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July 13, 2014

"Man vs. Machine"

Brian Phillips does a fine job summarizing what happened this past Tuesday . . . 

The trouble with metaphor, though, is the trouble with any post facto analysis of a phenomenon like Brazil-Germany. It’s selective. If we say a 7-1 win in a World Cup semifinal is the equivalent of a 47-point NFL road playoff victory, we’re emphasizing statistical probabilities at the expense of both culture and atmosphere; if we say that the clouds boiling on the horizon were portents of angry gods, we’re emphasizing drama at the expense of the fact that Brazil’s execution just really sucked. Most matches fall pretty easily into a particular frame of reference, and so that kind of emphasis isn’t debilitating to understanding. But this was — well, it’s at least not crazy to argue that it was the worst defeat in the history of sports. There’s no easy frame of reference for it. It wasn’t only some of the things it was, it was all of the things it was, and I don’t think you can make sense of it without starting from the total loss of sense that it created as it was happening.

. . . and he does an equally fine job discussing what's expected today:

And that’s what we’re playing for on Sunday. Validation for the best team in the tournament or validation for the best player in the world. In a sense, it’s perfect. Germany has the better squad, Argentina has the best player. Germany comes in after a terrifying rampage, Argentina comes in after holding on for dear life. Argentina, thanks to Messi, has a better chance of producing a moment that feels like magic, but Germany has just done something indescribably astonishing and strange.

July 11, 2014

"Cool surfing video makes me want to be at the beach even more"

POV from inside the tube.

July 06, 2014

"How in the world can the Los Angeles Clippers be worth $2 billion?"

Economist Lee Ohanian explains.

July 02, 2014

"Lionel Messi Is Impossible"

Yes, indeed.

I arrived at a conclusion that I wasn’t really expecting or prepared for: Lionel Messi is impossible.

It’s not possible to shoot more efficiently from outside the penalty area than many players shoot inside it. It’s not possible to lead the world in weak-kick goals and long-range goals. It’s not possible to score on unassisted plays as well as the best players in the world score on assisted ones. It’s not possible to lead the world’s forwards both in taking on defenders and in dishing the ball to others. And it’s certainly not possible to do most of these things by insanely wide margins.

But Messi does all of this and more.

Even when he doesn't score.

June 29, 2014

"The 50 Most Spectacular Busts in Sports History"

Some very sad stories summarized here

June 28, 2014

"Record projections for all 32 NFL teams in 2014"

From USA Today. I think they're underestimating the Jaguars, but the rest seems reasonable

June 25, 2014

"Does the World Cup Have a Lingua Franca?"

I had this question, too. (The Internet remains wonderful.) (But this piece quotes a player who claims that the Japanese referee in the Brazil-Croatia match didn't speak English.)

See also "In what language do World Cup players communicate with the refs?" 

June 24, 2014

"Oh, like you've never bitten three different people in front of millions of witnesses"


June 22, 2014

Gordy Gronkowski's 31 million-to-one shot comes in

"One Thousand Two Hundred and Fifty-Eight Pounds of Sons".

ESPN once determined that the odds of a family having three brothers play simultaneously in the NFL are one in thirty-one million. That number, perhaps more than any other, has stayed with him. It cements his sense of marvel, and he sometimes looks at his sons the way his lost teenage self would have looked at the man he has become. "It's unbelievable," he says. "It really is. I sit there sometimes and think, God, did this really all happen?"

"The Pleasures of Rooting Against Brazil: No team has ever acted so entitled to World Cup glory."

Root, of course, for the USA. If they fail, root for Argentina (Leo) or Germany (Muller).

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