Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Classic Braves Mustache Blogging

Thought I forgot? Think again. The reason is here.

Today, the best of all time.

Back to back to back Mustache Champion.


Take note

The Wrangler's Food Competition Post got buried, but deserves further comment and attention, because it's the best thing written on here in several months, if not ever.

It's HERE, or just scroll down past the boring basketball history lesson.


Soccer? Here? On American Idol?

I annoyed the Lady tonight by watching a commercial in the middle of the Tivoed American Idol episode tonight (seriously, the only way to go on the elimination show - you can seriously watch it in 2 minutes). I stopped upon seeing the face of someone I never expected to see on prime time American television: Ronaldinho.

It was a Nike commercial for their Joga Bonita stuff. A solid commercial, with some amazing foot skills by the man on an indoor court spliced in with footage of him as a kid. But seriously, they showed this not at halftime of the Champions' League game at 2:30 on a Wednesday, but during the most watched show on television. That's some expensive ad time! I think it's great, and I hope Nike, who for good or bad is responsible for much of setting the tone of American sports media coverage, keeps pushing the sport up through the World Cup this Summer.

And seriously, Katharine McPhee's going to stay in the bottom three until she realizes she needs to get a personal stylist. She's been tankifying herself and minimizing her best assets. Huge mistake.


Basketball Wonk

I'm probably somewhat out of my element on this, but we'll go with it.

Mayor King and I have discussed ad infinitum the relative merits and drawbacks of the college football and college basketball systems of determining a champion. I'm not going to rehash it all here, but if you're interested, look here, here, here, and other links therein.

Anyway, one of the issues that we've discussed is the idea that often the NCAA basketball tournament results with a champion that shouldn't be considered the "best" team in the nation, though that's the title that basically is conferred upon the winner of the tournament. I think it's a fair criticism, actually, but I also think that the "best" team is probably always a product of personal opinion. In fact, I think the only pure way to determine an indisputable champion is a long season, like European soccer leagues where every team plays every other team at home and away, and the champion has the best record. If not every team plays every other team, we can't really know who's the best. If teams play under different circumstances, we might not know. I think that objective systems, where teams know the rules beforehand and every team is playing under the same set of rules and advantages, is far superior to a primarily subjective system, where human opinions count more and particular teams benefit from more media coverage etc. But I digress.

Anyway, the NCAA tournament is an example of an objective system of determining a champion, but it is true that frequently the team I think is the best doesn't advance to the final four, let alone win the entire thing. It's the "flaw" of the one-game playoff. Sometimes a team that isn't better is better on that one night. Of course, it's the flaw that also makes the tournament exciting and fun to watch (especially if you don't have a pertonal rooting interest). And my predictions and opinion, like countless others, was that the "best" or "better" teams were teams that are now studying for midterms instead of playing for the title.

So what contributed to many of these teams' demises? During football season I'm interested in the process and the numbers, partially for predictive powers, but mostly for the purpose of spotting trends and figuring out why things happen. And then I'd write about it - and sometimes what I think is a trend turned out to be nothing, and sometimes it had some numbers or facts behind it.

So here's the hypothesis today: Two good teams (Duke and Villanova) played significantly worse than they had for the rest of the year last weekend, in the process of getting eliminated. Both are teams that rely on their guard play and perimeter shooting. Both teams lost to teams that relied primarily on frontcourt play. On the day these two teams lost, both suffered from terrible perimeter shooting. And one other common thing: both lost games played in domes.

Now, I have nothing too much about playing games in domes. More fans get to see the action, which I appreciate. Plus, I recognize that revenues drive sport, and raging against the machine is futile. And actually, whether playing in a dome is good or bad is irrelevant for these purposes, since my hypothesis works two ways. Playing in a dome hurts guard-focused, perimeter shooting teams. Playing in a dome helps frontcourt-heavy, interior shooting teams. Why? Well, it's just kind of guess, but I think the background of the court matters for long-distance shooting. Having a good background helps with depth perception, which matters much more for three point shooter firing from 22 feet away than for a center shooting from 4 feet. When I've seen games at the Georgia Dome, I've felt that things seem just different from other basketball games. Things seem more distant, or just stranger. And if you've been playing in 10-15,000 seat arenas all year, things might seem very strange when you bump things up to 50,000+. I understand the Hickory High scene where Norman Dale has the tape measure out and that the goals are still 10 feet high. But I also think the background matters.

So what does recent history tell us about games played in domes - do frontcourt teams fare better, advancing ahead of higher seeded teams? Do perimeter shooting teams fare worse, falling to lower seeded teams? Let's go to the tape!

Georgia Dome Regional: In my estimation, two teams relied on the perimeter game (Duke and West Virginia) and two teams were stronger in the frontcourt (Texas and LSU). The two frontcourt teams defeated the two perimeter teams. Then in the final, arguably the stronger frontcourt team (LSU) advanced.
Metrodome Regional: Here, the two best frontcourt teams arguably played each other in the Sweet 16 (Florida and Georgetown), while two teams with more reliance on perimeter shooting (BC and Villanova) played in a terrible game filled with horrible shooting. Arguably BC was more of a frontcourt team than 'Nova, and the fact the game was close (and BC was leading most of the game) despite Villanova's supposed superiority might hint at the theory being correct. In the Elite 8 matchup, Villanova shot terribly and Florida dominated the frontcourt, leading to a big win for the Gators.

RCA Dome (First and Second Rounds): These are a little harder to review because the seeds are a little more disparate. Kentucky and Illinois advanced, but both were prohibitive favorites to begin with. Illinois was a guard dominated team, but they also were the #1 overall seed going into the tournament. Kentucky was a perfect example of a strong frontcourt team, with Chuck Hayes, Kelenna Azubuike and Randolph Morris as the strengths of the team
Carrier Dome Regional: The Carrier Dome isn't exactly the perfect example, since it's not that big compared to the Georgia Dome or the Metrodome and since the site hosts plenty of basketball games. North Carolina advanced out of the regional, over Wisconsin, Villanova and NC State. UNC probably can't be described as a "frontcourt team" because they basically had stars at every position. At the same time though, Sean May's dominance cannot be disregarded. Wisconsin in 2005 had a dominant frontcourt and weak guard play, but they advanced anyway. Villanova was guard heavy but lost (in a really close game to UNC though - but Villanova has had plenty of experience playing in the Carrier Dome). NC State had weak frontcourt play and their best player was a guard, and they lost. So basically, the theory holds somewhat true here.
Edwards James Dome (Final Four): UNC over Illinois in the final, and UNC definitely had the frontcourt advantage. UNC shot over 50%, Illinois shot only 30% from 3-pt range. Illinois topped Louisville in the semi, but that matchup was between two guard heavy teams (Louisville was led by guards Taquan Dean and Francisco Garcia). UNC beat Michigan State in the semi, and Michigan State clearly didn't have the frontcourt to match up against May. So the theory would seem to hold here.

Georgia Dome Regional: Duke advanced over Xavier, Illinois and Texas. Duke had Shelden Williams, Luol Deng and Shavlik Randolph playing in the frontcourt (though they had solid guard play too). Xavier seemed to be a guard heavy team (Sato and Chalmers). Illinois also should be considered more reliant on guards. Texas also relied on their backcourt that year (Ivey and Mouton). So arguably, the team with the best forwards advanced.
Edwards James Dome Regional: Georgia Tech advanced over Kansas, Nevada and UAB. Tech won the final despite only shooting 18% from 3-pt range. Jarret Jack played amazingly, and amazingly Luke Schenscher outplayed Wayne Simien up front. Nevada had some frontcourt talent, but not enough to keep up. UAB was a run and gun team that shot less than 25% from deep. Not as clear to keep with the theory, but arguably frontcourt power was important.
Alamodome (Final Four): Connecticut topped Georgia Tech, Duke and Oklahoma State. Connecticut was led by Emeka Okafor, the best frontcourt player in the country, as well as other NBA ready forwards like Charlie Villanueva. The one point win over Duke was partially due to Duke's reliance on the 3 point shot, which they shot only 27% in this game (while Connecticut shot far fewer threes). The best frontcourt won. So the theory somewhat holds.

RCA Dome (First and Second Rounds): Kentucky and Marquette advanced, and both were the highest seeded teams. Again, this doesn't say much because of the disparity of seeds.
Metrodome Regional: Marquette, led by Dwyane Wade, topped Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Wisconsin. Wade went off in this regional, messin' around with a triple double against Kentucky, but Robert Jackson also played great up front, while Kentucky's guards Bogans and Fitch came up short. The theory works somewhat, but not the strongest evidence.
Alamodome Regional: Texas topped Michigan State, UConn and Maryland. Home court advantage, basically, for the Horns. Texas was seriously guard heavy this year though. Weak evidence for the theory.
Superdome (Final Four): Syracuse topped Kansas, Texas and Marquette. Syracuse had some solid forwards in Hakim Warrick and Carmelo Anthony, but the real evidence is in the shooting. Syracuse plays all its games in a dome, remember. And in the national title game they shot 61% from three range, while Kansas only shot 20%, taking about the same amount. Nick Collison played out of his mind to keep Kansas in the game, but the outside shooting was the difference.

Edwards James Dome (Opening Rounds): The top seeds (Kentucky and Kansas) advanced, not much here.
Carrier Dome Regional: Maryland topped UConn, Kentucky and SIU. Maryland Center Lonny Baxter was tremendous, winning MOP of the regional.
Georgia Dome (Final Four): Maryland again had great frontcourt play from Baxter and Chris Wilcox, though most remember Juan Dixon's heartwrenching story. Indiana couldn't matchup down low.

Superdome (Opening Rounds): Temple and Penn State pulled off upsets to advance. Can't find much info about these games.
Alamodome Regional: Arizona used Loren Woods and Luke Walton down low, but Jefferson and Arenas both played great too. Arizona had the best frontcourt in this regional, though Archibald for Illinois had a great regional too.
Georgia Dome Regional: Michigan State won the region using Zach Randolph and the best rebounding team in the country.
Metrodome (Final Four): Duke topped Arizona in the final, using three lottery picks in the frontcourt (Battier, Boozer, Dunleavy), but really just the best talent overall (Duhon and Jason Williams in the backcourt too). All four Final Four teams had great frontcourts.

And that's about as far as I'll go back because this has taken forever.

What does it mean? Well, I'm not ready to say it's a definite trend, but I'll say that next year when filling out the bracket, I'll make sure to look at the locations of the matchups before picking a team relying on the three to go through. And as for this weekend (playing in a dome in Indianapolis), I'd guess LSU and Florida have an advantage (plus, both played in domes last week). Of course, UCLA and George Mason both play pretty solid down low too, so who knows? But keep an eye out for this.


Understanding the readers

The CHQ:

The #1 source for info on "likability sensory scale to analyze french fries".

You wrote it, you watch it... And this was difficult for me, since I've given them up for Lent.

My personal french fry scale:

1) Achim's K-Bobs (9 out of 10, 10/10 if you include the dipping sauce)
2) Back Yard Burgers Seasoned (8/10)

3) Johnny Rockets (7.5/10)
4) Steak 'n Shake (7/10)
5) Five Guys (6.5/10, but the Burgers make up for it, and they're coming to Atlanta!)
5) Zaxby's (6.5/10)
7) Chic-Fil-A (6/10)
8) Back Yard Burgers Waffle (5.5/10)
9) Varsity (5/10)
9) Ted's Montana Grill (5/10)
9) Arby's Curly (5/10)
12) Whataburger (4.5/10)
12) Sonic (4.5/10)
12) Arby's Homestyle (4.5/10)
15) Long John Silver's (4/10)
15) Krystal (4/10)
15) Checkers/Rally's (4/10)
18) Dairy Queen (3.5/10)
18) Hardee's (3.5/10)
18) Burger King (3.5/10)
21) McDonald's (3/10)
21) Taco Mac (3/10)
23) Burger Joes (2.5/10 - too salty)
23) Chili's (2.5/10)
25) KFC Potato Wedges (2/10)
25) Captain D's (2/10)
27) Wendy's (2/10, 0/10 drive-thru)
28) Loco's (1/10 dine in, -50/10 to go or delivery)

Personal opinons. And if you care, I've probably already lost between 5-10 lbs just from giving up the fries. For intellectual discussion, see Malcom Gladwell.


Sunday, March 26, 2006

I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast

Like probably most people, my first exposure to the intrigue of competitive eating was not seeing Kobayashi destroy 53.5 Nathans Famous Hotdogs on July 4th, 2004. Instead, my introduction was in the form of the friendly wager common to the day-after-Keystone Ice Tallboys-binge couch to couch conversation: "I bet you can't eat _____."

The first time I actually took the challenge, it happened to be "I bet you can't eat the entire Wendy's 99-cent Value Menu in one hour." What the challenger didn't know is that I was probably averaging 10+ Wendy's meals per week at the time. Needless to say, I succeeded, but it was not without gagging on every french fry that I was trying to get down by dipping them in the Frosty - my last two items of the 11 options then on the menu. The best part about the challenge was that a party seemed to develop at my house with no one other than the challenger and me privy to the competition. So when a friend of mine came in and saw me steadily devouring a Caesar Side Salad, he asked, "On a diet?" Yeah, something like that. The only advice I can give to the aspiring eater is that the obvious combinations should be used: Chili in the Potato, Fries in the Frosty.

The Wendy's Super Value Menu Challenge:
Jr. BBQ Cheeseburger
5 Piece Crispy Chicken Nuggets
Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger
Jr. Cheeseburger Deluxe
Medium French Fries
Small Coke
Small Frosty
Small Chili
Sour Cream and Chives Potato
Side Salad
Caesar Side Salad
Yogurt with Granola (new to the Menu)

My second foray into the competitive eating arena was a friendly challenge: "I bet you can't eat 10 Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers in an hour." Surprising to say, I was unsuccessful. I'm not one to make excuses, but a little something I call the Mayonnaise Bonanza threw me off course. I conquered 7 of them in the first 3o minutes, but the eigth exploded with a Steven Tyler's mouth-sized burst of warm, straight-from-the-five-gallon-vat mayonnaise. I put that one to the side, and only managed to stomach one other during the remaining 30 minutes for a measly total of 8.25. I was devastated, but not discouraged.

The excitement of these friendly challenges, in my humble opinion, far exceeds those of the organized competitive eating events - save the Krystal Square Off - due to the ability to conceive the amount of food consumed. So I guess the analogy I'm going for is to golf - watching is fun, and those guys truly are good, but it's still more fun to play it.

Here are a few suggestions to pass a rainy day watching your friend throw up - with how he'll feel (scale of one to ten) denoted to the right:

Goldilocks and the 3 Bears (2 - a kick to the grundle)
Whopper Jr.
Double Whopper
Onion Rings

The Triple Play (6 - the day after a bachelor party)
3 Classic Triples

Hitting for the Cycle (7 - a Georgia Theater hangover)
Classic Single
Classic Double
Classic Triple
Home Run - An extra "Single" patty on the Triple, with a Small Frosty on top for good measure

What'll Ya Not Have? (8 - Auburn-Georgia 2005)
Eat the entire hot dog/hamburger/sandwich/lite menu/chicken category at the Varsity, minus one category item of your choice (this is obviously in addition to the FO, PC, and Fried Pie you have to get when you go there).


Thursday, March 23, 2006

A few new links

Kept forgetting about lots of these...


Post Tenebras Lux

Martians Attacking Indianapolis

and finally, these guys have deserved a link for far too long, and with the Colin Cowherd thing today, I can wait no longer...

The M Zone

I'm sure within a couple of minutes I'll remember five or six blogs I meant to link to...


Karma pies

The rat who made this call to the state agriculture department... I kind of hope you bite into a pie one day and find a finger. Just a dick move.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Garfield Redux

I owe the General an apology...

Mocking his taste in great literature and the Garfield series. I was kind of a dick.

And today, he's clearly vindicated. Via Kevin Drum, I see the list of the top books by volumes purchased by libraries here.

The top 50 are all classics... The Bible, Don Quixote, The Odyssey, The Iliad, Huck Finn, Hamlet... Garfield at Large.

Seriously. #15.

Ahead of Tom Sawyer, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, Canterbury Tales, Jane Eyre, Moby Dick, The Aeneid, and many many many more.

Garfield at Large.

Read that again.


Lukewarm Winn

I know it seems like I'm picking on the writers at CNNsi today, and this is really a nitpick too...

Luke Winn's tournament blog today goes around the regions and takes note of the demand for tickets. In Atlanta, he says it's lukewarm, but doesn't really elaborate much. Allow me:

LSU, Duke, Texas, West Virginia are the four teams. One might think that Atlanta would be a good place to draw fans (not too far away, good matchups). Winn admits that the size of the venue might have something to do with the tepid sales, but the real reason is more specific. Three of the four teams have been to Atlanta far too often in recent memory. Duke plays in Atlanta against Georgia Tech every year, often in more than one sport. West Virginia brought their legion of fans to Atlanta for the Sugar Bowl just two and a half months ago. LSU brought their legion of fans to Atlanta twice in the last 4 months: for the SEC Championship against Georgia and for the Peach Bowl against Miami. Texas is the only school of the four without a recent trip to Atlanta, though it is also the farthest away by a pretty sizable margin.

It's kind of bad luck that the same teams have been sent here over and over again. But that's the reason for the lukewarm sales.

I'm kind of defensive about Atlanta today. I don't mean to be. In fact, I didn't think Winn took any shots at the A. Just setting the record straight.


Mannix Depressive

I thought this Chris Mannix article, featured overnight and this morning on CNNsi, deserved a little response, though I don't want to seem too much like I'm defending the home team.

Let me focus on something I've done a little research on, Mannix's discussion of Billy Knight on his list as to who in the NBA should be fired. Here's the Knight portion:

You can't fire coach Mike Woodson -- at least not if you have any shred of conscience. Not when you give him a roster like that. Yes, Joe Johnson is better than we all thought. But Marvin Williams continues to struggle while Chris Paul is clearing space in his trophy case for the Rookie of the Year award. Where is the effort? Why are Reggie Evans, Vladimir Radmanovic and Chris Wilcox being dealt at yard sales while Esteban Batista plays seven minutes a night? The Hawks' owners -- whoever they are -- need to act fast with Knight before he pulls an Al Harrington-for-Stephon Marbury out of his hat. Because you know that's coming.

Well... I've looked at Knight's tenure at the Hawks, and I've come to a different conclusion. My personal opinion is that the decisions Knight has already made will determine his legacy and the reasons for him keeping or losing his job, but that those decisions already made still can't be described as good or bad, at least not yet.

Mannix, seems to think Knight should be fired for three reasons (though he seems to give him credit for one other). Let's look at each one by one.

1) Drafting Williams over Paul: First off, if one only looks at the 2006 season, drafting Williams was a terrible mistake. But Knight wasn't drafting for 2006 alone. Marvin Williams is 19 years old, still growing and bulking up, and has shown signs of promise - the reason why he was drafted. Marvin was drafted because he has the potential to be a perennial all-star. If he achieves that, it'll be a good pick. If he doesn't, it won't. But we don't know this, and can't know it for at least another year, probably two or more. Chris Paul has been great, but he's also trailed off some this season, and he's several years older than Marvin. In the short view, Paul should've been the #1 overall pick. But in the long view, we still don't know. And I don't think we should always knock a draft pick for thinking long term instead of short term, especially when the team in question isn't going to make a huge leap anyway. So is missing on Paul so bad a decision it merits firing Knight? Possibly, but we won't know that until 2008 or 2009.

2) Failure to trade for a power forward: This sentence really troubled me, in that it made no sense. Mannix seems to say Knight has made a mistake in not trading for any number of mediocre frontcourt players when the Hawks' frontcourt is lacking. Well, OK. But there are a billion possible trades out there. Do we really think about firing people because of trade possibilities in the head of some writer not getting made? Also, what is he talking about in saying Evans, Wilcox and Radmanovic were given away at yard sales? Evans was a part of the Earl Watson trade. The Hawks had nothing as good to offer. Wilcox and Radmanovic were traded FOR EACH OTHER! If one was given away "at a yard sale" for the other, what does that mean about them both? It either means they both suck, and the Hawks shouldn't have wanted them, or it means that they weren't merely given away. Also, I'm not going to say Batista is great, or even all that good, but he's only averaging 7 minutes a game spelling Zaza (and his rebounds per 48 mins really isn't that bad, either). Knock Zaza (which I don't think you can all that much) or the strategy of playing two threes and a four instead of a three, a four and a five, but there's not much to do in knocking Batista.

3) Knight might trade Al Harrington for Stephon Marbury or something like that: This tells me Mannix really has no idea of what kind of GM Knight is. Knight, in all his time as GM for the Hawks, has never made a move that put the Hawks in a worse cap-space position than before the move. Never. Not once. Look at the Hawks transaction history, all the way back to when Knight was hired. The only time when something even in the ballpark (and I don't think it's that close) was the Glenn Robinson trade, but that was still under Babcock, it was just as the Hawks thought they were making a giant leap forward, and in any event Knight corrected it within a year, gaining cap space in the process. Knight has no history like Isiah or Billy King. Knight's past performance indicates that he's a stockpiler, whether it's young talent, draft picks or cap space. You might complain that Knight might dump Al Harrington for "cap space" and then not use it. You might complain that Knight doesn't quite get enough back when he trades guys for cap space. But Knight hasn't ever made a trade where he's given up cap flexibility in exchange for a name player. So the last sentence is just unfair.

4) The Joe Johnson trade: Yes, Joe is good, and better than any of us thought. Billy Knight's judgment of talent should be considered sharp, well sort of. Knight did give up Boris Diaw, who has turned into a pretty damn good player. And that trade still hasn't been completed. The Hawks still owe the Suns a draft pick, and it'll likely be in the 2007 draft, which should be loaded with talent. Is Joe good? Absolutely. Was Joe worth what we gave up just for the ability to pay him more than a max contract? Well... maybe. The point, again, is that Knight's decision has been made, but the effects of that decision have not yet been seen. It might end up great, it might not. We'll see. But in any event, Knight can't get congratulated for making a good deal, as Mannix seems to write.

And that's the thing: Mannix gets Knight wrong in just about every manner. Where he thinks Knight's done a good job, it's still up in the air, and could go sour pretty strongly. Where he thinks Knight's done a bad job, the job done is still up in the air, the flaw is irrelevant, or the claim is factually incorrect. Knight might belong on this list, but in an odd way, we won't know whether he really deserves it until it might be too late.


Classic Braves Mustache Blogging

Before the winning years, but still awesome.

Would Chris Berman call him "Oddibe Young and Mustachioed"? Or would I turn the channel with his first syllable?


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Some stuff I've missed out on...

1) The Simmons article whining about Willie McGinest leaving the Pats. This is why his Boston columns grate on people. It's a positional thing, as if he and his compatriots are the only people who support a team forced to make tough decisions on veterans. Kind of self-centered, if you ask me. But for the sake of argument, let's actually review what he thinks...

"Isn't continuity the single most important thing in sports?"

Umm... no. In fact, I don't think it's in the top 10. Winning the game, accomplishing something never done before, entertaining the fans, sportsmanship, hard work. These are all decent answers. Continuity, not so much. Maybe 50 years ago. Not now.

"Signature guys shouldn't have to abandon their original teams to find market-value deals in their waning years."

Simmons doesn't seem to understand the concept "market-value", or at least he doesn't want to admit that the perfect Pats didn't want to pay McGinest market value. The NFL under a salary cap is a zero-sum game. If the Pats think paying McGinest "market-value" doesn't allow them to sign the other players that allow them to win, that's their prerogative. It's either/or, though. If the Pats pay market value for McGinest, they can't pay Brady what they pay him, and Dillon, and Seymour and all the others. They have to choose. If they think continuity is the most important thing, then pay McGinest his money, and take the hit elsewhere. Simmons wants it both ways.

And finally, let's look at his suggestion - the slush fund available for longtime veterans:

"Let's say there's a hard cap, but every team receives a $10 million pocket independent of the cap that only can be used for players with nine-plus years of continuous service."

All this does is shift the market for all teams. The thing about the NFL is that it's a pretty efficient market. If there's a $10M slushfund, every team will use it, and pretty quickly. And since the roster size is the same, all that would do is increase salaries for the other 52 or 53 players. So suddenly, there's more money to spend for everyone else, including the veterans. And then "market-value" shifts. Perhaps the slush fund would allow teams to overpay for veterans. Perhaps the fact that such slush funds exist would raise the price for players. Either way, would it change all that much? Plus, what kind of side effects would such a slush fund have? Would the players go for it? Anything that would discourage movement of players (and that's the goal of this) would necessarily mean less of a free agent market, less competition for players, less bidding wars, less money, in exchange for the potential of a payday down the road. And that potential would worry me too - what kind of promises would teams make to, say 8th year veterans ("We'll take care of you big time next year in the slushfund, just sign on the cheap" and then the team cuts the vet after an injury)? Just don't know if Bill thought this through.

But make no mistake, the entire premise of this column is thus: my team can't go around the salary cap and that isn't fair. Whine.

2) The NBA draft thingy has been updated somewhat... and I'm not sure I like the results. Now Ford has the Hawks taking Joakim Noah ahead of anyone else. Even at the #1 position (and I haven't seen anyone else taking him that high - hopefully they could trade down if he were really #1 on their board). The only time the Hawks didn't take Noah (and I didn't click on it as many times as I did last time) was when they slipped to 6th (Noah went 5th, the Hawks took Tyrus Thomas). The only other team that would take Noah in the top 3 is New Orleans. Plus, Brandon Roy and Randy Foye are skyrocketing up the charts (and Foye especially might be a better fit if he can play the point). Personally, I don't know if Noah is a better fit for the Hawks than LaMarcus Aldridge or if he even has as much potential as Thomas (or Bargnani). And they'd still need a point guard. Noah feels like a Sean May type player - would develop into a great college player, but shouldn't be drafted higher than 10-15 range, and not someone you should expect to develop into an all star.

3) So the Falcons got John Abraham and two middling picks for their first rounder this year. The salary for Abraham seems pretty high, but the cost of the trade alone I can swallow. (I can't wait for some future enemy to take that sentence out of context...) If nothing else, this trade tells me that the Falcons think they're closer to a title than last year's record would indicate. And that they're playing for now, not down the road. If nothing else, the Falcons' defense is vastly improved over the last two weeks. Abraham should make Rod Coleman even better, and the linebackers should benefit greatly with him up there (and Hartwell returning from injury too). If you like D, the Falcons should be fun to watch. And a nasty D goes well with a run-based offense. We'll see, but I like the Falcons' moves so far. Now hows about killing the "McKay for Commish" movement before it starts?

4) My family has basketball brains. I turned in the exact same bracket in my office (69 entries) and my family (12 entries), so far at least (I picked different champions). My current position in both: 3rd. And I'm farther behind first and second in the family pool. Luckily, the office pool has a bigger payout at all.


Sunday, March 19, 2006

One of the best stories...

So there's this piece of news on the ticker. Juan Gonzalez signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox. This alone isn't that important. The prospect of him playing home games at Fenway did, however remind me of a story.

A friend of a friend of frequent commenter The Dagger knew a guy who knew a guy (this is like a 6th hand story) who worked the old-fashioned scoreboard at Fenway Park. Juan Gone was playing for the Rangers at the time and was in town for a three game set. On the first day, the guy working the scoreboard had brought a hot girl with him to watch the game from the field level scoreboard. Juan evidentely noticed the girl, and may have made some whistling noises or such toward the scoreboard. The next day when he was taking some outfield practice, Juan ran over to the scoreboard and flagged down the guy. His first sentence to the guy might be the best thing ever said:

"Hey mang, you drop a batch on that girl or what, mang?"

Believe it at your own risk.


Is The General Andy Samberg?

According to this month's Vanity Fair, in the monthly column asking celebrities and intellectuals what they're reading, Andy Samberg of SNL reveals that he's reading Garfield Chews The Fat, His 17th Book.

I shit you not, that is most definitely the last book The General read that wasn't assigned to him in class.


Flick the Button

First off, I haven't posted movie stuff since the Oscars. I've got mixed emotions about the Oscars. On the one hand, I'm always interested and watching, and I have strong opinions about the awards. But on the other hand, I'm consistently frustrated by the winners - too often the selections are based on externalities ("she's been overlooked for so long" or "this is just his year") rather than the strength of the work itself. It's a regular occurence where the film or actor (ar anything else) I'd pick isn't even nominated, let alone the winner. In fact, the last time I thought the best film made that year actually won was... Schindler's List? Maybe Braveheart, but I haven't seen two of the nominees.

This year was no different. I failed at my annual attempt to see all the Best Picture nominees before the ceremony, but I saw the winner, and I wouldn't have picked that to win among the three I saw, and definitely not compared to every movie made last year. Crash I've covered before (just re-read this post and I just realized I'm about to re-recite everything bad I thought about it...), though the more I think about it the more problems I see in it. I still think the direction definitely shows the taint of a rookie. I think the dialogue often falls into the pitfall of "West Wing-esque" talking points style, which just grates on me. Now the others I saw:

Munich: As I've written before, the international thriller is probably my personal favorite movie genre. So this had that going for it, sort of. It's too long, and the "climax" really didn't work for me one bit. Plus, some of the tradecraft seemed amateurish, and not what should've been expected of the respected Mossad (the scene where the CIA agents interrupt their trailing of a plotter in London is embarassing - no way any trained spy wouldn't have seen it coming). But the acting and suspense was quite good. Spielberg's direction isn't nearly as good as he's been, and this isn't in his top 5. But this is still a good movie, though it could've been better. As for whatever controversy the film has generated, I didn't really feel hectored. I'd suggest that this film can be viewed from an apolitical perspective, but there probably are some who want to read into things more than probably deserved. Steak knives. (Aside, I had yet another terrible experience at the theatre watching this, further giving me no motivation to go to the movies rather than wait for the DVD. In this instance some dude theatre-hopped and came into our movie literally 90 minutes after the show began and sat directly next to me in a half-full theatre. He came in, moved a jacket that was on the chair next to me and plopped down. Thanks, Regal for having exactly 0 ushers for 24 theatres.)

Capote: It's a simple movie, driven by a spectacular performance. Hoffman brought out all sorts of wit, annoyance, and likability to Capote. There isn't much more to the movie than the performance, but the simplicity is kind of what I liked about it most. A straight story told carefully and without anything getting in the way can be a nice thing. Even though it's simple, it could've been trimmed a little more too. Unlike Crash, the green director didn't hurt the film. I liked this more than the other two Best Picture nominees, but I wouldn't consider this to be on the level of a "Best Picture". Steak Knives.

And now on to some other movies I've watched recently...

Orgazmo: Kind of a mistake. Half baked and filled with rookie mistakes. There were a couple of jokes that made me laugh, but this is definitely not worth the effort. There could've been a funny movie made out of this, but this didn't make the cut. Probably the funniest thing in the entire movie is the opening credits song. At least it's short. You're fired.

Murderball: See this movie. This is the kind of movie that reminds me of why I watch so many films. The characters are consistently interesting. The sports scenes aren't the best (could've used some more detail), but the sport isn't exactly the point. The human experience is alive here. It's inspirational, but not how you'd expect it to be. No intrusive narrator. Incredible conflict and serious suspense. Plus, one of the best endings of a sports movie I've ever seen. Seriously. See this movie. This is a better movie than any of the Best Picture nominees. Hillary: I liked this significantly more than Grizzly Man, mostly for the universality and ability to relate to the characters, and I just thought it was more interesting (though I'll grant you the point about the sport scenes). Cadillac.

V for Vendetta: Hmmm... So much to like and so much to dislike. Dialogue: at times clever and hilarious, at times trite and grating. Plot: at times interesting and tricky, at times made no sense whatsoever. Acting: at times understated and subtle (even too much so, like from Hurt), at times goofy silly. In some ways, I thought the movie would've worked better if the England in the film were more fantastic and stylized. And I thought the action sequences should've been more stylized. If I were to compare it to a similar thematic movie, it'd be Fight Club, and this would not compare favorably. Too often it seemed the choices made were for the purpose of creating a more accessible blockbuster, which didn't really work with the anti-establishment theme. But this movie is also extremely interesting. Plus, unlike Munich, I don't think you can watch this movie without having some sort of cultural or political discussion, and that is something I think is a good thing, even if I'm not sure I'd agree with the film's suggestions. One thing: the extended lesbian in prison tangent... went on too long. Plus, if there's a film featuring lesbians in prison and the film isn't about "caged heat", it's probably not that good. How should I rate this? Very mixed emotions. But I think it's worth watching. Not a cadillac by miles. Somewhere between steak knives and fired, probably leaning toward fired over time.

One other thing: in the previews before V for Vendetta there was one for Superman Returns, which I wouldn't call myself all that excited about. But the entire preview uses the music that the Redcoat Band plays before the 4th quarter. So I was getting seriously fired up about a movie I couldn't care less about. Cocaine Bref was doing the four finger thing at the screen.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

RPI Project revisited

Couldn't post last night this stuff, but I wanted to get it down before the games started.

Last year I did a long, drawn out post series on using the RPI ratings to predict the NCAA games. It didn't work all that well at predicting winners, and in fact it may have proved that the RPI isn't the best indicator. And that's really my point. The NCAA uses the RPI in terms of at-large selections and seeding. I always wonder about using an instrument like the RPI. If it is a proper indicator of relative strength between teams, why not solely use it (it is bias-free). But if it "doesn't tell the whole story", then why use it at all? If it's a good tool, then use it. If it isn't, don't.

Anyway, the series last year was a little too focused on rankings and too little on matchups, and I'm tweaking it some.

The basic idea was to rank the 64/5 teams based on the RPI ratings. Then look to see if each team is "over-seeded", meaning their seed in the actual tournament is higher than it would've been if only the RPI ratings were used, or "under-seeded", meaning their seed in the actual tournament is lower than it would've been if only the RPI ratings were used. Then look to matchups. I ran the system twice, once by slotting teams based on their RPI overall (meaning if a team is ranked 12th in the RPI, they're a 3 seed. and if they're ranked 80th in the RPI, they'd be a hypothetical 20th seed) and once by slotting teams based on their RPI only compared to the other 64 teams (meaning nobody can be worse than a 16th seed). In the first method, naturally, about half the teams were either appropriately seeded or underseeded and the other half overseeded by some amount. In the first method, it was evenly split three ways - 1/3 correct, 1/3 underseeded, and 1/3 overseeded. Then I looked at both to get an idea of who fits where.

Then I looked to matchups.

First round matchups between teams appropriately seeded (RPI tells us little):
All of the 1/16 games.
Each of the 2/15 games except UCLA-Belmont
Washington-Utah State

First round matchups between an appropriately seeded favorite and an overseeded underdog (RPI suggests the favorite got a "good draw" in having to play a weaker than seed opponent):
Wichita State-Seton Hall

First round matchups between an underseeded favorite and an underseeded underdog (RPI tells us little, but in effect both teams got a "bad draw" in having to play a tougher than seed opponent):
George Washington - UNC-Wilmington
Illinois - Air Force (yes, Air Force was actually underseeded)
Michigan State - George Mason
UNC - Murray State
Arizona - Wisconsin

First round matchups between an overseeded favorite and an overseeded underdog (RPI tells us little, but in effect both teams got a "good draw" in having to play a weaker than seed opponent):
Arkansas - Bucknell
Indiana - San Diego State
Kentucky - UAB
Boston College - Pacific

First round matchups between an overseeded favorite and an appropriately seeded underdog (RPI suggests the underdog got a "good draw"):
UCLA - Belmont
Iowa - Northwestern State
Florida - South Alabama

First round matchups between an underseeded favorite and an appropriately seeded underdog (RPI suggests the underdog got a "bad draw"):
LSU - Iona
Pittsburgh - Kent State

And now the most interesting, mixed-up ones...

First round matchups between an overseeded favorite and an underseeded underdog (RPI may suggest that the favorite got a "bad draw" and the underdog got a "good draw", also, suggests the teams are closer than the seeds suggest):
Syracuse - Texas A&M
West Virginia - Southern Illinois
Cal - NC State
Kansas - Bradley
Georgetown - Northern Iowa

First round matchups between an underseeded favorite and an overseeded underdog (RPI suggests that the favorite got a "good draw" even though underseeded, the underdog got a "bad draw" even though overseeded, and suggests the teams are further apart than the seeds suggest):
Marquette - Alabama
Oklahoma - UW-Milwaukee

I know it's late in terms of affecting your own brackets, and I also know that this "system" isn't really a system, since last year it didn't particularly work perfectly (I think it did pick Vermont and Pacific to have upsets though). Use at own risk. I just thought it was interesting. I also think it's interesting that Southern Illinois and Wisconsin were underseeded both this year and last (and both won their opening round games last year) while Iowa and West Virginia were overseeded both this year and last (Iowa lost in the opener, while West Virginia had a long run in the tournament).

To do things more similarly to last year, the most underseeded teams in the tournament are Bradley, Wisconsin, Northern Iowa, George Mason, Oklahoma, and Air Force. The most overseeded teams in the tournament are Syracuse, California, Xavier, Kansas, Boston College, Pacific, Montana, Florida, Georgetown, Bucknell, Arkansas and San Diego State.

Just some interesting stuff to follow as the tournament progresses, I suppose.

Personally, I'm pulling for Villanova to win it all. I did two brackets this year, identical except for the national semifinal on the right side (in one I pick 'Nova and the other I pick UConn, and the winner of that game wins it all). Final Four: Villanova, UConn, Texas and Gonzaga.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

When good 'staches go bald

In perfect "My Name is Earl" fashion, the karma of first growing a mustache into a goatee, then shaving all of it off, left John Thomson vulnerable to an 8 hit, 4 run outing in just 4 innings. The Braves can't afford to keep those upper lips exposed to the hot sun any longer. Astacheolips Now.


Classic Braves Mustache Blogging

To become a Wednesday tradition here until at least 3 position players have a furry caterpiller above their lips in reference to this post.

Let's start things off with a classic. Greasy, with the mullet wings in the back. And to think that Mahler used to be our "ace."

Owner of a World Series ring (Reds in 1990). I'm every bit as shocked as you. Do not doubt the power of the 'stache.


Monday, March 13, 2006

Class, Mustaches and the Braves

And yes, this is my entry for the year end blog awards' "Post Title of the Year".

So the other day Lt. Douche, JMirarmtattoo and I were talking about the Braves (the Schuerholz book stuff) and the good Lieutenant suggested something that should've been a no brainer a long time ago.

Chipper Jones should grow a mustache.

Seriously, he's the perfect candidate for one. He's from Florida. His tabloid stories demand a stache. Oh. And he's a professional baseball player.

And that made me think that the rest of the Braves need mustaches too. Seriously. Mustaches are huge these days, but the shark has not yet been jumped. Plus, the Yankees don't allow facial hair, and anything that separates the Braves from the evil empire is a huge plus. There's no doubt in my mind that the young Braves would embrace the mustache movement. In fact, I passed word on to the Wrangler, who has tried to pass on the word to the guys he knows on the team.

But then JMirarmtattoo interrupted the brainstorm with a rude idea. He suggested that growing mustaches would throw off the mojo of the team, and cost them the division for the first time since 1990. The LT and I thought the opposite, namely, that maybe mustaches would finally put the Braves over the top and win a second World Series. And that got me thinking some more...

The most exciting Braves teams in history were the 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1995 teams. Those teams had many many many more mustaches and mulletts than recent Braves teams have had. Don't believe me? Let's look at the facts:

Recent Braves Facial Hair:
Smoltz: full beard (more on this in a second)
Mike Hampton: goatee
John Thompson: Utterly disgusting mustache (which I whole heartedly endorse).

Early 90's and 1995 Braves Facial Hair (and mulletts - more on this later):
John Smoltz: Yes, he has a beard now. But back then, when he just hurled and he was certifiably nuts. Way awesome back then.
Rick Mahler: Nasty mustache
Juan Berenguer: Marioesque. The epitome of an awesome stache.
Marvin Freeman: The upper lip shade.
Alejandro Pena: Great stache.
Jeff Parrett: Full beard
Jeff Reardon: beard, but quality
Steve Bedrosian: Top notch beard
Mark Wohlers: King of Mullettania.
Kent Mercker: Mullett was great and oily once.
Tom Glavine: His mullett is Cooperstown worthy.
Sid Bream: You already guessed this. The epitome of a Braves moment, and there's a key stache.
Rafael Belliard: little, but stachy.
Jeff Blauser: Yes, he had a Panama City whispy one way back in the day.
Brian Hunter: Holy crap this was a great mustache.
Vinny Castilla: when he first came up, totally stached out.
Ron Gant: Oh yeah he's stachin'.
Otis Nixon: kind of a Bill Campbell stache, but definitely counts.
Lonnie Smith: Stachetacular.
Ryan Klesko: known for his Piazzagoat, but he's sported a stache and a fantastic mullett at times.
Mark Lemke: beard at times. Kind of odd facial hair at times.
Luis Polonia: great stache.
Mike Devereaux: Tremendous stache.
Marquis Grissom: Awesome stache.
Dwight Smith: decent stache. Looks kind of like Eddie Murphy in Vampire in Brooklyn.
and finally...
Fred McGriff: I freaking defy you... I dare you not to bust out laughing next time you see a Tom Emanski defensive drills commercial. Yes, the mesh hat is hilarious, but focus on the stache. Its immaculate 90 degree southbound turn. Its perfectly groomed opulence. McGriff, who set the Braves on fire in 1993, is the paragon of a spectacular mustache.

So look at the rosters. Back when baseball in Atlanta was awesome and exciting, there were mustaches all over the field. Though the accomplishments of the Braves the last decade are impressive, there's a definite feeling like the fans are watching men at work, instead of guys playing a game. And that's where the idea of class comes into it.

Now, here I recognize that perception is a personal thing, and influenced by externalities, like media coverage. But the early Braves and the recent Braves seemed to me to be very different from one another. I keep repeating the word seem, because I don't think the players are in actuality fitting to the images I'm talking about.

The early Braves seemed to be working class heroes. Guys unafraid to get their uniforms dirty, guys who were those stereotypical "has beens and never-will-bes". The stadium fit the image too - the launching pad was mundane, kind of dirty. And yes, their haircuts and facial hair added to that image. They looked like hard working, blue collar guys. The kind of guys who if they weren't playing ball, they'd be fixing your car (and I think Wohlers actually did that for a while).

Today's Braves seem completely different. They're white collar. One friend, PA, called them a "Lexus Level" team. And it's absolutely correct. The stadium, while cleaner and with better sightlines and ammenities, is kind of sterile and inoffensive. The players carry themselves with absolute professionalism. And it's helped us, perhaps more than anything else, win 14 consecutive awarded titles. And yes, the facial hair and haircuts reflect this image too. And it isn't as fun.

The fans respond to the players, and probably the players respond to the fans too. And I think the fans would prefer the supposed blue collar players more. I think there's an incentive to root for players who are "more like you", and though most season ticket holders and luxury box owners aren't blue collar, the people who are the zeitgeist for a town are the cab drivers, the construction workers, the people you see all over the place. And in a way, I have a feeling like the team has directed its energies towards the stuffedshirts so much that the masses have kind of felt left out. Or they've focused their interests elsewhere, like the Falcons, who have placed a lot of emphasis on getting the whole city involved.

And the great thing about last year's Braves team was that with the influx of young players, the city kind of had a chance to get reintroduced to the team. Sort of, recenter the image of the team. Francouer, Davies, McCann, Boyer, etc. These guys were from around here. Most came from public schools around the city. They actually were like a lot of us, or our kids. They didn't bring with them the image that free agents tend to bring with them.

And that's also why I think the young guys should start growing mustaches. They should embrace the fact that Atlanta, and really the South, is born from the working class. Reintroduce the region to players who we all can relate to.

And if Francoeur, Boyer, McCann, Davies started growing mustaches, I just know the excitement would be infectious. Last year their excitement was infectious, and you saw a spring in Andruw and Chipper's steps. I know if you started seeing staches on the young guys, Chipper would throw one on too (and I seriously think a stache would take him into A-Rod/Jeter superstar territory). And Smoltz would shave off the beard and leave the stache. And maybe you'd see a McGriff like stache on Andruw (which would be sweet). LaRoche, Giles, Kelly Johnson, all those guys could grow an incredible stache. And it would be fun to watch.

So start growing them guys. Seriously. It'd be good for the team, good for baseball, good for the South. Yes. Mustaches. Join the movement.


Illinoisians = Thieves

Gateway Grizzlies, you are bastards.

You "create" a burger with krispy kreme donuts as the bun. Well, that sure got you the headlines and attention.


Mulligan's Pub in beautiful downtown Oakhurst, Decatur. The Luther Burger. Here are your searches (1.2M hits!). There is a wikipedia entry for it! Jay Leno talked about it for weeks. This was news, and to an extent common knowledge. Thieves!

Midwesterners: Choke on it.


A deep breath

No posting for a while... what have I been doing?

Looking into the infinite abyss of bulshit sports knowledge.

The bile returns with no stopping. Duck and cover, sumbitches.


Monday, March 06, 2006

Kirby Puckett, ad astra

Dies at 45. I'm pretty stunned.

A few months ago I wrote about his career in comparison to Dale Murphy. Let me be clear: I think Puckett had a hall of fame caliber career (I just think Murphy did too).

Damn if he didn't have to make that catch up against the plexiglass in '91.


Prepare for a Pride-Obliterating Bitchslap

Feliz Sabates can enjoy a fine dinner on my veined shaft.

So the NASCAR Hall of Fame won't be coming to Atlanta. That's fine. It would've been a decent addition to the Centennial Olympic Park area, but in a way it also would sort of present an [unfortunate] image of the city (and let me be clear, I like NASCAR). For all the advancement of NASCAR into the national consciousness over the last decade, it's still carrying the image of past eras. And also, the way Charlotte has been selected kind of adds to that image too. So there's a part of me that thinks it's OK for Charlotte to get the thing. Something interesting will take that property.

But Felix Sabates' suggestion that it's crime that made the decision easy is, in a word, bullshit.

Why don't we go to the numbers, dipshit. From Sperling's list, based on the FBI data:

City/Index/Murder/Rape/Robbery/Assault/Burglary/Larceny/Auto Theft



Out of the top 100 metro areas, Atlanta ranks 49th. Charlotte ranks 80th.

Say the Queen City offered more space. Say Charlotte and North Carolina offered $35 million more. Say that NASCAR wanted to be closer to the main team headquarters. Say anything that you might be able to have some form of rational basis for.

But race-baiting, low-class, misdirecting defamation gets the response it deserves. From all of Atlanta to you, Felix. Fuck you, Felix. Fuck you sideways with a saguaro. If you got cut by a mugger in downtown Charlotte, I wouldn't cry.

Mears and Sorenson get my scorn by proxy too.


Friday, March 03, 2006

Some upcoming movies I am excited about...

1) Aqua Teen Hunger Force: The Movie: Yes, I'm way behind the curve on this. Yes, I've only started watching about a month ago. Yes, it's, like, the greatest thing ever. Yes, I cannot stop laughing when I think of Ignignokt and Err (and recently, Master Shake). "He forced me to see the Aqua Teen Hunger Force Movie." could be the first sentence of allegations in the my wife's divorce petition, but I do not care. It's awesome. And it provided me with the second-best thing I've read all day, from an IMBD message board about this movie:

"cant wait to see this movie imma b baked outta my mind when i go"

And the best thing I've read all day, from an interview with ToyFare:

TF: Do you any idea what the movie will be rated?
Matt: I think it’s rated…it’s not rated right now.
Dave: How many times can you say the “F” word without, uh, and stay rated “R”?
Matt: I don’t know. Sixty at least. Meatwad freebases in the movie. And we actually show how to print your own money.
Dave: And then make a bomb. Yeah.

2) Blades of Glory: Will Ferrell and Jon Heder in a figure skating movie is merely intriguing. When Amy Poehler and WILL MUTHATRUCKIN ARNETT are cast as their pairs' competition rivals, this film becomes campoutable. Terry from Reno 911! has a sizable role (I suppose appropriately, since I've only ever seen him on skates). And by the way, Will Arnett has like 94 movies coming out in the next couple of years. Which rules. And which brings me to...

3) Let's Go to Prison: Directed by Odenkirk. Written by a quarter of The State. Will Arnett featured. Allegedly scored by The White Stripes. Yeah, this one doesn't deserve my attention at all. And speaking of The State...

4) Reno 911!: Miami: Rumors are out there that this movie includes a scene with all 11 members of The State. That should just be icing on the cake, though. Paul Rudd is a coke-dealing villain. If you haven't been watching this show, catch up now.

I've kind of been hungering for a top notch comedy to roll along for a while now. Looks like there's some potential coming up.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Draft Predictor Thingy

More NBA Action It's Fannnntastic! here. Sorry.

Anyway, ESPN has returned with their Chad Ford predictions "Lottery Mock Draft Predictor" thingy, which makes for some good time wastin'. Most interesting to me is how Ford seems to have let us in on who he thinks are on each team's "Big Board", but only if you click the shuffle button like a hundred times, and then it gets a little tougher because not every permutation works out, and you don't really know where every single player is for every single team.

Let's look at the lottery teams, based on the standings as of today (before games). If a player is bracketed, it means I never saw them drafted by that team in a particular spot, but they never were available lower. I clicked the switch like a thousand times. I probably missed something, but time was limited.

Charlotte (25% chance at First, cannot pick lower than 4th):
1) Rudy Gay
2) Adam Morrison
3) LaMarcus Aldridge
4) Tyrus Thomas

Chicago (19.9% chance at First (Knicks pick), cannot pick lower than 5th)
1) LaMarcus Aldridge
2) Andrea Bargnani
After that I can't really figure it out because nobody else has Bargnani that high. They're able to get him as low as 5th. Ford definitely has them wanting Tiago Splitter, then Al Horford with their own first rounder (currently would be 13th unless they're in the top 3)

Portland (15.6% chance at First, cannot pick lower than 6th)
1) Adam Morrison
2) LaMarcus Aldridge
3) Andea Bargnani
4) Tyrus Thomas
5) Rodney Carney
Never saw a scenario where Morrison was off the board and the Blazers picked second. Oddly, I never saw them pick Gay anywhere (he was always off the board or Morrison was available). Gay could be slotted in any of those spots. Those are the only 5 players I saw them select.

Atlanta (11.9% chance at First, cannot pick lower than 7th)
1) LaMarcus Aldridge
2) Tyrus Thomas
3) Andrea Bargnani
4) Rajon Rondo
I never saw the Hawks get Morrison or Gay, so they could be slotted ahead of Bargnani (they were already off the board whenever Bargnani or Rondo was picked, Thomas and Aldridge were always picked ahead)

Toronto (8.8% at First, cannot pick lower than 8th)
1) Morrison
2) Gay
3) Bargnani
4) Thomas
5) Brewer
Never saw the Raptors take Aldridge, but he wouldn't be slotted above Bargnani.

Orlando (6.3% chance at First, cannot pick lower than 9th)
1) Morrison
2/3) Gay/Aldridge (never saw them pick second when Morrison was taken first)
4) Rodney Carney
5) Rajon Rondo
Never saw the Magic take Bargnani or Thomas.

Seattle (4.3% chance at First, cannot pick lower than 10th)
1) Morrison
2) Aldridge
3) Shelden Williams
95% of the time they got Williams.

Boston (2.8% chance at First, cannot pick lower than 11th)
1) Gay
2) Aldridge
3) Brewer
4) Rondo
5) Tiago Splitter

Golden State (1.7% chance at First, cannot pick lower than 12th)
1) Aldridge
2) Carney/Rondo/Shelden Williams (always took the one not already taken)
5) Mardy Collins

Minnesota (1.1% chance at First, cannot pick lower than 13th)
1) Gay
2) Aldridge
[Morrison/Bargnani/Thomas/ Carney/Williams/Brewer/Rondo]
3) Randy Foye

Houston (0.8% chance at First, cannot pick lower than 14th - one in 100 billion chance at that)
1) Thomas
2) Tiago Splitter
Not much help once we get this low...

Chicago (0.7% chance at first, cannot pick lower than 14th)
See above. Down here it's Splitter ahead of Al Horford, ahead of Mardy Collins.

Sacramento (0.6% chance at first, cannot pick lower than 14th)
1) Aldridge
2) Bargnani
[Thomas/Gay/Morrison/Thomas/ Carney/Williams/Brewer/Rondo/Splitter]
3/4) Al Horford/Randy Foye
5) Brandon Roy

Utah (0.5% chance at first, either the top 3 or 14th)
1) Morrison
Never saw them pick anywhere else but 14th, and always picked JJ Redick.

Take all this as you will. I have no idea why I spent any time on this.


Back to our regularaly scheduled programming...

... and by that I mean bile directed towards others and not toward my own bad taste.

1) Thanks to everyone who participated in my first attempt at starting a meme. I'm not sure I saw all the responses, but those I saw ranged from hilarious to vomit-inducing. Terri Schiavo should not count for a response to #6 considering she has ceased to be, but that was clearly the most disturbing answer. Also, it's amazing how similar people react to things. There were several instances where I had the feeling of "wow, I saw that in the theatre too, and that sucked ass!" and wondered how I had forgotten about it.

2) Peter King, aka Venti McStarfucker, is now in the middle of his long, cold winter/spring/summer. We have to suffer through 2 columns a week of utter bullshit and meaningless speculation about things not requiring speculation, only to have August roll around, and training camps start up, and we're all excited about the upcoming season... and Peter's up on Cape Cod for the entire month watching woodbat baseball and not writing anything. Maybe I've been working at a job that doesn't really allow for monthlong vacations too long, but in my opinion, if you have a job where shit matters only 7 months out of the year (August-January/one week in February, one week in April), you shouldn't take one of those months off. In the meantime, we get weekly Larry-King-esque platitudes on House (and I fear the beginning of The Sopranos next week) and updates on the path Mary Beth (or is it Laura?) takes for campus tours at Colgate, stirred rigorously with righteous indignation and several inserts of "gosh/gee/boy/that sure is". This week the topic so intriguing to Peter that he devoted literally hundreds of words to it was, believe it or not, urination. "Why do restaurants put ice in urinals?", he posed in his MMQB, and proceeded to use a third of his mailbag answering the question. Seriously. Piss. Of course, this isn't the first time he's devoted a significant portion of his column and mailbag to the practice of micturation. One might remember a few years ago when Peter outed a prospective draftee whose nerves got so bad that he pissed himself at the combine (no link here; I thought it was poor journalistic judgment that he named the player). As if pointing out that a guy pissed himself on a million-hit-a-day website wasn't bad enough, Peter then mentioned it at least two more times in subsequent columns and mailbags. And when people wrote in to say he shouldn't have published the player's name, he went ahead and repeated the player's name over and over again, in case someone might've missed it. It was so bad that I seriously got to thinking that there was some sort of catharsis at play there. As if he was making an effort to let people know that pissing yourself was nothing to be ashamed of. And now, with this week's piss scoop, I think we're onto a trend. Peter King must love piss. Love talking about it, writing about it, discussing it (with restaurant employees who don't speak English), debating it, drinking it, dousing himself with it, playing in a kiddie pool filled with it while wearing a diaper, basting Thanksgiving turkey with it, writing to the Montclair, NJ municipal council biweekly to request that his water and sewage pipes be circular, etc. Piss, piss, piss. In fact, next time I write about him, I'm definitely titling the post "Pissin' with Petey".

3) And, of course, I can't let Lil' Stewie at CNNsi get all jealous because I'm focusing energy on the King of the Can. Just a quick one. Stewart Mandel makes a fuss about how Player of the Year doesn't matter because people only remember efforts in the Big Dance. I'm actually fine with the premise: I think all individual awards in team sports are kind of insiginificant, especially those that give out trophies without counting playoffs (yes, that includes the Heisman - I personally don't care all that much about it). I also think that it's quite apparrent that the regular season in college basketball is diminished because of how fun and exciting the conference and NCAA tournaments are. So, yeah, his thesis is fine. But the arguments? A little lacking. Take this:

Quick, name last season's basketball player of the year? No, not Sean May. He was Final Four MVP. But it's certainly understandable if his name rolled off your tongue quicker than that of the correct answer, Andrew Bogut.

Well. I can't speak for anyone else, but the name that rolled off my tongue was Andrew Bogut. He was, y'know, the first player selected in the NBA Draft. He also led his Utes to the Sweet 16 (when they weren't favored to do so). It's not like he's some guy nobody's ever heard of. Sean May had a great tournament (and a great year, too). But it's not like he was the only thing anyone remembers from last year. UNC had 4 picks in last year's NBA lottery! Roy Williams won a title! Illinois had one loss all damn season going into the championship game! I don't even consider myself that much of a basketball zealot and I remember these things. Just not the best argument to make.

Now that I think about it, I'm really just picking at nits. So Mandel's a nit.

4) The USMNT wins in Kaiserslautern over Poland. The US is 2-7-2 in Europe under Arena. The last time the cup was in Europe, the US was an embarrassment. The fact that there are two good European teams drawn in the same group as the US is a concern. Though there's no rational reason for it, playing poorly on the continent, but western hemisphere teams just don't play as well over there. The Polish players should have been in top fitness, the weather should've been a huge advantage. But the US got a result. That should breed some optimism. We'll see.