Saturday, October 10, 2015

Stephen Gostkowski owns one of the most unbreakable records in sports

By my count, there have been 17 missed extra points in the NFL this year.  That projects to about 70 by season's end (an average of slightly more than two per team).  Last year there were eight.  Eight total--for every kicker on ever team, all season long.

The change in accuracy is the predictable outcome from the league moving the extra point from the two-yard line (a 19-yard kick) to the 15-yard line (a 32-yard kick).

In the Patriots' Week 3 win over the Jaguars, New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski set an all-time NFL record by connecting on his 423rd consecutive extra point.

Eventually Gostkowski (who has hit all 21 of his kicks this year 14-for-14 on extra points, 7-for-7 on field goals) will miss and his streak will come to an end.  But with the new rule in effect, his record is one that will never be broken.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Anybody understand the point of the new "Moments" thing on Twitter?

The other day I noticed a funny lightning bolt logo accompanied by the word "Moments" on my Twitter navigation bar (pictured above).  I'm sure I could just check Google and discover the answers I'm looking for, but this is more fun.

When I click on "Moments" I get what appears to be a list of several of the day's top news stories, but they have no particular relation to me or anyone I follow.  So what's the point, Twitter?  What do you want me to do with this?  And why don't you just call it "News" anyway?

Or even better, put "Analytics" there instead.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Why I don't like the MLB Wild Card game (imagine an NFL playoff lasting only 6 minutes?)

Playoffs happen in sports as a method to determine which team is better.  In one game of basketball or football, the better team will usually win.

In baseball, that is not the case--the outcome of a single contest has almost nothing to do with the overall quality of the team, and everything to do with who is pitching.  If you put the sports' best pitcher on the worst team, that team would still be favored in one game against anybody.

Case in point: The Astros beat the Yankees 3-0 because they started likely American League Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel, who's now thrown 22 consecutive scoreless innings against New York.  Over in the National League, the Cubs knocked off the Pirates 4-0 behind potential Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta (pictured), who hasn't surrendered a run to anyone in 31 innings.

A single baseball game is a ridiculously small sample size in relation to the length of a season--it's crazy for a "playoff" team's entire year to come down to so little.  It's the equivalent of an NFL postseason matchup lasting just five minutes and 56 seconds.  How dumb is that?

1 game/162-game schedule = 5:56/16-game schedule (60 minute games)

2011 - The problem with another Wild Card team
2013 - The oddities of baseball and the one-game playoff

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

I learned lots of neat stuff about Mookie Betts from the PBA (Professional Bowlers Association) website

Young Mookie.
Apparently in addition to being a budding MLB superstar, Mookie Betts is also a world-class bowler who probably could've gone pro--and maybe still will.

Betts is entered in the PBA's World Series of Bowling this December.  Here's what I discovered about him from reading the announcement on

- Betts has twice bowled certified perfect 300 games, first winning a tournament at the age of eight.
- Mookie's mom, a bowler herself, got him hooked on it.  She was also his first Little League coach.
- His full name is Markus Lynn Betts.  His parents gave him the initials "MLB" on purpose.
- They were fans of former NBA player Mookie Blaylock (sidebar--that was also the first name of the band Pearl Jam), which is where his nickname comes from.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

This ESPN story on potential DraftKings/FanDuel scandal misses the boat, doesn't explain the issue

One of the top headlines right now on is a story about a possible "insider trading" type of scandal with daily fantasy sports.  Here's the quick summary:

A DraftKings employee finished second and won $350,000 in a FanDuel contest.  It's possible he had inside knowledge of which players weren't being used heavily in DraftKings contests.  If you pick players who most other people don't, and then those players do well, your chances of winning increase dramatically.

The thing is, it was a DraftKings employee who may have had access to DraftKings information, but he won on FanDuel.  He didn't have FanDuel information.  Nowhere in the article does it explain how knowing which players aren't being used on DraftKings might help when playing FanDuel.

My guess is that they both have huge contests which hundreds of thousands of people entered in each, so it's enough of a sample size to assume that the data from one would be similar to the other.  Isn't it worth explaining that in the story though?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Boston Celtics 2015-16 Season Preview (all you need to know in just over 37 seconds)

Boston Celtics
Last Year's Record: 40-42 (7th in East)
Key Losses: Brandon Bass, Luigi Datome, Gerald Wallace, Phil Pressey, Chris Babb
Key Additions: David Lee, Amir Johnson, Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter, Jordan Mickey, Perry Jones

1. What significant moves were made during the offseason?

The C's signed free agent Amir Johnson to a two-year, $24-million deal (with a team option for the second).  They traded Gerald Wallace and Chris Babb to the Warriors for David Lee, who has one season remaining on his contract at $15.5 million.  Boston drafted Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter and Jordan Mickey, and acquired Perry Jones from the Thunder in a salary-dump trade that involved the swapping of second-round draft picks.  The Celtics also locked up Jae Crowder for five years at $35 million, and re-signed Jonas Jerebko for two years and $20 million (with a club option for year two as well).

2. What are the team's biggest strengths?

A) Brad Stevens.  No explanation necessary.
B) Financial flexibility.  Notice how most of the significant offseason moves didn't involve commitments beyond this season?  Danny Ainge hasn't been able to draw in a superstar just yet, but he's keeping the door open.
C) Depth.  The difference between Boston's second-best player (Marcus Smart?) and its 10th-best player (Evan Turner?) is virtually non-existent--the reserve unit will likely be just as effective as the starters.  The Celtics should have a huge advantage in most games when opposing team's benches are on the floor.

3. What is the team's biggest weakness?

Also depth.  The C's are a squad full of guys who's NBA talent ranges from mediocre (Tyler Zeller) to pretty good (Isaiah Thomas).  It's a recipe for limited success.  They have 11 established names deserving of minutes, plus James Young and three rookies who will battle for court time too.  Not to mention a 16th player, Jones, who's looking to earn his place as well.  How will Stevens get them all on the floor?

4. What are the goals for this team?

Improve on last years' mark.  Develop the kids (Smart, Young, Rozier, Hunter and Mickey are all 21 years old or younger).  Play hard and try to resemble a franchise that is just one piece away from contending.

5. Optimistic Prediction

45-37 (6th in East).  I'm convinced that if the Celtics had finished eighth in the conference last year instead of seventh, they could've given the Hawks a run for their money in Round 1.  Outside of Cleveland, is there another Eastern Conference team that scares you in 2015-16?  Don't be surprise if the spunky C's find themselves in the second round of the playoffs.

6. Pessimistic Prediction

35-47 (10th in East).  There's no logical explanation for how Boston was able to play .667 ball for the final two-and-half months of last season.  What if the magic is gone?  Without 2014-15 as a frame of reference, doesn't the Celtics roster look like it should be lottery-bound?

For the record, the optimistic prediction is the one I'm officially going with.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Less Than Awesome New TV Commercial of the Week: "Southwest Goes Tropical" (Kokomo)

What does that volleyball "Nice hit" line have to do with anything?
You may have noticed this Southwest Airlines commercial running all the time during Red Sox games lately (or not, if you stopped watching the Sox a long time ago).  Now here's the thing--Kokomo is an awesome song, and it's a no-brainer for an airline company to use it.

This is basically a can't-miss idea for an ad.  But, somehow they did:

Southwest Goes Tropical
We'll get there fast then you can take it slow. We want to take you to your favorite tropical destinations like Aruba, Jamaica, CancĂșn, Costa Rica and more:
Posted by Southwest Airlines on Sunday, September 27, 2015

I feel like Southwest really half-assed this thing.  They could've either A) made a greater effort for the dialogue to resemble the actual song lyrics and/or rhyme, or B) had the cast sell it a bit more and/or sing a little.  But by only speaking the words and not even bothering to make them sound right, Southwest is just relying on the Kokomo reference to get the job done.  That's not good enough.  Do the work Southwest.

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