Thursday, January 28, 2010

FMTMQR: I Keep Getting Older, but Gregg Stays Just as Dumb

I took a few weeks off from doing TMQRs. I'm sure all eleven of you noticed. Why did I take that break? Because each and every one of these is a descent into madness. Pretentious madness, which is the worst kind of madness. They take so much out of me. But I'm back. I'm back like pass wacky offenses- just ask Gregg, he'll tell you that it's hardly a new trend! The 1937 Akron Zeppelins of the National Foot Ball Association threw for over 8,000 yards in just 12 games. Now, on to the assholery.

Of the 88 players who started on championship Sunday, 19 were undrafted. Countless megabucks first-round draft choices sat at home drinking blueberry wheat microbrews and munching genetically modified maize chips while watching undrafted gentlemen perform on the big stage.

Yes. Given the fact that 28 teams were not playing on championship Sunday, there were in fact a large number of highly paid/highly drafted/both players not playing. Which just goes to show you- during any given season, there isn't much correlation between having been awesome at college football, and playing for a berth in the Super Bowl. Thank goodness we know. For what it's worth, there were also a bunch of assholes sitting at home on championship Sunday drinking warm Busch Light and eating stale rice cakes who were undrafted and currently play in the CFL.

Kids -- never give up! TMQ admires those players who excel despite being undrafted, waived, or both.

He suuuuuuure does. NO ONE APPRECIATES JEFF SATURDAY LIKE TMQ. NO ONE. I feel the need to balance out his bizarre love for high-achieving undrafted guys, so I've just recently decided that my new favorite players are JaMarcus Russell and Darius Heyward-Bay.

In cultural news, the other day I took a United Airlines flight from Toronto to Washington. Scheduled departure time was 10:03 a.m. -- not 10:00, 10:03. Throughout this column you'll find TMQ's annual review of absurd pseudo-precision.

What? A flight, which depends on an enormously complex system of timing windows for various air routes and air traffic control panels, can't just say "Hey we'll take off around 10 and probably land sometime in the afternoon?" The airline industry could use some streamlining if you ask me.

And how is that cultural news?

In overtime, the host Saints -- outplayed by the Vikings in every respect save turnovers -- faced a fourth-and-1 on the Minnesota 43-yard line. This is do-or-die -- you cannot give the ball back to the other team in overtime. Three times earlier in the game, New Orleans needed 1 yard for a first down, and all three times the Saints were stuffed. Sean Payton sent in a goal-line play -- one in which tailback Pierre Thomas leaps above the trench, as if at the goal line.

It was a good call. I liked it. Of course, you don't really see that play at the goal line very often. When players go airborne while carrying the ball, they're much more at risk to fumble. And on that play, Thomas very nearly did fumble. He lost the ball in midair, trapped it with his leg, and recovered before he hit the ground. Awesome play.

Why do coaches only call the leap at the goal line? Because the most it can gain is 2 yards; the runner crosses the line of scrimmage, then slams to the ground. That's fine at the goal line, but in the middle of the field, coaches want to maintain the chance of a long run.

You are wrong. You are stupid. You are clown shoes. ESPN should dock your next paycheck for that theory. That's worse than "Adrian Peterson is good because he doesn't look at defenders when he's running." Coaches almost never call that play regardless of where on the field their team is, again, because of the risk of fumbling. It's also high risk/high reward- there's no chance a leaping runner, if stuffed, will be able to pick up the first down on a second effort. Once they leave the ground, the end result of the play is essentially predetermined. Either they'll make it or they won't. Which isn't the same as when a RB dives into the line on 4th and 1- they might be able to bounce outside if they're stuffed initially. But really, this is more explanation than you need. Suffice it to say that Gregg is a waterhead.

In mid-December, declared New England had an "88.78 percent" chance of winning its division, while Minnesota had a "98.38 percent" chance and Buffalo clung to a "0.04 percent" chance. Dallas, meanwhile, had a "50.3 percent" chance of reaching the playoffs.

How dare that website publish those decimals which its computer model easily calculated! They're wasting valuable internet bandwidth!

Shawn Fury of New York City notes of a Bulls-Nuggets contest, "With 0.6 seconds left, Chauncey Billups was fouled in a tie game. He made the first free throw, putting Denver ahead. He missed the second on purpose, figuring time would expire the instant the ball hit the rim. Nope.

Right, because there were 0.6 seconds left, remember? The amount of time it takes for a ball to make contact with a rim and then bounce off is probably something like .01 seconds. Because balls are bouncy.

Chicago grabbed a rebound, called timeout and the clock showed 0.3 seconds. The Bulls inbounded to Brad Miller, who catches the pass, pivoted and fired a shot. Chicago wins! Then the refs review it and say no goal, the ball was on his fingertips when time expired. So according to the NBA, in the span of 0.6 seconds, the Bulls could grab a rebound, call a timeout, throw to a player who catches the basketball, pivots and raises the ball to shoot. Imagine what he could have done with 0.7 seconds!"

Well, he could have won the game for his team. Why are you asking sarcastically? Apparently it took 0.3 seconds for the ball to hit the rim, be rebounded, and for the rebounder to call timeout. then it took something like 0.35 seconds for Miller to grab the inbounds pass and shoot it. The fact that it's so hard for some people to understand that those are actual amounts of time boggles my mind. THE NBA SHOULD USE AN ANALOG CLOCK WITH NO SECOND HAND OR MINUTE HAND TO KEEP TIME DURING ITS GAMES. THAT'S ALL THE HUMAN BRAIN CAN COMPREHEND. ONCE THE HOUR HAND IS ON THE NINE, GUYS, GAME'S OVER. AND NOT AN HOUR SOONER.

In Game 2 of the 2009 NBA Finals, time appeared to expire as the ball caromed out of bounds at the end of regulation. Officials Steve Javie, Tom Washington and Monty McCutchen huddled and put 0.6 of a second back on the clock, allowing Orlando a chance to win. NBA officials can sense three-fifths of a second!

When looking at instant replay in slow motion, they might be able to "sense" durations of time even smaller than that! Maybe even all the way down to 0.3 seconds! Madness!

Bills scout Tom Modrak told Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News that college shotgun spread offenses make it hard to evaluate the pass-blocking ability of offensive linemen because, "The quarterback always throws the ball in 1.7 seconds." College quarterbacks can sense tenths of seconds!

They sure can, on some level. We've already had this argument. And I won. From November 2008:

This recent New York Times story about the work habits of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen is both unintentionally hilarious, and disquieting.

Irony. So much delicious irony in that sentence.

The hilarious part: "The hours Mullen and Tebow spend together are geared around 1.3 seconds, the amount of time Tebow has to make a decision after the snap." This is another instance of the sports world's nutty obsession with claiming to be able to sense tenths of seconds.

Yeah, everyone knows that defensive linemen and blitzing linebackers and safties only move towards the QB in full second increments. Why bother practicing for a 1.3 second release when the defenders will only arrive after either exactly 1 second or exactly 2 seconds? How silly is that? I mean, come on, Tebow. Why bother with precision? Like, for example, say you need to throw a precisely timed pass to a receiver who's running an out route. Shouldn't it be good enough to say "Hey, I'll throw it about 3 seconds after the snap?" I think so. I mean, how much more precise could you get.

While we're on the subject, I think it's worth pointing out that a player who runs the 40 yard dash in 4.6 seconds is clearly no faster than one who runs it in 5.4 seconds. Why bother measuring the tenths? What a waste.

Gregg Easterbrook is so fucking stupid that I can't even creatively express my rage.

The NBA season has started, so it won't be long until an official somberly instructs a timekeeper to put a tenth of a second back on the clock.

Hopefully, because then he will write about it and then I will get to write a blog entry that looks exactly like this one in response.

There is no chance Tebow or any quarterback under game conditions can tell the difference between 1.2 seconds, 1.3 seconds or 1.4 seconds.

Very true. However, idiot, that's not the point of whatever these drills are. It's to give Tebow an innate sense of how long is too long to hold onto the ball. Say he runs drill X 100 times. He releases the ball after 1.2 seconds 25 times, after 1.3 seconds 50 times, and after 1.4 seconds 25 times. You think he couldn't pick out at least a few of the times he held the ball that fraction of a second too long? I'm reasonably sure he could. And while he may be incapable of doing that kind of thinking during a game, the point of a drill is to make it so you don't have to think when the game rolls around. You just act.

Probably a good quarterback can tell the difference between one second and two seconds under game conditions, which is impressive enough.

I can tell the difference bewteen 1 second and 2 seconds when I'm playing a pickup game with my friends. I am not a good quarterback. Anyone with a working brain should be able to make that distinction.

But, "Tim, make your read in 1.3 seconds" is a meaningless instruction.

You're a fucking idiot.

See? And I'm still right.

Large, comfortable, well-lit, well-ventilated underground passageways also continue to star in nonsense entertainment. In the recent remake of "Pelham 1-2-3," the bad guys discover an "abandoned subway tunnel" that opens directly into … the lobby of the Waldorf Hotel. At what point, exactly, did the subway once run through the Waldorf? (Addendum: Numerous readers, including Pete Klaiber of Moscow, Idaho, are reporting there actually is an abandoned subway line to the Waldorf Astoria.)

Snarky point! (Oh, and confession that snarky point was completely wrong.)

Then the terrific Indianapolis offensive line -- which started three undrafted players -- adjusted to the feeling of the Jersey/B blitz, and the Jets never got to Manning again.

Don't expect Gregg to write anything about the Jets' awesome offensive line, anchors of the league's #1 rushing defense- it has four count 'em four 1st round picks as starters. BUT DID YOU KNOW JEFF SATURDAY WASN'T DRAFTED?

The Michigan state personal income tax is now 3.95 percent -- it's certainly not 4 percent! The New Jersey top state tax rate is now 8.97 percent -- certainly not 9 percent! Where I live, in Montgomery County in Maryland, the top state-and-county combined tax rate is 9.45 percent -- certainly not 9.5 percent!

How absurdly pseudo-accurate! Say you live in Michigan and your yearly household taxable income is $100,000. (Pretty unlikely if you live in Michigan in the year 2010, but work with me here.) I mean, what's the different between giving up $3,950 of your income to that particular tax vs. $4,000? Fifty bucks? Who cares about fifty bucks? Over the course of several different types of taxes, say you just round everything like this up and end up paying an extra $200 a year. Who cares about two hundred bucks? Certainly not middle or lower class families. I think next time I file my taxes, I'll just round the rate up to the nearest 10%. Paying what the legislature has determined the exact rate to be is just too ridiculously quasi-specific for me.


Angelo said...

Two things:
1. since Greggg won't give up on the pseudo-precision argument, we can't quit making fun of him for it. Toronto might have 30 flights leave in an hour at peak times. Let's have 10 leave at the hour, 10 at half past, and 10 at the next hour. That won't cause any problems, since the flights don't really need to be staggered at the runway. Asshole.

2. Greggg has always known that he's better than us, but this column made me want to find him and punch him in the face.
a. "Where I live...the top state-and-county combined tax rate is 9.45 percent -- certainly not 9.5 percent." It's clear to me that he chose this to let us know that he's in the top tax bracket.
b. "I took the family to a swank woodlands resort. The package fee was $1,899.92 -- it certainly did not cost $1,900!" Fuck you and your family and your vacation.
c. "In the arts, as in higher education, spending your endowment principal (as opposed to dividends and interest) initiates a death cycle, since the whole point of an endowment is perpetual funding. In turn, no rich person or foundation will donate fresh endowment funds to an institution already mismanaging its existing funds...Orchestras striking to demand more charity will only hasten the demise of the resident urban orchestra. The silly strike also broadcasts this message about Cleveland itself: "Stay away, we are declining." Thanks a lot, Cleveland Orchestra."
They are mismanaging their funds by not earning enough dividends because not enough people are supporting the arts? So then no rich people (i.e. Gregg) will support them. But then when they go on strike to show people that not funding them means that the city will lose the orchestra, they are silly and are hastening the demise of the resident urban orchestra. I'm so confused my head is going to explode.

Tonus said...

Someone should point Gregg in the direction of this amazing new futuristic gadget called SLOW MOTION REPLAY. Because Tim Tebow doesn't need to be able to detect tenths of a second in order to work on ways to get better at releasing the ball more quickly.

SOB said...

Gregg tells college players never give up, but has also complained that 90% of them won't play pro football, so coaches shouldn't fill their heads with dreams of playing pro football. But, it's OK for Gregg to do it?

Martin said...

In making his point about how many starters were undrafted/the amount of first round picks sitting at home...Let's say that each team has a decade of first round picks starting, that's still only 40 of the 88 total players being first, and 80 of 88 being top two rounds. Now consider that the typical length of an NFL career is less then 4 years, and the large injury factor, no shit there are a lot of undrafted and low round picks starting in the 19th game of the season.

Adam said...

The part about Gregg's ongoing uncomprehension of significant figures that drove me crazy was this:

Derek Knowlton of Syracuse, Utah, writes, "Watching the World Series, I noticed an instance of outlandish specificity by the Fox network. Every once in a while, they show speed of the pitched ball at the time of release and its speed at the time it crosses the plate. The third number they give us is the reaction time the batter has to hit the ball. The example I saw showed that a 96 mph fastball crossed the plate at 88 mph, and the batter had .354 seconds to react. They gauge this to the thousandth of a second? It's a good thing that batter didn't have .355 seconds to react or he might have hit it out of the park."

Actually Derek Fucking Knowlton of Syracuse, Utah .001 of a second could be a big difference.

Quick math:

90mph = 132 feet per second
.001s x 132ft/s = .132ft = 1.58in

Major league bats are not allowed to be larger in diameter than 2.75in. (I guess that's too many decimal points there too). You're telling me that missing a ball by more than half of the diameter of a bat can't make the difference between a foul and a home run?

This is supposedly the most intelligent writer at ESPN.

Tonus said...

Adam, the problem with your math is that as everyone knows, people are unable to detect tenths of a second. Since it takes a pitched ball just a fraction of a second to reach home plate, it is mathematically impossible for a baseball player to react quickly enough to hit it.

That's why no one plays baseball. It simply cannot be done.

Anonymous said...

it is very easy to "feel" tenths of a second. Try this, take a stop watch and stop it between 2.3 and 2.5 a few times while looking at it. After a few times it is very easy to do it without looking. This should be UNPOSSIBLE according to gregg.

Chris W said...

A 100 mph fastball takes .0413 seconds to reach home plate by my calculations (100 m/h divided by 360 sec/hr times 5280 f/mile= number of feet per second. 60.6/ numberof fett per second= seconds to home).

so .0413 seconds to home for a 100 mph fastball. A 75mph fastball? .0551 seconds to home. But if tenths of a second are imposssible to perceive, hundreths of a second should be beyond our comprehension.

In conclusion, anyone who thinks an MLB playerr can tell the difference between a 100 mph fastball and a 75 mph changeup is fooling him or her (probably her lolololo) self

dan-bob said...

C'mon CW, you know girls can't play sports!

slgw said...

Chris, try that again with 3600 seconds per hour. Comes to .413 seconds, or, as Gregg would say, exactly 1 second.

Chris W said...

I knew I fucked it up one way or another. I'm sure the fiff bt 100 and 85 mph wd basically make the point

Jack M said...

Way to out yourself as not a real stats nerd Chris.

Dylan Murphy said...

What ever happened to good old intuition? Maybe Tebow can't quantify the seconds to release the ball, but it doesn't take a mathematician to feel a 280 guy .02 inches from your face in the pocket.

Adam said...

Actually I just realized, since the pitched ball takes less than a second to reach the plate, nobody has ever seen a pitched baseball in flight. It leaves the pitchers hand then magically appears in the catchers glove. Quantum mechanics!

El Gaucho said...

I like that Greg pointed out that 19 of the 88 starters were undrafted, then left out of the 69 remaining starters, THIRTY were first round picks. Ooops.

Tapps said...

I wonder if Gregg remembers those ".04 second" commericals from a few years back. The ones where they showed all the things in sports you could do with .04 seconds. One was in bounding a pass and making a game winning shot. But it wasn't a ".03 second" commercial, or a "1 second" commercial. Perhaps that was for a, probably not.