Your Local Sports Writer to Be Replaced By Computer Generated Content (No, Really)

Your Local Sports Writer to Be Replaced By Computer Generated Content (No, Really)

NPR had an interesting piece over the weekend about a project the Intelligent Information Laboratory at Northwestern University is working on called "Stats Monkey" which has computers generate sports stories based solely on the statistics from the game.

From the Northwestern Stats Monkey website:

Imagine that you could push a button, and magically create a story
about a baseball game.

Just like blogging!

That’s what the Stats Monkey system does. 
Given information commonly available online about many games—the box
score and the play-by-play—the system automatically generates the text
of a story about that game that captures the overall dynamic of the
game and highlights the key plays and key players.  The story includes
an appropriate headline and a photo of the most important player in the
game.

The NPR piece notes that the system is still in early stages and creates the most basic stories without much color.

For now, StatsMonkey's stories are fairly basic play-by-plays — the
program isn't yet able to capture unexpected events or subtle details.
For instance, StatsMonkey wouldn't be able to capture details like Babe
Ruth pointing to the outfield before hitting a home run in Game 3 of
the 1932 World Series, or Kurt Gibson hobbling around the bases in the
1988 World Series.

Or Cliff Lee catching a ball behind his back.

The goal of the project is not to replace sports writers (so they say) but rather to generate stories where there otherwise would be none, like for every little league game ever for instance.

There is a sample computer-generated story at the bottom of the article here, and it's pretty much what you would expect: dry. But give those geeks up at Northwestern some time and they'll be able to build a database consisting of every anecdote Bill Conlin has ever told. That database should be completed in 2076.

>>Program Creates Computer Generated Sports Stories [NPR, audio available]

Eagles' Brandon Brooks gives father touching gift

Eagles' Brandon Brooks gives father touching gift

How’s this for an awesome deed?

Eagles offensive guard Brandon Brooks took to Twitter to show a heartfelt message, that included a photo of a new car he purchased for his father.

In the tweet, Brooks revealed the mindset his father has instilled in him growing up, not wanting to be average and more.

Nice gesture, Brandon.

Elements will play factor for both Flyers, Penguins in outdoor game

Elements will play factor for both Flyers, Penguins in outdoor game

PITTSBURGH -- The ice on Friday afternoon at Heinz Field was watery and slushy.
 
That’s because the city set a historic record at 78 degrees for Feb. 24.
 
So what were the ice conditions?
 
“They were pretty good,” said Sidney Crosby. “It was pretty bright there. Started off the practice and the sun was beating down pretty good.
 
“I’ve played in a few of these and the ice was pretty good considering how warm it was. It’s supposed to cool down and I’m sure it will get better.”
 
The Penguins will host the Flyers on Saturday night in a Stadium Series outdoor game.
 
Pittsburgh took the ice Friday at 4 p.m. The Flyers got on the ice a little more than an hour later and things started to cool down.
 
“We had a pretty good practice given the circumstances,” Jakub Voracek said. “This is a little better setup than Philly. The fans are closer.”
 
It was much hotter when Pittsburgh took the ice, but the temperature was still warm after the sun went down.
 
Shayne Gostisbehere said, “It was hot for sure. … It was fun, but it was pretty hot.”
 
Defenseman Radko Gudas said the ice surface was, “playable, but a little rough.”
 
On Saturday, rain is expected, with temperatures falling to 42 degrees by 5 p.m.
 
During the game, which begins at 8 p.m., the temperature is projected to continue to drop and there will be wind gusts up to 31 mph. By the end of the night, the forecast says temps will be in the 20s. 

Players are more concerned about the wind than the ice at this point. Crosby, who has played in three previous NHL outdoor games, said wind is a huge factor. It happened to the Penguins at the 2014 Stadium Series game in Chicago.
 
“It can definitely be a factor,” Crosby said. “I want to say in Chicago that was something we kind of had to look at. We felt it a little more there compared to the other two [outdoor games]. If it going to get windy like that, it’s something to be aware of.”
 
It remains to be seen how the NHL will handle which team goes into the wind first.
 
“Yeah, the wind,” Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet of what element will be a big factor. “I hope you don’t have to backcheck. Who gets the advantage? They change in the third period. But who picks what end? There is a wind factor.”
 
Tocchet rated the ice Friday as “a little slushy.”
 
“It was good early and then it got tough because it was hot outside,” Tocchet said. “But we got a half-decent practice out of it.
 
“The one thing, the puck didn’t bounce, which was good. Players can adapt a lot better when the puck doesn’t bounce. When things bounce, it’s a tough night.”