Monday, June 28, 2010

Sports: Will Bob Bradley's Team USA Coaching Contract be renewed?

The LAT has this item recapping Coach Bradley's thoughts on Team USA's run at the World Cup.

Excerpt:

A couple of errors led to the round-of-16 loss to Ghana, which scored on its first shot in the game and on its first shot in overtime, but there were two factors, above all, that characterized the Americans in South Africa.

The first was the inability of the forwards to score goals. The U.S. netted five in total, all of them by midfielders, including three by Landon Donovan.

Forwards Jozy Altidore, Robbie Findley, Edson Buddle and Herculez Gomez did not find the back of the net.

The second identifying characteristic of the team was its habit of yielding early goals. In two of its four games, the U.S. was scored upon within five minutes of the start and in another it was scored upon within 15 minutes. In a rather startling statistic, over the course of four games, the U.S. held a lead for a total of barely three minutes.

On Sunday, Bradley talked about both issues.

"Goals decide matches," he said, "and I think anyone who follows the game around the world knows that that's still the greatest challenge in the game -- to be someone who can consistently score goals. So it's an area where we do need to improve."

As for the early defensive miscues, Bradley said it was a matter of experience and maturity in knowing how to manage a game.

"The second part is that that's just how the game works sometimes," he said. "I can watch the game at the highest level and see the same things happen, whether it's Barcelona or Manchester United or Brazil or Spain. That's the way the game works."


Yup, sums it up. Pretty much in any sport what separates the top level championship teams from the teams that fall short is capitalizing on opportunities on offense and minimizing mistakes on defense.

Every goal the USA gave up this tournament happened on a defensive miscue.

But even with the opening blunder against Ghana putting themselves down 1-0, Team USA could have won if they capitalized on their offensive chances. One can question Coach Bradley's choice to start Clark who made the mistake leading to the goal and hesitancy to give more minutes to Feilhaber, but in the end, the team had its chances and the talent level to capitalize on those chances simply wasn't there.

Here is an ESPN summary of the USA effort.

Will Coach Bradley be kept? ESPN dissects the situation.

Sports: Memo to FIFA - Instant Replay on Goals

There is no perfect system to make calls in sporting events of any type.  Replay can't be done on everything.

In futbol/soccer where goals are so rare, mistakes that could be easily corrected with replay on when to rule a goal is a goal is ridiculous.

FIFA's governing body has its head in the sand by not even considering replay on goal rulings.

This item in SI.com makes the case for replay quite well.  Excerpt:

In a sport where a score of, say, 5-2 is considered an offensive onslaught of massive proportions, a legitimate goal must be counted. If the ball bounces over the line, it's a goal. End of story, no debate, case closed. True, other sports are not perfect when it comes to scoring. A mistaken non-call on goaltending might take away a legitimate field goal in an NBA game, for example, but that's two points out of 200. And replays are now allowed to determine if a shot counts for two points or three. In major league baseball, a sport that takes to change the way a sea lion takes to the Sahara, umpires are now allowed to consult replay cameras to determine whether a home run is fair or foul or whether a ball did in fact go over the barrier into the seats. And it goes without saying that the NFL replay system all but guarantees that a touchdown will be counted as a touchdown.
But even if there were no replay in other sports, disallowing a legit goal in soccer, a sport in which offenses work so hard for even a great opportunity to take a crack at the goal, is indefensible. Even the most tradition-bound purists must agree that a goal should be a goal. So when referee Mauricio Espinosa mistakenly disallowed Frank Lampard's goal on Sunday, a score that would've enabled England to tie Germany 2-2, it was a very big deal. And when FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke all but ruled out the use of video replay that would correct such situations, it exposed a sport crying out not just for visionary leadership but for leadership with some grasp of reality. Not counting a goal for fear of dehumanizing a sport with replay is not in the tradition of anything besides the tradition of ignorance.
The fact that Germany was the superior team and probably would've won the game anyway is irrelevant.
Lampard put it across the goal line.
Give the man a goal!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sports: "A Goal, A Ghost" ESPN Outside the Lines

The story of Joe Gaetjens, a Haitian immigrant, who scored the lone USA goal that beat England in 1950's World Cup match. Sadly, Haiti came under a brutal dictatorship and Gaetjans died as a political prisoner.  ESPN followed the tale of his son's return visit to Haiti to be reunited with relatives, see the prison his father was held and hear that his father was remembered for that shining moment in 1950.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sports: England vs. USA

Okay, so the hype is a little (ok, a lot) over the top!



According to the SPI ratings at ESPN.com, the USA (#15) isn't in the same tier as England (#3); thus, the USA is not expected to win.

But in rivalry games, you never know!

For trivia fans, the voice-over narration in the commercial is an opening passage from Thomas Paine's "The Crisis" published December 23, 1776. Excerpt:
THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.
I wonder if the English will fire up their fans with a little Henry V St. Crispin? Excerpt:
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

In the end, it was 1-1!

Below is the Lego recap of the game that was posted at the Guardian newspaper...

Friday, June 04, 2010

Life: John R. Wooden, 1910-2010

John Wooden was welcomed into the full presence of God and reunited with his wife Nell today.

Thanks Coach Wooden for the example, the wisdom and the impact that was your life both on and off the court.

A video recap of Coach Wooden's story by Jim Hill.



Tribute web page at UCLA.edu to John Wooden.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Travel: Hotel Clean Up

Saw this item via Drudge.

Helpful hints from CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg:

This is what you do, in order, from the moment you enter your hotel room:

CLEAN THE TV REMOTE AND PHONE: You may not realize what the SINGLE DIRTIEST item in your hotel room is but -- go directly to the one item in the bedroom that has the highest levels of bacteria, the TV remote control unit. Wipe it off thoroughly. Next up, the telephone handset, especially the mouthpiece.

CHUCK THE BEDSPREAD: Walk over to the bedspread, lift it off the bed, throw it in the corner, never touch it again. Many hotels still only clean those bedspreads intermittently.

RINSE OUT THE GLASSES: Go into the bathroom -- and the culprit here is not what you think. It's not the sink, or the toilet or the bathtub. It's the -- water glasses! Here's how this is a problem: Most hotel maids are tasked with cleaning up to 15 or 16 rooms in any given eight-hour shift. That's a lot of rooms. And usually, by the time they get to the 12th room, they're short on time and some of them start cutting corners. And what happens? They get to those glasses and don't replace them. Instead, they quickly run them under cold water and replace them. Can you say eeeeeeeeeesh? My solution? Simple: Without hesitation, whenever you walk into a hotel bathroom, the first thing you do is take the water glasses and run them under hot water for two minutes, and you'll be OK

CHECK THE MATTRESS: Lift up the mattress and search between the mattress and the box spring. If you see little brown streaks, that means there are - bed bugs. Move.

If you walk into a hotel room, and it is gross, what do you do? Is there a group to report it to? To ensure you get refunded or that no one else books that room?

Easy answer: Always pay with a credit card. Remember: If you don't receive the goods or services you contracted for, you can always dispute the charges. Trip Advisor is also a great forum, and you could write to me at peter@petergreenberg.com and we'll investigate, as well.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Devotional Thoughts: Blog Through the Bible

Previously, I had cross posted items from Blog Through the Bible over here under the Devotional Thoughts label.

Have decided that future posts of "BTB" will only be hosted at that site.

The Devotional Thoughts label will continued to be applied to various reflective postings. Hope you will be encouraged and challenged by the content within the Devotional Thoughts and be willing to check out the Blog Through the Bible materials as well.

While I'm at it, I hope to be more consistent in the usage of the tag system here at Blogspot. The theology tag will be for matters of Christian doctrine. The religion tag will be for items beyond Christian doctrine and practice. The faith tag will be for matters of Christian belief aside from doctrinal matters.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Politics: Yes on Prop 14

Prop 14 changes the primary and general election system for many offices. The plan is to have a primary election where the top two advance to the general election. The idea is to make some races more competitive.

In races where there is only one competitive candidate such as a strong incumbent running for re-election, the Prop 14 system will not change the end result.

In races where there are two strong candidates and they are from different parties both would win in the primary stage and advance to the general just as happens now.

It is hard to predict how Prop 14 would effect races where there are 3 strong candidates or multiple (3+) weak candidates.

The only type of race where the proposed new system makes any difference is when there are two strong candidates and they are from the same party. Under the current system, one of those two strong candidates would be eliminated in the primary stage. In the Prop 14 system, those two candidates would advance to the general election and continue to battle for voter support. This could potentially allow for a more moderate candidate to gather additional support from voters who had supported other candidates in the first stage.

Would this be worth it?

Perhaps so.

Yes on Prop 14.

Politics: Yes on 17

Prop 17 changes an aspect of auto insurance regulation. Currently, auto insurers can give loyalty discounts to customers who have been in good standing with their company but its not transferable. As in the cell phone business, it is easier to try to keep customers than try to find new ones. Thus, hypothetically, if customer Albert has been with Mercury Insurance in good standing for at least a certain number of years, they could offer him a discount. Prop 17 allows insurance companies to make that discount portable. As a result, the Progressive Insurance lady with the price gun could offer Albert that type of discount to lure him away from Mercury.

I do wonder how large this discount will be as there is a practical limit to how much the insurers can discount to both lure and keep customers and yet retain enough premiums for loss payouts and profits. Additionally, the primary determinant of insurance rates remains driving record and distance driven per year. Thus, to the extent the discounts become larger, rates would rise for those who don’t get the discount to offset reduced premiums from those who do get the discount.

Critics rightly claim that Mercury Insurance is behind Prop 17. However, since the rule change would also benefit their rivals, they don't gain the advantage all to themselves in contrast to Prop 16 which appears to mostly benefit PG&E.

Yes on Prop 17.