They are the 50 percent(ile) | Bleader

They are the 50 percent(ile)


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  • AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
The legendary sportswriter Red Smith once summarized a Green Bay Packers 1-10-1 season this way: "The Packers underwhelmed ten opponents, overwhelmed one, and whelmed one."

Three hometown favorites—President Obama, the Bears, and the Northwestern Wildcats—are whelming their opponents right now.

On the political betting site Intrade, Obama's chance of reelection this morning is 49.8 percent. The statistician Nate Silver sliced and diced Obama's odds in yesterday's New York Times magazine. Silver runs the NYT's political stats blog FiveThirtyEight. He called the presidential winner in 49 states out of 50 in 2008, and the winner in all 35 senate races. For his magazine story, Silver considered four scenarios Obama could face: running against Mitt Romney or Rick Perry, with the economy improving or stagnant. "Average these four scenarios together and the probabilities come out to almost exactly 50-50," Silver wrote. (More on Silver's article and Obama's odds later today.)

  • John Bracken
In the sports world, Chicago fans are struggling with the curse of mediocrity. Half their teams are fair and the other half middling. The town's motto is not "Never say die" but "You win some, you lose some." The White Sox set the standard for being standard this year, finishing third in a five-team division, 16 games below first place and 16 above last. The Bears and Wildcats are currently a combined 8-8. The Bulls, and their NBA cohorts, seem intent on finishing 0-0. The Blackhawks are off to a nice start, but with about two years to go before the Stanley Cup playoffs, there's plenty of time for them to slide back to center ice. The Cubs are the main exception to this rule of averages: for them, mediocrity is less a curse than a goal.

The Bears play the Eagles tonight in Philadelphia. It's the So-So Bowl: the Bears are 4-3, the Eagles 3-4, the temperatures will be lukewarm. Since the game's in Philly, and because the Eagles crushed the Cowboys last week, they're favored by a touchdown. Expect lots of scoring. The Bears' Matt Forte will run and catch, and might pass and kick as well to prove he's no slacker. Unless he also plays safety the Bears will have trouble stopping Eagles' QB Michael Vick. If the Bears lose, they'll have the ideal whelming record.

  • subbu4
But what do the oddsmakers know? They favored Nebraska by 17 over the Wildcats Saturday, yet the Cats beat the ninth-ranked Cornhuskers in Lincoln, 28-25. The Cats are now 4-5, just a victory away from norm. And they should easily boil Rice next week at Ryan Field. With weak Minnesota and strong Michigan State left after that, prospects are bright for a perfectly even-Steven 6-6 season.

Will the Cats rally for a bowl bid? Will the Bears make the playoffs? Will Obama be reelected? Yes, they might.

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