Friday, June 26, 2009

1941 National Champions Alabama ???

While I already outlined how the University of Alabama does its best to claim as many national championships as possible by quoting retroactive national championships awarded by minor selectors that have no bearing on deciding who is actually the national champion for a given season, it's time to address the most ridiculous claim of a national championship in college football history. The official website of the University of Alabama Athletics proclaiming themselves as national champions for the 1941 season.

To start off, in 1941 only one poll mattered, the AP Poll. The team that was named national champion by the AP Poll in 1941 was the national champion. Anybody or any organization that claims otherwise is simply wrong. In 1941, Minnesota was named national champions by the AP Poll. Therefore, Minnesota was the national champion in 1941, period!! The AP Poll ranked Alabama #20, and for good reason, they lost two games. Four different teams, including Minnesota, went undefeated in 1941. Fifteen teams ranked above Alabama in the AP Poll in 1941 had a better record than Alabama. In 1941 the AP Poll did not conduct a top 25 as they do today, they only did the top 20. So, Alabama barely even got ranked by the only poll that mattered in 1941, and yet they claim to be national champions. Why, you ask? Because the Houlgate System, a mathematical ratings system, named them national champions. Created by one man with a single theory and a single mathematical system, supposedly was a higher authority than a poll conducted by a national survey of sports writers and broadcasters. Ignore the fact that the only poll that mattered named Minnesota national champions and ranked Alabama #20, ignore the fact that fifteen ranked teams finished with a better record than Alabama, ignore the fact that there were four undefeated teams and Alabama had lost two games, ignore the fact that Minnesota was riding a 17 game winning streak and was the defending national champion from 1940 as well ..... we have a mathematical system that names Alabama national champions. That's enough for me, I'm convinced. Aren't you?

Let's go deeper into this claim by the University of Alabama. Let's just pretend for a moment that all of these minor selectors actually matter, which of course they don't. Forget about that for a moment, let's take a trip to Fantasyland. First, we must clear our minds of the hogwash the entire college football world was under the presumption of in 1941 that the AP Poll was the only poll that mattered. I understand logic and common sense makes this difficult, but just for a moment, do it. So now we live in a world where the AP Poll is just another poll and all of these minor selectors that nobody has ever heard of carry just as much weight. Taking all selectors into account, there are 40 organizations that named a national champion for the 1941 season. 32 of which named Minnesota national champions, 4 named Texas, 1 named Duke, 1 named Duquesne, 1 named Georgia and 1 named Alabama. Using the University of Alabama's logic, there were SIX national champions in 1941. Of the 40 selectors, only 1 of them named Alabama national champions, and yet the school proclaims 1941 as a national championship season. Since we are in Fantasyland however, let's examine one other thing. The Houlgate System. The system the University of Alabama held in such high regard in 1941, so high that it feels that being named by this system was enough to outweigh the opinions of 39 other organizations, including the only one that really mattered, the AP Poll. Even though I've already outlined in a previous post how no national championships claimed before 1936 count, we are in Fantasyland, remember? If the Houlgate System was enough to outweigh 39 other selectors in 1941, then how on Earth does Alabama claim the 1926 and 1930 national championships? After all, the Houlgate System did not name Alabama national champions in 1926 and 1930. The Houlgate System named Navy national champions in 1926 and Notre Dame national champions in 1930 (Notre Dame, oddly enough, refuses to recognize 1930 as a national championship season). Are we to believe that a single mathematical theory was right on the money in 1941, but the same theory got it wrong in 1926 and 1930? I think there is a word in the English language that describes that, it's called "hypocritical". For the record, Yale and Princeton lead Alabama in Houlgate System national championships, 7-3.

It is a disgrace that the University of Alabama claims the 1941 national championship, and it is a prime example of what lengths the school will go to so they can claim to have the most national championships in college football history. It would be one thing if it were just claimed on a Wikipedia page or by Alabama fans, but the claim of winning the 1941 national championship is on the University of Alabama's official website. Shame on them!!

Hang 'em up Vin, part two

While I only have had a chance to watch one Dodgers telecast Vin Scully has done the play by play on since my last post, as he has not been going on their roads trips recently. However, Vin did not disappoint in the one shot he had.

June 20, 2009 - This was a Dodgers vs. Angels game that featured two brothers, Jeff Weaver for the Dodgers and Jered Weaver for the Angels, pitching against each other. After the Dodgers tied the game 2-2 in the 3rd inning, Vin Scully came out with another quote that makes me wonder if he really pays attention to the games he calls at all. Speaking in reference to the Weavers parents, who were present in the crowd, Vin states the following. "My little prayer for the Weavers, that the brothers would wind up tied and each of them go out for a pinch hitter, well, maybe in fiction". Or, maybe if the Dodgers were the home team, eh Vin? You see, the Angels were the home team and are a member of the American League. The American League has this rule that was just recently put on the books in 1973 that allows teams to have a designated hitter hit for the pitcher in all games where an American League team is the home team. If Vin just used common sense, or maybe looked at each teams batting orders, he would've known it was best to keep that "little prayer" of his to himself. The beauty of this comment of course is that he had time to think about it. It wasn't just a comment that came off the cusp. He was referring to thoughts he had before the game actually started. So he had all of this time to figure out that neither pitcher would be batting because the Angels were the home team, and he still made the comment.

June 20, 2009 - Vin Scully, while talking about Jeff Weaver, stated the following. "Jeff Weaver as you might recall, while pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006, pitched in all three postseason series and started in one. The decisive Game 5 of the World Series between the Cardinals and the Tigers, and turned in a great inning". So let me see if I'm following this correctly. He started Game 5 of the World Series, and turned in a great inning. Well, how great could it have been if he got pulled after one inning? Most starting pitchers, especially in the World Series, come out to pitch the 2nd inning when they had a great 1st inning. Ole Vin is a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic, the cheese fell off his cracker a long time ago.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hang 'em up Vin

Vin Scully is without a doubt one of the greatest play by play announcers in the history of baseball, if not the history of sports. However, like Michael Jordan clanking shot after shot off the rim while playing for the Wizards and Willie Mays tripping over himself in centerfield for the Mets, Vin Scully has stayed in the game longer than he should have. Somebody in the Dodgers organization needs to step up to the plate and have the fortitude to tell Vin he is embarrassing himself and damaging his legacy.

Over the course of the season I will be adding to this thread as Vin gives me more and more material to work with, which lately has been anytime I have taken the time to watch a Dodgers game. As the NBA playoffs are over now I will have more opportunities to watch Dodgers games and add to this. The following are just a few of the quotes I can recall from Vin over the past few weeks.

June 2, 2009 - While reading off the Diamondbacks batting order, Vin Scully took the time to note that Arizona has two switch hitters in their line up, and because Randy Wolf (who is a left handed pitcher) has been so tough on left handed hitters this season it's a good bet that they will bat right handed against Wolf. Really? What a revelation, thank you for the insight Vin. That's the whole purpose of being a switch hitter, to bat from the opposite side of the plate from which arm the pitcher uses to pitch. Guess what Vin, if left handed batters were hitting .400 off Wolf the switch hitters would still bat right handed against him. This is baseball 101 Vin.

June 2, 2009 - Vin Scully starts talking about Arizona's Justin Upton, and how the night before the cameras caught him in the dugout talking to his helmet after he struck out and says, I quote "If you remember yesterday, Justin Upton was talking to his helmet in the dugout in one of the great moments in baseball history". You read that correctly, Vin Scully referred to a batter talking to his helmet as one of the "great moments in baseball history". Where were you when Kirk Gibson hit the home run in the bottom of the 9th to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series? When Nolan Ryan pitched his 7th no hitter? When Ricky Henderson broke Lou Brock's all time stolen base record? When Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run to become baseball's all time home run king? When Justin Upton talked to his helmet? Are you kidding me Vin? The man talked to his helmet, it wasn't one of the greatest moments of June 2, 2009, let alone in baseball history.

June 9, 2009 - In the bottom of the 8th inning, the Dodgers Blake DeWitt entered the game to pinch hit for relief pitcher Ramon Troncoso. Vin Scully makes the call, "Blake DeWitt, who just got called up (from the minor leagues), will take over for Kevin Kouzmanoff". First of all, he was pinch hitting for a pitcher. Taking over means he is assuming a players position, and I seriously doubt an infielder was going to be taking the mound to pitch. Secondly, Kevin Kouzmanoff is a member of the San Diego Padres, who the Dodgers were playing that night. Even if the Padres manager Bud Black would allow a Dodgers player to take over for somebody on the Padres, I do not believe MLB rules would permit such a switch in the middle of a game.

June 18, 2009 - In the bottom of the 3rd inning, Orlando Hudson hit a home run for the Dodgers, and Vin Scully makes the call, "Orlando Hudson hits his 5th home run of the year, and it's been a while since his last one. The last home run Hudson hit was a little over a week ago on June 8th". As Vin is saying this a graphic was posted on the bottom of the screen thats said it was Hudson's first Home run since June 9th, not the 8th. So Vin got the date wrong, it could happen to anybody. But, in mid-June and 66 games into Orlando Hudson's season, Hudson was sitting on 4 home runs. Averaging a home run every 16 games. I'm not sure if when a player who is averaging hitting a home run every 16 games hits a home run seven games after his last home run should be referred to as "it's been a while since his last one". Isn't that more like the player is heating up and not ending a cold spell? It's almost like Vin doesn't pay much attention to the game anymore and he just says whatever he feels like saying, regardless if it makes sense or not.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The warping of the phrase "walk off"

Although my memory fails me of the player who coined the phrase's name or even the team he played for, one thing I am sure of is that the phrase "walk off" is not used today as it was used by the first player who was quoted as using the phrase. I want to say it was a pitcher for either the Philadelphia Phillies or the Pittsburgh Pirates, but even that I'm not positive about. What I am positive about is that it was a pitcher who coined the phrase and it was not used in reference to the losing team walking off the field as it is used today. It was used in reference to the pitcher walking off the mound. Wikipedia refers to the term "walk off home run" being as old as baseball, which is laughable, but I'm not even going to fault Wikipedia on this one as its writers are just under the influence of the true destructor of one of the greatest quotes in baseball over the past 30 years, ESPN.

In the mid 80's in a baseball game that was either tied in the bottom of the 9th or in extra innings, a pitcher gave up a game winning home run. After the game while talking to reporters, the pitcher was quoted as saying something along the lines of, "as soon as I let go of the pitch I just walked off the mound". Obviously in reference to the fact that he knew the pitch was served on a platter to the hitter and the game was over. ESPN got a hold of this quote and did what they do to most other things they touch, they destroyed it. Game winning home runs became a thing of the past, they simply did not exist anymore. They were replaced by walk off home runs. ESPN turned a pitcher walking off the mound into the team walking off the field. They weren't done however, walk off home runs wasn't warping the quote enough. Next on their list was the removal of game winning hits, which of course became walk off hits. This just confuses the casual fan. Game winning home run and game wining hit are simple, direct, they tell the story. A home run or a hit that won the baseball game. To somebody who is not a big fan of the game or is trying to learn the game, the term walk off home run or walk off hit tells them nothing. What the heck is a walk off home run? What the heck is a walk off hit? ESPN is under the impression that the world of sports revolves around their station, and that everybody is familiar with phrases their anchors use.

It's also getting worse. I literally heard an ESPN anchor use the phrase "walk off walk". Incredible ! It's just a matter of time before we start hearing about walk off balks, walk off reached on errors, walk off stolen bases, walk off games called due to rain, or in the case of a recent game involving Cleveland's Shin-Soo Choo, walk off ball hit off a seagull. Please, please, bring back the game winning home run and game winning hit.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Claims on Wikipedia in regard to national championships won by Alabama

The internet is flooded with varying opinions in regard to how many national championships the University of Alabama has won in football. Depending on which website you find yourself on, you can find claims of anywhere from 7 all the way up to 25. This of course is pure nonsense. Alabama has won 7 national champions, period !! Anybody or any website that claims they have won more than 7 clearly does not know anything about college football or its history. Since Wikipedia is mistakenly viewed by many as an accurate source of information, I will use claims made on Wikipedia as an example of the sheer idiocy that surrounds Alabama and claims of national championships. I will not be using sources from Joe Blow's website, ESPN, any magazine, book or any source formed by opinion. I will quote only information noted in the official record book of the NCAA, the governing body of college football.

In regard to the Alabama Crimson Tide section in Wikipedia, right off the bat in the first paragraph the fabrication begins by mentioning that Alabama has claimed 12 national championships. I assume by "claimed" the writer means "captured". If he was using "claims" in the literal sense and is merely implying that the university itself claims it won 12 national championships, then I would agree. The University of Alabama does in fact claim that it claimed 12 national championships. I can claim to be fluent in twelve different languages, that doesn't make it a fact. Scrolling down to the "Championships" section is where you need to put your boots on, because it gets pretty deep. It opens up by attempting to confuse the reader by noting that the NCAA does not name a national champion in college football, which is true. The writer then uses that point to try to justify the smallest of organizations as being legitimate, going as far to say that Alabama only claims 12 of the "17 referenced by the NCAA". This is a play on words that does not get past educated, intelligent people.

The reference list is nothing more than the NCAA naming the organizations that have claimed national champions, and in no way shape or form is the NCAA giving validity to these organizations by acknowledging their existence. The article continues by proclaiming "National Championships prior to 1936 were determined by several committees and organizations, some retroactively". Just one sentence, but where do I begin to tear this to pieces? There were NO committees before 1936 that awarded a national championship in college football. Forget about several, there wasn't one. As for "some" of them being retroactive, I will copy directly from "Before 1936, national champions were determined by historical research and retroactive ratings and polls". ALL national championships awarded by ANY organization prior to 1936 were retroactive. I'm nowhere near done with that single sentence on Wikipedia. Let's take a closer look at these "committees and organizations" noted in the article, shall we?

Helms Athletic Foundation - Proclaimed Alabama national champions for 1925 and 1926. This organization was founded in 1936 and did not start naming national champions until 1941, 15 years after the completion of the 1926 season. In 1941 the Helms Athletic Foundation started voting on national champions for the current season, although it was not considered a major poll and being named national champions by the organization had no bearing on who was considered the national champion for the given season. All national champions named from 1883 - 1940 by the Helms Athletic Foundation were done so retroactively. Unlike other organizations mentioned on Wikipedia, this one is at least a poll and not just a mathematical theory invented by a single person. Even so, 1925 and 1926 were awarded retroactively, poll or not.

Dunkel Index - Proclaimed Alabama national champions for 1934. Uses a mathematical system to determine national champions. Created by a single person with a single theory and to this day claims to be the "most accurate sports index". This "most accurate sports index" named USC national champions of the 2002 season, despite the fact that Ohio St was the unanimous national champion of both the AP and Coaches Poll. Ohio St was 14-0, while USC was 11-2, and their only common opponent, Washington St, lost to Ohio St by 18 and defeated USC by 3. Most accurate indeed !! The Index's website claims to be a "powerful forecaster of future performance". Add psychic ability to their resume. Furthermore, as I just eluded to, this organization names a national champion to this day. If I had to take a guess I would say no less than 95% of college football fans have never heard of this ratings system, further evidence of how serious claims by this organization should be taken.

Houlgate System - Proclaimed Alabama national champions for 1925 and 1934. Uses a mathematical system to determine national champions. Created by a single person with a single theory. One man, one theory. Heck, that's enough for me. It's not like the system favors Alabama or anything. Let's just completely ignore the fact that this same mathematical system named Alabama national champions in 1941, despite being ranked #20 in the AP Poll which was without question the authority in the rankings in 1941.

Edward Litkinhaus - This claim is absolutely incorrect. This ranking system did not name Alabama national champions before 1936, the first year it named Alabama national champions was 1961. Regardless, to show how some of these organizations were all over the board, this system used mere point differential and not the quality of the opponent to rank teams. It ended up disagreeing with the AP Poll in 3 of the 6 seasons the AP Poll ranked Alabama #1 while this system was in existence, I'm guessing Alabama fans don't mention this ranking system in those years. A classic example of how Alabama fans cherry pick which minor selectors to mention in which years. Mention them the years it agrees with them, ignore it the years it doesn't. It was created by a chemical engineer and his brother Frank. Seriously, if a chemical engineer and his brother Frank don't know football, who does? Another example of what extremes Alabama fans will go to claim championships. Quote a garbage system that did not name Alabama national champions until at least 26 years after it's claimed to have named them. An incorrect claim that Wikipedia continues to allow on their site.

College Football Research Association - Proclaimed Alabama national champions for 1925, 1926 and 1930. Do I really have to address this organization? Doesn't the name of it say enough? This organization was founded in 1982 and proceeded to vote on who was the national champion going back to 1919. Taking 1930 into consideration, it was at a minimum 52 years after the fact, meaning that if anybody involved in this poll was alive to see the 1930 season, they were more than likely at least 75 years old. What 75 year old cannot accurately recall football seasons 52 years previous to the date he casts his vote? This organization was so valuable to college football that is was discontinued 10 years after it was founded.

Football Thesaurus - Was in fact the Houlgate System. The Houlgate System was known as Football Thesaurus from 1946-1958 when it was finally discontinued.

Moving on in the national champions article posted on Wikipedia, the very next sentence after it lists the organizations it states named Alabama national champions before 1936, it notes that in 1936 the AP Poll became "the most widely circulated and accepted national champion selector". This implies there was an accepted national champion selector before 1936, which there was not. In fact, the concept did not even exist. It was in 1936, when the AP Poll first introduced the concept of voting on a national champion. The concept simply did not exist before 1936. It is the reason that after 1936, countless organizations began retroactively naming national champions. Once the AP Poll introduced the idea, organizations thought it was a good idea and started going back to seasons already played and, for the most part, used mathematical systems to name champions in seasons prior to 1936. The same mathematical systems that awarded Alabama four national championships prior to 1936 also awarded Princeton 32 national championships and Yale 31 national championships. In fact, between Princeton, Yale, Oklahoma, USC, Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio St combined, they have captured 198 national championships when all selectors are considered. 198 national championships by seven teams in 139 years of college football. Perhaps they can create a mathematical system to explain that one.

The final line of one of the most misleading sections I have ever read on Wikipedia goes back to a play on words used in the previous paragraph in the section. Once again, the writer makes the claim that the NCAA lists organizations it recognizes and the national championships they have awarded to Alabama. Interestingly enough however, the writer disagrees with the previous paragraph on Wikipedia and claims the NCAA credits Alabama with 16 national championships and not 17 as noted in the previous paragraph. To make it very clear, the NCAA does NOT recognize the University of Alabama as winning 12 national championships, or 16, or 17. It merely provides a list of organizations that do. In this list, for example, is the Seattle Times. According to the Seattle Times, Utah was the national champion in 2008 and Missouri was the national champion in 2007. Missouri, a team that twice lost to Oklahoma, a team that got destroyed in the Fiesta Bowl. Missouri didn't even go to a BCS bowl game, but yet according to the Seattle Times, they were the 2007 national champions. Another organization the NCAA lists is the National Championship Foundation. In 1993 it named four teams national champions and in 1981 it named FIVE teams national champions. I could spend more time discrediting these organizations Alabama fans hold in such high regard, but I think my point has been made about them.


Let me first introduce myself. I am 41 years old, and I live in Los Angeles. I have been an avid sports fan for as far back as I can remember. Over the years, in frequenting other blogs, message board and reading sports columns I have come to the conclusion that the world of sports is seriously lacking in unbiased, accurate accounts of both past and present events. Most articles I have read are written by journalists who are clearly deprived of any real sports knowledge, hiding their deficiencies in a jungle of plays on words. Other sites, such as Wikipedia for instance, offer information that is fabricated, exaggerated, or in many cases, inaccurate. I am not a fan of ESPN, and consider them to be a prime example of everything that is wrong with sports reporting. I will outline the problems I have with such organizations in great detail in the coming weeks.

Although I am a fan of many different sports teams, I consider myself a fan of sports first and a fan of my team second. I am not one who believes my team is the best and every other team is garbage, or that a player on a team other than my favorite team is not a good player simply because of the uniform he wears. Great players are great players, uniforms are irrelevant. I consider myself a casual fan of hockey, and a big fan of baseball, professional football and basketball. College football however, is my area of expertise. I have learned that over the years, pretty much nobody knows anything about college football. The history of the game gets more and more warped as the years go by. In most forums, people seem to be under the impression that college football began in 1980.

My first college football game was the all time classic 1974 match up between Notre Dame and USC. Notre Dame jumped out to a 24-0 2nd quarter lead. USC scored a TD right before halftime, but failed on a 2 point conversion attempt and went into the locker room trailing 24-6. USC head coach John McKay addressed his team at halftime and told them Anthony Davis was going to return the opening kickoff of the 2nd half for a TD, and USC was going to win the game. Notre Dame kicked off to start the 2nd half and Anthony Davis returned the kick 102 yards for a TD, USC never looked back. USC turned a 24-6 halftime deficit into a 55-24 victory. USC scored as many TDs in less than 20 minutes as Notre Dame surrendered in all of their other games combined in 1974. Needless to say, I became a fan of college football. I was present at Honda Center when the Anaheim Ducks hoisted the Stanley Cup, have been to hundreds of Dodgers and Angels games, countless Lakers games including Western Conference Championship contests and other playoff appearances. I have been to Sweet 16 and Elite 8 match ups, the Pac 10 Tournament, the Rose Bowl, numerous Holiday Bowls including one of the greatest comebacks of all time in the 1980 Holiday Bowl when BYU erased a 20 point deficit with less than 4 minutes to play to defeat SMU 46-45. I also attended the 100th Apple Cup between Washington and Washington St. I have been to nine different college football stadiums in five different states. When I was a child my father used to take me to the 12:30 USC or UCLA game back when they shared the Coliseum (whoever was home on the given week), then we would get into the car and drive down to San Diego for the 7:30 San Diego St game. We did this trip two or three times a season.

I have long considered outlining misrepresentations in the world of sports, but reached my breaking point recently when I attempted to correct blatant falsifications of facts on a Wikipedia page referring to the University of Alabama's football team and national championships claimed. My factual corrections continued to be deleted by people whose main interests clearly were painting the rosiest possible picture of Alabama's history, and had no concern in regards to the facts. Despite my repeated attempts to delete incredibly false claims from the section, it was I who was labeled as "vandalizing" the page and was blocked from future edits. Therefore, it should be no surprise that first up on my list is Wikipedia and the University of Alabama's football page.