Monday, July 14, 2014

Last Call For Zee Germans

Nate Silver crunches the numbers and argues that this year's German World Cup winning squad may in fact be the most powerful and dominant national soccer team ever assembled.

One simple way to compare World Cup winners is by their goal differential throughout the tournament. Germany, with 18 goals scored and four allowed, comes out at a plus-14. This is tied for the best goal differential ever for a World Cup champion; Brazil also scored 18 goals and allowed four in winning the 2002 tournament.

Plus 14 through 7 matches is insane, although if you toss that 7-1 thrashing of Brazil and turn that into 2-1, that would put the Germans at a much more average plus 9.  So what else is in the 2014 German team's favor?

The World Football Elo Ratings provide one way to account for all these factors: a team’s strength going into the tournament, its dominance during the tournament itself, the quality of its competition, and whether it was aided by playing at home. 
Germany’s Elo rating was high to begin with at 2046, which is stronger than a number of World Cup winners. But it gained 150 more points throughout the World Cup (about half of them by beating Brazil 7-1), finishing with a rating of 2196.

That's 40 points better than any other World Cup winning team ever.  I don't think we'll ever see a team this good again.  These guys are the best of the best.

Other teams — notably Spain from 2008 to 2012, and Brazil under Pele — had longer sustained stretches at the apex of world football. But Germany is young and deep. Mario Götze, who scored the winning goal in the final Sunday, is 22. Thomas Müller and Toni Kroos are 24, and Mesut Özil is 25. The Germans have a good chance to go in as the favorites in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. 
Still, the competition is going to be tough. At the start of the next tournament, Brazil’s Neymar and Colombia’s James Rodríguez will be just 26, and Lionel Messi — despite playing in his fourth World Cup — only 30. France is perhaps a player away from competing with the world’s best teams, and after having won FIFA’s Under-20 World Cuplast year, it could make that transition soon. This is a great era for the international game, and that makes what Germany accomplished all the more impressive.

From an American sports perspective, Germany didn't have a Michael Jordan or LeBron James, but they are instead the San Antonio Spurs, a collection of very good, All-Star players all on the same team and who perform well together.  It's a franchise that has quietly won 5 NBA championships in 16 seasons.  Center Tim Duncan may not be the best player in the NBA, just like Germany's Thomas Muller isn't the best soccer player out there compared to Brazil's Neymar or Argentina's Messi, but Tim Duncan now has five rings and nobody can tell him boo.

I'd call the Spurs the best NBA squad in the last 15 years, easy.  Germany is all that and more in the soccer world right now, and yeah, 2018 you would have to consider them the favorites too.

Judd Gregg Has Amnesia

Remember Judd Gregg, former GOP senator and governor from New Hampshire?  He has a new column at The Hill predicting how a Republican Senate in 2014 would go, and it's hysterically funny fan fiction.

The election of a Republican Senate will not be a signal from the hinterlands that people want more of the same. It will be a directive to stop acting like peevish politicians and start governing for the good of the nation. 
If this instruction is ignored, it will almost certainly mean that the next time around — the 2016 elections — the Republican Congress will face stiff punishment from voters. 
Thus, there will be a considerable motivation for a Republican Congress next year to make things happen.

If voters were interested in making things happen why would they elect more Republicans, when Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell swore they top priority of Senate Republicans was making Obama a one-term President by doing nothing?   Go home Judd, you're drunk.

But since this will still be a divided government and the GOP may hold only the barest of majorities in the Senate, this new Congress is not going to be able to address Main Street issues unless it does so in concert with the president. 
So the next question is this: What incentive is there for the president to come into the room? He has not done this in a meaningful way in the first six years of his term, and indeed doing so seems to be anathema to his personal views of governance.

Yes, at every step of the way, President Obama has "refused" to work with Republican senators, including the fact he nominated Judd Gregg as Commerce Secretary as one of his first acts, only to have Gregg tell the President to go screw himself a week later.

Every time President Obama has offered to work with Republicans, they have told him to screw off.  Now they are suing him.  You're right, Mr Gregg, why should President Obama come to the table?  Look in the mirror and you'll have the answer as to why not.

Saying What The President Cannot

Attorney General Eric Holder is a good man in general, but his ability to say what President Obama cannot say about race and the brutally racist attacks this administration has suffered through in the last six years is one of his most powerful traits.

Attorney General Eric Holder said Sunday he and President Obama have been targets of “a racial animus” by some of the administration’s political opponents.

There's a certain level of vehemence, it seems to me, that's directed at me [and] directed at the president,” Holder told ABC. “You know, people talking about taking their country back. … There's a certain racial component to this for some people. I don’t think this is the thing that is a main driver, but for some there's a racial animus."

Holder said the nation is in “a fundamentally better place than we were 50 years ago.” 
“We've made lots of progress,” he said. “I sit here as the first African-American attorney general, serving the first African-American president of the United States. And that has to show that we have made a great deal of progress. 
“But there's still more we have to travel along this road so we get to the place that is consistent with our founding ideals,” he said.

He also is one of the few people willing to call Republican voter suppression of black and Latino voters what it is.

The attorney general also pointed to Republican efforts to enact stricter voter ID laws in southern States as evidence that more needed to be done to protect minority rights. Republicans have maintained the efforts are designed to prevent voter fraud, while Democrats say instances of fraud are exceedingly rare, and far outpaced by the minority population that does not have identification that would be unable to vote. 
Holder called the laws “political efforts” designed to make it “more difficult” for “groups that are not supportive of those in power” to “have access to the ballot.” 
Who is disproportionately impacted by them? Young people, African Americans, Hispanics, older people, people who, for whatever reason, aren't necessarily supportive of the Republican Party,” Holder said, adding that “this notion that there is widespread in-person voter fraud is simply belied by the facts.”

I am grateful for President Obama, but Eric Holder's contribution to civil rights and fighting for them cannot and will not be overlooked by history either.


Related Posts with Thumbnails