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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Post #1400: Why I don't care for Jacob Oram 

I think I first disliked Jacob Oram when I first saw him play live for the BC's, possibly in Napier in late 2002 (Yamis also in attendance - we both witnessed that rarest of events, Mathew Sinclair scoring an international century).

Here was this beast of a man ... who lumbered in to bowl at little more than a gentle trot, and never seemed to put his back into it.

I quickly got over it. In the end, if a guy can take wickets why should I give a fuck what his action's like? In cricket, this is called the Sri Lankan principle.

And for a while, take wickets he did.

But, over time, Jacob's attitude seemed to soften, and with it his form became less firm than it previously was. The slightest ill-wind would sink his battleship, if you will.

And now there's this 1.98m chump who can muster little more energy than that required for 4 quick overs and a hopeful swish or two.

Too bad about the Champion's Trophy ... Big Jake's services are strangely unavailable!

Look, I know the guy's not terrible when he does take to the field. 'Cos Chuck Z told me so.

Sure, in almost 100 ODI innings he's scored just 1 century and 11 half-centuries, and averaged just 24.40. But hey, his opportunities for big scores would be reduced by coming in late in the middle order (we'll overlook the fact his opportunities for not outs are increased ... oh, and that this year - admittedly in just six innings - he averages just 10.16).

His batting records for 2007 and 2008 are very solid: across 24 innings he managed 8 half-centuries plus his one century (vs Australia), 6 not outs, and an average in the mid-high 40s.

With the ball, he averages about 8 overs & 1 wicket per game over his entire ODI career.

Economy rate of 4.3, and averages 31 runs/wicket.

He hasn't taken 4 or more wickets in an innings since 2005. But still performed reasonably well in both 2007 and 2008.

This year (admittedly in just six innings) he's taken 4 for 220-odd.

So, to conclude:

His record isn't bad by New Zealand standards, and at times he's contributed significantly.

What bothers me about the guy his never-ending list of inexplicable injuries, his apparent unwillingness to play through the most minor of niggles, his inflated sense of self-worth (channelling Mathew Sinclair), his money-grubbing attitude vis-a-vis the Indian T20 comp, his increasingly apparent disregard for the true form of the game (on the basis it requires sustained effort on his part), and his constant whining to the media.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

The ELVs 

Last year in the Tri nations under the ELVs there were 43 tries scored. This year under the 'old' ruck rules there were 27 tries scored.

Last year there were 33 penalty goals kicked. This year there were 69 penalty goals kicked (from 86 attempts). I timed some of the penalty attempts in an ANZC match in the weekend and the successful penalties typically took 100-110 seconds from when it was awarded until when the ball was kicked off from halfway. Unsuccessful penalties it was around 80 seconds from the penalty being awarded until the 22m restart. It means that roughly 140 minutes was spent waiting for play to restart after a side elected to kick for goal. That's 19% of the playing time gone just for penalty attempts alone. There were also 19 drop goal attempts in the mix. And then there's scrums which this year were shit as well. Having done some stats on a couple of NPC games you can expect roughly 20% of any given match to be spent waiting for a scrum to deliver the ball into play as though it were a stork delivering a 24 carat baby.

Last year SA would have been awarded free kicks inside their own half and put up, 'up and unders' or tapped and taken a ruck. This year they banged over penalties from inside their own half and won test matches.

I don't know about other people but nothing fucks me off more than a side getting a 50/50 ruck penalty miles away from the try line and profiting by 3 points from it. It has long been a criticism of rugby that it is a game ruled by the whistle and the boot and that was the reason the ELVs were brought into place. There were complaints made that they meant there was more kicking under them which I find hilarious. The South Africans have shown exactly how to play under the old rules. Kick long, kick far and most important of all kick the living shit out of it. The ABs have got into trouble through trying to run the ball out of their own half or stupid chip kicks (which should rightly be a risky strategy). The game as it is now (and always has been) is all about field position. But with professionalism has come professional goal kickers who can kick more accurately over greater distances than previous generations of kickers. SOme of these older kickers could kick them from big distances but they weren't nailing 80, 90+ % of their kicks.

Of the 402 points scored in this years Tri-Nations 44% have come about through tries (includes the try and the conversions) while 56% have come through penalties and a handful of drop goals. Last year there were 386 points scored with 71% scored as a result of tries and 29% as a result of penalties. The difference is phenomenal and purely down to reverting back to the old breakdown rules.

That fairly clearly says that you are more likely now to amass more points and therefore win more games by what sort of field position you can get into and how often you can get the opposition pinged for (usually) breakdown infringements. That is of course something of a skill in itself, sometimes. Most of the time however sides get called for a guess scrum penalty or either team could have been penalised 4 times each at a ruck but in the end the ref rolled the dice and picked whoever he happened to be looking at last.

To me it is just plain wrong that sides can gain a large amount of their points when never realistically threatening the opposition try line.

I have a few ideas as to how they can make the punishment at least fit the crime a little more snugly.

Seeing as how they are unlikely to go back to free kicks for the more minor infringements here's a few...

1) In rugby if you get a penalty but decide to kick for touch and you miss kick the ball and it goes dead it comes all the way back for a scrum. Although I would go further and give the defending team a free kick with scrums banned as an option because they slow things down too much. The same should apply to penalty goal attempts that miss. Forget a 22 drop out. Copy the NFL. The defending team gets to take over possession where you took the missed kick from. An example would be the 60m kick by Steyn in the Hamilton test. Imagine the extra pressure if he misses. NZ gets a free kick 40 metres out from the SA try line.

That to me would encourage teams who have been awarded a penalty 40-60 metres out to kick for an attacking lineout. If they want to shoot for goal they can but they run a risk for chosing to do so. As they get closer to the posts the risk goes down and also they were more deserving of gaining the three points as they were in better field position and were perhaps more likely to score in the first place.

2) A bit more radical but I would make tries worth 6 points and the conversion worth one. That would at least mean an unconverted try is worth the same as two penalties or drop goals. The NFL have got this scoring system worked out properly.

3) A third even more radical option would be to ban all penalty attempts for goal from outside a certain distance (say 40m) or to make penalties worth different amounts. Three points inside 30 metres, two points from there to halfway and just one point beyond that.

The last idea is basically bat shit but I think the first two have legs and may well come in at some point. The first especially as it seems a contradiction that a penalty where the team has kicked for a lineout and its gone dead should come all the way back but the same rule doesn't apply for a shot at goal. The punishment is harsher for a team trying to score a try than one trying to kick a goal.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Corporate scum 

Do I have a corporate ripoff story for you.

Namely, the supply of gas to residential properties here in the self-proclaimed City of Champions.

You'd think that in summer you don't use much gas.

And you'd be right, notwithstanding the fact that our particular house has a gas oven/stove and gas hot water heating.

In June we used $5.40 worth of gas (+5% GST = $5.67)

And in July we used $5.24 worth of gas (+5% GST = $5.50)

Pretty parsimonious by anyone's standards. Two bills I wouldn't mind paying.

But what do both bills actually come to?

June = $50.70
July = $52.00

That's right, to actually get $5 worth of gas supplied to your house costs an additional $45. That's roughly 9 times the value of the gas used, in summer at least.

And just how is this extra $45 made up, you ask?

Well, bear tax of course. And a fuel surcharge. An airport improvement fee. No, I jest, but it would be almost no more ridiculous.

An administration fee ($5.40)
Riders (to feed Jesse and his family, presumably) ($1.00)
Delivery charge fixed ($24.30)
Delivery charge variable ($2.80) - they're carting it in by horse-drawn carriage?
Municipal franchise fee ($9.00) - aka the bear tax
GST (5% on top of all of the above listed)

And that, readers, is what you call a fucking rip off.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

2009 Playoffs: Week 1 

Bit easier this week, only 4 to tip. Historically there is at least one upset each week in terms of the lower ranked team tipping over the top side. Last year saw the first time the 1st ranked team (Storm) lost to the 8th ranked team (Warriors). I'm not tipping any upsets though the away team is good enough to win any of them.

Storm v Sea Eagles
Storm by 4
Both teams have been up and down lately with patches of excellent play interspersed with piss poor stuff. The Storm have Inglis back and they are pretty hard to beat at home so I'll tip them in a tight, tough battle.

Titans v Broncos
Titans by 10
I've been dubious about the Titans for quite some time. However I reckon that in front of a soldout home crowd they will look to prove the doubters wrong and touch up a Broncos side which is deep down plain ordinary.

Bulldogs v Knights
Bulldogs by 10
Clearly the most mediocre looking playoff match. A Bulldogs side which has shown less and less of an edge as the year has gone on v a side that could have easily missed the playoffs and nobody would have noticed. Bulldogs to use the home advantage to take care of business.

Dragons v Eels
Dragons by 12
Damn. Would be nice to see the Dragons lose and have to play again next week and I think it will be much tighter but there's probably a reason the Dragons came 1st and the Eels 8th.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009


I forgot to tell them to lock up their coach.

"Sharks v Rabbitohs
Rabbitohs by 16
The Rabbits will play an attacking
style and look to open the Sharks up. If the Sharks can defend like last week
they are a chance but I just can't see them scoring enough points to win it. Mad Monday beckons. Lock up you women and children, front doors, liquor cabinet and anything that else that is removable".

Seriously though, what is a coach doing going out getting hard on the piss with his players?
The young coaches in the NRL haven't exactly covered themselves with glory this year have they? - Cleary, Fittler, Stuart and now Taylor out drinking with
his team. Most of the rest would probably be back at home tucked up in bed
with a milo.

Learn guys, they aren't your mates.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Do not watch this movie 

Duplicity 'starring' (I use the term loosely) Julia Roberts and Clive Owen.

Marketed as "A cool, sexy, caper" it is in fact "A dull, mind-numbing, ripoff".

Imagine Mr and Mrs Smith. Then take out Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and replace them with this Clive Owen guy (whose speech is so inarticulate I nick-named him "Mumble Cheeks") and Juliasaurous Roberts (who I nick-named "Skeletor" on account of the depth to which her eyes have sunk back into her malnourished skull).

Then take out all the knives, guns and explosions and replace them excruciating dialogue in which two rival companies are allegedly out to get each other. Replace that awesome scene where they blow up the house with a scene of photocopying. Yes, that was the climax. I kid you not.

Less than an hour in I was willing either of the badly-caricatured CEOs of said companies to just shoot Roberts or Owen (or preferably both) in the head, and end this cruel farce. But, alas, it continued.

I'd rather watch an episode of In the Night Garden with L'il Red. I care more about the wellbeing of Upsy Daisy and Iggle Piggle than either of the leads in this duplicitously-marketed abomination.

It's up there with Independence Day, Godzilla, Chicago, Scent of a Woman, and The Phantom Menace, in my list of "zero star" movies.

Even intoxication will not make this movie even vaguely engaging, or illicit the mildest empathy for its characters. In fact, as Mrs_Red, observed, there is essentially no characterization. No back story. Nothing.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Welcome to muntaville

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NRL week 26 

This is it. Lucky last. Has the NRL banned Mad Mondays yet? Mind you, is there a bar left in Sydney that hasn't banned every NRL player yet?

Tigers v Bulldogs
Bulldogs by 4
The Tigers will want to finish the season with a bang. They are playing good enough footie to knock over the Dogs but the Dogs just have a little more to play for.

Dragons v Eels
Eels by 8
The Eels are an irresistable force, while I have always forced myself to resist the Dragons. Though it isn't hard.

Warriors v Storm
Storm by 10
If the Warriors were at full strength I'd be tempted to tip an upset because they seem to go well against the Storm and have a bit to prove. But a weakened lineup should see them just get taught another lesson.

Sea Eagles v Titans
Titans by 8
The Titans just keep rolling on and on much to my surprise. Meanwhile the Sea Eagles just can't seem to click into 4th gear at all.

Sharks v Rabbitohs
Rabbitohs by 16
The Rabbits will play an attacking style and look to open the Sharks up. If the Sharks can defend like last week they are a chance but I just can't see them scoring enough points to win it. Mad Monday beckons. Lock up you women and children, front doors, liquor cabinet and anything that else that is removable.

Roosters v Cowboys
Cowboys by 14
A bit of a who cares game. Always good to see the Roosters lose though.

Knights v Panthers
Knights by 10
I cannot for the life of me see this Panthers side win a game away from home that means something. At the same time the Knights are quite a moody side that runs hot and cold week to week and more often than not in the same match so if they give the Panthers a look in they'll regret it.

Broncos v Raiders
Broncos by 16
Yep, the Broncos are back. Kind of. It's a shame they spent most of the year showing good sides how to beat them. Pass the ball along your backline and run over the try line. That was about all the effort required. It shouldn't be a long finals campaign for them.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Isn't it Obvious? 

Look Ivan, you don't need independent observors having a look round the club this week. The balls ups were made long ago.

You (I know, you were advised by some idiots as well) dunted ALL our halves and picked a guy who should have been used as a bit part player in an energency, and for some mentoring. As a side note we bought Kemp thinking he'll run in 20 tries for us but it's a shame we put a winger into space about as often as Brent Todd scored tries. Although our outside defenders knopw how to put opposition wingers and centres into space so maybe we could have got a tip from them. I feel sorry for the guy, and Ivan, you should be ashamed of the position you put him in. All the plonkers out there are saying, gee, Kemp was a bit of a flop. Funny how he'll run in a dozen tries a season for anybody else in the comp.

And then you proceeded to play the most boring ineffective attacking style I have ever laid eyes on from a team I support. They average 16.39 points per game. The worst ever attacking Warriors side was the 2000 team who averaged 16.38. So if they score 16 or less points v the Storm they will take bottom spot. The thing is that this side is nowhere near as bad on paper as some sides we've had in the past but he took a team that has been getting progressively more boring in the past 1 to 2 years and completely castrated it.

Three tips
1) Make sure you have nimble halves that can run, pass and kick a bit.
2) Teach the backline some moves.
3) Tell your loose forwards to get wider and stop playing like props.

There, all that was for free.

and if I see our boys doing wrap around moves, our loosies logging it up and looking for a hit and spin offload and chip bombs to Vatuvei next year I swear to god, I'll go apoplectic.

I'm just saying all this stuff because I care.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Cuban Blockade is just the same: million-dollar fine for ANZ bank 

Source: GRANMA International

A fine of $5.75 million has been paid by the Australia and New Zealand Bank (ANZ), a powerful financial group, for engaging in transactions that allegedly benefited Cuba and Sudan via U.S. bank accounts, according to a report by the Treasury Department published today in El Nuevo Herald.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) noted that the violations occurred in international commerce operations and foreign currency exchanges between 2004 and 2006, and involved ANZ in the process of transactions by using accounts corresponding to banking affiliates in the United States. The Miami daily adds that the sanction represents the largest fine imposed in relation to the blockade since June 2004, when the Union Bank of Switzerland received a fine of $100 million for allegedly allowing the Cuban government to use an international program created by the U.S. Federal Reserve to exchange old dollar bills for new ones. (Cubadebate)

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