I was comparing Olympic medal counts today. Of course, we all know that the US has the most, followed by Germany, then Norway.
Feeling all proud about that, fellow Americans? Don't be. Adjust it for population first.
I grabbed the medal counts from the official site on Wednesday afternoon. They may have, of course, changed by then.
If you just look at the medal counts for the top ten countries, the good old USA looks pretty good. But if you take the population of each country and divide it by the medal counts, you get, basically the number of people in each country per medal. Which is a much truer look at how well countries are doing. And if we do that with the top ten, how do things look? Like this:
Wow! The USA gets its ass handed to it, doesn't it? Dead last out of the top ten. I'm guessing that if I included even more smaller countries, we would continue to plummet quite a ways.
The right-most column tells the real story. It's the ratio of how many more people each country needs to win each medal, compared to Norway.
Even second place Austria needs nearly three times as many folks than Norway for each medal it wins.
But look at the USA. We need over 40 times the people than Norway does for each of our medals. We need 11,874,808 people for each medal! That's nearly two and half Norways alone.
Man, we suck at this! And Norway fucking rocks!
Here's the same info as a graph, for the visually-oriented:
And all this doesn't even take into account the Norwegian Curling team's pants.
(A quick post for Matt, Diane, Andrew, and the Wege, while the series is still going on.)
Greta Christina had a clever Facebook status update last week in the wake of the Yankees' sole loss in the series so far:
Yay Phillies! I hope the employees of the corporation arbitrarily representing a city I've never been to continue to defeat the employees of the corporation arbitrarily representing a city I have been to and am very fond of, but where the corporation itself has a history that I have an irrational hostility towards. Go, team!
It led to a nice thread on why folks hate the Yankees. Contrary to popular opinion, it's not jealousy over wealth. (After all, the Pohlad family is much much richer than the Steinbrenners. Team wealth is pegged to TV income, not owner wealth.)
There are, of course, lots of reasons to hate the Yankees:
But the main reason does indeed deal with wealth. The problem is that there are multiple levels to baseball. First, there's individual skill. And the individual Yankees deserve major credit for being individually great. Jeter and A-Rod? Phenomenal players. No doubt about it.
But there are two other other levels that are important to true baseball fans. One level is the managerial level. Managing the Yankees requires no skill. You just throw slugger after slugger up to the plate until you score a shit-load of runs. That's all. Seriously, I could manage the Yankees.
The Yankees' wealth lets them basically avoid developing what is an important skill, team management. And that's bad for baseball and a good reason to hate the Yankees.
The other level is at the team building level. Building a team with limited resources is a skill and an art. The process is fascinating to watch. But, with the Yankees, it's just a matter of pulling out the checkbook and buying up players. Again, there's no skill demonstrated. It's mindless. And it's bad for baseball and, again, a good reason to hate the Yankees.
That's why I have such a hard time understanding folks who root for them. What is there for which to root? The Yankees, as a team, don't embody any of the skills that true baseball fans cherish. They're just a collection of individual talents. And yes, those talents are prodigious. But it's only one third of the game.
And if you're only interested in one third of the game, then you probably like the designated hitter, too.
I love it when I come up with pithy snark:
Yankees fans are the Ayn Rands of the sports world!
I predicted awhile ago that the use of video for review by umps would be expanded beyond just home runs.
After all, what difference is there, in terms of importance, between a solo home run and a close play at the plate? None!
Of course, as a purist, I think that's an argument to simply not have video review.
(Or, how Tom justifies the Twins' horrible performance against the Yankees.)
There's no way to sugarcoat it. The Twins suck when they play the Yankees. Over the past decade, they've had only one season where they played over 500 ball against New York. For two seasons, they were completely blanked. It's not pretty.
The situation is not helped by the recent 4-game sweep. (Or is it? Read on!)
To console myself, I've always relied on a theory that the worse the Twins do against the Yankees, the better they do overall. It's just one of those things that feels right. I seem to remember the Twins always having good seasons the years the Yankees really beat on them.
But, of course, I'm a skeptic. So I felt the need to actually test the theory out.
So I went and grabbed the records for the past decade. And I graphed win percentage against the Yankees versus win percentage overall (minus the Yankee games). And here's the results:
If my theory was correct, and there was a negative correlation, you would see a distribution that formed sort of a line from the upper-left to the lower-right. If you do a best fit line, you do actually get a slight negative correlation.
But that's just due to the 2002 and 2003 seasons acting as outliers. If you omit those two seasons, there's no correlation at all.
So, I guess the rule is, if the Twins get blanked by the Yankees, they have a good season. Otherwise, there's no effect. But note my observation above:
I always seem to remember the Twins having good seasons the years the Yankees really beat on them. This turns out to be true. The two seasons where the Twins were completely swept are two of the three best seasons, overall.
So, does that mean I need to root for the Twins to lose in July, to preserve an o-fer record that will ensure a good season? I don't know if I can do that!
(Mary and Laura are exempt from this rant!)
(Why can't my mini running iTunes stream to it, huh? Answer me that Steve Jobs.)
Anyway, current Twin and former ChiSock Joe Crede comes to the plate. And the fans give him a standing ovation, as they should. It's only polite.
And then Joe hits a home run. And the fans start booing him.
What the fuck? Grow the hell up, kids.
We don't boo AJ. Or, at least, we didn't at the start. (AJ is really easy to boo.)
What did y'all expect? That he would stop being a good player? Didja think he would try hard against his own team?
(Oh, Crede's up to bat again. Some scattered boos, but not a lot. They're booing their own players more than the Twins, now.)
It's Spring Training! Baseball is back! I'm so glad that football season is long over and basketball is winding down. Baseball is the one true sport.
The first games were on Wednesday. The Twins won on Wednesday and kicked butt on Thursday. I'm listening to Friday's game via XM Radio on my flight home from Denver. The Twins are getting beat up by the Yankees. (They just got out of a bases-loaded jam. Whew!)
But that's okay. I have a theory about Spring Training. What you want is for your team to finish right around 500. If your team is doing significantly better than even in Spring Training, it means that you're playing your normal starters rather than prospects. So, you tend to win alot of Spring Training games because you're playing the other teams' prospects.
If your team is doing much worse than even, then that means that either your prospects suck or, worse yet, even your normal players really suck and you're just plain doomed.
Good teams will be playing decent prospects. They'll beat the really bad teams. And they'll lose to the merely okay teams that are playing their normal players.
I really should do some analysis to see if my theory is correct.
He may have been a cheap old bastard, but it's still sad to see the passing of Twins owner Carl Pohlad. Of course, he was 93. It'll be a miracle if I make it anywhere near that long.
Cheap? Oh yeah. While the Twins have one of the smallest payrolls in baseball, Pohlad himself was the richest owner. That's right, the richest. He was so fucking rich that he loaned money to other team owners. (Inappropriately, too.)
The problem is that he bought a baseball team with the intention of making money. The fool. You buy teams because you're filthy rich and it's a cool thing to do. No one does it to make money.
In any case, farewell, ya cheap old bastard!
Bwaa-ha-ha! The Vikings suck!
As usual, they lost in the first round of the playoffs 26-14. I don't watch football. I enjoyed playing it in my youth. But I can't stand watching it.
In my youth, the Vikings were the powerhouse of the NL Central. They always took the division. Only the Bears ever threatened, and then only while Walter Payton was around.
But, these days, they just plain suck. They only make the playoffs if Green Bay screws up. And then they lose in the first round.
Look, baseball is the one true sport. If baseball isn't enough, there's always Gopher hockey. There's no reason to resort to watching a bunch of self-indulgent bums like the Vikings play. No excuse at all!
While I grew up in Minnesota and went to the U of M (for eight long years), I was born in Iowa, specifically in Cresco, the Birthplace of Genius!
I'm not a big football fan. I liked playing it in high school. But watching it? No thanks. Still, I did get a kick out of the latest Gopher football score:
Iowa: 55, Minnesota: 0
Ha ha ha! Haven't seen an ass-kicking like that since election day!
(Well crap! I had Google bombed
Birthplace of Genius to point to Cresco resources. It finally worse off. It had worked for years, too.)