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OchoCinco is a Smart, Entertaining Man

Posted November 16, 2009

For the last couple months, I've been following Chad Ochocinco's tweets (he's a wide receiver on the Cincinnati Bengals). Chad is known as a bit of a clown* but is a really hard worker and an excellent receiver. He's known for his inventive touchdown celebrations and desire to be loved by everybody. He's definitely succeeded in converting me as a fan.

Unlike Terrell Owens, a fellow clown who is a phenomenal talent but toxic in the locker room, Chad is liked by his team and loved by fans. Since joining Twitter several months ago, he's started to give back to his fans. For each of the home games, he flies one of his Twitter followers out to watch from the stands. Originally the idea was that they would tweet in his stead, but that didn't seem to happen.

He's also not afraid to announce his location (especially when he's at a mall, which is often). In fact, he'll often ask fans to give him a lift or meet him for dinner when he's out of town. When he's at home, he often offers to bring 100 fans to a movie (and they show up!).

You could argue (accurately) that's excellent at marketing himself, but after following along for a bit, I just think he's a good guy. He seems to hang with fans and work hard on he enjoys it. To me, it's a typical case of a perosn putting in hard work at something they love and having the success follow.

* See: his last name, which used to be Johnson, but is now officially his nickname, a poor Spanish translation of 85

The Cleveland Indians Alternate Home Jersey is Beautiful

Posted June 15, 2009

Indians Jersey 1

Indians Jersey 2

This is the second season they're wearing them, but I'm just noticing them now. Baseball uniforms are usually pretty classy, but these fauxbacks are really nice. In fact, I'm tempted to buy one of those hats, just because they look great. The only downside is the continued use of Chief Wahoo. Racism isn't cool.

If you want to see some more views, you can see the official announcement. And while they didn't really cover this explicitly, Uni Watch should satisfy any uniform curiosity you've got.

Shut Up, Old People: In Defense of Jay Cutler

Posted April 22, 2009

I've talked before about my favorite sports blog, Da' Bears Blog, but I wanted to quote a slightly longer passage from his recent missive about middle-aged writers complaining about Jay Cutler's nights out:

It's not just sports, of course. We live in a "you must have a wife and kids" culture. Happiness need not apply. And since I'm about to spend an entire year apologizing for every mistake Jay Cutler makes, I think this is the right time to point out that being young and having fun is not a mistake. Not at 26. Not in April.

Like Jeff (the author of the blog), I've long disliked reading into a public figure's private life. If Cutler shows up on day 1 and throws 5 touchdowns and 400 yards, everyone will be sending him jello shots and Long Island Iced Teas.

Portraits of Divers in Motion

Posted August 26, 2008


My favorite coverage of the Olympics has been via Vincent Laforet's blog at Newsweek. He's caught some amazing photos and documented the process.

The photos above are from a series of portraits of divers in motion, which I found incredibly striking and odd. It's very funny to see together. Laforet also spent time explaining how he got these bird's eye shots. Talking about the swimming competitions, he explains, "Once you are approved, you gear up an hour before the race and have to follow the following rules: one camera, one lens, one card. Nothing else."

Since he has so many fantastic shots, I'll end with one more photo. This tilt-shift shot makes everything seem more like a video game or toy set.


All photos are by Vincent Laforet for NEWSWEEK

Two Baseball Rule Changes

Posted June 30, 2008

These popped in my head over the last 72 hours and seemed like good solutions to two problems in baseball.

1. Instead of using the All-Star game to determine home field advantage in the World Series, use the cumulative record for interleague play. Using one game where the players aren't used to playing together and probably won't be going full force isn't representative and home field is a big deal. This year, the American League would have won handily, having bested the NL with a 149-102 record.

2. It's time to get replays going in baseball. The angles aren't as tough as other sports so replays should be fast. To keep gameplay moving, they should adopt the NFL rules and allow two challenges per team, per game. Not that it would have kept the Cubs from getting swept by the White Sox, but it's frustrating when replays show a clear mistake by the umps. Time to fix it.

Spots Open in My Fantasy League

Posted August 28, 2007

I run a small fantasy football league among friends. We have a few open spots. Here are things you should know.

  • We play for pride, not money.
  • The live draft is at 10pm EDT on Thursday, but you can let it autopick for you.
  • Team, not individual, defenses.
  • The best you can do is second as I am going to win.

I also have a pick'em league that I just set up for any all who'd like to join. No spread, just pick the winners. I'll buy the man or woman who wins a Shack Burger. Here is the info to join both leagues:

Fantasy League
Link to Join
Group ID: 579408
Password: stanger

Link to Join
Group ID: 47104
Password: gross

Update: Whoops! Didn't mean for that to be a quick post. No more rushing!

You Picked the Wrong Day to Be Crappy

Posted February 5, 2007

Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Yesterday was rough. It was rough for me, the Bears and all of Chicago. In the end, I think it'll be roughest on our pal Rex. Rex, you started strong but crumbled under the pressure. It was certainly not all your fault (the pass blocking was shoddy at best and our defense couldn't get off the field), but if you hadn't freaked out and turned the ball over three times, I'd probably be eating chocolate and swimming in a huge pool in Happytown right now.

I've had enough. At the start of the year we thought we had a consistent QB, the one thing we'd need to win it all, and you didn't come through. This is why I suggest we continue our trend of dropping QBs with more than 10 wins to the bottom of the depth chart (see: Kyle Orton) and follow the advice of WBRS Sports — let's go after Jeff Garcia for next year. He may be aging, but what are our other options? Rex is losing games for us and I just don't have enough confidence is Griese to make him our number one. The only other option is going for one of the top QBs in the draft, but who are we going to trade to get there? Garcia still moves well and looked great this season, which is more than we can say for Rexy.

I think you're a nice guy, but your playing style is not suited for the Bears. You've got an offseason to work on your mechanics and prove everybody wrong, but I'm hoping the Bears organization wises up and tells you to shape up or ship out.

Super Bowl Primer

Posted February 2, 2007


Most of my friends aren't football fans and watch only one game a year — the Super Bowl. I've heard from several of them that the experience would be much better if they knew what the hell was going on. Well, since I'm having friends over to watch the game I thought I'd try and help out. Here is some helpful information for Sunday's game. May the best Bear win. (Note: I've also prepared a printer-friendly version for those who want a cheat sheet. It should fit on one sheet, front and back.)

Update (2/2/07): Anil just posted a Prince Primer. What a great companion piece!

What's Football?

It would take too long to cover this properly, but it looks like Mom's Guide to Sports has the basics covered. This guide assumes you have no knowledge of football whatsoever and has a good lingo section for those hoping to impress their friends.

If you've got the basics covered but would like to step it up, take a look at Wikipedia's explanation of offensive and defensive formations.

About the Super Bowl

This is Super Bowl XLI (41) and it's taking place at Dolphins Stadium in Miami, Florida. According to, this is the ninth time the Super Bowl has been in South Florida. also has recaps of the last forty Super Bowls for those who want to talk about past years' games. You'll likely hear talk about Super Bowls V, XX, XXXV and XL (last year).

Who's playing?

The Chicago Bears are playing the Indianapolis Colts. Although they are playing on neutral ground, the Bears are considered the home team. This means they get to choose which jersey they'd like to wear (home or away) and the Colts will call the opening coin flip. In regular season play when the two teams have matched up, the Colts have won 22 games and the Bears have won 17. (The Colts smashed them 41-10 two years ago in their last meeting). The teams have never met in the playoffs. Here's some background on the two teams.

More details are after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Quick Defense of the Bears

Posted January 15, 2007

I am a Bears fan and I am happy (the Bears beat the Seahawks yesterday to move to the NFC championship). Despite my happiness, I'm getting annoyed with the sports press. I understand the Bears are far from rock solid, but they're not that bad. It's hip to think the Bears are crappy, but this seems to come after wins. The writer rarely talks about the apparently crappier team who walked away with a loss.

The article usually goes something like, "if the Bears could just play well, they'll win." Um, yes. I admit the Bears can be wildly incosistent, but they've won fourteen games this year; you think that'd be enough to convince most people.

I'm glad to get that off my chest. Can't wait for next weekend.

Sixteen Straight

Posted October 11, 2006

Sixteen Straight TeeIf you know me at all, you're aware that I am a huge Bears fan. Obviously I am freaking exciting that they are amazing this year and that they have a legitimate shot at running the table. Thanks to Coudal, I can know share my excitement in t-shirt form. The Sixteen Straight Tee lists the Bears' sixteen opponents and includes an orange sharpie for marking off the victories. I'm hoping to wear this shirt proudly once a week.

Odds are you're getting ready to comment on my blind optimism, but I will give you two reasons for you non-Bears fans to get excited. First, they actually have a decent shot. An article on Cold Hard Football Facts points out that the Bears have the second best point differential (+120 or 156-36) in modern football histoy and that the only other undefeated team, the '72 Dolphins, had the easiest schedule in the Super Bowl era (opponents' winning pct. of .367). The three other teams with the highest differential all won the Super Bowl.

20061011neckbeard.jpgThe other reason to root along is much more entertaining. If the Bears win all sixteen, I shall sport the Kyle Orton Neckbeard as long as the Bears remain in the playoffs. This should be inspiration enough. You know you want me to look like this.

NFL Pick'em League, A Week Late

Posted September 14, 2006

In an effort to further entrench myself in the football season, I have decided to start a Pick'em league. Yes, it's a week late, but it's not that big of a deal since we're all starting at the same time. Basically, each week you'll pick the winners of each game and get a point for each correct guess. At the end of the season, the top point earner will get, ummm, nothing! Okay, maybe I'll come up with a good prize. We'll see how many people join the league.

Below is the sign-up information. After signing up, you'll need to pick the winners at least 5 minutes before game time. Good luck this season, kids.

Sign-up Link
League ID: 62721
Password: seriously

True Hoop Explains William Wesley, the Man Behind the Men

Posted August 25, 2006

Since the beginning of the year, Henry Abbott of True Hoop has been trying to figure out who William Wesley is. People have seen him sitting at Cavs games watching Lebron, traveling around the world with NBAers and at exclusive parties but there was virtually no mention of him in the press. So, Henry has spent the last 8 months figuring out who this guy is.

Today, he posted a succinct recap of everything he knows. It turns out Wesley provides business sense for players who haven't developed any yet.

Players need someone who knows the ropes, a mentor, an advisor, an uncle. Enter William Wesley. How's this for a resume? He was right there in Michael Jordan's ear. The whole time. "Wes" helped pull off one of the great feats of modern legend-making. He held the hand of one of the NBA's less likable characters—an angry, cussing, yelling, gambling, adrenaline addict with some sort of over-competitive personality disorder—as he became the most successful pitchman in sports history, complete with his own animated children's movie.

Great, but how does a guy like this make money? Henry covers that too.

As many different things as you can possibly imagine. There is an entire informal economy available to those few with the power to boss celebrities around. All indications are that dozens of the best basketball players in the world, players like LeBron James, Allen Iverson, and Richard Hamilton, take Wesley's advice very seriously. Players like that are essentially corporations—with the potential to make those around them very wealthy.

There's so much more to the story in his post and it's a great look at an unseen side of the NBA.

Sports, Money and Integrity

Posted April 11, 2006

Tomorrow, it will likely be announced that Derrek Lee has extended his contract to the tune of $13 million a year over 5 years. It's not a bad take, but he could easily have made more with the Yankees or Red Sox in the offseason. But, apparently, the extra cash isn't worth it to him.

During Sunday's game, Peter Gammons said that Lee would rather stay a Cub than earn a few extra (million) dollars. Lee himself said:

If it's a deal I feel is fair for me, I would sign it. It's still a business. I always look at it as if there is a deal that makes me happy now, why not sign it? I don't think $2-3 million a year more is going to change my life.

I love hearing that. Sure, it's important to sign the guy who will best help your team, but having a five-tool player isn't always as valuable as a man of character. Well, a man of character with four tools.

When NFL free agency began, the Bears (and I) had their eyes set on Antwaan Randle El. Thanks to the increased salary cap, virtually every team had a ton of found money and the Redskins decided to go nuts. They snagged Antwaan for $31m over 7 years with $11.5m in guaranteed money, which was far too high for a number two receiver, even if he might fill multiple needs for the Bears.

As much as I wanted the Bears to sign him, I'm glad they didn't. If top dollar is all that matters, buzz off.

I'm going to avoid a Moneyball rant, but this gets to the idea of spending your dollar wisely. You don't need to throw money at a team to build a winner. The Patriots and Steelers have proven that in football and Oakland's done it in baseball (at least in the regular season). As much as I want to see the Cubs break the Curse of the Billy Goat, I can understand and appreciate their choices. Also, it's no fun to root for a team that is always expected to win. I'd much rather be on the cusp and root for the scrappy underdog.

Online Game Tracking Options for the MLB

Posted April 5, 2006

The 2006 Major League Baseball season has begun (the Cubs won their first game 16-7; woo) and I'm psyched. Lots of potential drama with high-profile trades, signings and steroid allegations in the off-season. But now that the season has arrived, how are you going to keep abreast of games whilst toiling about at your job? You'll use your trusty game- channel/tracker/day/log from one of your favorite sports sites. Because I'm a sucker for good information design, I thought I'd walk you through the four major options you have for realtime game tracking. Three of them are brand new and ones an old standby. Also, the new ones have a few bugs but I won't poo-poo them as the software has only been in use for a couple days.


I'm going to take you through the paces after the jump, but you should also consider trying, which lets you watch games online for $79.95 a year, or Gameday Audio, which only gives you audio but is an easier pill to swallow at $14.95 for the season.

Read the rest of this entry »

ESPN Super Bowl Poll Results

Posted February 6, 2006


To no one's surprise, ESPN held a poll on the result of the Super Bowl. The people predicted Pittsburgh would win (and they were right). It also seems, as you can see above, that they broke the poll results down by state. This isn't an earth-shattering development in poll results, but I'd never seen it for sports. I like seeing where each state's affinity lies.

The hometown states picked their teams by large margins, as did the states that bordered them. Every other state picked Pittsburgh, which makes sense if you believe in the wisdom of crowds. Still, I liked seeing how far the ripple of support spread for each team. I imagine a team like the Cowboys would have much wider support than a nobody like the Steelers.

If you're interested in seeing more of these, ESPN has archived their polls for you.

In other news, the game was pretty much a bore aside from a few exciting plays. I shouldn't be shocked. I probably should have tivo'd the game and went to the un-superbowl party I was invited to by proxy. Next year I'll know better, unless the Bears are in it.

R.I.P. 2005 Chicago Bears

Posted January 16, 2006

Yesterday, the Chicago Bears ended their 2005 season. Sigh. It was a fun ride and they certainly played better than most expected, but I was hoping for more from them during the playoffs.

On the brightside, all of their starters on both sides of the ball are signed for next year with the exception of Hunter Hillimeyer, who is a restricted free agent. Barring any significant injuries, I think we'll be in a better place next year. If we can draft a great tight end, sign a free agent corner and add one more capable receiver, I think we'll be golden.

For the remainder of this year, I have adopted the Pittsburgh Steelers. I can't stand Carolina and don't think Denver or Seattle deserve it. Also, my late season adoption should make Lizzie happy.

I Shall Fix the NFL Playoffs

Posted December 27, 2005

This year, one of the big stories in football is how the San Diego Chargers might be the best team in history to not make the playoffs. I don't agree with that, but I do think they are better than a bunch of NFC teams who will make it. So, I came up with a way to correct for the lopsided-ness of the two NFL conferences without effecting the division rivalries.*

To start, let's keep it so the winners of the 8 divisions all make it to the playoffs. This punishes those in a strong division, but that's what the wild-card is for. Currently, the two non-division winners from each conference with the best record go onto the playoffs. I'd like to change it so that the four best records from either division will merit a trip to the playoffs. Therefore, you could have four AFC and zero NFC wild-card teams. If the season ended today, there would be two AFC teams and two NFC teams, but that could be very different by next week. I believe it could even go four AFC teams and zero from the NFC.

I imagine you're wondering, "Matt, how will the seeds match up?" Well, this is where my plans will lose some people. If there are three AFC wild-cards, then there are just seven seeds in the AFC and 5 in the NFC. No team is guaranteed a bye in this scenario, but I can live with that. The biggest downfall is that the weaker division playoff teams will be rewarded with an unexpected bye, which makes me a little uneasy. The only way to correct this is by forgetting the conferences once in the playoffs and just putting all 12 teams into the same bracket.

Upon writing it out, I realize my plan isn't perfect, but it would certainly make things exciting. Any suggestions of your own?

* A suggestion by some is to just let the 12 best teams from either conference into the playoffs, but that would render divisions meaningless, which I and others are wary about.

Various Football Thoughts

Posted November 16, 2005

  • I find the Terrell Owens saga terribly interesting. I've flip-flopped a few times on whether or not the Eagles handled it correctly, but as of this moment I think they did. He's causing more harm than good to the team (despite losing, the Eagles dominated the Cowboys on Monday) and by releasing him they'd lose the option of trading him in addition to giving him more than he deserves. Last week's Monday Morning QB best explained why releasing him is a bad idea (quickly: imagine how others would act if they knew bad behavior could get them out of a contract). Yes, the punishment is harsh, but he deserves it. And he's still getting paid after the suspension. You made your bed T.O, now quit pissing in it.
  • I am a huge Bears fan. Like most, I'm a little skeptical of our success thus far. 6-3 is nice, but we've looked like crap at many times during our five-game win streak. Yes, our defense is the best in the league and we have three solid running backs, but we're going to need Kyle Orton and the passing game to show up if we want to beat the Panthers and earn some respect. I think we can do it, but sloppy mistakes will lose this game. My favorite matchup for this game is the Bears' #1 red-zone defense and the Panthers' #1 red-zone offense. Finally, a Bears game that warrants the nail-biting.
  • Why are there not more football blogs out there? It seems like the more games in a season, the more popular blogs are for a given sport. My guess is it's all tied to the amount of stat-parsing you can do, but given the fervor of football fans it's somewhat shocking how few blogs there are. The Bears finally have one with Windy City Gridiron, but it hasn't found its groove yet. I've been tempted to start one, but I know I don't have the time and I don't want to subject you all to every Bears thought that pops in my brain.

NFL Sunday Ticket SuperFan is AweSome

Posted September 13, 2005

Like last year, I purchased DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket for the 2005 season. I can't live without my Bears games.* My first Sunday of football was excellent, despite a Bears loss. My enjoyment can be credited to a new program DirecTV added called SuperFan. With this package you get games in HD, the Redzone Channel, two Game Mix channels and Short Cuts. I don't care about the HD, but the other ones are amazing.

The Redzone channel flips from game to game as different teams enter the red zone. It's awesome for someone who just wants to see the most exciting plays. The Game Mix channels show eight games on the screen at once. It's perfect for commercial breaks for your primary game. As you highlight different games, the sound source changes. It's fantastic.

My favorite feature thus far has been Short Cuts. It takes a three hour NFL game and compresses it down to 30 minutes of plays. From what I can tell, they show every single play. It's non-stop and I have three different games waiting for me when I get home tonight.

The downside? It's an extra $100. I had all these features this week, but I didn't pony up the cash (I'm guessing it was a free preview). After already spending $200, it just isn't worth it. Now, if they split this up into $50 for HD games and $50 for the bonus features, you could count me in. With the average NFL ticket in the secondary market topping out at $290 for Packers games, you could get the whole package for less than one ticket to one game. That is, if you'd actually go to a live game. Personally, I like watching from home.

Anywho, DirecTV, if you're listening, lemme buy the pack of extra features on its own and I'm in. Or even better, roll the features into the general Sunday Ticket package and charge an extra $25. I wouldn't complain, honest.

* Yes, I could go to a sports bar, but 16 games x $10+ tab works out to about the same. If I still lived on Staten Island I would forgo Sunday Ticket in favor of Sharkey's.

The Cubs: My Favorite Little League Team

Posted August 10, 2005

Gosh darned, the Cubs suck right now. It's tough to go from having a decent shot at the wild card to thinking they might have a spot for me on the team. Rich just walked in three guys in a row, two of them for runs. I think we have something like three hits over the last hundred games. A month and a half ago Derek Lee was hiting .390 and now he's hovering around .350. It hurts, especially since I saw them get trounced twice at Shea Stadium this weekend.

At this point, I'm ready to give up. There is always next year. Maybe they'll get rid of Dusty in the offseason and bring in someone who can actually teach the Cubs how to play some small ball.

I have just one shining ray of hope in my sports world &mdasph; the Bears won their preseason opener 27-24 and the offense played well. I think DirecTV rigged that game so I would re-up on my NFL Sunday Ticket package. If so, you win DirecTV. Just promise me you'll help the Bears to win at least 9 games this season. Please?

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