Quick thoughts on the night that was, plus the news of the day

I don't have a lot of time to write today, so here are some bulleted thoughts from what was a great night in sports.

  • There's a lot of evidence that what Jarrod Washburn is doing more a function of the crappy offenses he's facing than it is a function of anything he's doing differently on the mound, as Dave Cameron over at U.S.S. Mariner accurately describes. However, I'll say this: I don't much care if it's statistically sustainable; I'm just happy we're winning some games right now.

    It certainly seemed to me that Washburn got equally hammered by both good and bad offenses alike last year, and I'm inclined to say that Washburn has to have at least something to do with the statistical anomaly that this season is becoming. I can remember a lot of times last year when Washburn would consistently fall behind hitters, only to get pounded into submission. Maybe the fact that he's facing such bad teams has to do with him being more aggressive in the strike zone, and maybe it will come back to bite him when he faces his first great offense of the year in the Yankees on Sunday. I'm interested in finding out.

    (And, by the way, if you're interested in understanding Dave's reasoning behind how he evaluates pitchers, check out this article. It's a little dense, but it'll give you some background to help you understand how he reaches his conclusions.)

  • Unbelievable game in Dallas last night. I still think the series is over -- it ends Thursday night in Oakland -- but the reversal of roles in the last three minutes of the contest was so startling, it wouldn't surprise me now if the Warriors figure out a way to squander the series lead. (How's that for playing both sides of the fence!)

    For 4.9567 games, Golden State had been the loosey-goosey, we're-just-happy-to-be-here, there's-no-pressure-on-us team. Then, all of a sudden, when the pressure should have been on Dallas most -- facing elimination -- the Mavs and Dirk Nowitzki finally stopped wetting themselves and said, "Well, if we're going to go out in the next three minutes, we're going out swigning." That's the attitude they should have had all along, and now that they've discovered it ... well, that out to be enough to scare the crud out of the Warriors.

  • If you don't watch the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, you just don't like sports, and you'll never be able to convince me otherwise. Period. It's some of the most riveting, intense television there is, and when it's on in HD ... well, let's just say I've been a very happy sports fan over the past few weeks. (Go Red Wings!)

  • Interesting story that further underscores the differences between the haves and the have-nots in college athletics: "The NCAA's latest Academic Progress Report, released Wednesday, shows historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) account for about 13 percent of all schools facing potential scholarship losses or receiving warning letters because of poor classroom performance." Anyone think these HBCUs have dumber or less committed students than their BCS counterparts? Anyone? So what accounts for the difference? Hmmmmmm ... could it be the resources available to the players at schools with bloated athletics budgets?

  • Speaking of race in sports -- a topic that fascinates me, if you couldn't tell -- there's a story in the New York Times today detailing some research that suggests white NBA referees call fouls on black players at a higher rate than they do on white players. The NBA, of course, has done it's own study in response that (shockingly) finds there is no bias. However, the Times had three independent experts examine both studies, and all found the original study "far more sound."

    The most interesting point made in the article is this: "The paper by Mr. Wolfers and Mr. Price has yet to undergo formal peer review before publication in an economic journal, but several prominent academic economists said it would contribute to the growing literature regarding subconscious racism in the workplace and elsewhere, such as in searches by the police." Wanna find out if you've got subconscious racial tendencies? Take this test (Race IAT), and prepare yourself for the results ... you might not like what you find out.
That's probably it for today. I might check in later tonight.

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