Sunday, December 28, 2008

Effort in football and the 100 view mark

Well before I start I'd like to start my one dedicated reader for helping me get to the 100 views mark. Half are mine and the other half yours! Thanks!

Nobody can play at 110%. No one can exceed their potential.

In fact, very few people can even sustain 100% effort or intensity for very long.

Consider this: think of when you were working your hardest, focused on something to complete exclusion of everything else. That is 100%. Competing with desperation. Playing with fear, with an adrenaline rush so intense that it feels like a lion is chasing you. That would be 100%.

So most players are operating in some level between 60 and 90% effort.

100% effort looks almost insane. Its irrational. Its the exclusion of everything else from that persons life.

So maybe most people only give 95% effort at most.

The value of a "motivator" type coach: getting everyone in the organization to raise their effort level by maybe 5 or 10 percent.

And that's all it takes to win a lot of games. Is inspired effort in the weight room, in practice, in film sessions, and lastly on the field.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Bowl Games: Part 1

When analyzing this season's worth of bowl games, a few things must be remembered:

1) Some teams are playing home games, in front of huge crowds.
2) Teams traveling long distance are not likely to have big crowds with them; especially crowds going from the south to the north because of the weather difference.
3) Some teams have lost coaches/coordinators before the bowl games.
4) Some players will be suspended for the bowl game.

FAU v Central Michigan
This is a home game for the Michigan team, and I doubt FAU will have many fans making the trip.
Cold weather could be a factor in practicing and general energy levels.
Sagarin Ratings: Central Michigan is +8.18 Line: CM by seven.

Prediction: CM covers spread.

Cal vs. Miami (Emerald Bowl)
Home game for Cal.
Miami has had 5 players suspended.
Miami relies on a lot of younger players.
Miami is making a huge road trip and is unlikely to bring more than a few thousand fans.
Miami has struggled running and Cal has a great running back/running game.
Cal has a much older team.
This is the Miami coaches first bowl game.

Prediction: Cal covers spread.

Champs Sports Bowl (Wisconsin v FSU)
Florida is +8.72 in Sagarin Ratings, favored by 5
Home game for Florida state
A N/S game because they are playing Wisconsin
blah blah blah.
Speed is more emphasized in the heat.

Prediction: Florida covers

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Home Field Advantage in College Football

Just read some of JR Miller's book about beating the Pro Football Pointspread. Football is football is football, and it got me thinking about college football and its relevance to today's topic: home field advantage.

Some JR Miller quotes:
"There are actually wide differences in home field advantages from team to team for extended periods of time" (2-4).

"There is a general tendency for teams to play better on home turf" (2-4).

"For a three year period ending in the early '90s, the Washington Redskins...actually performed 3 points worse at home than on the road" (2-4).

In college football I'm sure the effect is magnified. The players are younger, more emotional, less confident, and less professional (on average) than their professional counterparts.

So how could this study be done and its effects measured?

Well one could look at the difference in average score between home and road, difference in average margin of victory or defeat, and also look at how visitors do at a certain stadium compared to the road and overall average.

The problem of course is not all college teams are made equal. Ohio State's stadium will have given up fewer points than most teams because they traditionally emphasize defense and ball control.

Over the years that will have given them a skewed measurement of how much effect their stadium has because they also have above average defenses. So one would have to look at how opponents do in a given season against common opponents.

This is actually a very tricky question because teams have certain identities over the years. One could look at the difference between consecutive years playing Ohio State on the road or at home to get an idea of the difference that stadiums and home field advantage have.

Or if teams play twice in one season, looking at the difference in scores. Unfortunately I'm dealing with something that has high variability over the course of a season(injuries) and between seasons (player turnover and graduation) and very few instances.

I could look at various statistical measures such as a t-value (for average variability around an unknown value). But that would be getting very complicated very fast.

Lastly, the effect could be measured for young teams (freshman, sophomores) versus teams that are experienced/older (juniors, seniors). Also comparing seasons started per team. I'd think that more experienced teams would perform better.

Also, a three year starter would have played at Ohio State, then hosted them his junior year, and then go back again his senior year to the horseshoe. So that would be a real advantage because he'd already have played their once and seen the kind of debacle he was walking into.

Warriors lose to Magic: Get Used to It

The Warriors recently lost to the Orlando Magic.  And last night they lost to the Heat.  And they are going to do a lot more losing.  

Everyone on the team knows what Don Nelson knows: they aren't making the playoffs.  They are making any noise.  They aren't getting hyped.  

And Don Nelson doesn't rebuild.  He doesn't energize.  He doesn't berate like Pat Riley.  He won't discipline and focus like Greg Popovich.  He simply unleashes.  

And if you unleash mediocre players, they will give you below-mediocre level of play.  Mediocre players with good, hard coaching can get you mediocre results.  Why?  Because in the NBA there are lots of good players.  And lots of great players.  Lots of 40 inch vertical leaps, enormous centers, and teams put together to win lots of games. 

And then there are the warriors.  With a collection of talent that was able to get to the playoffs one year on the last game of the season.  And thats it.  They were never even a good team.  Good enough to compete, but not good enough to win.  No fourth seeds, no home court advantage, no ten game winning streak.  Nothing.  

And Don Nelson just signed a fat contract.  So he isn't going to be pouring in effort at midnight, talking with players, figuring out the perfect inbounds play, analyzing each teams defenses for weaknesses.  He's too experienced, too old, too fat.  

The Warriors will plummet to the bottom of the NBA.  And along the way they are going to get blown out a lot.  

I think the following factors will contribute most to their defeats:

Games on the road.
Games against teams that are "rising" rather than "established".  A rising team right now would be the Orlando, Atlanta, Miami, New York, Cleveland, Portland, Houston, and New Orleans.  

A few maybe cases are Denver, Milwaukee, Utah, and of course Boston.

The younger and better the team, the more likely they are to blow us out. 

And at start of a road trip the Warriors are more likely to mail in a game.  After a bad loss or two they will try harder to try to salvage a road trip.  But at the end they are less likely to get blown out if the trip has gone badly.  If it has gone well, then they might mail in a game.  

And at the end of the season as the playoff race heats up and we are putting in a lot of "next year's" players.  

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Navy's Inherent Advantage or "economic moat"

Does the Naval Academy's football team have an inherent advantage?  I think so.

In 2000 they became an independent and have since had a serious strategic advantage over their opponents. 

Conference wins and losses are much more important than out-of-conference losses.  A team can have several out-of-conference losses and still win their conference, but more than one or two conference losses all but dooms a team from achieving their goals and any recognition outside the conference.

Navy runs an unusual offense in the form of the triple option, a running based attack and they rarely throw more than 5 or 6 passes a game.  It requires more practice and game-planning to teach linebackers and corners the new assignments and how to "stay-at-home" in a zone rather than just pursuing the ball as they usually do.  

But a loss to Navy is not nearly as bad for the opponents because they are out-of-conference.  Hence, less game planning, less emphasis in practice, and less year-to-year focus because they are less likely to repeat against opponents more than two or three games.  

Why would a coach spend more than a few practices preparing against Navy when he is more important offenses and intra-conference opponents coming up?

Well, I don't think he would.  And that's why I think Navy has an inherent advantage in college football by being an independent.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Arizona at New England: The Curse of Cold Weather

This past weekend New England hosted the Arizona Cardinals.  A summation of the conditions leading up to the game is this:

Arizona had locked up its playoff spot and could not gain a higher seed.
New England was still fighting for its playoff spot; this was a must-win game.
Arizona is a warm weather team playing in a snow storm.
Arizona is a West-coast team traveling to the East coast.  
It is also a southern team traveling to the north.  
New England is coached by Bill Belichick, one of the best game-planners in the league.
The Cardinals were being quarterbacked by Kirk Warner, a passer already game-planned against successfully in the Patriots first Super Bowl victory.  

The Patriots were favored by 4.5 points.

They lead 47-0 with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.  Final score 47-7.  

The Cardinals were trailing the previous week 28-0 at half time.  This is an NFC West team that is very weak, but in charge of an even weaker division.  So they are getting blown out and should continue to do so until the merciful end of their regular season.  

This was a really golden opportunity.  Too bad I missed out.  But there will be more opportunities.  

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Mike Singletary Era: Part II

Mike Singletary, the new coach of the 49ers, has been preaching effort. He wants his team to trust their teammates, play as hard as they can, and be ferocious.

And it has paid off. Since he took over, the 49ers are 3-3. Their record prior to his taking over was 2-5. And more importantly, two of their losses have been very close games, with San Francisco hanging in there until the last minute.

Another indicator of the effect of effort can be seen in San Francisco's performance relative to the spread. The spread, or betting line, is an indication of (essentially) a consensus on whether San Francisco will win or lose, and by how many points.

Prior to Singletary's takeover, which I'd call the "poor effort" era, a team demoralized by losing and a quarterback controversy, was 2-5 against the spread. There were high expectations for the team the year before, and this year they stumbled through the season.

After Singletary's takeover, the personnel remained the same, except for a quarterback switch. The difference was how much effort he was getting from his players. He is big, black, a former linebacker ( I think) who looks tough, talks tough, and was known for his intensity while he was in the league.

The team is now 5-2 against the spread.

5-2 is quite a good winning percentage. 71% to be exact. The 49ers are having a period of sustained superior effort. They are playing hard, getting results, and believing again. They also have a staff and coach that knows there is a lot of money and prestige to be made by signing a contract extension at the end of the season. So everyone is putting in a ton of effort to make sure everyone plays their heart out.

So among the factors contributing to this new effort are a new coach known for his intensity and the uncertainty of cuts or extensions at the end of the season.

The two questions are: can this uptake be anticipated? A coach with credibility both in the league at large and with the 49ers in general, and a team perhaps underperforming?

The second is: how long will this sustained superior effort last? What are the limits on a human's ability to have sustained superior effort? There are two games left in the regular season. Can San Francisco keep it up? Especially now that their next opponent is a repeat opponent they already played and beat upon during the new era? I would think they would have trouble getting up for the Rams like last time. But Singletary is a great motivator.

Interesting questions to ponder.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Interesting article on the sports economist

The dominance of southern football (all schools in the south) could be chalked up to superior local athletes (most people) or the warmer temperature (myself).  But the sports economist thinks its because of the fact that pro football teams were all in the north during the seventies and early eighties, so all the football infrastructure in the south was built up around college teams.  

And the large college teams are benefitting from the boosters, the money, the fans, and the infrastructure.  But with the proliferation of pro teams in the south and increase of college football teams in general, it is weakening the stranglehold that the major southern schools had on recruiting.

Urban Meyer, in the book Urban's Way, emphasizes the recruiting aspect of his program and how its success is built on having the best athletes on the field and making them work the hardest.  So if Florida's football program declines, it won't be without notice.  He'll keep recruiting the best athletes he can find.

But the real issue is prestige.  Can the major schools maintain their prestige?  Because that is their "economic moat" to use a Warren Buffet term. 

Following a blog

I'm having trouble figuring out how to follow blogs that aren't part of the "blogger" network.  

Specifically, I'd like to play closer attention to "" but can't seem to get it to work.  Lame.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Detecting Failure

Success has a thousand fathers.  Failure is a bastard.  

Thats what my Father tells me, often as a joke.  But it's true.  Success catches the eye, draws attention, gets analysed.  All the sports books I read are about successes.  

Where are the books about failures?  There are just as many losers as winners in every sport.  Maybe even more losers.  

Its more important for prediction and betting to detect failure.  After all, when two teams try as hard as they can, the result can be determined by the random bounce of a football, or the millimeter difference in a shot going in or out.  

But when one team gives up?  When one team has consigned themselves to defeat and doesn't care if they lose?  Then the result is guaranteed.  

What are the predictors of failure?  The body-language of failure?  The facial expression of a person who is waiting to retire, waiting to sign with another team, a person who wants to screw over their coach no matter the personal cost?

Those would be more valuable than focusing on when players are motivated.  Motivation is easy to see but relatively worthless if you follow winners.  After all, nearly all winners are motivated so there is no real advantage.  Its more important to find teams that have quit even though the season is half way done.  Players who are just ready to graduate and leave football for good.  

The strength of the Patriots

I've read several books now about the Patriots and the gist of their success has been that they don't splurge on high-profile athletes so that they can strengthen the middle and bottom parts of their line-up.  

Bill Belichick even commented that players from their practice squad are better than people on other team's rosters.   

The Patriots essentially try to recruit tough, savvy veterans who are smart and can handle their coach.  An interesting point was whether the people they were drafting/signing could "handle their coach", i.e. handle the way he coaches.  

Thats very interesting as I read about lots of player/coach conflicts, which obviously hurt morale, team unity, player focus, etc.  The Patriots put an emphasis on making sure that everything works smoothly so they can focus on working football games.  

The so-called "80/20" rule, where coaches spend eighty percent of their time worry about twenty percent of their players, doesn't really apply to the Patriots because they put effort into making sure all the players can "handle" their coach and don't cause the problems that become distractions.  

Words of Wisdom from Phil Jackson/ Don Nelson

Phil Jackson has been a coach a long time and has some (hopefully) well thought out opinions about basketball.  Two gems from a recent article:

1) The Suns recently complete a trade, shipping out a large portion of their core players to the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for some role players.  The day they played the Lakers, because of the logistics of the trade, they were short-handed, suiting up only nine players.  The game was very close and the Lakers narrowly won; however, PJ said that he knew it would be a very close game because teams that are short-handed like the Suns always play with extra intensity, and thats what happened.

This ties in to what I read in a book by RJ Miller, where he said that teams of professionals can usually step up their game when they are short-handed, because everyone knows the game will be that much harder.  

The second-level projection would be finding out when teams that are short-handed then have a drop-off in intensity.  Essentially, when do they let down their guard?  I think that would happen very consistenly amongst "effort-sports", such as hockey, basketball, and football.  

I think that all people can maintain a sense of urgency and "extra" intensity for a set amount of time before they drop off to a level below normal levels as a result of the burned energy called forth during the time of crisis.

2)  Coach Jackson said that no team from the West Coast would ever win 72 games because of the time-zone difference.  Teams travelling from the West to East suffer because they lose two or three hours of sleep/travel time, whereas teams going from East to West get extra time to sleep and prepare.  

The Bulls are from Chicago, which I think is in the Central Time Zone, (GMT -6).  

3) An interesting thing I read from Don Nelson in a news article during the 07-08 season.  He essentially said that the Warriors knew they would lose to the Pistons and said they conceded the game, throwing in the subs in the third quarter.  Obviously, it would be great to know when the Coach and team "know" they will lose a game.

Also, it is interesting to note how easily he mentioned it and it sparked no real outrage or commentary, as far as I can tell.  

Monday, December 15, 2008

Is there really parity in the NFL?

I was pondering the question about parity in the NFL.  Since I really started following pro football, i have not seen nearly as much parity as one would think.  The salary cap is set up so that no team can dominate.  It rewards bad teams with high draft picks and an easier schedule.

But think about this: rich owners (and they are all rich) can no longer get fed up with losing and purchase a bunch of good players.  They are a group of multi-millionaires and billionaires who are used to buying and demanding their own way.  

And while they have strong buisness acumen, they rarely have the combination of skills that makes a succesfull general manger.  

Unfortunately, since they are making the payments, and are used to calling the shots, they usually do more harm than good.

So since the salary cap prevents quick fixes and prevents angry owners from addressing needs quickly and making up for years of bad mistakes, the NFL is becoming less even.  Consider that the Patriots, Steelers, and Colts have dominated the AFC for the last decade.  

Consider that ownership can sometimes be such a handicap that they are unable to win.  Some owners inherited the team or inherited the money to buy the team; they have to go up those few organizations that have been investing and focusing on improving their teams for years and year.

I think that is too much of a handicap for some owners to overcome and therefore, some entire franchises.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Book Review: Urban's Way Part 1

Urban's Way is a very interesting book about Urban Meyer, the coach of the Florida Gator's football team.  He has been there four seasons and already won a national championship and will soon be competing for another one.  

Not suprisingly for someone as educated and successful as him, he is disciplined and has a very well considered approach to the game.  It includes breaking up the season into portions with individual goals, bowl preparation into segments, and counting down the number of days in the season.  A hundred and seven days is the offical count.  

Here is a summary of part one of the book:  Urban Meyer considers himself "one part football coach and one part Father Flanagan, the priest of Boys Town" (p 22.)

The four staples of Urbans program are:
1) Play great defense
2) Turnovers (all coaches are requried to teach ball security the same way)
3) Score in the red zone
4) Win the kicking game

They constantly preach the phrase "four to six seconds of relentless effort"

The core values of the Gator team are:
1) Honesty
2) Respect of Women
3) No stealing
4) No drugs
5) No weapons

"Four and five-star recruits are the lifeblood for the 'culture of winning' " (p 46). 

"he followed [John Wooden's] advice that players shouldn't be treated equally, but rather rewarded for how they contributed to the team" (p 94).  They have the Champions Club to reinforce that those who contribute and invest in the team are rewarded with privileges.  

He also uses "battlefield promotions" by awarding scholarships to people who excel in practice on the spot.  Essentially, a really bad ass play can earn you a scholarship.  

Friday, December 12, 2008

Book review: Patriot Reign

Patriot Reign by Michael Holey.  I read this book in about a day and a half.  It essentially details their first Superbowl campaign and a surface look at Belichick's management philosophy.  I can't say I was impressed with the depth of it but I think I was hoping for more X's and O's, more terminology.  Half the book is spent just detailing what happened, which I already knew all about.  

Nevertheless it had a lot of good points and illustrated his methods.  After being in the Navy I am surprised that Belichicks method is considered unique in the NFL because it seems very straigtforward and logical.  But then again, it is an illogical world we live in.

Bill Belichick is all buisness.  He felt Parcells was unfocused and disrespectful to the team by searching for a new job the night before the Super Bowl in 1996.

They felt Pete Carroll was a good teacher but not a good manager of people.  That has translated well for him to USC, where he has had a lot of succcess.  But as I've said before, not as much as be could have.  

The old Patriots system had a culture of entitlement and preferential treatment.  The new Patriots are much more of a meritocracy.  Constantly searching for who can play the best now, not who played the best a year ago, and factoring in the price of the player.  

Belichick on the Bledsoe-Brady controversy "You don't take a player who hasn't played in two months and then just stick him back in there like nothing had happened".

Great quote "Now there's not one person in this room- not one- who can't improve.  And it starts wit me.  I'll sit down with any of you and show you where you can improve.  Any of you.  Okay?  So all of us can be better and need to be better.  There's not oging to be any toleration for 'I'm doing my job, someone else can do their's better' " (p. 99).

Some things can't be corrected until the off season.  Attitude and communication can be fixed at any time.

Lastly, Bill Belichick wanted to work for an owner with whom he could communicate, and not someone who was easily swayed by the outside opinin of the day. (p 191)

The 13th man in basketball?

The 13th man in basketball represents the synergy of all the players and how well they play together in close, pressure situations.

Three examples:

1) Mavericks vs Heat in the 2006 basketball finals
Dwayne and Shaq.  Shaq was the focus in the first quarter, Dwayne in the the 4th.  But Wade had trouble with taking over because he was young and Shaq had three championships.  They struggled in the finals until Wade got very aggressive with attacking the basket and creating.  

Conversely the Mavs go-to guy was Nowitzki, who couldn't force the issue against really aggressive defense because his strength is shooting rather than bulling into the lane and forcing the issue.  

2)  Celtics 07-08
They struggled against the Hawks (3 losses) and the Cavs (3 losses), al lin very close games.  By the time they played the Lakers they had decided who their clutch player was, who their playmaker was.  He could fire away at any time.  Essentially the Celtics hadn't been tested, didn't know what to do in close games and it cost them a lot.  KG wanted to defer to PP, PP wanted to defer to KG.  KG knew PP was the better offensive player, but KG was older, more experienced, and former league MVP. 

3) USA Olympic Team 2008
KB24 was the senior citizen and a lot of "the peers" were tentative late in the gold medal game.  Kobe took over and kept up the aggressiveness.  Close games but no losses.  

The "take over" player has to be a slasher with aggressive moves to consistently win close games.  Look at why LeBron has done so well in the playoffs with a crappy team.  They play good defense and he can always, always force the issue by getting to the rim.  

The "takeover" player has to be fast, strong, and good at the rim.  

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why can't Nowitzki dominate?

Nowitzki can't dominate, and no basketball player can, whose moves are based on shooting.  The best players in the game, such Kobe, Dwayne, and LeBron can all force the issue by beating their defender off dribble penetration.  Strong physical moves to the basket always trump good shooting.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Final thoughts on the game

I listened to the announcers dissect various plays and coverage schemes and was very impressed with the depth and complexity of thought that goes into the Florida plays. They have motions that are designed to get mismatches between their receivers and the defense's players. Receivers vs. safetys. Corners versus running backs.

Very interesting to think of all the things that can happen out there and either Florida's coaches are phenomenal or Tebow really understands the purpose and goal of all the motion and movement and is able to manipulate it to get what he wants. Probably the latter.

Alabama-Florida game

Well the Alabama-Florida SEC championship game was quite a game. It featured two of the best teams in football and two of the best coaches in the college game right now.

In fact, I'd list the top three coaches in college right now, in no particular order: Jim Tressell, Urban Meyer, and Nick Saban.

Of course, I don't even know all the coaches in college football so this is definitely not a complete list. I like these coaches because they seem to embody professionalism, focus, attention to detail, and passion. A lot of coaches have some of these qualities but I think these three coaches have them all.

The Gators eventually covered the spread, which surprised me. I think they were fortunate to do that, but the game was hard fought on both sides. It looked like Alabama was going to pull it out after a dominant third quarter. Finally Florida was driving when Alabama had a three point lead and they were stopped on third down; unfortunately a facemask call was called on an Alabama linebacker. Fifteen yards and a first down.

Watching the replay it didn't look like he actually grabbed his facemask, rather his collar and the runner naturally jerked his head towards the shoulder he was being pulled from.

Alabama did stop the Gators run game though, and held Tebow in check. The x-factor was the Gators passing, and whenever they were forced with third down and long Tebow was able to pull out a great throw to a receiver and get the big gain. Very impressive.

Really the difference in the game was Tebow's clutch passing.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Nick Saban vs. Urban Meyer

This Saturday two of the top coaches in the league will bring their teams to meet in the SEC championship game. Alabama (11-0) versus Florida (10-1??).

Florida is a ten point favorite.  And honestly, I think that is far too high. The logic behind the game is that Florida has a super-speedy offense with lots of tricks that will allow it to run rampant during the game. Their special teams is very good and they should have good field position to start. And their defense is also very strong.

Alabama has a very physical defense and a monster of a Nose Tackle. Their offense is solid, with a great wide receiver in Julie Jones. The rest of their team is good but generally unremarkable.

So who will win? I honestly haven't watched enough games to have a valid opinion.

But I DO know that a good defense will beat a good offense. The only question is whether Alabama's offense is good enough to put up points against Florida's defense. Also, I know that Alabama's nose tackle, who has a Kingly body, will clog up the middle and certainly make it challenging for Florida to have success running the ball. Tim Tebow likes to run straight up the middle. But I doubt he will have much success running against an NFL caliber nose tackle.

The game is always won and lost at the line of scrimmage. It doesn't matter how fast your running backs are if there is a three hundred man bursting through the line of scrimmage every damn play.

So I wouldn't expect them to have a lot of success running the ball. It should be a low scoring affair.

My guess is that Alabama will cover the spread. Who will win will come down to the bounce of the football.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

the value of words

As I go forward with studying this new subject matter, I need to make terms and definitions for the different concepts I have and suspect exist.

Cognitive bias: a term used to describe an inaccuracy that occurs between our mental perception of events and the true reality that exists. Examples include refusing to accept certain evidence that contradicts an opinion.

Trigger: Something which alters the performance of an individual or team. Example: feeling insulted triggers a strong performance from Shaq. Feeling angry triggers a good performance from Kobe.

Dialed in on a team: Being dialed in on a team means that you are correctly following and predicting the highs and lows of their emotional readiness. You are understanding quickly if they have quit on a coach, are very motivated for a game, etc.

Where is the data?

I just read an article about the difficulty of determining the value of an NBA coach. Careful statistical analysis and recording of lots of data still makes it nearly impossible to gauge the effect of a coach.

Basketball as a sport is the least-quantifiable of the major sports. Baseball is the most easily quantifiable. It is made of of discreet steps and one-on-one confrontations between pitcher and batter.

But perhaps the problem isn't with the data, it is with people. We have a love for numbers, for quantifiable effects, for a head-to-head comparison between rivals to determine the worth of each component. But is this a cognitive bias?

A successful team is a synergy of 12 players, each with a different role, different skills, different physical attributes, and different number of minutes played. Also, only five players can play at a time, so mixing and matching of skills and suitability occurs. The coaches are required to find the right mix of players, playing time, and also fit it in to the context of the flow of the game. Lastly, their is the opponents team to consider, and how well the players on the floor work together to beat the opposing five players, who are also struggling to find their own right mix.

As one can tell, it gets messy fast. Things like personnel skills and human resources though are not quantifiable. It seems that a love of science and numbers frequently blinds people to the two different sides of our brain. One is mathematically inclined, the other is artistically inclined. A problem can have both a numbers side (shooting percentage, number of rebounds) and an artistic side (are these players working together well).

Jeff Van Gundy always struck me as a coach who had a strong affinity for the numbers and technical aspects but never had a clue as to the inter-personal, synergistic side of basketball. Phil Jackson strikes me as more of a coach who is best when he has really good players and figures out how to get them to work together and utilize their talents. I don't think his value is in reminding Kobe to block out or the proper technique. Its in provoking Kobe to want to block out. Jeff knows more about blocking out, but Jackson can get him to do it.

NBA players are a finished product by the time the arrive on the scene. You can't change a man's heart but you can certainly squash out the flame inside him.

Anyways, I think that judging the effect of a coach is more of a right-brain activity which can only be judged and discussed, but trying to quantify it is a laughable activity.

I also think that successful investors in sports are the only people truly qualified to give a valuable opinion on more qualitative judgements. They are paid to be right and punished if they are wrong.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rasheed Wallace

The Detroit Pistons are another type of team which I think is easily psychologically profiled. The trigger phrase in this case was one mentioned by former coach Larry Brown "I would never have thought that effort would be an issue with professionals".

This is a team which was very good but could also be very lackadaisical. Anyways, throughout the years I've watched the Pistons do very well and then lay an egg at times. Just recently they beat the Warriors in a very close game, the next day played the Lakers at the Staple Center and stomped them. Two days later they played Phoenix, a team which is worse than the Lakers, and were blown out. It might seem like the random vicissitudes of play, but I think there is something greater at work. The Pistons just proved to themselves again that they were a top team by beating the previously unbeaten Lakers. Then they played a team which they had beaten twice preivously by twenty points each time.

Certain players, when they are looking their best, let their guard down and then start losing. And they go through these highs and lows throughout the season and throughout their career.

Rasheed Wallace is one of those players. When he is looking his best he is due to relax.  Thats just who he is.

Also, I don't think back-to-back games are as difficult early in the season. The players are professional athletes and are well rested.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Shaq Attack

Shaq is a player who is notorious for his effort. It ebbs and flows like the tides of the sea.

I can remember reading an interview where a teammate of his while on the Heat remarked that he knew whether they were going to win or lose any given day by how Shaq was warming up. If he was serious, they would win. If he was goofy and playing around, they were going to lose.

A lot of mid-level players remark about how the biggest adaptation they had to make was about being a business man and taking a serious approach every day. The most consistently successful team of the last decade, the Spurs, is considered to be boring to watch, methodical in approach, and difficult to beat (just ask Steve Nash).

So obviously ,if one could track Shaq's day to day emotional levels and figure out his psychological profile, it is possible to know his mood and anticipate how well he will play.

Likewise, Kobe is known around the league to play very well and hard when he is pissed off. Not that he ever takes a night off, but even he has different levels of effort.

The key to doing this is reading body language, figuring out some of these player's driving forces and what motivates them to do well.

Shaq has always been very prideful and considers himself one of the best players ever. When someone insults him to reponds with anger and effort.

Anyways, the purpose of this post is to detail the possibility of tracking certain players in the NBA and looking for triggers that will spark them to either over perform or under-perform in their next game or series of games.

Shaq is extremely athletic and superior to the other centers in the league. The player profile of someone who has more athleticism and strength is more susceptible to the highs and lows of emotional and energy strains because his performance is based on physical toil, rather than a jump shooter, or defensive specialist. Contrasted with Tim Duncan, who is basically really tall, and must focus every night on a repetoire of moves. So essentially, the players who success is based on athleticism will be the most susceptible.

East meets West

The differences between the East coast and the West coast are many. But what about those who travel between the two coasts? And then engage in athletic competitions?

Well, traveling from East to West isn't so bad because of the extra hours one gets from time zones. but sports teams traveling from the West coast to the East coast lose extra hours, which can throw off their circadian rhythm. It is well known that people perform their best athleticaly in the afternoon. Traveling from West to East may make an early afternoon game feel like a morning game.

Throw in the jet lag from a red eye flight and it becomes very tough to play as hard and well as one is capable of playing.

Rich Rodriguez and Michigan

Is the reason Rich Rodriguez is struggling so much because he has a system developed in West Virginia and he is trying to force Michigan to adapt to it? Could it be that his high speed, cutting, juking, sprinting offensive system isn't working because its too damn cold?

Now that I think about it, his team was doing well last year....until they playing in late November at Pitt...which was quite a cold game, and they scored only nine points. Interesting

The effect of last months weather: The butterfly effect

A theory I've been developing with regards to football performances is one of the weather. It has long been known that warm-weather dome teams suffer in the NFL when playing post-season games in the frigid cold. The snow, the freezing rain, the sub-zero temperatures effect their performances in ways that aren't easily quantified, but affect the outcome of the game.

Yet this topic is never discussed in college football. The college football scene is broken up into conferences, each conference representing a geographic area with roughly similiar climes. The Pac-1o and SEC have different weather than the Big Ten, as the biggest contrast.

But when one looks at bowl game performances, especially most recently, the Big Ten has been struggling playing warm weather teams in warm weather stadiums. Especially in deep winter, when the teams have been practicing in the cold and fly down for a bowl game.

OSU has seemed to lack the explosiveness, speed, and physicality necessary to compete. But when they go north and fight their intra-conference rivals they dominate. OSU is a prime example of the weather phenomenon. Because of their success they have travelled to face top opponents in different environments, different seasons. And as such they are a great example of what happens when good teams play in different environments than that which they practice and live in.

I think that living, practicing, and playing in the cold weather conditions the human body and that conditioning is not conducive to athletic success. But when OSU plays their intraconference opponents the effect is cancelled out, and their coaching, strength and recruiting advantages play out and they win. But when they have to play their peers (USC, LSU, Florida, Texas) in the warm weather they can struggle.

This incremental effect on their muscles, their stretching, their balance (mud vs. turf), etc., amplifies over time to create this major difference. Thats why it is amazing OSU beat Miami back in '01.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Mike Singletary Era

The Mike Singletary era is upon us for 49er fans.  He preaches physicality, effort, motivation, physicality, and physicality.  The best example of this can be seen in their drive at the end of the first half, when the  49ers faced 3rd and 12 in their own territory.  They called a designed run for the quarterback.  J.T. Hill was hit a few yards short, had his helmet ripped off, and then dove for the first down.  Later in the drive he connected with Vernon Davis (#85) for a touchdown.  San Francisco led 21-13 at the half.  

They ended up losing to the better team (the cardinals) but the statement was made.  And Singletary's philosophy is one of physicality, which resonates in the NFL.  There are enough athletes all around to supply every team.  There are so many college athletes, semi-pros, practice team players, NFL Europe, etc., that the difference between players is small.  

So what makes the difference?  Motivation and effort.  Which manifests itself mostly through physical play and practice preparation/weight room time.  

But mostly through inspired physical play.  Its also in San Francisco's favor that his message is hitting the troops half way through the season, renewing his emphasis at a time when other teams are lagging as they get burned out.  Like the Browns, who allegedly quit on their own team during the loss to the Broncos.  

There was also the question of poor time management at the end of the game.  Well, you win some you lose some.  Only the most elite coaches can do everything.  

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Are the NY Giants peaking too early?

The NY Giants have been in Super Bowl form for nine games now. And dating back to last season, its up to about 17 games. They're approaching the limit for a group of humans to perform at their peak. So as the season winds down we should see the Giants stumble down the stretch and then burn out during the playoffs. We've seen this before with the Colts, Patriots, Ravens, Steelers, etc. So thats a prediction for these playoffs.

That the Giants have peaked too early, and the reason I think so is that they've been strong for too long, and they are approaching a limit innate in humanity.

Thats a topic I want to expound upon. Not only cognitive biases, but the ability of humans to exert sustained physical effort superior to peers.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I Love Spoo so much

Hi spoo,
just wanted to say that I love you so much. you've made me so much happier and given me so much hope that I can find peace and happiness in this sometimes glorious, sometimes screwed up world that we live in. I hope you read this and know I love you with all my heart and want to spend every night with you for the rest of my life.

Are the lakers better this year?

The effect of having Andrew Bynum back is a real bonus for the Lakers. I've had many an experience on the basketball court where picking up a big man bumps everyone down a spot. In this case, Gasol goes to the four, Odom the three. This allows both men to comfortably play in their natural roles.

I think he will have a great effect on the team and they may be able to make a run for a number of years at the Championship.

I also don't think the Celtics will be able to win as many games because so much of their game depended defensive intensity, which is difficult for multi-millionaires to muster on a consistent basis once the "newness" factor wears off.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Everything in Houston's Favor?

I recently read an article on ESPN ( I think it was the daily dime) where the author wrote that Houston had everything going in its favor heading into the matchup with Boston. Houston was 3-0, and Boston had just lost by 16 points to the Pacers. I would counter that their 16 point loss was actually helpful to Boston and harmful to Houston.

How? The NBA season is long; Garnett has played over 1,000 regular season games now. They are the defending champs. Their challenge now is motivation. They will be attacked by every team, and their style of play (intense defense) requires 100 percent effort on the highest level of athletics. That is hard for a human to do, especially a team with so many miles on their legs.

Anyways, I found his claim rather disconcerting. When Houston was on a huge winning streak Boston took it as a challenge and really clamped down on them. They blew them out with a maximum effort performance. Had they beaten the Pacers with a fourth-quarter comeback, I would have thought Houston could win.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Celtics as repeat champions? I think not

I'll be honest: I don't think the Celtics will repeat as champions.

There are three factors I can think of that will stop them. The first is their energy-oriented defense. The second is the loss of James Posey. And the third is the learning curve of the other NBA teams.

It is very, very tough to play with the kind of intensity and energy the celtics played with last season. And their three stars are all over thirty. I know Kevin Garnett is apparently Mr. Intensity but it only takes an injury to one of their three stars to really cut back on everyones intensity. Look for any small injury to Pierce, Garnett or Ray Allen to make them think twice about training so hard and playing so hard.

James Posey James Posey James Posey. How are they possibly going to replace him? He is like a rich man's Bruce Bowen: Bigger, stronger, and just as good at shooting threes and focused about defense. The recent NBA champions have had either Bruce Bowen, James Posey, Ben Wallace/Tayshaun Prince, or Kobe as a perimeter defender. I'm not too familiar about the championship lakers from five years ago but I'd assume they had some strong perimenter defenders.

Watching the games with James Posey he was always very strong at committing the "foul after the foul" to stop the continuation basket. He also was generally active on the perimeter and I good three point shooter. Some of his shots were only makeable because of his height, able to release the ball eight feet up and falling back slightly.

And lastly is the speed of learning for NBA coaches and players. Defensive schemes can be figured out. Tendencies set it. Players come back ready for the physicality, the intimidation.

I'm not saying the Celtics won't be good this year, but the Cavs, Pistons, Lakers, Hornets, and potentially Jazz will all be gunning for top status this year and will be gearing up for the Celtics. Thats what happens when teams win in sports. Everyone else gets ready to beat them specifically.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ohio State - Penn State

Earlier on my blog I posted I felt Penn State would beat Ohio State. I was also glad that Ohio State beat Michigan State because it would keep them high in the rankings. I was unable to find the point spread anywhere online after the game because sports bettors have amnesia, and once a game has passed it can just fade into black and be forgotten.

Anyways, Penn State did beat Ohio State. Ohio State actually doubled its score from the last time if faced a physical defense (USC) and had six points. They never really threatened to score a touchdown.

OSU had one turnover, a bit of bad luck for them, and PSU scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive to seal the deal. PSU never should have trailed for long but their all-american kicker missed a field goal.

No one should be surprised here that the real issue is that neither of those big ten teams has an offense that can score against a very physical defense.. That is important to note for later in the year in bowl games. If it is a weaker defense they play then they can score a lot of points but if it is a disciplined, organized defense, they will struggle.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The learning curve of the NFL

How fast is the NFL? Whats the speed of their learning? How quickly do they adapt to a new beast?

Conversely, how long can someone really rise above their peers at such an elite level?

I think the answer to all of those questions lies in the Patriots 2007-2008 season. Their season was the most interesting -and informative- season I've ever seen. They started out very strong and were routinely beating opponents by three or four touchdowns. Their dominance extended through nine games. It culminated in a 56-10 drubbing of the Buffalo Bills.

Interestingly, the Patriots were booed by the fans. They were "too good".

Just one game later they barely won by three points against an inferior Ravens team. Then they began an impressive winning streak until the Super Bowl, where they lost by three points. However, the second half of the season was highlighted by close calls, narrow victories, and Tom Brady's out-of-this-world play which kept them ahead of the curve.

However, the season shows that no system of players and coaches, plays and training, can peak for longer than about 11 weeks.

In World War I combat doctors realized that after 200 days of intense combat men became so melancholy from "battle fatigue" that they were no longer effective fighters. I am definitely not comparing World War I to football, but there is a common theme that humans can only endure so much sustained, superior effort before they either fall back or are caught from behind. There is only so much willpower stored in the human soul.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tampa Bay Rays and 200:1 odds

I just read an article on ESPN about the Tamp Bay Rays and how they were 200:1 longshots to win the world series at the start of the season. That means that a $100 bet on the Rays to win the World Series made back in spring training would be worth $20,000 in about a week if they win.

Because some Rays fans likely make this bet every year as an act of faith for the "loveable losers" some sports books are now on the hook for a potentially large some of money. Millions of people bet on sports each year. If just a fraction of a percent of those people bet on the Rays then a sports book could have an imbalance of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This imbalance means they are forced to get more money bet on the Phillies than normal, to hopefully "cancel out" their risk. This ensures they will make a nice profit with virtually no risk. An improbable "cancellation" of the World Series being the only lame outcome.

So what does that mean? Are the Phillies over-valued? What I mean is, should one bet on the Phillies because they are being offered better than "true" odds. The sports book, when analyzing all relevant data, came up with a figure to represent how likely the Phillies were to win.

However that figure is designed to draw a fifty-percent share of all money bet. So they exaggerated it to draw greater than a fifty-percent share, hoping to cancel the money they stand to lose if the Rays win and they have to make those payouts.

To conclude, the sports books are purposely exaggerating the Phillies line to draw in more money. And shouldn't we be happy to oblige? It may not be arbitrage, but it is an interesting scenario. And if the line does correct then maybe an arbitrage case could occur?

the meaning of James Bond

I've never really liked James Bond. I still enjoy the movies, but less because of James Bond that because of the villains. Compare the two stereotypes:

James Bond: generally disrespectful to the people who spend all their time making his equipment, he typically approaches the villains empire, destroys it, steals his lover, and as the coup de grace, kills the villain.

Villain: Spends years and years building up an empire of some sort, typically in an under-developed country with low infrastructure anyways, only to run afoul of the British Empire. James Bond comes in and wrecks everything with no true perspective on it, and leaves.

Thats why I've always love the villains. I think they are cooler. Too bad they always lose.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tom Brady: The value of one man

How valuable is one man to the success of a team?  Apparently, pretty valuable.

The Patriots had a record setting offense last season, and peaked in a 52-7 win over the Redskins.  Now Tom Brady is gone and they scored only ten points in a game last week against  the San Diego Chargers.  They were losing 30-3 in the closing minutes.  

So what has changed?  They have all the receivers back.  Their QB Tom Brady is gone with a torn ACL.  And their offensive line (I think) has had injury troubles. 

This team is a perfect example of the "skill" players outside of quarterback not really effecting the outcome of the game.  Its the offensive line that matters first.  They struggled in the Super Bowl because of their offensive line, and are now basically a second or third rate team because their offense has been decimated.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Michael Jordan knows everything

Does Michael Jordan know everything? His airness, the greatest basketball player ever, must know everything about basketball. Right? How could he not?

I just read an interesting article on Truehoop about an interview with Jerry Krause. He talked about how a lot of his decisions didn't jibe with MJ. His decision to trade Charles Oakley and acquire Bill Cartwright, amongst them.

And how MJ's view tends to become everyone's view, simply because he is the best and most aggressive player we've ever seen. But there are some interesting things to note.

MJ, as a basketball player, was unparalleled. But how much does he actually know about 5winning5 games rather than simply playing as hard as he can? A measure of his personnel prowess can be seen in how he has done as a GM. This gives us a rare opportunity to measure his basketball skills against those of his peers (scoring titles, MVPs, league titles) and his personnel knowledge against other GMs (drafting Kwame Brown, Charlotte Bobcats suck, etc).

There is a simple conclusion: MJ suffers from a cognitive bias, just like all of us. He assumes because he played the best that he also perceives the best. Simply having the best athleticism, highest jump, and best shots of his peers makes him feel like he knows everthing about basketball.

But being the best GM doesn't really require any of those skills. Its an intersting thought that MJ might be totally incompetent as a GM. He disagreed with the moves that made him a champion as a player and as a GM is most notable for drafting Kwame Brown.

Case closed.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bobby Bowden: Victim of Cognitive Biases

Poor Tommy Bowden. He was recently fired from Clemson's head coaching position. I read the article about it on ESPN and couldn't help but feel sad for him and his situation. He is like a greek hero who is set up by the Gods to fail when it isn't his fault.

Allow me to present the unfortunate details of his demise:

1) A hungry fan base that has decided this is his time to win the ACC
2) A returning QB, two 2,000 yard rushers, and a 2,000 yard receiver.
3) A decimated offensive line

It is too bad that Clemson is clearly in a rebuilding year because of their offensive line but no one at Clemson seems to realize this.

Especially opening against a physical SEC team. What chance did they have against a Nick Saban-coached team and defense with a young and inexperienced offensive line.

There are countless examples of a crappy or new offensive line letting down skilled and veteran position players. And countless examples of a skilled offensive line opening up holes for a young back to scamper through. The 2007 Vikings and Adrian Peterson. More prominently, The 2005 Super Bowl Champ Steelers had a talented line with a very young QB (second season) and a rookie running back WHO DIDN"T EVEN PLAY IN COLLEGE. And they won the Super Bowl.

I hope OSU beats Michigan State

I really hope Ohio State beats Michigan State this week. It will solidify their position as a top team. This in turn will have them as rated closer to Penn State, which will make the point spread closer.

Which will make it easier for Penn State to cover the point spread against OSU. Which they should do. Easily. Make no mistake: Penn State is the best team in the Big Ten by a big margin. Simply look at the scores they have been putting up. That is what a top team does. And OSU, Michigan, etc., don't have the offense to keep up with them.

Compared to the OU-Texas game, OU put up 35 points on a good Texas team, but once their linebacker when out with an ACL injury they couldn't hold Texas, which scored 45.

But who in the Big Ten will challenge Penn State? No one that I can see. They beat a good Illinois team which has played a very tough schedule.

Anyways my hope is that Ohio State wins to set up an easy pick for Penn State. Don't forget OSU's quarterback was playing highschoolers a year ago.

Cognitive Biases: Thinking Ohio State is a top team despite their narrow wins and pathetic scores.

Why was Ohio State ranked #1?

The college football season is halfway over. Predictions have proven worthless. Upsets have occurred. We are gaining clarity about the relative strength of teams.

And the question is: why are we so bad at pre-season rankings? Why are we so bad at determining the strength of a team without seeing them at least a half dozen teams.

The first reason is the method of rankings. Lose one game and the team drops about eight spots. Lose badly and you drop about double the spots. Its an elaborate dance done by the coaches and voters determined to provide stability and a small measure of job stability.

But why was Ohio State the pre-season #1? They had just been blown out the second consecutive time by a physical SEC team. That has proven definitely that a top-tier Big-Ten team will not have the physicality to compete with a top-tier SEC team.

Nearly all their starters were returning. Which is not necessarily a good thing. A fourth-year junior will not suddenly leap as a fifth-year Senior into a dominant player. They are essentially a known quality by the time they are twenty-two.

So this Ohio State team we saw was a known quantity: well coached, disciplined, veteran, knowledgeable. Not overly physical. So it shouldn't have been a suprise when they lost to USC. USC was fast and slippery on offense, physical and well coached on offense. They only time Ohio State looked good was with Terrelle Pryor in the game because he was fast enough to stretch USC's defense.

And as we saw in the Rose Bowl (Texas) and against the Ducks last season, USC struggles against running quarterbacks. Meaning Pete Carroll struggles against running quarterbacks.

To conclude, Ohio State will get pounded the next time they play a really physical team. And it will happen all season. Might Penn State put a hurtin' on OSU?

Three cognitive biases are seen here:

1) Tendency to assume that players who return will be better than they were last season. They will be more knowledgeable about the schemes but likely won't make a jump in physicality. This helps returning starters for complex offenses (Urban Meyer 2005) or coaches with undisciplined teams with tons of physicality (Mark Richt this season).

2) Ranking system that works incrementally. To use a systems engineering term, college football needs to pump up the gain. Their system simply works to slow. It is accurate but must work faster. This can be exploited in sports betting, when a weak or strong team will take weeks to get the valuation it deserves.

3) Can't remember the third.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Kobe Bryant and the Olympics

I remember reading an article about who amongst the star-studded Olympic team would take the last shot. With so many alpha-males on the team, would there be fighting and confusion over who would have the ball in their hands as the game wound down.

I admit I bought into the confusion; however the answer should have been easy to figure out. Kobe Bryant was taking the last shot, hands down. No question about it. No confusion.

The rhetorical device used by the article was to simply compare each player on a one-item basis. The author judged each player on their single best merit and came up with a predictable tie. Kobe was a gunner. LeBron was the most athletic and dynamic player. Dwayne Wade was finals MVP. Carmelo was probably the best outside shooter. Dwight Howard was a dominating inside presence. And Coach K was a wayward college coach without the clout to force the other players to agree on who would take the last shot.

But compare the players by their own standards as to whom was the best player:
Lebron James: one finals appearance, one all-star game MVP
Carmelo Anthony: no finals appearances, three time all-star appearances
Dwayne Wade: one Finals MVP, one championship,
Kobe Bryant: 5 finals appearances, three championships, one season MVP, 2 time All-star game MVP, two time scoring champ, 10 time all-star starter, 8 time all-defensive selection, and an 81-point game.
Not to mention Kobe hit the game winner in their Blue-Red scrimmage in Las Vegas last summer, then stopped LeBron on the other end.

So it should have been no surprise to see the ball in Kobe's hands at the end of the game, driving and dishing, hitting a four-point play, and generally being aggressive and attacking when everyone else was focused but not willing to assume the mantle (and risk) of having the ball .

I think an underrated aspect of being on that team was that whoever was taking the last shot had a lot of risk. He would have to justify taking it over everyone else on the team. Considered that way, how could anyone justify shooting when Kobe, a more experienced and accomplished veteran, was on the court?

Summary: The author of the original article use a poor rhetorical device in just looking at the single most impressive accomplishment of each player (which is commonly done) and not looking at their body of work and comparing who had the most status amongst those players.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Whats the deal with the Trojans?

I watched the Trojans beat down Virginia and Ohio State this season. They look great. A dominant defense, electrifying offense, a smart coach, good QB, etc. They had all the tools and every picked them to cruise to the national championship game.

And what happened? They completely chocked the next game in a classic "trap" game. I read the Pete Carroll even saw the game in Oregon as a trap game months ahead of time and still couldn't prevent it from happening. This has happened each of the last two years, when USC lost to UCLA and Stanford, each time keeping them from the national championship game.

They basically have one game (at least) a season where they just don't show up offensively. They lost 13-9 to UCLA, 28-27 to Stanford (4 picks by Booty), and didn't score in the first half of this recent debacle.

So whats the deal? Why can't they win? I think the reason lies in Pete Carroll. I don't think he has the manic desire to win that is requried to stay at the top of the mountain. I remember reading that the thing he liked about college football was that if he lost, nobody cared. If they didn't win the national championship the attitude was "oh well, maybe next year".

This is related to what I think it takes to win consistently at the very top of the class, to beat all challengers again and again: an unhealthy, irrational, manic desire to win above all else. It is so extreme it is almost a character flaw.

Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart and a multi-billionaire, was so obsessed with his company that even on his deathbed he was busy working on prices and figuring out a way to better his company and make more money.

The book I read applauded him for this. But really, doesn't that seem irrational? To be worrying about the price of deodorant in one's store while family members are crowded around you, seems insane to me. And thats why Pete Carroll likely won't win another national championship, unless he does so by accident. He's not insane. He is human.

Monday, October 6, 2008

No Country For Old Men

My goal is to make one blog post a day. This one is concerning the movie No Country For Old Men. I was trying to figure out what is so disturbing about the film. Why does it seem so dark and cynical despite many more movies have more blood, guts, death, etc. The reason is because the extras in every scene are so helpful.
For example, the desk lady at the first store couldn't understand why the main character wanted two hotel rooms when it was just one person. She asked if he was sure he wanted two bedrooms, because she was worried about him. I constantly noticed the auxiliary characters showing lots of concern for other people, which contrasted nicely with the antagonist, who showed no regard for other people.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Test Post

This is a test post