Monday, October 31, 2016

Reflections on Audi's Exit from the 24 Heures

The news of Audi's exit from the FIA World Endurance Championship and the signature 24 Heures du Mans reminds us of the decision Volkswagen of America and Intersport to use an off-season NFL Films staff to do the Truth in 24 series regarding the French endurance classic.

What sticks out is how NFL Films took the techniques that the Sabols used for NFL head coaches and transferred it to the engineers of Audi in the French endurance classic.  Howden Haynes and Leena Gade became stars in their own right (and Volkswagen used Gade in a series of commercials) from the NFL techniques, which in the first film was not approved until the final 20 minutes before the race -- yet it was the NFL that gave Audi it's greatest moments by celebrating engineers, not the drivers.

Courtesy Volkswagen of America:

Friday, October 28, 2016

Classic Sports Friday

Friday's World Series Game 3 (CLE-CHC) will mark the first time a major professional sports championship has been conducted inside the Friendly Confines since the 1963 NFL Championship Game.  This is the seventh MLB championship (1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938, and 1945 the others) at Wrigley Field, but there were five NFL championship games (1933, 1937, 1941, 1943, 1963) conducted  at the 102-year old venue.  While no Cub has ever won a championship since being in Wrigley, six times during the 50 years the NFL Bears were at Wrigley Field did they claim the NFL Championship before leaving in 1970. because of the NFL's new rules post-merger.

Memories of Mike Ditka and the Championship game here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

This Just In

(Artist's Conception)
Blizzard Watch Issued for Hell

(HADES, THE NETHER REGIONS) – A blizzard watch was issued for Hell today, according to representatives of the World Meteorological Association and the Commissioner of Major League Baseball. The watch will remain in effect through Wednesday, November 2, the date of the potential seventh game of the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians.
“This is a very volatile front, with variables we haven’t seen in over 70 years,” explained meteorologist and Weather Channel personality Al Roker. “At this point we simply can’t predict what path the storm might take. By Thursday morning it could have expanded into a full-blown blizzard warning, or it might turn out to have been a false alarm.” Either way, Roker emphasized, denizens of Sheol will have to keep a close eye on developments.

The storm has the potential to create major disruption in an area not known for seeing cold weather. In fact, according to several experts, the effects could be catastrophic. “We’ve all heard the phrase ‘When Hell freezes over,’ said Catholic theologian and amateur meteorologist Matt Gillespie, “but the fact of the matter is that nobody has ever authoritatively stated just what would happen in that unlikely event. The odds may be a billion to one, but the apparent lack of a contingency plan on the part of the Masters of the Underworld points to extremely short-sighted thinking on their part. It’s no exaggeration to say this could be the end of everything.”

Meanwhile, in New York, Patrick Courtney, spokesman for Major League Baseball, denied that the organization should in any way be considered responsible in the event of such an outcome. In a prepared statement, Courtney stated that “Commissioner [Rob] Manfred wants to remind everyone that Major League Baseball has always considered itself a responsible partner in the efforts to fight climate change. The presence of the Chicago Cubs in this year’s World Series was not something that could have been predicted. Oh sure, there have been years when the Cubbies have come close, but they always managed to choke in the end, and we frankly thought there was no reason to think this wouldn’t happen again this season.”

Even if the Cubs fail to win the Series for the first time since 1908, forecasters cautioned that the eternally damned souls of Gehenna aren't out of the woods yet. “After all,” Roker says, “the Indians haven’t won the World Series since 1948. I can’t predict there won’t be some flurries in the air.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Opera Wednesday

From Mozart's magnificent* opera Don Giovanni, here's the great Ferruccio Furlanetto as the Don's sidekick Leporello, reciting the names from the Don's little black book (which isn't so little).  It's "Madamina, il catalogo รจ questo" – "My dear lady, this is the catalogue". The performance is at the Metropolitan Opera; the conductor is James Levine

*Magnificent except for the ensemble ending, that is. I've always complained that after someone is dragged down to Hell, anything that follows is an anti-climax. Up to the early 20th Century, this scene was almost always omitted (the opera was written in 1787) - I don't know why producers think it needs to be done today. Oh well.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Wish I'd written that

I started to feel just a touch of that malaise that has lingered in the air this year. You know that malaise, right? Maybe it’s the election. Maybe it’s the rapid way everything is changing. Maybe it is the division — people seem so repelled by each other that they don’t even try to talk. Maybe it’s that snarkiness so often eclipses wonder.

Maybe it’s that snarkiness and cynicism and weariness often eclipses wonder."

- Joe Posnanski, in Times Square, but he could be just about anywhere this year.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Postscript to Throwback Thursday

Postscript on last week's Throwback Thursday:

CrossFit sent a letter to the man who wanted to participate as a woman following the lawsuit, specifically pointing out the truth.  Here are highlights of CrossFit's letter, with proper (and correct) notes in parentheses:

We have not prohibited (the plaintiff) from participating in the CrossFit Games. We have simply ruled that based upon (this man) being born as a male, (he) will need to compete in the Men's Division. Competing in a sport is very different from the conclusory statement in the first paragraph of your letter, that "[t]hus, by all accounts, both physically and legally, (this male) is a female." This is simply wrong as a matter of human biology and if you can’t see that, there really isn’t much to talk about.

(This man) was born, genetically – as a matter of fact – with an X and a Y chromosome and all of the anatomy of a male of the human race. Today, notwithstanding any hormone therapy or surgeries, (this man) still has an X and Y chromosome. Thus, you’re statement is categorically, empirically, false.  (Editor's note - A woman has only two X chromosomes, and no Y chromosomes.)

The principle intent of the CrossFit Games is to determine the fittest man and woman on Earth. What we’re really talking about here is a matter of definition; of what it means to  be "female" for purposes of the CrossFit Games. We all have nothing but respect and support for (this man's) decision and how (he) sees (him)self. I also understand that in your client-centric world, your concern is entirely for what your client wants, however, we have an obligation to protect the "rights" of all competitors and the competition itself. We are scrupulous about ensuring a level playing field for the athletes. This is not "discrimination" any more than our decision to set Regional boundaries and age limits for the Masters division.

The fundamental, ineluctable fact is that a male competitor who (claims to have) a sex reassignment procedure still has a genetic makeup that confers a physical and physiological advantage over women. That (the competitor) may have felt (himself) emotionally, and very conscientiously, to be a woman in (his) heart, and that she ultimately underwent the legal and other surgical procedures to carry that out, cannot change that reality. Further, the timing of her sex reassignment surgery (and any subsequent hormone therapy) does not change this discussion.

Finally, your comparison to the plight of African-American baseball players fails both in the physical reality and on its own terms in the particulars.  We’ll ignore the rather unsubtle offense, as well as your off-handed comment about the exclusion of (this man) being due to "ignorance and difficulty." Our decision has nothing to do with "ignorance" or being bigots – it has to do with a very real understanding of the human genome, of fundamental biology, that you are either intentionally ignoring or missed in high school.  (NOTE:  In the letter, CrossFit notes MLB threatened two teams for attempting to boycott the Dodgers as not wanting to play against Jackie Robinson.)


The name-calling used by the sexual perversion lobby has always been used to go after anyone opposed to their agenda.  I ask if I, who registers in South Carolina and has been associated with a "box" in the midlands, can represent Nevada in the competition.  Can a 21-year old compete in an over-40 division?

The full letter can be found here.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Throwback Thursday: They're at it again

The "sexual freedom" fighters of the sexual deviancy lobby believe they have it won, and are using the common leftist propaganda terms to advance their cause.  Now this disturbing piece of news came across my wires this week.

A man who claims to be a "woman" after "gender reassignment surgery" has now sued CrossFit and The CrossFit Games for $2.5 million and the right for this natural male to compete in the events held at the StubHub Center, in the women's category.

A women read this news and had this to say about the absurd lawsuit"

Would I want to go into a women's locker room with a woman who has a (male sexual organ)? No. That would be out of line. (H)e chose to change h(is) body, CrossFit is trying to be respectful. I'm sorry, my personal opinion here is if you want to make a change in your life you gotta accept the consequences. Don't blame CrossFit for your decisions.

The disturbing point about this lawsuit was following domination by the Soviet-era Press Sisters in Athletics events at the 1960 and 1964 Olympics, the IAAF imposed gender verification tests for the 1966 European Championships after concerns by national officials some East Bloc women participating in events were actually men.  This issue began as early as the 1930's, when US Olympic Committee president Avery Brundage asked for tests after suspicious performances in 1932 and 1936.  The Atlanta Olympics was the last time such tests were mandated, though the IAAF can (and has) request one if suspicion arises (and there has been in 2006). After Atlanta, there has been a push by the sexual deviancy lobby to outlaws the sex tests, which happened in time for the next IAAF European Championships.

The organisation that conducts the CrossFit Games is based in Carson, California, and the this questionable athlete is using the legal system and Attorney General Kamala Harris, whose strategy brought down voter-approved Proposition 8, to apply the state's nondiscrimination laws to force this competitor into the CrossFit Games as a woman.  If the courts treat this man the same way as the sexual deviants have favourable judges to play favourites to claim "you can't put a check on us" by overturning state constitutional amendments, we clearly have a judiciary that, in the words of the Heritage Foundation, is "playing favourites".  It would make no sense for a man to be competing in a women's competition.

[Editor's note: it was true then, it's truer now.]

Originally published March 25, 2014

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Opera Wednesday

It's one of our favorites here, and I don't think I ever get tired of seeing it - the spectacular Act Two of Puccini's Tosca, featuring Maria Callas as Tosca and Tito Gobbi as Baron Scarpia, from Covent Garden in London. This was a special performance of Act Two, staged for ITV and broadcast in February, 1964. The television audience was twice that of the Winter Olympics on BBC.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Flashback Friday: a decade - more than just dates on the calendar

I've remarked before, perhaps even on this blog, that I frequently get ideas from unusual sources, and it's even better when, as is the case today, I get an idea that has virtually nothing to do with the source itself.

Over in the comments section at Uniwatch ("The Obsessive Study of Athletics Aesthetics"), an interesting discussion broke out in the comments section as to how one defines a decade.  I know, doesn't seem to have anything to do with sports uniforms, right?  Long story short, the question arose as to whether the 1970 World Series falls within the '70s or the '60s.  Not as stupid a question as you might think; since there's no Year 0, most people know that the Ist Century ran from 1 to 100, and so on.  The 20th Century, therefore, began on January 1, 1901 and ended on December 31, 2000.  The question is, do decades operate the same as centuries?  Do the 1970s begin on January 1, 1971 or January 1, 1970?

From there, a commentator named Wiggle Man speculated that culturally, it is events rather than dates that determine a decade.  He suggested the following:

1930’s – Began with the stock market crash on October 29, 1929 (“Black Thursday”)
1940’s – Began on December 7, 1941 (“A date which will live in infamy”)
1950’s – Began on January 20, 1953 (Eisenhower’s Inauguration)
1960’s – Began on November 22, 1963 (Kennedy’s assassination)
1970’s – Began on May 4, 1970 – (Kent State) (I would also accept June 17, 1972, Watergate break-in)
1980’s – Began on January 20, 1981 – Reagan’s Inauguration / Hostages released).

Other commentators had different ideas; one suggested that the '60s actually started with Kennedy's inauguration, rather than his death, and that Kent State (as well as Altamont) are more indicative of the '60s than the '70s.  Others chipped in that '90s actually began in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the "aughts" (2000s) probably started on September 11, 2001.

I find this kind of discussion exceptionally interesting.  (It's also proof that you should have an eclectic reading list; you never know what you're going to run into.)  I've maintained over at the TV blog that the early years of the 1960s actually are more properly understood as a continuation of the 1950s, and that the last years of the '60s more properly line up with the 1970s - in fact, I'd contend that 1965 might be the prime example of what the '60s would have been like had they not dealt with the JFK assassination (at the beginning) and the Vietnam War (at the end).  Many, if not most, of the mores and visuals of the early '60s (not to mention television programming, which was the point of my musing in the first place) would have been perfectly acceptable in the late '50s, and the late '60s are almost indistinguishable from the first few years of the '70s.

The point is, I suppose, every decade has its own tenor, it's own "look."  I think Wiggle Man is correct in suggesting that decades, properly understood, represent events as much as they do actual dates.   We can quibble with the specific events that signal the end of one decade and the beginning of another, but I think the calendar is perhaps the least important part of the equation.  Anyone out there have other suggestions?

Originally published October 21, 2014

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Sleepless in Stamford (CT) . . .

Picked up the DVR after waking up Sunday morning to check the results of the Petronas Grand Prix F1 race in Sepang, and I don't think I've ever seen anything such as what I saw.

It's 3 AM in the NBC Stamford (CT) studios, and there is work being done for the F1 broadcast.  And someone (maybe all three) were seemingly asleep when watching the red lights. There was a delay, but they did not catch when the lights started coming on. Upon checking the video before breakfast, I did not know why.  But I remembered the race started at 3 AM, and the broadcast was done there with sports car racer and Indy 500 only INDYCAR driver Townsend Bell trackside.

There is a reason why broadcasts should be done on site, not in a studio 10,000km or more far away!

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