Thursday, November 29, 2012

NFL Pick'em: Lucky Week Thirteen

With the NFL regular season rounding the corner into the final stretch, it's playoffs or bust.  Feeling lucky?  Now is your chance to pick the six AFC playoff teams (seeding doesn't matter, just name the teams).  These bonus points will be added to the final score, when we determine our regular season winner.

I will continue to offer plenty of bonus points, strewn about like candy corn babies.  Cute to look at, but not really for eating. 

I'm trying to assuage feelings of guilt for getting a lead based on y'all missing some weeks.  Good luck kids, a framed haiku poem is on the line.  Hmm, could the prize have anything to do with the low turnout?  Impossible.  Everybody loves my poetry.  Dante Alighieri called it a "roller-coaster ride" and Basho said it was "taught ... gripping."

Adw:  127 pts (+18)
Jess:  110 pts (+20)
Big BM:  101 pts (+15)

Lucky Week Thirteen
1.  Your Big Shoe-in?  +3/-2
2.  Your Little Shoe-in?  +2
3.  Surprise!  Your underdog list:  (+5)
     Vikings, Dolphins, Pittsburgh, Philly
4.  I Dislike Your Favorite Team +1/-1
5.  Clash of the Titans +5:  New York Va-giants at Washington D.C. Skins

Bonus Questions +4
6.  Which game will be closest?
7.  Which game will be the biggest blowout?

Bonus Questions +3
8.  Which defense will not allow a rushing TD?
9.  Which offense will score 3 TDs through the air?
10.  Pick a GAME which will have a Special Teams TD

AFC Playoff teams

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

NFL Pick'em: Week Twelve

Laura Diehl
Happy Thanksgiving!  Long may the gravy dribble from your boat.  There are two extra Bonus Questions, both tastefully named in different ways.  Just trying to keep it warm here.

It seems like this is becoming a three-horse race, so I suppose I ought to consider addressing you both by name.  Maybe after doubling my body's quotient of deviled eggs on Thursday, I'll be ready to break the fourth wall.

1.  Adw:  109 pts (+15)
2.  Jess:  90 pts (+13)
3.  Big BM:  86 pts (+13)
4.  Garwood:  46 pts
5.  Barnyard:  2 pts

Week Twelve
1.  Your Big Shoe-in?  +3/-2
2.  Your Little Shoe-in?  +2
3.  Surprise!  Your underdog list:  (+5)
     Raiders, Chiefs, Jets
4.  I Dislike Your Favorite Team +1/-1
5.  Clash of the Titans +5:  Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Thanksgiving Bonus +4:
6.  On Thursday, which teams will win more games:  home or away?

Bonus Questions  +2
7.  Pick a defense that will not allow a TD through the air
8.  Pick an offense to score 2 TDs rushing

Double Bonus Questions +4
9.  Which game will have the highest combined score?
10.  Which game will have the lowest combined score?

Special Teams Suicide Bonus +1/-5
11.  Pick a special teams unit that will NOT allow a TD

Thursday, November 15, 2012

How To Start a Twitter Shitstorm, With Evan Grant

Evan Grant is a sportswriter for the Dallas Morning News. He gets a vote in the post-season baseball awards handed out by the Baseball Writers Association of America. He voted for Miguel Cabrera as the MVP of the American League. That's a fine and legitimate pick. Hardly controversial, as Cabrera was the first Triple Crown winner in a long fucking time, right?

EXCEPT that it is a wee bit controversial. If you've got a baseball nerd in your Favorites Bar or on your radio, you know that a case can be made for Mike Trout. As it happens, I've got both - Aaron Gleeman, the Twin Cities baseball nerd, had this very argument with The Vox o' Vikings, Paul Allen (who is often a huge douche, but to his credit, had Gleeman on a lot this past season).

The Triple Crown is obviously something special - most hits, RBI's, most HR's! HOLY SHIT! No one does that anymore. What the nerds say is that while it is impressive, it doesn't take into account, AT ALL, defense, which is, in theory, 50% of the game. Also, RBI's are kind of a junk stat, because why is it up to the batter how many guys are on base when he slaps a double down the line? It isn't, clearly.

Did Miguel Cabrera have a good year? YES. Did Mike Trout have a good year? YES. Voter Jim Caple (and former Minnesotan beat writer) wrote the best article articulating the difficulty of picking between these guys.

The voice of the nerds can be voiced best in the Nerd of the Year, Nate Silver, who did in fact go back to his baseball roots to write this. Here is a key segment of Silver's thesis (though I think you should read all of it):

Between his defense and his base running, therefore, Trout was about 35 runs more valuable to the Angels than Cabrera was to the Tigers. By contrast, the 14 additional home runs that Cabrera hit (44 against Trout’s 30) were worth about 22 extra runs for the Tigers, based on measures that convert players’ contributions to a common scale.
Didn’t Cabrera also hit for a higher batting average? Yes, but barely: he hit .330 against Trout’s .326. And Trout had the slight edge in on-base percentage, .399 to .393.
Trout also made his offensive contributions in a more difficult ballpark for hitters. Detroit’s Comerica Park once had a reputation as a pitcher’s haven, but that has not really been true since the Tigers moved the fences in in the mid-2000s.

So you see what's going on here - a close race, and maybe decided by a close vote between traditionalists and the stat monkeys. Conservatives vs Liberals. Smurfs vs. Snorks. Jocks vs. Nerds. The whole vibe is familiar to anyone who listened to Paul Allen shout down Aaron Gleeman with a chant of, "Triple Crown! Triple Crown!" and then start a segment that was all about getting Aaron Gleeman a date.

So, back to Evan Grant, who voted for Miguel Cabrera, and for whatever reason, got annoyed enough by comments on his Twitter feed that he posted this, about four hours ago (at least, it was four hours ago, when I started typing this post). And this, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how you start a Twitter Shitstorm:

That little tweet was followed by many retweets, much name calling and cries of elitism, from people who maybe didn't like the use of the phrase "OUR awards" or their criticism to be called "carping". Grant, quickly realizing his mistake, made it clear he wasn't being exclusionary. He was just following the rules:

But there is an inherent problem with that, too. Out of 28 writers, six did chose Mike Trout. So, were they ignoring the ballot? Were they simply wrong to vote for Mike Trout? Clearly, Evan Grant agreed that Mike Trout had a great year - he was #2 on Grant's ballot. Compelling, post-season award awarding bullshit abounds! In the long run, let's be reasonable - it is just baseball, quickly becoming America's least favorite sport, if you don't count hockey and soccer.

But it does make for fascinating reading, yeah?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

That's an Impressive if Unlikely Strike, Michael Bradley

I feel as though it has been awhile since I've heard anyone opine enthusiastically about Michael Bradley's ability to finish from distance. There was a lot of talk about that element of his game when he first came to the National Team, but we didn't see much of it (possibly because he was afraid to leave Rico Clark alone as the sole defensive central midfielder).

But hey, if he really and truly do anything approaching this, it is just gravy. Especially as our defense suggests that the US will be needing to score goals on the regular. This is from this morning friendly with Russia, which ended up be a 2-2 draw thanks to a late goal from the US. Below is Bradley's goal that brought the US level, 1-1. (Agudelo on the assist)

NFL Pick'em: Week Eleven

Things are ever-inflating over here at Badcock Industries.  With a few more vacuum hoses, the excitement could become flammable.  Or inflammable.  Whichever has more fire.

The Rams/49ers tie created some unusual results.  I awarded a no-fault push for Jess on last week's Big Shoe (you nearly stepped in it) and Big BM's Surprise pick was worth +1.  Surprise!

Owing to the rareness of anyone being able to correctly predict which of the (up to) sixteen games will have the (e.g.) highest combined score, such questions will now be featured in the DOUBLE BONUS section.

1.  Adw:  94 pts (+13)
2.  Jess:  77 pts (+12)
3.  Big BM:  73 pts (+12)
4.  Garwood:  46 pts
5.  Barnyard:  2 pts

Week Eleven
1.  Your Big Shoe-in?  +3/-2
2.  Your Little Shoe-in?  +2
3.  Surprise!  Your underdog list:  (+5)
     Browns, Jags, Chargers
4.  I Dislike Your Favorite Team +1/-1
5.  Clash of the Titans +5:  Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

Bonus Questions  +2
6.  Pick a defense that will not allow a 100 yard rusher
7.  Pick an offense to throw for 300 yards
8.  Pick a special teams unit to score a TD

Double Bonus Questions +4
9.  Which game will be the biggest blowout?
10.  Which game will be the closest?
11.  Are there now too many bonus questions?

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Old School Thursday: Snow

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

NFL Pick'em: Week Ten

Happy Election Day (question mark?).  Yours truly is enjoying his typical mid-season lead.  Looking forward to swooning at the end and owing Jess another trophy.  I promise plenty more potential points to help you shrink my advantage.  The side effect could be that I vault even higher into the stars.  Pick wisely, my dominoes.

1.  Adw:  81 pts (+15)
2.  Jess:  65 pts (+8)
3.  Big BM:  61 pts (+6)
4.  Garwood:  46 pts (+11)
5.  Barnyard:  2 pts

Week Ten
1.  Your Big Shoe-in?  +3/-2
2.  Your Little Shoe-in?  +2
3.  Surprise!  Your underdog list:  (+5)
     B'loaf, Raiders, Rams, Chiefs
4.  I Dislike Your Favorite Team +1/-1
5.  Clash of the Titans +5:  Houston Texans at Chicago Bears

Bonus Questions +2
6.  Which game will have the highest combined score?
7.  Which game will have the lowest combined score?
8.  Pick a RB to gain 100 yards
9.  Pick a defense to NOT allow 300 yards passing
10.  Pick an offense to commit 2 turnovers
11.  Pick a defense to force 2 turnovers

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Old School Thursday: Halloween with GraveDiggaz

Just in time to be a little late for Halloween, here's pioneering "horrorcore" group GraveDiggaz (look for Prince Paul and RZA, the most famous members of GraveDiggaz)

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