Anagram Derbies

My inspiration jumps from topic to topic–don’t know how or at what point I’ll talk about ongoings in my normal sport. Until such occasion, look at…

A week and a day ago there was an exciting matchup between Netherlands and Denmark in the Euro 2012 tournament. Did I get excited to see the strong Dutch team, or because Denmark pulled an upset? Well…no…

I just liked the fact that NED-DEN in the scoreboard graphic was an anagram.

So, I set off to see what other FIFA-recognized anagram matchups there have been in history. It turns out that NED versus DEN is the most frequently-played rivalry of this sort. Saturday was the teams’ 30th meeting, and the Netherlands (despite losing) still lead the all-time series with 10 wins, 12 draws, and 8 losses. They have scored 58 to Denmark’s 41 in these meetings.

Next we have IDN versus IND. Indonesia have won 9 matches of 17, there have been 2 draws, and India have won 6. Indonesia have scored 35, India 23.

It’s a close matchup between ANG and NGA. Two wins each for Angola and Nigeria, with six draws. 7 goals for Angola, 8 for Nigeria.

GER and GRE have met eight times…so far, as Germany and Greece play on Friday in the quarterfinals! Germany have five wins and three draws so far, scoring 17 to Greece’s 7.

Another close series between USA and AUStralia. One win, one draw, and one loss in their three meetings. USA has scored 3 and Australia 2.

There was only one match between BRU and BUR. Brunei defeated Burma (now MYAnmar) 3-2 on May 29, 1983.

Things weren’t so close when ARM met MAR. Morocco defeated Armenia 6-0 on January 17, 1996.

What about more than two teams at a time? This is possible! We have DMA, MAD, and MDA all in use for Dominica, Madagascar, and Moldova. Unfortunately, none of them have met each other…yet.

There’s also RUS, SUR, and URS for Russia, Suriname, and the Soviet Union (pre-1992). None of them have played each other, either, although in one case there are understandable reasons.

Going back to pairs for a moment, there are still some more rivalries that could yet arise as soon as the teams play each other:

  • ATG/TGA (Antigua and Barbuda/Tonga)
  • BLR/LBR (Belarus/Liberia)
  • CAM/MAC (Cambodia/Macau)
  • CAN/NCA (Canada/Nicaragua)
  • CTA/TCA (Central African Republic/Turks and Caicos Islands)
  • GUA/UGA (Guatemala/Uganda)
  • IRN/NIR (Iran/Northern Ireland)
  • LES/SLE (Lesotho/Sierra Leone)
  • MAS/SAM (Malaysia/Samoa)
  • MSR/SMR (Montserrat, area 39 square miles, versus San Marino, area 24 square miles. Why have these teams never met? 😦 )
  • TAH/THA (Tahiti/Thailand)

Alas, some anagram matches not only have never occurred yet but possibly never will, due to geopolitical changes and reassignment of country codes.

  • ANT/TAN (Netherlands Antilles, dissolved in 2010, and Tanzania)
  • ASA/SAA (American Samoa, losers in the most-lopsided international football game ever, and Saar, 1950-1956. Again, really a shame this rivalry will likely never develop.)
  • BHO/BOH (British Honduras, now Belize, and Bohemia, now the Czech Republic)
  • CGO/GCO (Congo, which first played  in 1960, and Gold Coast, known as Ghana since 1957)
  • ERI/EIR (Eritrea, which first played in 1992, and the pre-1950 Ireland team)
  • GUY/YUG (Guyana/Yugoslavia)
  • ITA/TAI (Italy/Taiwan, now TPE or Chinese Taipei)

In the meantime, enjoy Germany vs. Greece, whether you like the sport, the economic ramifications, or just the wordplay.


Giants 21, Patriots 17

I don’t remember how many football fields I’ve ever seen. I could come up with a decent guess for in-person, but what about over the screen?
They are standardized, the white yard lines (which never, from my seat, look a yard apart, always more like feet) drawn on top of the green.
I’ve stood on a long but narrow lawn, and tried remembering (“How far away were you from the stage? Imagine a football field.”) And although
I know they’re supposed to be a unit, when it comes down to gauging with them in my head, I have to shrug and say “No, I don’t really know.”
But after misused timeouts allow the clock to tick along at what is for football an unusually clockesque pace, the last drive comes at last.
They zoom out. And though I don’t care who wins, the distance from the fifty-yard line or somewhere to the endzone has never looked so vast.

Bolton 2, Everton 1

New poetic form, as befits the way I heard about this story; every line is exactly 140 characters long.

An American football field is one hundred yards long when measured (as most people would measure it) between the near edges of the endzones.
It is less commonly measured in two dimensions by marching bands. “On the fifty-yard line, eight steps inside the home sideline, trombones.”
Though the director does not speak to us, we take our places, finding our coordinates in tiny text placed in a folder (of the variety flip).
A trending Tweet can be at most one hundred forty characters long, though that is enough for a quote whose context can be inferred, or quip.
If one cannot infer context, of course, it is unclear whether the quoted person is referring to a physical location or a metaphorical place.
But one could find out the story behind the uncelebratory stance, a deflection to credit the wind pushing things in three dimensional space.
So a tie is broken. But sidebar trends tend to lag, and by the time the news breaks somewhere else the tie is restored and a footnote loses.
Playing on another remembered field, the pale numbers beneath unseen, the gold halftime score above unremarkable, the marching band refuses.

Sharing the Night

Suburbans, nothing more, watched our neighbors tie the score.
We hear the song come on and we start to sway.
You want the lead back. Suburbans too, though you lack
A suburb of your own, still you watch us play.

A song streaming from the press box
Two schools, one game, but few hard knocks
Now it’s tied we can share the night
It goes on and on and on and on.

Strangers waving, back and forth in the bleachers
Their insults called across the way.
Students, people, in a moment all forgetting
Words they’d slung throughout the day.

Can we win? I doubt we will. Not used to this kind of thrill,
Thought we missed our chance when we rolled the dice, looked like the last time.
Some will win and some will lose
Though we wear opposing hues
We rock back like we were friends
And the game goes on and on and on.

Down by fourteen. Scored but missed the extra point.
Scored again to trail by two.
Tried for two points. Missed again, but then the safety
Brings on overtime–who knew?

We started leading.
What a novel feeling!
Field lights, people.

You scored, called timeout,
Stepped back,
Ready to leap,

Didn’t start kicking,
Toed the edge of defeat
And victory–

Friday Night Lights

Oh it’s quite a sight on the field Friday night.
The visiting ranks seem to swell.
Inviting them’s heady, the home team’s not ready
To face them and do very well.

And the kids’ t-shirts vary. The puns are not very
Amusing, you’ll be shocked to hear.
Though I’ve grown no taller, sophomores are smaller
Or at least that’s how they appear.

More predictable dances, even more failed chances.
I still don’t much care for the game.
But ticket-booth teachers and views from the bleachers
Remind me some things stay the same.

Yes, as fall follows fall, one constant above all
Is constant. It’s the lights themselves.
Two three-by-six grids should shine above the kids,
But there never have shown forth three twelves.

Each year without fail, at least one light will fail.
Or maybe nobody will fix
The ones that go black. No, we never get back
To what really should be thirty-six.

And so when they lose, which is not really news
There’s no need to sulk or feel grim.
It’s just part of the theme in the colorless scheme.
Things all have to be a bit dim.

But as I don’t bask in the glow, I still ask,
Should there really be seventy-two?
I now want to know if all lights are aglow
From the visiting stands’ point of view.

Nickname comparison, Part II

I can’t particularly call myself ready for any football. But I was sort of intrigued by the fact that the Packers beat the Steelers in the last Super Bowl, and the former will open against the Saints tonight. In particular, the fact that all three of these are descriptions of groups of people, rather than just animals. Is this tendency something special to the NFL? I thought maybe, but not exactly. Baseball’s defending champions are the Giants, after all.

To shed some further light on the subject, more pie charts!

Four pie charts

It’s actually the NFL with the highest proportion of animal nicknames, even if they don’t win. Groups of people nicknames can be subdivided into the “actually relevant to city/predecessor’s history” (the Packers), “less relevant” (the Sacramento Kings), and “getting metaphysical” (the New Jersey Devils. You kind of have to throw the Orlando Magic in here with the Washington Wizards. Or at least I did.)

As you probably guessed, many are judgment calls–I’m throwing the vague Nashville Predators a bone by sticking them in the “animal” category. And I’m paying more attention to the actual name than the etymology (Cincinnati Reds are other while Boston Red Sox are inanimate plural, even though I probably could have done things differently and lumped them together into the “footwear” category).

The inanimate plurals get bigger as we move through the leagues. Maybe the good animals had been taken already?

The MLS and the WNBA, as mentioned in Part 1, are big on singulars.

What’s in a name?

Depends on what league you’re in.
Six circle graphs

The blue corresponds to teams whose nicknames are plural nouns ending in S (Green Bay Packers). The red corresponds to teams whose nicknames aren’t (Seattle Storm). The yellow are an awkward mixture (Seattle Sounders FC, and Vancouver Whitecaps FC).