Saturday, May 11, 2013

Awesome Old Song of the Week: "Run Away" by Real McCoy

In 1994 the German pop band Real McCoy released an album called Another Night.  It's first single had the same title, and was the song that made them huge in the U.S.  But their follow up hit "Run Away" was just as big, and way cooler in my book.

I never really paid too much attention to the lyrics, but I do remember the "big brother is watching you" line.  As it turns out, the whole song in based on George Orwell's 1984.   "Run Away" peaked at #3 on the Billboard Top 40 in 1995; oddly enough so did Janet Jackson's "Runaway."

Friday, May 10, 2013

I know how to dramatically improve "instant replay" reviews in sports

The other night the Oakland A's lost a baseball game when a home run was incorrectly ruled a double.  Somehow even after reviewing the video the umpires still couldn't see that the ball hit the railing above the fence.  Rumored explanations for their failure include a bad TV, not having access to all possible replay angles, and just not caring enough/taking the time to get it right.

A Celtics game I went to this season was stopped twice in the final minute of play for extended periods of time as the referees all huddled around a monitor trying to figure out which team the ball went out of bounds off of.  On one occasion the scoreboard big screen zoomed in on them, and it was clear that they were just watching ABC's regular TV coverage of the game, with no control over the replays themselves.

I have a solution.  It's something that will work for all pro sports using video review.  In fact, I actually got the idea last NFL season from that atrocious Seahawks touchdown call against the Packers which brought an end to the replacement refs.  There is no reason why the actual referees who are on on the field/court/ice have to be the ones who watch the replays and make these decisions.  In fact, the people doing this don't even need to be at the game.  Each league should have it's own "replay office."

It would consist of five, ten, maybe even twenty (however many it takes) people sitting in a room somewhere.  They work for every game going on all at once.  They're only job is to watch replays and make correct rulings; so they have access to all the best available technology, and know exactly how to use it.  The replay office would have somebody watching each game as it happens, and in turn could already be working on getting the controversial calls right before the officials at the game even decide to check with them.  Not only would the accuracy improve, but this might even speed up the process as well.

5/13 UPDATE: It has been brought to my attention that the NHL already has this.  So I guess my "idea" isn't that revolutionary after all.  Anyway, well done NHL, and it's definitely time for the other 3 leagues to get with the program.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Who do I root for now that the Celtics are out of the playoffs?

For me, the most fun and exciting part of the game of basketball has always been long range shooting.  As a kid I used to practice jumpers in my driveway from as far away as I possibly could (even when I was back home at my parents' last week, shooting around on my old hoop for the first time in years, I still found myself doing this).  Reggie Miller was my favorite non-Celtic NBA player throughout the 90's for this very reason.

Another thing everyone loves to root for in sports is an underdog.  Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors are the perfect combination of both.  Earlier this year Curry put up the greatest 3 point shooting game anyone has ever had, hitting 11 of 13 on his way to a 54 point night vs the Knicks at Madison Square Garden (where Miller had some of his best games as well).  He also just set the all-time record for threes made in one season, 272, breaking Ray Allen's previous mark of 269.

The 6th seeded Warriors were expected to lose in Round 1 to Denver, but now find themselves heading back home after splitting two games with the 2nd seeded Spurs in San Antonio (and they could easily be up 2-0).  Not to mention they have one of the best home crowds I've ever seen; I swear the fans were standing the entire game when Golden State eliminated the Nuggets.  If you like the NBA and you haven't been staying up late to watch the past few Warriors games, you've really been missing out.

For more on this check out a piece I wrote earlier today for Celtics Life called "A Celtics fan guide to watching the rest of the playoffs."


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Am I the only one who never realized "Wheel of Fortune" is "hangman?"

A few months ago Paul Pierce sent out a tweet saying "Look out for me tonight on Wheel of Fortune."  He didn't actually play or anything, just made a brief pre-recorded cameo as part of the show's "NBA week."  But when I saw his tweet on that February afternoon the first thing I did was set my DVR to record Wheel that evening.  And it was at that moment that I made this startling discovery:

Wheel of Fortune is just a fancy version of "hangman."  It's seems so obvious, yet somehow it'd never occurred to me before.  Is this common knowledge?  If not, it definitely should be.  I felt pretty stupid for not having come to this conclusion on my own at some point in the last 35 years.  And while I tend to be very critical of the show descriptions on the cable guide, on this day I was extremely impressed.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Why doesn't Derrick Rose want to be a hero?

One of these guys is not like the others.
In 2011 Derrick Rose won the NBA's MVP award.  Last season he led the Bulls to a league best 50-16 record, and the #1 seed in the East.  A little over a year ago he tore his ACL in the first game of the 2012 playoffs, and Chicago lost to Philly in the first round (opening the door for the Celtics to reach the Eastern Conference Finals against Miami).  I'm not going to point out how long it's taking him to come back compared to other athletes, but I will say this:

As of today it's now been two months since Rose was medically cleared to play.  Not practice, that happened in January, I mean play.  In real live NBA games.  At the time he said he was waiting until he could confidently dunk jumping with his surgically repaired left knee.  A little over a month ago the reports starting coming out that he was "dominating practice," and here's a video of him dunking off his left leg in early April.

Somehow the 5th seeded Bulls managed to get by the Nets in Round 1 on the road in 7 games.  Their second best player, Luol Deng, is still in the hospital recovering from a spinal tap.  Starting center Joakim Noah has plantar fasciitis and can hardly walk sometimes, but has been playing anyway.  Rose's backup, point guard Kirk Hinrich, is out with a calf injury.

Last night Chicago pulled off a stunning upset in Miami, taking a 1-0 lead over the Heat.  Third string PG Nate Robinson got hit in the mouth by LeBron (unintentionally) in the first half, causing him to get 10 stitches.  But Robinson stayed in the game, in part because the Bulls have no other options left.

Hollywood screenwriters could not script a better time for Rose to return.  But he won't.  Does he not see an incredible opportunity here?  Does he not want to be a hero?  Everything I know about athletes and competitive sports makes his decision to continue sitting almost unfathomable.  My guess is he decided a long time ago that he wasn't coming back this year, and never imagined his team would get this far without him.  Now he just looks like a chump.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Clay Buchholz looks to extend streak without "spit balls"

Clay Buchholz will try to go 7-0 tonight.  So far this season he's emerged victorious every time he's taken the mound.  6 starts, 6 wins.  No other pitcher in baseball has more than 5 W's this year.  Buchholz also has an MLB best 1.01 ERA.  Last week ex-pitcher (a World Series MVP and five-time All-Star) and current Toronto Blue Jays broadcaster Jack Morris accused Buccholz of throwing a "spit ball;" cheating by putting something on the baseball to give it added movement.

Oddly enough, my gut instinct is to believe Morris may actually be right.  It seems like a very strange accusation to make, and I doubt Morris would do it if he didn't think he was 100% correct.  And yes it's only been 6 starts, but Buchholz's number's are dramatically better than his career 46-32 record and 3.92 ERA heading into this season.

And then there's his hair.  A couple weeks ago I remember thinking to myself "what's the deal with Clay's hair?  Why is it so wet and oily looking all the time?"  Now we have a possible reason.  Hopefully I'm wrong.  Probably I am.  Maybe we'll find out more tonight.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Coins are pretty much stupid these days.

For decades I've heard talk of "eliminating the penny."  Honestly I can't believe that hasn't happened yet.  At this point dimes and nickels are basically useless as well.  I have a pile of coins sitting on my kitchen counter that I try to get rid of whenever possible, but mostly the only thing I do with them is toss them in the tip jar when I'm buying a coffee or burrito or something.  I don't even feel good about it though, because why would the Dunkin' Donuts guy want to carry that extra weight around any more that I do?

A friend of mine's wife has been throwing her change in the trash for years, and I'm starting to agree with her.  There is absolutely no need for any denomination less than a quarter anymore.  What costs less than 25 cents anyway?  Penny candy?  Suck it up and buy 2 pieces of Chinese fortune bubble gum (remember that?) instead of just one.

My bar (and most bars/restaurants everywhere) has already made this transition; we only use quarters.  No one ever cares if you just round every price to the nearest quarter.  In fact, more often than not we round to the nearest dollar.  Sometimes you round up, sometimes you round down.  At the end of the night we're always within a buck or two of where we should be; why can't everyone do that?

The only reason I save quarters is for laundry, and it won't be long before those machines all run on bills or credit cards.  The parking meters on my street just recently converted to accept plastic.  Even the guy who's always standing outside the corner store on my block doesn't even ask for "spare change," he asks if you "have an extra dollar" when you walk by.  Not to mention that half the population has already given up on using cash to begin with.  Change is just dumb.


Back to homepage