Wired: October 2008

I was sitting in my den the other day and I began thumbing through the October 2008 issue of Wired magazine; probably my most recent favorite issue of Wired. Personal highlights in the issue included the following stories:

Pleistocene Park: Scientists rewilding ecosystems with modern analogs of long-extinct animals; theoretically restoring ancient ecosystems.

Jay Walker’s Library: Priceline.com and Walker Digital founder, Jay Walker and his incredible 3,600 square feet personal library.

jay walker's library

Inside Google Chrome: A behind the scenes look in the making of Google Chrome.

Pro Wrestling…The NBA…Same Difference

Hulk Hogan_Dennis Rodman_Karl Malone

For decades, NBA fans have speculated (particularly during the playoffs) that the NBA gives “star” players preferential treatment and/or manipulates the outcomes of games through the actions (or inactions) of their officials. The league has vigorously denied these accusations in the past, but now disgraced former NBA referee, Tim Donaghy is claiming in his new book, Blowing the Whistle, that there is a “rampant culture of fraud” in the league.

Interestingly the book’s pubisher, Triumph Books was ready to begin printing the book until the NBA came calling (excerpt courtesy of Deadspin):

About 10 months ago, (Donaghy) shopped the book to Triumph Books, an imprint of Random House, according to a source close to Donaghy. Triumph, the source says, "put forth a huge effort to verify every statement in that book." (Triumph's editorial director, Tom Bast, declined to comment.) Two weeks ago,Blowing the Whistle was ready for printing; 60 Minutes had plans to interview Donaghy in conjunction with the book's publication. Then the NBA came calling. "They came after Random House and threatened a lawsuit," the source says, "and Random House just rolled and decided to not go with it. It's really that simple." To his knowledge, no one at the NBA had actually read the book.

There are many reasons to simply dismiss Donaghy’s claims based on his character, current financial status, relationship (or lack thereof) with his former employer and colleagues, etc.. But, I can’t help but think of how quickly I dismissed Jose Canseco’s claims of rampant steroid use in Major League Baseball when he came out with his book, Juiced. Sadly, as we all know now, the majority of what he claimed was truthful. Certainly, most of what Donaghy claims in his book could be lies, but NBA conspiracy theorist now have someone who worked on “the inside” finally corroborating what they have suspected all along.

Mark Cuban Endorses Medically Supervised Steroid Use

mark cuban

He’ll clearly get some negative publicity for his endorsement of medically supervised steroid use for athletes who are recovering from injuries, but in Mark Cuban’s world any publicity is good publicity. Publicity aside, I find nothing wrong with what he is saying.

There are currently millions of Americans who are taking steroids for various medical conditions. And yes there is a gray area with athletes who, if Cuban has his way, may be prescribed steroids for conditions and injuries that are not life threatening. But, it seems reasonable to allow an athlete who makes his/her living pushing his/her body beyond its physical limits (training and conditioning, games, injuries, surgeries, etc.) year after year, to use a medically approved and medically monitored substance to speed up healing.

There are some obvious regulatory issues associated with implementing such a program and defining what specific dosages are medically appropriate for what athletes (for instance the amount of steroids a long distance runner would need may not be the same amount of steroids that a three hundred pound professional wrestler needs to receive a therapeutic benefit); perhaps requiring a medical board to review an athlete’s use on a case-by-case basis. But, as many of us know a bureaucracy rarely get things done in a timely manner. By the time a medical board approved a hypothetical steroid regimen for an athlete, such a regimen may not even be necessary since the athlete may already have healed on his own.

Whether such a program could be instituted at this point is irrelevant since the powers that be in athletics are terrified to even entertain the thought of such a program in light of the recent Major League Baseball steroid scandal. But, kudos to Mark Cuban for bringing up the issue and at least starting the conversation.

The Vatican Opens its Doors to Anglicans

Pope Benedict XVI1 

The spiritual side of a Game is not something we’ve ever discussed here, but I came across this fascinating article by Jacqueline L. Salmon and William Wan of The Washington Post regarding the invitation by the Catholic Church to those in the Anglican Communion who have become disillusioned by the Church’s social and theological direction:  “In a remarkable bid to attract disillusioned members of the Anglican Communion, the Vatican announced Tuesday that it is establishing a special arrangement that will allow Anglicans to join the Catholic Church while preserving their liturgy and spiritual heritage, including married priests.”

The growing schism within the Anglican Church can be traced to the 2003 ordination of Gene Robinson, a gay man, as bishop of New Hampshire as well as over female clergy and ritualism. It is believed that between 100 and 200 of the 7,000 Episcopal congregations have broken away from the larger Anglican Communion.

An excerpt from the article:

The Catholic Church's plan "reflects a bold determination by Rome to seize the moment and do what it can to reach out to those who share its stance on women priests and homosexuality," said Ian Markham, dean of the Virginia Theological Seminary, an Episcopal seminary in Alexandria. "It is very, very bold and very interesting."…

…Under the system, the Catholic Church will create "personal ordinariates"--separate units within Catholic churches headed by former Anglican priests or bishops. While married Anglican priests would be permitted, married bishops would not because they are not in keeping with Catholic tradition. These former Anglicans would be considered theologically Catholic but with their own traditions, such as use of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer....

…Conservative Anglican leaders in the United States say the impact will be greater in England than it is here. "The British papers are saying it's the biggest thing since Henry VIII, and in some ways it is for them," said Rev. Martyn Minns of Fairfax City (VA), leader of a group of conservative congregations that broke three years ago from the Episcopal Church. "Over there, you have bishops, congregations, even whole diocese that may shift. Here in the U.S., we've already faced the division and what came out of it was the Anglican alternative.…What the pope said affirms what I'm doing, but doesn't mean I'm going to become Catholic." But other conservative Anglican leaders, including those with strong Catholic leanings, said Tuesday that they are unlikely to join the Catholic Church.

Update #1: An analysis from the New York Times. Rachel Donadio speculates whether opening its doors to Anglicans, could eventually liberalize the Catholic Church on a crucial issue: celibacy.

Taking The “Foot” Out of Football


An interesting video from ESPN about contrarian Kevin Kelley, head coach of the Pulaski Academy Bruins in Little Rock, Arkansas. Kelley’s team never punts or kicks field goals. Kelley believes that from a statistical perspective, it is more favorable to “go for it” than to kick it. Interestingly enough, Kelley’s teams have won two of the last seven state championships.

G Level: Glory >> Notre Dame vs. USC

This past weekend, USC barely held on for a thrilling win over Notre Dame, 34-27.

In my previous post, I touched on the subject of GAME Levels and one level in particular: the “glory” level. In that post, I showed a clip from the 2008 USC Flashback Fantasy Camp where those in Trojan Nation (typically middle-aged or thereabouts) get the opportunity to be coached by the USC coaching staff.

Without further ado, I present to you the incoming USC Trojans Flashback Class of 2008:


…and now the incoming Notre Dame Fighting Irish Fantasy Camp Class of 2008:

Notre Dame is currently listed as a 24 point favorite in the glory matchup.

GAME Type: Specific / GAME Level: Glory / Entertainment Value: DEFCON 1

In an earlier post, I discussed the various GAME Types and Levels that can exist in THE GAME. In an attempt to illustrate one of the many combinations that can exist, I present the following for your viewing pleasure:

GAME Type: specific (football)

GAME Level: glory

USC Trojans Flashback Fantasy Camp 2008

A New Era for Auburn Football?

colonial_lowder On the one hand, Bobby Lowder was the founder and CEO of Colonial Bank, the former regional banking powerhouse and now a part of BB&T; on the other hand, he was the most powerful and influential trustee and booster at Auburn University.

He often mixed his two passions, blurring the line between his business and Auburn football.

Now that his bank is gone (the sixth largest bank failure in U.S. history and the largest bank failure of 2009) and his influence on the Board of Trustees at Auburn is diminished, many are wondering if there are better days ahead for Auburn University and Auburn football.

Fortune analyzes the man who many considered “the most feared, loathed, and…misunderstood men to wield power in [Alabama] since George Wallace”.

The First Basic GAME Formations, Circa 1999…Updated 2009, Part One

Back in 2000, I slotted, what were then, contemporary players into the various formation modules based on the players’ skill sets and what the positions’ requirements were. I thought it would be fun to revisit the first post about GAME formations by inserting today’s players into the formations while detailing the needs of each position some more. The following depth chart is for the power-speed formation module at the top of the diagram.


Module #1 power-speed formation depth chart:

SCDeron Williams (G, Utah Jazz), Kak√° (MF, Real Madrid). This module’s position requires a strong decision maker with size, strength, quickness and the ability to distribute the ball precisely. The decisions that the SC make are based on the alignment and/or (expected) degree of penetration by the defense. Reacting to the defensive alignment, the SC will distribute the ball to the ThB’s in the rear, pass or lateral to the outside wings where wing playmakers (W) are aligned within separate wing modules, or keep the ball to achieve forward progress.

ThB: Tim Tebow (QB, University of Florida), Dan LeFevour (QB, Central Michigan University). This position requires a player who has the rare ability to accurately make all throws or kicks, run with elusiveness and run with power. Power is important in this position since the defense is aligned in close proximity. This ThB can either block/guard larger defenders, receive the ball and accurately distribute to ThB’s behind or to playmakers on the wings, or keep the ball to achieve forward progress.

ThB: Terrelle Pryor (QB, Ohio State University), Juice Williams (QB, University of Illinois), Dan Carter (Fly-half, USA Perpignan and the Crusaders). This position is similar to the ThB previously described, but throwing is not as essential of a requirement. The ability to pass or kick forward at this position is important in order to keep the defense off balance, but the majority of the time these ThB’s will keep the ball or distribute the ball laterally to a teammate. As a result, these ThB’s must have power, elusiveness and speed.

ThB: Boris Diaw (F/C, Charlotte Bobcats), Pau Gasol (C, Los Angeles Lakers). Diaw and Gasol are considered two of the best passing/outlet passing athletic big men in basketball. The primary physical attribute necessary for this position is size. As ThB’s are positioned further behind the frontline, visualizing the action on the field becomes more challenging. That is why it is necessary to have an excellent passing big man with good decision making skills positioned in the middle of the ThB formation to do the following: read the defensive formation and movement; analyze the progress of the ThB’s in the front (against the defense); adjust the call/play or continue with the planned call/play based on the two main reads; pass to the appropriate playmakers based on the reads.

ThB: Pat White (QB, Miami Dolphins), Seneca Wallace (QB, Seattle Seahawks). The next two rows of ThB’s are the best combination of speed, quickness and arm strength. Agile and elusive, these ThB’s can make plays with their game-breaking speed or with their arms. They can throw to playmakers positioned on the wings, launch balls to playmakers in other nodes or dart into/out of nodes by using their speed to slice through zones.

ThB: Michael Vick (QB, Philadelphia Eagles), Denard Robinson (QB, University of Michigan).

ThB: Donovan McNabb (QB, Philadelphia Eagles), Jay Cutler (QB, Chicago Bears. The next two rows of ThB’s have the best arms. This row has better movement and elusiveness than the following row; speed is not an essential attribute but a plus. The ability to throw the ball into other nodes and across zones is essential. Although these ThB’s may not have speed, they should have good lateral movement in order to laterally mirror the movements of ThB’s in the front rows (in the event ThB’s in front lateral, pass or kick to them) and the ability to laterally track the ThB’s behind them (in order to lateral, pass or kick to them).

…ThB: Ben Roethlisberger (QB, Pittsburgh Steelers), Ryan Mallett (QB, University of Arkansas). Also known as “Towers” or “Throwers”, these ThB’s have size, strength and superb arm strength. Their goal is to fire balls to participants in other nodes, across zones or on the wings: to transition play into other nodes and zones; to advance the offense in their own zone of play. They may not exactly mirror the movements of the ThB’s in the front rows, but they must remain in the zone of action in order to receive a lateral, pass or kick.

The National Sports Daily, Circa 1990

Back in 1990, I was a high school junior and on Sunday’s before going to church with my family, I would go to McDonald’s, buy a breakfast sandwich, a copy of The National Sports Daily and read it from front to back. With their all-star roster of sports writers and their use of cutting edge graphics and color layouts, The National was ahead of its time. Unfortunately, the newspaper lasted only 18 months.

The National Sports Daily and Sports Illustrated gave me a national and an international perspective on sports and competition, and it served as a foundation for ideas and concepts that would eventually become THE GAME. Incidentally, it also started my lifelong passion of collecting old newspapers and magazines; becoming a hack archivist and collector of “history” (but, that’s another story for another time).

So I was ecstatic when I discovered this very well written blog about one of my favorite newspapers of all time; resurrecting some very dear memories in the process.

Congratulations, Rio!

As a Chicagoan, born and raised, I was bitterly disappointed in the result of the International Olympic Committee’s vote today. But, Rio was a deserving city as well. Good luck to them as they prepare for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Blended Nodes: International Rules Football

Portions courtesy of Wikipedia

International rules football, a blended node consisting of Australian rules football and Gaelic football, was created to facilitate international representative matches between Australian rules football players and Gaelic football players. International rules football is one of the few team sports without any dedicated clubs or leagues and is usually contested by men’s, women’s and junior teams in tournaments and test matches.

A brief overview of International rules football rules as explained by Wikipedia:

The rules are designed to provide a compromise between those of the two codes, with Gaelic football players being advantaged by the use of a round ball and a rectangular field (Australian rules uses an oval ball and field), while the Australian rules football players benefit from the opportunity to tackle between the shoulders and thighs, something banned in Gaelic football. The game also introduces the concept of the mark, from Australian rules football, with a free kick awarded for any ball caught from a kick of over 15 meters.

A player must bounce, solo or touch the ball on the ground once every 10 meters or six steps. A maximum of two bounces per possession are allowed, while players can solo the ball as often as they wish on a possession. Unlike in Gaelic football, the ball may be lifted directly off the ground, without putting a foot underneath it first. Players however cannot scoop the ball off the ground to a team-mate, nor pick up the ball if they are on their knees or on the ground. If a foul is committed, a free kick will be awarded, referees can give the fouled player advantage to play on at their discretion.

The game uses two large posts and two small posts, as in Australian rules, and a crossbar and goal net as in Gaelic football.

Points are scored as follows:

  • In the goal net (a goal): 6 points, umpire waves green flag and raises both index fingers.
  • Over the crossbar and between the two large posts (an over): 3 points, umpire waves red flag and raises one arm above his head.
  • Between a large post and a small post (a behind): 1 point, umpire waves white flag and raises one index finger.

Scores are written so as to clarify how many of each type of score were made as well as, like Australian football, giving the total points score for each team; for example, if a team scores one goal, four overs and 10 behinds, the score is written as 1-4-10 (28), meaning one goal (six points) plus 4 overs (4 × 3 = 12 points) plus 10 behinds (10 × 1 = 10 points), for a total score of 28 points.

An international rules match lasts for 72 minutes (divided into four quarters of 18 minutes each). Inter-county Gaelic football matches go on for 70 minutes, divided into two halves, and Australian rules matches consists of four 20 minutes quarters of game time, although with the addition of stoppage time, most quarters actually last between 25 and 30 minutes.

As in Gaelic football, teams consist of fifteen players, including a goalkeeper, whereas eighteen are used in Australian rules (with no keeper).

Shot Blocking in Football


There was an interesting post from Smart Football yesterday regarding whether it was legal for a defensive player to position himself in front of the goal posts during a long field goal attempt and block the field goal.

Alas the answer is no, but it is an interesting idea to incorporate into THE GAME and is one way to illustrate how football and basketball can blend, become a hybrid node, and/or transition into and out of each other.


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