Wednesday, July 29, 2009

In Defense of Ties

I was happy to read Jim Caple's latest ESPN Page 2 column on the subject of ties:

If two teams play a tremendous, very even game to the end of regulation, why should one go home with a loss due to a ball that just nicks the foul pole in the 13th inning or because it lost the coin toss or because a field goal attempt hit the upright?

Personally, I advocate the elimination of all tie-breaking mechanisms (overtime, shoot-outs, sudden death, whatever you call the thing that college and high school football do) in regular-season contests. If teams are tied at the end of the allotted time (or number of innings), then neither deserves to win or to lose.

Of course, no one would ever go for eliminating all tie-breakers, so why don't we just get rid of tie-breakers that involve changing the way the game is played. For example, the NHL's shoot-out is a fundamentally different type of competition than the game they play during the 60 minutes of regulation. College football's "overtime" removes football essentials such as managing field position and the clock. Let's also eliminate overtime formats in which the result of a coin toss gives one team a significant advantage.

But even if we eliminate these tie-breakers during the regular season, we still have the problem of breaking ties in post-season tournaments. In these situations, I would advocate simply continuing regular play, as in basketball overtime or extra innings in baseball. For football, this would involve two extra periods, each beginning with a kick-off and ending when no time remains on the clock. Eliminating nonsensical tie-breakers could result in some very lengthy post-season contests (especially in hockey and soccer), but maintaining the integrity of sports requires sacrifice.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Overlooked 20th Anniversary of One of the Greatest Sporting Events of My Lifetime

This past Thursday was the twentieth anniversary of the conclusion of the 1989 Tour de France, one of the greatest sporting events I've witnessed. (And by "witnessed," I mean "watched on ABC's Wide World of Sports.") It was the first Tour I followed and remains the most exciting. The 89 Tour was unique in that the final stage was an individual time trial. (The Tour hasn't ended with a time trial since.) Going into the race's final leg American Greg LeMond (the 1986 winner) trailed two-time champion Laurent Fignon by 50 seconds. Making up 50 seconds on a rider like Fignon on a flat, 25 kilometer time trial seemed impossible. But LeMond did it, edging out Fignon by a mere 8 seconds, the slimmest margin of victory in Tour history. (At the time, LeMond's Tour-winning time trial was the race's fastest ever single-stage ride.)

LeMond missed the 1987 and 1988 Tours, having been severely wounded in a hunting accident, and he rode the 1989 race with a few dozen shotgun pellets still in his body. His unlikely victory in Paris earned him the honor of being Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year.

The 1989 Tour featured an inspired performance by 1988 champ Pedro Delgado. Delgado missed his start time, losing 2 minutes and 40 seconds before beginning the prologue time trial, but battled back to finish third. 1989 was also the debut of Miguel Indurain, who won the ninth stage and finished 17th overall. Indurain would win five Tours de France between 1991 and 1995.

Sadly, the sports media overlooked the anniversary of the 1989 Tour. (At least I didn't hear, see, or read anything about it; I may have missed something.) Greg LeMond's incredible final-stage victory has been lost to sports history. LeMond, the first American to win the Tour, would win again in 1990. But by the end of the 1990s Lance Armstrong's come-back-from-cancer-to-win-the-Tour story would trump LeMond's come-back-from-hunting-accident-to-win-the-Tour story. By the time Armstrong was winning his fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh Tours, the American sports fan had largely forgotten Greg LeMond.

If you have a minute, do yourself and Greg LeMond a favor and read up on the 1989 Tour de France. It truly was one of the great competitions in recent sports history and deserves to be remembered as such.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Vacation Pictures

From the Tinleys' three-day sojourn to Rock Island State Park:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Out of Office Notice

I know I haven't been blogging much lately. In addition to the obvious raising-three-kids excuse, I think that my recent devotion to the Wii Fit has cut into my blogging time. (I also don't get as worked up about things as I used to.)

Anyway, I'll be spending the rest of the week on vacation at Rock Island State Park (pictured). The Tinleys will be roughing it in a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom cabin with air conditioning, a full kitchen, a TV and DVD player (and possibly cable), but which (to my knowledge) has no Internet access.

Talk to you next week.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

If You're Not Happy With Your BMI . . .

. . . you should enjoy this article from Slate, which explains why body mass index isn't a useful or terribly meaningful statistic:

BMI simply doesn't work when it comes to individual measurements. Whether that's a problem worth worrying about is another question. Some researchers say BMI's inaccuracies in individual measurements result in little actual harm, since an attentive doctor can spot outliers and adjust her diagnosis accordingly. But this begs the question: If a doctor's eye is better than BMI at determining a patient's healthy weight, then why use BMI for individuals at all?

The article also reveals the history of the BMI statistic. It turns out that body mass index was the creation of Belgian statistician Adolphe Quetelet (who, as it were, had no significant medical training or experience).

Monday, July 20, 2009

I Wonder How Michael Collins Feels Today

In the exactly 40 years since the Apollo 11 lunar landing, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the first two earth creatures to set foot on the moon, have become household names. (For years, Aldrin was definitely the lesser known of the two, but he gained notoriety in 2002 when he punched moon-landing-hoax conspiracy theorist Bart Sibrel outside of a Beverly Hills hotel.) But there was a third member of the Apollo 11 crew. His name was Michael Collins. And he didn't get to walk on the moon. Collins orbited the moon in the command module while his more famous crew-mates planted flags, took pictures, and bounced around on the surface. I always wonder if Collins feels any animosity toward Armstrong or Aldrin or any other astronaut who stepped foot on the moon during a subsequent mission. I wonder if he cringes every time he hears someone on the news say, "Forty years ago today, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin famously became the first men to set foot on the moon. Maybe he holds no grudges, but to me Collins' trip to the moon seems like the NASA equivalent of driving to the Grand Canyon then having to sit in the parking lot while the rest of the family enjoys the view from Lipan Point.

At any rate, happy 40th anniversary Michael Collins.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Scouting Report: Malachi Tinley

I had hoped that my youngest child would demonstrate some skills on the court, but he won't be impressing any scouts with this workout:

("Basketball" by Kurtis Blow originally was the soundtrack for this video, but I ran into copyright infringement problems and had to use one of my songs.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Disney Tells Kids to Reduce Carbon Footprint, Doesn't Mention Global Warming

If you've watched Disney Channel anytime in the last couple months you've probably seen a commercial for Disney's Friends for Change, a campaign that challenges the channel's viewers to pledge to make simple lifestyle changes in the interest of preserving and protecting the environment. (I watch an average of 2 hours of Disney Channel per day.) The first phase of the campaign involves reducing carbon emissions for the purpose of eliminating air pollution. The commercial never uses the phrases "global warming" or "climate change." The Friends for Change website places carbon-cutting efforts (carpooling, only running the washing machine for full loads, etc.) in the "climate" category but makes no mention of how lowering carbon emissions will affect the climate. For that matter, the site says very little about the positive effects of saving water or producing less trash.

While I think it's a mistake not to tell kids more about why they're doing what they're doing, I also think that the global warming omission may be wise. It's not that I'm not concerned about climate change (I am); I'm just not convinced that talk of global warming is the best way to change people's carbon-emitting habits. The science behind global warming is complicated, and the effects of global warming are long term. Climate change has become a political hot button. Regardless of the available evidence, there always will be people for whom an unseasonably cool day in June is proof that global warming is a hoax. Moreover, some people who are convinced that the planet is warming do not accept that human activity is responsible for the warming; and some people who are convinced that humans are to blame for climate change do not believe that there's anything we can do to correct our mistakes.

But those who deny that the climate is changing or that human activity is responsible for this change still have plenty of other good reasons to shrink their carbon footprint. Air pollution from burning fossil fuels has adverse effects on health and quality of life; coal and petroleum are nonrenewable resources that we cannot afford to use excessively or carelessly; planting trees has an aesthetic benefit and provides habitats for several species of animals. The benefits of reducing pollution, conserving resources, and planting are clear, non-controversial, and easy to understand. If we want people to develop habits to combat global warming, it may be best to de-emphasize global warming (as Disney has done).

See Also: "Should We Expect a Green Backlash From the Kids?"

Friday, July 10, 2009

Uh, We're Liquid Diet, and This Song's Called "Chili Meat"

15 years ago today I stepped onto a makeshift stage at an indoor skate park on the east side of Indianapolis wielding an off-brand, buddy version of a Fender Precision Bass. I wore an old Wendy's uniform shirt on which I had written the name of my band: Liquid Diet. We were playing our first show. Joining me were Brian Fuzzell (drums) and Tim Gober (guitar).

We opened with "Summer Days," a song about the travails of summer jobs, SAT-taking, and seasonal boredom. It was followed by five equally wretched songs: "Dead Frog" (about being a misunderstood teen surrounded by mindless peers), "Chili Meat" (about the horrors of working at Wendy's), "Lost" (about isolation and hopelessness in suburbia), "Implode!" (about not much of anything), and "F Plus" (about our junior-year trigonometry class).

Liquid Diet made its debut in front of a few dozen spectators that Sunday night at the TA Skate Shop. We were the second of four acts: Siphon—also playing its first gig (aside from a battle of the bands competition a few months earlier)—started things off; Beneath the Wheel played third, and Blinky's Evil Twin headlined. Beneath the Wheel dissolved shortly thereafter. Blinky eventually become Biscuit Head and had a nice stay in the Indianapolis punk scene. We didn't think much of Siphon after their July 10, 1994 set, and they didn't think much us. But the members of Liquid Diet and Siphon ran into one another several times during the next few months, and the two bands ended up sharing the bill on three shows in December 1994 and January 1995. By that time, Liquid Diet had become Drywall, and Drywall and Siphon—Andy Cook, Chris Elmore, Eric Dedert, Matt Wittlief, Phil Wittlief, and Jeff Lucas—had become close friends and each other's biggest fans. Along with The Lids, Siphon and Drywall (LSD) would form Homeskillet Records, easily Indiana's best fake record label in the late 1990s.

Pictured: a flier from the show. (We made the flier before we knew that Siphon and Beneath the Wheel would be on the bill.)

You can download four songs from our July 10, 1994 set list (later recorded for our 1995 No Mustard and Feege Against the Machine cassettes), though I would advise against it:

And here are some songs that Siphon played on July 10, 1994 and later recorded for their 1995 Can I Finish? record. (I hope they'll forgive me for posting them without permission. Also, by the time these songs were recorded, Adam Brenner had replaced Jeff Lucas.)

One more thing: Liquid Diet drummer Brian Fuzzell's current band, The Nobility will be playing at The End in Nashville one week from today.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Banana Peppers

On the whole I'm a pretty lousy gardener*. These two gorgeous banana peppers are my prize crops. So, with the help of my children, I shall show them off:

* I didn't actually grow these in the garden. They came from a pot on the deck.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Sometimes It's Best to Stay Indoors

Some of my worst memories of college at the University of Evansville involve sitting on the lawn outside of Hyde Hall because my classmates convinced a professor that holding class indoors on such a nice day would be tragic. (This only ever happened in writing and literature classes.) Free from the tyranny of air conditioning and back support, we would struggle to focus on the voices of the professor and our fellow students, distracted by insects, by the sounds of passersby and traffic, and by squirrels. Yes, the squirrels were the worst. During these outdoor class sessions the squirrels, sitting far above me, would pelt me with half-eaten walnuts. This happened on several occasions. I was their favorite target. I would get up and move, and they would find me. They would find me and, with a hard-shelled nut coated in the saliva of a woodland rodent, they would remind me that the land now sitting at 1800 Lincoln Avenue in Evansville, Indiana belonged to them long before the Methodists decided to put a college there.

That said, it was with great pleasure that I read this article by Slate's Juliet Lapidos titled "Let's Go See a Movie in the Park!I've got a better idea: Let's not." Here's a highlight:

My friends may never again invite me to an outdoor film festival, but you, dear reader, will surely field such an offer sometime soon. When the subject comes up, explain that you've heard of an even better venue for movie-watching. You can sit in a comfortable chair, there's air conditioning, pitch darkness, and it's considered common courtesy to pipe down when the previews come on.

Read the whole thing.

Monday, July 06, 2009

An Update on the Mouse

Now that I have three kids, I find that I rarely have the time or energy to blog about or make videos of my kids (or about anything else, for that matter). Thus while Meyer and Resha Kate's formative years have been thoroughly documented on the Internet, Malachi doesn't have much of web presence (and probably won't anytime soon).

But I should tell you that, this weekend, Malachi Wayne "The Mouse" Tinley, learned to crawl, even if I have no video evidence of the feat to share with you. Nice going, Mouse.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Apparently, Professional Sports Is Not a Meritocracy

Sports Illustrated has released its list of the 50 highest paid American athletes. Not surprisingly, Tiger tops the list. Somewhat surprisingly, Phil Mickelson is second. LeBron, A-Rod, and Shaq round out the top 5.

But the list is peppered with mathletes—mostly basketball and baseball players—who nowhere near the top of the their respective sports. Stephon Marbury, who rode the bench for the Knicks before finishing the season as a bench player for the Celtics, is 17th. Steve Francis, who didn't play a single game last season (and it had nothing to do with injuries), is 22nd. Barry Zito, who went 10-17 last year with an ERA of 5.15, is 26th. All of these players rank higher than Tom Brady (26) and Albert Pujols (34), all-time greats in their respective sports. Dale Jr., despite winning only one race in the last two seasons, ranks 11th, 10 places better than any other driver. (Jeff Gordon is 21st.) Jimmie Johnson, who has won three consecutive Sprint Cup championships, is not on the list. Curiously, Tracy McGrady (15), who has yet to play a second-round playoff game, makes more than endorsements than Tim Duncan (16), who has four championship rings and two MVP trophies. The list includes several athletes who once were among the elite in their respective sports but whose skills dropped off after they scored a ginormous contract. (Francis, Zito, Jermaine O'Neal, and Jason Schmidt to name a few.)

22 of the top 50 play in the NBA; 14 play Major League Baseball. In all, only five sports are represented: NBA, MLB, NFL, PGA, and NASCAR. No hockey, soccer, or tennis players made the list. (It's only a matter of time before Jozy Altidore, who's making millions playing for Villareal in Spain and who will no doubt pick up several endorsements following his performance in the Confederations Cup, breaks through.) I was surprised no women made the top 50. I figured that either Serena Williams or Danica Patrick would have collected enough endorsement money to land in the 30s or 40s. Maria Sharapova is the 17th highest paid international athlete (Becks is number one). Were she an American, she would rank 21st.