Jan 022015

I consider myself as a lucky sports fan. At least I’m not a Cleveland sports fan. I can find hope without looking too hard. BUT! C’mon, everyone wants some of their teams to do better. So here’s my wishlist for college sports in 2015. Click here for last year’s wishlist. Seeing as how we are dealing with the passions and whims of 18-23 year olds, as you can see, I was totally on the mark. Er sumfink.

Pitt Football

UPDATE, post-Armed Forces Bowl: For Gawd’s sake, my biggest wish it to stop the Pitt-ing! But… but… perhaps in order for Pat Narduzzi to change the culture, to remake Pitt into a contender, first they needed to get all the crazy out of their system. To pull an all-time soul-punching moment… ie, giving up a 21 point lead with 3 minutes left via two successive on-sides kick recovery failures and giving up a 2-point conversion. I’ve been a Pitt fan for over 2 decades and this is definitely the most PITT of PITT-ings.

Also, eff you Matt House. Please, don’t even bother coming back to clean out your things. And whoever coaches special teams for Pitt. I think that was Chryst, wasn’t it? It’s cliche to say that the seniors deserved better because Houston also has gone through a coaching change but seriously, these seniors deserved better!

Narduzzi should have come down on to the field in the final quarter, c*nt punched House and taken over the defense himself.

  • Better recruiting and 8-4
    • I’m truly excited about Pat Narduzzi getting the Pitt job. I don’t think Paul Chryst was a bad choice but his tenure was pretty underwhelming. The guy knows how to build an offense but his not-insignificant disinterest in recruiting on the defensive side handicapped the development of the program.
    • Narduzzi is, of course, known for his fast, aggressive defenses but just as important is that he embraces recruiting. Pitt’s defense won’t be fixed in one recruiting cycle and there’s only so much one can do with better coaching.
    • Next season’s team should be able to win a minimum of 8 games, even with a little in growing pains. Should. This is still Pitt, after all.

college football map

Pitt basketball

  • Further Maturation and the NCAA tournament
    • Coupled with the Maui Invitational and the ACC-B1G challenge and Pitt is “only” 10-3 coming out of their non-conference schedule. This is one of the youngest teams that Jamie Dixon has ever fielded. He’s playing way more freshmen and sophomore than he’d like. But there’s so much to like and hope for in this team.
    • Sophomore Mike Young is probably the most consistent of the youngsters; he’s a great finisher and is really coming on strong. Jamel Artis & Josh Newkirk have been inconsistent but give glimpses of becoming really solid players. Ryan Luther is only a freshman but he plays hard and once the light comes on (albeit probably next year), he’s going to be a really strong force. James Robinson has been more aggressive this year and Cameron Wright is rounding into form coming off injury. Pitt’s achilles heel is not having a proper Center though. Joseph Uchebo plays hard and has shown glimpses of the player he could have been but that’s it -“could have been”. Derrick Randall is just, well, no.

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The Olympics as the Emperor’s New Clothes

 Misc, The Bigger Picture  Comments Off on The Olympics as the Emperor’s New Clothes
Feb 092014
The Olympic Rings are trademarked so I can't show them. This is not the Olympic rings.

I love the Olympics, both summer and winter. Swimming, beach volleyball, athletics, skiing, snowboarding, curling. Curling! I mean, what a fraking awesomely absurd sport. It’s shuffleboard on ice! With brooms! I can’t stop watching when it comes on.

But that’s what works about the Olympics. Sports. Competition. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. (Unless you’re talking Pitt sports in which case, you’re Comfortably Numb). The rest sucks. All those fluffy human interest pieces, tales of overcoming adversity, yada yada yada. I can do without it all.

But more importantly, the whole ‘business’ of the Olympics is rotten to the core. From the IOC to the way the host countries prostitute themselves to the way that they railroad their citizens in preparation for the games even to the treatment of Sochi’s stray dogs – it’s disgusting.

The Olympic rings are trademarked so I can't show them. This is not the Olympic rings.

The Olympic rings are trademarked so I can’t show them. This is not the Olympic rings.

There is no denying the spectacular opening ceremonies at the Beijing Games in 2008. And I can still remember the arrow being shot over the huge Olympic torch to light it up at the 1992 Barcelona games. But do we need it? Do we need the glittering Olympic villages and all the amenities. Did costs for the Sochi games really have to eclipse $50,000,000,000 (that’s $50+ BILLION!).

Venues and housing need to be built and security and transportation must be upgraded in order to host an Olympic games. Those real and necessary capital improvements are nothing to sneeze at but it should be a simple matter to host the games. It should certainly not devolve into a brazen display of nationalistic one-upmanship  and trying to look purrty and pounding your country’s chest. Let the athletes do that trash talking.

I honestly don’t think I’m tilting at windmills here. I’m not even particularly excised about the costs of the Olympics. Overruns happen on capital projects. It’s the decadence and sleaziness that now seem to be associated with the event. Not the athletes or the contests themselves. The administrative and nationalist aspects. The show-biz, the glitz, the glamour. That’s not the true spirit of the Olympics. It shouldn’t be big business.

Apr 252012
Penguins, 2008-2009 Stanley Cup

Despite the pain and humiliation of watching my Pittsburgh Penguins lose their third consecutive post-season series, this time to the despicable Philadelphia Flyers, I am as convinced as ever that Ice Hockey is the best team sport out there.

I don’t necessarily mean most enjoyable, surely a subjective measure. Nor is the NHL the best sports league across all sports. I’ve come to the conclusion over the years that Ice Hockey calls for the greatest total abundance of every sports characteristic and skill. List out all the skills you want and Ice Hockey will score higher in aggregate.

Ahhh, happier times.

Speed, physical toughness, endurance, coordination/reflexes, mental toughness, etc. etc. etc. The game even calls for moving backwards in a fundamental way that no other sport duplicates.

Here’s a rough chart ranking the major team sports:

Baseball Basketball Am. FB Rugby Futbol Cricket Ice Hky
Speed 3 7 4 1 6 2 5
Physical Toughness 1 4 6 7 3 2 5
Mental Toughness 4 2 7 5 1 3 6
Endurance 1 3 4 6 5 2 7
Reflexes/Coordination 3 6 1 2 5 4 7
Intelligence/Creativity 1 5 4 3 7 2 6
Versatility (!=specialization) 1 6 2 5 4 3 7
Total Score 14 33 28 29 31 18 43

Before you get in a huff about these rankings, it should be noted that I have no animus against any particular sport. If I were to rate my enjoyment of each of these sports, it would be different from the rankings above. Just some food for thought.

Feb 222010

As a sports fan, I don’t really care that Tiger Woods stepped out on his wife, however, I think he has all the over-attention and ridicule coming to him.

Athletes like Woods put themselves in position for huge endorsements not simply by excelling in their sport but also by creating a veneer of wholesomeness around them. Buick and Accenture wouldn’t have signed up with Woods if he was as outspoken as Charles Barkley or as colorful as Dennis Rodman. To paraphrase Michael Jordan, “Republicans buy Buicks too.”

So when the fall comes, as it inevitably will for many athletes, when we learn that Woods isn’t the paragon of virtue that he consciously modeled himself to be, it follows then that he does deserve public ridicule. It didn’t necessarily have to affect his performance on the greens. After all, Jordan’s gambling didn’t affect his performance on the court, though that admittedly was less public. Woods is taking time out of the game and so be it. Maybe he really is sorry for his actions. Or maybe he needs time away so that the faux-rage can pass.

This scandal won’t torpedo his career and it likely won’t prevent him from surpassing Jack Nicklaus’ all-time Majors wins record. It will probably just delay the inevitable a little. Eventually this will all blow over (as past scandals have for the likes of Ray Ray Lewis and Kobe Bean Bryant). People will make jokes from time-to-time and those pre-disposed to disliking Woods will continue to dislike him and those predisposed to liking him will like him again. And some of us will yawn throughout.

Feel sorry for Elin and his kids. They deserve sympathy. But while the storm persists, let’s not get on our high horses about the attention paid to Woods’ affairs. He made our opinions of his image part of his business.

Mar 282009


Since I’m never good at explaining it in person, let me take a quick stab at explaining the logic behind superstition.

Superstitious behavior is a convoluted but well-meaning attempt to use the Scientific Method to affect the outcome of a contest. Quite simply, if a particular action coincides with the favored outcome, then I will attempt to replicate the same conditions going forward. I am attempting to “control” for a particular set of variables.


The complexity of truly superstitious behavior is something with which we constantly struggle. I sit in a particular seat for a football game but what did I have to eat. Was my dog wearing his jersey. How and when did I cross my legs. Who was I texting during the game. And on and on and on.

The skeptic will surely point out that where I choose to sit for a football game in my living room cannot logically have an impact on the outcome of the contest. This is where the convolution comes to the fore. It’s the butterfly effect run amok and in an increasingly flat world, who’s to say which dots connect to each other.

Perhaps if I get up to get something to eat at a particular time, my dog will get up to follow me as well. He’ll trip on the speaker wire, which shorts out my TV. The electrical surge will travel from my house downstream to the power company, which supplies the power for the lights at the stadium of my team. The stadium lights flicker during a critical play in the game, causing a wide receiver to momentarily lose his concentration. Finally, he drops a pass that would have ensured victory for my team!

And don’t think I can’t connect my actions to an away game, to an international game, to any game. Is your mind boggled yet? Welcome to my (sports) life.

Photo Credit: Bettman/CORBIS