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February 2, 2009

[Business Day One] A Wizard’s Guide To Sports

Filed under: Business Day One,MMA — Tags: , , — Serpico @ 1:55 pm

Steelers-Cardinals was boring.  Sure, Big Ben Roflcopter led a blistering two minute drive down the field to score the go-ahead touchdown with under 60 seconds to play.  Sure, the Santonio Holmes catch was impossibly athletic, and could only be performed by about 50 people in the world.  But, well, Roflcopter always leads those drives and Holmes always makes those catches.  And the game ended just as Vegas predicted – a close Pittsburgh victory.

UFC 94 was boring.  The main event (St. Pierre vs. Penn 2) involved the Canadian ruthlessly pounding the confused and exhausted American for four rounds before the fight was called.

The sporting highlight of my weekend was neither of these things.  It was, instead, my first viewing of Wisest Wizard, the greatest nerd-related drinking game I’ve ever seen.  Here’s how it works:  Every time you finish a beer (or a diet A&W root beer, in my case), you duct tape a fresh beer to the top of it.  Eventually, you create a mighty wizard staff of beer cans and duct tape.  Every third or fourth can, you fight a “boss battle,” which involves taking a shot.  And that’s it.  That’s the game.

The peripherals of this hobby are splendid.  You can discuss which powers you gain as you increase in level (“I just learned the Stumble spell” or “Dude, you just discovered Summon Lo Mein Fart.”)  Walking around with an aluminum staff is ridiculous, as they are more durable than you think they’d be.  Wisest Wizard works at any sporting event that could use a little extra spice on it.  Like, say, a lackluster SuperBowl or Ultimate Fighting event.  Seriously.  As a nerd, you owe it to yourself to pick this up.

February 26, 2008

I Coulda Been A Contenda!

Filed under: MMA — Tags: , , , , , — Perich @ 10:00 am

There are two MMA movies coming out within a year.

Ken ShamrockThe first, Never Submit, is the story of a judo champion who enters an MMA tournament, haunted by the memory of his father’s death in a no-holds-barred match 10 years earlier. Ken Shamrock plays the dead father; I know getting defeated in an MMA match will be a stretch for him to play but I bet he’s got the chops.

I wouldn’t count on seeing this movie any time soon, however, or in any sort of major release. Rumors about its production have been circulating for a year and a half now (note: the fighters named in that article are apparently no longer in the cast). Its official website is terrible. You start to recognize these things as symptoms of “production hell” – the pre-filming stages that mean a movie’s never coming to life.

“When,” you ask, “oh when will a serious director give mixed martial arts the treatment they deserve?”

Chiwetel Ejiofor in RedbeltApparently, May of this year. David Mamet (?!) is releasing his film Redbelt, starring Serenity‘s Chiwetel Ejiofor (?!?) as a martial arts instructor turned prize fighter. Additional cast include Mamet regulars Ricky Jay, Joe Mantegna, Rebecca Pidgeon, as well as that staple of fighting films, Tim Allen (?!?!). And it boasts big name fighters like Randy “The Natural” Couture in its cast.

As usual with a Mamet film, an outsider is drawn into a world of lies and intrigue, nothing is as it seems, etc etc. In this case, Ejiofor (as a martial arts teacher) crosses paths with a big celebrity (Allen). He becomes embroiled in the world of Hollywood, and then with the world of MMA prizefighting, through seedy pay-per-view promoters (Jay; Mantegna). Unlike most Mamet films, however, there are some kickass fight scenes.

Never Submit barely has a consistent cast. Redbelt already has a kickass trailer. I know which movie I’m in line to see.

October 2, 2007

Rocky Mountain High

Filed under: Baseball,Football,MMA — Tags: , , , , — Perich @ 9:44 am

Let’s talk science.

Going into last night’s game, the San Diego Padres’ bullpen had the best ERA in the league at a rock-steady 3.00. In case anyone forgot that, watching them butt heads against the Rockies last night, note that San Diego gave up just one hit between the time they pulled Jake Peavy (in the 7th) and the time they called in Trevor Hoffman (in the 13th). One hit in six innings.

Ol’ ReliableHoffman, who holds the record for saves, proceeded to give up two doubles, a triple, and then walk the runners into position for Matt Holliday to score the game-winning (and still disputed) run.

Why did Hoffman break down so spectacularly? You can talk about the pressure; you can pin it on an off night. But we wouldn’t be Nerds on Sports if we didn’t at least consider the well-documented “Coors Field Effect.”

Coors Field is located 1 yard shy of a mile above sea level, the highest ballpark – by far – in the Major Leagues. The air thins at that altitude. Will a baseball, which is significantly hollow, tend to travel further in such a park?

Science!Howard L. Penn of the U.S. Naval Academy, in the course of figuring the home-runniness of various ballparks, came across an answer. Using Halley’s rule, a centuries-old formula for determining the amount of powder needed to land a cannonball on a given target, he came up with some interesting figures.

A home run ball hit at Coors Field as an average velocity of 110.82 feet per second, the highest in the league. A baseball hit in Colorado travels 10% farther than it would near sea level.
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July 17, 2007

The Mild World of Sports

Filed under: Baseball,Football,Hockey,MMA — Tags: , , , , — Perich @ 11:00 am

Here is a list of Popular Sports and their Improvised Indoor Equivalents:

Sport: Football

Equivalent: Paper Field Goals

Paper FootballSetup: Fold a piece of 8.5 x 11 paper in half so it’s long and skinny. Fold it in half again the same way. Now triangle it up like you’re folding an American flag. The resulting wad should be a very compact little triangle. If you don’t know how to fold an American flag, join the Boy Scouts and suffer like the rest of us did.

Rules: One guy holds his hands up, palms out, and touches the tips of his thumbs together. The other guy tries to flick the paper football through the open space in his hands, like a field goal kick.

Accuracy: This game omits every aspect of traditional football – running, passing, blocking, tackling, play-calling – except kicking field goals. As such, it’s a remarkably faithful imitation of a Ravens / Colts game, but otherwise not very close.

# # #

Sport: Basketball

Equivalent: Trashcan Basketball

Setup: You need a trashcan and anything that can be held in one hand. This can be a crumpled up piece of paper, a crushed soda can, a ball of rubber bands, a stress ball, anything.

Not strictly necessaryRules: One player attempts to throw the projectile into the trashcan. The other player plays defense. If played in an office, the players may confine themselves to wheeled office chairs for an added challenge.

Accuracy: Remarkably close. What the game loses in scoring and fouls, it more than makes up for in the volume of trash-talking.

# # #

Sport: Hockey

Equivalent: Coin Hockey

Setup: Three coins of equal denomination and a long smooth surface, like a conference table.

Rules: Put the three coins together like a triangle. Tap the coin closest to you very firmly. The force will be transferred to the other two coins, causing them to scatter.

Real hockeyYou then work this trio of coins up the table by sliding one of them between the other two. The moving coin can’t touch either of the stationary coins and it can’t fall off the table, or play changes hands.

If the coins get to the end of the table, shoot them through a goal made by the other player’s hands.

Accuracy: Notional. There’s a goal and you slide a flat object through it. It barely has any correspondence with the game of the same name. I mean, come on. It’s like people don’t even watch hockey anymore.

# # #

Sport: Baseball

Equivalent: Home Run Derby

Setup: A small object (same size as Trashcan Basketball) and a long, flat object. A binder full of procedures, a cafeteria tray or a textbook will work just fine.

Rules: One player throws the object. The other player swings his “bat” at the object and sends it as far as he can. He then imitates his favorite announcer’s method of describing a home run.

Accuracy: Most people don’t even keep score.

# # #

Sport: Mixed Martial Arts

Equivalent: You Wanna Go?

Setup: Two guys in a hallway, conference room or classroom.

He wants to goRules: After a mock insult is exchanged between the players, they bump chests, throw their arms up into the air, and taunt each other with some variety of, “You wanna go? You wanna throw down, cupcake? You gonna back up that tough talk? What? What you looking at? What?” This continues until one or both players back down, saying some equivalent of “That’s what I thought” or “Yeah, you just wait.”

Accuracy: Close enough.

April 10, 2007

PRIDE Fighting – Like UFC But With More Hugs

Filed under: MMA — Tags: , , — Perich @ 4:57 pm

PRIDE (or, to use its Christian name, PRIDE Fighting Championships), was founded in Japan in 1996. It’s an international mixed-martial arts league, similar in format to UFC, where two large men hit each other as hard as they can when they’re not hugging. If you can follow UFC, you can follow PRIDE.

PRIDE differs from UFC, though, in a few key areas:

  • Fighters in a PRIDE match can kick downed opponents in the head, where UFC frowns on it. Oddly, PRIDE forbids elbow strikes to the head, where UFC allows them (so long as it’s not point first, i.e. fatal).
  • UFC bouts consist of three rounds of five minutes each. This is already pretty grueling – while football requires short bursts of adrenaline every 40 seconds, MMA demands a pretty consistent level of exertion. PRIDE, preferring to watch huge men stagger like wounded elephants, sets its first round at ten minutes and any subsequent rounds at five.
  • There are a lot more Japanese men in disturbing tights in a PRIDE fight than you’ll find, on average, in UFC.

If the above excites you half as much as it excites me, check out “PRIDE Fighting Championship” on FSN. Fox Sports rumormonger Jay Glazer and erstwhile MMA fighter Frank Trigg. In a couple of ill-fitting silk suits, they turn 30 minutes’ worth of archived footage into 48 minutes of show by adding their own redundant analysis. For extra fun, watch the fight recaps where Frank Trigg highlights the StrikeZoneTM – a CGI’ed box that inevitably appears around a fighter’s ass, crotch or face.”He really turned this fight around,” Trigg will say, “by planting his feet, picking his opponent up, and slamming him into the mat skull first” (said skull-slamming actually happening to Josh “The Baby-faced Assassin” Barnett, a match he went on to win). And then we StrikeZoneTM on Josh’s ass.

FSN’s PRIDE recaps are the kind of show DVR was made for, as it comes on at odd hours (7 PM on Sundays, and not always then) and has a pretty low signal-to-noise ratio. But if you want to watch Fedor Emilianenko legally rape a man, this is probably the show for you.

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