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March 2001 Archives

Links were checked and verified as active only in the month the Eucalyptus entry was published. Links outside the silverscreentest domain may be inactive from this archive.

March 31

The run of the Maryland basketball team ended tonight. The officiating was wildly inconsistent, though not biased. Good run, guys. You did well. Maybe one day you'll win one of these.

March 30

Taxonomy of Men's Division One Basketball

Major Conferences- Atlantic Coast Conference, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, Pacific-10, and Southeastern Conference. At least 3 bids to the tournament each year, usually much more.

Mid-Major Conferences- Atlantic-10, Conference-USA, and Western Athletic Conference. 2-3 bids to the tournament each year. Sometimes, the top team may even be in the running for the national championship.

Low-Major Conferences- Midwestern Collegiate Conference, Missouri Valley Conference, Mountain West Conference and West Coast Conference. 1-2 bids to the tournament each year. Frequently the top team could get an at-large bid. These conferences wreak the greatest havoc on the Major Conference bubble teams when the top team all-season fails to win the conference tournament.

Minor Conferences- Everybody else. This can be further subdivided into:
Conferences that might become low majors in good years- Big West Conference, Colonial Athletic Association, Mid-American Conference, Ohio Valley Conference and Sun Belt Conference.
Conferences praying not to play the opening game (AKA the play-in game)- Big South Conference, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Northeast Conference, Southland Conference, and Southwestern Athletic Conference.

March 29

Today is the anniversary of the first I had with my wife. We went to see Blind Date, a forgetable romantic comedy unless it was the movie you saw on your first date. I much prefer the ditzy comedic actress Kim Basinger was in this film and My Stepmother is an Alien to the sexpots in 9 1/2 Weeks and L.A. Confidential and definitely more than the aging do-gooders in I Dreamed of Africa and Bless the Child.

March 28

Rumors swirl that the NFL will realign this way. It makes the most sense in that it shakes up the divisions the least:
AFC West: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers
AFC Central: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers
AFC South: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans
AFC East: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets
NFC West: Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks
NFC Central: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings
NFC South: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
AFC East: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins
They might change the "Central" divisions to "North", but the Central names would better maintain continuity.

March 27

The director and electronics guy for Silver Screen Test, Larry Sheingorn, has esophageal cancer. I'm seriously considering converting the program entirely to a non-buzzer system format. Stay tuned.

March 26

Bjork lays an egg.

March 25

Much of our house was painted yesterday. Today we put a lot of our magazines and books into storage. We didn't realize how much room we really had until we used the space more efficiently.

Is Bill Walton the nightmare parent for a coach? I mean, forget about complaining to you, he'll tell the whole country how incompetent you are. I sure hope he doesn't do color for the Final Four.

March 24

Maryland surprises me yet again. Nice to know Terrence Morris finally shows up. Michael Wilbon thinks he's good NBA material. I suppose that's par for the pros - just put out a good performance every five games. Will Duke pull out the next game and we'll be forced to watch the third instant classic of the year?

March 23

Today is the 20th anniversary of winning that trophy over there. I only got one toss-up about the Blue Boy. We shut out Davidson in the first half and cruised to the victory. If the Maryland basketball team makes the Final Four, they'll be still be short of our accomplishment.

March 22

Maryland beat Georgetown tonight. I noticed that when the Hoyas kept a tight zone defense in the paint, the two Terp post men didn't move at all to try to break the zone. Any team with a tight-fisted defense should be able to stop Maryland. I think it's a successful season now for Gary Williams.

March 21

It rained almost continuously today in Washington. I and the other seasonally-affected members of my family tend not to want to get out of bed. God cries buckets for all the injustice and pain and suffering his children endure.

I wonder if Tara will leave Buffy by taking Glory's place as goddess.

March 20

Latest rumor is that the next Trek series may be 25-100 years after Voyager in time. The captain distrusts his Vulcan crewmen. Maybe it's like my idea set after the fall of the federation. Sci-Fi Channel and Straczynski's got me excited about science fiction tv again. JMS is doing a Ranger pilot, which may lead to a series. Watching Buffy tonight. Glory goes to the zoo to transmogrify a cobra. I keep expecting crocodile hunter to appear in the scene.

March 19

Still trying to recover from a cold I got at my niece's birthday party eight days ago. At work, some folks lamented the bland kids we are creating, afraid of the Columbines we might hatch. Others recounted misspent youth (of others they knew, not themselves of course) involving pyrotechnics and contact explosives. I think non-conformity is alive, though not necessarily well. Oddballs existed when the price for being a little different could mean execution. These days, it might mean a visit to the school psychiatrist.

March 18

TV Land showed a lot of Barney Miller this weekend. I don't think there's a sitcom like that now-dealing with modern issues, but still positive. In many ways, there was more despair in the 1970s than the 1990s, but Barney Miller managed to show hope nonetheless. Later, Night Court was similarly upbeat, but not quite as serious. A lot of it was just hi-jinx. Are we so cynical, that we can't quite laugh this way again?

March 17

Maryland surprised me today by beating Georgia State. The Terps might be able to beat Georgetown, but I don't think they'll get past Stanford for the Final Four.

A few years ago, I saw Goths sprawled across the lobby of a science fiction convention. In my youth, I also wore black leather and copped an attitude, but I think we were a lot less serious back then. I occasionally hung with a sub-group of medieval recreationists called Jolmsvikings. They took adherence to medieval authenticity with varying levels of dedication. They wore black leather jackets with their group name in red runes on the back. Many of their members also rode motorcycles. But those in the know called them "sheep in wolves' clothing". In reality, the worse that happened to them was that one became an intravenous drug user. They were also generally good-looking young guys in leather that attracted women. Though I hung out with them, I never asked to join. When someone asked if I was a Jolmsviking, I identified myself as the "Jolmsposeur". So I considered myself as a pretender to a group of pretenders. These days, at least two of them are college professors and one them is a Maryland state trooper. Like I said, I didn't take my angst too seriously in those days.

March 16

Knossos met tonight, but unfortunately we couldn't make it because we were sick. The club read Weaveworld by Clive Barker, which I still haven't finished reading. It still seems every night we have a Knossos meeting, rain hits Washington.

Salon had an article about how the current flavor of payola ruins radio and will make it worse. These days I listen to, which I'm sure someone will now tell me is rife with corruption. Sometime soon I need to express myself as an old fart.

March 15

Maryland escaped George Mason by the skin of their teeth only to face Lefty Driesell in the next round. The Boise State Broncos seem to have acquired their colors from the old Denver Broncos before the Nike makeover. However, the orange, blue, and white Trivial Pursuit wedges around the foul circle look a little tacky.

March 14

The sportstalk radio station in Washington buzzes with the possibility of Michael Jordan returning to play with the Wizards. I don't think it will happen and I don't think he should come back. Let the memory of his winning shot against the Jazz that highlights my basketball wallpaper at work remain his indelible image. Then again, I was never much of an NBA fan and I think Chamberlain and Robertson were better players.

March 13

Someone reminded me of another similarity between Albert Belle and Dick Allen. They both changed their playing names during their major league career. Allen came in as Richie and Albert was known as Joey. Somewhere I have a baseball card when Allen was in transition that refers to him as Rich Allen.

March 12

As baseball season approaches, I thought I'd bring out my personal theory on the true Red Sox curse. Most New Englanders ascribe the post-season failure of the Bosox to selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees. I suggest another karmic hypothesis. Back in 1918, the Cubs and Red Sox struck during the World Series. Given the political climate of World War I, the players backed down. Teams customarily gave watches to their winning players, instead of the rings now awarded. Because of the union action, the Red Sox never gave their players their watches---until 1993, 75 years after they won the World Series. So the Carmine Hose are only working on an eight-year drought.

March 11

Last night's conference championship games can be the most heartwarming segment of the college basketball season. In these lesser conferences, these moments will be the high point of their season. Many of them will get stomped in the first round by teams like Duke and Michigan State. I especially liked the high spirits when Kent State and Cal State-Northridge won. I think Alabama was the most deserving team on the outside looking in, but I guess they only had a .500 record in the SEC. The press biases too much to the East Coast and discounts Stanford. I think the Cardinal will make the Final Four.

March 10

My alma mater Maryland lost in the last few seconds to Duke today. I'll go out on a limb and predict that Maryland will get a 4 seed or higher, but will still lose in the second round.

March 9

As Albert Belle's career goes into the sunset, baseball fans question whether he belongs in the Hall of Fame. At Baseball-Reference, the most similar player to him whose career has ended is, interestingly enough, Dick Allen. Similarity scores sometimes pick out a pair of players who are similar in some other way as well. Sometimes it picks out two teammates, two black players, two white players, etc. In this case, it picked out two players whose surly relationship with the press and teammates overshadowed their performance on the field. I don't think Dick Allen was as anti-social as Albert. Part of his relationship with the press was due to being too outspoken for a black player in the 1960s. Belle had an intelligent side- as a chess player, the son of two teachers, and in the top 10 of his high school graduating class. My mother-in-law's first cousin-Peter "Packy" Cera, served in many capacities for the Phillies, among them clubhouse equipment manager. He said that in his five decades of baseball, Dick Allen was the nicest player he'd met. Allen as well had a side no one knew.

March 8

I've read a few articles on "Maryland, My Maryland," but none has suggested sanitizing the song for a politically correct present. This is an anti-Confederate version. Well, here's a try at something bowderlized:

A state of resolute women and men, Maryland, My Maryland
Who work hard and do what they can, Maryland, My Maryland
Our governors take bribes now and then
The Orioles and Ravens lose again
But now our lyrics don't offend, Maryland, My Maryland

I expect my royalty check any day now.

March 7

As promised, here's more shortstop data. AB, H, BB, and TB are the standard at-bats, hits, walks, and total bases. Tm RPG is the number of runs per game scored by one team in the games of the player's team. It's just the number of runs the team scored, plus the number of runs the team allowed, divided by the number of games played, that quotient divided by 2. RC/25.5 is the number of runs created per game. Runs created is the basic formula developed by Bill James, which approximates runs scored or runs batted in, but is not affected by position in the lineup. Runs created is ((H+BB)*TB)/(AB+BB). Then runs created is averaged out per game. A game is based on 25.5 outs, rather than 27 outs, because that how many outs per game comes from batting actions, rather than on the basepaths. A player's outs are just AB-H. OWP represents the offensive winning percentage-if a team's offense consisted of nine players like this one, and its defense allowed an average number given by Tm RPG, what would the winning percentage of such a team be? Finally OW is offensive wins, how many games would such a team win if you apply that winning percentage over the number of games that player batted. Each game is based again on 25.5 outs.

Now that the technical discussion is over, I conclude that the Ripken, Trammell, and Yount are at least in the same ballpark, if not better than Garciaparra, Jeter and Rodriguez. Although the current guys produce better raw numbers, those homers and hits are inflated because everybody is hitting the ball well. Garciaparra, who played in the worst offensive context, still had more runs scored in his games than Alan Trammell, who played in the best offensive environment. In 1948, Lou Boudreau looks pretty good, but Vern Stephens is taken down a notch by the inflated numbers of Fenway Park. The Scooter had an offensive winning percentage of below .400. Like a team below .400, this is terrible for a supposed Hall of Famer in one of his best years. Joe Cronin and Luke Appling knocked out some good numbers in 1933. Williams is Dib of the Athletics who managed to be a notch above Rizzuto.

Year Player       AB  H   BB  TB Tm RPG  RC/25.5     OWP   OW
1999 Garciaparra 532 190  51 321   4.80     9.89    .810 10.9
1999 Jeter       627 219  91 346   5.03     9.34    .775 12.4
1999 Rodriguez   502 143  56 294   5.44     7.45    .652  9.2
     Total                                               32.4
Year Player       AB  H   BB  TB Tm RPG  RC/25.5     OWP   OW
2000 Garciaparra 529 197  61 317   4.74    10.65    .834 10.9
2000 Jeter       593 201  68 285   5.23     7.54    .675 10.4
2000 Rodriguez   554 175 100 336   5.21     9.51    .769 11.4
     Total                                               32.7
Year Player       AB  H   BB  TB Tm RPG  RC/25.5     OWP   OW
1983 Ripken      663 211  58 343   4.48     7.22    .722 12.8
1983 Yount       578 178  72 291   4.54     7.14    .712 11.2
1983 Trammell    505 161  57 238   4.53     6.84    .695  9.4
     Total                                               33.3
Year Player       AB  H   BB  TB Tm RPG  RC/25.5     OWP   OW
1984 Ripken      641 195  71 327   4.16     6.98    .738 12.9
1984 Yount       624 186  67 275   4.27     5.86    .653 11.2
1984 Trammell    555 174  60 260   4.54     6.62    .680 10.2
     Total                                               34.3
Year Player       AB  H   BB  TB Tm RPG  RC/25.5     OWP   OW
1948 Boudreau    560 199  98 299   4.51     9.53    .817 11.6
1948 Stephens    635 171  77 299   5.25     5.72    .543  9.9
1948 Rizzuto     464 117  60 152   4.84     3.77    .378  5.1
     Total                                               26.6
Year Player       AB  H   BB  TB Tm RPG  RC/25.5     OWP   OW
1933 Cronin      602 186  87 268   4.95     6.51    .633 10.3
1933 Appling     612 197  56 271   4.96     6.31    .618 10.1
1933 Williams    408 118  32 181   5.68     5.43    .477  5.4
     Total                                               25.8

March 6

Once again, Maryland residents have discovered the lyrics to our state song. Sung to the tune of "O Tanenbaum," a native Marylander wrote it in New Orleans in 1861. That year Baltimoreans rioted as Union troops from Massachusetts made their way to Washington. The words are a Confederate call to arms. Back in our College Bowl days, Bob Maranto suggested we sing it as a psyche-up song. Before winning our first regional championship, Townsend Reese thought it was the equivalent of the "Marseillaise" in Casablanca. Townie was always a little over-dramatic. Anyway, while some folks want to get rid of our state song, I think someone should just write more politically correct lyrics. So, here are the two verses we would sing:

The despot's heel is at thy shore, Maryland, My Maryland
His torch is at thy temple door, Maryland, My Maryland
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore
And be the battle queen of yore, Maryland, My Maryland

I hear the distant thunder hum, Maryland, My Maryland
The Old Line's bugle, fife and drum, Maryland, My Maryland
She is not blind, nor deaf, nor dumb
Huzza! She spurns the Northern scum
She breathes, she burns. She'll come, she'll come, Maryland, My Maryland

March 5

We didn't get any snow that stuck. We may get more tonight.

CNN/SI has an interesting article on the current triumvirate of shortstops. I have asserted, ever since the talk started, that this group plays in the same league with Robin Yount, Cal Ripken, and Alan Trammell from the 1980s. I'm especially harsh on Jeter as you may have noticed from previous posts. The CNN/SI article seems to show that the current group is superior in raw totals. However, we live in a particularly high offense era. The following numbers show each player's runs, hits, home runs, RBIs, walks and total bases. Each triplet is followed by a total for the group and totals for the entire league that year. The percentage represents the group's share of that statistic in the league. For RBIs, I used total runs scored as the league base. The current guys have advantages in home runs and RBIs, but not in the other statistics. Despite those home runs and RBIs, they lag in total bases to the 1980s guys. The current guys appear to have better table-setters in front of them. Although this isn't the definitive answer, it calls into question the pre-eminence of A-Rod, Nomar and Jeter. I think later on, I'll recalculate these comparisons based on park and era-adjusted offensive wins. CNN/SI also listed trios from the other years including the AL in 1948 and 1933. Those boys could give these folks a run for their money.

Year  Player         R     H    HR    RBI   BB     TB	
1999  Garciaparra   103   190   27    104   51    321	
1999  Jeter         134   219   24    102   91    346	
1999  Rodriguez     110   143   42    111   56    294	
      Total         347   552   93    317  198    961	
1999  AL          11725 21447 2635        8269  34402	
                  2.96% 2.57% 3.53% 2.70% 2.39% 2.79%	
Year  Player         R     H    HR    RBI   BB     TB	
2000  Garciaparra   104   197   21     96   61    317	
2000  Jeter         119   201   15     73   68    285	
2000  Rodriguez     134   175   41    132  100    336	
      Total         357   573   77    301  229    938	
2000  AL          11995 21652 2688        8503  34825	
                  2.98% 2.65% 2.86% 2.51% 2.69% 2.69%	
Year  Player         R     H    HR    RBI   BB     TB	
1983  Ripken        121   211   27    102   58    343	
1983  Yount         102   178   17     80   72    291	
1983  Trammell       83   161   14     66   57    238	
      Total         306   550   58    248  187    872	
1983  AL          10177 20662 1903        7094  31179	
                  3.01% 2.66% 3.05% 2.44% 2.64% 2.80%
Year  Player         R     H    HR    RBI   BB     TB	
1984  Ripken        103   195   27     86   71    327	
1984  Yount         105   186   16     80   67    275	
1984  Trammell       85   174   14     69   60    260	
      Total         293   555   57    235  198    862	
1984  AL          10027 20539 1980        7171  30990	
                  2.92% 2.70% 2.88% 2.34% 2.76% 2.78%

March 4

No snow yet, freezing rain, though. Got my hair cut. Washington Post article on missile defense got me thinking about a Zen Pirates debate some years ago. Zen Pirates was a group of mostly guys who played games and bonded in a nerd male way. A discussion developed on the B-2 Stealth bomber, to which Andy Looney kept saying,"But you don't understand. It's a cool-looking plane." He had to say this several times before the combatants noticed his attitude. I think this means political partisans need to look at alternate thinking. Someone suggested a different plane that was also cool-looking, but didn't cost so much. More bang for the buck, or in this case, more cool for the cash.

March 3

Quiet day today. Fixed a printing problem on my desktop computer. Problem was probably a faulty data switching unit, from back when both a PC and a Commodore 64 were both connected to the same printer. Meanwhile, the Washington area is going crazy because we are expecting a heavy snowstorm Sunday night. Stay tuned for possible snow reports.

March 2

Salon has an article on Intelligent Design Theory, the latest threat to Darwinism in schools. The foundation established to advance Intelligent Design Theory comdens conventional science for "amorality and materialism". Well, duh. It's like putting down the military because it trains people to kill and does little to advance the nation's economic interest. Science does not inherently oppose religion. Getting rid of science gets rid of sanitation, medicine, communications, and transportation. This is the world we live in, deal with it! If you don't like it, go live in a cave.

March 1

You frequently hear fans and sportswriters say,"I don't like the DH, but it's stupid to play with different rules in the two leagues." The rationale sounds reasonable, but consider this:

Imagine football fields being 110 yards long sometimes and 85 yards sometimes. Imagine the three-point line being 18 feet sometimes and 25 feet sometimes. Imagine a roughing penalty resulting in 90 seconds in the sin bin sometimes and 3 minutes sometimes.

Kinda stupid, huh? Well baseball works that way. Since the demise of the cookie-cutter stadiums, every ballpark is different. A home run in one stadium is a long out somewhere else. Lighting conditions make a well-seen ball into a swinging strike somewhere else. I think ballpark differences create greater varieties than just the DH rule. So, if we've lived with these stadium differences, what's the big deal with the DH difference? Major League Baseball has had these variances for nearly 30 years, more than half the life of many fans, and it makes the game more interesting.

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