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Posts Tagged ‘baseball

“The Olympic Games… purport to follow the traditions of an ancient athletics competition, but today it is the commercial aspect that is most apparent”*…

 

The above graphic from HowMuch.net, a cost information site, visualizes data from a recent study by Oxford University to compare the budgets of previous games.

The study found the average cost overruns for Olympic Games to be a whopping 156% from 1968 to 2016. This means that the Rio Games were a budgeting success, at least in relative terms, by ‘only’ running 51% overbudget.

It should be noted that the study accounts only for sports-related costs, such as those relating to operations or building venues. The study excludes indirect capital costs such as upgrading transport or hotel infrastructure, since data on these costs is harder to come by, and is often unreliable. Also, some Olympic Games were omitted from the study, as they did not have available public data on the costs involved.

The good news for organizers is that cost overruns, as a percentage, are generally going down.

The 1976 Summer Games in Montreal caught everyone off guard after going 720% overbudget, and the city was saddled with debt for 30 years. Lake Placid (1980), Barcelona (1992), and Lillehammer (1994) were all grossly overbudget as well with 324%, 266%, and 277% overruns respectively.

However, recent games – with the exception of Sochi (289%) – have all been pretty good as far as Olympics go. The average cost overrun since 1998 has been just 73%.

The bad news for organizers is that costs, in general, are still going way up. Organizers are just getting slightly “better” at budgeting for them.

Here are the total costs for all games in the study – note that costs are adjusted to be in 2015 terms.

More– and enlargeable/zoomable versions of the graphics– at “Rio Games a success at ‘only’ 51% over budget.”

* Ai Weiwei

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As we pass the torch, we might note that it was on this date in 1791 that the town of Pittsfield, Massachusetts voted to ban the game of baseball (and other activities that had disturbed many of the townspeople).

Until about a decade ago, it was widely believed that baseball was created by Abner Doubleday (or his contemporary Alexander Cartwright) in 1846; and indeed, the “modern” game– baseball as we know it– was. But historian Jim Thorn’s discovery of the Pittsfield Bylaw, fifty-five years older, is the earliest known reference to the game.

The relevant section: Be it ordained by the said Inhabitants that no person or Inhabitant of said Town‚ shall be permitted to play at any game called Wicket‚ Cricket‚ Baseball‚ Batball‚ Football‚ Cats‚ Fives or any other games played with Ball‚ within the Distance of eighty yards from said Meeting House – And every such Person who shall play at any of the said games or other games with Ball within the distance aforesaid‚ shall for every Instance thereof‚ forfeit the Sum of five shillings to be recovered by Action of Debt brought before any Justice of the Peace to the Person who shall and prosecute therefore And be it further ordained that in every Instance where any Minor shall be guilty of a Breach of this Law‚ his Parent‚ Master‚ Mistress or guardian shall forfeit the like Sum to be recovered in manner‚ and to the use aforesaid.

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Written by LW

September 5, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Juggling is sometimes called the art of controlling patterns, controlling patterns in time and space.”*…

 

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Part friendly circus act, part vicious duel: welcome to the world of combat juggling. Unlike the variety show clowns that would entertain you as a child, combat juggling is no joke; this is a competitive contact sport and there can only be one person left standing … er, juggling…

Great Big Story recently sat down with Denver, Colorado variety performer Sam Malcolm to learn more about the competitive and sometimes vicious sport of combat juggling.  [Via]

* Ronald Graham

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As we keep ’em in the air, we might recall that it was on this date in 1900 that Luther Haden “Dummy” Taylor made his Major League debut.  A deaf-mute right-handed pitcher, he was a key feature of the New York Giants’ National League championship teams of 1904 and 1905.

Taylor communicated on-field with his teammates– all of whom learned sign language– with his hands. He is credited with helping to expand and make universal the use of sign language throughout the modern baseball infield, for example, the use of pitching signs.   And Taylor contributed to signing’s repertoire of profanities, frequently cussing out umpires with his hands (and largely getting away with it…  except when, as with Hank O’Day, he encountered a ref who knew sign language).

Taylor was also a consummate showman, an accomplished juggler who would often put on “a grand juggling act” in front of the Giants’ dugout to amuse the fans.

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Written by LW

August 27, 2016 at 1:01 am

“A combination of Halloween [and] Mardi Gras — really, a Star Trek convention with binge drinking”*…

 

…While the game dates back to B.C. times and clubs of serious Rock Paper Scissors (RPS) players have existed quietly for decades, a tournament in 2002 launched RPS on its path to being a sport that could compete with Darts, Poker, and Scrabble for ESPN airtime.  

In 2002, two brothers, Douglas and Graham Walker, rented a bar and held the first Rock Paper Scissors “world championship” in Toronto. Douglas says they “would have been happy if 25 [or] 30 of [their] friends came to drink beer and play for a big prize.” To their surprise, hundreds of people showed up. The next year, major media outlets like CNN covered the tournament. In 2006, Bud Light sponsored a tournament and offered a $50,000 cash prize

More at “Inside the World of Professional Rock Paper Scissors.”

Scissors cuts paper, paper covers rock, rock crushes lizard, lizard poisons Spock, Spock smashes scissors, scissors decapitates lizard, lizard eats paper, paper disproves Spock, Spock vaporizes rock, and as it always has, rock crushes scissors.

  • Sheldon, “The Lizard-Spock Expansion” (Season 2, Episode 8), The Big Band Theory

* description of the Toronto professional Rock Paper Scissors tournament

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As we prepare to throw down, we might recall that it was on this date in 1908 that “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” was copyrighted by Albert Von Tilzer‘s York Music Company.  Vaudevillian Jack Norworth (who wrote over 2,500 songs during his career, including “Shine On, Harvest Moon”) had scribbled the lyrics on scraps of paper during a subway ride; Von Tilzer added the music.  Neither man had ever attended a baseball game.  Nonetheless, their tune (with lyrics revised by Norworth in 1927) has become the unofficial anthem of North American baseball, traditionally sung during the the seventh inning stretch.

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“Baseball is like church. Many attend, few understand.”*…

 

On the eve of the World Series, an appreciation of Game 6 of the 1975 championship contest between the Red Sox and the Reds: “Game Changer: How Carlton Fisk’s home run altered baseball and TV.”

* Leo Durocher

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As we settle in for the run, we might recall that it was on this date in 2000 that the New York Yankees defeated their cross-town rivals, the Mets (4-2 that evening; 4 games to 1 overall) to take what was known as “the subway Series.”  The Yankees became the first team in more than a quarter-century to win three straight World Series championships.

Mike Piazza and Derek Jeter face off

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Written by LW

October 26, 2015 at 1:01 am

“All art is propaganda”*…

 

Between 1943 and 1945, with the help of Warner Bros.’ finest animators, the U.S. Army produced a series of 27 propaganda cartoons depicting the calamitous adventures of Private Snafu.

Read the extraordinary story (replete with a cameo by Bugs Bunny) and learn how one of the cartoons inadvertently let slip one of the war’s greatest secrets– “Ignorant Armies: Private Snafu Goes to War.”

And watch the Private Snafu films here.

* Upton Sinclair

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As we stand to attention, we might recall that it was on this date in 1947 that Stan Musial tied Ty Cobb’s record for the most five-hit games in a season (four)– and he did it in style, hitting successfully on the first pitches from five different pitchers.

“How good was Stan Musial? He was good enough to take your breath away.”
— Vin Scully

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Written by LW

September 22, 2015 at 1:01 am

“You can’t criticize geometry. It’s never wrong.”*…

 

In the world of mathematical tiling, news doesn’t come bigger than this.  In the world of bathroom tiling – I bet they’re interested too.

If you can cover a flat surface using only identical copies of the same shape leaving neither gaps nor overlaps, then that shape is said to “tile the plane.” Every triangle can tile the plane. Every four-sided shape can also tile the plane.

Things get interesting with pentagons. The regular pentagon cannot tile the plane. (A regular pentagon has equal side lengths and equal angles between sides, like, say, a cross section of okra, or, erm, the Pentagon). But some non-regular pentagons can.

The hunt to find and classify the pentagons that can tile the plane has been a century-long mathematical quest, begun by the German mathematician Karl Reinhardt, who in 1918 discovered five types of pentagon that do tile the plane…

Pentagons remain the area of most mathematical interest when it comes to tilings since it is the only of the ‘-gons’ that is not yet totally understood…

Read the whole story– and see all 15 types of pentagonal tilings discovered so far– at “Attack on the pentagon results in discovery of new mathematical tile.”

* Paul Rand

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As we grab the grout, we might recall that it was on this date in 1953, after a year of experimentation, that marine engineer and retired semi-pro baseball player David Mullany, Sr. invented the Wiffleball.  (He patented it early the following year.)  Watching his 13-year-old son play with a broomstick and a plastic golf ball ball in the confines of their backyard, Mullany worried that the effort to throw a curve would damage his young arm.  So he fabricated a full- (baseball-)sized ball from the plastic used in perfume packaging, with oblong holes on one side… a ball that would naturally curve.  The balls had the added advantage, given their light weight, that they’d not break windows.

David Jr. came up with the name: he was fond of saying that he had “whiffed” the batters that he struck out with his curves.  The “h” was dropped, the name trademarked, and (after Woolworth’s adopted the item) a generation of young ballplayers– and their parents– converted.

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Written by LW

August 14, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Nobody is a villain in their own story”*…

 

The New and Complete Newgate Calendar or, Villany displayed in all its branches. Containing accounts of the most notorious malefactors from the year 1700 to the present time, Vol.1, By William Jackson; 1795; A. Hogg in London.

Comprised of the tales of both famous and lesser-known criminals from the 18th and 19th centuries and named after Newgate Prison in London, the Newgate Calendar became one of the most popular books of its day, said to be as much a part of the British household as the Bible. Born out of broadsides – so called single-sided sheets with ballads, biographies or last-minute confessions sold at public executions and fairs – the Newgate Calendar tells the fates of murderers, fraudsters, robbers, and traitors and how they fell from virtue to vice. While collections of these stories appear during the mid-18th century, the first one titled Newgate Calendar was published in 1773. There are many versions of the Newgate Calendar existing under slightly different names, and in 1824, a new edition was published by two lawyers, Andrew Knapp and William Baldwin, who later published another version called The New Newgate Calendar in 1826. The book was considered educational, teaching children what would become of those who broke the law, but the public’s’ fascination with the rogues of the day led to so called Newgate Novels, published between the late 1820s to the 1840s with melodramatic or glorified tales of the criminals featured in them.

Page through this almanac of admonition at The Public Domain Review.

* George R. R. Martin

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As we walk the straight and narrow,** we might recall that it was on this date in 1915 that George Washington “Zip” Zabel set the record for most innings pitched in relief in a single baseball game.  He came into the game in relief for Bert Humphries with two out in the first inning of a 19-inning game; Zabel pitched the final 18⅓ innings to earn the win over the Brooklyn Robins (later the Brooklyn, now the Los Angeles Dodgers) and their pitcher Jeff Pfeffer, who threw the complete game.

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** probably an alteration of strait and narrow; from the admonition of Matthew 7:14 (Authorized Version), strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life” [source]

 

Written by LW

June 17, 2015 at 1:01 am

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