Work in Progress

Baseball, Seminary, Wrestling, and the Dreams and Days of one Mike Work's Angeles experience

Friday, December 24, 2004

Can we give Saturnalia back?

That's been the dominating sentiment thus far this trip...

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

From today's New York Times: U.S. Cutting Food Aid Aimed at Self-Sufficiency

About to head over to Dad's for dinner, so no time for full analysis now. Thoughts to come later, once I sort out all that needs to hit paper from these last few days.

Friday, December 17, 2004

This'll be fun.

a visit to my brother's LiveJournal revealed a new exercise which might be pretty cool, somewhat of a challenge to be solved via collaboration. Will need to be expanded beyond 20 songs to get 20 with lyrics, with instrumentals removed, but could be much fun.

Instructions are as follows:
Step 1: Get your playlist together, put it on random, and play!
Step 2: Pick your favorite lines from the first 20 songs that play!
Step 3: Post and let everyone you know guess what song the lines come from!
Step 4: Cross out the songs when someone guesses correctly!

I was able to pull one off his list, having just listened to one of the artist's live shows at the top of the week, but i must say, when your playlist is largely composed of albums and live stuff, as mine is at the moment(after five years of singles, for the most part), this could be difficult, but rewarding. Let's go...
(I'll probably do mine by the end of the weekend)

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Beltre to Seattle

And all Dodger fans let out a collective scream of frustration, alongside a groan of deflation.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

90 minutes of blogging which i don't intend to lose, so as such, saved to notepad before a failed attempt at posting:

Just wanted to recap the current status of the national title game, determined by the BCS Standings. As it stands at the completion of the regular season and conference championships, there're three unbeaten teams who have a realistic chance play in
the Orange Bowl this year, the designated national championship game:
12-0 USC
12-0 Oklahoma
12-0 Auburn

In the game of football, one team plays against another team. Three-team games just don't happen, and as such, one of these teams, likely Auburn, will play in another game, without the possibility of being crowned the 'mythical national champion.' That'd mark the first time an undefeated SEC champion would not win the national title, or at least make the title game.

Controversy isn't new to the BCS, which has run up against four different problems in the past five years:
2000 - 11-1 Florida State is chosen to play 12-0 Oklahoma over 10-1 Miami, who defeated Florida State during the regular season, and 10-1 Washington, which handed Miami its sole defeat. Oklahoma alleviates the matter by posting a strong 13-2 victory over the Seminoles, while Miami's victory over Florida leaves the question of 'what if?'
The BCS makes changes to minimize the impact of blowout victories which encouraged title contenders to 'run up the score' and embarrass weaker opponents, dropping two computer ratings in favor of others, and adding a 'quality win component,' awarding points to teams that defeat other top 15 teams
2001 - After Colorado's 62-36 thrashing of Nebraska on Thanksgiving day, it appeared that the huskers would slip from the #1 spot, with Miami rising to #1 and Oklahoma to #2, giving the fans the Canes/Sooners matchup, albeit a year later than some would have liked. This was not to be, as OU fell to intrastate rival Oklahoma State the next day, giving a dynamic Florida team the boost to the top two. Then Florida played Tennessee in a game postponed by the events of 9-11-01. Night game, in the Swamp, and the Vols walked out on top.

Next up in the revolving door of title contenders: Texas. A victory over Colorado in the Big XII title game would push the Longhorns into the Rose Bowl, but a late rally directed by Major Applewhite failed to efface the deficit created by four turnovers before a Chris Simms injury forced a quarterback change that fans (with the exception of Scott Gerace, among others) were clamoring for.

Who's next? How about Tennessee, who, with a victory over LSU would claim their spot. Problem is, they didn't beat LSU. So the revolving door of title contenders stops with one-loss Nebraska, who had avoided the potential of losing a conference championship game by failing to qualify for such a game, skipping over one-loss Oregon and two-loss Colorado. This upset people, many of whom felt that a Colorado team that hadn't lost since a midseason defeat avenged in the Big XII title game deserved the spot over the Nebraska team that they had soundly defeated in late november. I was not among those, instead championing the case of Mike Bellotti, Joey Harrington, and the rest of the Oregon Ducks, who had been jumped in line, as I saw it (along with ESPN's Brad Edwards.

So the big two games were the Fiesta and Rose bowls.
Final scores:
Oregon 38
Colorado 16

Miami 37
Nebraska 14

Go away Big XII pretenders, you have no case. No dispute that Miami was the number one and the best, the only unbeaten in the land. But why couldn't the Ducks, ranked second in the polls going into the bowls, get a chance to play #1 Miami?

Changes were made, some which would pertained to the title game, and others which did not (ie - at-large requirements of 9-3 & top 12 rankings):
Here's what happened:
margin of victory was eliminated and the quality win component was limited to top ten opponents.

No controversy this year, as the BCS matched two unbeatens, 12-0 Ohio State and 12-0 Miami. The game was a studly 37-34 double overtime battle in the Arizona desert which wouldn't have taken place under previous set-ups obligating the Buckeyes to come to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl, so the BCS could be considered a success. For 2002, that is.

No changes were made to the BCS formula going into the season, and going into the final week of the season it appeared that an unbeaten Oklahoma team which had dominated the competition would play either one-loss USC or one-loss LSU for the MNC. Then Kansas State shows up in Arrowhead Stadium and embarrases Oklahoma, going up 35-0 on the Sooners. In the meaning, USC locks down on UCLA and LSU crushes Georgia, leaving two one-loss teams who looked especially impressive since early losses and one who looked great all year, but terrible in their final game.

The Associated Press Poll:
1. USC
2. LSU
3. Oklahoma

The Coaches' Poll:
1. USC
2. LSU
3. Oklahoma

The BCS Title Game:
LSU v. Oklahoma

#1 USC would play #4 Michigan in the Rose Bowl, not the title game. This caused much uproar, as the team which both polls agreed was #1 was not even in the title game.

In the end, we had a split title. LSU beat OU and took home the title in the coaches' poll, while USC's commanding victory over Michigan kept it in the top spot of the Associated Press poll, where the writers had the liberty to do so.

Chaos? Or more changes?
No more strength of schedule, no more quality win component, no more consideration of overall record. Now, 1/3 of the formula is dedicated to each poll, and based on total points/votes, while the final 1/3 is left to the BCS computers.
Retroactive Implications: 2001 would've been Miami/Oregon, and 2003 USC/LSU
Present-day Implications: just win, baby, as some have put it.
So the BCS has avoided a repeat of last year's quandary, where the #1 team didn't make the title game, and managed to create a 1-2 game that wouldn't have been played in the past, provided the top players in the standings remain the same when released tomorrow. I also give them props for recognizing a strong Utah team, and getting them into a major bowl, likely the Fiesta. Would this have happened in the past? IMO, doubtful.

The only big problem is this: USC and OU started the season #1 and #2, and finished the season unbeaten. But so did Auburn, who started much lower in the polls, but went unbeaten in the SEC, with several commanding victories over top teams. The question is whether the revamped BCS gives the Tigers a fair shake at overcoming the preseason biases of the voters, who're typically resistant to dropping a top team in the polls without a loss. I'm not sure what the old systems would have indicated, but it's an interesting question, an interesting question that I shouldn't consider at the moment, given the proximity of my Pentateuch final.

Friday, December 03, 2004

So the evening was sucked away as I rediscovered why Pearl Jam is my favorite band, coming across Pearl Jam Live dot com, where they make shows available from 1990-2003 for streaming. All it took was the Atlanta '03 show (which I, mike, how?) and the Santa Barbara benefit show/Temple of the Dog Reunion to remind me...

Also worthwhile is the sky i scrape, replete with full set listings for the live shows over the years and custom art for each show...very handy for those of us going through old discs and transferring shows from the 98 tour onto computers.

and I got very little studying done for the Pentateuch final. We'll see what can happen in the next 45 before we call it. eight-o-clock flag game on the on.