Monday, October 10, 2016

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

My "Lucky 7" Takeaways/Thoughts From the Ryder Cup

1) "USA!  USA!"  A quick personal note -- European golf fans can suck it.  I get so fucking tired of their fans' constant, "Well, looks like we beat you chaps for yet another year.  I guess you just don't know how superior we are..." bullshit.  We kicked your ass 17-11.  We never trailed. 

Patrick Reed, despite being a Texan, was everything a USA fan could ever want in a golfer -- drained putt after putt, despite Jordan Spieth being a worthless partner after session #1.  Reed drains a huge pressure putt on Saturday and says in response to an interview question about pressure, "I had it all of the way - no problem." 

2) Note to European golfers -- man up!  For goodness sake, you were surrounded by white suburbanites from Minnesota and surrounding area. Ooooh, intimidating!  If you are really shaken by this level of fan-harasser, I HIGHLY suggest that you do not come to Bethpage Black in 8 years.  You will have NYC area folk there.  This is roughly like going from facing a Youth Football (soccer) club to facing the German National Team. 

You couldn't handle one MN guy who is the assistant manager at a sporting goods shop in Apple Valley telling Rory that Caroline Wozniacki would not stay with him for sexual reasons?   You hear that sort of thing daily from your best friend in NYC and surrounding area.  NYC folk view that as "busting your balls" (friendly banter) so imagine what they will say when they are actually angry and trying to get in your head.  (Or don't; just come over in 8 years and be surprised).

Rory -- no hat?  No sunglasses?  Constant screaming whenever you made a putt.  Then you wonder why you had a headache?

3) Danny Willett -- way to back up your brother's tirade about American fans!  Just show up, go 0-3, get Baba Booey'ed into complete suckiness and then slink away defeated.  Good work.  AND THEN tweet "Waaaaaah, my brother was right, they ARE meanies!"  That makes you look much better.

4) Consistent with the terrible play of Willett, not one United Kingdom golfer brought home a point on Sunday in singles.  The Brexit could not come quickly enough for the rest of Europe, if it rids Europe of this level of UK golf effort.  The UK-based malaise was perhaps exemplified by Justin Rose, who shot something like 1 or 2 under on Sunday and lost to the always-beatable Ricky Fowler.  After that wretched performance, which placed Justin only 7 or 8 shots worse on the day than Sergio Garcia,  Justin noted that the course setup was..........too easy?  Not for YOU, apparently!  This is like Kevin Durant playing H-O-R-S-E and complaining that all shots had to be within 10 feet (and he missed 89% of his shots during the game and lost). 

Here is food for thought for you, Justin Rose  -- if you cannot play well on an "easy" setup, then it is a "hard" setup for you!  (Mind blown).

5) I went to the Friday session in person.  Some observations:

a) the reports on the shuttle system from Canterbury Park to the course were horrific.  A 1.5 mile line to board a bus?  Two hours from parking there to the front gate?  Maybe Hazeltine could build a couple parking ramps?

b) We parked downtown and took the bus from downtown.  The bus worked so much better that we got to the course by 7:35 and actually got to see 90 minutes of golfing before the hordes of people arrived.

c) When everyone had arrived by 9:00 a.m., viewing became next to impossible.  The decision to sell 50,000 tickets when 4 groups are playing is pretty anti-fan.  I mean, why not raise the price to $300 (my ticket was $150) and sell 25,000?  Give fans a chance to actually view what is going on....?

Even if you kept the price at $150, at 25,000 fans a day times $150/fan, that is $3.75M.  Add in the fact that the average fan bought $100 worth of food, drink and merchandise, that is another $2.5M.  And this doesn't count the sponsorships and high end tickets that the likes of me cannot afford. 

Ryder Cup exec on TV on Saturday said, "Yeah, my kids were complaining because they could not see.  But I told them it was the experience that counted."  Easy to say when he (like me) was not paying for his ticket.  But I imagine the experience would be just as great if you could actually view the course.

d) The crowd at the Ryder Cup had to be the quintessential all-white-middle-to-upper class crowd.  I wore a plain red sweatshirt from "My 2004 Closet Collection."  I was really worried that someone might come over and ask me to leave b/c of the dress code -- "Sir, and I use the term loosely, where is your private golf course embossed pullover?  If there were 50 "fans of color" in the 50,000, I did not see them.  Wave after wave of white guys (I'd guess the crowd was 80-90% male), many very douchey looking preppies (or whatever they called it in 1998 when these guys were in college).  I walked by a crowd of 10,000 or more fans at #17.  I was actually aggressively searching for any minority-looking person I could see.  Zero.  Shockingly, on the way to the souvenir shop (which was roughly the size of a small Wal-Mart) I was engaged in conversation by a black gentleman.  I almost fell over dead and thought maybe he was Tiger Woods or the other one black guy I'd seen inside the ropes.  Nope.  (Note, he hated Matt Kuchar).  So I know there were at least 3 black people at the event. 

6) Paulina Gretzky (Dustin Johnson's wife) is striking -- but she is absurdly thin.  You know how you are always told that models/actresses are super thin?  She is super thin.  Super, super thin.  She failed to get the team memo, however, on going with the "just past shoulder-length super bad dye job looks like straw" blonde hair style of virtually every other golf WAG for the USA.  The Euros at least mixed in a few brunettes. 

7)  Phil.  How about Phil?  Tax evading, insider trading Phil Mickelson.  Spraying it all over the course on Friday.  Makes the key iron shot and putt on Saturday.  Wearing some sort of bizarre vest over his playing shirt on a 75 degree no-wind sunny Sunday.  Bitching out Hal Sutton and Tom Watson as shitty captains. And freaking Phil shoots a 63 to tie Sergio (perhaps further infuriating Justin Rose?). 

The guy creates a Ryder Cup Task Force because he is tired of losing.  He says, basically, "You guys at the top of the Ryder Cup effort suck at doing Ryder Cup stuff" and just demands a change.  Now, who knows if it actually mattered, but imagine you went into your job tomorrow where you are like 10th in command and said, "You guys fucking suck.  I can turn around our 2017 in 4 easy steps."  Then you demanded that those steps occur immediately.  After they did, your company had the best result in 8 years.  Imagine the size of the balls that would take.

It would certainly take a lot bigger balls than what would have been required to just ignore it when some guy who sells insurance in New Hope tells you that you and all of Europe suck........


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Kevin Garnett Retires From My Beloved Timberwolves -- My #22 NBA/ABA Player of All-Time

When I watch basketball, what I become most frustrated with is lack of effort.  I will at times stand up and yell at coaches or players "come on, TRY!"

As a Timberwolves season ticket holder, I watched Kevin Garnett play around 300 games in person and 500 more on TV.  I never once asked for Kevin to try harder.  I once saw KG badly turn an ankle at Target Center, hobble on one foot to the locker room, and play the entire game the next night in Denver.

Kevin Garnett played with a fury and desire that took an awful franchise from embarrassing (50-65 losses a year) to a lengthy playoff run and 45-57 wins per year.  Then the Timberwolves traded KG.  He immediately won a title in Boston, and the Wolves have not made the playoff since.  That, in a nutshell is Kevin Garnett.  He busted his ass every single night for the fans.  He brought us wins, he made us a respectable team; he brought us to the Western Conference Finals.  Then we jettisoned him and gave him to Boston for Al Jefferson.  He immediately turned around Paul Pierce's attitude and won the Celts their first title in 22 years.  Every casual fan in the East suddenly learned how great KG was, without the slightest understanding that they were seeing a guy who was 20% past his prime and not anywhere near the player who left his guts on the floor while playing 1,000 games of basketball for the Wolves.

Kevin Garnett was a smart player.  He would save his fouls until the 4th quarter and then start playing with a frenzy where fouls 2-3-4 might come in 3 minutes.  In a close game against a good opponent, he'd often end up with 4 or 5 fouls.

A typical "good" KG game in his prime would be 22 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists, and 1 block. Only Charles Barkley has more of these types of games since 1984.  The other names on that list?  LeBron, Bird....

Kevin Garnett was my favorite ever NBA player until 2003 when I saw LeBron James play.  Now they are very close on my list of beloved players.  James is obviously the better player, and far more of an entertainer than KG.  KG has done more for me as an NBA fan than anyone ever, by a long, long way.  James is an entertainer.  He understands that he is putting on a show and that is what he loves most about the game - giving the fans a good show.  KG is a gladiator.  He wants to win.  He will leave every drop of his blood on the floor to win.  The fact that he does not or cannot does not ever enter his mind.  He doesn't care how he acts on the floor or how he pursues his goal of winning.  When he is out there, is it a gang war (as he said in his famous speech in the 2004 playoffs).  As an opposing fan, you can begrudgingly respect KG.  As a home fan, you have to love him deeply.  

Some things the NBA will always have from KG:

1) Guys blocking shots taken during a dead ball.  That was KG's deal and what everyone does today (including LeBron on Curry in the 2016 Finals).

2) The maximum salary for individual players.  KG's $126M salary broke the bank and stunned NBA executives.  Tim Duncan (one year behind KG) made roughly $100M less than KG due to the Collective Bargaining Agreement being revised for fear of other guys getting KG's money.

3)  The moving high ball screen.  As a young man, Garnett was so quick in setting a screen right and then quickly making it a screen left that it made defending a high ball screen virtually impossible,  As he grew older, he kept doing the same thing and was moving pretty badly when he reversed the screen.  The refs looked the other way, and now we have a whole generation of NBA big men who set wildly illegal ball screens of this type.

4) Evaluating big men on the quality "rebounds outside of his area."  Kevin Garnett is the #1 defensive rebounder of the past 40 years.  He never boxed out.  Garnett would simply plant his feet in the middle of the lane, follow the flight of the ball, and outjump everyone.  That is now called "rebounding out of your area."  When I was growing up, it was called doing a poor job boxing out.  But when you are 7', fast as a deer, can touch 12 feet and have great hands, it is a good strategy.  This is particularly so when you are playing for a pretty mediocre set of temmates who expect you to get every rebound.

KG was also famous for the defensive hedge by the big man 35 feet from the hoop on a pick and roll.  Hedge, turn you back on the dribbler, run back to your man.  It is a great defensive tactic, but very difficult to do, so most teams don't use it anymore -- they just switch.

I rank Kevin Garnett as the #22 best NBA/ABA player of all-time -- just behind Barkley and Baylor, just ahead of Stockton and Dirk.

He has two of the top 50 Win Shares Per 48 seasons of all-time (2003-04 with Minnesota, 2007-08 with Boston).   Kevin led the league in Win Shares twice; in VOPR 3X, He is 9th in career WS, 7th in career DWS.  He has more career Win Shares than Oscar, Shaq, Bill Russell, Kobe, Hakeem, Moses, Magic or Bird.

Kevin Garnett had 10.7 or more Win Shares in a season 9 times, tied for 14th all-time with Barkley, Bird, Magic and West.  He had a season-long Defensive Rating of under 100 12 times; that ties him for 3rd with Hakeem and leaves him only behind David Robinson and Tim Duncan.  If you combine the two requirements -- that you have 10.6+WS and a DRtg under 100, Kevin had 7 such seasons, tied with Kareem for 3rd best.  Duncan and David Robinson had 10 each.

(Note -- some of these stats did not exist for Bill Russell, so Bill is almost certainly #1 in all such stats).

Sub-Total of This Section -- KG on an Advanced Stats Basis was a top 15 all-time player.

KG was MVP of the league (2003-04) and Defensive Player of the Year (2007-08).  Kevin is 15th all-time in MVP award shares, 9X all-NBA (4X first team), 12X all-defense (8X first team).  Kevin was almost unanimous MVP, and should have been (one voter cast a vote for......Jermaine O'Neal?).

Kevin's 2007-08 Defensive Player if the Year award still really angers me. From 2000 to 2006, Kevin Garnett was the best overall defensive player in the league.  He could guard every position (though he admittedly struggled against huge heavy centers).  He could guard out on the floor; he could guard by getting back on the break, he could play interior help defense.  In 2003-04, KG had a Defensive Rating of 92.  Don't you think it was THEN (his MVP year) that he should have been Defensive Player of the Year?  Nope.

And Kevin did all of his defensive wizardry playing for a coach in Flip Saunders who did not give a damn about defense.  But when the Wolves declined after 2004, the powers that be took KG off the all-defense first team and by 2006-07 he was second team all-defense and third team all-NBA.  Then he goes to Boston and the media picks up the whole "my God, this guy is the greatest defensive player of all-time" line.  Well, guys, when KG got to Boston he was roughly 80% the defender he was in Minnesota.  He just ran across Tom Thibodeau and a team concept that actually emphasized defense.

In short, when KG was in Minnesota, he was horribly underrated and underappreciated from an all-NBA and DPOY standpoint.  Once he went out East, he became, if anything, overrated.  But no one is going to go back and sort through the record book and say "well, should have been much higher, played in Minnesota and we didn't give a flying fuck about Minnesota players."

Sub-Total of Awards Section -- top 35 player of all-time.  You'd view him in the Havlicek, Pippen range if you looked just at these stats/awards.

Often cited as the greatest negative on KG's resume.  When in his prime in Minnesota he only won any playoff series one year (2004) and the Wolves either missed the playoffs or lost in the first round.

Not a top 100 player based upon this stretch.  Was always compared negatively with people like Tracy McGrady and Big Dog Robinson.

Then KG goes to Boston and immediately wins a title.  He gets hurt for a year and then the Celts go on another playoff run.  He led the NBA in Playoff WS in 2007-08, so he was the best player on the best team.
His one title with Boston saves him in this category, as he has a title while Ewing and Barkley and Malone and Stockton and Durant and Chris Paul do not.  I will add that Boston Celtics fans are rapid fans and advocate hard on behalf of their players, so winning one title in Boston is like winning 4 somewhere else.  But I think his lack of success in MN will always hurt him when all-time lists are announced.

Sub-total -- top 40 player.


Kevin Garnett is not dead, so I won't treat this like a eulogy where we put to one side all of the negative aspects of someone and pretend that they were perfect in all respects.  I will just try to express to you the flaws of KG and his overall greatness.

When I moved to Minnesota for good in the summer of 1989, I got season tickets for the Timberwolves.  I had been a Buffalo Braves fan until they moved to San Diego (then L.A.).  I had picked the 80's Celtics over the 80's Lakers, and I had been a huge Ralph Sampson fan 1979-86 (how did that work out for me?).

Anyway, as a Timberwolves fan, let me just make it super clear -- when we did not have Kevin Garnett, we were the most embarrassing team in the league.  We always lost 50+ games and usually 60+ games.  The ownership tried to sell us to a New Orleans group that literally had no source of funding.  Then KG came.  Some things that you noticed right away about KG:
- 7 feet tall, legitimately
-- unbelievably long arms
-- ran like a deer
-- unbelievable passer
-- could touch the top of the backboard, but not a natural shot blocker
-- played with a level of intensity that was almost frightening
-- was so physically dominant from a speed and size standpoint that he scared other NBA players.

I recall Bobby Jackson coming down on a 1-on-1 break against KG, just exploding into the air and then seeing KG go up a foot and a half above Bobby.  Jackson panicked so badly that he came down to the floor with the ball.  The ref was (of course) trailing the play by 20 feet so he called KG for a foul.  He never touched Jackson, but he scared him so much that they called a foul.

Shawn Marion just HATED Wally Szczerbiak (Wally had been picked before him) and he would regularly go at Wally.  Often he would blow by Wally and would get met by KG in the lane.  Marion on several occasions would just rocket the ball off the top of the square or throw a wild pass out of bounds so as to avoid being snuffed by KG.

One game I sat next to the Kings' bench and Rick Adelman called timeout and brought his team over.  Rick (like Flip) was a great offensive coach.  He looks at his team and says, "Guys, come on.  Garnett is stopping our entire offense!  When you have the ball, look for Garnett and pass the opposite way that he is going."

He gets extra points for being so dominant.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Corey Feldman on the Today Show

You know, if it weren't Corey Feldman, no one would be so upset.  I mean, he has 4 hot chicks and EDM background and he is bouncing around like a douche.  So, basically today's club music, except with hot chicks who may or may not be playing instruments. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Trump Ad -- Racist, Sexist, People -- You Know, "People Like You, and You and You."

Um, not exactly the most compelling ad. She is calling you and you and you racist and sexist -- you know, my most loyal supporters. Yep, that is what she is saying. The focus of the ad should be "look, man, none of my supporters are racist or sexist" (of course that is a lie) or "there are a ton of reasons not to vote for her and she doesn't realize it." Showing pics of your most loyal supporters and saying "you and you and you are racist and sexist" is kind of self-defeating. And wouldn't someone who supports Trump want to say "hey! I am in the other half of people! She isn't talking about ME!" "Half of HM readers are SUPER ugly." Hey, Jim, she is calling you ugly. Response -- "No. I am not ugly."

Thursday, September 08, 2016

"Why I Won't Ever Date A Feminist" Guy -- SO Unintentionally Hilarious

I am put in mind of the Cheers episode where Cliff says, "That is why you'll never catch me getting married" and Carla replies, "Yeah, that's why....."

Trump's Map -- How He Could Win the Electoral College

It takes a lot of winning in swing states, but he can still lose Virginia and win. 

Friday, September 02, 2016

Going for 2 Late in the 4th Quarter Up 7 -- It Is Basically a "Push" Mathematically

Gophers up 7 on Oregon State Beavers with under 2 minutes left at home; Gophers went for 2.  Missed.  Twitter Gopherites went crazy saying the Gophs were insane to try it.  I said it had to be the far better play mathematically. Then I sat down at the kitchen table at 12:30 a.m. and realized we were both wrong.

If you assume that there is a 50-50% chance that a 2-point conversion will be made, we can do the math.

GOING FOR 2 -- You Will Win 75 times out of 100
If you go for two 100 times and make it 50% of the time, you will win the game 50 times on offense.  (Up 9 under 2 minutes is virtually a certain win).  You will miss 50 times.  Since we are assuming that the opponent always scores exactly one TD, in those 50 times you miss we will 100% of the time be headed to OT.  (There is a chance the Gophers kick and miss their PAT and there is a chance the Beavers score and kick and miss their PAT.  But we will assume those wash out from a math standpoint).

You win 75% of the time (50 times you make the 2 and 25 of the 50 times you go to OT).

KICKING AND GOING UP 8 -- You will Win 75% of the time
If you kick, we will assume that is a 100% proposition (it isn't, but see above re the other team might miss a kick too),  You are up 8.
When the Beavers score a TD, they now have a 50% chance of missing the 2.  You will win 50 times out of 100 in regulation.  On the 50 times that the Beavers make the 2, you will go to OT and win half the time.  So, 25 more times.

You win 0 times on offense, 50 times by stopping the two and 25 times in OT -- you win 75 times out of 100.

Now, suppose your offense just blows and will make a 2 20% of the time.  And assume your defense is awesome and will allow a 2 only 20% of the time. 

Going for 2 -- win 20 times out of 100 on offense, of the other 80 that you miss you are going to OT and win 40 times.  20+40 = 60 wins.

Kicking to go up 8 -- you win 0 times on offense, 80 times by stopping the 2 and 10 in OT.  You should kick because you will win 90% of the time.


Flip the scenario -- offense scores 80% on 2s and defense allows 80% on 2s.

Going for 2 -- win 80 times on offense and of the other 20 you go to OT and win 10.  90 wins.

Kicking to go up 8 -- win 0 times on offense, win 20 on stopping the two, 80 games go to OT and you win 40 of those.   20+40 = 60 wins.

If your chances of making and stopping the two are roughly the same, it will make no difference whether you go for two or kick.  You will win roughly the same amount of times.  If your offense is way better than your defense in that particular game, you should always go for 2.  If your defense is way better than your offense in that particular game, you should kick and go up 8. 

Will a team down 7 after a failed 2 pointer by its opponent ever drive the length of the field and go for 2 and the win?  I agree with Tracy Claeys that 99% of coaches are not doing this.  But while you could lose to the Beavers in this scenario, this also permits you a backdoor way to win in regulation. You are up 7, they score and go for 2.  You now have a chance to win in regulation and to lose in regulation.  If your defense stops the 2 50% of the time, the chance of a bad beat or a lucky win is the same.  Again - if you have a great D, you want them to go for 2 and if you have a wretched D, you want them not to go for 2. 

The Win Probability calculators say there is a 97% chance you win up 8 and a 93% chance you win up 7 in under 2 minute scenarios.  The biggest blame will be not in kicking or going for 2, but rather in allowing a late TD up a TD with under 2 minutes left at home. The odds say that should not happen.