli, like Mike Mayock, likes defensive end Tyson Alualu, the Jaguars top pick this season. As a former USC tackle, Boselli knows a thing or two about Pac-10 pass rushers.

Team Teal still has a long way to go. The Jaguars need to sell thousands more tickets before to prevent regular blackouts, though Boselli expects a rush in August, when most ticket packages are sold. The grass-roots, booster-club nature of Team Teal may seem like a high-school tactic to some, but it's a necessity in a city that hasn't yet built the kind of generational loyalty that insulates teams like the Redskins or Packers against a few bad seasons. Remember, the Jaguars are just 15 years old. "It's not fair to judge this franchise and these fans for one year out of 15," Boselli said.

Besides, what's wrong with a little extra team-to-fan interaction? Boselli wants Touchdown Jacksonville and Team Teal to live on, even when Jacksonville Municipal Stadium is full. "I would recommend that any team do it," he said. "The more you can touch the fans and connect with the fans, the better chance you have of winning those fans over."

Give Jacksonville and the Jaguars the benefit of the doubt. They're trying. And while we may have snuck a no-fans joke into FOA ("if you rebuild it, they won't come"), writer Tom Gower also gave Team Teal their due, and spent most of his chapter talking about the things we are supposed to talk about: Alualu, Monroe, David Garrard, Maurice Jones-Drew, and the actual team. In the rush to pick on the Jaguars, some people forget that the team still plays actual football, that they reached the playoffs in 2007, and that they were in the hunt for much of last season.

"When the season starts," Boselli said, "the story will be that the Jaguars fans answered the call."

Absolution

Football knows you strayed. She was away for months. Your eyes wandered. You were weak. It's OK. Football is forgiving.

You spent a few months dallying with other sports, other activities. A few were briefly diverting. Most left you wanting. Admit your trysts. Football doesn't judge. She knows what you have been up to:

Soccer: Spain defeated the Netherlands by a score of (you guessed it) 1-0 to avenge its crushing geopolitical defeat at the hands of the Dutch in the 16th century. In semi-final action, Prussia defeated the Kalmar Union and the Holy Roman Empire defeated the Prince-Bishopric of Leige, also by 1-0 scores.

I have no interest in soccer, and unlike many of my friends, I have no interest in pretending to be interested. When it comes to soccer enthusiasm, I believe America is faking it, in the same way we feign Olympic interest. A lot of Americans watched the World Cup this year because it was televised on weekday mornings. When the choice is a soccer game streamed into the cubicle or a pre-meeting about TPS reports, soccer wins by a 1-0 rout.

Yes, teenagers love soccer -- I have witnessed this with my own eyes. Teenagers love Silly Bandz, too. Again, an informal poll of my students showed that most would rather watch the World Cup than take my Honors Precalculus exam. Tellingly, the vote was not unanimous. My guess is that American teens' affinity for soccer is overblown, just like their supposed obsession with Rainbow Parties.

I have said too much. The worst thing about hating soccer is being lumped in with Soccer Haters, the buffoonish, jingoistic loudmouths who make themselves feel more macho by condemning soccer as a wimpy, un-American socialist starter sport. I'll humbly submit that soccer, like opera and kabuki theatre, may just be too beautiful and subtle for my cheesesteak-stuffed mind to appreciate. And if an editor pays me to cover soccer, I will even find my muse and learn to type the words "thrilling scoreless tie" without a seizure.

Wimbledon: John Isner and Nicolas Mahut played a 10-hour tennis match in late June. Any longer and the match would have officially been re-classified as an NFL preseason game. The game might have ended after a reasonable three hours, but a frustrated World Cup referee sneaked into London and decided to use up all his unspent "bonus minutes" at once. The final score: 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (7-3), 70-68; like soccer, tennis needs parenthetical documentation just to keep score. In all, that was 183 games, roughly the length of Matt Millen's tenure in Detroit, but sweatier and less frustrating. The triumphant Isner celebrated the way all male tennis players do, by fading immediately into obscurity.

Serena Williams, meanwhile, dominated the competition, straddling atop one blonde, lithe Russian competitor after another, easily forcing them to yield to her will. Needless to say, I envy Serena as much as I admire her, though I yearn for another nutty tirade because it adds an element of physical terror to the sport. Venus Williams wasn't nearly as successful as Serena, and her overall career is fading compared to her sister's. She may soon follow the career path of other less-successful athletic siblings. If you see any Williams "All White" Birthday Bashes on the calendar, make sure you leave five minutes before the shooting starts.

Baseball: Fans in other cities may be riding high, but it's hard to follow baseball in Philadelphia this summer. Chase Utley hit the disabled list in early July and took half the lineup with him. At one point, Roy Halliday was 7-10 with an ERA of 6.63x10^-34 ERA, the lowest ERA the city has seen since the days of Eddie Plank. Local talk-radio callers, when not tittering over the fate of certain backup quarterback, obsessed endlessly about Cliff Lee, a pitcher the Phillies let walk in the offseason who was traded to the Rangers before the All-Star break. It was as if callers got a free DeSean Jackson jersey just for mentioning Lee's name. There are good reasons for Lee's Philly popularity, of course. He pitched here for just half a season, but he still recorded more sacks than Mike Mamula.

Desperate for some baseball and not too particular about where I found it, I traveled to Baltimore in late June to see an Orioles-Nationals game with some friends. "Maybe Strasburg will be pitching," we hoped leading up to the game, kidding ourselves. Unfortunately, the Nats pitcher wasn't phenom Stephen Strasburg but the exhumed remains of Livian Hernandez. Hernandez pitched pretty well, but I could tell something was fishy. It wasn't Hernandez at all, but Lee Strasberg, back from the grave and method acting, convincingly, as a 35-year-old journeyman pitcher on a last-place ballclub. The Nationals won on a wild pitch. All memory of the Orioles' performance that day vanished after two productive hours at Pickle's Pub. Stephen Strasburg, meanwhile, is now bigger than U.S. Steel.

Basketball: The NBA packed more drama into two weeks of free agency than they could shoehorn into that four-month Trail of Tears they call the playoffs. There's something fascinating about watching a sports league cram its head so deep into its own rectum that it collapses into a quantum singularity. As best I can tell, the league now consists of four relevant teams, though there are rumors of a franchise in Oklahoma City. Despite the inevitability of some Heat-Celtics-Lakers combination playing for the championship, the season is so long that teams will have to play on Neptune to fit all of the games into one calendar year.

And of course, there was LeBron. Never underestimate the national sports media's ability to recklessly stoke a campfire, then shake its head solemnly at the charred forest. Or its ability to report with breathless shock that 25-year-old multi-millionaires aren't the most sagacious career planners or selfless human beings. The fascinating irony of three superstars huddling together to create the world's most instantly hate-able sports franchise, each trying to protect his "legacy" by winning a championship can only be trumped by the insane dollar figures at stake. From what I understand of the NBA salary cap (not much), the Heat's 12th man will have to play for pick 'n' peel shrimp. The only missing piece to the Miami Heat puzzle is Albert Haynesworth, who doesn't like the kind of defense they run. As for King James' decision and his one-man selection show, I would do the same if I had his combination of talent, youth, and money. Let the grey-bearded sportswriters debate my legacy, my loyalty, my responsibility to the fans blah, blah, blah ... I am going to have mojitos on the beach with Ke$ha. A week later, LeBron was booed at Carmelo Anthony's wedding and getting the effigy treatment in Cleveland. All of this is considered charming and appropriate, because none of it happened in Philadelphia.

Functional Fitness: The new fad at my local gym is called "Functional Fitness." The trainers litter the back parking lot with tires, fire hoses, and other hard-to-maneuver, light-industrial objects, then lead participants through a variety of "exercises" that consist of rolling the tires, stretching and winding the hoses, and so on. There's something apocalyptic about middle-aged matrons paying 40 bucks a month to pretend to be warehouse workers, but at least there are more stationary bikes available during the hour-long firefighter-and-pit-crew scrimmages.

I've been inspired to create my own workout fad: Dysfunctional Fitness. Once per week, your loser brother-in-law gets kicked out of his third-floor apartment, and your wife orders you to move his cheap furniture and unboxed possessions down the un-air-conditioned stairwell and into his El Camino. Afterward, there's a long intervention at which only crudite is served. You'll get in shape in a hurry.

Getting High: A giant pot leaf adorned the cover of Philadelphia Magazine in July, which only had two possible explanations: (1) their cover story on celebrity athlete birthday parties was scrapped for some reason, or (2) there was a mix-up on the presses that left local news anchor Jim Gardner on the cover of High Times. "Pot is Back," the headline read, trumpeting the shocking revelation that weed is smoked not by staggering back-alley addicts but by successful businesspeople, educated professionals, and authors of quasi-humorous sports features. (Hey, don't look at me. This Robitussen is for my kids).

If pot is indeed "back," it is in short supply. I have a theory that pot shouldn't be legal at Philadelphia sports events. It should be mandatory. All non-driving adults must take three hits before the game, then another three at halftime, the start of the third period, or whenever Brad Lidge starts warming up. Instead of booing, Phillies fans would be known for a long exhale and a slight cough. Kind of like the Dutch fans when Spain won.

Arena Football: At the other end of every possible spectrum from the World Cup lies Arena Football. World Cup games end in thrilling 1-1 ties. Arena football uses the old Donkey Kong scoring system, with an extra man at 5,000 points. The World Cup is enjoyed by tens of millions of fans in cities, villages, rain forests and deserts around the world. Arena football is enjoyed by a handful of bored football writers and a few hundred wayward fans in metropolises like Bossier, Louisiana.

Yes, Bossier. I watched a game a few weeks ago between the Tampa Bay Storm and the Shreveport-Bossier Battle Wings. So many questions ran through my mind. Shreveport? Bossier? Battle Wings?

OK, I know about Shreveport. The Canadian Football League once had a franchise there (don't ask). I never heard of Bossier, so I contacted a friend who once worked in the Louisiana state attorney's office. He never heard of Bossier, either. Perhaps it's a crime-free city, which makes sense with a superhero like Battlewing around to mete out justice. A quick Google search took me to the website of the City of Bossier City. Redundancy is the name of the game in Bossier. Evidently, the city boasts three riverboat casinos and a racetrack to service the 65,000 hard-gambling residents.

The website of the City of Bossier City website offers traffic reports and information about the H1N1 virus, but contains no information whatsoever about the mighty BattleWings. It does give hints as to the origins of the BattleWing name, and it doesn't involve Dick Grayson marrying Starfire. Barksdale Air Force Base is right nearby. That doesn't explain how Oklahoma City named its team the Yard Dogz, but if Michael Vick is finally drummed out of the NFL and into the Arena league, the potential for ironic headlines is staggering.

The BattleWings, incidentally, have a one-armed kicker, Nick Gatto, who has bounced around the AFL for years. Gatto is an inspirational story, and he's more than just a kicker. He played wide receiver in high school, and he recorded 18 tackles in six AFL seasons, making him just as dangerous a tackler as Asante Samuel.

There, all is forgiven. Camp opens next week. Give football a good, long hug.

Announcements

I will be writing weekly "camp notes" features for The New York Times starting in just a few weeks. Look for them in the Fifth Down blog on Fridays and in the Sunday paper. Walkthrough will run every other week until the season starts, then I will rev up the diagrams and start talking strategy.

I will also be writing some short features for Rotoworld during the preseason and regular season. More on those when we finalize the details.

I plan to have more of a Twitter presence this year once we get closer to the season. Follow me at FO_MTanier. You can still join the Walkthrough Readers group for other updates on all things Walkthrough and Football Outsiders.

Finally, on Aug. 12, I will be at the Collingswood Public Library in Collingswood, New Jersey. I will be talking Football Outsiders Almanac, discussing the upcoming season, and probably previewing my upcoming book, The Phanatic Code. If you are in the Philly area, stop by and say hello!

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 21 Jul 2010

103 comments, Last at 01 Aug 2010, 12:14pm by SW

Comments

1
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 1:29pm

Ahem, seventeenth century, the treaty of Westphalia wasn't until 1648.

17
by TomKelso :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 4:09pm

And everyone knows the officiating was awful in the HRE match. Red cards given to both the Prince AND the Bishop? A clear Hapsburg bias!

2
by Dean :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 1:36pm

"We will invest the next seven months deriving endless entertainment from football, even though so much of it isn't all that entertaining. "

BLASPHEMY!

3
by Jay J (not verified) :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 1:40pm

"Absolution" was glorious. Thanks for this midweek, midday fantastic piece of gridiron-superiority greatness.

(and my captcha was "human wolf"... someone watching twilight with the kiddies again? haha)

4
by Dean :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 1:46pm

A new Walkthrough is like an overdue visit from an old friend. Thanks, Mike.

5
by nat :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 1:48pm

I'll give you a point for knowing the difference between just not getting soccer and screaming that soccer symbolizes something evil and un-American (as if that were necessarily the same thing). Soccer's not for everybody, like every other sport.

I'll put up a point against you for accusing U.S. soccer fans (including your former? friends) of just faking it. That's perilously close to calling them socialist posers.

So it's a 1-1 draw. But it was thrilling.

Bring on the non-spherical football!

13
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 3:42pm

"I'll put up a point against you for accusing U.S. soccer fans (including your former? friends) of just faking it."

Oh, I don't know. "Faking" might not be the right word, but the interest in soccer generated by the World Cup is absolutely a temporary fad. Actually, I thought the comparison to the Olympics was quite apt. It comes along every 4 years, it sparks interest in sports that the American public doesn't usually follow, and then when it's over, that interest drops off a cliff. It's like clockwork. The only difference is that fans of swimming don't try to convince themselves that the spike of interest in Michael Phelps will translate into a lasting trend. Soccer people never seem to grasp that.

14
by Dean :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 4:02pm

Not to mention that fans of Michael Phelps (to continue your exampe) don't try to ram him down everyone else's throat.

21
by nat :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 4:53pm

It's okay to have no interest in World Cup soccer. No one really minds. But such public anger because other Americans have an interest that you don't share!

You risk branding yourself as one of the "Soccer Haters, the buffoonish, jingoistic loudmouths..." I don't think that's you, but perhaps you've been influenced by buffoonish, jingoistic loudmouths in the media? They certainly are easy to stumble across.

60
by Dean :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 8:57am

"You risk branding yourself as one of the "Soccer Haters..."

It's not so much the game that pisses me off - it's the fans. I would LOVE to be apathetic about soccer and just ignore it. But being constantly told I "don't get it" or I'm "not sophisticated enough to understand it" or whatever the mantra-de-jeur is from the "Anything European Is Better" douchebags in their Che Guevarra shirts, well, that pushes me forcefully out of my apathy and into antipathy.

The irony is, from my limited perspective, that soccer fans in Europe tend to be working class, beer-drinkers and hell raisers. I can hang out with those dudes.

But in America, the fans are largely arrogant, pretentious assholes who use soccer as a platform to advance their elitism. Soccer becomes just another vehicle for them to hide their insecurities and pretend that they're somehow better than everyone else. If soccer fans went away, I'd happily ignore the game in peace. I would RATHER be apathetic than have my ire worked up. The game bores me, yes, but that just means I don't watch it, and in a better world, that would be that.

Every few years, they try again. First it was Pele. Then the NASL. Then the MISL. The womens team. Whatever the American professional league is now. It's always something. Some hype, some fluff, that is going to suddenly, magically make soccer take off in America, and this time we mean it! The pre-teen kid. The English guy who came over here who looks and acts gay but apparently isn't. It never ends. This year, it's the World Cup that's going to turn Americans into soccer fans. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Yet somehow, the incessant marketing push just never goes away.

Mom forcing brussels sprouts down your throat when you were a child didn't make you like them, and forcing soccer down the throat of Americans isn't going to suddenly turn us into a nation of soccer lovers.

If that makes me a "soccer hater," well, I'm comfortable in my own skin, and certainly don't feel like I have anything to be embarassed about.

100
by Xeynon (not verified) :: Tue, 07/27/2010 - 9:51pm

I think you just need a thicker skin. I don't like NASCAR, golf, tennis, and a host of other popular American sports, but I don't get bothered when fans of those sports tell me I don't understand them, etc., because I do understand them - they just don't appeal to me. Whatever floats your boat.

The reason soccer gets coverage in the U.S. media, etc. is because there is interest in it in the U.S., so don't presume to speak for all Americans when you express your lack of interest in it. It's not going to "take off" in the sense of suddenly generating a massive wave of interest that causes it to displace one of our existing major sports, no, but it is growing in popularity slowly and steadily, and if you claim otherwise you simply aren't paying attention. It'll never be as big as the NFL, MLB, or NBA, but it could eventually rival the NHL and NASCAR, which would still make it a major sport. Deal with it.

101
by Dean :: Wed, 07/28/2010 - 1:27pm

Admit it, you have a Che shirt, don't you.

28
by Jerry :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 6:02pm

We had Phelps hosting Saturday Night Live, and doing commercials, and becoming a tabloid star. Swimming fans may not be as responsible as Olympics fans and Olympics-televising networks, but we do get some Olympians jammed down our throats.

99
by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 07/27/2010 - 3:57am

On the other hand, no Eagles o-lineman ever put out a rap video about getting his Landon Donovan on.

24
by tuluse :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 5:06pm

I really enjoy watching the US national team play. Does this mean I have to subject myself to MLS? Or start following a team in Europe in leagues that make MLB look like the embodiment of parity?

33
by Tom Gower :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 6:49pm

Not at all. I'm a fan of the USMNT, up to and including DVRing the most desultory friendly, but will likely not watch a complete non-USMNT soccer game until at least Euro 2012 and possibly Brazil 2014.

58
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 8:14am

Nothing wrong with that, but it is exactly the opposite of the way I feel about soccer: I'm a huge fan of the game at club level, but find the international game rather trying (and the know-nothing casual fans who emerge in their tens of millions from the woodwork when a World Cup comes around and then drone on incessantly without a clue as to what they're talking about immensely trying - trust me, however much that phenomenon may exist over there, it's infinitely more prevalent on this side of the Atlantic). I'd be far more excited about Chelsea winning a Champions League than England winning a World Cup. The problem for me is that, unlike their cricket or rugby union counterparts, international players spend the vast majority of their time playing for and training with their clubs. That means club teams - at least in the better leagues - are better organised, more efficient, and just generally work together better than international sides. They also simply don't have as much overall talent as the leading clubs. Spain are pretty good, but they would be beaten far more times than not - and probably quite often badly beaten - by Inter, or Chelsea, or Bayern Munich, or (cloning permitting) Barca. For me, that's a problem.

62
by tuluse :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 9:31am

Yeah, I understand that. My problem is the soccer leagues. When you can point to a quarter of the teams before the season starts and say these are the teams that will compete to win the league, and be right, I lose interest fast.

And MLS just kind of sucks.

I find the US national team fascinating in it's own way though. It's a collection of raw talent and athleticism, and they aren't very good at playing the actual game (other than a few key players), but the whole manages to be much more than the sum of the parts.

When the MLS gets better (and I expect it too), I'll probably start following it. It also needs better announcers, you Brits got any to spare?

66
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 10:54am

"When you can point to a quarter of the teams before the season starts and say these are the teams that will compete to win the league, and be right, I lose interest fast."

You can do that with football, and baseball too.

67
by tuluse :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 11:20am

I hate baseball, and you can't do that with football. Who predicts division winners at a 75% rate?

68
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 11:30am

If you had the Saints and Jets in your top 8 prior to the start of last season, good for you. I can't really speak for baseball.

The one that's really the worst, though, is the NBA. That league doesn't even bother with the pretense of parity.

82
by dmb :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 8:39pm

Well ... there are wider differences in team spending than what you'll see in football, but it's nowhere near baseball. I do agree that the number of big surprises is limited in basketball, but I think that's probably a product of two things, neither of them inherently "bad":

(1) An 82-game season and best-of-seven playoff series helps weed out teams that may look good when they go on a random hot streak, but whose "true" level of isn't real high; and

(2) top individual players make more of an impact because of the low number of players on the court, and the relatively large percentage of total game time that a single player can see.

That combination means that better-constructed teams tend to rise to the top, and a few elite players can be the difference between a very good team a very bad one. I do think that makes the outcome of any given season a bit more predictable, but it's not like certain teams are starting out with vast differences in resources. (It does, however, mean that one or two big front office blunders can have a huge impact. But I'd rather follow a league where incompetence is punished harshly rather than one where a top-payroll team may outspend a low-payroll team by nearly a factor of 10.)

86
by BJR :: Fri, 07/23/2010 - 11:40am

Excellent points. It's easy to trumpet the business model of the NFL and how it creates parity, but a key reason why it is so competitive is how relatively few games are played, making random elements more exagerrated. Of course we know that there would be many more games if the players health could withstand it, but it can't, so the low number of games and competitveness it creates are simply circumstance and necessity rather than excellent organisational planning.

83
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 07/23/2010 - 7:06am

Saints, absolutely - their offense was always likely to be great, and some upwards regression from the defense was a strong possibility. At the very least, they were clearly favourites to win their division. Jets, no - but then they weren't one of the eight best teams in the league, they just got some lucky breaks at the right time.

95
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 07/26/2010 - 12:39pm

If you had the Saints as the clear favorites to win their division, you must have made a fortune in Vegas. My recollection was that the 12-4 Panthers and 11-5 Falcons were both considered more likely to win that division heading into the 2009 season.

FO even predicted the Saints to be below-average --
http://www.footballoutsiders.com/dvoa-ratings/2009/2009-dvoa-projections

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/scramble/2009/scramble-ball-2009-overun...

As for the Jets, that was more in line with the reference to being able to predict which teams would contend to win the league. Whether or not you think the Jets were one of the best teams in the league last year (I don't), they most certainly did contend to win the league.

81
by dmb :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 8:20pm

It also needs better announcers, you Brits got any to spare?

I'll be the first to admit that I'm one of those know-nothings who comes out of the woodwork for the World Cup every four years, but I thought that Ian Darke was absolutely wonderful. I couldn't believe that ABC didn't have Darke/John Harkes work the final.

For me, the problem with club soccer is that the best teams aren't all in one league, unless you count the Champions League ... but I'm not really sure that just following that tournament would really make me a better "fan" than following the one I do now.

84
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 07/23/2010 - 7:42am

You want announcers? Take David Pleat. No, please, take him. And Clive Tyldesley. And Alan Green - please, please take Alan Green so I never have to hear that ass-hat's sententious pontification again. It's the same problem as with the NFL: most fans want cliched nonsense not quality analysis. Sky's people are better than the terrestrial crews (Andy Gray for the win) and the studio people are mostly better than the guys in the box (Lineker's an astonishingly good broadcaster for an ex-pro, and Alan Hansen is definitely a guilty pleasure - I guess he's actually kind of the UK's Madden). The general rule of thumb is that if they're Scottish, they're probably good (much the same appears to be true of coaches, for some reason). If not, approach with caution. Really, though, the standard of commentary and analysis in every other sport is simply depressing when held up against the gold standard of cricket: Benaud, Warne, Hussain, Holding, Boycott . . . I could go on and on.

Obviously I'm fortunate enough to be a fan of a team that can currently contend for every major trophy every season, but that wasn't always the case, and I still found the league exciting when Chelsea were coming in 11th and 14th in alternate seasons, and even more so when they were clearly good but clearly not good enough to contend for the title. I think you just have to get used to the idea of a far wider and more complex objective-scheme than most US sports. It's not just about who wins the title: it's about who qualifies for the Champions League, and the Europa Cup, and who wins the domestic cups, and who gets relegated. The only time I have a real problem is when one team absolutely runs away with the title, which is an inevitable problem of a pure round-robin league structure rather than a parity issue, and rarely happens anyway - and even then there's other stuff to follow.

In the end, though, sports are just always more fun when you really care about the result, and that means having a reason to support a team.

85
by tuluse :: Fri, 07/23/2010 - 8:23am

Yeah, your last point is the big thing.

I almost got into the premier league when Everton borrowed Donovan. I like him, wanted to see him do well, and Everton seems like a mid-level team. So I didn't feel like I was bandwagoning, or deal with a team losing constantly.

91
by Mr Shush :: Sun, 07/25/2010 - 7:44am

Yeah, Everton are probably quite a fun team to follow: top young coach in Moyes, allowing them to outperform their financial clout and be generally at least a marginal contender for the Champions League places. Though if the rumours are to be believed, further Donovan-following would risk leading you to Manchester City, which would run a far greater risk of attracting accusations of bandwaggoning (though also a far better chance of winning a title any time soon).

92
by Andrew Potter :: Sun, 07/25/2010 - 7:38pm

As a Scotsman, I will trade you David Tanner and Craig Burley for Clive Tyldesley any day of the week. I'd even accept Pleat to make it a two-for-two exchange. Jim White is the single worst presenter/studio anchor on Sky Sports, and though I hate to say it as a Clyde fan (and you may not thank me for it as a Chelsea fan) Pat Nevin is one of the worst studio analysts in football.

You're right on Lineker and Hansen though, absolutely. Now if the BBC would just get SOMEBODY with a bit of Charisma alongside them...

93
by Mr Shush :: Mon, 07/26/2010 - 5:16am

I've never heard Burley commentate, but after his retarded back-pass to nowhere to play Beckham in for United's winner in the 1996 FA Cup semi-final, I would flatly refuse to trade anyone or anything for him in any capacity under any circumstances, up to and including ebola, but with the possible exception of Avram Grant and the definite exception of CC Brown.

Possibly, with both coaches and commentators, what one should be looking for is Scots who work in England.

25
by doctorjorts :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 5:23pm

The only problem with your analogy between World Cup and the Olympics is that everyone outside our country thinks it's the best sport in the world. Oh sure, you can find lots of baseball fans in Central and South America, and Cricket has a big following in the Middle East and India, but just about every non-American will consider soccer THE sport. The domestic disinterest is unfortunate, because it's really the only major team sport where we aren't one of the best in the world. The disinterest is self-reinforcing in the long term, as well, because the best American athletes are more likely to choose the sport that brings more recognition. I find it hard to blame soccer-lovers for trying to get a movement going every four years.

61
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 9:19am

"The only problem with your analogy between World Cup and the Olympics is that everyone outside our country thinks it's the best sport in the world."

I'm not sure how that's a problem with the analogy (I'm not going to claim it as mine, because I borrowed it), since I specifically related it to the American public. That other people in the world love soccer is evident, but that's not the issue under discussion.

"The disinterest is self-reinforcing in the long term, as well, because the best American athletes are more likely to choose the sport that brings more recognition."

I couldn't agree more. I've long said that the reason the US isn't better at soccer is that our top athletes don't grow up aspiring to be soccer players, and the top athletes of other countries do. If I imagine a world where the likes of Chris Johnson and Michael Vick became soccer players, I can imagine the US being a hell of a lot better at soccer. But until the US has a soccer league that's credible on the world stage (as opposed to the ironically named MLS), that isn't going to happen. And so the cycle continues.

"I find it hard to blame soccer-lovers for trying to get a movement going every four years."

I don't blame them for it, but it just becomes sad after a while. If US soccer fans are to be believed, soccer has been right on the verge of taking off in the US for about 40 years. At some point, it becomes hard not to scoff.

Look at it this way... Donovan's goal against Algeria was being touted as one of the greatest moments in the history of our national team. I would agree with that, but I don't think that necessarily paints such a great picture of US soccer. If anything it highlights just how much of a 2nd class team the US is. To a team like Brazil, getting out of the opening round is seen as a given. To the US, it's seen as a big accomplishment.

69
by DaveRichters :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 11:53am

If US soccer fans are to be believed, soccer has been right on the verge of taking off in the US for about 40 years. At some point, it becomes hard not to scoff.

Soccer fanaticism has been increasing. Measuring per game, MLS games have higher attendance than NHL or NBA games, a recent development.

71
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 12:52pm

But what does per game attendance tell us when we're dealing with different ticket prices and different numbers of games? The total number of butts in the seats at an average game doesn't really tell us that much, because MLS has lower ticket prices and fewer games than the NBA. The far more relevant attendance figure is total dollars spent on tickets per game. By that measure, I'm confident that the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAA football, NCAA basketball, and NASCAR will all blow MLS away.

Here's what I looked up -- MLS attendance is at about 16,500 per game this year. Imagine a football stadium (same approximate size as a soccer stadium) with 16,500 fans in it. That doesn't sound like "fanaticism" to me.

73
by DaveRichters :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 2:21pm

It tells us that attendance at MLS has been increasing, meaning soccer has been getting more popular.

76
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 3:30pm

But what's driving it? This is a World Cup year, which has already been stipulated to provide a short-term boost in interest in soccer. And lo, while the 2010 attendance is up significantly from 2009, I see that the 2009 attendance was down from 2008, and 2008 was down from 2007 (presumably after people got bored with the Beckham stunt).

So I guess my opinion is that I still don't see this as indicating that MLS has been getting more popular, unless you're only talking about the very short term. If soccer has actually gotten more popular, those attendance figures should persist, or even improve, for a period of years.

88
by FMTEMike (not verified) :: Sat, 07/24/2010 - 11:04am

So, doc jorts, you say 'Everyone outside our country thinks (soccer) is the best sport in the world'
Abolutely true, with the following TINY exceptions:

China (table tennis, basketball), Japan (baseball, sumo), India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka (cricket), Indonesia (badminton), Philippines (basketball), Australia (aussie rules, rugby (2 codes), New Zealand (rugby union) Canada (ice hockey, baseball etc etc), Cuba (Baseball, basketball etc), venezuela (baseball basketball) Peurto Rico (baseball, basketball) Dominican republic (Baseball) Jamaica (cricket) Suriname, Dutch Antilles (baseball) Trinidad (arguably cricket), Ireland (gaelic football, hurling), Lithuania, Estonia, Israel (basketball, and greece not far behind).

But other than those (and a few more, like what sports do they prefer in some of the Stans, or in South Africa/Namibia/Zimbabwe) everybody's a perfectly accurate word

90
by Mr Shush :: Sun, 07/25/2010 - 7:38am

I can't speak to most of those (though I think you ignore rugby union in Ireland and cricket in Australia at your peril), but I can assure you that soccer is the #1 sport in South Africa. The Boers prefer rugby, and those of British or Indian extraction cricket, but for the vast majority of the population soccer is the main game.

44
by Jimmy Oz (not verified) :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 11:24pm

i thought we were all watching Rugby League's version of non-spherical football to see if Greg Inglis would be any good in the NFL. The NRL season starts in March and ends October so there's a short gap at the end of the NFL season and some overlap at the start.

There's not much else out there for tackle football, except for Rugby Union, but that's boring.

49
by tuluse :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 5:05am

Aussie Rules Football

It even gets played on TV in the US from time to time.

70
by mm (not verified) :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 12:41pm

I was up late a few weeks ago...pretty sure it was a Saturday.

Anyway, I saw ESPN2 had a live Aussie Rules Football game starting at midnight (central time). I hadn't watched the sport since the early 90s when it was on random sports cable channels to fill up hours. I watched the last 45 minutes or so and enjoyed the game a lot. This was helped by the fact that I looked up the basics of the game on wikipedia during the game to better understand some of the rules; that would have helped way back when.

Too bad time zone issues will always interfere with live coverage of the sport here; it's a lot of fun.

65
by Sophandros :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 10:25am

"There's not much else out there for tackle football, except for Rugby Union, but that's boring."

You're just not sophisticated enough to grasp Union. :)

-------------
Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

6
by BigDerf :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 2:10pm

I'd like to mention that as a 22 year old living in suburbia I have never heard of anyone actually having a "rainbow party". I've heard them talked about on the news and now in Walkthrough.... But never by a person advertising the existence of such a party.

Also... I wholeheartedly agree that Philly fans should be required to smoke pot. They are evil evil people and need to calm down. (I'd normally put a disclaimer in these parenthesis to keep people off my back but I think Philly fans know they are assholes... I don't expect much arguement here.)

19
by Shattenjager :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 4:40pm

As a 25 year old, this is the first time I had ever heard the phrase "rainbow party." While I wouldn't doubt that similar things have happened somewhere, sometime, I would bet that the idea of this being any kind of widespread phenomenon is completely made up.

One of my goals in life is someday to go see a football or baseball game in Philadelphia just to see if the fans even come close to living up (or perhaps more accurately living down) to their reputation.

23
by Vince Verhei :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 4:56pm

I've been to a Phillies game. Absolutely beautiful stadium and your typical relaxed baseball crowd atmosphere. (In fact, the most obnoxious drunk in the building was my father, telling everyone he saw, virtually one by one, that Ichiro was a better player than anyone in the National League.) Granted, it was a forgettable July game against San Diego or somebody and not a stretch drive duel with the Mets, but I saw no violence, profanity, or vomiting like you've heard about.

30
by Shattenjager :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 6:20pm

Good to hear.

31
by usedbread (not verified) :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 6:35pm

Im 27. I never heard the myth of the rainbow party until about 5 years ago and will be convinced its about as factual as the "drinking one beer will cause you to crash into a house" myth that was propogated by Saved By the Bell all those years ago.

39
by Mike Tanier :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 8:32pm

All of my teaching colleagues are certain that there are Rainbow Parties going on during random Tuesday afternoons while the parents are out. My students, who rat each other out when someone leaves too many ketchup packets at a cafeteria table and can't sip a Twisted Tea without 400 Facebook updates, somehow never mention anything even approaching a Rainbow Party, except when they swear that the kids at Township do such things, but not them, because they aren't perverts. It has all the makings of an Urban Legend, or at least a totally trumped up controversy.

46
by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 12:00am

This entire time I had assumed that "Rainbow Party" was related to the "Rainbow Gathering," and I was about co give mad props for a smoking pot reference AND a Burning Man type party reference in the same article. Then I looked it up. Wow. I like my way more.

"Just look at that pumpkin."
-John Madden, looking at the moon.

55
by the cat in the box is dead (not verified) :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 7:28am

Having just looked up 'Rainbow Parties' on wikipedia, I now feel old and out of touch, but seriously, how on earth can anyone actually believe that these exist?

57
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 8:02am

Urban Dictionary seems reasonably convinced that Oprah made them up. If they do exist, I totally had the wrong friends as a teenager.

63
by tuluse :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 9:34am

No kidding. I'm 23 and I had not heard of such a thing until reading this article.

64
by Eddo :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 9:44am

I'll echo everyone else's perspective: I'm 26, and had to look up what "rainbow parties" are. Upon finding out, I remember that I had heard the term before, but dismissed it from memory due to its ridiculousness.

102
by SmokingClutch (not verified) :: Sat, 07/31/2010 - 10:01am

I'm a bit older (29) and have heard of them, but only through media moral panics about them.

They're about as ridiculous a concept as a "pharm party." The whole pharm party bit was that supposedly kids go to these parties with bottles of their parents' prescription medication. Then they are alleged to dump the contents of all these bottles into one big bowl, and then pick pills at random to pop.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm certain there are kids who swipe their parents' pills, and I'm sure some trade them amongst their friends, but really, what teenager equipped with Wikipedia and Google is going to take a bottle of Lortab to a party and dump it in a bowl, running the very real risk that they'll end up with a handful of beta-blockers and Lipitor in return?

54
by thendcomes :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 7:20am

Walk into the Linc with an Eagles jersey on and you'll have a great time. Walk in with an out-of-division jersey and you'll be sucker punched or victims of a snowball marauding. Wearing a Cowboy or Giants jersey will get you curb stomped and/or shanked. There's a reason they built a courthouse in the Linc, although I'm not sure it's still operational.

59
by Dean :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 8:42am

Sorry. Try again. There isn't, and never has been, a courthouse in The Linc.

The Vet, yes, The Linc, no. Of course, Veteran's Stadium has only been demolished for close to a decade.

74
by thendcomes :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 2:23pm

You're right. I was relying on hearsay. But that "sorry, try again" is obnoxious. Am I on a gameshow? You must be an eagles fan.

77
by Dean :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 4:18pm

An obnoxious answer to a cheap shot (and one that's been played out for years), sound about right to me.

79
by thendcomes :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 6:18pm

Oh ok. So you took offense to the truth in my exaggeration.

Living in Jersey, I have a ton of friends who are Eagles fans, but collectively you have the most reckless and abusive fans I've ever seen. Is that a cheap shot too?

It's alright, I'm not picking a fight. The original post was just supposed to be funny. The truth is not so funny when it's spelled out like that.

7
by TheSlinger :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 2:26pm

"The Jaguars haven't helped themselves in recent years. The on-field product was bad-to-mediocre in 2008 and 2009, thanks largely to a string of poor drafts. Football Outsiders Almanac projects another seven-win season for the Jaguars -- 6.8 mean wins, to be precise -- but new general manager Gene Harris offers some hope, and Boselli likes what he's seen in the last two drafts. He likes tackles Eben Britton and Eugene Monroe, noting that Monroe came on strong in the second half of the season after holding out early in the year. And Boselli, like Mike Mayock, likes defensive end Tyson Alualu, the Jaguars top pick this season. As a former USC tackle, Boselli knows a thing or two about Pac-10 pass rushers."

#1: It's Gene Smith. You're confusing him with former Jags GM Shack Harris. Other acceptable names are Saviour and El Comandante.

#2: Tyson Alualu was a 3-4 DE in college and is a 4-3 DT in the NFL. Although calling him a pass rusher is accurate.

8
by D :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 2:29pm

Hey Mike, just out of curiosity, how's the book coming along?

38
by Mike Tanier :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 8:28pm

Why, funny you should ask!

I have research and rough drafts done for a dozen players. So far, I have tackled such thorny problems as:

1) How did the Eric Lindros situation get so out of control?

2) Why hasn't Harold Carmichael received any Hall of Fame consideration?

3) What the heck was up with Andrew Toney's feet?

4) Did Mo Cheeks really know the words to the Star Spangled Banner, or was he faking it?

5) What's up with the Chase Utley man crush?

6) How did Mike Schmidt get voted the Greatest Athlete in Philly history when we treated him like old garbage for 15 years?

7) Where is Planet Lovetron?

I think a few pieces of the Carmichael thing that ran too long will wind up here at FO in the not-too-distant future.

47
by D :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 12:11am

I'm glad someone is finally addressing the Chase Utley question in a scientific manner. Mac will no doubt be pleased.

94
by Viich (not verified) :: Mon, 07/26/2010 - 12:19pm

Lindros?

Simple, he didn't want to play in Quebec City. The only thing that would fix that situation would be something more like basketball, where their NHL rights would lie with that team even if they refused to sign. That wouldn't bode well for a reasonable player transfer agreement with the KHL though.

The Nordiques won that trade big time anyway, getting Forsberg and a pile of other players for Lindros, who wasn't the same player after getting smucked in the head a couple times.

9
by dryheat :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 2:33pm

Those plays, more than a third of the plays from scrimmage in the entire league, lost 11,253 yards. I have no trouble rounding that to an average loss of one. NFL offenses wasted over a third of their offensive plays trudging backwards a yard at a time, hoping for one of those 750 lightning strikes

I'm no statistician, but something tells me that 1/3 of plays from scrimmage averaging a 1-yard loss most certainly does not translate to 1/3 of all plays from scrimmage losing one yard. Especially in light that in the previous sentence, you state that over half of no gain/negative plays are incomplete passes.

22
by Scott P. (not verified) :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 4:54pm

I think you're reading too literally. Those 1/3 of plays lose one yard on average. Yes, the vast majority will not be exactly one yard, but it's a way of illustrating his poing.

10
by mm (not verified) :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 2:36pm

Ahh, football's coming back!

Including Bossier City in the team name is obviously their attempt to try and get as many people in the area identifying with the team.

As an American who played soccer from a child until the end of high school, I believe it's a great game to play, but don't get any enjoyment from watching it. Now, watching the international media gossip when teams flame out or surprisingly advance is a lot of fun; but you can skip the actual games and still get that enjoyment!

Actually, I'm that way with the NBA as well; I didn't watch more than a few minutes of any NBA game this year, but was entertained by some of the ESPN Lebron obsession these last few months.

I am thankful, though, that ESPN can now move onto serious issues, like the first week of training camp practices!

11
by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 2:41pm

Nba comments layer tonite

12
by ebongreen (not verified) :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 2:57pm

Ah, Walkthrough - how I have missed thee. A choice sentence that will live in awesome infamy: "There's something fascinating about watching a sports league cram its head so deep into its own rectum that it collapses into a quantum singularity." It was LOLriffic.

Good and funny column, Mike - welcome back.

Captcha: "reroutes describing"

42
by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 10:33pm

wrote something at FO october right before 2009-10 nba season start nothing much surrprising going to happen. wrote that la lakers or B celtics ging to win nba chamnpionship. One or other. No other team good enoguh to win. Could tell that in october. Cleve add Shag Attack but he old bum now. wasn't going to help James win title. Orlando let Tureklo leave and replace with V Carter who just showman dunk guy. not winner, he is dunk master hgihlight guy.
SA Spurs tool old, OK City too young.
Atalnta not good enough. So when spend 5 minutes on it you coudl have made NBa finals pick on Halloween.
Like wrote here in october biggrest nba surprise 09-10 seaosn what weird tatto Deshawn Stevenson goign to ghet next.

51
by tuluse :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 5:11am

Those Suns almost did it though.

Too bad Stoudamire only plays when he feels like it.

15
by TomKelso :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 4:07pm

Brett Favre looks at LeBron James and thinks, "You have so much to learn, grasshopper..."

16
by contrarycomet (not verified) :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 4:07pm

The graf that starts "And of course, there was LeBron" deserves to be bronzed and put in a trophy case somewhere.

>slow golf clap<

18
by drobviousso :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 4:21pm

Ahh, what a great article in the middle of an otherwise crappy day.

I've got a pet theory that most teams would benefit from a moderately complex auction system to sell their tickets, but there'd be too much bad publicity in popular cities to ever let it work for everyone (where the ticket prices would be astronomical). So instead we get scalpers picking up the surplus value, which is a crappy way to go, but sufficiently obscure that people don't get angry about it. sigh.

Is there any way for someone without cable to watch arena football? Is it on ESPN 360? I'd probably enjoy watching it, but never have never really looked into it.

29
by Jerry :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 6:09pm

I'm not sure about ticket auctions being such a great idea. The surplus value exists in large part because so many people who buy tickets at face value use them, leaving a small supply at the margins.

And in situations where supply exceeds demand, like many baseball teams, the auction would fail dismally. (My interaction with scalpers at Pirate games involves looking for bargains; if I can't find them, I'm OK with cheap seats at the box office.)

41
by drobviousso :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 10:00pm

I disagree. The surplus value exists in large part because the market value is so much higher than the face value.

http://deadspin.com/5350715/redskins-cut-out-middle-man-sell-directly-to...
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/sports/redskins-tickets/

Pittsburgh is actually a great example.

The price of Steelers tickets is crazy low, compared to demand. You don't see decades long wait lists for scarce products that are efficiently priced in a competitive market, you see astronomical prices*. Inefficiently low prices, where the face value is so much lower than the market value, always produces either high prices or scarcity. It also always produces a grey market, when that's possible. All the profits that the grey markets make could be going to the teams, but they'd have to introduce some policies that will be really, really unpopular to do so.

For situations where the supply is greater than current demand, the starting price of the auction has to be low. If you could bit $1 for one of the many tickets that go unused at just about every home Pirates game, it sounds like you would. I don't have a clue what the marginal operating expense is for the cheap seats, but you can't make any money if you aren't selling any tickets.

*Really really rare stuff not withstanding, like when chip makers realize they need 47 bajillion tons of some element, and the three mines that dig out unobtanium produce 1.5 tons a year.

78
by Jerry :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 5:58pm

There's probably surplus value in Steelers-Ravens tickets, if less than before Ben's suspension. I'm don't know how much surplus there is in tickets for the December Thursday night against Carolina, and I'm sure you can get in touch with the box office if you want tickets for exhibition games (although you may find them overpriced). There's some value to the team in knowing that they can lock in their ticket revenue early without being at the mercy of events.

Teams are trying to participate in the secondary market now, like through Ticketmaster Ticket Exchange (or whatever it's called). In fact, during the playoffs, single-game purchases from the Cavaliers didn't actually get you a cardboard ticket; you'd present your credit card at the turnstile and be handed a "seat locator" that was the ticket stub equivalent. That way, you could only resell your seats through the club's marketplace. (And, with a couple of exceptions, surplus value for Cavs tickets is history.)

20
by 57_Varieties (not verified) :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 4:40pm

Team Teal: good for them. Sounds like the right approach for a small market team. The Pittsburgh Symphony does a lot of outreach to schools etc for the same reason.

26
by Salur (not verified) :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 5:33pm

The world needs more (Plank's Constant + Sports) jokes...

27
by Salur (not verified) :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 5:34pm

That should of course be Planck.

96
by JPS (not verified) :: Mon, 07/26/2010 - 2:01pm

Confirmed. Will be looking for Avogadro's number, the gravitational constant and Tanier's brilliant twist on them in future Walkthrough installments.

32
by t.d. :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 6:41pm

I live in Jacksonville, and I follow the team. Football, especially pro football, is a better product on television.

37
by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 8:24pm

Only problen is when watch on tv cannot see all 22 plauers on field.

Everytging else better with tv. No lines for bathroom if at. home no high price beer patking cost long lines people standing in front and blockibg view. horrivle plastic hard sskinny seats.

When. home put beer at side anf can rest aside. When at game have to pyt in cup holder or hold whole time. Always see peole dropping beer at gamse.

34
by Hurt Bones :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 7:06pm

Li├Ęge not Leige.

35
by phillyangst :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 7:16pm

Here's to the best football column written today! Thanks Mike. And yes, we are crazy. A 3 hour event (more if you attend the game) for an average of 11 minutes of actual football action. That's INSANITY!!! Bring it on!

"DVOA loves Philadelphia!"

36
by Drunkmonkey :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 7:51pm

"Yes, teenagers love soccer -- I have witnessed this with my own eyes. Teenagers love Silly Bandz, too."

I LOVE this. That should also be on thingswhitepeoplelike (DOT) com.

40
by Marko :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 8:59pm

"I am going to have mojitos on the beach with Ke$ha."

Please be nice to her unless you want to receive a nasty "present" from her: http://celebslam.celebuzz.com/2010/06/kesha-crappy-gifts.php

43
by young curmudgeon :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 10:48pm

"Serena Williams, meanwhile, dominated the competition, straddling atop one blonde, lithe Russian competitor after another, easily forcing them to yield to her will."

About halfway through that sentence, I began to anticipate that you'd be unable to reach end of it without using the word "throbbing."

BTW, I've been a speaker at an event at the Collingswood Library and it's a good venue. There's also a GREAT Italian trattoria just down the street, on Haddon Avenue, that you should make every effort to visit.

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by Mike Tanier :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 6:59pm

There is also a lovely little boutique beer place a few blocks away called The Pour House that I plan to visit after the presentation.

My favorite Collingswood restaurant is The Tortilla Press, but no booze...

45
by bcube1789 (not verified) :: Wed, 07/21/2010 - 11:28pm

People who feel the need to tell you they don't like soccer are almost more annoying than soccer fans who feel the need to wax poetic about the "beautiful game." If you like it, you like it (and I like it). And if you don't, you don't.

To each their own.

In the meantime, nobody is trying to ram the most popular sport on the planet down your throat, the world cup is not the wnba.

48
by Spielman :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 1:25am

How the hell do you lose 28 yards on a sack?

Edit - Never mind. Thanks, YouTube!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfHYELJ23GA

50
by tuluse :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 5:09am

I'm pretty sure Grosman had a few of those with the Bears. He hasn't met the defender yet that he didn't want to run straight back from.

53
by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 7:07am

B. griese lose 29 yards on sack by B. Lilly Super Vowl 6

72
by alexbond :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 2:10pm

Got to love that block by the right tackle. Levi Brown, right?

98
by Spielman :: Mon, 07/26/2010 - 10:13pm

Oh yeah. The whole Cards offensive line managed to block just one guy for more than about a second, and he was doubleteamed. Really pathetic.

52
by Theo :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 5:18am

van Bommel and de Jong of the Dutch team did everything they could to make soccer look like american football (or K1 kick boxing).

56
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 8:01am

I watched the World Cup final immediately after Last of the Mohicans, and the juxtaposition brought a shocking revelation: John Heitinga is Magua. "When Iniesta is dead, Magua will eat his heart. Before he dies, Magua will put his children under the knife, so Iniesta will know his seed is wiped out forever."

Not sure about casting Howard Webb as Chingachgook, mind . . .

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by ChaosOnion (not verified) :: Thu, 07/22/2010 - 3:03pm

I am a sucker for histograms. Could we see a histogram with gained yardage vs. number of plays? It sounds like it would appear to be shaped like a Gamma Distributions.

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by Blythe (not verified) :: Fri, 07/23/2010 - 9:53pm

Thank you for realizing the hard work of Jag fans. There are some fans that set up tables outside of stores to sell Jag season tickets. Its really awesome to see everyone's hard work start to pay off, but even better is actual mention of it.

Thanks for looking at both sides, so few sports news sites do that. Just earned an RSS follow.

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by CathyW :: Sat, 07/24/2010 - 3:53pm

Just back from vacation and catching up on my reading. Ah, Walkthrough...eases the pain.

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by JPS (not verified) :: Mon, 07/26/2010 - 2:07pm

"Eases the Pain" so captures my existence, too, Cathy.

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by SW (not verified) :: Sun, 08/01/2010 - 12:14pm

Apparently the Tour de France doesn't even impinge on your consciousness. Oh, Lance, how soon we forget.