Monday, July 17, 2017

LPGA Institutes New Dress Code

Paige Spiranac and Michelle Wie model outfits now banned by the LPGA. The LPGA winner this weekend showed a disturbing amount of face, hand and sometimes ankle, so I hope the Burqas will be instituted for next season. After all - if you cannot force women to be modest against their will, what good is having a religion?

Paige Spiranac Unacceptable #1 (plunging neckline, no sleeves)
PS Unacceptable #2 (same, and skirt does not cover shorts)

PS Unacceptable #3 - skirt does not cover all of "bottom region" when bending over.

PS Unacceptable # 4 -- various violations - also not a golf outfit.

Wie Unacceptable #7 -- shirt with no sleeves and no collar.

Michelle Wie violation #6 -- skirt is too short and does not fully cover leggings

Wie Unacceptable #8 -- no sleeves and no collar and possibly a plunging neckline.

Friday, July 14, 2017

A Beautiful Night For an Old Story

It is a perfect night in Minneapolis, July 2017.  80.  Low humidity.  The kind of night where if it were 5 degrees cooler it would be cool and if it were 5 degrees warmer it would be too hot.  Having taken the dog on a 50 minute walk, my mind began to wander and I began to remember what I associated this weather with.  My answer was the county fair, August 1978.

So - the point of this entry is to offload some nostalgia and provide a story chock full of rural 1978 teen angst.  The point of the story is not to make you feel bad for me, though you may, and it isn't just another failed romance story - I was only 14.  It is a story that hopefully makes you remember your youth and simpler times and the feeling of a beautiful summer day.

Some background - I grew up on a farm in western New York. Before I was 14 I had two girls I really liked - one was the best athlete in the county and one was the best student in my school.  Both were kind to me, but neither had any interest in me. This became a tad more painful when my 11 year old brother became the boyfriend of the athlete's younger sister.

Growing up, there was a county fair every August in a small town (not the county seat oddly enough).  As best I can tell, the fair was located there because it had a sort of half-assed amphitheater wheee they could have tractor pulls and rodeos.  From the time I was six until I was 22 I used to go to the County Fair every August.

It seemingly never rained during the fair.  It was always 80 and dry, the sun shined just high enough during the day, and when it went down the fairgrounds always seemed very large and wonderful.  (They were neither, but it seemed that way).  Every day and every night spent at the fair featured picture perfect weather and seemingly endless possibilities for the young Hoops Maven.

In 1978, I actually had friends, thanks to my buddy John who befriended me one day in science class and put together an extremely motley crew of misfit smart kids whose primary entertainment was ripping each other and trying to stay out of trouble (we were nerds - we tried to stay out of trouble).  In 1978, my parents, armed with the knowledge that I had friends, would drive me to the fair and drop me off with $5, plus, I believe, a dime.   The dime was to call for a ride when I was done.  Pay phones, I am pretty sure, cost a dime.  I spent many great days at the fair. In hindsight, it really does not seem possible. By the time I was 22 I think I blew through all Fair activities in an hour.  But anyway, point is, I loved the fair.

On day 2 or 3 of the 1978 fair, I decided to play some carnival games with my $5.  Some were designed so you would lose (country basketball - tossing a softball into a heavily titled peach basket with a rubberized bottom).  Others were designed to have you pay 50 cents or a buck to win something worth 20 cents (dart toss - winner every time).  After weighing my options, I came upon a game where you threw baseballs at stuffed cats. Knock down 3 cats, win a decent prize.  The barker called me over and I won.  He yells out "Michelle, get him his  prize.  Out from the back comes a girl somewhere between 14 and 17 (I think she said 15 or 16, I do not recall, and I do not recall her actual name).  She was very pretty - in a Jennifer Lawrence in Passengers sort of way.  Just really attractive.  She winked at me and gave me my prize.  I smiled and left.

Later that night, as I walked around the fair with a friend she called us over - "hey, glasses kid, you can leave, I am talking to your friend".  She wanted to talk to me!!  Now, I cannot express clearly enough how excited I was.  I got warm, my heart skipped and then pounded, then I started sweating.  My friend was pissed.  I looked at my watch and told him I'd meet him by the Titl A Whirl in 10 minutes - probably like 9.  Still pissed. Anyway, the young Jennifer Lawrence chick wanted to flirt and give me a hard time for staring at her when she came out to give me my prize.

"So, Hick Boy, you like me?"  I ba da doh sol he.   "Huh?"  Look, I was completely flummoxed. It was humiliating.  I could not spit out a sentence. "Meet me here at the game tomorrow at 4. We'll talk.  I am lonely."   Well, OK.  Will do.  Now imagine if you were learning how to play little league baseball and a guy came up to you and said "you are starting at Yankee Stadium tomorrow".  You would know more what you were doing than I did.

So now I had to get my parents to get me there by 4.  Took a lot of convincing.  But mom came through.  "Gonna see your friends?"  Sure mom.  I strolled through the dusty midway heart beating about 150 beats a minute, until I reached the cat game.  There was Michelle, sitting on a white plastic bucket.  "Let's go chat, buddy".  So we walked, I kid you not, no more than 25 feet away and sat on a rickety wooden bench and talked about life.  She was from Buffalo and her mom had died and her father owned the game and made her work for him all summer until school started.  She hated the job. She hated her dad.  She really hated all the hicks who hit on her non-stop.  She liked me because I was "well....just so pathetic".  We talked and talked. We sat on that damned bench and talked. I told her I liked her.  She said thanks.  She wore a t-shirt and white shorts.  She was really pretty.

I asked her if she wanted to walk around the fair and she did. So I bought her a snow cone and we walked around. She asked my name and age and then said "so who are you?"   I don't know.  I just really do not know. I am a 14 year old kid way out of his league.  I said something.  It was terrible I am sure. I don't even recall. I tried.

At 6 she needed to go to work her shift, so she told me asked me to walk her back to the game and I did.  I took my dime and called my mom.  I sat on a bale of hay outside the talent show barn until 6:30 then went to the front gate.  "So, how was that?"   Fine mom.  I could have floated home.

Now, I always waved and said hello to the girl the next couple days that I went to the fair and she'd smile at me.  One of the days we agreed to meet at the bench at 7. I ditched my friends and sat at the bench at 6:57 on my watch.  At 7:25 I left the bench, after asking probably 15 passersby what their watch said.  The next day I went and played the game - she hid in the back. I walked around back. "Where were you?"   I had to work - look, buddy, I work.  I think you misunderstand our relationship.  I have like 3 boyfriends in Buffalo  "OK, bye".

I always hoped for a kind word or a handwritten note from her, never came. I continued to attend the fair. She continued to ignore me - occasionally tossing me a bone with a "hi Hoops Maven".  Hi.  That was it - fair ended.  Never saw her again

In my 53 years on this earth I have told that story once before. In 9th grade we had to write a "someone who changed your life in a short time" story.  I wrote two rough drafts - one about a teacher. And one about this girl.  My English teacher told me to go with neither. "The teacher one is marginally better, but the one about the girl goes absolutely nowhere."   I tossed them both and wrote a third story.  Got an A minus or some such thing.

I really have no idea why this story hits me so hard.  It did at 14-15 and it does at 53.  I guess it was the nice weather and the fair and the feeling of hope that a girl who looked like that would select me from a crowd.  Or that she she understood how damaged she was and how she needed to tell someone else who she deems even more pathetic about her problems.  I don't know.  I just know that I will always recall the joy of being called over and the anticipation of our meeting and the warmth of the sun and the feeling I got from buying that snow cone and walking by her.  And the let down of being let go.

All that triggered from a nice walk on a summer's day with the dog.

HM.  (Please excuse the typos - typed on my phone, which is not a pay phone).

Monday, July 10, 2017

More Jaye Marie Green

In 2015, I predicted by 2017 she would be a very highly ranked golfer and would be super hot.

One of two thus far.

Venus Williams - Not Guilty

It appears that Venus Williams, rather than being a murderer, was obeying the law when she was t-boned by another driver.

As shown in the video, Williams entered the intersection under the green light and then a driver coming the other way turned in front of her. 

Having already been in the intersection, Williams was entitled to continue through.  The driver coming the other way, in a bad habit that I definitely share, appears to be "timing" the green light so she did not need to slow down.  She smashes Williams' car, eventually causing the death of her passenger.

As many suburban Minnesotans clearly do not know when driving downtown, a person who gets into the intersection (and cannot, for example, turn left before the light turns red) can continue through.

The argument that the person suing Williams will have is that she acted negligently in getting into the intersection and/or not continuing through in a timely manner.  The video appears to contradict either argument.

Too bad Venus appears innocent,, because I was hoping Family Guy could do a clip like the one about Matthew Broderick.

Friday, June 30, 2017

A Couple Favorite Post-Break Up Songs

Look, was I successful with girls/women when I was younger?  No.
Do I have a lot of pain over it?  Yes.  So when I hear a break-up song on the radio, it brings up all of those hard feelings again.  A couple favorites:

Avril Lavigne -- My Happy Ending:

Best Set of Lines:

 It's nice to know that you were there
Thanks for acting like you cared
And making me feel like I was the only one
It's nice to know we had it all
Thanks for watching as I fall
And letting me know we were done

"When There Was Me and You" -- From High School Musical

Best Set of Lines:
Now I know you're not a fairytale
and dreams were meant for sleeping
and wishes on the stars just don't come true.
'Cuz now even I can tell that
I confused my feelings with the truth
because I liked the view
when there was me and you.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Pre-Draft Thoughts

While the trend to pick "one and done" guys and foreign players makes evaluation difficult, here are my thoughts on the 2017 NBA Draft before it ever happens.

Guys I Like

1) I think the most talented player in the draft is Josh Jackson of Kansas.  He reminds me a lot of Andrew Wiggins.  Big guard or small forward, freakish athlete, hard to stop when he is motivated.  His weaknesses are also the same as Wiggy - not a great shooter, doesn't always play hard. 

2) Jayson Tatum, Duke -- I think the Celtics should prefer Tatum over Jackson.  They already have freakish athlete Jaylen Brown.  Tatum just seems more like a Brad Stevens player in the mold of  guys Stevens likes to play.  Tatum's primary weaknesses are that he is an average shooter and average ballhandler.  What people do not realize about Tatum is that he is an incredible all-around player (plus defender, plus rebounder, plus shotblocker, great hands, very good passer).  

One rap on Tatum is that he is a poor isolation player who tries to play too much isolation.  True - but if you are a good NBA team with a good NBA coach, you will figure out that Tatum actually is an exceptional complimentary player to your true superstars. 

I think if he goes to Boston he will fit in great.  If he goes to Phoenix or Sacto, and they try to run stuff for him, that will be bad.

3) Markell Fultz - never seen play live, but his highlight packages remind me of Allan Houston, smooth shooter, can drive, 85% athlete.  I do not see Fultz as a superstar.  I think only Jackson has the athletic ability combined with size to be a superstar in the LeBron/Durant/Kobe mode.

4) Lonzo Ball -- you have to wonder what happened against Kentucky, but overall, the guy is a big PG and seems capable of running an offense right away.  Magic appears to like him, and Magic should know PGs. The name Jason Kidd comes up a lot.

5) Zach Collins -- if you watch his highlight and lowlight packages, two guys come to mind -- Karl-Anthony Towns and Christian Laettner.  He can do everything you need to be done on a basketball court.  His only physical limitation is strength, and one hopes that this is something he could gain with age. 

6) Dennis Smith, Jr. -- to be a star NBA player, you generally need a special athletic talent.  Dennis Smith has unbelievable athletic talent and has decent shooting form (doesn't always go in), so he is definitely worth a shot.  Feast or famine type guy -- will he try?  What is his level of effort? You cannot be a little guy AND lack effort in the NBA.

Guys I Do Not Like

7) Lauri Markkenen -- I just cannot get over his inability to guard Xavier's awful big man at the key moment of that game.  He is a 7" shooter, which is fine if your team is extremely good and plays at such a rapid pace that he can get wide open shots.  I don't see many teams fitting that bill.  if you want a stretch 4, Houston is trying to give away Ryan Anderson.

8) Jonathan Isaac -- I saw Florida State play several games this year.  When I watched, he never stood out as a player on his own team.  That is bad.  When you watched Jayson Tatum play for Duke, sometimes he was good, sometimes he was bad, but you always knew he was involved in the game and doing everything he could to win.  Isaac from a talent perspective reminds me of a taller Corey Brewer.  I am sure you could get the original version for cheap.

9) Frank Ntilikina -- one scouting report stated that "he is so raw offensively that it is impossible to evaluate him".  Um, OK.  His highlights tape is him playing good defense, his weaknesses tape is of him getting stripped of the ball while bringing it up the court and of him shooting numerous airballs.  I don't think a defense-first guard who cannot be trusted to bring the ball up should be a top 10 pick.

Duke Guys and Kentucky Guys

Look, I am not going to lie.  I have a genuine distaste for Kentucky guys and a love for most Duke guys, so I cannot be completely objective (I did review KAT's video highlights pre-draft and recommended he be picked over Okafor, so in extreme cases I can be fair).

Monk and Fox -- I think you need to give them each the benefit of the doubt.  Calipari's guys have generally over-performed as pros.  I mean, even one of the Harrisons saw rotation time.  If you are sitting there and you cannot pick one of my top 6 guys I like, picking a Kentucky guy is always a good idea.

Kennard and Harry Giles  --    Luke Kennard is an excellent basketball player.  For his size he is a plus-plus shooter and rebounder; he can finish with either hand; he will move his feet on defense and is pretty strong.  He is going to struggle some with lateral movement, and I do not see him as a steals+blocks guy.  He may never be a starter for a good team.  But I think he could provide bench scoring and get extremely hot in certain circumstances.  Top 17 pick,.

Harry Giles -- great hands, great rebounder, can jump straight up into the air a long way, might actually be 6'10" in bare feet, very good FT shooter, has some limited post moves.

The HUGE question with Harry Giles is whether he can move laterally at all.  At Duke his out on the floor defense and interior defense were both virtually impossible to watch.  Can he stay on the floor against bench players and do enough to contribute?  I don't know.

If by some MIRACLE his knees get 100% better, there is so much potential there - you can see why he was the #1 overall talent in HS. 

VERY low #1; 23 or lower.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

What NBA Player Has Had the Most "Good Games" and "Great Games" Since 1983-84?

If you assume that a "Game Score" of 15 is good, 22.5 is really good and 30 and better is great, here are your guys with the most of these games in either the regular season or the playoffs since 1983-84 (when's database starts).

Some observations:  1) if you assume Magic and Bird were denied about 4 seasons each by the database cutoff, and give them their averages per season, they still don't rank top 5 in any category (except Bird in 30+ games); 2) Michael and LeBron are clearly the two best guys; 3) Game Score stat appears to favor offensive players and disfavor players such as Duncan and Garnett; 4) 7 guys in the top 10 on all 3 lists - Karl Malone, James, Jordan, Kobe, Shaq, Hakeem, Barkley.  5) surprising entries -- Nique????  not only present, but goes 16/14/15th place;  Kevin Johnson!  Chris Mullin!

I have always said that the belief that Steph Curry is substantially better than James Harden or Russell Westbrook (or has had a significantly better career) is not justified.  They are all very similar in my eyes.  Look at the "very good games" list - virtually identical.  On the "excellent games" list, Harden and Curry are almost identical while Westbrook trails slightly behind.  One would certainly be surprised that ESPN had Harden ranked in the 80s and Steph around 20.

* = Hall of Famer

Game Score 15 and above ("Good" Games):

1Karl Malone*F198620041190
2LeBron JamesF200420171045
3Michael Jordan*G198520031031
4Kobe BryantG19972016955
5Tim DuncanF19982016953
6Shaquille O'Neal*C19932011947
7Hakeem Olajuwon*C19852002918
8Dirk NowitzkiF19992017883
9Kevin GarnettF19962013854
10Charles Barkley*F19852000846
11John Stockton*G19852003831
12David Robinson*C19902003718
13Clyde Drexler*G19841998712
14Paul PierceF19992016668
15Patrick Ewing*C19862002666
16Dominique Wilkins*F19841999655
17Dwyane WadeG20042017653
18Reggie Miller*G19882005641
19Chris PaulG20062017635
20Kevin DurantF20082017631

21Magic Johnson*G19841996631 -- also played pre-1983
22Pau GasolF20022017621
23Gary Payton*G19912007617
24Allen Iverson*G19972010614
25Scottie Pippen*F19882004607
26Jason KiddG19952013601
27Carmelo AnthonyF20042017591
28Ray AllenG19972014570
29Steve NashG19972013558
30Larry Bird*F19841992542    -- also played pre-1983

Game Score over 22.5 -- "Very Good Games"

1 Michael Jordan*  672
2 LeBron James  648
3 Karl Malone*  575
4 Shaquille O'Neal*  491
5 Hakeem Olajuwon*  484
6 Kobe Bryant  464
7 Charles Barkley*  456
8 David Robinson*  382
9 Dirk Nowitzki  367
10 Kevin Durant 330
11 Tim Duncan  328
12 Magic Johnson*  327  -- also played pre-1983
13 Larry Bird*     323 -- also played pre-1983
14 Dominique Wilkins 313
15 Clyde Drexler*  312
16 Kevin Garnett  311
17 Allen Iverson* 305
18 Dwyane Wade  301
19 John Stockton* 291
20 Chris Paul  284
21 Patrick Ewing* 279
22 Paul Pierce  230
23 Carmelo Anthony  228
24 Tracy McGrady 219
25 Russell Westbrook  219
26 Stephen Curry  216
27 James Harden  216
28 Kevin Johnson  207
29 Vince Carter  202
30 Gary Payton*  200

Game Score over 30 -- "Excellent" Games

1 Michael Jordan*  305
2 LeBron James  186
3 Charles Barkley*  161
4 Hakeem Olajuwon* 152
5 Shaquille O'Neal*  149
6 Karl Malone*  148
7 Kobe Bryant  127
8 Larry Bird*  119  - also played pre-1983
9 David Robinson*  119
10 Magic Johnson*  99 - also played pre-1983
11 Dwyane Wade  94
12 Allen Iverson*  92
13 Clyde Drexler* 88
14 Kevin Durant  85
15 Dominique Wilkins* 81
16 Patrick Ewing* 77
17 James Harden  77
18 Stephen Curry  75
19 Chris Paul   69
20 Dirk Nowitzki  67
21 Tracy McGrady* 64
22 Russell Westbrook 62
23 Tim Duncan  61
24 Vince Carter 57
25 Kevin Garnett  56
26 Kevin Johnson 50
27 John Stockton* 50
28 Paul Pierce  46
29 Chris Mullin*  44
30 Carmelo Anthony 43 

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Key "Game Score" For LeBron in the Finals -- Must Reach 22.5 has a stat called "Game Score" which generally indicates how much production a player has had in a particular game.  You include all of the player's statistics for the game, and they are then converted into one stat -- Game Score.

A decent player having an OK game should have a Game Score of 10.

15 is a pretty good night.

20 is very good

25 and above is excellent

Anything above 30 is noteworthy.  You can get game Scores way up in the 40s, 50s and even 60+ (3 guys - Jordan, Kobe, Karl Malone).

OK, so to evaluate what level of play is necessary for a LeBron James-led team to win a Finals game, I used the site's sorting mechanism and came up with some amazing information:

Game Score under 10 -- LeBron 0-3 in the Finals

Game Score 10-20 -- LeBron 2-10 (.167 winning percentage)

Game Score 20-22.4 -- LeBron 2 and 8  (.200 winning percentage).

Let's stop there.  It makes virtually no difference whether LeBron has a 10 or a 22.4 Game Score.  His team will not win those games except in the rarest of instances.

Game Score 22.5-25 -- 3-1 (.750)

Game Score 25-30 -- 6-1 (..857)

Game Score 30 and above -- 4-1 (.800)

This is really remarkable.  LeBron has won 17 Finals games.  13 of those where his Game Score is over 22.5.   Only 4 with his Game Score below that figure.

So - there is your cutoff.  Go to basketball-reference's front page tomorrow and it will have the 5 best Game Score's posted.  If LeBron is below 22.5, he almost certainly lost.  Above 22.5, he almost certainly won. 

According to this Site, a Game Score of 22.5 is basically 27 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, shooting 50% and 3 turnovers.  So that is your cutoff.  Better - LeBron almost always wins, Worse - he almost always loses.