Tag: Sports

The 12th Man: Is Crowd Noise Cool or Unsportsmanlike?

Sound meter showing Kansas City Chiefs' crowd noise at 147.57

KC Chiefs crowd breaks outdoor stadium noise record Oct. 13, 2013 at 137.57.

A colleague forwarded a news story about the Kansas City Chiefs’ fans breaking the outdoor-stadium crowd-noise record yesterday with the question: “Dubious accomplishment or unsportsmanlike?” As a long-time sportswriter, I’ve penned more than a few hundred words about this subject over the years. Periodically, I re-think it and I keep coming to the same conclusion: there’s nothing unsportsmanlike about it. While I think the latest trend of having Guinness Book of World Records officials on-hand to measure the noise and certify its volume is more than a tad weird, I can’t condemn the fans or the teams.

Crowd noise is just another playing condition — like cold, snow, heat, rain, long grass, or streakers — under which teams must from time to time play and to which they must learn to adjust. If it were illegal, e.g., for a crowd to make loud noise in some stadiums but not others, maybe — but only maybe — you could make a case for penalizing it or outlawing it league-wide.

is it cool for some teams to engineer stadiums to increase the effect of extra-loud screaming on the players on the field? You betcha. (Sorry, Ms. Half-Term Governor!) It’s good for the fans, who feel like they are really part of their teams’ season, and it’s good for TV (though their sound folks need to learn to cope with it better) because it increases the sense of “there” for viewers.

Sure, there are times — like last weekend in Seattle when the infamous 12th man up north contributed to my Niners’ poor performance and accompanying defeat — when I wish I could conjure a good argument for banning or penalizing it. But in the final analysis, it’s just more great fun on the sporting scene.

49ers Face, Lose “Trap Game” to Fired-Up Vikings

The San Francisco 49ers ran into what is called a “trap game” this afternoon in Minnesota and came away with their tails between their legs, having absorbed a handy 24-13 whupping at the hands of the highly motivated Vikings.

A trap game is one that comes against an apparently vastly inferior opponent when you’re coming off one or more wins against teams that were expected to defeat you, or at least looked highly challenging on paper. The Niners opened this season with two good, tough wins over NFC North foes, taking it to Green Bay in Week One and then beating an improving Detroit Lions squad in SF, both by eight points.

They were heavily favored this week. The guys at the Bleacher Report laughed the game off the scoreboard, predicting a final score of 31-3. But the Vikings, apparently tired of being taken lightly, ran an impressively long opening drive for a 7-0 lead and were never headed.

Despite the fact that the replacement officials made two horrible decisions late in the game, both in the Niners’ favor and both of which the crew admitted after the game, the Niners looked confused, out of place and out-coached all afternoon.

Niners Win Handily, Officials Decimated by Stupidity

Check out my Storify story today about yesterday's surprisingly easy 30-22 Niners' win over the Green Bay Packers. The story also includes:

  • my comments on the Niners' new-found #1 Power Ranking
  • the worst officiating I've seen in more than 50 years of fandom and sports writing
Let me know how you're enjoying this Storify approach I'm poking at. I'm finding some blemishes but it may be worth my spending more time with, assuming you, my readers, don't just hate it!

Bleacher Report Mysteriously Drops Niners to #3

The Bleacher Report has had the San Francisco 49ers ranked as the top team in the NFC and NFL throughout the pre-season. But in today's final release before the opening of the regular season, they have mysteriously dropped the team to #3 behind the Packers and the Patriots. 

I don't necessarily disagree with the final ranking. If anything it may be too optimistic. But when you go through the pre-season singing the praises of the Niners and then wimp out to the favorites everyone else is picking before the first real kickoff, that requires an explanation. And Matt Miller absolutely takes a swan dive on that score. After admitting that the sudden change of heart required an explanation, the best Miller can muster is a lame, "This isn't a knee-jerk reaction to the preseason, but more so a recalibration based on the entire offseason. The 49ers were great in 2011, and they were one play away from a Super Bowl berth; but expecting the same level of dominance this year may be unrealistic."

What wishy-washy mealy-mouthing. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The Niners will go 12-4 or 11-5 this season, win their conference easily, and almost certainly make it to the NFC finals where they'll probably meet Green Bay. It's too early to call that one, but I won't be shocked if the Niners make it to the Big Show.

Niners Look Pathetic in Semi-Final Tuneup

I watched the first half of today's San Francisco 49ers game at Denver and I have to say I was more than a little concerned for their season when it was over. Sure, they went on to win the game, 29-24, but the first stringers were shaky.

The offense was a sputtering joke and the defense was a sieve. Yeah, I know, Peyton Manning blah blah blah. The fact is that historically the third game of the four-week preseason is when teams show what they've got before they move into the last week when all they really want is to survive without major injuries and make decisions about the last handful of roster spots easier. And if that's the standard, then the Niners are not looking as good as they had in their two previous preseason outings.

You want pathetic? Try a team that gets a delay of game penalty after calling a timeout. That's just not paying attention. That's sloppy football. But it blended nicely with the rest of the first-line offense, which generally stunk up the joint.

At this point all we fans can do is hope Coach Jim Harbaugh knew what he was going today and maybe hiding stuff from the Packers and other early-season foes. Because he sure as hell hid it well from the Broncos and the Niners Faithful.

Niners Show Lack of Defensive Depth

The San Francisco 49ers demonstrated a real lack of depth on the defensive side of the football in yesterday's 20-9 loss to the lowly Houston Texans. The first string held its own reasonably well on both sides of the ball but when the second quarter opened with the Niners' backups on the D side, things went downhill in a hurry.

A mediocre QB, Matt Schaub, looked like a Pro Bowler as he picked apart a pass defense that seemed to mail it in. The backfield never got in synch. Based on this performance, the Niners' vaunted starting D had better not experience many injuries this year or things could get ugly.

Another disappointment for the Niners had to be the so-so performance of backup signal-caller Colin Kaepernick. He seemed completely out of synch at times, narrowly missing three interceptions that a first-string NFL defense would have rammed back down his throat. His stats (4/6 for 16 yards) were pathetic and the team seemed flat with him on the field. Josh Johnson, on the other hand, was impressive as he completed the same number of passes in the same number of attempts as Kaepernick, but for 64 productive yards. He also seemed far more poised.

The Niners were dismal in third  down efficiency, converting 23% (3/13) but Coach Jim Harbaugh took no less than three fourth-down shots and the team converted one.

I'm sure the coaches learned a lot and a considerable number of guys sealed their fates with the team by their inattentive and sloppy performances.

Sad Tale of Melky Cabrera

The San Francisco Giants, holding to a tenuous lead in the NL West, were dealt a possible death blow by their superstar yesterday. Melky Cabrera, the top offensive performer for the Giants by far and one of the powerhouses of the National League, idiotically flushed his season — and maybe his career — down the toilet along with a bunch of testosterone needles.

As Keith Olbermann used to say, "That man is an idiot!"

Without Cabrera, my guess is the Giants fall to second or third place in the West and stay there. What a greedy, selfish man Cabrera clearly is. I'm sure he had a raft of rationalizations for his clearly illegal behavior but at the end of the day he destroys his teammates and his fans in the name of a tiny bit of additional power and strength that he probably didn't even need.

It's a sad day for the Orange and Black.

All Four Niner QBs Look Good in Preseason Opener

The San Francisco 49ers opened the 2012 pre-season at home this evening with a 17-6 win over the rebuilding Minnesota Vikings. All four of the Niners' QB corps — starter Alex Smith, backup Colin Kaepernick, Scott Tolzien and Josh Johnson — looked pretty good on opening night. I was particularly impressed with Kaepernick, who's viewed by many NFL observers as a potential superstar. His legs are awesome and his field awareness was outstanding. He does need to learn to make quicker decisions and get rid of the ball a bit faster but that's probably a matter of more turns over center. Smith was nearly in season-opening form, making good decisions and keeping his head in the game.

I found myself more concerned with the defense, which was our main strength last year and which I expected to be slightly better this season. Justin Smith took the night off but the rest of the crew was intact. I was amazed at how easily the Vikings picked that D apart both through the air and on the ground in the first half.

The non-union, untrained officials did a credible job. I only saw a couple of bad calls but I usually see more than that with a regular crew, so that was pleasantly surprising. I hope the owners get their heads out of their collective butts pretty soon, though; this game can't be played properly with raw zebra.

Google News Does Crappy Job of Updates on Some Topics


As a long-time user of Google News, I am becoming increasingly annoyed by the app's apparent inability to tell time. Or, for that matter, to read a calendar. This image shows you my Google News page's custom San Francisco Giants entries as of 5 p.m. Pacific today.

They're about to kick off a game at St. Louis' Busch Stadium. What does the "news" have to offer me?

* The score of yesterday's game
* A pre-game story about a game that was played July 10 in Kansas City!
* A story about…not the Giants as requested and clearly labeled…but the 49ers (whom I also follow via Google News)

Not even anything about the more recent games between July 9 and yesterday. Let alone any pre-game coverage for today.

Meanwhile, Yahoo Sports' page on the Giants is chock full of brand-new news, including:

* A trade the Giants made in which they picked up lefty reliever Jose Mijares from the Royals TODAY
* The AP's preview of tonight's game and the series
* A good wrapup of the just-completed sweep of the Rockies

And there's lots of other stuff there as well.

It's obvious from this and tons of other observations I've made that Yahoo is really serious about being a major content player while Google dabbles in it using their (apparently time-unconscious) search algorithms to create news pages that are just embarrassingly dumb and out-dated.

Giant All-Star Madness!

I didn't know Pablo "Panda" Sandoval could run all the way to third base without a break!

Matt (Cain) Masterful.

Melky Cabrera is the All-Star MVP in his old home park. How cool is that?

I'm not a big fan of the All-Star Game. Never have been. I didn't watch the game last night. But it was so cool to wake up this morning and read about the awesome exploits of my Giants that I couldn't resist a Wahoo!