Posts Tagged ‘sportsball’

 

The NFL postseason is (allegedly) underway. I say “allegedly” because this is what I have been told by people who know these sorts of things. I don’t follow football, like I said. The only point where my life really intersects with professional football is on Super Bowl Sunday, which I usually spend skiing. (IT’S THE BEST DAY OF THE YEAR FOR SKIING OH MY GOD YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW. THERE’S LIKE ZERO CROWDS AND YOU CAN GET THROUGH THE LIFT LINES IN THIRTY SECONDS MAX.)

However, this doesn’t mean that I can’t make predictions for the postseason. Of course, since I have no knowledge of football, I simply will choose my picks on a more elemental level. Namely, I will simply choose the teams based on team name. More specifically, if there were a game between the Bears and the Broncos, I would choose the winning team based on the outcome of a fight between an ACTUAL BEAR and an ACTUAL BRONCO.

So, let’s look at the standings:

Screen shot 2013-01-03 at 3.20.59 PM

 

AFC Wild Card Game 1: Bengals vs. Texans. Here we have two groups of people from various parts of the world. First off, we have the Texans, who initially seem to have the advantage in full-scale combat because of their loose gun laws, high death penalty rate, and bottom-ten public education system contributing to creating a state of battle-hardened gun murderers. But don’t count out the Bengals. They’re tough as nails. The Bengali homeland (specifically, West Bengal and Bangladesh) is low-lying, so it gets wiped out by floods on a regular basis, and the slums of Kolkata and Dhaka are teeming with disease, the combined effect of which creates an ethnic group that is about as tough as any other group on the planet. Plus, there’s about 250 million Bengalis, a full ten times the number of Texans. That makes it pretty clear who’s on top.

My Pick: Cincinnati Bengals

 

AFC Wild Card Game 2: Colts vs. Ravens. Come on. This is an easy pick. Ravens are intelligent, scavenging corvids with large brains and a propensity to peck the eyeballs out of young domestic ungulates, while the Colts are just baby horses. Guess who’s going to move on to the next round, and guess who’s going to get their eyes pecked out of their skulls.

My Pick: Baltimore Ravens

 

NFC Wild Card Game 1: Vikings vs. Packers. What exactly are the Packers packing, I wonder? If they’re packing tasteful pastel polo shirts into European leather suitcases for a romantic weekend getaway to Niagara Falls, then there’s no question: the Vikings are going to mjöllnir their asses halfway to Fimbulwinter. It’s a completely different situation if they’re packing heat, though, because while the Vikings may have been handy with the traditional bearded axe, they still had no armor that could stand up to a nine-mil. Even so, I’ve got to give it to the Vikings, because of the fact that the Norse were tough enough to  establish colonies from Nova Scotia to Kazakhstan, and because they were badass enough that the Byzantine Emperors kept a stable of Viking warriors to fight off marauding Crusaders and Turks. History shows us the winner, as usual.

My Pick: Minnesota Vikings

 

NFC Wild Card Game 2: Seahawks vs. Redskins. Wait, what? There’s actually a team called the Redskins? That’s so goddamn racist and outdated it makes me want to spit. What’s next, are we going to have a team called the Los Angeles Koreatown Raundry Wolkers Starchee Five Dolla Extra Prease? No. I will not have this. While actual Indians may have had bows, and could have used them to shoot down birds, I will not be giving a team with their name the win. No. Instead, I’ll be giving it to a team that I can root for.

My Pick: The Full Serenity Crew

 

AFC Divisional Round 1: Bengals vs. Broncos. An interesting choice. Broncos are wild horses, and as such are dangerous and untamed, a vision of the spirit of the free and open West. But I saw Gandhi once, and I seem to recall that the Indians who lived in South Africa (some of which were probably Bengali) stopped the British cavalry by lying down in front of their horses. Apparently horses don’t like to step on people. So the Bengals don’t have to do much to defeat the Broncos. All they have to do is lie down.

My Pick: Cincinnati Bengals

 

AFC Divisional Round 2: Ravens vs. Patriots. This seems like a difficult choice. On the one hand, the Patriots have guns. On the other hand, eighteenth-century muskets were notoriously unreliable, and when the Patriots freeze to death in Valley Forge, I’m sure that someone is going to be on hand to peck out their frozen eyeballs. Nature is patient, and sometimes patience comes in the form of a huge black bird with a fondness for carrion popsicles.

My Pick: Baltimore Ravens

 

NFC Divisional Round 1: Falcons vs. Vikings. At first, you’d expect for this to go similarly to the Ravens and Patriots game. After all, Falcons are birds who wouldn’t turn their beaks up at a little bit of carrion meat, and the only ranged weapon available to the Vikings were bows. But you know what? I’m still going to have to give this one to the Vikings. After all, bows were far more accurate than eighteenth-century muskets, with a better range, and were more reliable, as well. The Falcons wouldn’t have the chance to wait for the Vikings to starve to death in the snow. The Vikings would just shoot them out of the sky, first.

My Pick: Minnesota Vikings

 

NFC Divisional Round 2: 49ers vs. The Full Crew of Serenity. At first this seems clear-cut. The Serenity crew is better-armed, has a spaceship, and can kill their enemies while Jayne makes folksy Western quips. But there’s just one problem. I’m from Northern California, and I know many of the towns that the 49ers actually founded. So, while I do understand that River Tam could just steal a hatchet from one of the grizzled prospectors and go all spinny killbot on them, wiping them out like a whole herd of Reavers, the 49ers accomplished something more brave than Malcolm Reynolds’ unmasking of the psychochemical experiments on Miranda: they willingly lived in Stockton.

My Pick: San Francisco 49ers

 

AFC Championship: Bengals vs. Ravens. Okay, this seems like a good matchup… flood-and-disease surviving superhumans versus implacable scavenger-birds… oh no! What’s this?! River Tam has somehow survived a ten-minute stroll in Stockton and is running out on the field! My god! She’s gone berserk! It seems that somehow witnessing the human suffering and misery of Stockton has triggered a response in the young psychic, and she’s finally gone off the edge! My god… the blood… somebody please… help… *sound of throwing up*

My Pick: River Tam

 

NFC Championship: Vikings vs. 49ers

This is a true battle here, of frost-hardened warriors versus gold-lusting frontiersmen. A battle between nineteenth-century technology and sheer elemental fury. But what will decide the battle here is not force of arms, but navigational skills. The Vikings were able to cross the Atlantic Ocean using only the sun and stars. And what did the 49ers do? Bastards couldn’t even find a route over the Sierras that doesn’t get blocked up with snow every winter. If the Vikings had settled nineteenth-century California, then you could bet that there would be more than a better to get over Carson Spur when it’s closed than driving all the way through Jackson, then Placerville, then all the way back up to South Lake Tahoe. Greedy gold-scavenging bastards.

My Pick: Minnesota Vikings

 

Super Bowl: Vikings vs. River Tam

She stands alone, wide-eyed and innocent-seeming, the blood of birds and Bangladeshis alike covering her hands as she stands on the frozen shores of Iceland. From far off she can hear them, the horns of the warriors, as she gazes out to the sea. The great dragon ships are coming, across the steel-gray sea, their square sails wide against the light of the rising sun. Although it is summer, the air is still chill, and the sun has not dipped below the horizon once in days. She is weary, tired beyond imagining, and there is nothing left she can do.

She has come so far.

The tawny-haired warriors land on the beach, and her hand tightens around her Reaver axe.

This is where it begins.

My Pick: River Tam beats up everyone.

 

So there you have it. My NFL playoff picks for 2013.

If the Super Bowl has a complete lack of Summer Glau, I will be VERY DISAPPOINTED.

~ Ian

Tonight, I went to a football game.

Specifically, one at Santa Cruz High, which (as long-time readers of Axolotl Ceviche may be aware) is my old high school.

I don’t understand football. At all. Believe me when I say this. I existed in a realm entirely parallel to that when I was in high school. Even though I’m big, and could presumably make a good left midfield wing point guard tacklebacker (or whatever the positions in football are called anyway), I didn’t give one shit about the whole thing. While the football players were “working out” on the “free weights” and chugging their “muscle milk” while they “had sex with human girls”, I was writing “clumsy but earnest poetry about dragons and cowboys” as well as “absolutely godawful sword and sorcery”.

Believe me, I would never have gone to the “Big” “Game” if it hadn’t been for the fact that both Calum and Gabby are in the SCHS band. So I went, and listened to their music, which was excellent, and occasionally watched the game, which was a giant blowout. Believe me when I say this: the Cardinals (Santa Cruz High) were playing the Vikings (some high school in North Salinas that I forget the name of), and it was as if actual vikings were engaged in combat with actual birds. They sucked that much.

But I didn’t pay much attention. Like I’ve said, I know crap about any sport except occasionally baseball, and I wanted to give some description at how little I know about the game.

But, luckily, Penny Arcade did a comic recently where they summed my football knowledge up exactly.

Granted, that was about the new Madden football game from EA Ports. But it could be an accurate portrayal of my knowledge of the football in general.

How did I while away the hours while the teens in helmets tried to score their scores? I reread Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light. So, instead of watching a football game, I was transported to a far-future colony planet, where I read the epic tale of the death-god Yama’s encounter with the Buddha known as Mahasamatman, or Sam for short.

And so, wrapped in Hindu-themed science fiction, I ticked away the moments.

Night well spent.

~ Ian

 

The Olympics are over, which makes me sad. However, that means that NBC’s jingoistic not-coverage is also over, which makes me happy. Because in the United States, all the Olympics we got were All America All The Time, I didn’t get to see much of the other countries’ events. I didn’t see any table tennis, or badminton. I barely got to see horse riding. And I only caught the last five minutes of one soccer game– the men’s gold medal match between Brazil and Mexico. (I was glad that Mexico won, however.)

And I will admit it: the United States is a sports powerhouse. We won 104 medals, 46 of which were gold– more than any other country. But how much of that is due to the fact that the United States is a huge freaking country, with over three hundred million people? How does that skew the bias?

Basically, what are the per capita gold medal rates?

I wanted to know, and nobody was telling me. So, I made it my quest to find out.

 

Here is the final medal count for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games:

Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
United States 46 29 29 104
China 38 27 23 88
Great Britain 29 17 19 65
Russia 24 26 32 82
South Korea 13 6 7 28
Germany 11 19 14 44
France 11 11 12 34
Italy 8 9 11 28
Hungary 8 4 5 17
Australia 7 16 12 35
Japan 7 14 17 38
Kazakhstan 7 1 5 13
Netherlands 6 6 8 20
Ukraine 6 5 9 20
New Zealand 6 2 5 13
Cuba 5 3 6 14
Iran 4 5 3 12
Jamaica 4 4 4 12
Czech Republic 4 3 3 10
North Korea 4 0 2 6
Spain 3 10 4 17
Brazil 3 5 9 17
South Africa 3 2 1 6
Ethiopia 3 1 3 7
Croatia 3 1 2 6
Belarus 2 5 5 12
Romania 2 5 2 9
Kenya 2 4 5 11
Denmark 2 4 3 9
Azerbaijan 1 2 6 10
Poland 2 2 6 10
Turkey 2 2 1 5
Switzerland 2 2 0 4
Lithuania 2 1 2 5
Norway 2 1 1 4
Canada 1 5 12 18
Sweden 1 4 3 8
Colombia 1 3 4 8
Georgia 1 3 3 7
Mexico 1 3 3 7
Ireland 1 1 3 5
Argentina 1 1 2 4
Slovenia 1 1 2 4
Serbia 1 1 2 3
Tunisia 1 1 1 3
Dominican Republic 1 1 0 2
Trinidad and Tobago 1 0 3 4
Uzbekistan 1 0 3 4
Latvia 1 0 1 2
Algeria 1 0 0 1
Bahamas 1 0 0 1
Grenada 1 0 0 1
Uganda 1 0 0 1
Venezuela 1 0 0 1
India 0 2 4 6
Mongolia 0 2 3 5
Thailand 0 2 1 3
Egypt 0 2 0 2
Slovakia 0 1 3 4
Armenia 0 1 2 3
Belgium 0 1 2 3
Finland 0 1 2 3
Bulgaria 0 1 1 2
Estonia 0 1 1 2
Indonesia 0 1 1 2
Malaysia 0 1 1 2
Puerto Rico 0 1 1 2
Taiwan 0 1 1 2
Botswana 0 1 0 1
Cyprus 0 1 0 1
Gabon 0 1 0 1
Guatemala 0 1 0 1
Montenegro 0 1 0 1
Portugal 0 1 0 1
Greece 0 0 2 2
Moldova 0 0 2 2
Qatar 0 0 2 2
Singapore 0 0 2 2
Afghanistan 0 0 0 1
Bahrain 0 0 1 1
Hong Kong 0 0 1 1
Saudi Arabia 0 0 1 1
Kuwait 0 0 1 1
Morocco 0 0 1 1
Tajikistan 0 0 1 1

As you can see, the main winners are large countries with high populations. It doesn’t hurt to be a European or East Asian country, either– India, with its population of over a billion people, only has six total medals, and Indonesia, the fourth-largest country in the world, only gets two!

But I don’t care about total medal counts, or even the number of gold medals. China and the US dominate, of course, but China and the US have huge numbers of people, and therefore have a higher potential athlete pool. So how many gold medals per million does each country have?

 

Gold Medals Per Million

Grenada 10.000

Bahamas 3.333

Jamaica 2.000

New Zealand 1.500

Trinidad and Tobago 1.000

Hungary 0.889

Croatia 0.750

Lithuania 0.667

Latvia 0.500

Cuba 0.454

Great Britain 0.446

Kazakhstan 0.438

Czech Republic 0.400

Denmark 0.400

Norway 0.400

Netherlands 0.375

Australia 0.318

Switzerland 0.286

South Korea 0.260

Georgia 0.250

Ireland 0.250

Belarus 0.222

Russia 0.202

France 0.169

North Korea 0.167

United States 0.146

Serbia 0.143

Slovenia 0.143

Germany 0.135

Italy 0.133

Ukraine 0.133

Azerbaijan 0.111

Dominican Republic 0.111

Sweden 0.111

Romania 0.105

Tunisia 0.100

Spain 0.065

South Africa 0.060

Japan 0.055

Iran 0.053

Poland 0.053

Kenya 0.048

Venezuela 0.037

Ethiopia 0.036

Argentina 0.035

Uzbekistan 0.034

Uganda 0.031

Canada 0.029

China 0.028

Algeria 0.027

Turkey 0.027

Colombia 0.022

Brazil 0.016

Mexico 0.009

Afghanistan 0.000

Armenia 0.000

Bahrain 0.000

Belgium 0.000

Botswana 0.000

Bulgaria 0.000

Cyprus 0.000

Egypt 0.000

Estonia 0.000

Finland 0.000

Gabon 0.000

Greece 0.000

Guatemala 0.000

Hong Kong 0.000

India 0.000

Kuwait 0.000

Moldova 0.000

Mongolia 0.000

Morocco 0.000

Montenegro 0.000

Portugal 0.000

Puerto Rico 0.000

Qatar 0.000

Saudi Arabia 0.000

Singapore 0.000

Slovakia 0.000

Taiwan 0.000

Tajikistan 0.000

Thailand 0.000

Well! Look at this! If we go by per capita gold medals, the United States is barely good at all! In fact, we’re just a perfectly cromulent midlist country!

We’re far better than China, though. China got only about a sixth of our per capita gold medals. And look at the front runners! All five countries that got more than one gold medal per million people is an island country– four of which are in the Caribbean, the other (New Zealand) being in the Pacific. This makes sense– island nations tend to have lower populations because of the restricted size of the landmass. And based on how big track is in the Caribbean, it makes sense that the top three countries (as well as four of the top five) are Caribbean nations.

It seems that, for a country to do well overall at the per-capita gold medal race, it should be medium- to small-sized in population and either located in the Caribbean or Eastern Europe. For a country to do extremely poorly, it’s best to be in Latin America, the Middle East, or South Asia.

Now, onto the next thing:

 

Total Medals per Million

Grenada 10.000

Jamaica 6.000

Trinidad and Tobago 4.000

Bahamas 3.333

New Zealand 3.250

Mongolia 2.500

Hungary 1.889

Denmark 1.800

Georgia 1.750

Estonia 1.667

Lithuania 1.667

Montenegro 1.667

Australia 1.591

Croatia 1.500

Belarus 1.333

Qatar 1.333

Cuba 1.272

Ireland 1.250

Great Britain 1.048

Armenia 1.000

Latvia 1.000

Sweden 0.888

Bahrain 0.833

Kazakhstan 0.813

Netherlands 0.813

Norway 0.800

Slovakia 0.800

South Korea 0.760

Moldova 0.667

Azerbaijan 0.666

Finland 0.600

Russia 0.573

Slovenia 0.571

Switzerland 0.571

Germany 0.543

Canada 0.529

France 0.523

Romania 0.474

Italy 0.467

Ukraine 0.435

Serbia 0.429

Czech Republic 0.400

Singapore 0.400

Spain 0.370

Kuwait 0.333

United States 0.331

Belgium 0.300

Tunisia 0.300

Japan 0.299

Bulgaria 0.286

Poland 0.263

Kenya 0.262

North Korea 0.250

Dominican Republic 0.222

Greece 0.200

Colombia 0.174

Iran 0.160

Hong Kong 0.142

Tajikistan 0.142

Uzbekistan 0.138

South Africa 0.120

Argentina 0.100

Portugal 0.100

Ethiopia 0.083

Brazil 0.073

Malaysia 0.071

Turkey 0.068

China 0.065

Mexico 0.063

Thailand 0.046

Afghanistan 0.040

Saudi Arabia 0.037

Venezuela 0.037

Morocco 0.031

Uganda 0.031

Algeria 0.027

Egypt 0.024

India 0.009

Indonesia 0.008

I find it amusing that the top five countries are the same on both this and the previous chart.

But anyway: there’s been some shifting around– mostly because the countries that had no gold medals actually won some medals of other colors. This means that there’s been some big jumps: most specifically, I’m looking at Mongolia, which was a bottom-of-the-list country in per capita golds, and has made a huge jump up to sixth place, at two and a half medals per million people!

Of course, the real bottom-of-the-list countries here are those that have huge populations but excruciatingly low medal counts: India and Indonesia. And these countries are the real losers of the Olympics. Because, really: that’s what the Olympics are about, aren’t they? Pitting nation against nation in a series of games of strength and skill, trying to find who is the best country– and the worst country. It’s about winners and losers. And the winners get sponsorships, while the losers– well, who cares about them?

Or so I was led to believe by NBC.

~ Ian

First of all: I love the Olympics.

I mean, a lot. They’re one of my favorite things to watch ever, and they’re one of the few sportsball events that I ever watch at all (the other three being Giants baseball games, the World Cup, and the X Games).

I remember the first time that I caught the Olympic fever. It was 2002: the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. I was nine years old. I can remember seeing the Olympic torch coming through Santa Cruz, passing down West Cliff Drive. My dad took my brother and me down there before school started so we could see it go by.

A few days later, we were in South Lake Tahoe, along with some friends and neighbors, going on a ski trip. We were staying in a cheap-ass motel that at least had a heated swimming pool. I was swimming in the pool, when there was a commotion over on the street, so I got out to see what was going on. It was the Olympic torch, passing us again. I watched and cheered, shivering in the 35-degree cold, wearing just my swim trunks and a thin layer of rapidly-cooling pool water.

I got in the pool after the torch went by. I’m not a goddamn idiot, and I wasn’t at nine years old, either.

Later that evening, my mom, dad, brother, and I went out for pizza. When we left the pizzeria, there it was again: the Olympic torch, going down the street.

So, yeah. In 2002, I saw the Olympic torch three times, two of them accidentally.

I find myself amused by that.

I really do love the Olympics, though. The thousands of athletes, coming from around the world to compete at the height of their careers, while the whole world watches them. The stadiums hung with flags of dozens of nations. The bizarre sports that people do, from weightlifting to dressage to modern pentathlon, which I can’t even pretend to understand. The thousands of shades of skin. The fact that they played Pink Floyd at the opening ceremonies. The tiny bikinis that the women’s beach volleyball players wear.

It’s not a rational love. But what kind of love is?

I will, however, point out one thing that I can really do without: the stupid goddamn TV coverage that NBC gets to do.

It’s pretty clear to me that NBC really doesn’t give a fuck about the Olympics. They treat it like it’s some sort of product that gets to be packaged with all the dignity and grace of a hybrid Super Bowl halftime show and jingoistic propaganda piece. NBC doesn’t care at all about athletes from anywhere other than the US. Yeah, they occasionally do one of their insipid little biopics about an Australian swimmer, or a Chinese gymnast. But ninety percent of the bullshit that they spew is about a homespun Midwestern gymnast, or a track star who ran her way out of the slums, or Michael Phelps.

And really, how much Michael Phelps can anyone stand? I don’t have any fucks left to give about the bastard. He swims real good. That’s about all that matters, really. We don’t need to have him put out there as a packaged product meant to sell NBC ad time or tasteless sub sandwiches or anything. We can admire him as a swimmer, shake our heads at his freak-of-nature proportions, and move the fuck on.

Watching Olympic sports in primetime is hardly fun anymore for me. I watched the women’s all-around gymnastics final last night, and it was painful. They focused exclusively on the American and Russian gymnasts– and I’m sure they only cared about the Russians because they were the Americans’ competition. Is that really the message that people want to get out of the Olympics? That it’s us against the rest of the world? That nobody matters unless they’re the best at their sport? I would have liked to see a Japanese gymnast, or a Ukrainian, or a Romanian, or a German, or anyone other than the two All-American Girls that NBC was pushing at us as Extruded Sportsball Product. The Olympics are supposed to be about world peace and international friendship, not AMERICA FUCK YEAH.

Blech. This is getting kind of ranty. I will finish by saying this, though: when we reach a tipping point, and streaming online video for sports finally becomes as easy to do as watching NBC’s endless marketing parade, I will be only too pleased to see the big TV networks implode like some big, gassy star.

That is all.

Carry on.

~ Ian

faster higher stronger

Posted: July 27, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

The Olympic Games start today.

All I have to say about them is this:

I will be very disappointed if the Tenth Doctor doesn’t light the Olympic Flame.

VERY.

DISAPPOINTED.

That is all.

Carry on,

~ Ian