Wednesday, November 29, 2006

These are the things I think about.

1) How did the guy who played Moose in the Enterprise Rent-a-Car "Class of 94 Here I Come" commercial get a decently sized role in Studio 60? What's next, the "dude, you're getting a Dell" guy getting a 4 show arc as Meredith's new crush on Grey's Anatomy?

2) Have I gotten progressively dumber, has my hearing gotten worse, or has Dick Vitale calmed down? Or has ESPN lowered the volume on his mic?

3) Does Thad Matta look more like an IRS auditor or a department of labor case manager? Either way, he's definitely a government bureaucrat. He should wear short sleeve shirts with ties.

4) Greg Odom looks 40.

5) Did I seriously TiVo the last 5 minutes of the Hawks' game tonight?

6) The fact that Err and Ignignokt went to LA... that doesn't mean they won't come back, right? I honestly think that Err's monologue on why he's so angry and how he misses his father was one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

7) I need to find my Queensryche tapes. Yes, there is an "s" at the end of that last word.

8) How can I figure out a reason to go to France and drive over that really really high bridge there?

9) Whoa, I think I just found one to match #1 above. Flipping by "My Boys" on TBS, I see that ridiculously annoying guy with the bullhorn from the BellSouth commercials. He doesn't seem to have a big role, but still. And I watched a total of 5 minutes of two different episodes, and the main characters were playing poker on three separate occasions. It's like one scene at the office, poker, then at lunch with the main character's girlfriend, then more poker, then commercial, then a different poker scene. Am I not a real man because I don't play poker 6 nights a week?

10) In Gregg Easterbrook's TMQ column this week, he writes about how Dennis Green screwed up last week by going for two when down 12 after a TD in the 4th quarter:

Sour Coaching Decision of the Week No. 2: With just more than 10 minutes remaining, the Arizona (Caution: May Contain Football-Like Substance) Cardinals scored to make it Vikings 31, Cards 19. The end-game scoreboard had come into focus, and Arizona needed a minimum of 12 more points. Take the single PAT and reduce the margin to 11! Coaching theory holds that when a deuce try is likely during a comeback, always leave the deuce attempt to the final touchdown, when your guys are pumped and the team that once held the "safe" lead is reeling. If you try for the deuce and fail on the first of two needed touchdowns, the air goes out of your guys because they know the comeback just became less likely. Instead of closing to 31-20, Dennis Green went for two and failed. Then with a minute remaining, the Cards scored again to make it 31-25 and took the single because the deuce was meaningless here. Had Green taken a single earlier, the score would have been 31-26 and a deuce attempt pulls the Cardinals within a field goal of overtime! Arizona proceeded to recover the onside kick; the clock expired with the Cards on the Vikes' 36, from which strong kicker Neil Rackers could have tried for the tie had Green simply managed the point-after attempts according to standard coaching theory.
I don't know how "standard" such a coaching theory is. In fact, I see two pretty divergent views on this. There's the attitude Easterbrook advises, go for one and "extend" the game by keeping it a TD+FG game, waiting until the end to go for two. It's sort of like the team that's behind in basketball getting easy layups instead of 3 pointers. There are definitely merits to this. You're not risking much until you absolutely have to, and you're putting a little more pressure on the other team not to screw up. But I also think there's another way of looking at this. Coaching strategy places a premium on "information". Consider: in the example above, prior to scoring the TD, the Cardinals were down 18. That's a TD+1, a TD+2, and a FG. Using Easterbrook's way of thinking, that scoring pattern has to work perfectly - by waiting to the end to go for two, you have to get it - you have just one chance, and time will be short to change tactics. On the other hand, going for the two point conversion first gives the coaching staff more information as to how they should plan to score enough to get back in the game. If you don't convert the 2 pointer first, you now know that you need two TDs to win. That might mean a completely different strategy of trying onside kicks, or playcalling, or using timeouts. All of that can depend on knowing earlier exactly what needs to happen. Some coaches put a premium on "information" and alter lots of things based upon that. Personally, I'm not sure which I think I'd use as a philosophy, but I know that reasonable people might differ. And Easterbrook doesn't really offer a counterpart to his argument. Maybe what Green did was wrong. But arguably, Arizona was going to miss the 2 point conversion whether they did it earlier or later. And then Arizona would be in the same exact position. Only when considering what actually happened, Arizona had more time to react to their situation. The Cardinals may have had the time to recover that onside kick and drive solely because Green knew earlier that he needed more points - and managed the clock accordingly. At a minimum, it wasn't an atrocious decision and there were clear reasons for trying the two earlier.

And that's enough thinking.