Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Films of 2012... And Oscar Predictions

2012. The world didn’t come to an end but the innocence of the 2011 movie season definitely did. We no longer had silent fluff pieces about two star crossed lovers or little boys running around train stations trying to fix robots. Instead, we had alcoholic pilots and cult leaders, terrorism and slavery, and the usually heroic Leonardo DiCaprio playing one of the most sadistic characters in recent mainstream cinema. You know things have gotten dark when Jack from Titanic is watching two men fight to the death all the while whooping and hollering in joy.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sports/Movies Quick Hits: June 28th Edition

There were a lot of things going on in the last few days/week or so that I just wanted to hit on briefly:

The BCS(hank) Redemption

The BCS has finally come to terms with the necessity that is a playoff for college football. This should be interesting, especially the two years in between the vote and actual implementation. I hope that a team doesn't get screwed out of a chance to prove themselves just because their timing was off by a year. Eventually, I'd like to see 8 or 16 teams, but I realize this won't occur anytime soon. Mostly, I just want any undefeated Division I-A school to have a chance at a national title, just like in every other collegiate sport. That's all I've ever asked of football. I hope this solution provides closure.

Friday, June 22, 2012

What Now for the NBA?

Scene: NBA Offices in New York City. David Stern is in a board room surrounded by a few choice individuals and a few interns brainstorming a solution to the impending lack of big story line for the league next year

David Stern (DS) : Alright guys, we rode the "LeBron doesn't have a ring yet so you should keep watching to see if he gets one" story line as long as we could. We bribed the Cleveland front office for 6 years to avoid talented free agents and make terrible draft picks. We planted the idea of a super team in the minds of Dwyane Wade and several of LeBron's "friends". Now that he's "redeemed" himself, we need a new angle. What do you got?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Is Prometheus a Game-Changer?

Ridley Scott's Prometheus has already been lauded as the savior of this summer's batch of movies and the savior of an entire movie genre. After seeing it myself last Saturday, I was confused.

I enjoyed the movie. I thought it was intriguing, well-filmed, and thought-provoking. But I also came out of it a bit.... befuddled. No, it wasn't the plot's various twists and turns that had me scratching my head. It was the insistence of setting the table for a sequel through various plot cliff hangers and an ambiguous ending that had me down right mystified.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Fisticuffs - Stanley Cup Over/Unders

I hear you. "Stanley Cup over/unders? Lord Stanley's playoffs already ended. The Kings beat the Devils. You just wrote about it! Clown fisticuffs, bro." But no worries, this is a little different. These over/unders are actually about Lord Stanley's Cup. We all know about the Cup's rich tradition, crazy places its been, stories of what it's held, and tales of its undoubtedly unlikely survival amidst inordinate inebriation. So today we bring you over/unders on the Cup's 2012 summer journey with the Kings. Each player gets one day with it. What will happen? One can only guess...and we will.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

LeBron (Tries to) Get(s) by With (a/very) Little Help From His Friends

With the Miami Heat losing Game 1 of the NBA Finals, I feel as though most people are going to heap large amounts of hate and "He's not clutch," talk on LeBron James. Ok, if you want to be naive about the whole situation and bash him for that, fine. But at least take into account the fact that he has been playing with the equivalent of four high school girls for most of his career. Don't believe me? Read on.

Let's look at some of LeBron's greatest hits, some of his best playoff games and the supporting cast he had to put on his back and carry in those games. We'll analyze LeBron's accompanying starting 4 and their PERs (player efficiency rating, not a perfect stat by any means but one that takes into account most statistical factors including normalized numbers and rates players pretty reasonably in a single statistic) both for that individual season, and their career in order to gain context about whether players were past their prime or not (biggest outlier being Shaq).

Then I'll shoot out the average PER of some elite players' other four starting teammates for their respective great playoff runs.

The Pujols Deal from a Tax Perspective

Surprisingly enough, Mark and I have friends. Today we're proud to publish what was originally a facebook note by our mutual friend Ben. I won't speak for Mark, but this post requires about 100 times the brain power that I possess. So put your thinking caps on, and enjoy this guest writer's law school perspective on Albert Pujol's decision.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Just A Lot of Jealousy

By now it's been well documented. The Kings have won the Stanley Cup! They haven't won since they entered the league in 1967! Congrats Wayne Gretzky! Congrats Marcel Dionne, Charlie Simmer, Dave Taylor, Luc Robitaille, Rogie Vachon, and Bob Berry! Congrats long time announcer Bob Miller and all other Kings legends! What a tortured fan base this has been, it's just been kept on the down low! 

The outpour of love for the Kings franchise and fan base has begun. And it's making me sick. This movie is miscast. This script was written for the Blues.

The Blues are now the only team of the NHL's 1967 Expansion 6 that haven't won a Cup. The Flyers won in '74 and '75 with the Broad Street Bullies. The Minnesota North Stars moved to Dallas in 1993 and won their Cup in '99. The California Seals never won, disqualifying them in the Expansion 6 Cup-race. However, they eventually moved to Cleveland and merged with the North Stars, so you could say they got their Cup that way.The Penguins won in '91 and '92. The Kings are now the 2012 champs. The Blues? Still 0-12 in Stanley Cup Final games. Yup, swept by the Canadiens and Bruins three straight years from 1968-1970. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Host With the Most: Day 4 at Euro 2012

Soccer is known as "the beautiful game." And sometimes it is just that: beautiful.

Andriy Shevchenko probably understood this more than anything on June 11th. Ancient in soccer years at 35, Shevchenko scored two spectacular aerial goals to push one of the co-hosts to victory in the first game, giving Ukraine a position atop Group D.

Not only was it beautiful play, but the joy and pride on the faces of the host countries' fans was enough for anyone new to the sport of soccer to understand the importance and beauty of the game.

After finding themselves down 1-0 on a well-developed goal by Zlatan Ibrahimovic early in the second half, the blue and yellow found a away to connect with a tenacious Shevchenko on two occasions, sending Olympic Stadium into a complete state of pandemonium.

What is so beautiful about the occasion may be the fact that a European after-thought finds itself above perennial powers France and England. Or that a man who may have been retired had his home country not been hosting the most prestigious tournament in soccer scored two goals.

I can't wait to see what the beautiful game provides us with the rest of the tournament.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Review of Day 1 at Euro 2012
An insane opening match to start Euro 2012. At first, it seemed Greece was packing it in without putting any pressure on the ball allowing Poland to wreak all sorts of havoc in the first 20 minutes, allowing Lewondoski to score early on to energize the home crowd. But the lunacy was just beginning.

After a harsh first yellow card on Sokratis Papastathopoulos, a phantom second yellow in the 44th minute of play made it appear as if UEFA had pulled a FIFA in terms of match rigging (the former for one of the co-host countries, the latter for France to qualify for the 2010 World Cup). With Greece looking hapless with 11 men, one only assumed they would look dreadful with 10.
However, early in the second half, a mix up between Polish goal keeper Wojciech Szczesny and a defender gave Greek midfielder Dimitris Salpigidis a free chip shot to equalize in stunning fashion. More bizarre turns awaited.

Having just subbed in, Konstantinos Fortounis chipped a brilliant pass over the Polish defense setting up a chance for Salpigidis to add on another tally. His first touch wasn't perfect but Szczesny came off his line, chased the ball, and purposely tripped the attacking player, bringing about an immediate red card and a penalty to Greece. As Ian Darke said, "the match [had] turned on its head." The sub Przemyslaw Tyton came on, said a quick prayer, and went on to save the penalty from the Greek captain Giorgos Karagounis.

With the game ending in a 1-1 draw, both sides believe more could have went their way to get the greatly coveted 3 points in the first match of group play.

The other match saw much less drama, in terms of cards and outcome.
For the first 12 minutes or so the Czech had about a vast majority of the possession with Russia looking extremely discombobulated. But they seemingly just needed to get comfortable on Polish soil. They quickly tallied two goals, one by whiz kid Alan Dzagoev, the second by Roman Shirokov, chipping over a seemingly overwhelmed Petr Cech.

Both goals showed an astonishingly lackadaisical Czech back line.
With the defense settling in to a uncomfortable wobble, the game slowed to a bit of a crawl. With Vaclav Pilar scoring 7 minutes past halftime, the Czech seemingly had life again. But the chances of an equalizer grew fainter and fainter with each passing minute and in the 79th Dzagoev struck again with authority on a ball Cech could have done better on. Add a final bit of penalty box wizardry by Roman Pavlyuchenko and the Russians had a well deserved 4-1 results, putting them in a commanding position in the group going forward.