The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

An open letter or two

Dear NFL,

As someone on record as hoping the Cards would get blown out, I think I have some credibility when I state that the football game played today was the worst officiated game of any sport I’ve ever seen, and I’m counting the time I watched Victory. I’ll give the refs the early touchdown that was recalled, but the later “fumble” some rinky dinky personal fouls when a defender shoves (and avoids helmet contact) as compared to when the Steelers pile-drive Warner. But even my cynical self was stunned when you didn’t even bother to review the last “fumble.” I sincerely hope you gave the MVP to the refs, but it was a team effort, after all.

Dear New England Patriots,

It has come to my attention by the actions of referees that the tuck rule does not, in fact, exist. Please return your lombardi trophy and rings ASAP. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Dear Arizona Cardinals,

I still don’t think you deserved to be in the playoffs, but you got jobbed. I assure you if you say “The referees boned us” that your fine will be covered. If the NFL has the balls to levy it.

Dear advertisers,

You suck. Can we admit that the “Superbowl commercials are great” thing has been dead for five or so years? The best commercial I saw was by Mamacitas, a local restaurant.

Dear Go-Daddy.com,

You know, competing against porn is a mugs game. But competing against porn on the Internet? Really? That’s your great idea?

Dear Half-time show,

Great! Please make next years 10 minutes longer, we didn’t quite finish the set in Rock Band. We were playing tight, though. Thanks for asking.

Dear Trent Dilfer,

You’re still the worst quarterback to win a superbowl, but I guess the fact that it’s debatable now means you are allowed to smirk.

Dear John Madden,

At some point in the fourth quarter, the words “I agree with John Madden” were uttered for the first time in history (re: ejecting Harrison).

Dear Announcers,

Regarding calling Rothlesburger’s “rushing” touchdown (overturned). Rushing has vowed that the insult will be avenged, and challenged you to pistols at five paces. “Falling” was also insulted, for not being mentioned.

Dear everyone else involved,

Frakkin Toasters.

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Written by taogaming

February 1, 2009 at 10:53 pm

Posted in Non-Gaming, Rant

Tagged with ,

18 Responses

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  1. Hilarious.

    jacob

    February 1, 2009 at 10:55 pm

  2. Crap, I’ve seen worse officiated games than that. Although I’ll grant you that I was surprised that they didn’t even stop play to thoroughly review the final “fumble” (particularly since they’ll usually use instant replay to see if the fan in the first row was scratching his balls). Besides, the refs were merely matching the athletes on the field. It was a very sloppy game with plenty of boneheaded plays on both sides.

    BTW, in my perfect world, Roethlesburger’s TD doesn’t get overturned, even though he probably was stopped short. There wasn’t a single person in the stadium, in the booth, or watching at home who thought that wasn’t a score at first. Instant replay was instituted to reverse “obvious” errors. Instead, it’s used to try to ensure that the game is accurate to the last millimeter, delays be damned. Not that that goal is possible, but they’ll try, by God. 90% of the time, I absolutely hate the system.

    BTW #2: No one understands the frakkin’ Tuck Rule.

    So congratulations to the Steelers, no doubt the better team, although today they were pretty goddam even. It was a meh regular season, with no real dominant teams, a meh set of playoffs, and ultimately, even though there were some exciting plays, a meh Super Bowl. Time for baseball!

    Larry Levy

    February 1, 2009 at 11:45 pm

  3. Crap, I’ve seen worse officiated games than that. Although I’ll grant you that I was surprised that they didn’t even stop play to thoroughly review the final “fumble” (particularly since they’ll usually use instant replay to see if the fan in the first row was scratching his balls). Besides, the refs were merely matching the athletes on the field. It was a very sloppy game with plenty of boneheaded plays on both sides.

    BTW, in my perfect world, Roethlesburger’s TD doesn’t get overturned, even though he probably was stopped short. There wasn’t a single person in the stadium, in the booth, or watching at home who thought that wasn’t a score at first. Instant replay was instituted to reverse “obvious” errors. Instead, it’s used to try to ensure that the game is accurate to the last millimeter, delays be damned. Not that that goal is possible, but they’ll try, by God. 90% of the time, I absolutely hate the system.

    BTW #2: No one understands the frakkin’ Tuck Rule.

    So congratulations to the Steelers, no doubt the better team, although today they were pretty goddam even. It was a meh regular season, with no real dominant teams, a meh set of playoffs, and ultimately, even though there were some exciting plays, a meh Super Bowl. Time for baseball!

    Larry Levy

    February 1, 2009 at 11:45 pm

  4. I thought both of the conference games were great. The Cardinals/Eagles featured some spectacular offense, while the Steelers/Ravens was a bruising battle between longtime (since the Ravens were created) rivals.

    frunk

    February 2, 2009 at 10:10 am

  5. I thought both of the conference games were great. The Cardinals/Eagles featured some spectacular offense, while the Steelers/Ravens was a bruising battle between longtime (since the Ravens were created) rivals.

    frunk

    February 2, 2009 at 10:10 am

  6. The NFC semifinal was an enjoyable slugfest. I was disappointed with the quality of the AFC game, though. I was hoping for a better played contest, since those were clearly the two best remaining teams.

    Larry Levy

    February 2, 2009 at 10:27 am

  7. Aside from the first quarter, where the Stealers dominated, the Cardinals were the better team (which shocks me, because I expected them to get blown out).

    Without the 100 yard interception and return (14 point swing), they wouldve won by a significant margin.

    Two things pissed me off in this game:
    1) Not reviewing the final ‘fumble’ play. If they review it and say its a fumble, thats fine with me. They need to review it for legitimacy.

    2) In the second half, the cardinals were penalized for a couple minor and questionable things, at times that really hurt them. This was just like the Seahawks game 3 years ago.

    But even more than that, the Stealers had two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, which were so flagrant that the player shouldve been ejected, but they occurred “after the play” at irrelevant times and resulted in 1 yard, and nothing, respectively.
    Both shouldve been Cardinal first downs, imo. I fully believe that had these been against the Stealers opponents, the Stealers wouldve been given a first down.

    The NFL wants to help their dominant teams with large numbers of fans to win more supoerbowls. At least now we have another region of the country who understands the pain of us in Seattle. Will we eventually have teams from every part of the country lose to the Stealers due to bad calls, until the entire country resents them?

    And yes, I do know the appropriate spelling of the name of the football team from Pittsburg.

    Alexfrog

    February 2, 2009 at 12:46 pm

  8. Aside from the first quarter, where the Stealers dominated, the Cardinals were the better team (which shocks me, because I expected them to get blown out).

    Without the 100 yard interception and return (14 point swing), they wouldve won by a significant margin.

    Two things pissed me off in this game:
    1) Not reviewing the final ‘fumble’ play. If they review it and say its a fumble, thats fine with me. They need to review it for legitimacy.

    2) In the second half, the cardinals were penalized for a couple minor and questionable things, at times that really hurt them. This was just like the Seahawks game 3 years ago.

    But even more than that, the Stealers had two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, which were so flagrant that the player shouldve been ejected, but they occurred “after the play” at irrelevant times and resulted in 1 yard, and nothing, respectively.
    Both shouldve been Cardinal first downs, imo. I fully believe that had these been against the Stealers opponents, the Stealers wouldve been given a first down.

    The NFL wants to help their dominant teams with large numbers of fans to win more supoerbowls. At least now we have another region of the country who understands the pain of us in Seattle. Will we eventually have teams from every part of the country lose to the Stealers due to bad calls, until the entire country resents them?

    And yes, I do know the appropriate spelling of the name of the football team from Pittsburg.

    Alexfrog

    February 2, 2009 at 12:46 pm

  9. One more thing:

    Early in the game, Pittsburg got to 4th and Inches at the goal line, and decided to kick a field goal, with plenty of time left in the half, and a tie game.

    Under all reasonable analysis, this is a terrible, terrible decision. You should always go for the touchdown in this situation, except in cases where there is not much time left in the half, or where there is almost no difference between scoring 3 or 7 points. (For example, if youre behind by 2 or ahead by 6 late in the game).

    Here is why:

    On 4th an inches, the chances of making the touchdown (given average offense/defense) are near 50-50. The positive result is: You get 7 points (assuming the free point), and you kick off to the other team. The negative reuslt is that the other team gets the ball on their 1.

    If you go for the field goal, you make it with near 100% chance at this distance, for 3 points, and you kick off to the other team.

    Studies have shown that if a team gets the ball on their own 1, that the average result of the next score (averaging up all the next scores, accounting for which team is next to score), is 1.8 runs for the OPPOSING team. That is, having the ball at your own 1 is roughly equivalent to a value of negative 1.8 points. The other team is more likely to score next! Having the ball at your 15 yard line gives an even chance of each team scoring next (and thus has a value of 0). The average kickoff results in the opposing team getting the ball at their 27, which has an average value of positive .6 points.

    Thus, if you kick the field goal:
    100% chance of scoring +3 points, plus you kick off (-0.6 points), for a net of +2.4 points.

    If you go for a touchdown:
    ~50% chance of scoring 7 points plus you kick off (-0.6) for a net gain of 6.4 points.
    ~50% chance of giving the ball to your opponent at their 1, for a net value to you of 1.8 points.

    .5 * 6.4 + .5 * 1.8 = +4.1 points.

    The net result is that the decision to kick the field goal costs your team an average of 1.7 points, for a significant reduction in your overall chance of winning the game.

    Another way to look at it is that you are risking 0.6 points for a 50-50 chance to gain 4 points. Why would you not do this?

    If there is very little time left in the half, then this changes things, because you cant count the value of the field position. In this case, it changes to:

    Go for it: .5 * 7(touchdown) + .5 * 0(fail) = 3.5
    Field Goal: 3.

    Here, going for it is still better, but not by as much. Near game end, the game score can influence the relative value of points and thus modify this analysis, however early on, each point is of roughly equal value.

    Even worse than the steelers making this huge mistake in game strategy (which is repeated by most NFL coaches in most games), was John Madden proclaiming to everyone right afterward that this was the correct decision, and that you HAVE to take the field goal in that situation.
    You couldnt be more wrong, and this was the game position in which the value of going for it was the strongest.

    It kills me to see such idiocy in game strategy decisions take place, especially by a supposed expert of the game, and then to have another supposed expert give an “Analysis” to tens of millions of people that the decision was the correct one.

    Alexfrog

    February 2, 2009 at 5:21 pm

  10. One more thing:

    Early in the game, Pittsburg got to 4th and Inches at the goal line, and decided to kick a field goal, with plenty of time left in the half, and a tie game.

    Under all reasonable analysis, this is a terrible, terrible decision. You should always go for the touchdown in this situation, except in cases where there is not much time left in the half, or where there is almost no difference between scoring 3 or 7 points. (For example, if youre behind by 2 or ahead by 6 late in the game).

    Here is why:

    On 4th an inches, the chances of making the touchdown (given average offense/defense) are near 50-50. The positive result is: You get 7 points (assuming the free point), and you kick off to the other team. The negative reuslt is that the other team gets the ball on their 1.

    If you go for the field goal, you make it with near 100% chance at this distance, for 3 points, and you kick off to the other team.

    Studies have shown that if a team gets the ball on their own 1, that the average result of the next score (averaging up all the next scores, accounting for which team is next to score), is 1.8 runs for the OPPOSING team. That is, having the ball at your own 1 is roughly equivalent to a value of negative 1.8 points. The other team is more likely to score next! Having the ball at your 15 yard line gives an even chance of each team scoring next (and thus has a value of 0). The average kickoff results in the opposing team getting the ball at their 27, which has an average value of positive .6 points.

    Thus, if you kick the field goal:
    100% chance of scoring +3 points, plus you kick off (-0.6 points), for a net of +2.4 points.

    If you go for a touchdown:
    ~50% chance of scoring 7 points plus you kick off (-0.6) for a net gain of 6.4 points.
    ~50% chance of giving the ball to your opponent at their 1, for a net value to you of 1.8 points.

    .5 * 6.4 + .5 * 1.8 = +4.1 points.

    The net result is that the decision to kick the field goal costs your team an average of 1.7 points, for a significant reduction in your overall chance of winning the game.

    Another way to look at it is that you are risking 0.6 points for a 50-50 chance to gain 4 points. Why would you not do this?

    If there is very little time left in the half, then this changes things, because you cant count the value of the field position. In this case, it changes to:

    Go for it: .5 * 7(touchdown) + .5 * 0(fail) = 3.5
    Field Goal: 3.

    Here, going for it is still better, but not by as much. Near game end, the game score can influence the relative value of points and thus modify this analysis, however early on, each point is of roughly equal value.

    Even worse than the steelers making this huge mistake in game strategy (which is repeated by most NFL coaches in most games), was John Madden proclaiming to everyone right afterward that this was the correct decision, and that you HAVE to take the field goal in that situation.
    You couldnt be more wrong, and this was the game position in which the value of going for it was the strongest.

    It kills me to see such idiocy in game strategy decisions take place, especially by a supposed expert of the game, and then to have another supposed expert give an “Analysis” to tens of millions of people that the decision was the correct one.

    Alexfrog

    February 2, 2009 at 5:21 pm

  11. Alex, as much as I love to point out where the “book” is wrong in sports, there are sometimes other considerations than numerical analysis.

    For one thing, Pittsburgh was one of the worst teams on 3rd or 4th and short in the league last year. Their failures in those situations were well documented. Given that, the analysis has to be re-evaluated.

    Then there’s the psychological boost that the Cardinals would have gotten had the Steelers gone for it and come up short. Football is a very emotional game and things like that have to be taken into account.

    Finally, I think the circumstances of that play had something to do with it. Pittsburgh thought they had scored a touchdown. The offense had probably already relaxed, and were set to let the defense go onto the field. I have no idea if that was a factor, but had they gone for it and missed, it would have literally felt like taking points off the scoreboard. Again, possibly a small effect, but worth considering.

    At the time, I thought Pittsburgh might go for the TD, particularly since even if they missed, Arizona would have most likely started their first series inside their own 1. But given the Steelers’ ineptitude with short yardage, I wasn’t too surprised when they kicked the field goal. It may not have been the optimal decision, but I think it was defensible.

    Larry Levy

    February 2, 2009 at 6:55 pm

  12. Alex, as much as I love to point out where the “book” is wrong in sports, there are sometimes other considerations than numerical analysis.

    For one thing, Pittsburgh was one of the worst teams on 3rd or 4th and short in the league last year. Their failures in those situations were well documented. Given that, the analysis has to be re-evaluated.

    Then there’s the psychological boost that the Cardinals would have gotten had the Steelers gone for it and come up short. Football is a very emotional game and things like that have to be taken into account.

    Finally, I think the circumstances of that play had something to do with it. Pittsburgh thought they had scored a touchdown. The offense had probably already relaxed, and were set to let the defense go onto the field. I have no idea if that was a factor, but had they gone for it and missed, it would have literally felt like taking points off the scoreboard. Again, possibly a small effect, but worth considering.

    At the time, I thought Pittsburgh might go for the TD, particularly since even if they missed, Arizona would have most likely started their first series inside their own 1. But given the Steelers’ ineptitude with short yardage, I wasn’t too surprised when they kicked the field goal. It may not have been the optimal decision, but I think it was defensible.

    Larry Levy

    February 2, 2009 at 6:55 pm

  13. Regarding the decision to kick the field goal – remember that the Cardinals had already deferred the kick off so as Larry says, their was a huge psychological edge gained by the Cardinals had they stopped Pittsburgh on fourth down. Also keep in mind that Arizona stopped Pittsburgh for a loss from the one yard line earlier in the series. Given this was the opening drive, I think it is hard to argue with the desire to put points on the board.

    I’ll agree that the game was poorly officiated, but when push came to shove, Pittsburgh made the big plays when they needed to. I had no rooting interest and was thoroughly entertained and ultimately I think the better team won.

    Craig Massey

    February 2, 2009 at 8:17 pm

  14. Chiming in here, re: officiating. This game was not (quite) as badly refereed as Super Bowl XL. At least they OVERTURNED this Roethlisberger “run.” As Alexfrog says, “At least now we have another region of the country who understands the pain of us in Seattle.”

    Also, the last play was definitely a pass – the football went forward about 5 yards…

    Phil

    February 2, 2009 at 10:50 pm

  15. Chiming in here, re: officiating. This game was not (quite) as badly refereed as Super Bowl XL. At least they OVERTURNED this Roethlisberger “run.” As Alexfrog says, “At least now we have another region of the country who understands the pain of us in Seattle.”

    Also, the last play was definitely a pass – the football went forward about 5 yards…

    Phil

    February 2, 2009 at 10:50 pm

  16. Even the absolute worst offensive team in the history of football, playing against the 1985 Bears, should go for it on 4th and inches at the goal line, with a 0-0 score and plenty of time left. It could change more borderline cases, but not this.

    Yes, a poor offensive team team will have a lower chance of making it, but also, they wont get many opportunities, so getting 7 points here might be their only hope.

    The main point here is that if you fail, and the opponent gets the ball at their 1, thats ALMOST as good as getting a field goal. You arent risking 3 points to try for 7. Youre really risking almost nothing to try for +4.

    Alexfrog

    February 2, 2009 at 11:01 pm

  17. Even the absolute worst offensive team in the history of football, playing against the 1985 Bears, should go for it on 4th and inches at the goal line, with a 0-0 score and plenty of time left. It could change more borderline cases, but not this.

    Yes, a poor offensive team team will have a lower chance of making it, but also, they wont get many opportunities, so getting 7 points here might be their only hope.

    The main point here is that if you fail, and the opponent gets the ball at their 1, thats ALMOST as good as getting a field goal. You arent risking 3 points to try for 7. Youre really risking almost nothing to try for +4.

    Alexfrog

    February 2, 2009 at 11:01 pm

  18. “Also, the last play was definitely a pass — the football went forward about 5 yards…”

    Warner was struck while his arm is still going backwards. The ball turned sideways in his hands, and he ended up pushing it like a shot put. Losing control of the ball before moving the arm forward = fumble.

    You can complain that the refs threw too many flags, but the “rigging” claims are exaggerated. The only indefensible call was roughing the passer in the 3rd quarter. Three of the Arizona penalties were appropriate holding calls against their wildly overmatched left tackle. The “roughing the holder” call was correct — “I couldn’t have stopped” is not a defense for obliterating the kicker, either (you dive in front and avoid the possibility of a collision). And Pittsburgh could argue that the player held in the end zone would never have reached Roethlisberger (he’s releasing the ball just as the hold occurs). Picking up that flag and awarding the first down all but ends the game right there.

    Dennis U.

    February 3, 2009 at 8:43 am


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