Web site goes into over-simulation

Posted: March 15, 2006

Bob Wolfley

You do get the sense in recent years the fixation we have about picking winners in the NCAA men's basketball tournament has generated too much information.

It has enabled a generation of computer nerds, who have misspent their energy and focus running computer simulations of every game in the tournament to find the winner.

Bracketology is one thing.

Compu-geek-ology is another.

Take, for example.


It has fired up its computer, Hal or Big Blue or Jaws or whatever they call it, and run more that 3,000 simulations for each of the games in the first two rounds.

It calculates "how each team's performance changes in response to game conditions and opponent's abilities" and "each game is simulated one play at a time and the game is replayed a minimum of 3,000 times to generate forecasted winning percentages and player statistics."

Now let me tell you 3,000 is a big number.

How big?

That's almost as many plays as Tom Crean has installed for Marquette's offense.

Anyway, the Shark bytes, the stimuli at Simulation U., predict the following results for our local scholar-athletes:

Oklahoma 66.5, UWM 63.

Marquette 68, Alabama 61.1.

Wisconsin 62.8, Arizona 62.4.

In the UWM game, the computer has the Panthers winning just 39.7% of its simulated 3,000 games against the Sooners.

The good news for the Panthers is they are not playing Oklahoma 3,000 times.

CBS-TV has allotted time for just one.

The Golden Eagles (7) are just three seedings away from Alabama (10), but the computer has MU winning 70.9% of the time it plays 'Bama. This makes you think there might be some personal vendetta this computer may be pursuing against the Tide.

Maybe this computer was made in the North.

The Badgers are in really good shape, according to the computer. They are going to have a close one against the Wildcats but will prevail.

Now all they have to do is convince the NCAA to keep score in the tenths and they'll be sailing into that second round.

FCC sheds moonlight

The Federal Communications Commission announced a ruling on Wednesday that said Randy Moss' moon dance at Lambeau Field on Jan. 9, 2005, was not indecent enough for the FCC to fine Fox affiliates.

Some viewers complained to the FCC that Fox showed Moss' gesture.

Moss, formerly of the Minnesota Vikings, scored a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers in a NFC wild card playoff game. Near the goal post Moss pretended to moon the crowd in that part of the stadium. Fox cameras showed the pantomime once for a few seconds and broadcaster Joe Buck denounced Moss for his decision.

"Assuming without deciding that the broadcast of a mimed 'mooning' depicts a sexual or excretory organ and thus falls within the subject matter prong of our indecency analysis, we nevertheless conclude that the material is not patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium and thus is not indecent," the FCC said in a statement.

"While we can understand why many viewers may have perceived the player's touchdown celebration as plainly inappropriate, we do not believe that his fully clothed display titillates or rises to the level of shocking behavior," it said.

Inside pitch

Marilyn Johnson's terrific new book about the art of obituary writing, "The Dead Beat," carries tons of references to the best examples of the form in the last 25 years or so.

One of the outstanding obits she cites in the book was written by Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe about Dick Radatz, a relief pitcher who spent most of his seven-year major-league career with the Boston Red Sox. Radatz died last year on March 16. He was 67.

Johnson highlighted her favorite sentence from the Globe's obit:

"Mr. (Dick) Radatz spent the last two years as pitching coach for the Lynn-based North Shore Spirit, an independent minor-league team, and he was planning to return this spring . . . even though Mr. Radatz's considerable girth - his weight approached 400 pounds - made trips to the mound a rarity."

Speaking of sports

In his book about broadcaster Howard Cosell and heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, "Sound and Fury" author Dave Kindred reminds readers of one of the sharpest putdown lines ever written about someone in sports.

It came from New York sportswriter Jimmy Cannon.

"Cosell's the only guy who ever changed his name and put on a toupee to tell it like it is."

Cosell's given name was Howard Cohen.

Call SportsDay at (414) 223-5531 or send e-mail to

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From the March 16, 2006 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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