Oct 04


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It’s possible if you decide to go wildly insane on us that you cd hunt down actual real grown-up discussions, pro and con, of the US system of choosing the President, the loved-and-hated Electoral College – and even read and absorb them all. The case that TMFD must make, of course, is that, whatever its creakily baroque drawbacks from the limited perspective of political science, it’s a system that allows for campaigns of tactics and strategy even more addictively detailed than Risk!: considered purely from the POV of gaming, it allows the fan-observer to examine and dissect – in advance and afterwards – every possible managerial decision and player move: eg “Michigan has come into view by Bush because of Kerry’s weakness among Catholics. In Michigan, Catholics comprise about 5% more of the voting population than the rest of the nation. However (and this is likely underpolled), there is also about a 5% bump over the national average of Arab-descent voters in Michigan, which has flipped from being pro-Bush to now pro-Kerry by a lopsided margin.” And from a non-gaming perspective, one of the potentially radical elements here is that fan-observers are now also (courtesy the interweb) more than ever potential participants: not just ahem “stakeholders”, but fund-raisers, agitators, commentator-critics, blue-sky imagineers, curators of the soul of a political project and/or prankish (re)movers of the goalposts…

[update: i just found THIS to stop me getting to bed at a sensible hour — i am ps not the ONLY superannuated uk “rock” hack to be unhealthily mesmerised by all this stuff, so i am informed]

Oct 04

Its Just like Watching…Garforth Town

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Its Just like Watching…Garforth Town

A lovely little story about Socrates, of that their Brazil (in the 80’s admittedly) playing for a non-league side. However just because it is on a “Funny Old Game” part of the BBC website, does that mean they have to subtitle the photo of Socrates with: “Socrates was one cool dude”? Maybe it does.

Oct 04

Rock, Paper, Scissors

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Rock, Paper, Scissors

There’s a great article on this game (which had its world championships recently) here, explaining how it isn’t as artificial a situation as you might think – it describes a set of dice where over a number of ‘highest roll wins’ rounds, A beats B, B beats C and C beats A!

A Defence of Mike Riley

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A Defence of Mike Riley

I feel the level of criticism is unwarranted.

He got most of the decisions right. The Ljundberg / Ferdinand coming together was probably the most controversial. It was a push, but Ljunberg’s reaction was to get on with it and his touch had ruined the chance anyway. Is Ferdinand still technically the last man? Yes. Was it a clear goal scoring opportunity? No, I think the heavy touch voided it.

The Rooney / Campbell ‘tackle’ looked every inch a penalty from the referee’s position. Campbell dangled his leg across Rooney’s path and whether there was contact or not, nearly every referee in the business would have given it. Andy Gray said “that’s a penalty” as soon as it happened. Only after 15 replays did he change his mind. The one Riley missed was Ashley Cole upending Ronaldo. The assistant Referee was in line and didn’t flinch. Ronaldo’s reputation doesn’t help, I guess, but Riley got no support from his assistant.

So, if there is a criticism, it’s in the choice of assistant referees. I don’t know whether this is Riley’s decision or the FA’s, but he needed greater support. Van Nistelrooy was intent on snidey kicks and unchecked petulance and there were off-the-ball incidents that no referee could have spotted.

Riley tried to keep the cards to a minimum and showed composure in the opening half hour. He knew the first booking would be the start of a deluge. Perhaps he should have told Vieria to stop following him around, but he’d obviously thought about involving the captains in dialogue rather than isolate himself completely.

It was a scrappy game, verging on the impossible to referee (and he didn’t get every decision right), but I think he made a decent job of it.

Oct 04

El Diego

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El Diego

Maradona has rushed out his story after a succession of problems with his heart. “This book isn’t about my private life,” he says, curiously for an autobiography, and context is relegated to the footnotes. The subtext is Maradona against the world.

Here is an example of obstacles put in the way of Maradona: In 1990 he was arrested and banned for 15 months. It was a conspiracy by FIFA, aggrieved at Argentina making the Italia ’90 World Cup Final instead of the home nation. Big business was also involved in some ill-defined way. He doesn’t even mention the reason for the arrest; the Mutu marching powder found in his apartment.

He then describes journalists turning up at his country house and being annoyed by this. The footnotes say: [Maradona shot the journalists with an air rifle].

He has a curious turn of phrase, “he let the tortoise get away from him,” an example of a line repeated throughout the book meaning the person isn’t in control of a situation. The translator notes that this isn’t a local idiom, just a phrase Maradona has invented.

His ego wears the book down and he writes almost exclusively from the third person. The whole thing feels as if it is a stream of consciousness shouted into a microphone and transposed straight into type. It is impossible to sympathise because there is not a shred of humility.

According to Maradona, he is always up against the wall, flying in the face of officialdom, combating vague injustices. “I’m just a simple kid from a Buenos Aires shanty town”, he says from his country mansion. Contradictions pepper the text and the final third most resembles Maradona himself; bloated, slightly manic and paranoid.

He was the greatest footballer of his generation and in later life, with sober and humble reflection, could have written one of football’s great stories. This isn’t that book and unfortunately, I don’t think he will live long enough to publish it.

Oct 04

the negative pragmatics of soxmania

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the negative pragmatics of soxmania: or

3lisha S3ssions writes:
“It’s only in recent years that the word “curse” came to be associated with the Red Sox’s particular brand of hope-dashing bad luck. Before 1986, the last time the Red Sox went to the World Series, in which they were one strike away from winning it all, they were perhaps more pragmatically known for simply being choke artistes of the highest caliber. No lead was too large for them to find a way to blow it. No weakly-hit ball could be considered a sure out. When Billy “Bad Wheels” Buckner let that little squib of a ground ball through his legs in game 6 of the 1986 World Series, it was merely the culmination of a disastrous inning that saw three straight hits and a wild pitch from Calvin Schiraldi that allowed the Mets to inch that much closer. I couldn’t take it, and went back to my parents’ bedroom to stare at the ceiling and wonder why this game was so cruel to my team. So I didn’t see the famous grounder go between Bill Buckner’s legs. My dad came in five minutes later to tell me. But somehow I already knew.

“Such moments form a litany as familiar as a rosary, a new bead being added each year or two, with which we poor mis-shapen souls atone for our particular choice of team to root for. Some stop practicing the religion altogether, or find new champions, because of the formidable exhaustion and heartbreak involved. Those who stay on try to harden our hearts and immunize ourselves to the blandishments of this year’s promising crop. We roll our eyes as a reflex. It’s almost comforting to know that victory will always be just out of reach: if defeat is foretold, we can say that we knew it all along. When the Sox finally won a game against the Yankees, cutting the deficit to 3-1, Red Sox Nation let out a collective groan. When they won again, we were proud of them, but we knew it would only jack up the eventual pain. When the Sox evened the Series we wanted blood: to be down 3-0, come back 3-3, and then lose in the 7th and deciding game – well, surely the only disappointment greater would be to choke in the World Series.

“The World Series. Which the Red Sox have famously failed to win since 1918. The outlook this year is of course propitious. Reebok has constructed what they call a “magic shoe” for Curt Schilling. Does sports gear get any more talismanic than that? We have the legendary god of numbers, Bill James, on our payroll as well – the inventor of “fantasy league” sports, and a seer amongst the thickets of statistics this sport produces each year. But his presence is at least half-totemic, too, like a cardinal or bishop versed in oblique obscurities, capable of offering advice, but really more of a lucky charm. After all, And although an underwater search failed to raise the piano that Babe Ruth reportedly pushed into the pond behind his house during a particularly crazy party – back before the Babe played for the Yankees, before the pinstriped team from the Bronx convinced him to give up his remarkable pitching career to try swinging the bat a little more, before he got sold so that Boston owner Harry Frazee could finance a musical called “No, No, Nanette,” after which the Red Sox never again won a World Series, despite having won half of the first decade’s worth of them – despite dozens of complex rituals, which count amongst their number the placement of Sox paraphernalia on the summit of Mount Everest and secret hexes thrown over Babe Ruth’s grave – and despite the deep pockets of its owners, who must spend a king’s ransom each year just to keep within spitting distance of George Steinbrenner’s Yankees, who cost about 70M more than these, your Boston Red Sox – each year they find a new way to lose.

“This is why Sox fans are unhappier now than we were when we were down 3-0 to the Yankees. Because we know how this script ends and we’d like to get it over with. Living in the shadow of the Yankees is comforting, because it’s not really about us, it’s about everybody else who keeps us down (the Sox fan’s most popular – and most pathetic – chant mentions the Yankees but not the Red Sox). Now it’s about us, and we’re frightened out of our wits. We are the perennial loser, the promising son who disappoints, the prodigy who falls apart in public performance. And now we really will have no one to blame but ourselves. And the curse, of course. For the last 86 years the Red Sox have come up short. 1986 was our last shot at it. That was 18 years ago. We last won it in 1918. “A remarkable coincidence,” stat-guru Bill James might say. Red Sox fans know better than to believe in coincidences, but we also know better than to believe we might win. Watching the World Series this year will be like seeing an old favorite film on videotape. But privately, some seed of infernal hope will blossom in our hearts unbidden. A snappy play from Pokey Reese, a couple of quick innings, and who knows what crazy thoughts we might begin thinking. We might even start thinking that this is the year. Because there is a script that contains all other scripts, and that one says that someday the low places will be raised up and the mountains shall be brought low, the crooked places made straight, and the rough places plain. To plod with willful diffidence against such a day, to accept that the videotape will show the same scene that it did the last time, would make life far more bearable. But apparently, we’re cursed.”

posted on MR H4ND’S behalf by…

Oct 04

Light moustache for multiball

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Light moustache for multiball: the Hitler pinball machine may have been canned but we hope the Moses edition enters production – hit all ten commandments for jackpot…

the greatest comeback in sports history

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the greatest comeback in sports history??

clearly it is odd for me to be bloggin abt the SoXorZes but i am v.interested of curses – there are not enuff in brit sports i think… anyway, outlanders, is this claim true beyond the borders of the us? they went from 3-0 down to win 4-3 but i think all sorts of other records got broken also, plus drama galore plus allsorts

While proper management nerds

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While proper management nerds are waiting for the knock-down drag-out battle between Championship Manager 5 and the all-new Football Manager, I have been waiting for tomorrow’s release of LMA Manager 2005, their idiot-proof console cousin. I like LMA because it is pretty, it is easier without being stupidly easy, and you can play it on the sofa. But what of the new features in the 2005 edition? Let’s see which is most attractive:

playable Portugese and Dutch leagues? Can’t see myself getting much out of these frankly.
playable English Conference? Bit more like it.
more detailed feedback on player mood? Might be handy.
better goalkeeper AI? I’ll believe it when I see it.
EyeToy capabilities? NOW WE’RE TALKING! Yes, what is mostly selling me on the need for an upgrade is the capability to take photos of my ugly mug in states of joy and anger, which will then appear on the in-game news headlines. Kevin Toms would have approved.

Oct 04


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i just this minute underwent the MOST EXCITING SPORTS RECAP i ever heard = Mr TR4CER H4ND explaining me the redsox hoohah by mobile, as they last night in the face of the legendary 86-year-old curse beat back the yankeeZoRz from 3-0 to 3-3, each time from the uttermost brinkly brink across the yawning maw of record-breakingly long games, their star pitcher yesterday playing w.a super-dodgy ankle “cured” pro tem more by witchcraft than science, w. (sed Mr Hand) “blood visibly oozing through the white cotton”….

tonight = the DECIDER