Some relevant Sunday reading from Malcolm Gladwell.
Most people are inclined to use moral terms to describe overconfidence—terms like “arrogance” or “hubris.” But psychologists tend to regard overconfidence as a state as much as a trait. The British at Gallipoli were victims of a situation that promoted overconfidence. Langer didn’t say that it was only arrogant gamblers who upped their bets in the presence of the schnook. She argues that this is what competition does to all of us; because ability makes a difference in competitions of skill, we make the mistake of thinking that it must also make a difference in competitions of pure chance. Other studies have reached similar conclusions. As novices, we don’t trust our judgment. Then we have some success, and begin to feel a little surer of ourselves. Finally, we get to the top of our game and succumb to the trap of thinking that there’s nothing we can’t master. As we get older and more experienced, we overestimate the accuracy of our judgments, especially when the task before us is difficult and when we’re involved with something of great personal importance.
Official writer whose UFC picks we blindly follow Eric Foster has his picks up for UFC 102. His writeups are excellent, as is his record and I do what he says each month, assuming the line hasn’t moved too much by then.
Turn on ESPN today, and what do you see? Chris Mortensen reporting on Brett Favre, coming back from retirement and signing with another team. You can just vision the collective eye roll of the entire nation when the news was reported.
The funny thing is with Favre, I actually supported him the first retirement go-around. As a Bobby Orr fan, I knew of the plight of the aging legend getting let go by the organization because they either didn’t want to pay him, or had someone younger, who was cheaper, behind him. Before 2008, Favre had openly wanted to leave the Packers because they were average at best. Then they go 12-4 and lose in the NFC Championship versus the Giants. He could have had every opportunity there to say, “I want to stay”, and the Packers, who are owned partially by the people, would have to accept that. Favre couldn’t have said, “Green Bay is boring, too damn cold for my arthritic joints, and Deanna hates cheese”, because Farve at some point has to come back to Green Bay to get his number retired. Rodgers would have had to leave, or sit on the bench. Instead, Favre goes into pseudo-retirement (due to his “displeasure” of them not offering a contract extension to a 40 year old QB), texts flirts with the Vikings and Bears during said period, which allows the Packers to trade him (without public backlash) to the Jets for draft picks (where he will epically fail, to my glee).
Ok, so he goes to NYC, loves it at first (Hey, Deanna, they have Tiffany’s!), and starts out 8-3. The media is openly blowing him; Collinsworth says he’s the MVP after they beat the undefeated Titans. But then, the same old Brett that bettors knew had helped them pay many a rent late in the year thanks to an aging arm leads to a Jets collapse, finishing up with a horrid performance against the hated Dolphins (where he runs out of the stadium after, his bags packed ready to leave), also costing Eric Mangini his job. Suddenly, New York City isn’t as fun when not only you are the reason the team doesn’t make the playoffs, but also cost people their jobs.
He still wants to play, just not with the Jets because now the players on the team hate him. Hey, the Vikings are a good destination, they have the Mall of America….and a dome! But wait, he doesn’t want to do training camp, so instead of actually saying that and pulling a Clemens (not the juice), he goes back into pseudo-retirement in June, and 1 week immediately after camp ends……he signs a deal! What a disingenuous poser! If you are ever THINKING of betting on Farve, think of this before you have the confidence to place that bet in.
Unless you are a Vikings fan who is happy as can be that the starting QB will not be named Sage or Tavaris (sounds like the cast of a Greek tragedy), you roll your eyes at this news……BUT as a bettor, you are giddy in glee. The Vikings season win totals, previously off the board, are now at 9 to 9.5, depending on the site. I was really anticipating 10 or higher, which would become an auto-bet on the under. I was surprised at such a low line because the Vikings were an 8.5 win team, with their easy schedule, BEFORE Favre signed. I would assume that the bookies would add 2 more wins because of the casual sports fans’ collective hard-on for him; but yet again, these are the same bookies who Favre burnt at the end of the year last year (see: +7 @ SF where they lost by two TDs or +4 at a snowy Seattle in December where the Jets lost 13-3), so I can see why the caution from the bookmakers (plus we are in a recession and you can tell; even the bookies have been nittier than usual).
Fear not, he still becomes an auto insta-bet against late in the year on the road, and in the playoffs, as Favre has been terrible the last 5 years after Thanksgiving, even in the 12-4 year, and even in domes or not-so-cold weather. He is, you know, a 41 year old coming off of a slight biceps tear AND shoulder surgery in his throwing arm. He’s never played well in the Metrodome; he has more INTs than TDs there. And the Vikings themselves have a history of season ending collapses as they are the NFL’s version of the Mets (see: 2004 in the last game of the year versus the Cardinals).
Plus their coach is still Brad Childress.
However, at least we get jokes in return out of seeing Favre on ESPN 24/7. We can all laugh when some guy takes Brett 4-5 rounds too early in your fantasy draft. Laugh when I tell my friend Jason, a Vikes fan, that I tried to send him a Favre jersey via the mail, but it got intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Or laugh when you all shout at the Avenue bar, “He’s a Mississippi gambling gunslinger!” when he’s thrown his 3rd INT in the 4th quarter versus the Lions. So it’s not a total wash, I just wish someone would tell Chris Mortensen, who texts Favre as often as a 16 year old girl texts her friends at Jonas Bros concert, that Brett Favre’s balls are on his face.
I was going to write about Electronic Arts releasing their simulated predictions of the NFL season via Madden NFL 2010, but now with Favre coming back, I will do one myself at the end of August and write a report tied to my official season win totals. I always love to see the results because of the unintentional comedy that is the Oakland Raiders being 7-9 or 8-8 in the video game, when that would NEVER happen in real life. You see, the Raiders have very good video game talent; they just haven’t have had much coaching in the last, oh, 10 years. The NFL is a coaching first league. At least Tom Cable, coach of the Raiders, is showing more spark during camp. Cable, who looks exactly like Walter from the Big Lebowski, punched out his assistant coach cold this week. I guess that’s what happens when you question the coach’s Commitment to Excellence AND Judaism!
But, this leads me to an idea for Al Davis: hire the Madden 2010 Engine to call your plays! Human coaches haven’t worked, try a computer! It’s not such a bad idea. He could save money (and maybe make more in ad revenue when Xbox 360 becomes the Official Playcaller of the Oakland Raiders). The Madden engine would reflect the same lifeless, morbid, and mute personality of the organization and its zombie owner. The only bad thing would be the computer can’t verbally discipline the players when they get out of control…..but the human coaches have failed miserably at this for the last 25 years in Oakland, so it would just be business as usual! It’s a win-win!
From the weekend…
Arsenal +800 or +850 to win the EPL. Probably won’t happen, but they’re no worse that 5:1 after this.
Need to pay more attention on the weekends…
I’m not normally a big fan of past records, such as Philly is 2-6 against the spread in their last 8 meetings versus Seattle. A lot of times, the players on each team hadn’t even been born when the records in question were being tallied. That said, sometimes there’s valuable info in there. Current lines on Bookmaker for the World Cup qualification match in Mexico City next weekend:
The US is 0-22-1 all-time in Mexico. Even when the US is good, they still don’t win there. Somehow, Mexico is an even money bet to win a game they’ve won literally, all but once.
4 unit play on El Tri.