Nerds on Sports Where nerds are talking about sports!

June 21, 2014

STATurday: Visualizing the MBTA

Filed under: Staturday — Tags: , — Willis @ 10:06 am

trainsEarlier this month a couple of dedicated Worcester Polytechnic Institute students put together some visualizations of Boston’s MBTA’s movement of people around the city. They have charts showing the on-time performance of trains. They have interactive items to see where your particular commute falls in the grand scheme of things. And they have all the stations ranked by how busy they are with people going in and out.

Few things to note: This data is for 1 month: February 2014. There is no info on the Green Line (not provided by the MBTA — They’re probably afraid to see how bad it really is) or the Commuter Rail (they focused on subway), which is sad, because I think those 2 lines are some of the worst offenders.

If you’re a software person and really want to know how these guys got this all set up, check out their handout.

May 26, 2014

In Ex-RedSox News

Filed under: Baseball — Tags: , , , , , , , — Willis @ 10:00 am

Manny Being MannyManny “ManRam” Ramirez  was signed to a minor league contract to be a player-coach at Triple-A Iowa by The Chicago Cubs and their President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, who was with Ramirez for seven years in the Boston. So now he can teach all the young new players how to just be Manny being Manny.

“While Manny is not and will not be a fit on the Cubs major league roster, we do think at this stage of his life he’s a nice fit as a mentor for some of the young talented hitters we have in the organization. Manny will coach full-time and play part-time in a limited role that does not take at-bats away from our prospects. If he shows there is still some magic in his bat, perhaps he will find his way to the major leagues and help another team, but that is not why he is here. We are thrilled that he wants to work with our young hitters and make a difference.”

Pedro Martinez was one of the best pitchers the game have ever seen, and he takes a little time from his roll of “Special Assistant” (We all know that just means him and Kevin Millar are the Sox official party starters, and they are good at their job.) for the RedSox to discuss the art and science of pitching.

“Pitching is both [art and science] and you have to put them together. You have to study a lot. You have to study the movement of your pitches – the distance your pitches move compared to the swing paths of batters. You have to learn to read bat speed against the speed of a fastball. You can tell a slow bat or a long swing, or a short, quick swing. You counter those things. If a hitter has a slow swing, I don’t want to throw him anything soft. I want to go hard against slow. If he has a quick bat, I probably want to be soft more than I want to be hard. You have to be able to repeat your delivery and be deceiving at the same time.

And one final story, about beer and bats…

May 2, 2014

It’s Kentucky Derby Time

Filed under: Racing — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Willis @ 11:57 am

Happy almost first Saturday in May. You know what that means… It’s Derby Time!

So grab your over-sized hats and substantial fascinators because the 140th derby is tomorrow. Pour yourself a strong mint julep, find your rose garland, and sing along to My Old Kentucky Home.

Now that you’re mostly prepared, it’s time for learning about the horses, and for that I’m going to strap a feed bag of useless untrue horse info to your face:

  1. Vicar’s In Trouble (20-1) – Sounds like a newspaper headline out of Boston, but I actually think it’s a dirty joke based on the horse’s parents names: Vibrant, by Vicar and Into Mischief. Why I’m betting this horse: He’s being ridden by a female jockey.  And not just any female jockey, the best female jockey. And I think it’s time for a lady to win the derby.
  2. Harry’s Holiday (50-1) – This horse is ranked 19th of the 20 horses in the Derby, but I think the name was just created to pull some royal buzz. Yesterday Prince Harry parties hard at a Miami bachelor party after split from Cressida Bonas… Sounds like a pretty good holiday to me. Why I’m betting this horse: The longshot odds… Just imagine the winnings potential!
  3. Uncle Sigh (30-1) – Yup, it’s a horse named after a dude on TV. Uncle Sigh is named for Uncle Si Robertson from A&E’s reality TV show “Duck Dynasty.” I hope the jockey has a duck call in his mouth and is quacking the whole race. Why I’m betting this horse: Wounded Warrior Stable pledges to donate 10-percent of his earnings to various charities supporting injured veterans.
  4. DanzaDanza (8-1) – Just when you get over the surprise of a horse named after a TV guy… Danza was named after Tony Danza, and got the name in a horse naming contest. Also, there are horse naming contests!? How do I get a piece of that action? I know tons of dudes on TV’s names! Why I’m betting this horse: Tony Fucking Danza! And the Jockey pretty much has a superhero alter-ego name: Joe Bravo.
  5. California Chrome (5-2) – Everyone loves California Chrome. It’s so shiny and nice, and he’s won his last 5 races. Why I’m betting this horse: I’m not. He’s already won more money than all the other horses here – he’s starting to not care. It’s time for CC to lose. And when he does, we can all say he sucked so bad he could suck the chrome off a trailer hitch.
  6. Samraat (15-1) – I never know how to pronounce  a double a in words like this. Is it sam-rat or sam-ra-at? Also, I always hear it in my head like Mumraaa the Everliving. Anyway, let’s just go with the English translation of this Indian word: “Emperor.” Why I’m betting this horse: He’s the Emperor and he’s got a new groove.
  7. We Miss Artie (50-1) – I was hoping this horse was named by someone who really wanted Artie Lange back on the Stern show or something, but no — Artie is just the daddy horse name. Do you think some race horses have daddy issues? So many of them are named after them and are expected to be as good as or better than their fathers. Is this the way we’d want our horse children treated? How many suicidal horses must we lose before we learn!? Why I’m betting this horse: Because I miss Artie, don’t you?
  8. General A Rod (15-1) – On one of the sites I was researching horse info, this horse’s name is written as General a Rod. Which instead of honoring a A. Rodriguez becomes an insult for the guy leading your army. Who’s in charge here — General a Rod Up His Butt? Why I’m betting this horse: I’m not. I don’t like ol’ Purple Lips A-Rod and the real horse’s namesake no longer owns the horse.
  9. Vinceremos (30-1) – Horses are so often named after their parents. Is this horse the love child of @VinnyCaravella and @chrisremo? Why I’m betting this horse: Because of Vinny and Chris even though they have nothing to do with this horse or horse racing or Kentucky.
  10. Wildcat Red (15-1) -This horse is coming out of the gate with no quarterback. It’s a 2 full-back formation and those other horses will never see it coming. This trick has worked pretty well so far as Wildcat Red has either been first or second in all 7 of his previous races. Let’s hope those other horses haven’t been studying the tape too much. Why I’m betting this horse: I’m not. I don’t bet on communist horses from Venezuela.

    Hoppertunity

    File Photo of Hoppertunity

  11. Hoppertunity (SCR) – Someone caught on that this wasn’t actually a horse, but was, in fact, a team of rabbits in a horse suit. Maybe next year bunnies.
  12. Dance With Fate (20-1) – Have you ever tried dancing with fate? She’s a terrible dancer – so predictable and it ends with the same dip every time. Also, horses can’t dance well — they have 2 left feet. Why I’m betting this horse: Because of the pretty pink shirt the jockey wears.
  13. Chitu (20-1) – Anyone know what a Chitu is? Is he the son of Chiwon? I’ll admit that was a terrible joke, but I really don’t know what a Chitu is and Google is no help. Why I’m betting this horse: I’m not. This horse might as well be named Blasted Samoflange (actually, that’d be an awesome horse name) because I don’t know what the heck it is.
  14. Medal Count (20-1) – Medal Count is the worst, most awful part of Olympic coverage. Useless info. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing. Why I’m betting this horse: Yesterday was his third birthday, and I have to assume there is a child, that speaks horse, who will go to the paddock before the race and inform them of this. The horses will collude to allow Medal Count to get a win. Cartoons have never led me astray before.
  15. Tapiture (8-1) – His dad (sire in horse terms), Tapit, played a mean guitar solo to woo his mother (dam in horse terms). She was named “Free Ride” but was actually the prude of the stables. When Tapiture was born, Tapit chose the name because he was the son of Tapit and an awesome guitar jam. Why I’m betting this horse: I’m not. Tapiture is a stupid name created by a stupid horse.
  16. Intense Holiday (8-1) – Half brother of Harry’s Holiday in the second slot. He is a bastard child as his dam never won a race, but I think that just drives Intense more. The sibling rivalry is huge between these two: Harry’s won more races, but Intense has won more money. The Derby could be the deciding factor in this sibling war. Why I’m betting this horse: I’m not. I only bet on one Holiday bother to keep the rivalry going.
  17. Commanding Curve (50-1) – With a sire of Master Command this horse could have been named Commanding Anything, yet somehow they chose the worst possible word. How does a curve command? Why I’m betting this horse: I’m not. This is the worse name here and it doesn’t deserve to be recognized at all.
  18. Candy Boy (15-1) – As the son of Candy Ride, Candy Boy makes complete sense. That’s more than we can say about Commanding Curve. Why I’m betting this horse: I’m not. The other horses are gonna say Candy Boy needs to shut his mouth, go down Know Your Role Boulevard, just off Jabroni Drive, and check himself directly into the Smackdown Hotel, where we will be waiting to layeth the smacketh downeth on his candy ass!Hipster Horse
  19. Ride On Curlin (15-1) – I’m pretty sure this is the indie hipster pick of the race. (Other than his dad being the richest horse in history that is.) OwnerDaniel Dougherty is furniture dealer from Louisville, Kentucky.  He bought Ride on Curlin for $25,000 and then turned down a $1 million offer after the horse set a track record at Ellis Park. Trainer:  Billy “Bronco” Gowan trains a small number of horses at Churchill Downs training center in Louisville, Kentucky. Jockey: Hall of famer, Calvin Borel of 2009 longshot Mine That Bird fame. Why I’m betting this horse: I’m a hipster.
  20. Wicked Strong (6-1) – Yeah khed. Boston strong dude. Reds Sox, and Pay-chits, and Brunes are winnahs too so this horses is best. Gimme some steaks tips and Budweisers and I’ll see you at the Frog Pond.  Why I’m betting this horse: Boston Strong and 5% of his winnings go to the One Fund.
  21. Pablo del Monte (50-1) – The replacement for Hoppertunity is Pablo Del Monte. Ever wonder what was in those fruit cups? Well, it’s horse. Now you know. Why I’m betting this horse: I’m not. Pablo was probably the one that tipped off the authorities that Hoppertunity wasn’t a real horse. And snitches don’t get my bets.

So let’s get out there and yell at some horses for 3 minutes after drinking whiskey for 3 hours!

April 20, 2009

[Business Day One] Today In Boston

Filed under: Business Day One — Tags: — Serpico @ 9:39 am

So here’s what’s happening today in Boston.

9:30 a.m. – The Boston Marathon began.

11:00 a.m. – The Red Sox play the only morning game of baseball in MLB.

7 p.m. – The Celtics take on the Bulls at the Garden.

7 p.m.- The Bruins try to extend to a 3-0 series lead against Montreal.

See that, right there?  That’s what happens when you live in a sports city.  You start wondering how the heck you’re going to watch the marathon and the Sox game at the same time, and then you spent three hours deciding which bar to go to (my vote is Common Ground in Allston Rock City) to see both the B’s and the C’s play their way through the postseason.

Find what your city does well and embrace it.  That’s the way to love where you live.

April 7, 2009

Boston Globe Red Sox Commercials

Filed under: Baseball — Tags: , , , — Willis @ 12:40 pm

A couple friends of mine are 2 of the 3 stars in these commercials for Boston Globe Red Sox Store that will air during Red Sox games on NESN this year. Check them out:


Who is the best Connect 4 Player?

These 2 feature a Boston Terrier watching the Boston Red Sox:

I love the ending of this one:

A Ball Thief is on the loose:

February 19, 2009

Fenway Park: Never Going To Die

Filed under: Baseball — Tags: , , , , — Willis @ 7:28 pm
Yes, This is an actual seat at Fenway. Probably cost an arm and a leg.

Yes, This is an actual seat at Fenway. Probably cost an arm and a leg.

I’m a fan of Red Sox baseball. I travel from New York to Boston to see a few games a year. I grew up in a Red Sox Baseball household. What I’m getting at is that I love almost everything about my precious team. What I don’t love (and by don’t love, I mean HATE) is Fenway Park.

I hate having bruises on my knees from the closeness of the rows. I hate having a stiff neck because the seat is not actually pointing toward the infield. I hate getting excessive physical contact from the person next to me because we both don’t fit in to the not wide enough seats. I hate that the park is so small that even though I wake early and spend almost 8 hours online, I’m only able to get scattered single seats with obstructed views. I hate that it’s impossible to get from one side of the park to the other because the only way to do this is the third base concourse. That concourse is more crowded that Paris Hilton’s bedroom and smaller than her brain. And I hate anyone who is too in love with the park to see the benefits of a new one.

All this hate can be erased with a plan for a new park, but that’s not likely. How unlikely? A new Red Sox ballpark will probably not happen during my lifetime. This is what CEO Larry Lucchino said:

I think a result of the investment that our ownership group has made is a Fenway Park that will be stable and solid and with a normal maintenance will be around for another 50 years

Gah! Well, I guess now that I live in New York City, and the Mets have a new stadium, I should go check those guys out. I hear they have this familiar ability to do well and then fail in the end that I grew up with.

April 22, 2008

The Blood of Patriots

Filed under: Baseball,Hockey — Tags: , , , , — Perich @ 8:02 am

Here’s some Boston-related sports news:

First, some kind of marathon. The ESPN coverage hints at but doesn’t really spell out how close the final half-mile was between the Russian, Alevtina Biktimirova, and the Final Fantasy VII villain Dire Tune. Tune and Biktimirova covered that last eight blocks in a dead-out sprint. They wove in and out of each other’s paths. People screamed. It was epic.

On the men’s side, the race belonged to four-time winner Cheruiyot from at least Newton on. He led a small knot of about four runners for a good stretch, then just broke away from them a second at a time. After that, nobody could even touch him for the remaining miles. He pumped his fist after crossing the finish line and counted out one-two-three-four, thus proving he’s no stranger to Boston post-victory culture. Bill Belichick’s got his eye on him.

Not all was joy in Mudville, however: the Canadiens trapped, shot and skinned the Bruins last night, knocking them out of the championship contention. Montreal rookie goalie Andrei Kostitsyn had the game of his life, not letting a single one of Boston’s 25 shots on goal get by. Thus another Bruins’ season ends in disappointment, which isn’t really “news” in the traditional sense. Think of a workplace safety board being updated – “X Days Without an Incident”; that’s the kind of story this is.

Finally, undaunted by their stunt’s unexpected success last year, Jordan’s Furniture is once again offering free furniture. This time, though, the Sox can’t just win the World Series – they have to sweep the first four games. They paid for this with an “insurance policy” last year, which I have to imagine is secret code for “gigantic sports book” as I can’t picture Citigroup writing off baseball-related furniture losses.

Can this stunt pay off?

The MLB.REDSOX contract is going for 14.00 on Tradesports. There’s no “REDSOX.SWEEP” contract posted, but let’s assume, for the sake of blogging, that the odds are similar. A contract on Tradesports pays $100 $10 if the conditions it describes come true. So to “insure” one million dollars worth of furniture, Jordan’s Furniture would need to buy 10,000100,000 shares of MLB.REDSOX. If they bought today, that’d cost them $140,000. (Edit: fixed some math)

I don’t know much about inventory and wholesaling, but I say that’s not a bad bet.

(If there’s any interest, I’ll talk more about Tradesports and other “idea futures” in another post)

February 12, 2008

FAH-Q

Filed under: NCAA — Tags: , , , , , , , — Perich @ 8:00 am

Nerds on Sports correspondents Serpico and myself watched BC win a nail-biter in overtime, 6-5, to take the Beanpot from those upstarts at Harvard. Watching hockey in that quiet interlude between the Super Bowl and the start of spring training inspired us to post some frequently asked hockey questions (FAH-Q).

Q: Why does the NHL draft work different from NFL or NBA drafts?

Serpico mentioned that John Muse, BC’s frosh goalie, started this year only because BC’s prior goalie was drafted straight out of BC. In the NHL, players can be drafted while still in college … but they get to complete their education and then play. “What a remarkable system,” I said. “Why can’t football or basketball work the same way?”

We came up with two theoretical answers:

(1) Despite its violence, there’s less chance of career-ending injury in a year of hockey than a year of football. No team would be willing to waste a draft pick on a running back who could easily snap an ankle in week 9.

(2) Multiply that by the many millions of dollars that basketball and football are worth. Hockey’s popular, I guess, but it’s not the same kind of business. Franchises can only afford those kind of risks in the NHL. And maybe lacrosse.

Q: Is a zamboni technically a ‘vehicle’?

Apparently not:

A judge ruled the four-ton ice rink-grooming machines aren’t motor vehicles because they aren’t useable on highways and can’t carry passengers.Zamboni operator John Peragallo had been charged with drunken driving in 2005 after a fellow employee at the Mennen Sports Arena in Morristown told police the machine was speeding and nearly crashed into the boards.

Police said Peragallo’s blood alcohol level was 0.12 percent. A level of 0.08 is considered legally drunk in New Jersey.

Peragallo appealed, and Superior Court Judge Joseph Falcone on Monday overturned his license revocation and penalties.

In other news, at least one citizen of New Jersey named “Falcone” is on the right side of the law.

Q: Why is the Eastern Conference Championship called the Prince of Wales Trophy?

Even the most dabbling of sports trivia fans knows that the NHL trophy is known as “Lord Stanley’s Cup.” But why is the Eastern Conference Championship – which the Bruins haven’t won since 1990, I might add – known as the “Prince of Wales Trophy”?

The easy answer is because Edward VIII, Prince of Wales donated it to the League in 1924. British royalty has had an odd fascination with the game of hockey for more than a century, starting with Governor General Stanley’s creation of a “challenge cup” for the best amateur Canadian ice hockey team in 1893. The cup followed the National Hockey Association when it merged with several other leagues to form the NHL in 1917. When the teams were originally divided up, Boston (and the Northeast) played in what was called the “Wales Division.” Hence the cup’s name and origin.

Q: How’s Richard Zednik doing?

After taking a skate blade to the carotid, Florida Panthers player Richard Zednik was rushed to Buffalo General Hospital*. He’s stable but shaken. The Florida Panthers’ organization would like to thank the medical staff at Buffalo General, the Buffalo Sabres organization, the staff at HSBC stadium and all the loyal hockey fans who kept Zednik in their thoughts.

Q: Does Harvard even have a mascot?

Harvard’s mascot is The Man, an officer in full riot gear. His only known cheer is to glare through a tinted visor at the opposing team’s bench and ominously thwack a baton into his open palm.

Q: Is the Beanpot a big deal in Boston?

Let me put it this way: I saw more people scalping tickets outside a non-conference hockey rivalry than I did at the Celtics game I went to a month ago – and unlike Harvard, the Celtics are doing well. As Serpico put it, the Beanpot brings together four Boston area schools all within a thirty minute train ride of each other. That’s classic rivalry fuel. See it if you can – it’s a hell of a thing.

Also: let’s go Eagles.
_________________________
* They were playing in Buffalo; this wasn’t an oblique attempt to prolong his agony.

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