NFL Game Rewind

Last year the NFL launched a service called NFL Game Rewind. The service allows NFL fans to re-watch NFL games on demand on their computer or on their tablet using the NFL Game Rewind app. Although the truly revolutionary aspect of the service is that it allows fans to access the film that coaches use to assess their team, the all-22 film. The all-22 film is a much more wider shot of the game so that you can see each player on the field at the same time. By releasing the all-22 film the NFL opened up a new way for fans to look at their favorite teams and for writers to analyze the team’s the covered. Giving the fans access to the coaches film was an admirable move on the NFL’s part, however the execution of the application that fan’s use to access this film has been sloppy and looks like its still a work in progress.

Below is a shot of what the application looks like when you are watching the coaches film on the app.

IMG_0430When you tap stop it automatically goes to the telestrator feature of the app. This feature allows you to draw on the frame where you paused. As you can see in the lower right hand corner of the screen there is also an option entitled telestrator, if you tap that it takes you to the telestrator feature as well. This is one of my problems with the app, you have two options on the screen that do the exact same thing. When you are in the telestrator mode the screen shrinks and you can’t see the entire screen.

IMG_0431The screen shot above is from telestrator mode. Once again, this feature is why this service is so revolutionary. Your giving fans the ability to draw on the screen like their favorite coaches and color-commentators do, they can pretend they’re John Madden. However when you’re in this mode how are you supposed to use it fully if you don’t even have the ability to see all the players on the field, which is the entire point of all-22 film. As you can see the screen shot above cuts out four players from the frame.

There are other problems with the app in addition to players being cut out of the shot when you are in telestrator mode. The app breaks down the entire game by play so that you can look at certain plays without having to look through the entire game to find a play. However, when I click on a play when the play ends it just goes back to the beginning of the play instead of going to the next one. This creates a viewing experience that is not fluid at all. You have to exit the screen at the end of the play and manually click the next one in order to view it.

After the app’s first year I thought that it would come back and be a bit revamped. I was wrong as the app is unchanged and still has its shortcomings. I do think that this speaks to the strength though of Major League Baseball’s Advanced Media. Whereas the NFL is seen as a superior league and the one with more fans, it’s MLB that has the superior application for viewing content. As I have said before MLB Advanced media are the experts on providing digital content for fans, and the NFL could learn a thing or two from them to enhance their own app.

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Boston Celtics Timeline

As a Boston Celtics fan who wasn’t alive to witness Bill Russell and Larry Bird I have always had a hard time figuring out which great Celtics played with each other, when they won a championship, and who their coach was at the time. There are so many Celtics legends, they have the most retired jerseys in the NBA, that it’s hard for me to keep track of players I wasn’t alive to watch. As somebody who is a visual learner I thought it would be a cool idea to create a timeline that illustrated the great Celtics, how long they were with  Boston, who their coach was, and when they won a championship. I did it for two different periods of time.

Celtics Infographic

I made this graphic on Inkscape and this is my first illustration I have made using the program.  The years that are in yellow represent the years that Celtics won a championship. I realize that yellow might be hard to read but I struggled to learn how to change it in to a darker or a shade that was more gold. If I continue making these timelines for other eras that is something I will try and fix.

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MLB.com At Bat

Sports Illustrated ranked Bob Bowman 33rd on their list of the 50 most influential people in sports. Bowman, the CEO of MLB Advanced Media, ranked ahead of names such as Mark Emmert,  Dana White, Barack Obama, Mark Cuban, and Michael Jordan. And after using the MLB.com At Bat app for the iPad it isn’t hard to figure out why he was  on the list. The app’s variety of features make it the best sports app in the Apple App Store, especially when it comes to tracking live games.

There are a very small number of apps that will let you watch live streaming sports on your iPad or iPhone so having the ability to watch live baseball on a mobile device is in itself  great. However, this app sets the standard for what the viewing experience on all other apps that stream live sports should be like. Here are some screen shots that I feel set the app apart from other apps.

First, here is the basic view you get when you are watching a baseball game on the app. As you can see you get a great widescreen shot and when combined with the iPad’s retina display delivers a great picture:

If you choose, simply by swiping at the top of the screen and the botom of the screen you can fill the top and bottom of the wide screen with lots of great information and tools that enhance the viewing experience. As you can see at the top you have the score of the game you are watching and the scores of the rest of the games around the league. At the bottom you get the hitter pitcher matchup, the count of the current at bat, the players on deck and in the hole, and a map of the diamond. I find the hitter pitcher matchup especially helpful because there are times when I look away when an at bat begins or forget who the pitcher is. The map of the diamond in the lower lefthand corner is a feature that I feel is innovative. Unlike other ones that sports networks use on TV it tells you who the base runners on each base are.

Here is where it starts to get especially interesting. When you swipe the left side of the screen you get a panel that has a variety of features that give you information about the game. For instance, in the photo below I have a lineup card like a manager would have, letting the viewer know which players are available to be used in the game. This would be especially helpful if your team was facing a lefty batter and you wanted to see which lefty pitchers were available in the bullpen or if you wanted to see which pinch hitters were available late in a game.

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Here you can see another feature that be viewed on the right panel is your standard box score. On the left side  is a map of the strike zone with each pitch represented by a dot with a number in the middle representing the number of the pitch in the at bat, a green dot representing a ball and a red one representing a strike. Above the map is the number of the latest pitch in the at bat along with the speed, pitch type, and the result.

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It gets cooler though. When you click on the dot a new right panel pops up with a map of the path that the ball took to the plate and the break on the ball. Each line is a different color, each color representing a different pitch. The line lets you know the break of the ball. This is the coolest feature of MLB.com At Bat and the most innovative. I find it fascinating that in real time the break that a ball took on a pitch that occurred hundreds of miles away can be transmitted to my mobile device. This also is great for the fan experience and can help create a more intelligent fan. Fans using the app can see what pitch a pitcher on their favorite team uses, what situations he throws it in, the velocity of a pitcher’s fastball, and much more.

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And here is another one of the options that you can have on the left panel, a map of the ballpark with the dimensions and the player that is at bat, any that are on base, and the defensive lineup. I feel like this is a neat feature because lets say you forget who the left fielder is, you can just swipe the right side of the screen and look at the map. That is a much easier than having to look at the box score and see who pinch hit earlier or was involved in a double switch.

Like the map of the strike zone the map of the ballpark is also interactive. When you click on a players name relevant statistics pop up on an information card of that player. You get the results of his previous at bats in the game you are watching, his fielding stats from todays game, and his splits. The splits are the reason I used the word relevant to describe the information on the players card. The splits on the card provide the player’s statistics in the situation that the player is currently in. As you can see below Ryan Braun was facing Ronald Bellisario at Dodger Stadium with nobody on base. The viewer now can see how the batter has fared in each one of those situations in previous situations. You get rid of the player card simply by swiping the right side of the screen and the map of the ballpark returns.

In order to be able to watch your favorite team daily on the app you need to suscribe  to MLB TV which is 130 dollars. It seems pricey however you can watch all 30 team’s games as well, choose the home or away feed, and watch on not just your mobile devices but also on a multiple set top boxes, gaming systems, and smart TVs. However, even if you are not an MLB TV subscriber the app is still worth downloading. Each night there is a free game available so you can experience these great features for free. Also for non MLB TV subscribers are the features outside of watching the game live.

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Where I’m Eating In Miami

Here’s a list, in no specific order, of my favorite restaurants at the moment in Miami.

  • Eating House
    The former pop up restaurant is now full time. Former Chopped winner Giorgio Rapicavoli took over the spot where the pop up restaurant operated and redid the interior of the restaurant. Currently they are no longer serving my favorite dish of theirs, pork belly with a guava spread on it. However, they still are serving some other great dishes. I’m a big fan of their pasta carbonara and their poutine. Their poutine is different, rather than using fries or potatoes they use polenta. Still delicious though.
  • Whisk
    I would describe this restaurants menu as one that has a steady base of southern cuisine, but at the same time has several other types of dishes. They just introduced some delicious BBQ pork buns which showcases their great Carolina BBQ sauce. The Carolina BBQ sauce is also used on their pork and cornbread appetizer as well. Other routine dishes I enjoy are the fried chicken sandwich and their burrito with lechon, jasmine rice, avocado, and beans.
  • Gigi
    The thing that I love about Gigi is their daily specials. I can’t think of a restaurant in Miami that has such different dishes each and every night. However, the menu they maintain also has lots of delicious items. I would say that their buns are their signature item. The Daniel San (BBQ Pork Belly), lobster BLT, and roasted pork buns are my favorites. The fact that the restaurant is open until 3 AM Tuesday thru Thursday and 5 AM on the weekends makes it a great spot to eat when you get a craving for a meal late at night.
  • Bread and Butter
    Great restaurant that serves Cuban cuisine as tapas style dishes. For instance, Cuban pork (lechon) served in a Bao Bun. The other day I went and had a great short rib special. I also had the pan con tomate for the first time and it did not disappoint. The bread was freshly cooked and sweet.
  • Lokal
    The excellent service here combined with the delicious burgers and fries is why I continue to frequent this restaurant. You have to love that they make the effort to buy their produce and beef from local farms. The beef is grass fed and you can taste the difference when you bite into it.
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2013 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

I posted my first full mock draft over at DraftCountdown.com.

  • Kansas City Chiefs

Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

Even if Albert comes back there is the possibility he might play guard, a position some feel he is better suited for. I believe that you start building your football team up front, you have to have a strong defensive and offensive line to win in this league. There is no point in having a great young QB if you don’t have the talent up front to protect him.

  • Jacksonville Jaguars

Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia

The combination of need for an outside linebacker and talent is the reason that I have Jones going here. A great young player to build the defense around in the future. Spine checked out okay at the Combine too.

  • Oakland Raiders

Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida

Tommy Kelly is a candidate to be cut, Richard Seymour is not coming back and the Raiders run defense was abysmal this past year. Floyd has been flying up the rankings and benefits from Star Lotulelei’s heart condition.

  • Philadelphia Eagles

Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

I wouldn’t gamble on Lotulelei here so I have Fisher going here. Fisher provides another tackle to play opposite Jason Peters and eventually replace him. He should help improve the abysmal offensive play from last year.

  • Detroit Lions

Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M

A solid replacement for Vanden Bosch and potentially Avril. Moore will help the pass rush.

  • Cleveland Browns

Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

Not the most glaring need, but he is too good to pass at this point in the draft. Him and Haden will form a great duo in the secondary. Milliner and Haden will be a good combination for Cleveland because they’ll have to go against Joe Flacco, AJ Green, and maybe Mike Wallace twice a year in the AFC North.

  • Arizona Cardinals

Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

His addition can only help the offensive line in Arizona get better because they hit rock bottom last season. If you’re going to win in this league you’re going to have to be able to protect the QB. If a QB was to be selected here he would be setup for failure. By choosing Johnson here they have a solid addition to the offensive line and will have a variety of QB’s to choose from when they pick next.

  • Buffalo Bills

Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

QB of the future for the Bills. I think Marrone picks Smith hoping he can be the franchise quarterback for his team if Smith is available here.

Continue reading

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Terry Francona and Dan Shaughnessy’s Francona: The Red Sox Years

Terry Francona and Dan Shaughnessy’s Francona: The Red Sox Years is a collaboration between the Boston sportswriter, Shaughnessy, and former manager of the Red Sox, Francona, detailing the manager’s tenure in Boston. The book is written by Shaughnessy and has extensive quotations from Francona throughout the book. Shaughnessy uses his knowledge as a veteran Boston sportswriter to create a narrative in the book that is accompanied by Francona’s stories from his time as manager. The duo do a great job creating an inside account of the Boston Red Sox between 2004 and 2011.

The book is the most detailed account of the Red Sox organization since Seth Mnookin’s Feeding the Monster. The difference is that Francona gives the reader a much more intimate look at the Red Sox organization and how it changed over his tenure. With the exception of the 2004 season, each season that Francona managed has its own chapter. Francona’s account of each season gives the reader a glimpse into why that season did not go the way it could have, or why it was a successful season. In addition, Francona details his relationship with ownership throughout the book to the point where you are not surprised why he left after the 2011 season.

Scattered throughout the book are some funny baseball stories that not many outside of the clubhouse had heard before this book came out. Shaughnessy’s interviews with people other than Francona also provide a great deal of insight into Francona’s tenure. Theo Epstein is quoted throughout the book. The former GM continually describes what he calls the monster, pressure from ownership to spend big money and sign big name free agents, that kept building during his and Francona’s stay in Boston. Mark Teixeira’s quoted in the book detailing his free agency following the 2008 season. Teixeira talks about the controversial meeting he had with ownership when he was being courted by the Red Sox.

There were a few mistakes in the book that somehow got by the fact checker during editing (Jacoby Ellsbury went to Oregon State not the University of Oregon). That said, as a Red Sox fan I found the book interesting and worth my time. Francona’s stories about his time with the team and how he sheds light on his relationship with the owners made this a captivating read for me.

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National Signing Day Hat Placement Theory

National Signing Day Hat Placement Theory

When a high school football player selects the university where he will be attending it is tradition to lay out hats that represent each school he is considering and then announce which school he will be attending by putting on the hat of the school he has selected. I have always wondered if the placement of the hat meant anything. I decided to analyze the placement of the hat that an athlete selected and compare it to other athletes and the placement of their hats. Thus far I do not think I have nearly enough data to draw any sort of conclusion, however I will continue to update this post.

The chart is arranged with the athlete’s name on the y axis and the number of hat’s he was picking from x asis. I only used athletes who picked from hats that were visible on the table. There are several athletes who like to throw people off and pick a hat which they are hiding underneath a hat on the table or that is under the table. I will update this as I acquire more data.

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