Monday, December 05, 2005

Random thoughts...

Columnists often do a “Nobody asked me but…” column whenever they run out of ideas. Over the last week, I’ve been commenting on other guys’ blogs but haven’t produced anything myself, so here goes.

I’m pissed that Arrested Development has been cancelled. Best show on TV.

The odometer on my car somehow is off by about 3%. I noticed this on a recent 100 mile trip when the miles-to-go according to the highway signs differed from what my odometer would have indicated. Do I need to worry about this?

I’m always trapped between hating rules lawyers and wanting to be one. On the first point of a recent game, the marker in a zone would begin the stall with “One” while still about six yards away. Could I call a foul right then since that is two fast count violations at once? Should I just let it go?

A women’s sport (or a coed sport) has arrived when spectators don’t say “Great play” when a woman makes a play that a man would be expected to make. Do you see anyone saying “Wow” when a WNBA player makes a three-pointer or does a crossover dribble (or would you see that if anyone watched the WNBA)? This is the soft bigotry of low expectations that some politicians talk about.

It’s hard not to feel that a whole team is a bunch of cheaters when one player makes what may be a bad call on a pivotal point. This weekend, I went undercover to sample the Mixed game, and in the semis, one of our opponents caught a disc which appeared to bounce first. After the usual ridiculous arguments, the disc went back, and they scored. We scored six in a row after that, though, and I said, “Justice!” after each one. (Incidentally, that was the third game in a row in which a disc appears to have bounced before the catch.)

“Back to the thrower” is often not an equitable solution. Consider a contested catch in the end zone. If it was really up, it should be a goal, and if it was really down, it should be a turnover, and there are odds associated with each. You are theoretically able to calculate what a fair compromise is such that the odds of scoring haven’t changed, and those odds don’t depend on where the throw came from. Thus, if it’s a 2 yard pass that’s contested, the offense comes out way ahead if it’s really a 50/50 call (because they haven’t lost any yardage and they keep possession). Only if the likelihood that the disc was up was equal to the odds of scoring the point (somewhere in the 90-95% range probably) is the most fair solution to send it back to the thrower. Perhaps a better solution on these validly contested calls would be to give the offense the disc 20 or 30 yards back from the call (but no deeper than their own goal line, or half the distance to an X-rules offsides mark (something like 10 yards deep in the endzone)). Or maybe those clowns who want to give close calls to the D because they’re the D had it right for the wrong reason.

Hmm, should an Observer in that situation use this calculus? With most calls, you’re going to be more than 90% certain of a call, but what about the ones with less certainty? Suppose you think it’s 60% likely that the catch was up. Is that enough to rule it up?

There was a lot of dead time during the tournament this weekend. Pulls out the back of the endzone were the worst, taking at least a minute to retrieve. Solution to that: have a “corner disc” available and let someone else chase the errant disc. It’s already in the rules somewhere, isn’t it?

And what the hell’s up with George? Stop posting so much, dammit!

And has anyone seen AJ or Alex?


cash27 said...

Arrested Development - I must agree. It took me a while to warm to it, but i find it to be one of the funniest shows on TV. Sad to see it go.

Regarding back to thrower. I say make a call either way, up or down. Don't give it back to the thrower. Sometimes a judgement call needs to be made as that is true in all other sports. ie, a pitcher doesn't get a do-over on a close pitch.


parinella said...

I wonder if "Arrested Development" is also an O/D thing.

There are occasions where I think "back to the thrower" is the right call. If there's just-barely-beyond-incidental contact on a throw that will only probably be caught, for example, sending it back will minimize the maximum penalty to one of the teams. In fact, I just played with some numbers and found that for most cases where there is a large degree of uncertainty in the call, it is more fair to send it back then to call it one way or the other. But what's interesting is that it might be even more fair to send it back a fixed distance.

Then again, this adds complexity but only improves fairness on very short or very long passes. How about "on contested receptions (includes fouls, up/down and OB) inside the red zone, the receiver gets the disc at the closer brick mark, with the offense having 20 seconds to set up from the time that the contest is approved"?

RHL said...

Odometer Issue: are you using the stock size tires? Inflated to the stock PSI? If either of those parameters are changed, you will see the difference. Another way to check things is to find a flat road with mile markings, and see if your speedometer is correct at 60 MPH (1 mile 1 miute etc) If that is also off, you know it's the actual sensor itself that's off. Not that 3% matters.. if your car has 100K miles.. it's worth about the same as if it had 103K miles.
Back to thrower: Maybe make it college/Highschool basketball like. Have a "posession arrow". Each time it would be considered a "do-over" see what happened last time. If last time you sent it back to the thrower for a re-do, this time it's a turn.

Edward Lee said...

Back to thrower: Maybe make it college/Highschool basketball like. Have a "posession arrow". Each time it would be considered a "do-over" see what happened last time. If last time you sent it back to the thrower for a re-do, this time it's a turn.

Yeah, but then Dickie V would be railing on and on about how much he hates it.

How about a jump disc? And if the disc hits the ground, let the other players scrum for it. Seriously, would you not want to watch this?

Fraggle said...

Interesting that AJ posts about the value of yardage on the same day you post considering yard penalties replacing 'back to the thrower' calls. Could they possibly be reconciled and implemented?

Jon said...

I strongly encourage you to become a rules lawyer. I'm only one because so few people know the rules reasonably well. The more rules lawyers there are, the less we'll need to practice rule law.

Seigs said...

I think Desperate Housewives is more of an O/D thing.

Anonymous said...

Jim's post raises something I never liked about our "Spirit of the Game". Players are supposed to self-referee and have respect for one another and the game but an element that always seems to be missing is respecting a player's call (and for the record, I have been guilty of this as well). There are many plays that are bang-bang plays, not totally discernible to the naked eye, etc. Plays that even with instant replay it would be hard for people to make a definitive call/determination of what happened. In those instances, I'm always amazed at how easy it is for one team to argue that something definitely did not happen (i.e. the disc was up or down). In reality very rarely is it ever easy to make such calls and to know 100% that something definitely occurred. Yet people are still willing to argue/accuse that the person is a cheater. Doesn't sound very spirited to me. "The disc never lies" is a phrase that gets bandied about, but I would hope that this line never gets used again because that basically is calling someone a liar. That's a big deal to question someone's integrity, yet people are willing to do it even on a 50/50 play, as if the person making the call knows full well that they are cheating and that is their intent. If we all accept Spirit of the Game and self-refereeing then we have to respect one another's calls (even if we think they're incorrect or bullshit). In our fast-moving sport, where all too often there are plays that happen too quickly for the naked eye to accurately tell what happened, it seems outrageous
to make character assassinations on close calls that one disagrees with.
(Sorry for the anonymous post, I haven't registered on blogger.)

For the record, I know the person who claims to have caught the disc in Jim's example so I may be biased -altho I wasn't playing- but this situation occurs routinely at all levels and I'm always shocked by the partisan nature of people's perceptions and their confidence in them. Maybe it's because I've actually experienced hallucionogens and I know how tricky perception can be, but at every tournament you will find that guy or guys who are willing to definitively, without-a-doubt, call someone out or the disc being up/down or a foul from the far cone seventy yards downfield. And based on their 20-10 eagle-eyed vision, they are also willing to attack a fellow player's integrity as a cheater and liar. That's the conundrum of "Spirit of the Game" that I've never understood.

parinella said...

I guess the feeling (not fully acknowledged at the moment) was that the caller was just mistaken and that the rest of the team (many of whom had a better perspective on the flight of the disc) was the cheaters for allowing him to keep the call. The catch itself perhaps may have been clean but the ground contact happened before the disc got there.

Is it possible to increase the number of times where a player can be persuaded that he did not have a full or the best perspective on a play in which he made a call (or contest)? Reasons for a "bad" call:
1. Caller is a cheater.
2. Caller didn't have best perspective.
3. Caller isn't perfectly sure but buttheads calling him a cheater immediately make it impossible for him to revoke call.
4. Caller actually did have best perspective and cheater-callers were wrong.

You have to appeal to #2 but it's just so damn tough to avoid #3. And you have to explain why the perspective was wrong, not just "the disc was down" or "you were out", especially on a bang-bang play. Point to the spot, give specifics, and just keep silent for the first five seconds after the call is made.

Marshall said...

I've always hated the call "the disc never lies". Bullsh*t. The disc lies all the time.

And yep, it'd be nice if people more consistently respected calls. On the other hand, people often incorrectly use the idea that you should respect another player's call. "It's his/her call" is far more often heard at lower, rec-league levels of play, but it's still heard at tournaments and it drives me a little batty. It isn't the receiver's call if someone else has better perspective.

"XV. F. If a pass arrives in such a manner that it is unclear whether a catch was made before the disc contacted the ground (grass is considered part of the ground), the player with the best perspective makes the call."

The bottom line is that I don't have to respect your call if I'm confident that you're wrong and I have better perspective. I can still respect you, the player, but disagree with the call.

In the case Jim mentioned (and Anonymous seems familiar with), it ended up going back primarily (in my mind) because there wasn't going to be clear agreement as to who had the best perspective. It didn't think that the receiver had it in this case, and there were 5-7 other people with clear sightlines and close proximity, who disagreed pretty much along party lines. [Honestly, I think being too close can be bad depending on the angle of view, but that's neither here nor there.] I feel like I saw (and heard) it clearly and it was down. At least two people on the receiver's team clearly disagreed, and though I think they were probably a little more heated about it than we were, their perspective on that could be different and the result is what it is.

At the time, I didn't think the receiver was cheating at all; I just thought he was mistaken. I didn't think much of the way a couple of his teammates argued it - I don't know if that had much effect on the receiver's opinion. I'm sure they think that's because I wanted the turnover and I'm sure people have thought that of me at some point. But whatever. It was a less-fun semi-final point at a relatively-hack December fun tournament.

Marshall said...

p.s. I'm pretty annoyed about Arrested Development. Best show on tv since The West Wing went to hell. I guess I'll just stick to Scrubs and hope Sorkin's new show next season is good.

greg said...

my odometer totally shut off, i'm thinking this will help the resale value should i ever sell it, but i'm sure there's something that will prevent me from abusing the system. as it is, my mechanic told me it's not worth the price.

as for yardage on "back to throwers", a related call may be a travel call as a completed dump goes off to an inferior thrower. should the person who made the call let it go under the disguise of "spirit" so that the chance of a turnover is better? even if it's a definitive travel? i bet the idiot crowd that always seems to watch big games and cheers when a cheater makes a terrible call, but then takes it back would be thrilled by this person's "spirit". this is a problem, both for ultimate, and the idiot fans.

j-co said...

i like arrested development. haven't seen desperate housewives. discs are not capable of "speaking" in any philosophically meaningful sense; thus, they can neither lie nor tell the truth. your random thoughts sure do go far to inspire others, jim. i think spirit means you try not to raise your voice at your opponent. "back to the thrower" on up/down calls is a little weak, but what are you gonna do about it?

parinella said...

In case anyone's wondering, my "Justice" calls were mostly just to myself and whichever teammates were standing next to me, mostly for a laugh, mostly for my own benefit. I laugh every time I read that passage, perhaps because I know I wasn't in their faces screaming "Justice" but was as often as not sitting in a lawn chair. I noticed once that I did say it a bit loudly and made sure subsequent ones weren't as loud. To me, yelling "Justice" or "Good call" after any timeout or "Good bid" after the most gratuitous, bad percentage layout is one of those always funny things because that's what other people say (and mean) all the time, and it's usually a silly thing to say.